Posts Tagged Activism

Dear Luciana Berger MP: Homeopathy? Really?

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It’s been a little while since the furore over the pro-homeopathy EDMs and David ‘hand in the till’ Tredinnick‘s one-quack crusade to have homeopathy recognised as the greatest thing since succussed bread, but one name that stood out to me on the roll-call of signatories and seconders was that of Luciana Berger MP, and it was a name I couldn’t let lie.

You see, Luciana is MP for Wavertree, Liverpool – not more than a couple of miles from my home, and the constituency in which I’ve spent much of my 9 years in Liverpool. What’s more, Luciana seems to be a pretty reasonable MP – she’s in favour of equal rights for women, equality for those of all sexualities, against all forms of racial discrimination and generally appears to be a fairly-well-informed MP, certainly when compared to Mr Tredinnick, whose EDMs she’s signed.

It struck me that rather than based on ideology, Luciana’s support for Tredinnick’s pet pills might well be a simple case of her not knowing what homeopathy is really about – which is relatively understandable, given the high percentage of the public who think ‘homeopathy’ is just another term for ‘herbal medicine’ and aren’t acquainted with the scientific literature.

Clearly, then, the best approach would be to politely offer to engage over the issues and present the science, rather than berate Luciana with the intensity and single-mindedness we ought to save for those whose belief in homeopathy is blindly ideological (Tredinnick, yes, we mean you). To this end, on the 11th of August I took it upon myself as representative of the 10:23 Campaign and the Merseyside Skeptics Society – a pro-science group with significant numbers in her very constituency – to contact Luciana and offer her our side of the story.

She hasn’t yet responded, which is what has prompted me to share this letter with the MSS readers, to not only convey what I believe to be the best way to engage with those who may not fully understand what homeopathy is, and also to prompt Luciana into the response I sincerely hope she is willing to provide. To reiterate – I don’t believe she deserves abuse, or indeed anger, but wish to simply open the lines of dialogue to put forward the science on homeopathy. Perhaps when given the chance to hear what homeopathy is, and why it’s implausible, the evident common-sense Luciana displays in other policies will win out on the subject of the sugar pills. The full letter is provided below. Read the rest of this entry »

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10:23 – A View From The Centre

I can make this blog post as it’s still the weekend at the time of writing. Yesterday I tweeted how we all deserved to feel smug for at least 24 hrs. And I meant it. But tomorrow is Monday. Back to real life in many ways because the last 3 months, and the last couple of weeks in particular have been one of the most rewarding periods of my life. Not because I did something amazing. But because lots of people worked together to do something amazing. I know this is a feeling shared by many people this weekend.

The reason this protest was so successful was because of the backstory, the unheard voice of the British skeptical community, the private outrage expressed through blogs and web sites and individual efforts feeling completely unheard by the general population.

The idea belongs to the community. Inspired by the likes of Randi and his famous serial overdosing, egged on by the success of the Belgian skeptics and their overdose a couple of years ago. The Belgians were about 25 in number. And they achieved big headlines.

MSS decided some while back that it would be more than a talking shop. Like so many scousers before us we wanted action and we wanted it now. We also knew that the traditional skeptical battles were already continually being fought out in the blog trenches. Any slight bit of mainstream media coverage for one of the traditional skeptical targets such as psychics or bad medicine or even the dowsing rods being sold to the Iraqis for £40k each showed that the skeptical community had plenty of fight and ability in it. We all felt that focussing this energy was what would bring the best results. Homeopathy was a good target for our effort and we resolved to make this the focus for MSS in the medium term and started thinking about what we might do. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homeopathic Mass ‘Overdose’ – The 10:23 Campaign

10:23 Campaign

The 10:23 Campaign

Cross-posted from the JREF Swift blog.

Generally speaking, when homeopathy hits the headlines here in the UK skeptics have cause to wince – whether it’s B-list celebrities advocating homeopathic malaria preventionnewspaper lifestyle columns promoting the benefits of the long-discredited pseudomedical practice or simply major pharmacies out to make an easy profit, there are very seldom many good days for succussion-skeptics.

Saturday, 30th January 2010, however, was different. At precisely 10:23am that morning, over 400 protesters took to the streets of cities around the UK as part of the 10:23 campaign – aiming to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of homeopathic pills. Gathering in a dozen town centres the length and breadth of the land, activists bravely took their lives into their hands by ‘overdosing’ on entire bottles homeopathic remedies.

Unsurprisingly, no skeptics were harmed in the making of this protest – for, as we know, there’s nothing in homeopathy. Zip. Zilch. Nil. What’s more, the event didn’t go unnoticed – with prominent press coverage from the BBCThe GuardianThe Telegraph and even the Huffington Post, amongst many, many other sources. Radio stations had phone-ins on the the story. It made the TV news. All in all, this wasn’t a day for skeptics to wince. Read the rest of this entry »

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