Some things take time, and it’s rewarding to get even a tiny bit of progress. My effort to get the Charity Commission to introduce an evidence-based policy has at last reached the stage of a reasonably sensible dialogue, but not yet any meaningful action. To recap, there are several charities that make misleading health claims, homeopathy of course being a prime example. I have been asking the Commission why they granted charity status to these organisations, when they clearly fail the public benefit test. For the full back story read my posts here, here, here and here – in reverse order. Continue reading
At last the Commission has provided what they describe as their “conclusion of stage one complaint process”. If you are new to this saga you’ll need to read my previous posts on the subject here, here and here. If you have done that, you will not be surprised to learn that the Commission still refuses to accept logical arguments about homeopathy charities. Continue reading
It’s well over a year since I complained to the Commission about charities that promote homeopathy. The total lack of progress with that was documented recently. So far I have learned nothing about the Commission’s undertaking to review its policy on the public benefit obligation of such charities. To test whether anything has changed, on 30th July I sent in another complaint, this time against Homeopathy In Africa (charity number 1125981). Continue reading
The proprietor of the magazine `What Doctors Don’t Tell You‘ has a rather selective definition of free speech. Lynne McTaggart has repeatedly railed against sceptics in her blog, which currently carries a highly defamatory rant about the “bullies” who try to shut her up. Believe me, I would love her to shut up. But in the spirit of intelligent debate (OK that’s hardly possible with la McTaggart) I am wont to ask searching questions via the comments facility. However I’m finding that my comments mysteriously have stopped appearing. So this is free speech?
Well there are ways round that. This post is a running list of my comments submitted to McTaggart’s blog. So you can bring up her blog post in one window and my comments in another. Here goes:
I’ll have to paraphrase the first two as I didn’t save them:
- Where’s the evidence that “cyber attack dogs” were sent by any sceptics?
- Where’s the evidence that the “comments robot” actually existed?
I need to correct a misunderstanding. You are perfectly free to talk nonsense. Others are equally free to show how it is nonsense. Your advertisers are not free to mislead people with false claims.
I’m sure your readers will be avidly interested in your “pages of evidence”. In the spirit of transparency you should publish the whole lot. If not, why not?
Lynne – presumably you will continue to censor my comments and will refuse to publish all your “pages of evidence”?
Still not prepared to publish any of your `evidence’ Lynne? Or to publish my requests for it?
Other comments are appearing, but not mine.
Lynne, how hard is it to say yes or no to whether you will publish your `pages of evidence’? It’s a reasonable question and I’m prepared to be reasonable with you as to how you answer it. I realise it may take you some time to publish a lot of pages, so just say when you will get round to it. You know how much there is not me, so I won’t impose a deadline. Just say when!
Lynne, I see you are publishing supportive comments as usual but not my questions. You asked me how long I have got to read your `evidence’. The answer is – longer than you could imagine. I am publishing my questions elsewhere and your silence speaks volumes.
Lynne: The conclusion is inescapable that you actually DO NOT have any evidence to back up your conspiracy theories, let alone `pages’ of it. You continue to post supportive comments while censoring valid questions from me and from others. Such behaviour is deeply dishonest. Should I be surprised?
Comment on her post at http://bit.ly/1Kk7YY8
Why Lynne do you insist on calling Sense About Science “Simon Singh’s charity”? He is a trustee, but doesn’t own it or run it. You frequently beat the drum of free speech, so in that spirit your readers should read the reply to The Times sent by Tracey Brown, SAS Director:
There is rather a big difference between a charity that promotes truth and evidence, and your magazine which is funded by advertisers who have been found to make misleading claims, eg:
Oh by the way, I never did see the “pages of evidence” for your wild claims back in May. The last comment on your blog is mine:
Are you still counting the pages?
Yes, five months later she still hasn’t coughed up any evidence. Why am I not surprised?
This quick update is more about the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) than about the Charity Commission, which is currently silent as usual. When I phoned the PHSO on 11th May I was told that a letter had been sent on 30th April. Yesterday (18th May) nothing had arrived, so I phoned the PHSO again. At my request the letter concerned was emailed to me. It wasn’t actually a letter, but text pasted into the email, and dated 1st May. Here it is: Continue reading
Last year I was pleasantly surprised when the Charity Commission advised a charity to stop making unsubstantiated claims, after I complained. I am now much less impressed. Encouraged by my initial success, I started looking at more charities that seem to mislead the public. Remember that charities are legally obliged to operate for public benefit, and there are many that do not. Several promote homeopathy, in some cases to vulnerable people in poor countries, which can’t possibly benefit them, and could do much harm. Continue reading
Last evening I attended the annual Sense About Science lecture. Perhaps the most important outcome of any lecture is that it made the audience think, and Professor Steve Rayner certainly achieved that. His title, “Science, Technology and Democracy: Dissecting the anatomies of controversy”, promised much, and I was not disappointed. As an anthropologist by training, and having morphed into something of a social scientist, Rayner has become an authority on interactions between science – and scientists – and society, especially politicians. Continue reading