Tredinnick at Glastonbury – Homeopathy and Astrology

2014-06-29 11.12.18

It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.
– Tony Benn

In front of a large banner bearing the above quote, the MP for Bosworth, David Tredinnick appealed to the Glastonbury crowds* to follow him on his campaign to fight for homeopathy on the NHS.

It’s been a few weeks since I sat there at the front listening Tredinnick and have been meaning to write up my thoughts, but today on the BBC website we learn that he is calling for the medical profession to ensure there is a bigger role in healthcare for astrology.

Yes, astrology.

He says,

I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier.

It is not the first time he has made such noises. In 2009, I reported how he gave a speech in parliament calling for more government funding of medical astrology and remote energetic healing.

It is worth pointing out that his fellow Tory MPs have such faith in his insights that they have given him the responsibility of sitting on the House of Commons select committees for Health and Science and Technology.

So, his Glastonbury talk. What insights did I glean into the man?

I missed the first five minutes – the festival site was a sticky bog after the previous days’ rain. But it was worth walking the mile or more to the Speakers’ Forum in the ‘Green Futures’ Field. It is something of a shame that the Glastonbury organisers feel our green future is best informed by by such people as Tredinnick, Joathan Cainer and Rupert Sheldrake.

So, Tredinnick was there to explicitly talk about homeopathy. He began by declaring himself firmly in the radical tradition of MPs as exemplified by Tony Benn. He sees himself as an outsider – a rather strange Tory politician. He talked about how he arranged his MPs office according to Feng Shui principles. He said how at home he was at Glastonbury where so much goodness was within the giant wall – unlike the giant wall in Berlin where he once served. He praised Ho Chi Minh for his embracing of alternative medicine after the revolution. This was a Tory MP trying hard to establish his alternative credentials in the most alternative of settings.

Tredinnick described how his radical alternative agenda had come under much criticism and mentioned he had been called by sceptics the “MP for Holland and Barrett”. He was proud of his lobbying for herbal and homeopathic remedies within parliament, and described how he was active on his Health Committee roles in looking at the problem with antibiotic resistance and how alternative medicine may help. He told the audience that, worryingly, many viruses[sic] were becoming resistant – thus destroying any credibility he might have on the subject.

He talked of his battles with the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, and her refusal to accept the evidence he saw supported homeopathy. He mocked how he had been told the various papers he presented were dismissed as flawed by being too small or biased. To counter this, he told how homeopathy had apparently been used successfully in Cuba for the treatment of lethal disease.

His grasp of the details and facts though were quite appalling. He told his listeners how leptospirosis was spread by mosquitoes. (It is spread typically by contact with rat urine, often after bad weather in Cuba where water levels rise.) Obviously referring to the fatally flawed Bracho study, he describe how millions of people had been ‘cured’ of leptospirosis after being given homeopathy. How could such large numbers be wrong? Why would the government not listen? In short, the study had no control group and failed to differentiate any effect from the natural course of a typical Cuban epidemic of the disease. (Full details here.)

Tredinnick has obviously not read the actual paper. If he had, he does not understand it. If the faults have been explained to him about the paper he has failed to take them on board.

Unfortunately, there was little time for any questions before a local farmer called Michael Eavis come on stage to talk. However, one question was fielded by another local farmer called Oliver Dowding – who is a very vocal supporter of using homeopathy on cows – and just used his question to grandstand that opinion once again.

Tredinnick is a man with a very poor grasp of medicine and science. Actually, that is an overstatement. I would suggest he is willfully ignorant about these vital subjects. To think he is an important political figure in parliamentary oversight of science and medicine is frightening. If he was a lone MP with strange views then perhaps we could ignore him. But for his fellow MPs to have actually voted him into these positions of political oversight is cynical, ignorant and an abuse of the trust that we put in them.

Anyway, it was straight off to the cider bus afterwards where I could quickly drown out my dismay.

 

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

        — Carl Sagan.

* This was not ‘Dolly Parton’ crowds. Perhaps 50 people in a tent.

On this theme…

57 Comments on Tredinnick at Glastonbury – Homeopathy and Astrology

  1. What a total plonker Tredinnick is. He calls skeptics “bullies”. I for one would sure be happy to knock some sense into him!

      • Soon as I cut the bouncy gristle out.
        Your name appears to be British, although that- with respect- appears not to be your first language.
        Perhaps you might rephrase your comment in a way the rest of us can make sense of.

      • “I for one would sure be happy to knock some sense into him! ” I’m sorry but as a victim of violence and crippled by it I expect some sense on here.

        Someone tried to “knock some sense into me” which is why I am now in a wheel chair. I that English enough for you?

      • I’m also brain damaged because of those who tried to “knock some sense into me” 7/7 bombers – what no sarky comments now? You are revealed for what you are – cheap. Why don’t you make some sensible comments?

      • Yes my comment did make sense but you are so stupid that you did not realise that I was actually supporting the person who made the comment by showing he was wrong to be a bully in threatening violence. If you don’t get that then you are stupid. And if this site has started to promote violence then I am out as of now.

      • I am exiting this site because of cruelty against me a brain damaged woman because of the 7/7 bombings and because it promotes violence and cruelty. How do I get out? I’ll email Andy in the morning because now I am going to bed. But don’t worry it will all be in the book I am writing. You claim to be against bullying and cruelty but you are not you endorse it and make fun of people who are brain damaged because of terrorist bombings.

        I have screen printed this page with all your comments, Now I no longer support Andy because of you. It is not safe for me here.

      • Are you really that stupid? The man rails against bullies and then threatens to want to “knock some sense into him”. If that isn’t a threat for physical violence what is? And no you are not sorry about what I have been through. You don’t give a toss.

        You just want to hurt me.

      • Everything you say sounds like English apart from one rather bizarre statement. You can’t blame the rest of us for our puzzlement in that regard. As to what happened in your life- you can’t really expect the rest of us to know about that. Most, perhaps all, of us have never met you.If what you say is true, then you have my genuine sympathy- I despise any kind of fundamentalism and political violence. But what you say seems to me to approach the narcissism that was manifested in a letter to Time Out magazine some years ago
        from a woman who objected to a TV thriller being shown because she personally was sensitive to violence.

      • Cant anyone tell me how to get these comments not sent to my email address because I have asked Andy to get me off this site but had no reply. I now consider him my enemy. Anyone who allows the promotion of violence is my enemy and I want nothing to do with them. I would appreciate an answer.

        Thank you.

      • Fiona

        You log into your WordPress account and manage your subscribed blogs and comments from there. You will have received an email when you first subscribed.

        Neither Andy nor anyone else has access or control over it.

      • If I am narcissistic for not wanting to go along with violence then so be it. But I witnessed my husband and baby die because of the 7/7 bombings. And all violence starts with an idea. An idea that it is OK to be violent.

        As a Social Worker I know that domestic violence that descends into physical violence starts with verbal violence. This site has allowed verbal violence.

        If it is narcissistic to oppose that then I am so. But please don’t pretend that you are concerned about children being bullied when you condone bullying yourself.

        I showed what was written on this site to my foster children who have been abused, They got my point of view. If you don’t the I am sorry.

      • So those who say they oppose bullies actually condone physical violence – how strange is that? It shows you never did in the first place – you were just hypocrites. I used to believe in Andy. Now I do not. He is my enemy.

        He is not true in his mission. I do not know what his kick is but he is not true.

      • Erm—- the language is all becoming a little religious for my taste. Time we all went to bed and had a good rest.

  2. Tredinnick was a Grenadier Guard’s officer who saw service in Aden I believe. It is possible he has and is suffering from PTSD and he deserves our every sympathy for his thinking having gone awry.
    Our concerns for his personal troubles does not however extend to offering him any encouragement to seek use of public funds in the furtherance of his misguided and uninformed passions, nor to excuse his attempts to take advantage of the vulnerable and gullible by endorsing out-moded healing systems originally designed as alternatives to modern science based medical practice.
    Those are the actions of a rogue and to be deprecated.

    “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired…”
    Jonathan Swift. Letter to a Young Clergyman (January 9, 1720)

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
    Swift, as quoted in Treasury of thought: (1872).

    An issue for us all is why on earth his fellow MPs think he is a suitable person to sit on the Health and Science and Technology Select Committees.
    Such a choice is not ‘political’ but brings the House into (further) disrepute.

    I have asked my MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston (now Chairman of the Health Committee) how this came about. Answer: ‘No one else stood’!

    So the issue is the total indifference of MPs and their lack of engagement with the scientific process. Remember, Magaret Thatcher was the only member of her cabinet with a degree in a science subject.

    Perhaps the Skeptics in the Pub can campaign: They’ve done ’10:23. There’s nothing in it.’
    Now for: ‘MP: a vacuous space of irrationality.’

    All of us who care should ask our own MPs for an explanation – that itself might get some traction on a campaign. Not to have DT (interesting initials) excluded as an MP or silenced, but simply to have him of science committees.

    The insurgency of unacceptable ideological fundementalism is not tolerated in schools. Why should it be tolerated in healthcare?

    • Very well put. I will write to Good Thinking and suggest a campaign along the lines you have suggested, which incidentally was already an idea forming in me small grey matter as well.

      In the meantime I have written a complaint to the BBC about their report, suggesting that in their interview with the barmpot it was incumbent on them to push him for credible evidence of his claims, question the incredible evidence he spouts, and highlight just why his notions are unsupportable.

      Hopefully if there is enough coverage of this then he may well lose his seat as well, and it will put a shot across the bows of the other woo types who have wormed their way into parliament and government e.g. Jeremy Hunt.

      I just bet that the Chief Medical Officer and other officials at the Department of Health run a mile when they see Tredinnick approaching. Not sure but think he may have been partly responsible for getting two dubious Boiron studies of homeopathetic reviewed by the DOH for no good reason since they had already been thoroughly dismissed as worthless.

  3. He does does appear to go through the typical woomiester tropes. I think I’ll be sick if I hear a another version of Schopenhauer’s truth quoted. And how appropriate for a Tory to spout his garbage at such a bastion of capitalism as Glastonbury.

  4. Tredinnick is right: it is hard by now for him to find anybody who disagrees with him. When they see him coming, rational, intelligent people simply walk away, because they know that his convictions are religious and not amenable to evidence. And if he does manage to corner some poor sod, they probably just nod and say “whatever you say, David”, secure in the knowledge that arguing with such blind adherence to bullshit is an exercise in futility.

    The hon. Member for Narnia is a perfect exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I suppose.

  5. “Tredinnick was a Grenadier Guard’s officer who saw service in Aden I believe. It is possible he has and is suffering from PTSD and he deserves our every sympathy for his thinking having gone awry.
    Our concerns for his personal troubles does not however extend to offering him any encouragement to seek use of public funds in the furtherance of his misguided and uninformed passions”

    This kind of hypocritical and insidious comment make me puke!
    The inference: “poor man is brain went during the war, he should be locked up really, it is not his fault” make me go for the bucket.
    you are always, at the slightest provocation invoking the “ad nomimem” attack; what do you call this?

  6. What is the reasoning behind allowing such fanatics to spout this rubbish at Glastonbury anyway? Would they allow the BNP to make similar speeches? According to the Quackwatch report, this fruitbat was followed by a local farmer who believes such nonsense also. As it seems does Eavis.
    I realise that the Glastonbury Festival attracts all sorts of hippies and New Agers and simpletons along with the music fans. They’re free to believe whatever tripe they like.But Tredinnick’s lunacy, or mental illness, transcends this. In the end he isn’t harmless. He’s an MP, with an MP’s considerable powers. And Quackwatch has shown on other occasions how aggressive Big Quacka is in promoting its fantastical rubbish.
    I Emailed this article to some friends, and used the phrase ‘Murderous nonsense’ in relation to Homeopathy. I wondered whether I’d gone a tad too far, but then found a similar phrase in the Quackwatch item.
    The Glastonbury organisers should be taken to task for their part in normalising this insanity.

  7. I’ve just heard him on 5 Live arguing the case for astrology to be made available on the NHS. The interviewer did challenge him about his claims and he responded by claiming the study she had quoted to him only examined sun signs, therefore it wasn’t reliable. People gaining some optimism or comfort from a horoscope is one thing, but promoting this rubbish in preference to treatments that actually work is rather suspect to say the least. The fact that he was elected unopposed to that committee is a shameful indictment of our MPs.

  8. Tredinnik D. Education: Eton College and then, as he was on a short service commission, he went to Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, not Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. From 1968 to 1971, he was a 2nd Lieutenant with the Grenadier Guards, mainly in Northern Ireland and West Germany.
    In 1972 the Mons facility transferred to RMA.

    I have no other explanation as to what is ringing his bell in these matters. Certainly not evidence, for which there is none. (Or for which he is keeping covert).

    • Jacky, the homeopathic remedy did nothing for you. It was your imagination.
      Did your homeopath not explain that to you?
      If not, he/she treated you without you having all the information you needed to have given informed consent.
      Oh dear.

      I dare say your mother also has a cup of tea sometimes. And are her ‘common health problems’ better afterwards?

    • Whatever homeopathy might be, scientific it is not. It is based on the doctrine of like cures like, for which there is no credible evidence, and founded on the belief that there is no amount of matter so small that it loses its essential character, a notion that was refuted over a century ago.

    • Homeopathy is based on nonsense, and therefore-with respect- the claim that you and your mother are’ cured’ by it is alo nonsense.

    • I’d recommend amitriptyline, Jacky. It will deaden your pain (NNT=2.9) but you will have a mouth like a roofers glove, blurred vision, reduced cognitive function and possible arrhythmias. Even better go for tramadol where the number of people getting pain relief (NNT=5) is the same as the number having serious side effects (NNH=5). To quote Ray Winston, “you’ll love it”.

  9. Not wishing to derail this, but I can’t help commenting on DT’s strange bedfellows. I’m a great fan of Jools Hollands’ New Year Hootenanny, at which he asks the audience for predictions for the next year. On one occasion – to his enormous credit – he reminded Jonathan Cainer of his previous year’s predictions, all of which were wrong. Cainer’s reply: “After 30 years in astrology, it never ceases to surprise me”.

  10. Kumar’s post seems to have vanished. Pity, the link is priceless: http://www.amritamedicalastrology.com/articlesdetails.php?id=74#.U-H6NWOHf-J – this “explains” the validity of medical astrology by the usual method used by homeopaths and other loons, i.e. assuming the conclusion at the outset.

    “Medical Astrology is useful in assessing the timing, prevention, diagnosis, severity and outcome of the disease and its treatment” – er, no it isn’t. The reference is Rajeev B. Scope of Medical Astrology & its research in Ayurveda, Amrita journal of medicine.2011; 7(1) : 28-31, which is available here: http://www.aimshospital.org/medical_journal/medicine/vol7_Jan-Jun2011/scope_of_medical_astrology_and_its_research_in_ayurveda.pdf and of course demonstrates no such thing, being (as with the former) merely a statement of faith.

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