Posts Tagged liverpool
Last year, skeptical charity the Good Thinking Society successfully challenged NHS Liverpool CCG over their decision to spend over £30,000 per year on homeopathic remedies. Given that homeopathy has proven to be nothing other than placebo, they argued that spending any money at all on this treatment was unjustifiable and possibly unlawful, and we at the Merseyside Skeptics Society supported them full. We’re expecting the results of the consultation soon, but meanwhile some of the few remaining CCGs to still fund homeopathy are beginning to conduct their own consultations, with NHS Wirral CCG next to seek the opinions of the public on the funding of homeopathy.
Please take a moment to share your thoughts with the CCG via their online survey, which is open to everyone, even if you are not a resident of the Wirral: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WHDHW3X
This is a rare chance for us to make our opinions known. Liverpool CCG’s online consultation doubtlessly received responses from a great deal of homeopathy supporters, which we were hopefully able to balance out with the views of members of the general public, including scientists and rationalists. It is almost certain that this consultation by Wirral CCG will receive just as much attention from supporters of homeopathy. If supporters of evidence based medicine don’t speak up, the consultation will be swamped with homeopathy fans and funding may continue.
It takes less than 5 minutes for you to do your part to ensure the reputation of the NHS is not used to lend credibility to a system of alternative medicine that can offer no benefits to patients. Take the survey now >>
If you’d like to understand more about the consultation, the accompanying pages offer some insights into the issues surrounding homeopathy in the Wirral.
Once you’ve taken the survey, be sure to share it with friends and colleagues – the more support NHS Wirral CCG gets for ending homeopathy funding, the better chance we have of helping them make this decision happen.
You can also support the work the Good Thinking Society is doing to challenge NHS homeopathy by making a small monthly or one-off donation. It was their legal challenge which pressured Liverpool CCG to consult on homeopathy and which contributed to the pressure to consult in the Wirral, and it was their legal challenge which resulted in the current nationwide consultation on banning homeopathy prescriptions on the NHS. If you think that’s worth a fiver or a tenner, you can donate now.
Having a rare weekend free, and having the need to pop into town in order to buy secret things for my girlfriend’s upcoming birthday (July 22nd if you want to wish her a happy birthday, by the way), I chanced into St John’s Shopping Centre and came across the rather charming ‘Dr & Herbs’ Traditional Chinese Medicine outlet. Which I immediately dived into and immersed myself in, obviously.
I’d like to say up front, before I get into any real detail – the two people who seem to run the shop were helpful, kind and friendly. Unfortunately, they were also entirely wrong in a number of ways…
The first thing that struck me about the shop was the crude (and rather awfully-designed) posters in the window, listing various ailments and how TCM can help – the list was reasonably long, and didn’t include any more wild and dangerous ailments to treat, but I was able to grab shots of the claims for Thrush, Stress, Eczema and Asthma.
Thrush: TCM treats this as a problem of damp in the body, usually internal damp caused by an infection or fungus; herbs are a very effective treatment.
While it’s true to say that thrush is caused by a fungus, it’s vague and bewildering to claim it a problem of ‘damp in the body’, and the bald assertion that herbs are a very effective treatment is an outright falsehood, unsupported by evidence.
Stress: According to TCM, Stress is due to too much dampness and heart heat from internal and external pressure. We can treat this by clearing the dampness as well as regulating your Qi (vital energy) through a natural process).
Here the issue is somewhat more fundamental – the notion of ‘stress’ is something favoured by pseudomedical practitioners because of its dual properties of vagueness and ubiquity. Many people believe they have stress; very few of them could quantify what they mean by the term. Fortunately, Dr & Herbs seem to know, and they’re pretty sure it’s to do with dampness – although, in fairness, dampness is their go-to diagnosis. That they can regulate this invented dampness – both internally- and externally-caused – via the regulation of Qi is neither here nor there, given that Qi adds one more invented element to the pot. All in all, their claims to fighting stress don’t stand up to scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »
by Deborah Hyde
When: Thursday, July 21st, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool
Deborah Hyde will tell us about cultural aspects of the religious and superstitious experience. This evening we will discuss and answer such questions as:
- Why do the dead chew in their graves?
- Why do vampires strike in autumn?
- Why do ghosts live in electric clocks?
A gory talk full of the unexpected, it’s a round-up of the folklore of the macabre.
Deborah has been writing about the supernatural for nearly two decades. She blogs on ‘Superstition, Religion and Being Human’ as ‘Jourdemayne’ but often suffers from mission creep.
She’s also one of the organisers of Westminster Skeptics and is Editor-in-Chief of the Skeptic Magazine. Her daytime, grown-up job is a makeup effects coordinator in the film industry – more vampires and zombies, then.
A few weeks ago I gave a BadNews talk at Ignite Liverpool, a cool evening where people from all manner of backgrounds give 5-minute talks on something that interests them. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.
MMR and Autism: An Elaborate Fraud
How the Case Against the Vaccine Was Built
by Brian Deer
When: Thursday, June 16, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool
As the Wirral becomes the latest area of the UK to suffer a measles outbreak in an unvaccinated population, investigative journalist Brian Deer visits Liverpool to speak about how he uncovered the “elaborate fraud” behind the MMR scare.
In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global alarm with research proposing a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. The researchers’ leader, Andrew Wakefield called for the vaccine to be “suspended”. But all was not as it appeared to be. Following investigations over a period of 7 years for The Sunday Times, the British Medical Journal in January denounced Wakefield’s research as “an elaborate fraud”.
The story raced round the world. A Harris poll in the United States found that 47% of Americans had heard Deer’s story. The New York Times said his work was “extraordinary.” Now, on 16th June, he comes to Merseyside Skeptics Society to talk about how Wakefield rigged the research linking MMR with autism, how he did it, who paid him for it, how much money he expected to make out of it, and the years-long investigation which finally nailed him. This is one of the big science stories of today.
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 »