Trick or Treatment: The Event

January 14, 2010 3

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking the Quackometer on tour around the UK and giving talks exploring what factors allow pseudo-medicines to survive despite their lack of specific effects and scientific absurdity. Giving examples of quacks and cures from the 18th and 19th Century, I will be comparing them to similar practices today. My first talk was last week in Sheffield (and thanks to all who braved [read more…]

James Randi, Global Warming and the Nature of Scepticism

December 16, 2009 53

James Randi is a hero to many rational people around the world. He has done more than, perhaps, any person alive to promote rational and clear thinking about claims of the paranormal and alternative medicine. His million dollar challenge acts as a marvelous foil to mountebanks and charlatans. He simply says to them, “demonstrate what you claim, under controlled conditions, and the prize is yours.” This of course, leaves the [read more…]

Bogus Science and Other Christmas Gifts

November 20, 2009 2

Yes, like it or not, now is the time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the geek in your life. Last year we were treated to a slew of great books about quackery, many of them now available in paperback.  Nonetheless, there are still many great new books, not all just about alternative medicine, and I would love to tell you about a few of them here. John [read more…]

John Wesley and The Origins of the Natural Health Movement

November 14, 2009 38

Examine the discourse of any alternative medicine and you will encounter a surprisingly homogenous set of themes: that their methods are natural, simple, available to all, and are based on ancient and traditional knowledge. Cures for disease are freely available from nature and we do not need the intermediation of a medical elite to provide us with them. These cures have been known for generations and we have lost sight [read more…]

MP David Tredinnick calls for more Government Funding of Medical Astrology and Remote Energetic Healing

October 15, 2009 24

Yesterday, the House of Commons saw a debate on the funding of medical astrology. Yes. Medical Astrology. The Hansard Report of the debate has a seventeenth century feel to it. Tredinnick asserts that the phase of the moon influences the number of accidents and stops blood from clotting. He has tales of eastern lands that use astronomical signs to influence health care and governments that have official astrological systems. Britain [read more…]

Two Boiled Eggs in Pinstripes and the Four Soldiers of Scepticism

September 24, 2009 0

  October 5th, 2009 7pm – 8pm TAM London – The Amaz!ing Panel Conway Hall, Holborn   Sign Up Here   As part of the official fringe to the first ever London TAM, there will be a panel meeting about the Internet and Scepticism. I will be rushing back from a meeting and so I will not have time to don my usual sceptical wig (pictured above). However, I plan [read more…]

What would $34 billion of Quack money buy you?

July 30, 2009 22

Today the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has issued a report that shows that Americans spend $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine per year. This is the figure that people spend on such things as homeopathy ($3B), yoga and qi gong ($4B) and non vitamin supplements ($15B). The report does not include purchases of vitamin and mineral supplements and estimates suggest this could triple this [read more…]

Skeptics in the Field

July 3, 2009 15

So, a few days back from the Glastonbury festival, showered and variously recovered from vicious sun, torrential thunderstorms, lack of sleep and the magical outpourings of the cider bus. I had planned to twitter loads from the festival – I think I managed one – the festival is now many things, but a ‘connected festival’ it is not. Five days without any significant bandwidth was pretty tough on me. Even [read more…]

Government bails out Ofquack as it rewrites old press release

June 19, 2009 26

  Last March I asked, “Will the government bail out Ofquack?” when it was becoming very clear that the new government backed ‘regulator’ for pseudo-medical trades people (quacks) were running out of money  fast. It looks like at about the time I was asking this, the CNHC were running cap in hand to the Department of Health. In documents I have obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, it would [read more…]

Scepticism is the New Rock’n’Roll

May 13, 2009 19

Last night we held the first evening of the Oxford branch of Skeptics in the Pub. Come 6.15 and the bar we had booked was already filling up. By Seven o’clock it was packed and unfortunately not everyone could see or hear. And what had people come to hear? A talk by Ben Goldacre about medical statistics.  Yes. Let’s be clear. Over a hundred people, sat through several hours of [read more…]

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