Homeopathy and the 10:23 Campaign


10:23 Campaign

The 10:23 Campaign

On January 30th, 2010, at exactly 10:23am, large groups of skeptics will gather in the town centres of around a dozen cities in the UK and consume a full bottle of homeopathic pills, in order to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of homeopathy. Marsh explains why…

Homeopathy in the UK is alarmingly pervasive – setting aside the fact that the industry is worth an estimated £40million per year, the National Health Service actually plows £4million per year of taxpayers’ money into providing sugar pills as a Complementary Alternative Medicine – much of which goes into the upkeep of the four government-run homeopathic hospitals. That figure doesn’t even take into account the £20 million spent on the redevelopment of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. According to the British Homeopathy Association, more than 400 GPs regularly refer patients to homeopaths. Homeopathy is everywhere. And then we have the UK’s leading pharmacy, Boots…

Boots are as much a British national institution as the Royal family, the BBC and the sense of quiet superiority over our former colonies. Yet this well-respected and trusted organisation lends its well-earned reputation to quackery in the sale of homeopathic remedies (including it’s own-brand range) alongside real medicine. What’s more, their decision to stock these sugar pills is compounded by the fact that they have no real belief in their effectiveness, as became clear in the laugh-a-minute evidence check session, where Boots’ Professional Stand-up Com… sorry, Professional Standards Director Paul Bennett admitted the company’s policy of selling homeopathic remedies was based not on a belief that they work, but in a belief that they sell, and sell well. And that’s before we even take a look inside the Pandora’s box that is the Boots Learning Store – Alternative Medicine module (sample statement: ‘Foxglove (Digitalis) extract is used in the treatment of heart failure’).

Fortunately, homeopathy hasn’t been without its detractors and skeptical voices here in the UK – with David ColquhounSimon Singh & Edzard Ernst, James Randi (of course) and a whole range of other science writers and bloggers confronting homeopathy with sanity. Still, it’s not the science writers who have had the most success in getting information to the public of late – while having real science to hand is essential in helping dispense with the pseudoscience, it’s perhaps been the contributions of comedians and satirists that have had most success in spreading real information to the man on the street. For every Edzard Ernst picking apart the latest meta-analysis, we need a Dara Ó Briain telling the world ‘It’s just fecking water’; for every Quackometer showing where regulation is failing to keep homeopathy in check, we need a Mitchell & Webb to show us how ludicrous homeopathic healthcare actually is; for every Tim Farley answering the question ‘What’s The Harm?‘, we need a Tim Minchin asking the question ‘if water can remember a long lost drop of onion juice, how come it forgets all the poo it’s had in it?’ (the best answer to this, by the way, came from a satirist who claimed it was due to succussion: ‘As you beat the memory into the water, you beat the shit out of it’).

In short, the fight to raise awareness of homeopathy is best fought when everyone can bring what they have to the table, whether they’re ‘experts’ or otherwise. And this, essentially, was the inspiration behind the 10:23 campaign.

At the Merseyside Skeptics Society, we took inspiration from the success of the Australian Skeptics campaigning against ear candles via the publishing of an open letter, stealing the idea outright to pen An Open Letter To Alliance Boots appealing to them to remove homeopathic remedies from their shelves. From there, the 10:23 campaign grew – a website was launched with the aim to have a resource where people can go for basic information on homeopathy in simple, accessible English.

The goals of the 10:23 campaign are equally simple and accessible – to help raise awareness of what homeopathy is (and what it very much isn’t); to give individual writers and bloggers a banner and brand name to use when doing their day-to-day homeopathy-debunking, helping make their work easier to find and promote (do a quick search for #ten23 on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean); and to promote critical thinking to a wider audience.

As the campaign’s progressed, two questions have come up time and time again, and it’s probably a good idea to answer them now: ‘What’s next for the 10:23 campaign?’ and ‘Why is it called the 10:23 campaign anyway?’ I’ll answer the latter first… Yes, it is partly to do with the Avogadro constant. There are those that may think using this as the name for the campaign is something of an exclusive, scientific in-joke that would put off the non-science-savvy – here, I must disagree. Instead I believe it gives an opportunity to talk about the levels of dilution involved in homeopathy, and what effect they have on the ingredients of the sugar pills. What’s more, there’s more to the name than simply Avogadro, which leads me to the second questions…

On January 30th, 2010, at exactly 10:23am, large groups of skeptics will gather in the town centres of around a dozen cities in the UK and consume a full bottle of homeopathic pills, in order to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of homeopathy. Similar events will be taking place in the US, Canada and Australia. While the scientific evidence is there for people to find, we’re hoping this very public demonstration will help give people the motivation to go look for it.

Contact your nearest Skeptics in the Pub group for information about how to get involved. Organisers of local skeptical groups can email contact@1023.org.uk for more information. See you on January 30th!

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  1. #1 by Marsh on February 1, 2010 - 00:21

    Hi ‘KK’, thanks for your informative and well-thought-out views. A couple of points:

    – We’ve never once tried to ban homeopathy, we’re in no way espousing beliefs (we’re advocating people actually read what homeopathy is AS DEFINED BY HOMEOPATHS no less) and we’re in no way causing harm to other
    – The belief in homeopathy has been proven to be harmful – be it in the neglect to get real medical care, the spread of alternative modalities where the placebo effect has no ability to help (preventing malaria, for example), or simply the advice from well-meaning homeopaths to forego chemotherapy in favour of homeopathy. No amount of placebo and sugar will fight cancer.
    – The placebo effect is present in real medicine, in no less measure than in homeopathy – in fact, largely, it’s MORE effective in real medicine. Studies show the greater and more authoritarian-seeming the intervention, the stronger the placebo – getting an saline injection from a man in a white coat works better for placebo than a sugar pill. Fortunately, medicine has a wonderful way of side-stepping the issue of misleading people with placebo treatments – it uses treatments that actually work. Couple that up with a bigger dose of placebo than homeopathy can provide, and you’ve got a working system there. Placebo is not homeopathy-specific – science found it, science isolated it, and science uses it a damn sight better than sugar pills and shaken waters.
    – No difference between homeopathy and real medicine in terms of effects? Take a look at a review of the data, talk to a doctor, or simply switch a diabetic friend’s insulin for homeopathic remedy – sure, you’ll do them irreparable damage in swapping their life-saving medicine for magic water, but you’ll at least see how easy it is to tell what works and what doesn’t.
    – Glad you agree that nobody knows all of the answers – we’ve never claimed anything of the sort, so at least we’re on common ground there. However, we do think that some people do have SOME of the answers. We can see that AIDS medicine works better than sugar pills. We can watch cancer go into remission via the use of chemotherapy while cancer patients denied life-saving medicine by their homeopaths die. We can look at these sugar pills and see they’re just sugar. We can find some of the answers. Have a look around, you may even stumble on some of them yourself.
    – Bigotted pests? I’d like to point out the tone of the piece above shows no bigotry, and speaks only of education and awareness. I believe you’re the one leaving aggressive, insulting and confrontational comments.

    Thanks for your excellent feedback,
    Marsh
    10:23

  2. #2 by Marsh on February 1, 2010 - 00:24

    Hi David

    Happy for you to be sceptical – it’s what we’re here for. Also, happy to clear up your worries about astroturfing – we’re a non-profit organisation, we take no donations, hold no funds, we all have day jobs (not working for pharmaceutical companies 🙂 ), we address Big Pharma when they step out of line (you might not be aware, but our campaign is actually aimed at Boots – one of the Biggest Pharmas in the UK) and we do all of this work in our own time, from our own pocket, and for our own peace of mind. This is just an issue we feel strongly about, and that the UK media, science community, BMJ, BMA and a myriad of other charities, organisations, writers, broadcasters, entertainers and activists feel the same way is just our good fortune.

    Hope that helped!
    Marsh

  3. #3 by Gittins on February 1, 2010 - 11:47

    The phrase “my own personal truth” rings alarm bells in my head. Real truth is universal, “personal truth” is a fantasy. Everyone’s opinions are not always equally valid. We are not all special little snowflakes, entitled to our own beliefs. Sometimes we are just plain wrong.

    Homeopathy is not an ancient natural healing system. It is a product of 18th century superstition and scientific ignorance. That it still exists today with a veneer of respectability is a demonstration of the scientific illiteracy of the general public.

  4. #4 by gareth binks on February 1, 2010 - 13:43

    If its not been put on here then there is news from New Zealand of some note….

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1001/S00073.htm

  5. #5 by MAK on February 1, 2010 - 13:44

    Oh dear. No one told them that a dose does not depend on the quantity but the frequency. A bottle is the same dose as one pill !!

  6. #6 by gareth binks on February 1, 2010 - 13:51

    Please find my story and a few more peoples pics and vids posted on a thread on SGU.

    I’ve been trying to drum up some more support in the US….

    http://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,25776.0.html

    My small one man “demo” in Sheffield was nothing compared to all the other particpants and I commend everyone for their dedication.

  7. #7 by Marsh on February 1, 2010 - 16:17

    Hi Mak

    Actually, people did tell us that – but those people clearly hadn’t been told that their argument makes no sense. If taking one bottle is the same as one pill, then is taking half a pill the same as a full pill? Quantity doesn’t matter… how about 1/100th of a pill? How about 1/10000th of a pill?

    If quantity doesn’t matter, why buy a bottle – why not buy a pill and take increasingly small sections of it each time? One pill to last a lifetime.

    Put like that, the argument about quantity can be shown for the ludicruous nonsense it is. It’s simply a way of inventing new rules to make the old rules seem plausible, and it fails.

    Happy to have your feedback, though, and look forward to your next explanation!
    Marsh
    10:23

  8. #8 by Charise on February 1, 2010 - 16:26

    I am compelled to answer from the point of experience, not mere outside observation and bias of mind.
    My position is unique, I’m a hospital trained nurse of many years. I got out because I burned out, I could no longer justify working at slowly killing people and making them pay for the killing.
    The protesters made sure they only took the homeopathic pills, they’d all be dead if they took an overdose of anything else.
    And just because it didn’t kill them, doesn’t mean the pills don’t work.
    They weren’t sick, how could it work?

    “A study on drugs whose observable effects on the patient are subjective and non-quantifiable really doesn’t cut it in this discussion. The simple fact remains that in order to become a licensed medical treatment in this country, a drug must be proven to have an effect *above and beyond* placebo. The suggestion that “a lot of conventional prescribing by doctors employs it” is not relevant, conventional treatments have been *proven to work*.”

    This might have been true 10 years ago but not now, all a company needs is the fee for approval, and a promise that this crap works. The FDA sold out long ago.

    Short story, drugs kill, and they do it with the FDA, CDC and AMA’s approval.
    Good example is that most conventional cancer drugs are so poisonous, that if we spilled a few drops, we had to call in a hazmat crew to clean it up.
    Worse many of the newer drugs actually cause different cancers later down the line, are known to be carcinogens, but believed to have the POTENTIAL to shrink cancer tumors. All it needs is a BIO-MARKER for cancer. As long as it can temporarily shrink a tumor it doesn’t matter if it creates several more elsewhere in the body.
    And this was being injected into living people.
    You seem to be laboring under the mistaken idea that healing and helping people is the ultimate goal here.
    It’s not, it’s about the fat bottomline, making money.
    Diseases are expensive to treat. The more disease, the more money you make. The sicker the population is the more things you can charge them for.
    And now everybody is being used as lab rats, we are the test animals for all new drugs.
    The doctors just don’t tell you that you are being used for testing.

    You have all been brainwashed to believe that doctors heal and artificial chemical drugs are good.
    You see a lie told enough times will be accepted as the truth. And if it is told by someone with a claim to “authority” it won’t even be questioned.
    Do you know what chemicals are in the drugs you take?
    Do you know if you will have a bad reaction to them?
    Do you understand what kind of affect these drugs will have on your body, since everybody reacts differently?
    How would you know that the drug caused your dizziness, or heartburn or muscle weakness, if no one told you to look for such signs of trouble?
    Why does a drug have to do harm to help?
    You can’t heal by destroying.

    Modern medicine is great.
    Is it?
    No, but the advertising would make you believe that it is great. There are movies and books about the brave souls who get cancer and survive to run for the cure.
    What cure? what happened to the cure for cancer?
    They told us that all it would take was enough money and research, that was 40 years ago.
    Modern medicine doesn’t have any answers but it it’s great, right?
    Better living thru chemistry, if you can survive the side effects, right?
    Really, do you know what is in these chemical cocktails you so trustingly swallow?
    Did you know that most doctors would not allow themselves or their families to take conventional cancer treatments?
    These drugs are tested and proven safe before approval by the FDA.
    Not true, the same chemical that is put in rat poison is the same chemical used as blood thinners for heart patients and kidney dialysis patients.
    It kills the rat and the patients, it just takes longer for humans to die. But I guarantee it will be far more expensive for the human.
    But it makes tons of money for the drug company that paid the FDA to approve the drug.
    A drug only has to accepted as being effective and beneficial, even though this drug has killed 1000’s, as long as it COULD benefit ONE person, it will be approved by today’s FDA.
    Today the FDA has to be forced to pull a dangerous drug.
    Today’s modern medicine is not at all about healing or saving lives, that’s just the cover story.
    It’s all about the money to be made by those who control the sale and distribution of drugs and treatments. They can’t risk any competition to stockholders dividends.
    Count deaths from properly taken prescription drugs, go to the CDC website and get the numbers, and be prepared to feel sick. Nearly a million a year nationwide, every year. Nothing kills more effectively than prescribed drugs.
    Dr. 007 will see you now.
    I bet you take a few drugs, over 50% of the people nationwide do as of last year.
    For ailments that used to be minor or didn’t exist until it was regulated into being by the AMA and the FDA. Things like the lowering of high blood pressure levels to now include everybody, including healthy children. And since that has been mandated to be treated ONLY by drugs soon all of us will be popping Clonidine and Hydrochlorothiazaide daily.
    Back in 2004 the level was 149/100 was high, 139/90 was borderline and 120/80 was normal.
    today 120/90 is high and needs treatment.
    Like magic they said voila! and changed everything.
    High cholesterol is the biggest lie and the greatest moneymaker for big pharma ever!
    Billions and billions of dollars worth of liver destroying, muscle wasting, useless pills being popped all over. Talk about the big lie told, this is the king of all lies, high cholesterol causes strokes and heart attacks, simply not true.
    But you argue loud and long in favor of evidence based, proven drug usage.
    But day in and day out, on the radio, TV and Internet, you are told that Lipitor and Crestor, and Plavix will save your life and stop that pesky cholesterol.
    What it does do is ensure that in a 3-4 yr you will need a liver transplant.
    They don’t tell you how many people who are on Lipitor still have heart attacks and strokes, you don’t see them but I do.
    I have my own evidence based studies to prove that healing can and does happen, without chemical drugs.
    In the beginning, our drugs came from plants and minerals in the earth, in particular the antibiotics originally came from 800 samples of Georgia dirt.
    And garlic is one of the most potent antibiotic, antibacterials, antivirals in the world.
    It’s also cheap and easy to use.
    I have personally used it several time to heal myself of pneumonia. I threw away the prescription for antibiotics, and took a raw clove of garlic everyday.
    Considering I was brought in by ambulance to the ER struggling to breathe, it wasn’t a mild case.
    My own father had liver and prostate cancer, as did my cousin at the same time.
    One got conventional treatment, the other none at all.
    One went thru 15 yr of torture, radiation, chemo, surgeries and pain, more surgeries and more radiation and chemo, until finally he wasted away from the last round of radiation. They would tell him it was in remission, but every 3-4 it came back. He said he felt like he was being cooked from the inside out.
    My father didn’t want to be treated, although in the last couple of years he did take flomax for his prostate.
    No chemo, no radiation, no surgery. He was fine until 2004 when he TIA caused by narrow arteries in his neck.
    Last year this was vindicated by the announcement that the medical powers that be declared that no longer would they recommend treatment for prostate cancer. It grows so slowly that it doesn’t impact a man’s life until he’s in his 80-90’s, 30 years after diagnosis. Treatment doesn’t improve or extend a man’s life.
    Too late for my cousin, he died last year, a few months after my father. My cousin was only 63 and my father was 84.

  9. #9 by Gittins on February 1, 2010 - 16:44

    Couldn’t you just rub the pill against your skin and absorb a little bit each day instead of ever actually swallowing it?

  10. #10 by Colin H on February 1, 2010 - 20:00

    Charise:

    I’d like to respond to a few of your points. You said:

    “The protesters made sure they only took the homeopathic pills, they’d all be dead if they took an overdose of anything else.”

    This was kind of the point. Homeopathy has no effect, therefore there can be no overdose.

    “You seem to be laboring under the mistaken idea that healing and helping people is the ultimate goal here. It’s not, it’s about the fat bottomline, making money. Diseases are expensive to treat. The more disease, the more money you make.”

    Doctors in the NHS do not earn money by keeping people ill or making them worse. They earn money by doing their job. The NHS is underfunded and strained: making people well is the only logical goal for everyone concerned. Keeping someone in a hospital bed needlessly benefits neither patient, doctor or hospital. You seem to have lumped the entire medical profession and pharmaceutical companies together, claiming conspiracy to murder. Your paranoia about medicine does not magically make homeopathy work.

    “And now everybody is being used as lab rats, we are the test animals for all new drugs.”

    That is actually part of how the business of testing medicine works, as you must know. Eventually, after other forms of testing, a new drug is given for the first time to the public, and data will be gathered. How else could you form any kind of study into whether a particular drug is working as intended or not?

    “Do you know what chemicals are in the drugs you take? Do you know if you will have a bad reaction to them? Do you understand what kind of affect these drugs will have on your body, since everybody reacts differently?”

    Yes. Medicine (here at least) comes with a list of ingredients, potential side effects, and instructions for usage. Side affects are not guaranteed to happen, and may happen worse in some people than others. That is just the way it is. No-one claims otherwise. Plus, here we have the ‘yellow card’ system, where if you feel you are getting side-effects that are not listed on the product, then you can inform the NHS. That information is then collated and used, because real information is useful to all concerned.

    “Why does a drug have to do harm to help? You can’t heal by destroying.”

    If you take a substance that has real effects, then there is risk of consequences, because that substance is ‘doing’ something, and the body is a complicated system. It’s a trade-off. Sometimes, the only medicines which will cure one thing will cause other negative effects, sometimes serious. This is just the way it is. The reason homeopathy doesn’t damage is because it doesn’t heal either. It does nothing, because there’s nothing in it.

    “What happened to the cure for cancer? They told us that all it would take was enough money and research, that was 40 years ago. Modern medicine doesn’t have any answers but it it’s great, right?”

    It doesn’t have ‘that’ particular answer. But then, neither do you, and neither does homeopathy. No-one is saying medicine is perfect, but just because there are areas where medicine has not cured something, does not somehow grant homeopathy special powers in its place.

  11. #11 by Colin H on February 1, 2010 - 20:07

    Also, homeopathic instructions on the bottle clearly state that if you feel no effect to take some extra pills until they work. If dosage is unimportant, why say this at all? It’s either important or it isn’t.

    If homeopaths are not consistent about the way in which their pills are supposed to work, why should their opinion be respected?

  12. #12 by Jonathan B on February 1, 2010 - 22:15

    Marsh,
    ‘ The belief in homeopathy has been proven to be harmful.’
    You and the other skeptics keep repeating this; however, where is the proof? The evidence I’ve seen is anecdotal (at best) and often can’t even be considered very strong anecdotal evidence. And what risk it does suggest could be mitigated by regulation of homeopathy.
    Either anecdote is worthy of consideration (in which case the huge amount supporting homeopathy is admissable) or it isn’t; to be so selective about using it is inconsistent to a degree that fundamentally undermines your argument.

    ‘The placebo effect is present in real medicine, in no less measure than in homeopathy – in fact, largely, it’s MORE effective in real medicine. Studies show the greater and more authoritarian-seeming the intervention, the stronger the placebo – getting an saline injection from a man in a white coat works better for placebo than a sugar pill.’

    So is the use of placebo ethically acceptable or not?

    ‘Fortunately, medicine has a wonderful way of side-stepping the issue of misleading people with placebo treatments – it uses treatments that actually work.’

    To some extent; however, again, I’d point out that a lot of medicine is about managing the symptoms of long term incurable conditions
    in circumstances in which conventional treatments are of limited or no value. If medical science was all about Cancer and Malaria the debate would be simpler; but a lot of it is about back pain, chronic neurological illness, psychology et cetera where ‘treatments that actually work’ can be elusive.

  13. #13 by Jonathan B on February 1, 2010 - 22:40

    Marsh
    ‘The belief in homeopathy has been proven to be harmful’

    Just to add, I’ve looked again at the (American) ‘What’s the harm?’ website; if there’s a better one please post the link.
    It cites evidence of 437 people ‘harmed’ by homeopathy. Of these:
    340 suffered loss of smell attributed to homeopathy (though the case was never tested as the manufacturer settled out of court without accepting liability).
    33 cases in Pakistan where cancer treatment was delayed and homeopathy used instead (however I’d suggest that the relative cost and accessibility of the treatments should be considered here).
    Numerous cases along the lines of ‘patient X had condition Y; they took homeopathic remedies and died’ (often in cases where the prognosis was probably unfavourable regardless of treatment).
    Several cases where conventional treatment was rejected for unconnected reasons and homeopathy used.
    A case where parents disregarded the advice of a homeopath that their child (who subsequently died) should see a doctor.
    A case where a child died of neglect (and happened to be treated with homeopathy).
    Oh, and Paula Radcliffe, who missed out on a Gold medal in the Athens Olympics because she took a homeopathy……. ‘allegedly’ (as the article’s author puts it, perhaps ironically).
    I’d say that the actual cases where one could argue that homoepathy appears to have diverted people from conventional treatments make up a tiny minority of those cited. And even then attributing the harm to homeopathy requires a bit of a leap of faith in most cases.

  14. #14 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:26

    Thanks! You provide the perfect example for what happens when someone with a delusional thinking and/or personality disorder goes on living untreated by proper (i.e. …‘not-natural’!) antipsychotics/neuroleptics…

    Cheers!

  15. #15 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:35

    Hear! Hear!

    Let them hope that in their ‘alternative universe’ apples fall into the sky also…

  16. #16 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:39

    Not exactly superstition but ‘élan vital’…

  17. #17 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:48

    It’s spells “medicines”…
    Please, go buy yourself a dictionary for next time!

  18. #18 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:54

    I’ll answer to you for all like you: you guys have such an ‘open-mind’ that you need urgent brain transplantation…

  19. #19 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 07:57

    Hahaha!

    Cheers!

  20. #20 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 08:17

    Bravo!

    Interesting circular argument!

    You are a ‘skeptic’ for the skepticism of other skeptics because you are ‘not allowed’ by their actions to be free from their skepticism…

    Get a brain!

  21. #21 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 08:30

    Skeptic is one “who knows all the answers” ???

    Perhaps you need some extra Haldol or something, ‘down to YOUR throat’…

  22. #22 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 08:32

    Skeptic is one “who knows all the answers” ???

    Perhaps you need some extra Haldol or something, ‘down to YOUR throat’…

  23. #23 by Gittins on February 2, 2010 - 09:10

  24. #24 by Jonathan B on February 2, 2010 - 19:40

    Gittins :http://www.1023.org.uk/whats-the-harm-in-homeopathy.php

    Gittins,
    Thanks – I’ve seen this one and referred to it in my first post.
    I think it illustrates my point perfectly, and to be honest undermines the credibility of the 10.23 campaign because it’s based on such shoddy ‘science’.

  25. #25 by kelly on February 2, 2010 - 22:53

    Did I read something here that conventional medicine is a trade-off (by (Colin)? Why should it be? Why should it treat your head but gives you problem in your heart? Why should it treat your diabetes and then give you something bad elsewhere?

    Also, many doctors earn commission as long as drugs are sold to patients, irregardless of whether patients need drugs are needed or not.

    Those are just 2 flaws of our modern health care.

    —————————————

    Should I support this movement? Is homepathy really ineffective?

    I look at what could be used in homeopathy…Gingko Biloba!! Take for instance the latest study of Gingko Biloba. It’s been proven it does not help improve memory for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. But if this movement is to be supported, it could also mean there may not be anymore natural foods that are effective against neurological pains – of which Gingko Biloba is proven for this (very rarely do prescription drugs do a good job for easing neurological pains).

    Another instance….the golden seal (Hydrastis) is used against catarrh, sore throat and pains. Was proven effective by a Dr. Hale in 1875. Are we going to throw out such remedies that have been proven effective?

    Cholera in Britain helped to establish the usefulness of “camphor” beyond a reasonable doubt, as the number of people cured at a homeopathic hospital were many more than those treated at other non-homeopathic hospitals.

    “Homeopathy is not effective” may not be applicable to all remedies under its umbrella.

    If this movement is about supporting critical thinking, I am all for it. But it is not only about supporting it, this movement destroys what may actually be useful.

    Why should this movement be supported? Ten23 is still clearly, part of modern conventional medicine’s “pharmacology”.

  26. #26 by David on February 3, 2010 - 14:09

    Hi Marsh,

    So you spend your own free time, and your own money, campaigning to reduce patient choice in favour of the big pharmaceutical companies? Gosh.

  27. #27 by Marsh on February 3, 2010 - 14:59

    Hi David

    A quick response to your question:

    – Own time: yes.
    – Own money: yes.
    – Reducing patient choice: very much no – as you can see, we’re advocating the spread of information, to ENHANCE patient choice. It’s not a free choice if you’re told it works, when it doesn’t. It’s not even a free choice if the person selling you it simply neglects to tell you it doesn’t work. Think of it this way – should Dixon’s be giving customers choice by selling them TVs that don’t switch on? Should bars sell people alcohol-free beer without telling them it’s non-alcoholic, in order to widen the choices available? Or should people who sell knowingly useless products admit to their customers they don’t work?
    – In favour of big pharmaceutical compaines? No – apologies if you’re not from the UK, you might not be aware that Boots is a pharmaceutical company. They’re the biggest and most respected pharmacy in the country. They’re big pharma, here.

    Cheers
    Marsh

  28. #28 by David on February 3, 2010 - 16:36

    What gives you away is that your arguments are insincere. If there is a shift in public perception towards using more expensive pharmaceuticals then the likelihood is that Boots would benefit.

  29. #29 by Marsh on February 3, 2010 - 16:41

    Gives us away? Gives what away, really? Are you now suggesting we’re being paid by Boots?

    Just to state once more, categorically, for the record – the MSS receives no funding from anyone, at all. In fact, the closest we get to coffers is when someone throws pound coins in a jar at the end of one of our pub-based lectures. The coverage the 10:23 campaign has received, the hundreds of activists and thousands of participants online – that’s all through concern for the spread of genuine, real information and debate.

  30. #30 by David on February 3, 2010 - 17:35

    If you are honestly interested in campaigning on drugs, here’s some food for thought:

    http://www.docshop.com/2008/01/26/6-drugs-the-third-world-needs-but-cannot-buy/

  31. #31 by Marsh on February 3, 2010 - 17:48

    Totally agree. In fact, that pharmaceutical companies focus 90% of their resources on creating new, tweaked versions of existing drugs in order to renew the copyright on them and therefore continue profiting, rather than create more affordable and effective vaccines and cures for third world illnesses is something I talk about a lot. It’s also a very worth cause, and if you know of a group campaigning on the topic, let me know and I’ll gladly lend my name and support to it, and promote the cause here.

    However, that another worthy cause exists doesn’t take away the need to address the claims of the homeopathic industry. This is what were concentrating on, if someone else picks up the 3rd world battle I’m entirely on board with that. If we had the money to do so, and if we didn’t have day jobs outside of campaigning and being skeptical, we might be able to turn our attention to those huge, global, multi-national concerns. Unfortunately, we’re a non-profit organisation, no funding, voluntary-time-only, and our ability to lobby the drugs companies on this would be tiny compared to a more organised and professional charity.

    We can take on the homeopathy industry, as the science behind it is non-existent, so we can argue on science – not purely on morals and ethics. It’s those areas that we’re most able to have a real effect.

  32. #32 by Colin H on February 3, 2010 - 18:33

    Actually David, Boots homeopathy is quite expensive, often more so than the medicines it sells, so Boots won’t benefit from our campaign at all.

  33. #33 by Colin H on February 3, 2010 - 18:48

    Hi Kelly,

    You said:
    “Did I read something here that conventional medicine is a trade-off (by (Colin)? Why should it be? Why should it treat your head but gives you problem in your heart? Why should it treat your diabetes and then give you something bad elsewhere?”

    Yes, unfortunately sometimes medicine is a trade-off. Not always, but sometimes. But it is not an issue of what medicine ‘should’ be, it is a case of what medicine ‘is’. Ideally, all our medicine would have no side effects, but unfortunately we don’t have enough data and knowledge to have achieved that (if it is even achievable at all). Homeopaths providing placebos doesn’t change that simple fact. If I was dying and the only known remedy would cure me but give me kidney damage for the rest of my life, I would choose it. Pointing out flaws in real medicine doesn’t grant legitamacy to pseudomedicine, it just distracts from the real issues.

    You also said:
    “I look at what could be used in homeopathy…Gingko Biloba!! Take for instance the latest study of Gingko Biloba. It’s been proven it does not help improve memory for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. But if this movement is to be supported, it could also mean there may not be anymore natural foods that are effective against neurological pains – of which Gingko Biloba is proven for this (very rarely do prescription drugs do a good job for easing neurological pains).”

    Were these studies of Gingko Biloba or of ‘homeopathic’ Gingko Biloba? If it is the former, then this proves nothing with regard to homeopathy’s efficacy.

    Also, our campaign is not against ‘natural foods’ or herbal medicines. Homeopathy is neither: it is just water. That is a strawman argument on your part, I’m afraid.

    Colin.

  34. #34 by Jonathan B on February 3, 2010 - 22:34

    Marsh
    You say you’re interested in genuine debate, but I still don’t see any real engagement with the fact that the evidence that homeopathy does harm is weaker than the evidence that it does good.
    And the question ‘Or should people who sell knowingly useless products admit to their customers they don’t work?’ is a bit disingenuous: first, it presupposes that homeopaths ‘know’ that their products don’t work (quite clearly many if not all don’t accept that this is the case).
    Secondly, if the evidence quoted on this site is correct, then the statement that homeopathy ‘may work if you believe in it’ would be at least as honest as most advertising.

  35. #35 by Marsh on February 3, 2010 - 22:56

    Jonathan
    I think the perceived weakness of the harm in homeopathy is something of a relatively side issue (although I do believe there is harm to be found there) – the evidence that it does good is remarkably weak. The positive evidence in the good of homeopathy is as strong as the evidence in favour of rain dances and healing prayer. If someone was using the authority of a reputable company to make money selling raid dances, I’d have a problem with that too – even if the dancer believed their dance could cause the rains to come.

    I’m sure some people would scoff at the comparison between rain dances and homeopathy, but I think both are products of unscientific and superstition-based belief systems, and both arose from the natural psychological instinct to infer causality from correlation – I danced and the rain came; I took this pill and my cold went. Both have been shown to be fallacious – the rain was produced by a complex weather system; the cold was fought off by a well-developed immune system in the same period of time it would have gone anyway.

    I think the harm is therefore two-fold: legitimizing an unscientific approach to the world, which in itself can lead to further mishaps (or at best can lead to no progression of human knowledge); and profiteering by the party selling the rain dance service, homeopathic pills or healing prayer. Even if you believed that prayer would heal, the evidence shows it can’t – encourage people to believe it can for profit, and you encourage them to rely on it when they need help.

    Marsh

  36. #36 by Jonathan B on February 5, 2010 - 23:24

    Marsh,

    Marsh :JonathanI think the perceived weakness of the harm in homeopathy is something of a relatively side issue (although I do believe there is harm to be found there) – the evidence that it does good is remarkably weak.
    Marsh

    Well, yes, except that the argument that homeopathy does harm is repeated in most of the articles and posts from its opponents, here and elsewhere, as a kind of rhetorical knock-out blow. Without it, the case against homeopathy starts to look much weaker; and the way that skeptics discard the standards of evidence that they use to show that homeopathy is unproven when they try to demonstrate its harmfulness seems to me to undermine their credibility.

    The more fundamental problem with your position is the view of science that you imply: there is a tendency, I think to ascribe to science a moral significance that it simply cannot sustain. Science can mean either knowledge (in the sense of ‘the facts’) or method (a particular means of achieving that knowledge). Knowledge is usually a good thing and scientific method is valuable, but scientific method in its strict sense cannot be the only route to knowledge, and certainly not the kind of knowledge that informs action (the best current example I can think of is the state of the economy and what is to be done about it).
    Moreover, the assumption that an ‘unscientific approach to the world’ is undesirable is, I think, both wrong and unrealistic: in particular, science cannot help us to make ethical choices. Your view (that people ought to know ‘the truth’ about homeopathy) is an ethical judgement, and like all ethical judgements is based on a set of values that cannot be rooted in ‘knowledge’. That doesn’t make it (necessarily) wrong, but it does take it into a field that is ‘beyond science’. And it makes science vs, superstition a false dichotomy.

    The actor Stephen Mangan in a recent interview spoke of science as ‘…. the way, the truth and the light. Not just for its beauty, its ability to deliver us from quacks and astrologers and homeopathy, its ability to illuminate the strange and wondrous place that is this universe, but also for being the gift of accumulated knowledge that mankind continues to hand down through the generations.’

    That sounds to me a bit like a Skeptic’s creed: it’s fine as far as it goes, but it overlooks the fact that napalm, the Atom Bomb and global warming are products of science just as much as antibiotics, water purification and the internet.

    Science is immensely helpful to humanity, but on its own it’s of limited value and even potentially dangerous; a scientific belief system is a contradiction in terms, but like it or not, we all posess belief systems and cannot function as human beings without them.

    Apologies if this is unacceptably ‘off-topic’…
    All the Best,
    JB

  37. #37 by Cardinal Sceptic on March 16, 2010 - 18:50

    If you consider homoeopathy at best, a placebo, is it your intention to also stop Boots selling NHS ‘faux medicines’ that are prescribed and dispensed as placebos? Hey, placebos work, even for sk(c)eptics. Is it your intention to remove totally, the ability for a doctor to decide?

    By ‘selling’, I refer to that happy band of brothers who actually pay for their medicines and don’t perceive them as free – making an NHS placebo about £2 more expensive than a Nelson’s one.

  38. #38 by rashmi on July 19, 2011 - 07:22

    Dear, please let me know the happening after 1023 campain honestly. You must take a review of homoeopathic research papers first and also talk to me or dare to do something like this in india you will know the scientific bais of homoeopathy. you are also requested to read the book ‘My Organon of Nanomedicine then talk.’

  39. #39 by ADITYA on February 25, 2012 - 11:22

    INSTEAD OF CHOOSING PILLS, THEY SHOULLD DRINK A BOTTEL OF DILUTION OF SILICIA IM. IT CAN PROOVE THE EFFECTIVNESS OF HOMOEOPATHY

(will not be published)