Archive for April, 2010

Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland Denounces Homeopathy

Following an announcement from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, we at the Merseyside Skeptics Society ‘10:23 Campaign‘ would like to offer our full and unequivocal support to the new draft guidelines, which would require pharmacies to explicitly inform patients that homeopathic products simply do not work.

In the light of this proposal, we urge the the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain to follow suit and issue similar guidelines for its members.

We maintain the belief that ineffective treatments should not be offered for sale in pharmacies, nor should patients be burdened with the responsibility of checking the medical literature for data supporting the claims of efficacy made for products found on pharmacy shelves. Until pharmacies realise that they must prioritise patient care over profit by providing only scientifically proven treatments, it is up to individual pharmacists to ensure that patients are given the information they need about homeopathy at the point of sale.

We feel this stance from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, in addition to the publication of Science and Technology Select Committee Evidence Check on homeopathy in February of this year, fully supports our campaign to have these ineffective treatments removed from the shelves of legitimate pharmacies across the UK, as well as having taxpayer funding for these unproven treatments on the NHS revoked.

The new guidelines published by the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland will help ensure that patients in Northern Ireland are not misled about the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments.

We call upon the responsible pharmacists of the rest of the UK, as well as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, to follow suit – it’s time for this ineffective and wasteful treatment to be put to bed.



Scientologists* Are Criminals! (*I Mean The Ones Already In Prison, Obviously)

Scientologists are criminals.

Don’t worry, that’s not a wild assertion made to martyr myself as the next cause célèbre of the libel reform campaign (although that’s not a bad idea – I mean who’d heard of the Simon Singh fella before he pointed out the happily bogus claims of the BCA? That’s right: nobody. And now look at him – front page of the BBC, on every skeptical podcast going, and standingly-ovated every time he leaves the house. I think the only way, therefore, to get big in the world of skepticism is now libel martyrdom. Fuck it – Dereck Acorah eats babies and Rupert Murdoch is a first-class cunt).

Anyway, as I was saying, scientologists ARE criminals. Or, at least, some of them are – according to the cult themselves. In fact, more scientologists are criminals than we previously thought, if the cult is to be believed (which, of course, it probably isn’t – because lots of scientologists are criminals, as I say).

I’ll explain, or rather, I’ll let the Telegraph explain:

Scientology ‘has branch in every English prison’

Scientology has obtained a foothold in every prison in England and Wales, a spokesman for the religion claims, despite official figures which show only three prisoners acknowledge following the religion.

Essentially, the crazy cult (who were convicted of activities listed as ‘fraud in an organised gang’ in France last year) have been targeting prisoners across England and Wales, in an attempt to help them see the error of their ways, go straight, expunge their thetons, audit their woes and generally do all that fun scientological stuff that keeps Tom Cruise bouncing on couches and keeps the creepy, sinister smile on Tommy Davis’ face. You see, their organisation has an entire programme dedicated to the rehabilitation of lags (does anybody other than The Sun use the word lag? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used. Other than, you know, jet lag – but I think that’s a different context. Is someone who gets jailed for hijacking planes is known as a jet lag? I’d like to think so). Read the rest of this entry »

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Question of The Week: What Unexplained Experiences Have You Had?

Those skeptics, they always think they know everything…

Except we don’t, of course. We may always think there is a logical explanation for weird events, etc., but we don’t claim to always know what it is. Like anyone else, skeptics have experiences that they might not be able to fully explain, maybe even some very strange ones at that. We just don’t jump to conclusions about them.

So this week’s Question of The Week is this: What Unexplained Experiences Have You Had?

What has happened to you that you could not explain at the time? Maybe you’ve seen strange lights in the sky, or heard a knock at your door in the middle of the night only for there to be no-one there. Maybe you’ve since found out the explanation, but for a long while you couldn’t explain it. Either way, we’d love to hear it, so please leave your answers below…


Skeptics with a K: Episode #020

The Skeptics with a K discuss CRIMINON, skeptical limericks and speaking German after a coma.  Plus Pet Sematary, osteopaths and free falling from 18,000 ft.


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Music Medicine: ‘Sound Feelings’, Bullshit Concepts

When most people hear about the healing powers of music, I’m sure they think of the soft soulful beats of Lionel Richie or Michael Bolton, gently ushering them through a messy break-up – I know I do. But for some, music has healing powers of a more literal, less-early 90s housewife and altogether more bullshit nature. I’m talking, in fact, about Sound Feelings, a Californian company founded by Howard Richman, who proudly proclaim:

“We are music, health and education audio and book publishers. We specialize in music medicinemusic instructionweight loss alternative therapies and film scoring

An eclectic mix there, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m sure you’ll also allow me to skip over the film scoring and piano lessons, and get right down to the good stuff – taking a look at the alternative therapies on offer, this film-scoring-music-guru will merrily peddle you products for ‘Internal Cleansing‘, weight loss products and books, as well as – amazingly – a weight loss photo. Which is literally just a photoshopped photo of the current-sized-You, adjusted in order to make you look slimmer. And black and white. Apparently, this is a great motivational technique. Yeah.

On top of all that, the good maestro advises on a dangerous-sounding 10-Point Colon Cleanse – because, I don’t know about you, but I always take digestive advice from someone with a B.A. degree in piano performance (from UCLA, no less).Surprisingly, Howard’s not a doctor, or any kind of science-acquainted person. In fact, one of the few things I particularly like about the site is that his bio describes him as being an ‘unlikely “expert” in the field of weight loss.’

You can say that again. Read the rest of this entry »


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Is Someone Warping My Space-Time?

On the first of April, New Scientist ran an article on its site with the daft title ‘Time Lords Discovered in California’. That title was just one in a long list of pointless references to Doctor Who, despite the fact that Doctor Who had bugger all to do with the article. They were just trying to be topical and trap the unwary web-surfer I suppose.

Another possible attempt at topicality was the date – April 1st being April Fool’s Day of course. Instantly, my brain was on skeptic-alert. Am I about to be had? Will I fall uncritically for a story with as much basis in reality as the spaghetti harvest? I can be on occasion quite gullible, despite being a skeptic. I suppose my involvement with skepticism is probably due in some degree to a form of damage limitation. Like putting my seatbelt on. But I digress. Read the rest of this entry »