Unanswered Questions

Just in case you were wondering, here is the letter I wrote to the Society of Homeopaths, asking them just why they were so upset about me.

This letter was written about in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday October 20th.

You can follow the story on BadScience, DCScience, Respectful Insolence, Gimpy’s and Randi, plus many more too numerous to mention.


For the attention of Paula Ross, Chief Executive of the Society of Homeopaths

Dear Ms Ross,

I have just received the email below from my web site hosting company. I believe they originally forwarded the email to an incorrect address and so today is the first day I have been able to respond to it. My name is Andy Lewis and I am the owner of the domain quackometer.net and I write the blog that can be found on that site. As such, I would very much like to make sure that I fully understand your concerns expressed in the fax to netcetera and I am keen to see that we can resolve any concerns and reach an amicable understanding for all.

I understand you are unhappy about this post, http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/08/gentle-art-of-homeopathic-killing.html. This post was written to highlight my concerns and opinions that the Society of Homeopaths is not taking a firm enough stand, and taking enough action, to ensure its members do not use homeopathy where it is totallyinappropriate. Furthermore, the widespread denigration of evidence-based medicine amongst homeopaths is something that the Society should be seeking to reduce should it truly wish to be complementary. It is my opinion thatthe Society should have done a lot more after the BBC Newsnight sting on homeopaths and malaria. As Dr Peter Fisher of the London Homeopathic Hospital said, “people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice”. Hence, the title of my post. I have similar concerns about the role of homeopathy in managing AIDS and the advocacy for such treatment that so many homeopaths appear to make. The stark difference of opinion between medical homeopaths, such as Fisher, and your lay membership is concerning.

I hope you understand that my concerns are genuinely held and my motive is the wider highlighting of a problem that may well end in harm or even death to people unless action is taken. I am sorry you have felt it necessary to ask my web hosting provider to take down the page in question. If you could tell me urgently what the wording is that you feel is incorrect, defamatory or not fair comment I will examine it immediately and will ensure a friendly and swift resolution of this matter. In addition, if you wish to respond to my concerns on the site, I will be more than happy to prominently publish your thoughts in full on my web site.

I am sure we can come to a quick and happy conclusion here, but should you feel it necessary to follow a legal route directed at me rather than my hosting company, then please can I suggest you initiate the appropriate pre-action protocols to help ensure we all have the right information and communications. http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/contents/protocols/prot_def.htm

I am sure you are aware that, being scientifically trained, I am sceptical of homeopathic claims. However, as you might see from my site, I believe that homeopaths could play an important role in healthcare in the UK, but that a good, healthy debate amongst all opinions would be required to get there. I would be humbled to think that I could play a small part in that. I look forward to your


Andy Lewis

The Quackometer

6 Comments on Unanswered Questions

  1. Polite and non-controntational, however,I wouldn’t be holding your breath for too long for a reasoned and sensible reply

    (Or am I an old fashioned cynic in my declining years)

  2. Following your link to the Society of Homeopaths I perused their website & downloaded their fascinating ‘Overview of Positive Homeopathy Research Surveys’. Despite extensive searching I was unable to find the useful summary of ‘Overview of Negative Homeopathy Research’ which, in the name of balance, I’m sure exists but would probably exceed my datacap should I attempt to download it.

    Anyway, on page 16, under the heading ‘Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever’, the administration of ‘Dengueinum30’ (crazy name, crazy drug) was described to ‘at least’ 39,200 (I always like it when n=’at least’) with a follow up of 23,520 people 10 days later (why the 40% loss to follow up?) showed ‘only 5 people’ had developd mild symptoms with ‘the rest showing no signs or symptoms of the disease’. This amazing recovery is put in context by quoting WHO saying ‘attack rates… may reach 80-90%). So there you have it – science in action. An unspecified number of patients, 40% lost to follow up, no end point defined, no control group, no randomisation. And the reference? CCRH News 1996-1997
    Well that does it for me. Pass me the Arnica, I’m off the chemo.

    The trouble with this compilation ‘paper’ of course is it lends homeopathy the scientific credibility that it’s practitioners so obviously crave (whilst simultaneously criticising it) that a casual reader may take as a body of evidence that memory water actually works. Pure unadulterated nonsense. And dangerous at that. Glad to see your article mirrored absolutely everywhere anyway (I found you via badscience)

  3. Not sure where to post this comment, but any advice would be welcome. How do you answer someone who is insistent that they were cured by alternative medicine such as homeopathy, touching or even reciting some words in a prescribed manner? What questions should we ask such people?

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