Posts Tagged edzard ernst

QED Announces Tickets and Speakers For 2012

Earlier this year, we ran the highly-successful QED conference with our friends over at the Greater Manchester Skeptics. It was such fun that we’ve decided to do it again, in March 2012. Tickets are on sale now, and what follows is a formal announcement from the full QED team:

QED Tickets: On Sale Now!

 

With the next ‘QED: Question. Explore. Discover.’ taking place in March 2012, the QED team are pleased to reveal eight of the speakers lined up to feature on the bill for our second ever weekend celebration of science and critical thinking, hosted once more in The Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester on March 10th-11th, 2012. The exciting program of speakers will include:

 

  • Joe Nickell, one of the most widely-respected and experienced paranormal researchers of all time, with a phenomenal investigative history include discovering the techniques behind the making of the Turin Shroud and uncovering the true story behind the Amityville house.
  • Recently retired from his post as Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, Edzard Ernst has long been a tireless and diligent researcher into all manner of alternative modalities, admirably exposing the pseudoscience at their core – not least of which in his book Trick Or Treatment, co-authored with 2011 QED speaker Simon Singh.
  • Maryam Namazie is a human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster. Spokesperson for both the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, in 2005 Maryam was named Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society and has campaigned tirelessly on secular issues.
  • David Aaronovitch is an author, broadcaster, and journalist who has enthralled audiences up and down the country with his thorough debunking of conspiracy theories – a topic comprehensively covered in his 2009 book, Voodoo Histories.
  • Recently-appointed Managing Editor of The Skeptic magazine, Deborah Hyde has been writing about the supernatural for nearly two decades. A makeup effects coordinator in the film industry by day, Deborah’s extensive knowledge of the macabre and esoteric folklores of cultures around the world has thrilled Skeptics in the Pub groups across the country.
  • Steve Jones is former Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London and has written and lectured about science to a general audience for over fifteen years. Steve also recently led the BBC Trust review of impartiality and accuracy in the BBC’s coverage of science, concluding the media often offers undue weight to fringe beliefs.
  • Sarah Angliss is trained in electroacoustics, music and robotics, combining all three to create original sound installations, exhibits and live performances that mix cutting-edge science with vintage sound technology and stories from the history of science.
  • Ian Ridpath has been a full-time writer, editor, broadcaster, and lecturer on astronomy and space for almost 30 years. With over 40 books to his name, Ian has an encyclopaedic knowledge of UFO folklore, and in 1986 was commended in the British Science Writers Awards for his investigation and explanation of Britain’s most famous UFO case in Rendlesham Forest.
This list is of course by no means complete, and further guests will be announced in the coming weeks, as will our program for the break-out room – which proved highly popular at the first event.

 

You can book your place at QED 2012 now, with tickets a very-reasonable £89 (or £68 with a valid student ID). Once more, we’ll also be offering a limited number of places for our exclusive gala dinner, where you can dine with our fantastic speakers for just £45.

 

For those with altruistic tendencies, there is also the option of paying a £10 voluntary donation directly to good causes, bringing the ticket price to the same as for QED 2011 and adding a little extra cash into the charity pot, which will once again be split between two great causes: Sense About Science and the National Autistic Society.

 

After the huge amount of fun we had hosting the first QED, we’re all hugely excited about what 2012 has in store – so book your ticket now, and we’ll see you there!

 

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Ernst Praises Hahnemann?

Resident MSS Doctor and Skeptics in the Pub goer Selva shares his views on Edzard Ernst and Samuel Hahnemann…

In a recent Pulse magazine article professor of complementary medicine Edzard Ernst praised the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann.

“In my view, Samuel Hahnemann, the German doctor who invented homeopathy about 200 years ago, is a man who should be celebrated.”

Can this be true? Surely one of the most respected proponents of evidence based medicine cannot be advocating homeopathy as a treatment.

In his article he cites the hammering homeopathy has received over the last year including the House of Commons select committee’s damning report, the BMA describing homeopathy as “witchcraft”, and my particular favourite – comedians taking the “homeopathic mickey” (sadly 10.23’s not insignificant role doesn’t get a mention).

Fortunately normal service resumes further in the article – to quote Prof Ernst:

“His primary achievement is not to have developed homeopathy. His true achievement is that, in the course of doing this, he has shown us how important non-specific effects – often also called the ‘art’ of medicine – are in terms of getting patients better. To put it bluntly, Hahnemann has taught us that patients can improve even when we give them nothing but placebos.”

This somewhat conciliatory line is admirable, but I think also provides the crack which has allowed homeopathy to be practiced for so many years as an NHS treatment. Most doctors either haven’t been aware of the implausibility of homeopathy, or have been happy for other practitioners to provide placebos to patients, in the knowledge that there is some perceived benefit. Homeopathy is often given for intractable problems, where EBM doesn’t always provide sufficient benefit. As Prof Ernst says, the act of being empathic and providing sufficient time is often enough to make the patient feel better. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Doctor Says: There May Be Trouble Ahead

Dr Selva Rasaiah is a regular at Merseyside Skeptics in the Pub. Here, in response to my support for real medicine, he takes an inside look at the NHS, and doesn’t like what he sees…

The other day, I read Marsh’s latest post ‘Real Medicine: I Wonder’ with interest – as (hopefully!) one of the “good doctors” he wrote of, I would like to report all is well within the NHS. Unfortunately I can’t. Virtually all the comments on his piece were positive about the use of conventional medicine, but an important point was raised regarding the care of osteoarthritic hip pain. Currently the options for “wear and tear” arthritis are very limited, the options being:

  1. do nothing
  2. take painkillers
  3. hip replacement surgery.

The only definitive treatment is option 3, which for most patients is a life changing procedure. Unfortunately it has a limited lifespan, and in general is only offered to more severely affected patients. As this condition can start in the 50’s or younger, we have the difficult task of informing people that they will have to put up with the pain for many years before surgery will be considered. The problem with evidence based medicine (EBM) is that it leaves lots of gaps, which CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is more than happy to fill.

On a daily basis, we have to inform patients that their self limiting viral illness/gastroenteritis etc. will not respond to antibiotics. It is so easy to skip the explanation and just dish out the pills, but with the advent of MRSA and other drug resistant nasties, the finger is pointing more and more at “irresponsible GP’s” and their over-prescribing of antibiotics as the cause of this new epidemic. How tempting it would therefore be to prescribe a harmless placebo that might make people feel better, psychologically if not physically. There is however, something inherently dishonest about this approach that would prevent me and most of my colleagues from doing so.

However, a small – but noisy – bunch of GPs DO seem to have followed this route, and regularly post articles and comments in GP magazines. Read the rest of this entry »

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