Skeptics in the Pub: Anniversary Special (formerly Andy Lewis)

Anniversary Bonanza

When: Thu, Feb 18, 2010 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines (aka the Big House), 81 Lime Street, Liverpool

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances our booked guest speaker Andy Lewis is unable to make this event. However, all is not lost – in honour of the first anniversary of the Merseyside Skeptics Society we’ve decided to replace Andy’s talk with a number of short talks on a variety of topics:

  • Emotional Freedom Technique, by Allan Callister – a look at the latest craze for face-tapping therapy
  • Bad Logic, Mike Hall – examining logical failures, with examples from the world of religion
  • PR and the Media, Michael Marshall – how PR gained control of journalism, and where we go from here
  • How Science Works, Tom Williamson – what is science, how do we do it and how do we know it works?

Plus, a live recording of the Skeptics with a K show.

The Persistence of Delusion

by Andy Lewis


The late eighteenth century was a very creative time for inventing new forms of quackery and many became quite wealthy on the back on their invention. Of these creations, it is perhaps only homeopathy that has survived virtually unchanged into the 21st century. The majority of alternative medicines available today have been invented and developed within living memory, despite claims of their origins in antiquity. What makes an alternative medicine successful? Why should homeopathy survive when the very popular tractors of Perkins have long since been forgotten? Could you have predicted this in 1800? Today, we have a new industry of quack devices protecting us from mobile phones. Should you invest in such enterprises? In this talk, Andy will look at the factors that make pseudo-medicines thrive and why consumers and practitioners latch onto them. Importantly, we shall explore the implications of these views for regulation and protecting the public from delusional or fraudulent claims.


Andy Lewis developed the web site that explores the pseudo-medical claims of alternative medicine web sites and their impact on society. Despite his detractors claims, he does not own a yacht in the South of France paid for by Big Pharma. He has yet to secure a single penny from such sources for his work.

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  1. #1 by sarah yates on January 30, 2010 - 22:44

    Granted homeopathy is almost certainly an outstanding placebo-
    delivered with care and attention =also good, but then placebo’s work, and they don’t work if you don’t believe in them, so homeopathy works with no side effects =ideal
    Antidepressants don’t work, not when you include all the hidden negative trials, and they have many side-effects, plus they produce a discontinuation syndrome (addictive), and harm babies. If you are going to be true skeptics you need to outskeptic the skeptics and go back to snake oil, at least it’s rich in omega 3. The biggest scam going is psychotrophics, so easy to fudge the data, and a bottomless market. Have a look on the legal site psychrights and look at the evidence of outright fraud. It’s pseudo-science marketed by the big boys you should be after. I am a scientist, and the data for many drugs is so poor it’s more scientific to suck it and see than to rely on published ‘evidence’. That’s how far we have come. Also try the scientific misconduct site run by Aubrey Blumenson.

  2. #2 by soma on February 2, 2010 - 10:38

    “The biggest scam going is psychotrophics…”

    Then the next time you have a persistent hiccup I suggest to take some Haldol to enjoy yourself!
    Not to mention the aftermath clarity of thought you’re going to feel…

    And a small question: how about peer reviews etc data and meta-analysis? Are they globally all ‘lying’ in a mass conspiracy compliance with big dollars pharma-companies too?

  3. #3 by sarah yates on April 19, 2010 - 00:06

    Soma, sweetheart, you have hit the right button, the answer to your small question is, sadly, yes. Many can and have proven it. Oh and given haldol reduces the volume of normal monkey brains by 10% after 18 months at ‘therapeutic’ doses it would have to be some mighty hiccup to warrant that particular intervention. As for clarity of thought – personally I’ll stick to a brain of original size, and with the correct density of glial cells – intuition suggests it might be the wisest course of action.

(will not be published)