Tag Archives: denialists

10:23 Not Quackbusters but Denialists (2) A sad day all round

Well it’s all happening in the world of Twitter.  The last blog post flew straight down the #ten23 tag line and produced a vertical trajectory on the blog counter.  In the interests of efficiency, Part 2 addresses some of the comments on that blog.

And it’s a sad day.

Sad that all the effort of 10:23 is focused on a fatally flawed understanding of homeopathy.  What follows is offered to any of the real Skeptics that might have been swept up into the Denialist camp.

Comments:

Zyaama:

“Wow, amazing. Is there any logical fallacy missing from this post?

Science has evaluated homeopathy. The results are clear: Homeopathy does not work. Nothing close-minded about that. Unless you can prove that the research is wrong (an homeopaths have a 200 year history of ailing to deliver any proof), there is nothing to discuss. You want to teach the public about homeopathy? Go ahead. But stop lying to yourself and others. Tell people the facts, and they can decide for themselves. That is what this campaign is about.”

Hmmmm Standard response that begins with the first logical fallacy.  SCIENCE  has NOT yet evaluated homeopathy.
You might say Science is still trying to catch up with homeopathy (see Articles ).
A number of attempts have been made to assess efficacy but as explained in a previous post the methodology is fatally flawed. It’s not possible to evaluate a system of medicine using a method that is incapable of accurately assessing that system of medicine.  Amazing then that there are actually some positive results at all and a real scientist would find that fact alone intriguing.

It may be that you don’t understand the homeopathic method sufficiently well to fully appreciate this and it’s a common challenge for Skeptics Continue reading

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10:23 Not Quackbusters but Denialists

Short post, tight for time – but it seems to me this is crucial in light of the upcoming anti-homeopathy campaign set to be unleashed on the UK public at the end of January.

“10:23  Homeopathy – there’s nothing in it” is just the latest and best organised in a series of orchestrated campaigns that have been run in the UK over the last several years by a group of people who call themselves Skeptics.

In fact the definition of skeptic as I pointed out in a previous post is : “A person inclined to doubt or question accepted opinions”.  The skeptics use this term to suggest that they are critical thinkers and that it’s a virtue not to be taken in by the “pseudo-science” of alternative medicine and in particular homeopathy.  As if they have really investigated the evidence with an open mind.

They describe homeopathy as “implausible”, “impossible” and therefore it cannot work.  A bit like the impossibility of getting the first airplane off the ground and all number of other advances in science and technology mentioned in the post : Evidence Check, honourable members do the honourable thing.

They use the fact that homeopathy has not “changed in 200 years” as evidence that we are morons stuck in an ancient time warp – ignoring the fact that when the therapeutic model is based on natural laws, there is no need to change the underlying principles because they work for all time.  I won’t bother to mention the constant mad scramble of Big Pharma to make new, better – or indeed ANYTHING which actually CURES a named disease. (Well OK I will, but only in passing 🙂 )  Continue reading

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Evidence Check – can anyone do maths?

Well it’s another week after the second meeting of the Evidence Check and the sound bites continue, they’ve now reached  online regional newspapers wringing every last drop out of yesterday’s news.

I wonder though, can someone not put the record straight – how much DOES the NHS spend on homeopathic medicines?  The Telegraph went for “£4 million a year on dispensing homeopathy to patients.”  But is that the cost of the medicines, or the cost of dispensing them, or both?  Because The Guardian reported that the NHS spent “£12 million on homeopathic remedies between 2005 and 2008”.  £4 million a year again, but suggests it’s only for the medicines.  Sounds like a small point I know, but it wouldn’t be if you were footing the bill.  The Minister of State, Mike O’Brien, told us that the NHS bill for homeopathic medicines was around £150,000 a year, a bit of a difference, although he went on to add that the cost of providing homeopathy, including running 4 homeopathic hospitals, paying for GP homeopathic services and referrals etc was around £12 million a year – a figure he said he got from The Guardian !  Mike O’B did remind everyone that the drug budget of the NHS (that’s not the NHS budget, just the part for drugs) is around £11billion a year, and that since homeopathy is already funded by the NHS and there is a group of clinicians who believe it works, they should continue to have the right to prescribe it.

So just to be clear, that’s £11billion for drugs compared to £150,000 for homeopathic remedies.
All right then.  Sorted. Continue reading

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Redefining the Quack

When I was sick as a child in working class industrial Manchester, I would be taken to see The Quack, aka the family GP.  He was a stern man but kind, and always looked for the simple solution before reaching for his prescription pad.  He was a dying breed back then and such a doctor nowadays is, sadly, a rare and precious thing.

Having heard my parents use the term all my life, it came with some irony that all these years later I find myself described as a Quack and it’s meant to be an insult.   I’ve been called a wide range of other descriptives as well of course, from a number of less imaginative four letter words, all the way to the whimsical “woo artist”.
The only emotion any of these words elicit in me is one of sadness. If we look to the homeopathic material medica, all the characters are in there. If only they had some good constitutional treatment they would open their minds and debate rather than debunk. Discuss rather than go for the jugular. Exchange ideas rather than employ character assassination. Continue reading

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Homeopathy = Placebo? Politics, politics, politics

Brits are very, very fearful of ridicule – most humans are, but the Brits are especially sensitive to it. For a Brit it ranks right up there at the top of things to avoid at all cost, and much of the population runs its life accordingly. And so we see everyone taking sides and hedging their bets on this issue. Homeopaths are by and large, thank goodness for humanity, immune to it. 200 years of swimming against the tide of closed minds has toughened them up.

The placebo effect is a hot topic in science.  Right now it allows a paternalistic Dr Goldacre to pronounce homeopaths well meaning but delusional – which is somehow nicer than homeopaths deliberately peddling sugar pills and ripping off the public.  It’s the hour long consultation with a caring attentive homeopath that’s responsible for the good effect – the people who see homeopaths are not really ill, and would have got better anyway.  Either way, the result is the same – however nicely it’s couched, it’s a misrepresentation of homeopathy.

The thing is, Dr G may be able to wax lyrical about the placebo effect – which given the cultural power vested in a man, (and occasionally) a woman, in a white coat with a stethoscope hanging round their neck, should be much more powerful in conventional medicine – but at the end of the day it’s all a distraction.

A typical Q and A session about homeopathy = the placebo effect goes something like this: Continue reading

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Evidence Check on Homeopathy. Can it get any better?

I had a dream not so long ago….and so did they…..

Once upon a time there was a group of materialists who worked hard day and night to bring their myopic vision of life, the universe and everything to the rest of humanity.  Especially the UK.  Many meetings in pubs, and conversions of journalists and politicians and young scientists and bloggers took place, and gradually they gained confidence and power and influence.  One summer’s night they sat around feeling particularly smug, wondering about their next maneuver. Continue reading

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