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Yet another university has stopped its homeopathy course. The particular interest of this course was that it was being run at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, the vice-chancellor which was Michael Pittilo, until his recent premature death. Pittilo is the person who recommended to the government that herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners should get honours degrees and be regulated like doctors. His report, was, in my opinions, disastrously bad

It recently emerged that this, very bad, advice would not be accepted by the Department of Health (DH), so the campaign against the Pittilo proposals, on this blog and elsewhere was successful. The alternative DH proposals look pretty silly, but we won’t really know until after the election exactly what will happen.

Robert Gordon University (RGU): is the ‘post-1992’ university in Aberdeen, as opposed the the University of Aberdeen (where my son is at the moment). Much of RGU does an excellent job, but like so many post-1992 universities they harm themselves by running courses in barmy alternative medicine. RGU ran an Introduction To Homeopathy module (saved 9 April 2010).

In July 2009, I asked RGU to see some samples of the teaching materials on this module, partly as part of the campaign against Pittilo’s proposals. I asked to see the powerpoints and handouts for three lectures, (1) evidence for homeopathy, (2) first aid remedies, and (3) allergies.

In September 2009, this request, made under the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland), was, as always, rejected by RGU, though they did tell me that the evidence lecture had been produced by a lecturer from The Faculty of Homeopathy and the other two had been produced by a local GP.

So, as usual, I asked for the mandatory internal review of the decision. In October, the review upheld the original decision, as they almost always do. I referred the decision to the Scottish Information Commissioner (the law is slightly different in Scotland) and they have still not responded.

But on 8 April 2010 I got a letter from RGU.

“The above course requested is no longer part of the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s provision, and it was cessated [sic] in Semester One 2009/10. This followed a formal review of all Nursing and Midwifery modules and their viability. In the light of this the university has decided to release the information.”

So yet another university has done the sensible thing. The course has been shut. Just for the record, I’ll reproduce a few of the slides from the lecture on “homeopathic remedies for allergies”.

Allergies can be dangerous, and occasionally lethal. To treat them with homeopathic pills, medicines that contain no medicine, is not just delusion, but a dangerous delusion which risks the lives of patients.

The "remedies" include nettles, sulphur, petroleum and arsenic.  They’d be pretty scary but in fact the pills contain, in most cases, not a jot of nettle, sulphur, petroleum or arsenic.  Homeopathic pharmacies stock thousands of bottles of identical sugar pills, each with a different label.

slide 5

slide 7

slide 8

slide 9

These dangerous delusions were being taught as fact in a UK university.  The shame of it..

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6 Responses to Robert Gordon University stops its homeopathy course. Quackademia is crumbling

  • twaza says:

    Thanks David.

    Does the link in “alternative DH proposals look pretty silly” go to where you wanted it to go? I am curious what the alternative proposals are.

  • Dangerous Conventional says:

    I’m sure this won’t be the only course that will get the chop post May 6th or when the IMF pay us a visit. About time that academia faced the chilling blast of the free market.Might actually start producing courses that industry actually needs. We now have more people with photography degrees than there are jobs for photographers in the whole of Europe.If people wish to study homeopathy then that’s fine with me provided they pay for the course. That should also apply to most arts courses, as well with students getting less than 7 hours lectures a week. With a £175 billion deficit we need to make tough choices, ask the Irish if your looking for an example.

  • Avoided Cranium says:

    @Dangerous Conventional

    The argument isn’t about a utilitarian approach to further education – where universities bang out fodder for the big firms, nor is it an Arts v Science issue. The concern is about a course purporting to be a scientific subject, but not being subject to the usual rigours of academic discipline at a tertiary level. History at degree or post-grad level is subject to disciplined, logical and evidenced based analysis, not dis-similar to a science subject. Homeopathy and acupuncture are not.

  • […] sc_project=233721; sc_invisible=0; sc_partition=0; sc_security=""; ← Robert Gordon University stops its homeopathy course. Quackademia is crumbling […]

  • […] After persistently exposing their (suspiciously difficult to acquire) course material to ridicule, anti-woo groups have forced many such universities to discontinue these courses, and this week down went another. The Robert Gordon University has ended their homeopathy course. […]

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