Archive for the ‘Badscience’ category

David Tredinnick: Wow. I mean, woo.

February 22, 2008

You have to love British politics. At a quarter to two on the morning of the 20th of Feb, one David Tredinnick, MP, started a debate on complementary and alternative medicine, specifically homeopathy. Perhaps there was some convoluted procedural reason for starting a debate at that time of the morning, I don’t know, but to me it smacks of either embarassment or sneaky underhand goings-on. Anyway, his opening speech is available here, or more amusingly, in a post by Ben Goldacre on Badscience blog.

Tredinnick seems to be rather a champion for CAM; many of this parliamentary comments have been about alternative medicine in its various forms. One of his recent House of Commons debates is actually rather amusing, especially the response by Rob Marris.

However, Gimpy has to win an internet for this post on the subject! See also JQH here.

My next project is to find out whether Australian parliament has some equally deluded members. I often find parliamentary debates more like a bunch of kindergarteners yelling childish taunts at each other, no matter what the country. Britain has this lovely pompousness and formality with the ‘honourable Gentlemen and Ladies’. In Australian politics, it’s more likely to be ‘you mongrel’, ‘arselicker‘ or ‘mangy maggot‘. Still, as long as the political process works, right? So let’s hope David Tredinnick gets stomped on quick.

ETA: Well, well. David Tredinnick has struck again. Have a look at his idiotic support for a Dr. suspended by the GMC. The woman was clearly not acting in ‘her patients best interests’. Sounds like she’s a friend of his.

The Society of Homeopaths vs. The Quackometer

October 30, 2007

anne-petitclaire_ducks_med.jpgMy education in quackery has undergone a steep learning curve over the last year or so reading Ben Goldacre’s columns in The Guardian and his blog Badscience, and hanging around in the Badscience Forums. Consequently, homeopathy has become one of my bugbears. For the uninitiated, in this incredible ‘parallel universe’ the laws of physics, chemistry and biology do not seem to hold, and serious diseases such as Malaria and HIV/AIDS are treated by water or sugar pills. Let’s also be clear that homeopathy is NOT herbalism. In fact one of the principle tenets in homeopathy is that the more an ingredient gets diluted, the more potent it is. Homeopathic remedies DO NOT HAVE ANY MOLECULES OF ACTIVE INGREDIENT. Sorry, but this can’t be emphasised enough, especially to people who confuse homeopathy with herbal remedies, which although not highly purified, should contain some sort of ‘active’ ingredient.

Over the past few weeks, this part of the blogosphere has become a little more exciting, with the news that the Society of Homeopaths, which has pretensions to regulating homeopaths in the UK, used legal threats to suppress the post of another blogger, Dr. Andy Lewis who runs The Quackometer blog. What was so extraordinary about this incident was the fact that the SoH did not write to Dr. Lewis and ask him to change the parts of his post they had issues with but they sicced their lawyers onto his web hosting company. Dr. Lewis removed his post while he tried to sort out what the problem was. Meanwhile, the whole thing has been replicated dozens of times on skeptical and science blogs (see here for some links).
Andy then sent a polite letter to the SoH, asking just what they objected to. No reply as yet, of course. However, in response to this matter being written about by Ben Goldacre in The Guardian, the SoH has posted a rather bizarre letter to the editor, which thus far, only seems to appear as a press release on their website.

Anyway, the next installment in this little saga is on offer at The Quackometer. I recommend reading the whole article. It demonstrates the kind of double-think (or cognitive dissonance) that most homeopaths must excel at.

Finally, I just had to include this pic from LOLquacks:

by Dr. Danny Chrastina,

Pet woo

October 4, 2007

images-4.jpegOkay, so generally I’m going to deal with things that affect humans. The usual woo topics of medicine and religion. But I also love animals, and have always had pets so I thought I would include a post about this lady, as she’s a ‘local’ woo-monger (is that a new word?) and there are some parallels with recent news stories about acupuncture.

I don’t really have a problem with people treating their mild self-limiting symptoms with various useless alternative therapies with their own cash (It’s not ok for the NHS to offer unproven CAM under the guise of ‘choice-based treatment’), besides of course the insult to rational thought and scientific thinking. However, pets are pretty much defenceless against the woo-inclinations of their owners. They rely on us for food, shelter and proper preventative and ongoing medical care.

Catherine O’Driscoll practices something called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).What is this, you ask? Apparently,

EFT is similar to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, you stimulate energy points on your body by tapping them with your fingertips. The process is easy to memorise and you can do it anywhere. EFT is based on time-honoured Eastern discoveries that have been around for over 5,000 years and, more recently, Albert Einstein, who told us back in the 1920’s that everything (including our bodies) is composed of energy. These ideas have been largely ignored by Western healing practices and that is why EFT often works where nothing else will.

Ho hum. Yet another ‘Eastern tradition=good medicine’ canard.

“Emotional Freedom Technique works on the energy body, and is used to release emotions and thoughts which cause problems in our lives, and which can lead to ill health. EFT is great for behavioural problems in animals, too. It has been shown to work powerfully for both humans and animals.”

It might claim to be based on 5000 year-old ideas, but according to this article, “Emotional freedom techniques (EFT), or tapping, was developed in the US in the 1990s.” It relies on the same ‘meridian systems’ that acupuncture is said to stimulate. (If you want to know more about meridians, go here, but don’t say I didn’t warn you). However, looking at the ‘evidence’ we see only evidence for the placebo effect. See here. Additionally, there is no evidence that meridians actually exist. For example, when you compare ‘proper’ acupuncture with sticking needles in randomly, there is no significant difference in perceived outcome. The recent actual paper is behind a paywall (I will blog about this issue later) but has been extensively discussed in the blogosphere (for example see here, here and here).

EFT is a technique invented by a guy called Gary Craig, and is a derivative of TFT (Thought Field Therapy) invented by Roger Callahan. Apparently, EFT can cure asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, and neuropathy, among other more psychological conditions such as phobias, PTSD and anorexia. Impressive stuff indeed. One Eric Robins, MD states that “Some day the medical profession will wake up and realize that unresolved emotional issues are the main cause of 85% of all illnesses. When they do, EFT will be one of their primary healing tools …. as it is for me.” It’s news to me that diabetes was caused by unresolved emotional issues.

But anyway, back to pets. The amazing curative powers of EFT on diabetes in humans will have to wait for another post.
To learn how to do EFT from Ms. O’Driscoll, will only cost you £170 for a two day workshop, or £50 for an hour over the phone. Bargain! Now, I don’t know what form of EFT Ms. O’Driscoll practices, but
whilst I was writing this post I wondered if all the animal meridians had been mapped, and I came across this site by a Silvia Hartmann. Apparently you DON’T tap on your animal, you TAP ON YOURSELF, and through some previously undiscovered and undefined law of physics, you can cure your pet! You don’t even have to be in the same room. Wow. Does this mean I could control any animal I like, just by tapping myself in strange places? This thinking puts EFT firmly into the realms of the paranormal.

Anyway, whilst this is big-time woo, I guess this kind of thing is generally harmless, as it’s generally useless. I can’t help wondering if actually spending time with and having contact with your pet will do just as good a job at correcting any antisocial behaviour. Maybe I’m being just a little snarky, but I had the impression that most of the behavioural problems in pets this technique purports to treat are actually better corrected by educating and training the owner, not the pet.

The next post is going to deal with something a little more…erm, less harmless, which is expounded on by Catherine O’Driscoll on her website Canine Health Concern, (check it out, you’ll be amazed at the badscience contained therein).