Jeanette Winterson in Blistering Attack on Homeopathy

winterson with a headache

Yesterday, prize winning author, Jeanette Winterson, delivered a devastating blow to supporters of homeopathy by calling for ‘better regulation’ of the profession and for the Society of Homeopaths to ‘engage with its critics’. In vindication of this web site’s stance, and in recognition of recent futile and aggressive attacks by the Society, the writer slated the current leadership of the profession and said ‘there will always be rogue homeopaths and bad homeopaths’.

Jeanette Winterson is a well known supporter of the scientific worldview and a keen advocate for rationalism and enlightenment values, as testified by her weekly purchase of New Scientist magazine. In a feature in the Guardian, Winterson used her beautiful prose to clearly articulate the appalling state of scientific understanding within the homeopathic community and to show how homeopathy has become associated with AIDS denialism in South Africa.

Readers of Prospect Magazine have voted Jeanette Winterson as one of Britain’s ‘top intellectuals’, falling well below Richard Dawkins and Germaine Greer, and somewhat below Matt Ridley, recently resigned chairman of the troubled Northern Rock bank.

Appearing in the g2 section of the newspaper, just after a fascinating four page discussion of Belgian politics and then a cheeky extract from Russel Brand’s new book, My Booky Wook, the article starts off by quoting critics of homeopathy who say that it is ‘shamanistic claptrap, without clinical proof or scientific base’. Winterson goes on to say,

There have been a number of articles in the press recently criticising homeopathic remedies as worthless at best, and potentially lethal at worst, if they are being taken instead of tried-and-tested conventional medicines for conditions such as malaria or HIV.

Noting the increasing concern within the press about homeopaths’ behaviour regarding HIV and an upcoming symposium that will give a platform to ‘rogue homeopaths’, she says,

Of particular concern is a claim by the British homeopath Peter Chapel [sic] and his Dutch colleague, Harry Van Der Zee, that Chapel [sic] has developed a remedy, PC1, that can be used to treat the HIV virus.

The prompt for the article was apparently the increasing criticism by journalists, the medical profession and bloggers of homeopaths’ beliefs and behaviours. Winterson says that,

it is hard to talk about what it is that homeopathy actually does,

and that a forthcoming Lancet edition will state that doctors should tell their patients that homeopathy ‘has no benefit’. Obviously talking about homeopaths’ understanding of science, she says that,

where is the […] sense in saying that because [homeopaths] don’t understand something, even though [homeopaths] can discern its effects, [homeopaths] have to ignore it, scorn it, or suppress it?

Of course, science has a full understanding of the perceived effects of homeopathy. Winterson is quite right to highlight the placebo effect. But more importantly, there is wishful thinking, false attribution, post hoc reasoning after natural disease progression and, occasionally, fraud. Such an explanation is much more reasonable and plausible than homeopaths wishful thinking over completely magical so-called ‘water memory’ effects. As Winterson quite rightly says, homeopaths “do not know whether [memory effects] have a bearing on homeopathic dilutions’. Just because they use words like nano, does not mean they are talking science.

Alarmingly, Winterson tells us that “homeopathy is no snake oil designed for gullible hypochondriacs”. Indeed true. Homeopaths are offering their snake oil to the most vulnerable and desperate people in the world. The tens of millions of people infected with HIV in Southern Africa can hardly be described as ‘gullible hypochondriacs’. Winterson has been a long standing supporter of South African charity TAC – the Treatment Action Campaign – that seeks to counter the ‘lunatic’ insistence by senior politicians in the region that AIDS is not caused by HIV and cannot be managed by ARVs.

Winterson notes that homeopaths too have utterly misguided views of AIDS by saying that they believe that it is “not enough to say Disease A is caused by B and can be cured by C”. She notes that “tests used for conventional medicines fail when used to test homeopathy” and that “I am sure that there is a placebo effect in homeopathy”, but adds that the placebo effect “is common to all therapeutic processes, and it is valuable”.

As the Treatment Action Campaign says,

We recommend that you DO NOT put your trust in one of the numerous people and organisations offering cures and treatments for HIV/AIDS. Many people with HIV are taken advantage of by unscrupulous charlatans or well-intentioned but uninformed people. Learn the science and trust the science. HIV is a manageable chronic disease if you follow sound medical advice. It is deadly if you do not.

Echoing this warning, Winterson says that “people can shrivel and die in the wrong hands”. This stark message is brought to life by the deluded statements made by homeopaths at a typical homeopathic AIDS clinic, such as the Maun Project in Botswana. In a Society of Homeopaths newsletter, a volunteer homeopath wrote:

The patients in Botswana have no knowledge about homeopathy, and are very rarely interested in learning more. All they need to know is that the homeopaths have helped a neighbour or a relative and, personal recommendation being the way of life in Africa, they come full of confidence that they’ll be healed.

For the people visiting the clinic, we are “doctors”. A bit weird for doctors – no white coats, no nurses, the clinic is sometimes a bit of shade and a couple of plastic chairs, and the pills are small and few – but they seem to trust us more than the doctors in the hospital, who never seem to have time to listen.

The writer of these chilling words is not the only fruit-cake that has worked out there. Reflecting my horror at these sort of statements, Winterson says that there is “obviously a genuine terror of what homeopathy is suggesting; which is that [homeopaths] think differently about the relationship between the cure and the disease”. One of the big health care issues in the region is that people are used to magical thinking about illness and so many Botswanan people may believe that the homeopaths offer a genuine alternative to real treatment. Many homeopaths are convinced that homeopathy holds a magical and real secret to understanding human well-being and that medical doctors are corrupted by greed and power. Their ‘gentle art’ and lies are very dangerous in this context. Winterson is clear – “There is no suggestion that homeopathy can replace ARVs”

Bizarrely, Jeanette Winterson has donated her fee for the Guardian article to the above mentioned Maun clinic (which offers the patient ‘a smoother transition into the other world’) rather than the South African Treatment Action Campaign that she claims to support. Interestingly, the Maun Homeopathy Clinic was co-founded by Philippa Brewster, the publisher who ‘discovered’ the young Jeanette Winterson and gave her the big break by publishing her first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. This fact is strangely absent from the article. Maybe she is shy.

Supporters of homeopathy are clinging to a few parts of the article that appear to offer some confirmation of their homeopathic beliefs. For example, Winterson says that once upon a time she had a headache that cleared up, hours after taking a magic sugar pill, whilst staying in an enchanted cottage somewhere in La La land. Or Cornwall. To supporters of homeopathy, the ‘dramatic stuff’ of fairy tales and magic realism are indisputable proof of the genuine efficacy of Cornish Piskey Pills. Winterson often takes the ordinary and mundane in her writings, such as a simple sugar pill and a headache, and turns it into a fantastical ‘non-linear’ transformative metaphor that can contain real power over us through language, or something.

However, as all critics and fans of Jeanette Winterson will know, you should be aware of the irrelevance and unknowability of authorial intentionality.

Jeanette Winterson is telling stories. Trust me.

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Follow up here on Justice Edwin Cameron

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If you are a UK citizen and believe that NHS funding of homeopathy gives credibility to lay homeopaths and endorses their dangerous and deluded beliefs, then you might want to put your name to this petition.

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Also, if you are thinking of making a charitable donation this Christmas, why not consider the Treatment Action Campaign that works to offer genuine help for people with HIV in South Africa. You can donate here.

On this theme…

46 Comments on Jeanette Winterson in Blistering Attack on Homeopathy

  1. gantlord said ” wonder if we should complain about the Maun Homeopathy Charity.”

    Interesting, but probably futile. The charity would strongly defend itself on the grounds that they are complementary. However, my concern is that whilst they might use the rhetoric of complementarity, their beliefs and actions are strictly alternative. They regularly denigrate science and medicine and geniunely believe that homeopathy is a panacea and superior modality and philosophy of illness. Under sucha delusion, harm can easily be done. As TAC point out, “well meaning” but lethal.

    In any case, complaining to the Charity commission, I fear, would be harder than getting a complaint upheld by the Society of Homeopaths.

  2. I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of this kind of ‘complementary’ reasoning (from JW’s article:

    “…using homeopathy to support the ARV programme by alleviating the side-effects of ARVs, and boosting the patient’s immune system so they are better able to fight off the opportunistic viruses that follow behind HIV, and the drugs necessary to suppress it. There is no suggestion that homeopathy can replace ARVs…”

    Especially as hot on its heels comes:
    “Edwin Cameron, a justice of South Africa’s supreme court of appeal who is HIV positive, has done much to counter the disastrous Aids denialists there. He visited Maun and agreed in writing that “there are patent health benefits”. He also admitted that, although initially sceptical of homeopathy, he had had a persistent mouth and gum disease, untreatable by antibiotics, but which was cleared by homeopathic intervention…”

    Bloggers (e.g. SciencePunk)have recently highlighted examples of homeopaths promoting their contributions in, say, war zones, or Aids. Heavyweight, serious health issues rather than the more minor lifestyle ailments of the rich world. Which makes me wonder, are they attaching themselves to these issues to somehow borrow credibility and gravitas?

  3. Bloody excellent. I only wish twice as many people would read this as read Winterson’s piece.

    Thanks for the link to the petition too. My MP signed the ‘support homeopathy’ Early Day Motion. I’m feeling more motivated to write to her about this delusion now.

  4. OK, mildly off-topic, but check this one out:

    First look at the Society of Homeopaths have on there page under the heading research:

    http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/whats-new/researchwn.aspx

    Note the little picture of the evaluation form with all the ticks down the “very good” column. Made me chuckle. They link to this PDF with (SoH’s) intro as follows:

    “What evidence do we have for positive effects of homeopathic treatment?”

    This says to me that they will stand by what is in the document as representative of the beliefs of the SoH. Good.

    In the document, on page 16, you have the following:

    “Dengue haemorrhagic fever

    Dengueinum 30 was administered to at least 39,200 people in the Delhi area during an epidemic of Dengue haemorrhagic fever. Follow-up of 23,520 people 10 days later showed only 5 people (0.125%) had developed mild symptoms, with the rest showing no signs or symptoms of the disease. (During epidemics of dengue, attack rates among susceptible are often 40-50 %, but may reach 80-90 %, World Health Organisation)

    Central Council of Research in Homoeopathy. CCRH News 1996-1997.”

    So straight off the bat we have the SoH claiming that homeopathy is an effective preventer of Dengue Fever. So what exactly are they saying? (with some of my own interpretation, so I’d appreciate your comments)

    They are claiming that after administering a homeopathic “vaccine” to 39,200 people, only 5 out of the 23520 they caught up with again had become ill, and they only became mildly ill at that. The figure 0.125% seems to have been arrived at by dividing by the number of people who got ill (5) by the number of people who took the medicine (39200) (this is wrong, as it should be the number of people who came back to them). They then multiply this number by 1000, instead of 100 as they should have done. The percentage I believe they were trying to get to is: 5/23520 * 100 = 0.02%.

    So, they appear to be assuming that:

    (1) The 15680 people who they didn’t see again had the same low infection rate of 0.02%, so around 3 additionally mildly sick people.
    (2) That, left untreated, between 40 and 90 % of these 39200 people would have been infected. That’s between 15,680 and 35,280.

    An 2005 outbreak of Dengue fever in Bengal killed 15,000 people out of the 90,000 infected, according to la wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever

    That’s 16.7% fatalities in the only Indian outbreak listed! So think how many lives must have been saved by this intervention!

    (I’m working late supervising a machine that’s working away on its own, in case you’re wondering what’s brought this on 🙂

  5. What is interesting for me is how winterson can be both a patron on the Uk arm of TAC and a supporter of the Maun clinic. One would have thought that they were mutually exclusive. TAC’s reason for being is to provide reliable advice for people with HIV and counter the deluge of delusion, misinformation and nonsense dished out by those with other self-interested motives, or the plain bonkers. I wonder what TAC would make of all this?

  6. As a person who has benefitted by Homoepathic treatment I would like to ask who are these people to dictate terms to us and say what is good for us. If the lady does not believe in Homoeopathy let her not go to it. Thats all. Just because some people have different ideas does it mean all should follow them. Stop this arrogance of self righteousness and open the eyes – see the miilions benfitted from Homoeopathy and then speak- of course we dont need such so called self styled intellectuals opinion – we have plenty of them in the Society !!

  7. Anonymous… you might want to read the original piece in the Guardian, it would give you a different perspective on the article above.

    😉

    As for the criticism of homeopathy, in the area of serious & life threatening conditions, don’t you think it is a good idea to ensure that people are offered proven treatment, and guided away from options that have no evidence base demonstrating efficacy? Surely that’s the only acceptable ethical viewpoint?

  8. Excellent article LCN.

    @gantlord: Maybe the 15680 people who didn’t return after 10 days were so ill/dead from Dengue fever that they couldn’t.

  9. back@badchemist:

    well, that thought does spring to mind. The other thought is this:

    What sort of phenomenal logistical effort would it take to register 40k participants in this “trial”, such that you could catch up with them again?

    If you assumed that each time you saw a patient, you spent 5 minutes with them (getting their name, giving the potion, later checking them off a list, asking how they are). 5 minutes is a tight limit. Your talking (39200 + 23520 = 62720) * 5 man-minutes. That’s 217 mandays. So you’d need a team of at least 20 to it in 10 days. Given that people couldn’t work 24 days, and nothing would run that smoothly , in reality you’d need hundreds of people!

  10. ‘I love the idea that ‘anonymous’ calls Jeanette Winterson ‘the lady’. I will be smiling about that one all day.’

    What are you sniggering at? 😉 However much she exercises to be somebody of third sex, she will remain ‘lady’ in either event to her displacency. And homeopathy will remain a full nonsense. 😛

  11. Andy Lewis, I wonder if you actually read the article in the Guardian. I wouldn’t call it a “blistering attack”. In the last paragraph, paragraoh 18, she “would like to see homeopathy better regulated”. And if you did read it, why are you misrepresenting it in this way? Why use selective editing? She said “There will always be rogue homeopaths and bad homeopaths, but that is true of any profession.” This was presented in your article as “There will always be rogue homeopaths and bad homeopaths”. Not exactly a lie, but nor really the whole truth either. One wonders why you need to do this.

  12. @ E Abdin

    I think Fowler’s definition of irony from Modern English Usage might apply here:
    “Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders’ incomprehension…”

  13. “Blistering Attack”??? WTF???

    I do not think that phrase means what you think it means…

    Jeanette Winterson’s article was a credulous defense of homeopathy with a weak call for toothless regulation. Not an “attack” by any means. Did you read the same article I did? It seems like your fondness for Winterson’s writing has clouded your judgement…

  14. Looking at the Guardian Blog’s current “Homeopathy: have your say” thread, it appears that Dana Ullman doesn’t seem to agree with the Little Black Duck’s interpretation of Winterson’s article either.

    But he still manages to plug his new book in the same paragraph…

  15. I would like to point out that there really are few Western homeopaths treating African AIDS patients in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania etc . At present as far as I know there are none in Rwanda at present. This subject seems to be massively over-stated. In addition the overwhelming majority of homeopaths would not be so stupid to imagine that AIDS is going to be cured by a few sugar pills.
    I would accept that the small number advocating homeopathic preventatives for life-threatening diseases such as malaria, are quite deluded and I like many others, wish they didn’t call themselves homeopaths.
    The vast majority of homeopaths visiting Africa are genuinely altruistic but also realise that there is only so much that can be done. Many get involved in projects to improve general living conditions and do not merely practise their homeopathy.
    I don’t think that the problem of AIDS in Africa is being discussed in an objective way here. I have been to all of the countries above, some many times, (not as a homeopathic missionary) and it is undeniable that AIDS is still spreading fast despite the propaganda of embarrassed third world governments. The main reason could well be the SUCCESS of Western drugs at hiding symptoms. Men who would have been shunned by young women are often able to disguise their condition. This is probably the major factor for the recent apparent acceleration in HIV infection. I barely heard this obvious problem discussed seriously anywhere. It is another example of the road to African Hell being paved with apparently good but naive Western intentions. If patients being given Western treatment were identifiable to ordinary people the spread would be reduced IMHO. Perhaps there is not much money in supplying plastic armbands or a more discreet marker on the body ?

  16. SLMCOWAN

    That is quite a bizarre mixture of statements” First, I hope that you right that most homeopaths think that their pills can do little for AIDS. My experience though is that they are quite deluded and unable to make realistic assessments of their capability.

    Secondly, ‘Western Medicine’ hiding AIDS symptoms? Don’t you mean ‘allowing people to live relatively normal fear free and productive lives’? HIV can live inside someones body for many years without major effect. It does not require ‘western medicine’ to ‘hide symptoms’. And as for ‘branding’ HIV people, I find this quite offensive. HIV has such a stigma in many such societies that forcing them to be tatoed or wear badges would make them outcasts. I fear I might invoke Godwin’s law if I carry on so I will just say that I find such a suggetion contemptuous.

    There is nothing ‘naive’ about attempts to make ARVs available to all in Africa. I call it compassion. You appear to think it is all about western avarice.

  17. Well of course your reply was hyperbolic as I didn’t advocate branding, silly hats, pink triangles. Godwin’s Law. Perhaps the thread is silly and tired already because of your reaction.
    For your information it is Africans I know personally who have suggested a discreet as possible identification would help.
    I have heard so many sad stories of people contracting HIV through partners covering-up. Perhaps some geeks living lonely lives on the computer find this difficult to believe. Yes ! Lots of people in Africa have sex without sitting down for hours swapping emails about their personal histories.

    Also you seem to think the majority of homeopaths reckon AIDS is a simple matter of sticking a sugar pill down the gullet. Please find a reference that doesn’t include Peter Chappell (he is out doing his own thing and hasn’t explained even how he produced the ‘remedies’ – not homeopathy at all m’dear) You seem to have a sad cartoonish warped view of humanity. Please get away from the computer and find a friend to talk to. Failing that I suggest you buy a dog.

  18. You say Peter Chappell is not doing homeopathy. That is your opinion. The Society of Homeopaths held a symposium where a colleague of his talked about curing AIDS with homeopathy…

    Homeopathic treatment of Aids attacked by medics

    A little more looking shows us ‘classical homeopath’ Robert Lee Dalpé talking about…

    Homeopathic Treatment of A.I.D.S.

    Misha Norland, well known UK homeopath, has conducted a HIV ‘proving’

    http://www.homeopathyschool.com/provings.html

    I think he has also written a book, “Signatures, Miasms, AIDS”.

    Indian homeopaths appear to be quite fond of treating AIDS with magic water:
    http://cureforaids.co.uk/2007/11/17/homeopathy-treatment-for-aids-under-attack-in-uk/

    and

    http://yellowdoc.blogspot.com/2007/11/homeopathy-for-hivaids.html

    Dana Ullman appears to advocate AIDS treatment too,

    http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.asp?ID=700

    This is not a small group. These are well known homeopaths. If your organisations, like the Society of Homeopaths, came out and condemned these people as ‘quite deluded’ too, I would be happy. But they do not.

    The equivocation and denial of the homeopathic community to the rot at their heart is what will destroy them.

  19. Sorry Canard Noir as this is a very slow reply.
    Hope you haven’t been shot, had your wings singed or had your beak dented. Maybe you’ve been put in a polstyrene box after been fried by the local Chinese..Who knows?
    Anyway in reply to your tender missive of February…
    1) Robert le Dalpe?? Who the blazes is he? Never heard of him and I’m supposed to be a leading European homeopathic bookseller.
    2) Dana Ullman? He is NOT a homeopath! He is a businessman and homeopathic book publisher. Please find me a case cured by Dana Ullman. He was a keen student in the early days but that was as far as it went as far as I know.
    3) Misha Norland’s AIDS nosode is not mainstream homeopathy. It could and should be classed as alternative alternative.

    I appreciate that you are in a difficult position criticising homeopaths. The internet will not necessarily present you with the real thing.

  20. I do find it funny when homeopaths accuse other homeopaths of not being real homeopaths. The problem is that by forsaking reliable standards of evidence you cannot agree on what works and what does not. The reason, of course, is that homeopathy (of any type) has never been unequivocally shown to be effective for any condition.

    You belittle Ullman for never having cured anyone. Well, can you find an incontrovertible example of a non-self-limiting condition being cured by homeopathy? Anything? Documented? Just one will do.

  21. I simply find it naive of you to expect all people who call themselves homeopaths to behave and think in the same way. Anybody can call themselves a homeopath if they choose to.
    You can’t have much to laugh about if that is particularly hilarious. Please get a life.
    I can’t imagine that you have a life if all you do is spend the entire time criticising homeopathy. What does Mrs Lewis think about all your time-wasting nonsense? Seriously you can’t possibly have a partner of any kind. I’m sure if you had a dog it would leave in disgust.
    Obviously you are being paid for all this nonsense. Why can’t you come clean and tell us who your lords and masters are?
    There are plenty of far more important matters than the cost of homeopathy in the NHS. There are people in this country with personal incomes that exceed the cost of homeopathy in the NHS. Who cares?
    ALL people do and think things that could be perceived as irrational – No doubt even yourself. But so what? We don’t need thought police thank you.
    Almost half the economy is gobbled up by the state. Billions of this is wasted. This is the real problem. Even Prof Earnie confesses that homeopathy benefits via what he sees as an entirely placebo efect. If it helps the poor souls who have tried everything else at vast expense then people should be pleased regardless.
    Please find something more constructive to do with your time. I’m sure youre not being paid much.

    PS As everybody is aware, any decent homeopath does see significant results treating all manner of conditions esp cancers. The problem is isolating this from the placebo efect. If somebody is sceptical they will of course assume it is entirely placebo. This makes the homeopath akin to Christ sometimes but this doesn’t seem to bother them. Fly to Vithoulkas’s practice in Greece – He challenged Randi but Randi backed out.

  22. Good grief. All I asked for was one incontrovertible case of homeopathy curing anything and I get a rant! Surely, owning a homeopathic bookshop, you must have one case somewhere that is well documented.

    As for being paid, I state how this site is funded on the About pages. Do you want to call me a liar? You had better have some evidence – but being a homeopath, that may not trouble you. The courts may see that differently.

    And then you try the Randi-backed-out-gambit. Frtunatly, James Randi has kept excellent online records of the conversations he has had with people. Would you like to point to evidence suggesting Vithoulkas’s challenge was rejected? Or are you calling Randi a liar too?

  23. Of course there are plenty of documented cases. May I for instance refer you to a title from Dr A.U.Ramakrishnan “A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer” (Ninth House Publishing) available from my website. Also see Dr Ramakrishnan’s website if you are not sufficiently funded to fork out the £27 plus postage. http://www.drramakrishnan.com

    And what is this “The courts may see this differently” baloney? You claimed to be broke when kicked off by Netcetera. You are clearly working on this site every day of the week. When do you do your gardening? What is your day job anyway? Give some evidence to dispel the rumours about you please. This is perfectly reasonable in my humble opinion. No normal person would have such an enormous bee in their bonnet unless their was financial recompense surely? Either you are dangerously unbalanced and obsessed or there is funding. You seem to be intelligent despite being sneery and bigoted so you ought to be able to get some kind of proper job and that would surely interfere with these incessant dreary labours of yours.

    I suggest you take a break from the computer and beseech your lords and masters for a junket and visit Dr Ramakrishnan. It’s what I would do. Decent, busy homeopaths are rarely going to visit your rude and sneering site. You need to visit them with a little humility and compensation for their time.
    I have it from sensible reliable people that Randi declined the George Vithoulkas challenge. So who am I to believe? I know Vithoulas to be a man of integrity who has devoted his life to helping sick people so why should I be expected to sit in your camp on this matter?

  24. My word, you do accept the flimsiest of evidence and believe any old rumour and half truth.

    So for unequivocal evidence of homeopathy I have to travel to India to meet someone on the strength of their self-published musings? I would expect these cancer cases to have some sort of corroboration. Written up by independent and disinterested observers before I believed the staggering claim that this chap can cure cancer with magic water. Your standards of evidence are clearly near rock bottom. Why are homeopaths not demanding it too? Such a breakthrough would be staggering and have profound worldwide health implications. To not properly document and publish independent reports of these ‘cures’ in a peer reviewed process appears to be inhumane and an abrogation of professionalism. Full critical apparaisal of these claims is demanded – if they are serious. The alternative is, of course, that he is ‘mistaken’.

    You clearly believe anything you wish about me. When have I claimed I am broke? You do not believe Mr Obi do you? That would show an enormous lack of critical ability.

    My passion for this site is simple: quackery and its kindred delusions fascinate me. That people can believe nonsense on the flimsiest of evidence is clearly an interesting phenomenon – and much more interesting than magic water. Consider my site like being the curio cabinet of a nineteenth century gentleman botanist – collecting curiosities and documenting observations in notebooks. I do not need funding to do that – just an enquiring mind and a dislike of television. You obviously prefer conspiracies.

    And these gossipy rumours about me? What are they then? I guess they are just things that you would like to believe about me rather than anything you have evidence for. That is how homeopaths work. What they would like to believe is far more important than the truth – that is why you defend your nonsense to the point of lunacy.

    And ‘sensible reliable people’??? Every successful quack throughout history, as a matter of necessity, has had to appear honest, reliable and full of integrity. It is part of the act. I will need proof that they have integrity. Can you document your accusations against Randi? Or is that just one more comforting delusion that helps you avoid the difficult questions that your quackery demands answers to?

  25. As you must know in the U.K. it is an offence to claim that you can cure cancer by ‘alternative’ methods. Why would any sensible homeopath in this case put themselves up for endless trouble? I have met countless people who have suffered cancer and then benefited by homeopathy. I would not claim to cure cancer even if I did because of the baloney that would ensue. It is not a big deal curing cancer by homeopathy, some forms of brain tumour do not seem to be difficult. I have spoken to countless old patients of homeopaths over the years. There are many apparently minor conditions that are in fact much more difficult to treat than cancer. Again, I suggest you speak to a good experienced homeopath if you are serious about getting the truth. In the current ideological climate you would obviously have to go abroad.
    Regarding ‘standards of evidence’ the homeopathic community is fragmented and mostly run on a shoestring. Are lay homeopaths expected to pay scientific researchers to sit in their clinics? Please get real!

    Dr Ramakrishnan’s career extends over many years. His seminars are attended by hundreds of delegates at a time including medically trained doctors. I have never heard or read of anybody who has attended these to exclaim that he is bogus. His C.V. is hardly Mickey Mouse.
    Re Balancing the integrity of Randi against Vithoulkas I would have to go with Vithoukas. I have met him and have many friends who know him well. Randi believed in nothing. He believes that he is a meaningless random collection of cells and that everybody else is to. I wouldn’t lend him the bus fare home and expect it back.

  26. To Black Duck Squelcher,

    are you aware how sinister you are beginning to come across?

    He is Andy Lewis, perhaps of Aylesbury Vale, Bucks, as you say.

    I am Robin Bruce, I come from Burnhaven in Erskine.

    Most others commenting here wouldn’t hesitate to reveal their true identities, were they called on to do so.

    So who are you?

  27. I think Andy knows who I am.
    I wasn’t aware that I was talking to you!
    I am simply trying to ascertain the truth about this site. What’s wrong with that?

  28. Well,

    you’re talking to everyone here. Because I posted in this back in November, everything you write comes to me as a little email, addressed from you to me. This is like a little living room, for like minded people to sit around the fireside discussing what interests them. In this case, the pseudoscience that is homeopathy.

    After conversation had died down, and we slumped asleep in our chairs after one too many ports, suddenly you came blundering in with a menacing tone, talking about deep-fried duck and hinting “I know where you live”.

    If you think Andy knows who you are, why don’t you just tell us anyway?

    The truth to this website is as plain as day. Andy Lewis is one of many thousands incensed by quackery. He simply happens to possess the technical skills, tenacity, rationality and patience to do something about it.

  29. I don’t talk to drunken port drinkers with a sore head. Waste of time getting any sense out of them. Usually bad-tempered and surly. Have cocoa next time!

  30. slmcowan – you have clearly demonstrated your utter ridiculous now. The only place you could have obtained your incorrect biographical information about me is from that loon I warned you about. And for the record, what you have posted is utterly wrong. Obi was wrong (unsurprisingly) and you followed him like a sad sheep. This shows that your investigative skills and standards of evidence are sadly typical of a homeopath – non-existent.

    But by thinking you can post what you believe to be personal biographical information in an attempt to win arguments, you demonstrate a complete lack of judgement and an inability to take part in grown up criticism.

    I would be quite within my rights to ban you from my blog, but your posts add much comedic value here so I will not. But you have lost the right to post uncensored material – and that is something I invoke very rarely. Your post has been deleted and further posts will be allowed only of they allow me to laugh at you.

    Your central problem appears to be that you cannot comprehend how posting a blog entry of 500 words a week can take anything less than a full time career funded by conspiratorial forces. In your imagination you can only conceive of vested interests working overtime to destroy your little secret. The truth is that a few hours a week and use of google tools is all it takes to mock your deluded trade – deservedly. One can achieve great things by giving up watching Eastenders.

  31. Stewart McOwan, of Minerva Homeopathic Books.

    How’s business? Noticed a dip in sales that’s set you off on this little crusade, or are you so happy in your work that you wanted to share your joy with us?

  32. Who’s a clever little boy? What a detective!
    I was simply trying to quickly establish the motives/ background of our Dr Andrew Lewis who doesn’t appear to be a medical doctor. (not a GMC member).He simply refuses to let us know basic information. WHY? If he was more forthcoming there would be less rumour and curiosity about him.
    I hear the strangest tales about him. I’m sure at least some are nonsense ! Why not confirm this? Why can’t he explain how he replies to messages at all hours and days if he is busy and professional? It is intriguing.
    He is clearly a clever organised chap and I do respect some of the things he says. He does though love to do the Blair thing of attacking manufactured and highly selected targets so as to ‘win’ his ‘discussions’.
    It is perfectly natural of somebody to want to know whether he is truly doing this himself or with backing. Don’t I have the right to be sceptical too?
    Things I want to know:
    What is he qualified in?
    What is his current line of business?
    Why should this be a problem? I’m sure he is not a criminal so why so cagey?
    If I can get a satisfactory answer I might stop bothering the board.
    Now surely that’s a incentive?

  33. Obsessing with my personal biography simply highlights the bankruptcy of the homeopaths’ case. Rather than address my substantive charges (e.g. that advocating homeopathy for the treatment of HIV is sheer lunacy) you want to seek my motives as if they are anything other than pointing out the damn obvious to an irresponsible crowd who will not take on the responsibility their chosen trade demands.

    Despite your eagerness for amateurish private detective work, you have obviously failed to read my ‘about’ pages that answer your childish questions. My employment status has nothing to do with this blog. I have declared that I receive no financial reward for my work or any external inducement to write what I write. All my own work, I am afraid, in my own time. It’s a hobby. The only reward in kind I get is from my web hosts, Positive, who have chosen to support my work out of a sense of wider public duty, by hosting me for free.

    The exams I have sat also have no bearing on my arguments here. Homeopathy is still nonsense despite my lack of a made-up diploma in the subject.

    You may well say that I cannot criticise homeopathy if I have not studied it for X years. Well I can be sure that Bertrand Russell’s tea pot does not exist either without having a PhD in Cosmic Crockery Studies. The little boy did not go to classes in Imperial Invisible Textiles to say the Emperor had no clothes. The answer to this charge is the same answer as Richard Dawkins gives in his book The God Delusion. He does not need to have studied theology for decades to realise the foundations of the subject are missing. You are a fool to discuss the wallpaper in the attic of a house when the foundations are not solid. Homeopathy is thoroughly implausible and the totally of the evidence shows it is a placebo treatment. Simple. In fact, I would say that all training in homeopathy is bogus as none of it embraces rigorous academic standards of evidence and reason. In fact, it undoubtedly trains its poor students to reject reason.

    If you want to indulge in gossipy speculation about me then fine, but you loose the right to be taken seriously. The future of homeopathy will be decided by adults. That so many homeopaths prefer to engage in idle conspiracy theorising rather than tackle the issues being raised ensures that the further decline of their shabby trade is inevitable. It is time for some brave homeopath to realise this and lead their profession into the world of reality. I somehow doubt that will happen though.

  34. Maybe you should rename yourself Slippery Fish!
    Le Poisson Glissant serait un idee excellent pour vous n'est-ce pas?

    Seriously though if you click onto the following on my site you will find that I am in fact doing my best to instigate some experimentation that would meet your approval. It is difficult. Some homeopathic researchers choose to ignore me, some have said it would be just a gimmick. Some have said it is an excellent idea but would require considerable expense and organisation. It is very frustrating!

    http://www.minervabooks.co.uk/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=241&products_id=392

    PS Gantlord seems eager to hear that homeopathy is suffering. If he goes to the Companies House website he could check out for himself to see if turnover at homeopathic pharmacies is nose-diving.(Ainsworths, Nelsons, Helios) He will in fact find it is remarkably steady.
    I suspect getting rid of homeopathy will not be that easy as it is a grassroots thing. Closing down NHS hospitals won't change much. Pulling down churches wouldn't stop people reading the Bible either!
    Few scientists understand human nature which is why so many are appallingly inadequate artists, healers and musicians. You can often tell them by the way they dress! But don't take this personally please !

  35. Well, I would have to agree with you. It is amazing that homeopaths cannot and will not demonstrate the foundations of their beliefs.Your test is essentially the samevas my challenge. This is not a gimmick – it is simple academic rigour. Can you imagine any other science course not getting its undergraduates to do experiments like this upon which to build their academic training? This utter lack of attention to such important details makes me question if homeopaths a) are sincere of b) competent enough to be let near sick people.

  36. Glad we’re friends. Hope I didn’t dent your beak. It is straight isn’t it? Hope so. Good night and sleep tight.

  37. Anonymous said…

    – see the miilions benfitted from Homoeopathy and then speak-

    I have not seen these millions, but from your comment I infer you have. If so, please share your data with us, this is a large enough dataset that it would resolve all the conflicts in (and outside) this forum.

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