Bogus Law

15th May, 2009 17

  The University of Oxford recent completed a report into the comparative costs of defamation proceedings across Europe. Its conclusions were that the costs of libel proceedings in England and Wales are about 140 times higher on average than those found across Europe. The reasons for this boil down the large number of lawyers that get involved, the length of the proceedings, the adversarial nature of English law, and the [read more…]

Scepticism is the New Rock’n’Roll

13th May, 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…]

There Goes My Knighthood

5th May, 2009 30

Prince Charles’ company, Duchy Originals, has today been told by the Advertising Standards Authority to stop making misleading and untruthful claims in its advertising and to not make claims for its detox products that it cannot substantiate.   Earlier in the year, Duchy Originals launched three new herbal tinctures. The launch was met with derision, and claims that the Prince’s company was misleading people into thinking that the products actually [read more…]

A quickly bashed out manifesto, if I were to have such a thing

28th April, 2009 36

Last night, a friend who I have not seen for a little while, asked me an important question. She was well aware of my blogging activities as my blog rss feed pipes through delicious and then twitter and onto my facebook account, or something. Why my fascination with criticising alternative medicine? A difficult question – and after a few pints and the energy for a one word answer, I responded [read more…]

The Modern Face of Scientific Homeopathy

23rd April, 2009 38

Tonight, on BBC2, we were treated to Professor Regan’s Medicine Cabinet, where we were walked through the vast amount of quackery that we can find in a high street pharmacists. Homeopathy was given a thorough kicking and straightforwardly shown to be utter nonsense. I did love the Ainsworth’s Pharmacist trying to defend his batshit robotic dilution apparatus, the The Pinkus Potentizer, that produced dilutions of 100 to the power of [read more…]

Homeopaths Attempt to Rubbish Ernst and Singh with Dismal Critique

21st April, 2009 22

The stillborn homeopathy campaign, Homeopathy Worked for Me, that attempted to collect 250,000 signatures but managed just a few percent of that, has now resorted to producing a laughably daft critique of Ernst & Singh’s Trick or Treatment. William Alderson, a homeopath, has produced a 142 page response to the book that attempts to show that the book has “has no validity as a scientific examination of alternative medicine”. Entitled, [read more…]

Nutritional Therapists Fail to Join Ofquack

20th April, 2009 20

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, Ofquack, is having an appalling start to its life. Needing 10,000 people to join its register in the first year to break even, it has collected less than 300 names. This should be put in context with a claimed “150,000 complementary healthcare practitioners in the UK.” Part of the problem is that, at the moment, Ofquack is only allowing nutritional therapists and massage therapists [read more…]

Homeopathy Does Not Cause Side Effects in Cancer Patients

14th April, 2009 30

The Cochrane Library has published a new review of the effects of homeopathy on cancer patients**. Its conclusion is that “there is limited evidence that homeopathic remedies ease the side effects of cancer treatments, but they at least seem to cause no serious adverse effects or drug interactions.” The Quackometer’s response is “No shit, Sherlock!” Homeopathy is the application of nothing.* It is therefore rather likely that pills with nothing [read more…]

Quackometer Upgrade

11th April, 2009 5

Some of the quackometer functionality has not been working too well over the past few months. The Am I a Quack or Not? function was very poorly and only working for a few searches per day. The reason being that the operation depended on some very old and unsupported Google technology that was about to be unplugged. So, I have now done the work to convert over to Yahoo search. [read more…]

Fraud In Chinese Medicine

7th April, 2009 27

Chinese Herbal Medicine could be seen as the acceptable side of alternative medicine. It does not suffer from the utter implausibility of homeopathy, nor does it appear to rely on supernatural mechanisms such as with Reiki. Indeed, herbal medicine appears to be nothing but a primitive form of pharmacology with the practitioner diagnosing disease and then prescribing the right chemicals: the Chinese method is through herbs; the ‘western’ method through [read more…]

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