Posts Tagged homeopathy

Homeopathy Plus, Radiation Poisoning and Japan (Yes, You Guessed Correctly)

Having written about and campaigned against homeopathy extensively in the past, I’ve seen a number of counter-arguments and issues raised by people who either disagree with the 10:23 Campaign (primarily homeopaths, admittedly). The one which crops up most regularly and seem to have, at least on the surface, the most sway is: if homeopathy IS just a placebo, is that so bad? Placebos, after all, can be shown to have an effect, and if judicially used could form a perfectly legitimate part of mainstream healthcare.

Persuasive as this sounds, the answer is actually pretty simple – leaving aside the implications for doctor-patient trust (handing out pills known to be ineffective and claiming they’re medicine definitely doesn’t gel with the important notion of informed consent), incorporating homeopathy into proven medicine lends the modality legitimacy, which can lead to things like this (screencapped from an email):

Homeopathy Plus

Even after all this time, homeopathy still leaves me speechless sometimes.

Following the link from that alert takes you to the Homeopathy Plus website, with their advice on how to deal with the side effects of Chemotherapy – advice they believe to be equally applicable to radiation poisoning. Just to make it absolutely clear, as if I even needed to, there is a HUGE difference between the side-effects experienced after having a well-controlled, targeted and managed dose of chemotherapy to fight cancer, and being randomly exposed to an uncontrolled amount radiation following a damaged nuclear power plant. It goes without saying that this is irresponsible and dangerous advice, and by all means it should be ignored. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Skeptics with a K: Special #007

QED has been and gone, so we’re taking a week off to recover.  But rather than leave you totally empty handed, we decided to put out this short interview from BBC Radio Five, featuring Marsh and a homeopath.  We’ll see you for a full episode next time!

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Overdosing on homeopathy: there’s nothing in it

10:23, London, 2010 (photo by Kelly Haddow)

10:23, London, 2010 (photo by Kelly Haddow

This post was originally a guest post I wrote for The Times Eureka science blog, which can be found behind the paywall.

On Sunday, February 6th, at precisely 10:23am, I will be hoping over a thousand people around the world will have spent the last 24 hours joining me in a so-called mass “overdose”.

Don’t worry, I’m not following in the footsteps of Jim Jones, nor will there be any Kool-Aid anywhere to be seen. Instead, there will be 28 countries, 69 cities and over one 1023 consumer rights activists, each passionate about spreading genuine healthcare information. And there will be a hell of a lot of little homeopathic pills.

Let me explain. In September 2009, myself and a couple of other members of the Merseyside Skeptics Society (a non-profit, voluntary organisation set up to promote critical thinking) settled on a project to help spread genuine information about what homeopathic remedies are, and how they are produced. Opinion polls suggested members of the public thought homeopathic products were synonymous with ‘herbal’, ‘natural’ and ‘chemical-free’ – when in reality they couldn’t be further from all of those things.

Faced with this low level of public understanding, the £4million+ per year spent by the NHS on homeopathy was hard to swallow, and out of the frustration at this disconnection the 10:23 Campaign was born. The aim was simple, to raise awareness among the public that homeopathy is not a valid or useful medical alternative, due to thestupendously dilute nature of each remedy. Put simply: ‘There’s Nothing In It’.

After much careful planning, by the 30th January 2010 we’d raised such interest in the campaign that we’d gathered over 350 protestors in more than a dozen UK cities. Each supporter came armed with an off-the-shelf remedy from their local Boots pharmacy (the high street giant drawing particular ire for their admission that they sell homeopathic products not because they work, but because they sell), and a simple mandate – at the stroke of 10:23am, they were to swallow the entire contents of the homeoapthic vial. The event is pictured above (photo by Kelly Haddow).

In reality, somewhat disappointingly, this amounted to a rather meagre capfull of little sugary balls – while homeopathy is nonsense, it’s also a very expensive nonsense (gram for gram, homeopathic pills sell for twice the price of sterling silver). Still, the event must have proven to be something of a spectacle, as it garnered a quite staggering level of media attention, spreading our message that there really is nothing in homeopathic remedies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homeopathic Feedback: The Other Kind

Recently, in the run up to the big 10:23 Campaign D-day, I’ve been publishing some of the hilarious hate mail we’ve been getting – something I really love to do. But hate mail’s not the only type we get, even from homeopaths, and I thought I’d share with you an email which I found quite intriguing and interesting, and my response. As he’s not wishing me a burning anus, death or anything like that, I’ve held back his name (it’s easy to Google if you HAVE to, but there’s really genuinely no need to). See, I can be nice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homeopaths Say The Darndest Things

With less than a week to go, time for another peek into the 10:23 Campaign inbox!  Starting with this effort, from Dr.Inderjeet Nanda:

u will get nowhere…good collection of assholes

And my response:

Thanks for your interest in our campaign! I also appreciate the tone of your debating technique – rather than explain to me why you believe I’m wrong, or offering evidence in favour of homeopathy, you’ve decided instead for the minimalist approach. Less is more, after all – it’s a homeopathic debating style, and a dedication to your art which I must admire. Also, I’m not sure why you choose to complement my ability to collect anuses – as yet I’ve not tried, but should I ever take up ass-collecting as a hobby I’ll do so with your ringing endorsement in my ears. All the best! Marsh

Good start! Next up, from John Orr Read the rest of this entry »

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