Posts Tagged politics

Dear Luciana Berger MP: Homeopathy? Really?

QED: Question. Explore. Discover.

Get your QED ticket now!

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 »

, , , , ,

3 Comments

Call To Action: Homeopathy Early Day Motions

The first half of the year has been a fantastic time for the fight against homeopathy. Aside from our own high-profile demonstration, there’s been significant backing from the Science and Technology Select Committee,calling for an end to homeopathy on the NHS. In addition, the British Medical Association Junior Doctors Committee outed homeopathy as ‘witchcraft’, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland condemned the pseudomedicine and its sale in pharmacies. This has all been excellent.

However, there are still significant challenges ahead – not least in the form of David Tredinnick MP, recently appointed to the Health Select Committee despite his beliefs that astrology has a role to play in healthcare, and that surgeons won’t operate under a full moon as the lunar cycle has an effect on the clotting of blood. Both of which are, of course, untrue. This isn’t the extent of Mr Tredinnick’s misunderstanding of health advice – he recently tabled 4 Early Day Motions, urging MPs to support homeopathy and to ignore the findings of the Science and Technology Select Committee. These EDMs are based on flawed science and false assertion, and should not be supported by your local MP.

Fortunately, Julian Huppert MP has tabled amendments to each of Mr Tredinnick’s motions, in order to correct the inaccuracies, misunderstandings and misguided support for homeopathy. These amendments are based on clear reviews of the studies in question, and are backed by scientists and experts in the fields – as such, they also have the backing of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and the 10:23 Campaign.

At the moment, many MPs may not know much about homeopathy, and may not know it is based on quackery and magical thinking; most crucially, they may not know how important an issue it is to you. With this in mind, we urge you to write to your MP to let them know how strongly you feel. The website Write To Them (http://www.writetothem.com/) makes writing to your MP very easy, and for your convenience you can find below a standard letter to copy and paste into the body of your letter.

Please, take 2 minutes to let your MP know that homeopathy is not an effective healthcare option, does not offer value for taxpayer money, and should not be supported. Ask your MP to sign EDM amendments 284A1, 285A1, 286A1 and 287A1. Ask your friends to do the same. Spread the word – together, we can make a difference.

Visit http://www.writetothem.com/ and paste the following into the body of your letter – as Write To Them blocks identical letters, please adjust the wording in the letter as you see fit, to best express your views Read the rest of this entry »

, , ,

28 Comments

Godfrey Bloom MEP: Anti-Immigration, Anti-Climate Change and Pro-Homeopathy

Godfrey Bloom MEP - pro-homeopathy, anti-immigration, anti-climate change, anti-science, and rude to boot

Godfrey Bloom MEP - pro-homeopathy, anti-immigration, anti-climate change, anti-science, and rude to boot

One of our main aims with the 10:23 campaign was to get people involved. For a long time, people have railed against the sheer nonsense of homeopathy, but have done so in their own homes, the pub, their workplaces, the pub again, and then bed. Instead, we tried to get people to take that energy and passion and turn it to more productive action… which is why I was delighted to hear from an old friend (and long time MSS supporter) who, inspired by our campaign, has emailed MEPs in order to get their thoughts on EU Homeopathy Day – the entirely-self-elected-and-utterly-unofficial-Europe-wide-quackery-awareness-day. Marc (for that is his name, and you’ll see him comment on this blog from time to time) forwarded me his email, and I was happy to read it over and see some of the fruits of our campaigning.

I’d love to tell you our MEPs he contacted were scientifically-literate and met Marc’s concerns and appeals with a rational response. I’d even be OK with telling you that they were reluctant to get too involved, but were polite and diplomatic in their answers. However, as the below response from Godfrey Bloom of UKIP (I know, I know) will show, I can’t. FYI, Godfrey Bloom also has a blog outlining his opinions on climate change, as well as some very misogynistic views towards women:

“No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age”.

That’s not poisoning the well by the way – that’s context. Anyway, Marc’s email read:

From: Marc Callinan
Sent: 23 March 2010 10:46

Dear Edward McMillan-Scott, Linda McAvan, Godfrey Bloom, Timothy Kirkhope, Andrew Brons and Diana Wallis,

I am writing to you all as my MEP’s with regards to the 3rd EU Homoeopathy Day. I sincerely hope that you all will reject its call for “politicians and decision makers in Brussels to take action in favour of homeopathy for the benefit of European patients and citizens, as part of a more integrated and holistic approach to health care in Europe.” (Quote taken from the website: http://www.euhomeopathyday.eu/more) Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

17 Comments

Political Astrology: Star Guff In The Huff-Po

As our educated, smart and – I’ll say it! – downright sexy readers are doubtlessly aware, the Huffington Post is a great source of… well… crap. For one thing, there’s Dana Ullman making wild statements about homeopathy, Jenny and Jim trying to kill babies… it’s rarely a tome worthy of a great deal of respect.

However, even I was surprised to see the angle taken by the Huff-Po this week, when I spotted Patricia Martin’s column ‘The Politics of Astrology and the Secret Lives of CEOs‘. In an interview with Astrologer Susan Miller, the article explores the ways in which astrology can play a part in politics and business… and, bizarrely, doesn’t come to the conclusion ‘none’. Quoting the article:

Over slabs of glazed salmon at the Drake Hotel dining room, Ms. Miller and I discussed the astrological year ahead for American politics. Cheerful even when delivering hard news, Ms. Miller offered up the following outlook:

So, lets take a look at what the stars predict for the political year ahead in America -

Healthcare reform will pass, but undergo tweaks and revisions for several months to come.

I think that’s fair to call it a hit. I think it’s also fair to say it’s a hit I could have come up with – the political weight behind the healthcare reform definitely had it in the ‘plausible’ pile, and the opposition to it most certainly had it in the ‘undergo tweaks and revisions’ pile. What’s more, what controversial bill doesn’t get tweaked and revised? Poor hit.

President Obama should not stop with health care reform, she twinkled. “He’s going to be very powerful these next few months and he should use it to his advantage”

Excellent, this is interesting – for one, she’s saying the President of the USA will be powerful. Which is obvious. What’s more, she’s not actually making a prediction there at all – his level of power isn’t quantifiable, for one thing, so nobody can dispute it. On top of that, she’s said he should use it to his advantage, not that he will, or can, or anything definite. So if he doesn’t make the most of it, she can claim that she told him he should have! These kind of predictions of potential (rather than actuality) are classic examples of cold reading, and something to look out for – a good psychic (ie someone who’s good at faking magical powers) will never tell you anything for certain, instead they’ll give you statements about your potential, leaving themselves the exit strategy of the ‘untapped potential’. Add to that the fact that Obama’s potential is to use his power to ‘his advantage’ – an entirely vague outcome – and we can see how lame this ‘prediction’ really is. Read the rest of this entry »

, ,

2 Comments