Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on October 19, 2009

Ullman is notorious as a homeopath and internet lurker, spreading undiluted nonsense as far and wide as his typing fingers can manage.

Steven Novella writing on Skepticblog

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Prison time for homeopath parents that let their daughter die of eczema

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 28, 2009

People love to use the “its a harmless belief” excuse whenever they find themselves in a corner defending some non-evidence based belief, such say….oh I don’t know, homeopathy? However, it is not true that these beliefs are harmless. It is not true that they have no side effects. Because when such beliefs are adhered to in matters of health, and are preferred over established, science based medicine, death occurs.

You may remember a while ago reading in this blog about the little girl who died of eczema at nine months of age, a non fatal disease if treated with real medicine, because her parents choose homeopathy instead, even as her conditions got worse and even as it became obvious that the homeopathic potions were not producing the desired results. The parents were found guilty and now news comes out that they have been sentenced to prison time, 6 years for the father, 4 for the mother.

I do not know how to feel about this story. I am a bit torn, because obviously these parents did what they thought was best for their daughter. I do not think there was an intention to hurt her in their part. But they were negligent when the choose to ignore many warnings and advice to seek real medical help which could have easily saved this little girl’s life. They were taken in by the woo woo, the father was himself a homeopath who really believed in his “craft” to the point of letting his little girl die instead of getting help. But they did make choices that resulted in a young life ending prematurely, so….

I am not happy that this is happening, I’d much rather prefer this sort of thing never happened.

Homeopathy and First Aid

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 23, 2009

So the British Homeopathic Association is advertising a talk by some homeopath called Sue de Lacy, who will be giving a seminar about homeopathy and first aid in 09/22/09. If you happen to be in the Liverpool area, I recommend you skip it. Nonsense is sure to abound for the only sensible advice one can give about homeopathy and first aid is to never commingle the two. However, I doubt Sue will be dispensing that sort of reasonable advice. So if it’s a weekend and Liverpool is playing, I suggest you go enjoy the game!

The Pro-Homeopaths Strike Back! (or, Charlie Bit Me!)

Posted in Oot and Aboot with some Canadian Skeptic by Skepdude on September 22, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT OOT AND ABOOT WITH SOME CANADIAN SKEPTIC

Remember the other day when I posted about the Straight.com advocating homeopathic preparations to contain the H1N1 virus? Remember how I pointed out that the article was written by a practicing homeopath? I didn’t want to point it out at the time of writing because I was a little unsure of the veracity of the claim, but it turns out that the author of the article, homeopath Sonya McLeod is indeed the daughter of the the paper’s owner, Dan McLeod.

I so far see at least 2 conflicts-of-interest: 1) The financial conflict of having a homeopath advocate that everyone should protect their health with homeopathy and 2) The blatant nepotism of allowing the owner’s daughter (who has no medical expertise) to dispense medical advice about a very serious health issue. An anonymous commenter on my previous post offered a great idea: we could issue a complaint to the British Columbia Press Council because of these breaches of journalist ethics. But hold off on that until you have read the rest of this post.

Well, we got their attention, because the Straight.com has responded. The response was written under their “Blog-Politics” heading, and was written by one ‘Charlie Smith’, whose other articles seem to be otherwise regular news/commentary. Charlie, it seems, is rather unhappy with the response received by the skeptic community. Charlie blames medical science for more deaths. Charlie wonders if skeptics would be so outraged if we knew how many people died on a hospital bed.

Charlie, is mad.

Let’s deconstruct. I’ve got my baloney-detection-kit ready for this one.

The study also reported that 9,250 to 23,750 preventable deaths occurred.

You read that correctly: up to 23,750 preventable deaths took place in acute-care hospitals in Canada in a single year, according to the CMAJ study.

Well, not exactly. The numbers 9250 to 23,750 were an extrapolation, not a confirmed body count. So yeah…a little dishonest, Charlie. Not as bad as having a homeopath advocate homeopathy instead of medical science, but still….a little dishonest. More to the point, science-based medicine knows of its flaws. That’s why that report was launched in the first place: to look into the ways to improve healthcare in Canada. Have homeopaths ever done a look into the deaths caused by homeopathic-exclusive care?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT OOT AND ABOOT WITH SOME CANADIAN SKEPTIC

Homeopathy Totally Shown To Work

Posted in Fun, Humorous by Skepdude on August 22, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT THE SPOOF

A top scientist at a real university has done some really clever research, with numbers and everything, that totally proves homeopathy works and is not in fact a made up load of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

A spokesman from the Society of Homeopaths said “This scientist is really clever and an expert in his field, despite nobody else having ever heard of him. His research, which most definitely wasn’t funded by the Society of Homeopaths, totally proves everything we’ve ever said. It was money well spent.”

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT THE SPOOF

Homeopathy gets trashed again…this time by the WHO

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 21, 2009

The WHO has had enough of the magical water “treatments” and it is warning people to stay away from it.

People with conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria should not rely on homeopathic treatments, the World Health Organization has warned.

This seems to have been started by a group called Voice of Young Science Network which seems to be part of, or affiliated with, Sense About Science the good folks fighting it out in Simon Singhs corner about his troubles with chiropractic woo woo! What’s the response of the homeopathetics?

However practitioners said there were areas where homeopathy could help.

No shit!

India wasting money on swine flu homeopathic research

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 7, 2009

Via The Hindu we get news that the state of Maharashtra is investing money in research into a homeopathic swine flu vaccine of sorts.

A senior city homeopath Dr Sreerang Oak had on Friday advocated a preventive treatment combining two bio-chemic substances of homeopathy — ‘Kali Mur’ and ‘Ferrum Phos’ (with power of 12 X )– which he said could arrest the spread of the H1N1 virus among population.

Wow, they know they can arrest,  read stop dead on its tracks, the spread of the swine flu, before the research the money is supposed to be spent on has even been done! That does not augur well for the state of Maharashtra!

Four tablets each of the two medicines, easily and cheaply available with chemists could stop the infection in the first stage, bestowing an immunity on the person against the virus, he claimed.

They even know the exact dosage for goodness sake, before the research is done! Talk about quackery!

State of Maharashtra: Fail!


Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on August 6, 2009

Homeopathic “remedies” are licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority. But Professor Michael Baum, of University College London, says: “This is like licensing a witches’ brew as a medicine so long as the bat wings are sterile.”

“Regulating quacks helps them prey on gullible patients” – The Sun Newspaper

Homeopathy & Nutritionists vs Real Science!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 23, 2009

Hair Transmission Homeopathy

Posted in The Quackometer by Skepdude on July 14, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE QUACKOMETER

Cut free from the tethers of evidence and reason, homeopathy, as a system of thought, is free to soar into lofty heights of wild fantasy. Unrestrained by the weight of reality and the heavy ethical demands of accountability, practices and principles are able to float into almost any area that the imagination will allow. There are no maps to guide this flight of the bizarre and no compass to return the traveller to a safe base.

Despite two hundred years of existence, you will still find vigorous debates on homeopathic discussion boards about what exactly homeopathy is. There are homeopaths who will only ever give one pill. There are homeopaths that do not mind mixing pills. Some only accept remedies based on the original forms of testing, know as the ‘proving’. Others allow themselves to dream what a remedy might do. Homeopaths squabble about what is right, but can never resolve their difference because they have long ago abandoned objective means of settling disputes. An uneasy truce exists between the various schools of thought with only occasional cold war like peripheral fights breaking out, mainly in the form of a diatribe by one side denouncing heresies and calling for all homeopaths to unite under the scriptures of Hahnemann, the founder, and the One True Authority.

A few common principles bind the various factions together – the idea of similarity, that like cures like; the need to match the totality of symptoms to a remedy; and the idea of minimum dose – use the smallest amount of remedy possible. This last point means that homeopaths most often give no dose. The medicine has been so diluted away that not a single molecule remains. The beauty of homeopathy, and probably the reason that it is has done so well, is that it is a pure placebo therapy. There are no risks of side effects and the patent is quite free to allow nature to take its course and the complaint to get better on its own.

When the actual physical acts of homeopathy are completely inert and when practiced by people with no regard for critical self appraisal, the scientific medicine and the objective collection of data, one can expect a certain amount of evolution of ideas and the generation of variants.The only criteria that restrain such ideas are the need to keep the treatment inert, the philosophical acceptability to the vitalist mindset of the homeopath and, most importantly, its profitability in practice.

Thus, in the UK, we have seen the former founder of the Society of Homeopath, Peter Chappell, invent the homeopathic delivery of remedies by MP3 file. Since homeopaths invent cod explanations for their work along the lines that it is an ‘energy medicine’ or a ‘vibrational medicine’ then the thinking goes that because MP3 files can encode sound vibrations, then they can also encode ‘healing vibrations’. And so, we find Chappell running a little business where people can download MP3 files and play sounds of waves crashing as they worry that they might have swine flu.

It is in India though that we must look to see some true inventiveness. The country has more homeopaths than any other and the government appears to be quite happy to support all manner of quackery in the name of political expediency.

And so, I stumbled across the works of the followers of Dr. B. Sahni who runs the Research Institute Of Sahni Drug Transmission & Homoeopathy (risdth.org). Without a hint of irony, the home page proclaims “Welcome to Medicine Free World“. The Sahni protocol is rather wonderful: a homeopathic remedy is chosen in the classical way, by matching symptoms to a remedy. The chosen pill is then dissolved in a vial and a single hair is then plucked from the customer’s head and placed in the vial with a little bit sticking out. The hair is then able to transmit the remedy back to the owner.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE QUACKOMETER