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I heard, in January 2011, that Barts has a new Dean of Education, and no longer teaches about alternative medicine in the way that has caused so much criticism in the last two years. That’s good news.

What on earth has gone wrong at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD)?

It is not so long ago that I discovered that the very sensible medical students at Barts were protesting vigourously about being forced to mix with various quacks.  A bit of investigation soon showed that the students were dead right: see St Bartholomew’s teaches antiscience, but students revolt.

Now it seems that these excellent students have not yet succeeded in educating their own  Dr Mark Carroll who, ironically, has the title Associate Dean (Education Quality) in the Centre for Medical Education (SMD), specialising in all aspects of quality assurance in the SMD,

Recently this letter was sent to all medical students.  They are so indignant at the way they are being treated, it didn’t take long for a copy of the letter to reach me via a plain brown email.

 Does any medical student have a particular interest in Complementary Medicine?  If so, a group at Westminster University would like to contact you (see email message below) with a view to some collaborative work.  Further details from Dr Mark Carroll ( m.carroll@qmul.ac.uk ). I am writing this email to put you in contact with **** ******, who is a Naturopathy student at Westminster University and who has set up a Society for Integrated Health, which is closely affiliated with the Society of Complementary Medicine at University College London Hospital.  **** is keen to create a network of connections between student complementary practitioners and medical students and, given Barts’ teaching commitment to integrated approaches, I wondered if you could have put **** in contact with any individual student or group of students that might be interested in joining her developing network of practitioners “crossing the divide”.  Given that Barts is “ahead of the game” I have suggested to **** that she should affiliate Barts among a number of other hospitals to her fast developing group. — Dr Mark Carroll

A student of naturopathy?  Does Mark Carroll have the slightest idea what naturopathy is (or pretends to be)?   If so, why is he promoting it? If not, he clearly hasn’t done his homework.

You can get a taste of naturopathy in Another worthless validation: the University of Wales and nutritional therapy, or in Nutritional Fairy Tales from Thames Valley University.

It is a branch of quackery that is so barmy that it’s actually banned in some US states. A pharmacist was fined $1 miilion for practising it. But Barts encourages it. Or read here about the College of Natural Nutrition: bizarre teaching revealed. They claim to cure thyroid cancer with castor oil compresses, and a holder of their diploma was fined £800 000 for causing brain damage to a patient. I removed the name of the hapless naturopathy student, I have no wish for her to get abusive mail. It isn’t her fault that she has been misled by people who should know better. If you feel angry about this sort of thing then that should be directed to the people who mislead them. The poor student has been misled in to taking courses that teach amethysts emit high yin energy by the University of Westminster’s Vice-chancellor, Professor Geoffrey Petts, But note that Professor Petts has recently set up a review of the teaching of what he must know to be nonsense (though it hasn’t got far yet). In contrast, Dr Carroll appears to be quite unrepentant. He is the person you to whom you should write if you feel indignant. He claims Barts is "ahead of the game". Which game? Apparently the game of leading medicine back to the dark ages and the High Street quack shop. But, Dr Carroll, it isn’t a game. Sick people are involved. Dr Carroll is the Associate Dean (Education Quality) in the Centre for Medical Education (SMD), specialising in all aspects of quality assurance in the SMD. This has to be the ultimate irony. It’s true that the Prince of Wales approach to medicine has penetrated slightly into other, otherwise good, medical schools (for example, Edinburgh) but I’m not aware of any other that has gone so far down the road of irrationality as at Barts. Dr Carroll, I suggest you listen to your students a bit more closely. You might also listen to President Obama. He has just allocated$1.1 billion “to compare drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions“. This has infuriated the drug industry and far-right talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Doubtless it will infuriate quacks too, if any of it is spent on testing their treatments properly.

## 7 Responses to Bad medicine. Barts sinks further into the endarkenment.

• Well, if Rush is angry, it can’t be half bad.

I really need to get caught up on the news. Time for a blog cull, I fear.

Very glad to hear that it sounds like this generation will be more sensible than their elders. I guess this youth-rebellion thing has to work out right every other time.

• D.C. wrote: “the hapless naturopathy student […] it isn’t her fault that she has been misled by people who should know better.”

Students all over are being quite deceived by this growing educational shame / inanity.

I refer to (ISBN 0977655245) “Educational Opportunities in Integrative Medicine” (2008) by Gabriel, N. (ND Bastyr 2000), Wengell, D. (MBA Emory):

“naturopathic medicine is an integrative and vitalistic medical system […with such principles as] respect the healing power of nature (vis medicatrix naturae). There is an innate healing force within all life […a] ‘life force’ […] naturopaths help their patients to optimize this innate force [p.119…] Bastyr University [the co-author’s alma mater for his ND] was founded with the intent that science would be the cornerstone of naturopathy [p.121].”

What we have here is junk thought oxymorony posed as expert career advice: ‘scientific vitalism’, ‘the science-ejected scientific’. Yes, endarkenment.

The really big shame is that it takes a student so many years to prepare towards such a graduate education, and then when you get there [ND school, as I did] and find for yourself that it is a sCAM [it’s not science-based, it is a sectarian belief system, it isn’t anything at all professional due to its deceptive treatment of the public and abuse of science; if you are honest with yourself], too late — the huge damage is done.

In the Gabriel and Wengell book I’ve cited above, Perlman, A. (MD BUSM, MPH BUSPH, FACP ?) states in the foreword:

“both the public and health professionals are looking for alternatives […e.g., his program’s] Master’s of Health Sciences Program […the] Integrative Health and Wellness Track [p.viii, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey {US}…] with the growth in the number and breath of educational opportunities as well as interest in the CAM fields and integrative medicine, the need has developed for a reliable resource and educational guide that can be be used by health care providers […] and the general public. This book fulfills that need [p.ix].”

When science that is the same as the nonscientific: sCAM.

-r.c.

• As a Barts graduate, I m dreading the UCL guys on my rotation finding out about this ! I actually had Mark Carroll as my tutor ( in 1998!), from I recall he had quite a twisted sense of humour. Could it all just be a piss take?

• I too am a Barts student in my final year.

Quite frankly the level of our pharmacology teaching is abysmal. In our final year we have two weeks of teaching in a classroom. Two days with Clinical Pharmacology Consultant to teach us everything to know about prescribing as a houseman. Then we have a formative exam and it doesn’t matter if we pass or fail. Most fail.

The following day in this two weeks of teaching is two days on how to teach a skill. The same amount of time allocated to this as the whole of pharmacology. The mind boggles.

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