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Monday, 30 March 2015

Wonderland (7): pseudoscience is a deceit perpetrated on the weak and the vulnerable | Edzard Ernst

My memoir ‘A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND’ has already brought many surprises (and about 20 most flattering reviews). A few days ago, the German version was published entitled ‘NAZIS, NADELN UND INTRIGEN’ (people who have not read it might find this title puzzling). The German publisher reported that the first print-run was sold out in the first 4 days.

 In order to tempt you to read my memoir, I publish here the final section of the book which affirms that the link between my rather diverse experiences boils down to ethics...

Read on: Wonderland (7): pseudoscience is a deceit perpetrated on the weak and the vulnerable

Herbs get the push: no statutory regulation for western herbalists or Traditional Chinese Medicine

It makes a nice change to be able to compliment an official government report.
Ever since the House of Lords report in 2000, the government has been vacillating about what should be done about herbalists. At the moment both western herbalists and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are essentially unregulated. Many (but not all) herbalists have been pushing for statutory regulation, which they see as government endorsement. It would give them a status like the General Medical Council.
mdx-chm-4
Chinese medicine as taught at Middlesex University
A new report has ruled out this possibility, for very good reasons...

Read more at: Herbs get the push: no statutory regulation for western herbalists or Traditional Chinese Medicine by David Colquhoun

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Once again: the regulation of nonsense will generate nonsense – the case of UK herbalists | Edzard Ernst

The Telegraph today reports that, despite relentless lobbying from the Prince of Wales, UK herbalists will not, after all, be regulated by statute. Here are the most important statements from this article:
Prof David Walker, deputy chief medical officer, said he had taken the decision because there was insufficient evidence that the alternative therapy works, making it impossible to set standards of good practice. Three years ago ministers had pledged to bring in an official register of practitioners of herbal and Chinese medicines, which would see therapists regulated alongside other health workers, such as physiotherapists and speech therapists…But ministers blocked the proposals, instead setting up a new committee, led by the NHS deputy chief medical officer...
Read more: Once again: the regulation of nonsense will generate nonsense – the case of UK herbalists

blogorrhea: Did an Antidepressant Bring Down an Airliner?

Now that antidepressants have reportedly been found at the home of pilot Andreas Lubitz, we're finally getting to the true cause of the crash.

But will investigators be willing or able to put the pieces together? Or will they be oblivious to the power of certain drugs to completely alter human behavior?

I have written about this before. I know of very few things that can cause (and I do mean cause) an otherwise rational person to become homicidal more or less instantly, other than psychoactive drugs of a type that can (in susceptible individuals) elicit what has been called an akathisia reaction. I'm talking about antipsychotics and antidepressants...

Read the rest here: blogorrhea: Did an Antidepressant Bring Down an Airliner?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The FDA is about to assess homeopathy | Edzard Ernst

The FDA just made the following significant announcement:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public hearing to obtain information and comments from stakeholders about the current use of human drug and biological products labeled as homeopathic, as well as the Agency’s regulatory framework for such products. These products include prescription drugs and biological products labeled as homeopathic and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs labeled as homeopathic. FDA is seeking participants for the public hearing and written comments from all interested parties, including, but not limited to, consumers, patients, caregivers, health care professionals, patient groups, and industry. FDA is seeking input on a number of specific questions, but is interested in any other pertinent information participants would like to share...
Read more: The FDA is about to assess homeopathy

Lynne McTaggart: "It’s only natural" – like in bitter almond kernels? - Plague of Mice

Earlier this month, professional bullshit artist Lynne McTaggart published another of her ill-constructed rants on her blog, with the title It’s only natural – like in oranges. Yeah, lady, lots of things are natural. Mercury and arsenic are natural. Smallpox was natural. Dying is natural.

The post. It’s punting a thing called GcMAF (Globulin component Macrophage Activating Factor – as the name suggests, it’s made from blood)...

Continue reading: Lynne McTaggart: "It’s only natural" – like in bitter almond kernels? - Plague of Mice

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why poverty isn't inevitable | New Humanist

A new report by Oxfam heralds a sea change in attitudes towards inequality.

This article is a preview from the Spring 2015 edition of New Humanist.

Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality (Oxfam) by Emma Seery and Ana Caistor Arendar (eds)

Eighty-five people in the world own more wealth than half of the world’s population. This attention-grabbing figure from Oxfam’s recent report Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality made headlines as a neat summary of the burgeoning problem of income and wealth inequality across the globe. Notably, it came with a written endorsement from Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the report explains, the number of billionaires has doubled, swelling to 1,645 people. This isn’t a problem restricted to affluent countries: “absurd levels of wealth exist alongside desperate poverty around the world.”[...]

Read the rest here:  Why poverty isn't inevitable | New Humanist

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Homeopathy: have the regulators in Ontario lost their senses? | Edzard Ernst

Homeopathy has a long history in Canada. In 1842, James Lilli was probably the first Canadian homeopath to begin practicing in Toronto. Joseph J. Lancaster, who had studied in New York, began practicing sometime in the 1840s in Ontario. The ‘Homeopathic Medical Society of Canada’ was established in 1854 in Hamilton, Ontario.

Since these early days much has changed. At present, all health care professions in Ontario are governed by the ‘Regulated Health Professions Act’ which allows all health-care professions the same right to practice. This law upholds the belief that the public has the right to choose what health care it wishes, and that the government should only intervene to regulate where a profession poses a significant risk of harm to the public...

Read the rest here: Homeopathy: have the regulators in Ontario lost their senses?

Acupuncture: a treatment to die for? | Edzard Ernst

If we listen to acupuncturists and their supporters, we might get the impression that acupuncture is totally devoid of risk. Readers of this blog will know that this is not quite true. A recent case report is a further reminder that acupuncture can cause serious complications; in extreme cases it can even kill...

Read the rest here: Acupuncture: a treatment to die for?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Roslyn Ross Defends Homeopathy. ORLY?

Our ever-reliable Baggie has posted the following exercise in mendacity: Roslyn Ross Vermont Girls High School Defends Homeopathy Against one of its Skeptics Um… There’s a girls’ high school in Vermont called “Roslyn Ross”? Or is that a Total Punctuation Fail (deliberate or otherwise) and it’s a pro-homeopathy nut called Roslyn Ross allegedly claiming an unnamed Vermont school published a piece of pro homeopathy stupidity? There’s no link to the original, so no way to tell where SAHC got it from.

 Well, I found Roslyn Ross, who lives in Australia and is indeed an extreme homeopathy loon. Nothing in her rantings about any schools promoting homeopathy, though. Odd, that.

OK, let’s get on with the show. Sandra Roslyn lists major problems with homeodumbfuckery and then purports to debunk then. Without, of course, producing the slightest evidence.
You said: Many other alternative remedies are nothing more than a placebo — having … Continue reading

The post Roslyn Ross Defends Homeopathy. ORLY? by Anarchic Teapot first appeared on Plague of Mice .

Homeopathy never changes

We all know that, essentially, homeopathy never changes and nor do its adepts. To introduce any change would be to admit that the whole concept of homeopathy is bollocks and Hahnemann the Great Guru was a gibbering nutter. Except of course that they do muck around with it – introducing such un-Hahnemannic concepts as nosodes – while all the time strenuously denying this is at odds with their core belief. It’s still fucking sugar and water of course, with maybe some alcohol in it. Including in the remedies for children, which gives you an idea of how responsible and ethical these bastards are.

So: I found this cackling lunacy on Freedom4Health‘s public Facebook page … Continue reading

The post Homeopathy never changes by Anarchic Teapot first appeared on Plague of Mice .

Which is it, Mr. Handley?

For the uninitiated, JB Handley may not be a familiar name. It certainly wasn’t for me up until about seven years ago. Mr. Handley is one of many people behind “Age of Autism” and “Generation Rescue.” Both anti-vaccine groups who seek to link vaccines to an innumerable number of conditions. They also seek to link vaccines to autism.

Mr. Handley’s story of how he became such an ardent anti-vaccine activist varies depending on who you ask. Heck, it varies depending on what he feels like writing about it. For example, in the Generation Rescue page I linked above, the story is this:[…]

Read more at: Which is it, Mr. Handley? by Reuben

Friday, 20 March 2015

The future of science and technology in this country and the world


It’s been almost a moth since I last brought you the story of a woman who compared herself to victims of the Holocaust because she thinks she’s being persecuted for being
irrational and acting like she’s insane when it comes to vaccines an anti-vaccine zealot. Since that time, I took a walk in the wild, so to speak, to get a feel for where I want to go with this whole struggle against anti-vaccine groups and anti-science misinformation permeating just about every form of media out there. You might not be surprised if I told you that all of this is exhausting.[…]

Read more at: The future of science and technology in this country and the world by Reuben

Thursday, 19 March 2015

15 ‘arguments’ for homeopathy | Edzard Ernst

The other day, I received a request from THE GUARDIAN: could I write a piece on homeopathy in relation to the Australian report which had just come out; they gave me ~700 words and all of 3 hours to do it. I had an extremely busy day, but accepted the challenge nevertheless.

My article was published the next day and the ‘headliner’ at THE GUARDIAN had elected to call it There is no scientific case for homeopathy: the debate is over.

What followed was a flurry of debate...

Read on: 15 ‘arguments’ for homeopathy

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

NonProphetess � Blog Archive � Facebook, Twitter, and Scientific Literacy

A tweet of mine was shared on Facebook recently by author David G. McAffee and then promptly shared by the page “Being Liberal” as well. Other people shared it. It was uploaded to Imgur and 9GAG. Despite a combined 100k ‘likes’ on Facebook, a lot of the people commenting indicated they weren’t appreciative but also that they didn’t understand the tweet...

Read the rest here: NonProphetess � Blog Archive � Facebook, Twitter, and Scientific Literacy

When will pharmacists finally stop selling homeopathic remedies? | Edzard Ernst

I have argued since many years that pharmacists should not be selling or promoting homeopathic and other remedies for which there is no proof of efficacy – the last time I published my view on this matter is even less than a week ago: Personally, I would go another step further and remind pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies to the unsuspecting public that it is unethical to pretend they are more than placebos...

Read the rest here: When will pharmacists finally stop selling homeopathic remedies?

Alt med evidence and caring for people

We’ve already touched on the so-called “alt med” community’s attitude to evidence, viz.: “We don’t need it and anyway: quantum. Or nano. Therefore homeopathy.” Now admire this little gem of caring and selfless dedication just Twatted by our old fiend, Sandra Hermann-Courtney, whose handle should really be BrownBagPantsonfire...

Read on: Alt med evidence and caring for people

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Why Worry About the Unvaccinated? | Shot of Prevention

Time and again, we hear this from parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
If your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about them catching anything from my child?
This is a common response from parents when it is suggested that a purposely unvaccinated child poses a threat to others.

One thing that many parents may not understand is that while vaccinations are highly effective, and greatly decrease the chance of contracting preventable diseases, no vaccine is 100% effective. According to CDC reports, “most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients. For reasons related to the individual, some will not develop immunity.”
This explains why, during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, an unvaccinated child can increase the risk of disease for everyone that may be exposed, even if the people who have been vaccinated vastly outnumber those who have not. It is not uncommon for a small portion of the vaccinated population to be infected, However, that does not prove that vaccinations are not effective. To truly understand the risks, you need to know more than just the number of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated who have become infected. You have to appreciate the percentages that are involved. For instance, this example offered on the CDC website, explains this concept quite clearly:
“In a high school of 1,000 students, none has ever had measles. All but 5 of the students have had two doses of measles vaccine, and so are fully immunized. The entire student body is exposed to measles, and every susceptible student becomes infected. The 5 unvaccinated students will be infected, of course. But of the 995 who have been vaccinated, we would expect several not to respond to the vaccine. The efficacy rate for two doses of measles vaccine can be higher than 99%. In this class, 7 students do not respond, and they, too, become infected. Therefore 7 of 12, or about 58%, of the cases occur in students who have been fully vaccinated.

As you can see, this doesn’t prove the vaccine didn’t work – only that most of the children in the class had been vaccinated, so those who were vaccinated and did not respond outnumbered those who had not been vaccinated. Looking at it another way, 100% of the children who had not been vaccinated got measles, compared with less than 1% of those who had been vaccinated. Measles vaccine protected most of the class; if nobody in the class had been vaccinated, there would probably have been 1,000 cases of measles.”
When we consider this in relation to what is currently happening in our own communities today, we see why there is reason for the vaccinated to be concerned. For instance,

In Minnesota:
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a recent measles outbreak was caused in part by former doctor and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield’s influential but fraudulent study suggesting a connection between child vaccination and autism. Due to his influence, many children in a Somali community there have chosen not to have their children immunized. Unfortunately, one of these unvaccinated children, was identified with measles after returning from a trip to Kenya. Currently, 15 cases have since been identified, five of which were too young to have received the vaccine, six were of age but were not vaccinated, one was vaccinated and three have unknown vaccine status, with a total of eight hospitalizations having been reported so far.

In Virginia:
A small private school in Roanoke, VA, was closed last week due to an outbreak of pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough). The school, which does not require students to be vaccinated, has reported 30 confirmed cases; 23 of which have been among the school’s 45 students, the others among staff. Dr. Molly O’Dell, director of the New River Health District, explained that the infected children were not vaccinated, while the adults infected were never revaccinated with a booster shot. Unfortunately, many adults do not realize that their immunity to pertussis wanes over time, and that a booster shot is suggested for continued immunity.

In Utah:
In Utah, a confirmed case of measles first appeared in an unvaccinated teen who returned from a trip to Europe. Since then, three other cases have been confirmed, none of which were vaccinated. Now, with six other suspected cases and a trail of possible exposure, it appears that the measles may have spread to four different schools. Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department explained that “The vaccine is very effective against this illness,” which is why children who have not been adequately vaccinated will be temporarily excluded from school in order to contain any further spread of the disease.

In each of these instances, it is completely possible that some vaccinated children may become infected. However, it has been the unvaccinated children who have been shown to introduce the disease into these communiies. These modern day examples are just a few of the many instances that occur all over the country at any given time. These examples also serve to answer why a vaccinated person might be concerned about contracting a disease from the relatively small unvaccinated segment of the population.
Perhaps this video, by Shane Killion, brought to our attention by Gary Attarian on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, can further help to illustrate this phenomenon by providing a simulation of what is referred to as herd immunity. It can be effective in helping people understand how vaccine refusal can impact an entire community, even if that community is mostly vaccinated. The dots on the screen represent either vaccinated or unvaccinated people. The video then uses percentages to demonstrate the impact of a disease and the public consequences of a vaccine refuser.



Hopefully, as parents gain a better understanding of vaccinations, they will also come to understand why the vaccinated population might be concerned about vaccine refusal.

Unfortunately, public health is just that. Public. And one person’s vaccination decisions impacts the health of many others, whether they realize it or not.


Reblogged in full from Why Worry About the Unvaccinated? | Shot of Prevention. The original post dates from 2011 and the comments, mostly from rabid antivaxers who Don't Do Science or Empathy, are closed there.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Jane Hansen: How Universal Medicine bullied me | dailytelegraph.com.au

IT’S a quasi-religion which preaches love, light, positive energy and integrity, but dare question Universal Medicine and you’ll find yourself on exactly the opposite path.

It might seem like just another spiritual movement preaching ‘natural’ remedies, but Universal Medicine is different. It has the endorsement of one of Sydney’s leading paediatricians, Howard Chilton, and promotes itself as a complementary health provider presenting wellness workshops, presentations and one-on-one sessions aimed at treating ailments from cancer to autism...

The rest of this edifying tale is here: Jane Hansen: How Universal Medicine bullied me | dailytelegraph.com.au

Wonderland (6): attempts to sabotage my scientific, moral and ethical standards | Edzard Ernst

My memoir ‘A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND’ continues to get rather splendid reviews. On 23 March, it will be published also in a German edition. Probably a good time to post another short excerpt from it.

The following episode gives just one of many examples of attempts by my Exeter peers to sabotage my scientific, moral and ethical standards. The players in this scene are: […]

Read on for the grisly details: Wonderland (6): attempts to sabotage my scientific, moral and ethical standards

Friday, 13 March 2015

Bach flower remedies: positive effects cannot be doubted | Edzard Ernst

According to Bloomberg Markets, A Nelson & Co Ltd. manufactures and markets natural healthcare products. The company offers arnica creams that provide natural first aid for bruises; plant and flower based remedies that help in managing the emotional demands of everyday life; and over-the-counter homeopathic medicines for everyday ailments, such as relief from travel sickness […]


Read on: Bach flower remedies: positive effects cannot be doubted

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation

This article is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA). She is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually-stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions...

Child pays price for anti-vaccine misinformation

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The final verdict on homeopathy: it’s a placebo | Edzard Ernst

I reported previously on this blog that the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) has made the most thorough and independent assessment of homeopathy in the history of this form of alternative therapy. The report published at the time was preliminary, and further evidence from parties that were critical of it needed to be taken into account.

Today (11/3/2015), the NH&MRC has released its final report on homeopathy. In essence, it concluded that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy and no quality evidence of its efficacy...

Read on: The final verdict on homeopathy: it’s a placebo

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A new chiropractic survey seems to avoid all the potentially embarrassing questions | Edzard Ernst

Chiropractors like to promote themselves as primary healthcare professionals. But are they? A recent survey might go some way towards addressing this question. It was based on a cross sectional online questionnaire distributed to 4 UK chiropractic associations. The responses were collected over a period of two months from March 26th 2012 to May 25th 2012...

Read on: A new chiropractic survey seems to avoid all the potentially embarrassing questions

Did Belle Gibson make any false cancer claims? | Mamamia

There are claims today that popular “health blogger” and alternative therapy advocate Belle Gibson’s claims of suffering from several cancers may be false.

Social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson is the Melbourne-based mother behind hugely successful recipe app The Whole Pantry...

Read more at: Did Belle Gibson make any false cancer claims?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Reflexology = placebo therapy | Edzard Ernst

Reflexology is the treatment of reflex zones, usually on the sole of the feet, with manual massage and pressure. Reflexologists assume that certain zones correspond to certain organs, and that their treatment can influence the function of these organs. Thus reflexology is advocated for all sorts of conditions. Proponents are keen to point out that their approach has many advantages: it is pleasant (the patient feels well with the treatment and the therapist feels even better with the money), safe and cheap, particularly if the patient does the treatment herself. […]

Read on: Reflexology = placebo therapy

Friday, 6 March 2015

CHIROPRACTIC: an early and delightful critique | Edzard Ernst

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was an outspoken American journalist, essayist and literary critic famous for his vitriolic attacks on what he considered to be the hypocrisy of much of American life. In 1924, he published an essay on chiropractic which, I think, is still poignant today. I take the liberty of reproducing here in a slightly abbreviated form...

Read on: CHIROPRACTIC: an early and delightful critique

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Attention all non-vaccinating parents

Jimmy Kimmel has a weird accent. I can barely make out what he’s saying. However, the message from these medical professionals to non-vaccinating parents is crystal clear...

Read the rest here: Attention all non-vaccinating parents

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Wonderland (5): a ‘moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover’ makes his mark | Edzard Ernst

Chapter 5 of my memoir is entitled ‘OFF WITH HIS HEAD’. It describes the role that Prince Charles played in promoting what he now likes to call ‘integrated medicine’. The weird thing is that he was instrumental in creating my Exeter chair…and eventually in getting it shut down. Here is a short sample to whet your appetite...

Read on: Wonderland (5): a ‘moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover’ makes his mark

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Alan Hunter trolls again

OK, Alan Hunter isn’t just a spittle-flecked ranting quack, he’s a spittle-flecked ranting quack who goes out of his way to post his attacks on others in the most inappropriate places he can find. This tripe got posted in the comments section of the Contact page (now closed). Remember that I had to close down direct contact temporarily because of this fuckwit’s behaviour here and on other websites, particularly WWDDTYDTY.

No, he wasn’t writing to apologise.
From: Alan Hunter:
As selective as ever, aren’t we?

I prefer to promote facts over fantasy, yes.
You choose to point out a NoW reference – that I anticipated you would 
HAHAHAHA bollocks. It’s called pretending to be wise after the event. You didn’t write that bucket of verbal diarrhoea just for me, and I very much doubt you thought anyone would look twice at the “references”, since the whole point of a … Continue reading

The post Alan Hunter trolls again by Anarchic Teapot first appeared on Plague of Mice .