29 April 2008

Society of Homeopaths’ press complaint against Goldacre and The Guardian

The Society of Homeopaths has sent an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission concerning Ben Goldacre’sarticle in The Guardian: “A kind of magic” November 16th 2007 .  They say in the membership newsletter (not online):

“The Society maintains that the article is in breach of the commission’s “code of practise” in that it did not clearly distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.  The complaint states that it was not clearly defined as an opinion article, with the introduction giving the impression that the piece was a journalistic appraisal of the issues.  It is the Society’s view that there are also statements in the article itself which give the impression it is fact rather than opinion.

The complaint also relates to key factual inaccuracies in the piece, notably that homeopaths are “killing people”, which the Society has pointed out is a potentially damaging statement without any evidence to back it up.”

I have checked the PCC code of conduct and number 1 is:

1 Accuracy
  i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.



The pictures I found particularly offensive (not on the internet piece but behind a paywall somewhere if you want to look [update: a portion of one is on David Colquhoun’s blog]): they depicted sharp suited, dark-glassed male homoepaths ‘loving’ their white pills and standing over their poor kneeling patients while they poured them down their throats.  As many UK homeopaths are female and are known to be quite gentle creatures it didn’t make sense to me.  And as for the ‘facts’ in the piece they were mostly ‘FLACTS’. I know you are a psychiatrist Ben but you can’t just go round making stuff up.

I look forward to hearing the PCC’s views on this in due course and will report back.


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