Well, guess what turned up in a brown envelope this morning. A copy of the Society of Homeopaths’ Newsletter
It makes interesting reading, not least when the homeopaths’ discussion group are abuzz with talk of the demise of homeopathy
“The Society is urging its members to be cautious when responding to phone calls and e-mails following reports of enquirers appearing to be trying to catch out homeopaths”
“It seems to be part of an organised campaign to discredit homeopathy, with enquiries focusing on AIDS, malaria and vaccination. Members’ responses are then being used on anti-homeopathy blogs and web sites”
Dead right there. And the reason that the answers are being used on anti-homeopathy web sites because they are very often utterly irresponsible. Now we see they are being told to tone down their claims in public, so if you want to know what a homeopath really recommends, the only way to discover is to ask them in private.
” . . . the Society is asking all members to check that their [web] sites adhere to the code of ethics and practice, and clearly differentiate between ‘evidence’ and ‘speculative theory’ “
Well of course that distinction is very rarely made – that alone shows that the SoH’s “regulation” is utterly ineffective.
“Chief executive Paula Ross said: “it is a sad state of affairs when members have to be suspicious of every call or e-mail, and it’s important not to let it cloud genuine interaction with people who are interested in having homeopathic treatment”
All this can have only one meaning: if a homeopath suspects that the enquirer is a sceptic, tell them one story, but if they are a paying customer tell them a different story.
Why on earth should the SoH make such a fuss about enquiries from anyone if they have nothing to hide?
Later, on page 21, the theme continues.
“Members urged to be wary when questioned” (by Trish Moroney, their Professional Conduct Officer)
“Case histories are useful and you can always preface your comments with ‘it is my opinion’, this makes it clear that what you are saying is opinion not fact.”
That comment is certainly well-worded. Indeed most of the advice you get from homeopaths is “not fact”.
“The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has clear guidelines for what may or may not be used in written advertisements, but this does not cover the web.
Words like ‘cure’ and ‘treat’ are not allowed to be used in advertising in any published form.”
Not allowed? You must be joking Ms Moroney.
You yourself are quoted thus: “Trish commented: “One of our products is a homeopathic birthing pack and I complement this with a treatment programme tailored specifically to the requirements of the individual.”. Or here ” She [Moroney] has also found that homeopathy is useful for treating a number of women’s problems including heavy or painful periods and the menopause. It can also help with a number of ailments in pregnancy including tiredness and nausea.”. Or how about this. “I was suffering from high blood pressure,” she [Moroney] said. “I went to a homeopath and after taking the right remedy my blood pressure dropped, even though my work situation had not changed. Homeopathy really can help.” If that is not a claim that homeopathy can treat high blood pressure, what is?
Moroney ends her article, by modestly comparing herself with Galileo
Yet again, one must quote Robert Park
“Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment; you must also be right.”
But Moroney’s claims are very mild compared the those of people like Jeremy Sherr. Read all about him at gimpy’s blog. Sherr is (in)famous for his “provings” of hydrogen, plutonium and chocolate, and for his advocacy of homeopathic treatment of malaria and AIDS And look at the results of a complaint against the dangerous fantasies of homeopath Sue Young here.
The fact that Sherr is a Fellow of the Society of Homeopaths shows very clearly that the Society of Homeopaths’ attempts at regulating professional conduct are a no more than a pathetic sham.
A letter from the Chief Executive Paula Ross
The letter on page 5 starts “It’s been a tough few weeks for homeopathy” and it continues the grumbling about the number of complaints the SoH has been getting. More remarkably, Paula Ross boasts about the legal action that SoH took against the quackometer site (which she mistakenly confuses with the US site, Quackwatch). When one realises the major disaster for SoH that this legal action caused, it’s a bit surprising that the Chief Executive hasn’t been fired. The banned page, the Gentle Art of Homepathic Killing, popped up on at least 60 sites around the world, and a Google search for “the Society of Homeopaths” soon produced eight out of ten results on the first page of results that pointed to the banned page.
Is there a homeopathic remedy for shooting yourself in the foot?
Institute launch marks a new era of research
The Newsletter has this headline on page 4. “The aim of the Homeopathic Research Institute (HRI) is to promote and facilitate high-quality scientific research, and communicating about the science relating to homeopathy” . Don’t hold your breath, I suggest. Neither of the two projects they list addresses the main questions . Their publications page lists only two papers, both by Clare Relton. The first of them is Patients treated by homeopaths registered with the Society of Homeopaths: a pilot study C Relton, K Chatfield, H Partington and L Foulkes Homeopathy 2007 Apr 96 (2):87-9 This paper concludes
|This was an uncontrolled study and participants were self-selected; there were no checks on whether homeopaths returned all MYMOP forms for consecutive patients. Despite the apparent improvement overall in MYMOP2 primary symptom scores and MYMOP2 profile scores reported by patients, due to the uncontrolled design of this pilot study we cannot draw any firm conclusions regarding the improvement that patients gain from homeopathic treatment with SoH homeopaths.
Are medical homeopaths any better?
The same brown envelope that contained the SoH newsletter also brought me a copy of Health and Homeopathy, the magazine for friends of the British Homeopathic Association. This magazine, unlike SoH’s Newletter is available to anyone. Try it yourself. Mostly it reads like a medical textbook that was written at the beginning of the 19th century. Which, of course, is exactly what it is. So 200 years and no progress.
The British Homeopathic Association is a quite different outfit from SoH because it is allied to the Faculty of Homeopathy, which is for the small number of medically-qualified homeopaths. Needless to say, it has far fewer members than the non-medical Society of Homeopaths.
The Winter 2006 edition already had references to the declining support for homeopathic fantasies (as I would put it) . They had a whole article by Sally Penrose, Homeopathic Hospitals under Threat. Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital has gone. The Royal London is under great threat, and the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital is endangered. The only outposts of delusion that seem safe (for the moment) are in Glasgow and Liverpool.
This magazine may emanate from medical homeopaths who balk at claiming to be able to cure malaria and AIDS, but is in other ways no less delusional. For example eczema, it seems, can be cured by eating tiny amounts of common salt, as described here.
|“He prescribed six powders of Nat mur in increasing potencies to be taken on consecutive days and my eczema got better within a matter of weeks,”
You couldn’t make it up.