• The Works

Official Support for Homeopathy Persists

One thing leads to another, and with each step I am angrier. It started with a Twitter tip-off about a video on Facebook recommending homeopathy for coronavirus symptoms. Of course, homeopathic remedies are prescribed totally on the basis of symptoms, as homeopaths have no way of knowing any better, so nothing remarkable about that as such. But the video was made by Dr Elizabeth Thompson, a registered medical doctor, and apparently a consultant at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. I am not on Facebook and have no desire to be, and the video may have gone now. But it popped up at the same time at the National Centre for Integrative Medicine. At this point I need to explain a bit of history.

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Naturopathy – nonsense on stilts cashing in on COVID-19

The exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic by unscrupulous quacks is such a burgeoning problem that the excellent Advertising Standards Authority has set up a very convenient online form for making a quick complaint. I used it yesterday to report the College of Naturopathic Medicine for the three videos they have online. I ran these past my very good friend (and HealthWatch colleague) David Bender, who is Emeritus Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at UCL. Here are his findings, with his comments in italics.

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The Bell Tolls for Quack Charities?

So after nearly five years of effort, I am rewarded with a response from the Charity Commission regarding charities which make misleading claims about the treatment of ill health. Is it what I wanted? The answer is “partly”, but it depends on how the Commission applies its new guidance. 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

As usual, quacks are wrong about being told they are wrong

I suppose it would be too much to expect the quacks to interpret correctly the legal framework for advertising. Heaven knows they have scant regard for the truth when plugging their snake oils. So I am going to explain what I have learned about the regulation of advertising, especially why what the quacks say about the Advertising Standards Authority is wrong. Continue reading

The General Pharmaceutical Council – as useless as ever

Do we have any health care regulators who do their job properly? Months ago I came across a pharmacist called Christine  Glover, who runs Glovers Integrated Healthcare. Any use of the word `integrated’ usually means quackery of some kind, and this is one of those. But I really wonder how Mrs Glover copes with cognitive dissonance. She says she was “a former President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society”. How did a respected professional body elect a quack as president? She regards ” illness as a set of physical symptoms”. Wrong, wrong, wrong, illness has causes of which homeopaths have not the slightest understanding. She sits on the advisory board of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Science. Science? How on earth does that align with homeopathy? NHS Choices says “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition”. Continue reading

Yet more on the Charity Commission

Are you bored with this? I am. Because with the Charity Commission it’s just the same old same old. Some of you might have seen a piece in The Sunday Times in March, which was quite hard-hitting. For example a professor of clinical epidemiology castigated a charity called The Vaccine Awareness Network, which just recycles all the anti-vaccination tropes. Continue reading

Making up Law on the Fly

I was going to apologise for yet another post about the Charity Commission, but on reflection why should I? This is a serious matter and whatever I do the Commission seems more determined to look silly. You’ll recall that they have accepted that their internal guidance on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) contains major errors of fact and logic, but that they refuse to update it. They did say however that my own review of the guidance would be circulated internally, as case officers also have to take into account updated information as well as approved guidance when making decisions. So I decided to see whether that had had any effect. Continue reading

Lynne McTaggart – champion of free speech?

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:

22.5.15, 15:00

I’ll have to paraphrase the first two as I didn’t save them:

  1. Where’s the evidence that “cyber attack dogs” were sent by any sceptics?
  2. 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.

22.5.15, 1600

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?

23.5.15, 09:45

Lynne – presumably you will continue to censor my comments and will refuse to publish all your “pages of evidence”?

24.5.15, 10:30

Still not prepared to publish any of your `evidence’ Lynne? Or to publish my requests for it?

Other comments are appearing, but not mine.


24.5.15, 19:12

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!

25.5.15, 22:21

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.

30.5.15, 13:50

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?

19.10.15, 16:55

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?

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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