• The Works

Publish or Perish: a gravy train

The world of medical science is awash with predatory journals, and they seem especially prevalent in the USA. You may have seen my previous interactions with Global Advances in Health and Medicine, a journal which publishes any kind of quackery you care to invent. Then last week, I received this puzzling email from The Gazette of Medical Sciences: Continue reading

Appeasing CAM in the NHS

The UK’s National Health Service has made some progress towards embedding evidence based clinical practice in its service delivery. But there is still some fence-sitting going on. My attention has just been drawn to current guidance on complementary and alternative medicine which is less than definitive.

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Selective Regulation

I have held off from posting about the Charity Commission for quite a while, because I wanted to give them enough time to fulfil the assurances they have given me and others about effectively regulating certain charities operating in the health space. But enough is enough. I have engaged with the Commission over the last eight years, and nothing substantive has changed. I don’t believe this is because it’s a basically useless regulator. Very detailed and professional-looking enquiry reports on a wide range of compliance issues in charities are published by the Commission. They know how to do the job, and have resources, but it looks as if there are bits of it they just don’t want to do.

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Energy Medicine: Review of paper by Christina L Ross

I am indebted to Richard Rasker for the following critique of this paper:

Ross Christina L. Energy Medicine: Current Status and Future Perspectives. Glob Adv Health Med. 2019; 8: 2164956119831221

I have not included Ross’ list of references. Readers should refer to the original paper which is here. The original headings are used, and original text is italicised. The reviewer’s references are linked to sources, and listed at the end.

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Gerson Therapy and `toxins’

Last week I had a particular reason to have a look at Gerson Therapy. For the uninitiated, this is a draconian regime based on extreme nutrition and other bizarre interventions such as coffee enemas and vitamin megadoses. It is widely claimed to be able to treat cancer. It’s a favourite ploy of quacks to explain that, when the patient gets worse instead of better, it is a sign that the treatment is working. For homeopaths it’s the `aggravation’, and for the Gerson brigade it’s this:

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How effective is the Advertising Standards Authority?

I should start this post with two big caveats:

  1. My purpose is not to criticise the ASA, which in my experience is efficient and rigorous. If there are limitations, they may well stem from circumstances, which I hope to explore here.
  2. This isn’t a particularly scientific analysis. It is not a prospective study, just a look at a large number of complaints and what happened to them.

The dataset comprises 74 complaints I have made to the ASA about misleading health-related claims, between July 2014 and January 2019. All but two related to advertisers’ own websites; one was a magazine ad, and another involved a paid-for ad by a chiropractic clinic on a local newspaper website. Here is how they were distributed (in no particular order): Continue reading

The General Medical Council: nice bedside manner with quacks

I have for some time been critical of the GMC’s acquiescence over doctors who practise quackery, but I’m concerned now at how it seems to be getting into bed with them. I just came across an `oncologist and professor of Chinese medicine‘ and phoned the GMC for advice as to whether they would regulate such a person – who is not apparently registered to practise in the UK. It was an odd conversation, which I have followed up with this email to the GMC: Continue reading

Nonsense Education

For many years I have strongly supported the Advertising Standards Authority. It is staffed by excellent people who know the difference between real medicine and quackery, and between evidence and opinion. When necessary they are not slow to call in expert help, and their decisions are usually robust and evidence-based. Continue reading

A Funny Idea of Ethics – from the clergy

The oldest church here in Salisbury is St Thomas’. The C of E is of course a major landowner, a tradition followed  here, with the church owning the adjacent St Thomas’ House just across the square. I knew that the prestigious (!) Salisbury Homeopathy College ran its events there, and recently learned about a course entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Homeopathy”, conducted by one Mike Andrews who has written a book of the same title. Continue reading

The Charity Commission Consultation

Most readers should be aware that the Charity Commission has issued a consultation on the registration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) organisations as charities. This was after a five-year battle documented in other posts on this blog. In the interests of transparency I am posting my response here. Continue reading

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