James Randi, Global Warming and the Nature of Scepticism

16th December, 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…]

To Coffee! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

16th December, 2009 3

We have a conflicted relationship with the things that give us pleasure. We fear overindulgence may be harming us, and we desperately seek evidence that suggests our habits are beneficial, so that we can continue to enjoy them without guilt. This year appears to have been a good year for coffee in this contradictory quest. Over the past twelve months, the People’s Medical Journal, the Daily Mail, has given us [read more…]

Meddling Princes, Medical Regulation and Licenses to Kill

10th December, 2009 6

The Eighteenth Century in England was the Golden Age of Quackery, with London being a world capital for mountebanks, charlatans and other practitioners of irregular medicine. Consumers in Georgian England had access to an unparalleled selection of medical entrepreneurship from regular doctors, lay quacks, foreigners with exotic elixirs, and even preachers such as John Wesley (as we saw a few weeks ago). So popular were these various tonics and treatments [read more…]

Can We Trust Homeopaths to Accredit Their Own Training?

30th November, 2009 17

In a recent submission to the House of Commons Evidence Committee on Homeopathy, the Society of Homeopaths proudly assert that, The Society has long been committed to the highest standards for homeopathy, having run a voluntary regulatory system for the last 30 years and a course recognition process for the last 15 years. Further, it was the first homeopathy organisation to institute a Code of Ethics & Practice. Members must [read more…]

Bogus Science and Other Christmas Gifts

20th November, 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

14th November, 2009 41

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…]

UNCRC Demands Equal Access to Quackery for Children

30th October, 2009 11

Last week, a comment piece in the Guardian asked, “Should there be freedom to mislead?”. It is an interesting question. Should the State intervene and try to regulate scientific truth? In a free society, should people not be free to hold untrue beliefs? In the context of pseudomedical beliefs, what role should regulation play in preventing untruthful claims to be made about treatments and how far should the state go [read more…]

Why I am Nominating Luc Montagnier for an IgNobel Prize

20th October, 2009 101

Luc Montagnier is an interesting and strange character. Last year he was a shared winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine. A remarkable achievement. However, his latest research can only really be described as quite bizarre and some of his statements, are desperately and deadly worrying. So much so, that I think Montagnier ought to be the first recipient of both a Nobel and IgNobel prize. Let me explain. In [read more…]

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

15th October, 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…]

PHA Media’s Cynical Spin of Psychic Cancer Claims

30th September, 2009 12

Just a few days after Psychic Cancer Healer, Adrian Pengelly, appeared on the BBC consumer affairs programme, Watchdog, he was the subject of a particularly glowing report in the Daily Mail. Pengelly had been accused of giving dangerous suggestions to people with cancer. Not only did he say on film that he had a 60-65% success rate with his healing hands, he also said that the chances were better if [read more…]

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