Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on May 17, 2010

Hi there. Haven’t done one of these in a while, and this one is a perfect case to jump this thing back up.

Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street [in London] there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS

Dr Tom Dolphin

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Homeopathy is witchcraft, says UK medical body

Posted in News by Skepdude on May 16, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT IBNLIVE

London: Homeopathy is “witchcraft”, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said, adding: “If people wish to pay for homoeopathy that’s their choice but it shouldn’t be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works.”

Hundreds of BMA members have passed a motion criticising alternative medicine use and they demanded that taxpayers should not pay for bills for remedies with no scientific basis to support them, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.

“Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street (in London) there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS (National Health Service),” Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in England, was quoted as saying at an annual conference.

Homeopathy was devised in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.

Gordon Lehany, chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in Scotland, told the conference in London last weekend: “At a time when the NHS is struggling for cash we should be focusing on treatments that have proven benefit. If people wish to pay for homoeopathy that’s their choice but it shouldn’t be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works.”

BMA chairman Hamish Meldrum supported the motion.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT IBNLIVE

Northern Ireland adopts new guidance on homeopathy

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 23, 2010

And it is not good news for the homeopaths. Following on the footsepts of the UK House of Commons Science committee report, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland also advised caution on the part of consumers when it comes to homeopathic magic pills.

The draft guidance from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland proposes that patients buying homeopathic products be “appropriately advised that there is no scientific or clinical evidence base for the efficacy of homeopathic products, beyond a placebo effect”.

It adds that signs should be positioned close to the products, recommending patients seek further advice from the pharmacist before purchase.

Commenting on the draft guidance, Brendan Kerr from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, said homeopathy was not a risk free form of alternative health treatment.

“There are real dangers that a patient using homeopathic products may be failing to seek appropriate diagnosis of a more serious underlying condition,” he said.

“Therefore, in our role of protecting patient safety in pharmacy, it is appropriate and necessary that formal professional guidance be issued to pharmacists on this matter.”

Yes, big signs in big, red, all capital letters, with a picture of a crossed skull and the word “WARNING” on top! That ought to do it I think.

Nuttines squared-Homeopathic thimerosal

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 18, 2010

Forget that thimerosal has not been shown to cause any diseases (read autism). Forget that homeopathy has never been shown to work under properly controlled scientific conditions and it’s getting its butt kicked in the UK. Nope, none of that matters because, of course, if you dilute it enough something good is bound to come out of it, no? Enter,homeopathic thimersoal, in 30C dilution selling for only $9.95 or $19.95 per bottle! What does it cure? Well, nothing specific apparently (except for the subtle implication that it may help with autism, obviously).

Thimerosal can be used to treat a wide range of diseases, all of which have a unique general pattern of effects upon an individual. Homeopathic medicine seeks to treat the whole person and not just a symptom or two because we are whole beings and not collections of unrelated symptoms.

Well that’s nice isn’t it? A “wide range of diseases” followed by the usual, make-em-feel-precious , standard holistic CAM “treat the whole” nonsense! Wouldn’t you expect the description to be a little more specific though as to what exactly this wide range of disease is comprised of? I mean, will this help with diarrhea, ’cause I smell a lot of BS!

Homeopaths On The Run

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on February 26, 2010

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT NEUROLOGICA

t’s been a bad year for homeopathy, and it’s still February. The 10^23 campaign has been making a proper mockery of the magical medicine that is homeopathy, capped off with their mass homeopathic “overdose.” In Australia skeptics have been taking homeopathic websites to task for making unsupported health claims. And in the UK there has been increasing pressure to question NHS support for homeopathy – most recently the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee concluded that homeopathy is nothing more than an elaborate placebo and the NHS should completely defund and remove any support for homeopathy. This could be a death blow to homeopathy in the UK, and provide support for similar efforts elsewhere.

Last year was no better. Most memorable was this comedy sketch by Mitchell and Webb, who nicely skewered homeopaths and other cranks. When comedians are not ridiculing them, homeopaths were doing a fine job of lampooning themselves – the best is this video where Dr. Werner tries to explain how homeopathy works – pure comedy gold. Of course the best real explanation for how homeopathy works is here.

Even before the House Committee presented its final report, the embarrassing moments were being immortalized on YouTube, for example the head of a major UK pharmaceutical chain admitting that they market homeopathic products with full knowledge that they don’t work.

All of this has homeopaths a bit desperate, it would seem. They now realize that skeptics and scientists are starting to get traction with their criticism. This is good, because as I have argued before the more we get homeopaths and other pseudoscientists trying to defend themselves, the more they will do our work for us.

Thanks to commenter tl;dr for pointing out this video by homeopath, John Benneth. This is the best incoherent rant yet by a crank against skeptics. If I did not already know Benneth from his other videos, where he puts forward rambling technobabble trying to make homeopathy seem scientific, I could easily have believed this was satire. Benneth looks disheveled, distracted, and gets childishly sarcastic at one point. But that aside, the content of his rant is priceless.

Benneth decides to take on skeptics directly, and by name. He mentions Randi, Edzard Ernst, Simon Singh, Harriet Hall, Michael Shermer, and your humble servant (thanks for including me in such excellent company). He then proceeds straight to the logical fallacy aisle and fills his cart.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT NEUROLOGICA

British MPs Tell Gov’t: Stop Funding Homeopathy

Posted in Science Based Pharmacy by Skepdude on February 22, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SCIENCE BASED PHARMACY

In a clear statement on the absurdity of public funding and regulation of homeopathy, British MPs instructed government to stop paying for homeopathy, shut down homeopathic hospitals, cease all homeopathy clinical trials, and to crack down on homeopathic efficacy claims.

Committee chairman Phil Willis MP said; “We were seeking to determine whether the Government’s policies on homeopathy are evidence based on current evidence. They are not.”

Homeopathy doesn’t work. It can’t work. If it did, physics, biochemistry and pharmacology as pharmacists know it would be false. Yet this elaborate placebo system persists, supported in part by the pharmacy profession, which seems comfortable selling products with no active ingredients and no evidence of efficacy.

I have blogged previously about the British inquiry into homeopathy, the public relations disaster for Boots the Chemist (selling their own store brand of homeopathy), and the effectiveness of the “10-23″ protesters, who staged a mass homeopathic overdose, where, not surprisingly, nothing untoward happened to anyone.

The final report from the British inquiry has been released. It scrutinized government policies on homeopathy, and gives direction to the National Health Service.  But the recommendations apply to any country (like Canada) that legitimizes homeopathy.

Here is the Press Release which summarizes the 273 page report :

In a report published today, the Science and Technology Committee concludes that the NHS should cease funding homeopathy. It also concludes that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow homeopathic product labels to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy. As they are not medicines, homeopathic products should no longer be licensed by the MHRA.

The Committee carried out an evidence check to test if the Government’s policies on homeopathy were based on sound evidence. The Committee found a mismatch between the evidence and policy. While the Government acknowledges there is no evidence that homeopathy works beyond the placebo effect (where a patient gets better because of their belief in the treatment), it does not intend to change or review its policies on NHS funding of homeopathy.

The Committee concurred with the Government that the evidence base shows that homeopathy is not efficacious (that is, it does not work beyond the placebo effect) and that explanations for why homeopathy would work are scientifically implausible.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SCIENCE BASED PHARMACY

Homeopaths Admit Expensive Concoctions Just Water

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 1, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT SCOOP

Homeopaths Admit Expensive Concoctions Just Water

A public mass overdose of homeopathic remedies has forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that their products do not contain any “material substances”. Council spokeswoman Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that “there´s not one molecule of the original substance remaining” in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million-dollar industry.

The NZ Skeptics, in conjunction with 10:23, Skeptics in the Pub and other groups nationally and around the world, held the mass overdose in Christchurch on Saturday to highlight the fact that homeopathic products are simply very expensive water drops or sugar/lactose pills. A further aim was to question the ethical issues of pharmacies, in particular, stocking and promoting sham products

“You´re paying $10 for a teaspoon of water that even the homeopaths say has no material substance in it,” says Skeptics Chair Vicki Hyde. “Yet a recent survey showed that 94% of New Zealanders using homeopathic products aren´t aware of this basic fact – their homeopath or health professional hasn´t disclosed this. The customers believe they are paying for the substances listed on the box, but those were only in the water once upon a time before the massive dilution process began – along with everything else that the water once had in it — the chlorine, the beer, the urine….”

Hyde notes that one of the homeopathic products downed by the 40 or so people in the mass overdose had a label saying it contained chamomilia, humulus lupulus, ignatia, kali brom, nux vomica and zinc val. But those substances were actually in homeopathic dilutions, meaning that the kali brom, for example, was present in a proportion comparable to 1 pinch of sugar in the Atlantic Ocean – that is, not actually present at all.

“People don´t know that they are paying through the nose for just water – they believe the label implies there are active ingredients in there, just like you´d expect from a reputable health product. And you have to ask, at what point does it shift from being an issue of informed consent to become an issue of fraud?”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT SCOOP

10:23 campaign in video

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 30, 2010

We start off with a British TV show discussion. There’s one skeptic in there; I only wish he’d objected to the host’s use of the word “cynic” when referring to him.

Let us being our video coverage with our dear Australian friend, Richard Saunders and a few of his friends. They each consumed 40 tablets of homeopathic sleep medicine. I regret to inform you that none of them fell asleep until later that night (it’s already Sunday in Australia due to time difference)!

Next, we move on to our Leicester brethren and sister….thren something something. I don’t know exactly what they were taking, but whatever homeopathic “medicine” there was on those bottles it didn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever.

Moving on to this homemade 10:23 experiment. We may have to disqualify the young girl because she spit some pills. Obviously she was cheating the test!

Next up: Southampton

I have to stop now. There’s too many videos coming in on YouTube. Just do a search yourself you lazy bum!

And to close it off, here is the super secret, Deleted Video!

Sceptics stage homeopathy ‘overdose’ to discredit drugs

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 30, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BBC NEWS

Homeopathy sceptics have staged a mass “overdose” of homeopathic remedies, in a bid to prove they are worthless.

Protesters ate whole bottles of tablets at branches of Boots in places such as Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, London, Leicester, Edinburgh and Birmingham.

They have asked the pharmacy chain to stop selling the remedies, which they call “scientifically absurd”.

The Society of Homeopaths called it a “stunt”. Boots said it followed industry guidelines on homeopathy.

From 2005 to 2008 the NHS spent almost £12m on homeopathic treatments, according to a 2009 Freedom Of Information request by Channel 4 News.

‘Placebo effect’

Supporters of homeopathy say it is a system that uses very highly diluted substances to trigger the body to heal itself, but critics argue there is no evidence they work.

The demonstrations were organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society (MSS).

Michael Marshall, from the MSS, said: “We believe that they shouldn’t be selling sugar pills to people who are sick. Homeopathy never works any better than a placebo. The remedies are diluted so much that there is nothing in them.”

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BBC NEWS

Homeopathy by the (mind-boggling) numbers

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 21, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT TIMESONLINE

I have just purchased a packet of Boots-brand 84 arnica homeopathic 30C Pills for £5.09, which Boots proudly claim is only 6.1p per pill. Their in-store advice tells me that arnica is good for treating “bruising and injuries”, which gives the impression that this is a very cost-effective health-care option.

Unlike most medication, it didn’t list the actual dose of the active ingredient that each pill contains, so I checked the British Homeopathic Association website. On their website it nonchalantly states that to make a homeopathic remedy, they start with the active ingredient and then proceed to dilute it to 1 per cent concentration. Then they dilute that new solution again, so there is now only 0.01 per cent of the original ingredients. For my 30C pills this diluting is repeated thirty times, which means that the arnica is one part in a million billion billion billion billion billion billion.

The arnica is diluted so much that there is only one molecule of it per 7 million billion billion billion billion pills.

It’s hard to comprehend numbers that large. If you were to buy that many pills from Boots, it would cost more than the gross domestic product of the UK. It’s more than the gross domestic product of the entire world. Since the dawn of civilisation. If every human being since the beginning of time had saved every last penny, denarius and sea-shell, we would still have not saved-up enough to purchase a single arnica molecule from Boots.

Then the process of consuming enough pills to get that one molecule also boggles the mind. You can try imagining Wembley Stadium completely filled with people, all drinking pints of medicine at the rate of two an hour. For just one of these people to eventually consume one molecule, you would need a million Wembley Stadiums all at full capacity with people who have drinking pints constantly since the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago. Oh, and you’d need 737 million such Earths.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT TIMESONLINE

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