Posts Tagged quackery

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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Quack Focus: The BBC’s ‘Health Focus’ On Homeopathy

Since the beginning of our 10:23 Campaign, it’s become increasingly clear that there are an awful lot of parties out there waging a war on reason with regards to homeopathy – from Homeopathic Dana (so-called because he’s smaller and weaker than Dana International, the transsexual Israeli winner of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest), spambot and drive-by troll ‘Dr’ Nancy Malik, idiot and BBC favourite Gemma Hoefkens, bowel-botherer Greg ‘Kaizen Clinic’ Wimbourne and all manner of ‘health’ activists peddling Big Pharma paranoia, while also peddling magic. The actions of these people I can actually understand (thought not condone): they sell homeopathy for a living, they have a very vested interest in keeping people in the dark as to what it is and why it’s bullshit. Homeopathy is how they make their name, how they feed their family, and how they milk their loyal and vulnerable supporters. It’s what they do.

However, alongside the honest, up-front, god-fearing quacks and charlatans, we’ve had to fight the homeo-forces on another front: the media. Almost universally, when homeopathy is discussed in the media, they ask a homeopath. At best, they also ask a healthcare professional, or (failing that) me, to represent the other side, while leaning the conversation in the favour of the water-wizard. The homeopath gets the first and last word, and the balance of the debate is very firmly on terra homeo. That’s when they’re not just outright selling homeopathic treatments, or allowing homeopaths to wax lyrical about how ‘it worked for me’ and ‘it can’t be placebo as it works on my baby/animal/etc’. This is the battle ground, and it’s this fight we choose to fight – so be it.

But it still pisses me off when it’s the BBC drinking the homeopathic Kool-Aid.

I mean, I love the BBC – they’re meant to be fair, unbiased by commercial concerns, free to investigate and report, educate and entertain, and all that good stuff. Sure, they may spend a little too much money giving Graham Norton a career, or padding out Saturday night’s with Dr Who and fancy dancing (neither of which I particularly care for), but they’re still ace. Except, when they do this:

The view of the regulatory body for pharmacists, who are consulting their members about how the products are currently marketed, is that people who buy homeopathic products should be advised that they do not work and only have a placebo effect.

But according to homeopaths, the real issue behind the consultation is the threat complementary medicine is posing to the highly lucrative relationship between the drug companies and the Health Service.

Face – meet palm. Read the rest of this entry »

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Music Medicine: ‘Sound Feelings’, Bullshit Concepts

When most people hear about the healing powers of music, I’m sure they think of the soft soulful beats of Lionel Richie or Michael Bolton, gently ushering them through a messy break-up – I know I do. But for some, music has healing powers of a more literal, less-early 90s housewife and altogether more bullshit nature. I’m talking, in fact, about Sound Feelings, a Californian company founded by Howard Richman, who proudly proclaim:

“We are music, health and education audio and book publishers. We specialize in music medicinemusic instructionweight loss alternative therapies and film scoring

An eclectic mix there, I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m sure you’ll also allow me to skip over the film scoring and piano lessons, and get right down to the good stuff – taking a look at the alternative therapies on offer, this film-scoring-music-guru will merrily peddle you products for ‘Internal Cleansing‘, weight loss products and books, as well as – amazingly – a weight loss photo. Which is literally just a photoshopped photo of the current-sized-You, adjusted in order to make you look slimmer. And black and white. Apparently, this is a great motivational technique. Yeah.

On top of all that, the good maestro advises on a dangerous-sounding 10-Point Colon Cleanse – because, I don’t know about you, but I always take digestive advice from someone with a B.A. degree in piano performance (from UCLA, no less).Surprisingly, Howard’s not a doctor, or any kind of science-acquainted person. In fact, one of the few things I particularly like about the site is that his bio describes him as being an ‘unlikely “expert” in the field of weight loss.’

You can say that again. Read the rest of this entry »

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