Posts Tagged alternative medicine

NHS Wirral and The North West Friends Of Homeopathy: A Typical Wednesday Evening Out

I’ve had a rather interesting evening. Last week, MSS member and local councillor Darren Dodds alerted me to the fact that Wirral NHS were holding an open meeting to discuss whether to continue funding homeopathy in the region, with the recommendation being very much ‘No, we absolutely shouldn’t’. Needless to say, I agree with this recommendation, and wanted to go along to let them know that I – and by extension the hundred or more local MSS members – applaud their step in the right direction. Interested parties should read the report they came up with, it’s really pretty good. Some highlights:

The paper concludes that the lack of evidence on efficacy and cost-effectiveness of homeopathic therapies means that it should not be a high priority for the PCT at this time. It is recommended that NHS Wirral does not commission homeopathictherapies.

The key risk is that NHS Wirral fails to maintain its reputation as an evidence-based commissioning PCT.

Excellent stuff. Still, it seems we weren’t the only ones made aware of the open meeting – also invited were patients currently or formerly using homeopathy, and the ‘North West Friends of Homeopathy‘. This latter group are most interesting, and I’ll come back to them a little later in more detail, but first it’s worth pointing out that I appeared on local radio with a member of the group on Monday morning, in an exchange that might amuse, and will certainly give a far better impression of who John Cook is than I could ever do justice with words. UK-based readers can listen here, it starts around the 2hour 13minute mark and lasts about 10 minutes. I’ll wait.

For those not able, willing or interested in listening, what we have from John is a charming ability to hog a conversation, and the maniacal insistence that the date of the meeting was aired. Clearly, John wanted his supporters to arrive mob-handed. Fair enough, he probably feels he has a strong case. As it was, when I arrived with a couple of other MSS members there were maybe 40 or so people present, a number which I presume to be in excess of the general norm for these meetings.

John, having lobbied for inclusion, was amongst the speakers, joined by Dr. Hugh Neilsen BA MA BM BCh MRCP FFHom (it’s worth pointing out that his name is actually Hugh Nielsen, and the NWFoH’s own website, while painstaking in it’s detail of Hugh’s many qualifications, mispells the name of their own president), and the panel was completed by two local GPs who were involved in making the recommendation, and who spent the evening ranging between bemused, compassionate and at times startled. Startled, not least, by the quite spectacular opening by John, the homeopath’s friend (which I imagine is rather like a Fisherman’s Friend, but lacking in clout), in which he directed a quite flattering string of insults at me directly, and at the Merseyside Skeptics Society. Read the rest of this entry »

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Of Needles and Dentistry

Last month the BBC news website published an article about recent research on the use of acupuncture in treating phobias, particularly dental phobia – a fear of going to the dentist’s.

The research was published in the international peer-reviewed journal Acupuncture in Medicine, and was carried out by eight dentists, including the research leader Dr Palle Rosted. It involved twenty people, each of whom spent five minutes recieving treatment in the chair prior to their check-up, with needles placed at two specific acupuncture points on their head reputed to aid relaxation Read the rest of this entry »

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Dogs And Autism: Human Sanity Concerns Over ‘Canine Health Concern’

As friends, stalkers, regular readers or simply plain-old psychics might know, I’ve been out of the country for a week, throwing myself off the side of mountains in the name of adrenaline, enjoyment and over-priced middle-class adventure-holiday fun. Hence my shocking goggle-tan, slight working-class-guilt-pangs and radio silence here on the blog. Fortunately, I had a great time away… but I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed by how things were when I got back. People are still pretending to talk to the dead, homeopathy’s still on the NHS, and the Daily Mail is still pumping out batshit lunacy. Really, did you all do nothing while I was gone? Shocking.

Speaking of the Daily Mail and my own relative silence of late, here’s something uber-old-hat by now (news these days moves so fast) but I felt I had to write it up partly because a) it’s batshit insane, b) it’s a good example of how fallacious arguments are entirely interchangeably applicable to a whole range of topics and c) it gives me a chance to make some cheap gags:

Vaccines ‘are making our dogs sick as vets cash in’ Source: Daily Mail (obviously).

See what I mean? Replace ‘dogs’ for ‘babies’ and ‘vets’ for ‘doctors’, and you’ve got a textbook anti-vaccination statement, a la Miss McCarthy. And it doesn’t stop there:

“Vaccines given to dogs are making them ill, a pet charity claimed yesterday. Profit-hungry drug companies and vets are ‘frightening’ dog owners into inoculating their pets more often than necessary, according to Canine Health Concern.”

If this isn’t PR for the Canine Health Concern charity, I don’t know what is. And it doesn’t stop there, either 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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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’). Read the rest of this entry »

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Got Tapped?

In his first post for the MSS, Allan take a look at needle-free acupuncture and Emotional Freedom Technique…

I was so overcome with joy when I discovered what I am about to tell you that I am now writing with my eyes full of salty tears, warm and wet with emotion… Friends! I come to you with Good News!

Are you – a beautiful, delicate human soul – suffering from some sort of emotional pain, or physical ailment? Do your unique thoughts blossom as the daisies in the meadow, but often gravitate onto grave issues that induce effects from the mild melancholic to chronic, debilitating depression, perhaps interfering with your mathematical abilities? Do intrusive, perhaps obsessive thoughts on your disruptive encounters with precious friends or beloved family trouble you in your daily life, causing a phobia of lifts or dyslexia? Are the ongoing effects of war and rape pushing up your golf handicap, troubling your urination or just leaving you with an untidy room?

  • Would you like to completely overcome all of these problems and many more in just minutes?
  • Would you like to harness the completely unverifiable, but incredibly powerful meridian and chakra knowledge of the ancient Chinese? Then…

*shudders* For a minute there, I felt like a Chopra.

Where was I?

Ah yes! What we all really want in these twisted, perverted modern times is the ability to have all of our guilty pleasures without any of the guilt, take heart from our healthy pleasures without spending time on them, in short to have our horseshit without the pressing need for a horse. Sugar-free sweets, fat-free butter, exertion-free exercise, arsenic-free arsenic solution, cure-free cures and, of course, needle-free acupuncture. Read the rest of this entry »

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