I am pleased that skeptics are becoming aware of the pseudo-religiosity of Skeptic in the Pub movement and the financial exploitation of the skeptic population by the James Randi Foundation:
Voice of (Not So) Young Homeopathy:
“Stop funding NHS Homeopathy, MPs urge”. But who are these MPs?
The Science and Technology Committe report was ‘ratified by THREE MPs: TWO of whom were NOT EVEN PRESENT AT THE COMMITTEE MEETINGS – and ONE of the two was NOT EVEN A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE when the hearings were held, and is due to stand down at the election in May this year.’
‘Evan Harris, associate of Sense About Science and it’s fair to say rabid anti-homeopathy campaigner, 1023 participant and ’senior counsel for the prosecution’.
Ian Cawsey – IT expert, who joined the S and T committee in October 2009, just a month before the meetings and yet chose not to attend the committee’s investigation – in fact was nowhere to be seen until the ratification meeting.
Doug Naysmith – an immunologist – did not join the S and T committee until January 2010 – so was not even on the committee until after all the hearings – yet was present for the ratification of the report. And he is standing down at the next election. Surely not?’
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for science Dr Evan Harris’s bias at the UK Government’s Science and Technology Committee Evidence Check on Homeopathy was further confirmed by his unethical behaviour towards Dr Peter Fisher of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital at the Merseyside Skeptics Society ’1023′ ‘homeopathy overdose’ stunt recently. He may cause the Liberal Democrat party to lose votes from homeopaths, homeopathy users (about 10% of the population have taken homeopathic remedies in the last year) and other practitioners of CAM and their supporters. I have consistently voted Lib Dem until now but am reviewing this policy as a direct result and I am not alone.
Here is a video of Evan Harris’s appearance at the 1023 event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYuLjl9bgIw
And at the Science and Technology Committee Evidence Check for Homeopathy meetings:
Wednesday 25th November 2009
Monday 30th November 2009
Dr Harris may be in breach of Articles 46 and 47 of the GMC’s Guidelines for Good Medical Practice:
Article 46. You must treat your colleagues fairly and with respect. You must not bully or harass them, or unfairly discriminate against them by allowing your personal views to affect adversely your professional relationship with them. You should challenge colleagues if their behaviour does not comply with this guidance.
Article 47. You must not make malicious and unfounded criticisms of colleagues that may undermine patients’ trust in the care or treatment they receive, or in the judgement of those treating them.
More at: http://vonsyhomeopathy.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/1023-dr-evan-harris-and-the-evidence-check/
Since the opening question of the recent UK Parliamentary Evidence Check for Homeopathy, Boots ‘Pharmacy-led Health and Beauty Retailer’ have come under pressure to justify the presence of homeopathic remedies on its shelves. This was quickly followed by an open letter organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society asking them to remove them.
A letter to Boots in support of its continued supply of homeopathic treatments today received this response:
“Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the sale of Homeopathic products in our stores.
At Boots we take our responsibilities as the leading Pharmacy-led Health & Beauty retailer in the UK very seriously and as part of this we pride ourselves on being able to offer all of our customers a choice of products that support them in their day-to-day lives. We know that many people believe in the benefits of complementary medicines and we aim to offer the products we know our customers want.
I’m delighted to hear that you want us to continue to sell these items and you’ll be pleased to know that you can still find these in our stores. Additionally, our Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals and they’re on hand to offer advice on the safe use of complementary medicines in line with guidance offered by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
Thank you once again for your positive feedback and, of course, for your valued custom.
Boots Customer Care”
I appreciate jdc325′s piece on inappropriate skeptic attitudes and behaviours, having been subject to them on this blog. I’m pleased to say however that generally the skeptic tone is much better than two years ago: Skeptic insults to homeopaths daily count: December 4th 2007. I’d like to add a skeptic fail of my own: making up facts based on logic, or ‘flact’ for short.
Also of interest this week is Brendan O’Neill’s piece in Spiked online on the illiberal, anti-free speech treatment of Johnny Ball’s scepticism of man-made climate change at a ‘religious style get together of rationalists’ including freedom-of-speech-for-scientists and anti-homeopathy campaigners. Further evidence that science or scientism is the new orthodox fundamentalist religion. Update: even Randi is being subject to the same treatment
And finally I agreed with homeopathyblogs that Goldacre et al are projecting onto homeopaths their own unscientific and biased approach as detailed by William Alderson’s review of Ernst and Singh’s Trick or Treatment. The printed version of Goldacre’s notorious anti-homeopathy piece in the Guardian contained cartoons projecting pharma’s love of its pills and forcefeeding them to innocent patients. Given that Goldacre is involved in psychiatric work you would think that he would recognise this, unless of course he was wilfully using it to influence.
Thanks to ‘Voice of (not so) Young Homeopathy’ for their comments on this week’s Parliamentary Science and Technology Evidence check for Homeopathy here:
You can watch the whole meeting here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=5221
Vo(ns)YH promises a transcript too.
Some funny moments: I thought Goldacre’s comment that he wasn’t interested in Physics quite hilarious given that homeopathy allegedly ‘goes against all its laws’, and Ernst saying that he thought it was the long consultation that helped homeopathic patients REALLY begged the question: ‘is there any evidence for that? and if there is then why does the NHS only allow 10 minutes?’ and David Colquhoun got a dishonourable mention about going around collecting anecdotal evidence.
I’m disappointed that no-one mentioned that only 13% of NHS treatments are backed by solid evidence: http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/ceweb/about/knowledge.jsp
Update: Here is the evidence supplied to the committee:
I have long suspected that James Randi is ‘all mouth and trousers’. It seems he has been avoiding Professor George Vithoulkas’s proposed experiment ‘to prove that there is a biological effect on human organism from the ultra high dilutions of homeopathic remedies beyond the Avogadro number’, for two years and claims on his website that the homeopaths have withdrawn. Professor Vithoulkas states:
“In 2002 the BBC Horizon program presented a documentary that showed that the Benveniste experiment about homeopathy was a fake one and therefore… homeopathy was also fake! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2512105.stm
Mr.Vithoulkas had repeatedly stressed in many communications that the experiment was in any case a falsely conceived one from its very beginning (see the correspondence). The opponents of homeopathy basing in this false experiment by Benveniste their hypocritical arguments maintained that homeopathy was simply placebo effect.
Mr Randi after this false experiment (ignoring all other experiments that showed the effect of homeopathy) declared in his website (http://www.randi.org/) that whoever could prove the validity of the action of a homeopathically potentized remedy beyond the Avogadro number would be winning one million $ as a prize.
Mr Vithoulkas challenged this statement and with this idea a new experiment was conceived that would prove that the highly potentized remedies could actually have a biological effect upon the human organism.
The experiment was simple: An individualized remedy would be given to a number of patients in a double blind fashion and half of the patients would receive placebo the other half would get the real remedy. The Greek Homeopathic physicians that would participate in taking of the cases and prescribing the remedies should point out in the end of the experiment the ones that they had got the real remedy.
The protocol was structured by a group of internationally known scientists and the experiment had to take place in one of the hospitals in Athens.
What follows is the real story (with facts in correspondence that transpired) of how through several “tricks”, Mr.Randi refused to go through the experiment and rescued his million.
We sent the following statement to Mr. Randi in order to be posted to his website but he refused to post it. ” Read