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The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing – Fuck You, Society of Homeopaths

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[Long post alert - much ranting and a full reprint of someone else's article here, so approach with caution. There, um, is a song though, if that helps]

Alternative medicine almost, but not quite entirely, pisses me off. Basically it is a loathsome industry based around selling people meaningless rituals in lieu of real and frequently much-needed medical assistance. It absorbs vast quantities of cash and exploits people’s fear hope and ignorance to make enormous profits for its peddlers. Truly disgusting, disgraceful and possibly one of the only industries in the world capable of making Big Pharma look honourable.

I don’t trust the major pharmaceutical companies any more than the alties, before you get all excited. I have done a lot of work for them and the only thing they care about is indeed money (as a whole) and looking good in front of their superiors (individually, as with any large company). But ultimately, the sheer deceit of the alternative medicine industry makes me sick.

I am not contending that all alternative therapies are entirely without merit of course. The placebo effect is powerful and well-documented, and their elaborately vacuous pantomimes deliver a superlative placebo, they really do. And herbalism must occasionally work because a very large number of modern medicines are basically a controlled form of herbalism, in the sense that scientists isolate the active ingredients and then deliver them to the patient in a controlled and safe manner, rather than the haphazard guess-work of the herbalists themselves. Various forms of vaguely hippy yoga shite for musculo-skeletal issues such as a bad back can also be effective of course – they’re basically just exercise, and I have yet to meet a genuine medical doctor who advises against gentle exercise and stretching when one has a bad back.

Homeopathy, however, is nothing but placebo. It is poison (often, not always) added to water and then diluted such that you would get only a single molecule of that ingredient (of dubious efficacy to begin with) in a body of water whose diameter was equal to that of the Earth’s orbit. Homeopathic remedies are either water or sugar pills and are not medicine. Its lame apologetics insist that the water retains memory of the substance with which it has been in contact but fail to explain how these microstructures that they invoke come to last any longer than the microseconds for which they are shown to exist. They also fail to explain how the water is supposed to retain memory of the particular ingredient to which they claim to expose it, yet conveniently retains no memory whatsoever of any of the myriad other substances with which it has come into contact over the course of time.

The general argument, when you really push them, is that mainstream science and Big Pharma is trying to silence their revolutionary new discoveries in order to protect their markets on one hand or hegemonic dominance of intellectual authority on the other. The fact that homeopathy was invented a couple of hundred years ago and since then has been the instigator of not one single scientific discovery – or even a single modest advance – and this despite the hunger of emerging scientists for exposure, novelty and the fame that would come from demonstrating anything even half so revolutionary, would seem to rather contradict this pathetic sniveling.

That said, 99% of what these hucksters peddle, while no more than a sickeningly cynical attempt to get rich by exploiting the fear and unhappiness of others, is pretty harmless. Unfortunately homeopathy has recently gone from being a harmless distraction for people with no brains and money to burn, to a dangerous lie, capable of causing death on a frightening scale. How so? Well they have recently started advocating using their sugar pills to combat … wait for it … Malaria and HIV! Yes, two of the world class killers of the disease world. Malaria is an illness that ravages millions across the world and is currently spreading North as the planet warms and the mosquitoes which actually carry the parasite find they can now happily survive at more northerly latitudes. I’m often surprised how few people know of the seriousness of malaria actually, but HIV needs no such introductions.

Advocating this sort of nonsense as effective treatment for diseases such as HIV and Malaria, which are clearly defined clinical diseases, as opposed to the vaguer emotional ills for which placebo may be a helpful treatment, is beyond indulgent rubbish. It is murderous and is utterly beyond me why this sort of lying and reckless endangerment of human life in the interests of personal profit have not been outlawed. Of course, they couldn’t get away with this over here – no never! Advocating the use of sugar pills as a treatment for malaria would be laughed at, because we are largely protected from people making false claims which cannot be backed up by facts.

So where do they peddle this homicidal dishonesty? The same place Big Pharma chooses to mostly F people in the A of course – Africa! Where no-one is protected, and no law can stop the huckster, and that big, all-excusing flag of helping the poor people can be self-righteously waved with the left hand, whilst the right hand shovels the last pennies of the poor bastards with whose lives they are so disgustingly playing into some very deep pockets indeed.

Could there be any more appropriate song for me to choose to accompany this story:

The Strokes – Killing Lies

There are several splendid websites in this country dedicated to fighting these avaricious charlatans, and I salute their dedication: Improbable Science and Bad Science spring most obviously to mind. Read them. Also read the Quackometer. Read it especially now, because these poor put-upon conspiracy theorists at the Society of Homeopaths have been opening everyone’s eyes to their new healing by … erm … using legal bullying tactics to shut down criticism of their chicanery. They had their lawyers write to the host of The Quackometer site and make threats, so the host spinelessly capitulated and removed the offending post.

So it is with great pleasure that I reproduce the original here, word for word, as my little way of saying Fuck You to the Society of Homeopaths and their pathetic attempts to close down public debate of their dubious methods not by countering with argument and evidence, but with bullying. What an unspeakable bunch of cunts:

The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing
Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) are a shambles and a bad joke. It is now over a year since Sense about Science, Simon Singh and the BBC Newsnight programme exposed how it is common practice for high street homeopaths to tell customers that their magic pills can prevent malaria. The Society of Homeopaths have done diddly-squat to stamp out this dangerous practice apart from issue a few ambiguously weasel-worded press statements.

The SoH has a code of practice, but my feeling is that this is just a smokescreen and is widely flouted and that the Society do not care about this. If this is true, then the code of practice is nothing more than a thin veneer used to give authority and credibility to its deluded members. It does nothing more than fool the public into thinking they are dealing with a regulated professional.

As a quick test, I picked a random homeopath with a web site from the SoH register to see if they flouted a couple of important rules:

48 • Advertising shall not contain claims of superiority.
• No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.
72 To avoid making claims (whether explicit or implied; orally or in writing) implying cure of any named disease.

The homeopath I picked on is called Julia Wilson and runs a practice from the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. What I found rather shocked and angered me. Straight away, we find that Julia M Wilson LCHE, RSHom specialises in asthma and works at a clinic that says,

Many illnesses and disease can be successfully treated using homeopathy, including arthritis, asthma, digestive disorders, emotional and behavioural difficulties, headaches, infertility, skin and sleep problems.

Well, there are a number of named diseases there to start off. She also gives a leaflet that advertises her asthma clinic. The advertising leaflet says,

Conventional medicine is at a loss when it comes to understanding the origin of allergies. … The best that medical research can do is try to keep the symptoms under control. Homeopathy is different, it seeks to address the triggers for asthma and eczema. It is a safe, drug free approach that helps alleviate the flaring of skin and tightening of lungs…
Now, despite the usual homeopathic contradiction of claiming to treat causes not symptoms and then in the next breath saying it can alleviate symptoms, the advert is clearly in breach of the above rule 47 on advertising as it implicitly claims superiority over real medicine and names a disease.

Asthma is estimated to be responsible for 1,500 deaths and 74,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK each year. It is not a trivial illness that sugar pills ought to be anywhere near. The Cochrane Review says the following about the evidence for asthma and homeopathy,

The review of trials found that the type of homeopathy varied between the studies, that the study designs used in the trials were varied and that no strong evidence existed that usual forms of homeopathy for asthma are effective.

This is not a surprise given that homeopathy is just a ritualised placebo. Hopefully, most parents attending this clinic will have the good sense to go to a real accident and emergency unit in the event of a severe attack and consult their GP about real management of the illness. I would hope that Julia does little harm here.

However, a little more research on her site reveals much more serious concerns. She says on her site that ‘she worked in Kenya teaching homeopathy at a college in Nairobi and supporting graduates to set up their own clinics’. Now, we have seen what homeopaths do in Kenya before. It is not treating a little stress and the odd headache. Free from strong UK legislation, these missionary homeopaths make the boldest claims about the deadliest diseases.

A bit of web research shows where Julia was working (picture above). The Abha Light Foundation is a registered NGO in Kenya. It takes mobile homeopathy clinics through the slums of Nairobi and surrounding villages. Its stated aim is to,

introduce Homeopathy and natural medicines as a method of managing HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Kenya.

I must admit, I had to pause for breath after reading that. The clinic sells its own homeopathic remedies for ‘treating’ various lethal diseases. Its MalariaX potion,

is a homeopathic preparation for prevention of malaria and treatment of malaria.
Suitable for children. For prevention. Only 1 pill each week before entering, during and after leaving malaria risk areas. For treatment. Take 1 pill every 1-3 hours during a malaria attack.

This is nothing short of being totally outrageous. It is a murderous delusion. David Colquhoun has been writing about this wicked scam recently and it is well worth following his blog on the issue.

Let’s remind ourselves what one of the most senior and respected homeopaths in the UK, Dr Peter Fisher of the London Homeopathic Hospital, has to say on this matter.

there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.

Malaria is a huge killer in Kenya. It is the biggest killer of children under five. The problem is so huge that the reintroduction of DDT is considered as a proven way of reducing deaths. Magic sugar pills and water drops will do nothing. Many of the poorest in Kenya cannot afford real anti-malaria medicine, but offering them insane nonsense as a substitute will not help anyone.

Ironically, the WHO has issued a press release today on cheap ways of reducing child and adult mortality due to malaria. Their trials, conducted in Kenya, of using cheap mosquito nets soaked in insecticide have reduced child deaths by 44% over two years. It says that issuing these nets be the ‘immediate priority’ to governments with a malaria problem. No mention of homeopathy. These results were arrived at by careful trials and observation. Science. We now know that nets work. A lifesaving net costs $5. A bottle of useless homeopathic crap costs $4.50. Both are large amounts for a poor Kenyan, but is their life really worth the 50c saving?

I am sure we are going to hear the usual homeopath bleat that this is just a campaign by Big Pharma to discredit unpatentable homeopathic remedies. Are we to add to the conspiracy Big Net manufacturers too?

It amazes me that to add to all the list of ills and injustices that our rich nations impose on the poor of the world, we have to add the widespread export of our bourgeois and lethal healing fantasies. To make a strong point: if we can introduce laws that allow the arrest of sex tourists on their return to the UK, can we not charge people who travel to Africa to indulge their dangerous healing delusions?

At the very least, we could expect the Society of Homeopaths to try to stamp out this wicked practice? Could we?

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25 witty ripostes to The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing – Fuck You, Society of Homeopaths

  1. avatar

    [...] rather fine rant from Song, by Toad. “The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing – Fuck You, Society of [...]

  2. avatar

    excellent post. big net conspiracy indeed.

    and the (nicely poetic) memory of water.
    the more a remedy is diluted, the stronger it becomes. some of the strongest remedies are so dilute that not one molecule of the original substance remains. a remedy retains a ‘memory’ of the original substance diluted within it.
    diluting and shaking a remedy actually makes it more effective, as the vigorous shaking transfers ‘energy’ to the water and imprints a ‘memory’ of the starting substance onto it.

    w.t.f. as the message board kids say.

    this from the nhs website which unfortunately links to various organisations pimping this nonsense.

    also worth a look is the richard dawkins channel four programme irrational health care. god bless the cranky old bugger.

  3. avatar

    Both are in it for the money. One sells snake oil and the other makes money out of marketing illness.

  4. avatar

    Yes yes yes yes yes. I don’t like big pharma because they’re big business trying to pathologise every little itch so they can sell more pills BUT SO ARE HOMEOPATHS and at list big pharma have the decent to occasionally cough in an embarassed fashion and say ‘yes, well basically we’re a bunch of cunts who are in it for the money’ whereas homeopathy will shimmer gently about tribal wisdom and wouldn’t it be nice if everybody was nice to everybody else for a change AND try to pathologise everything in order to sell more of their pills. Which don’t work. I may have repeated myself (and indeed you) here but I think it’s probably worth it. And are you worried about little johnny being exposed to all of those nasty chemicals in conventional medicine? Everything’s chemicals, darling.

  5. avatar

    Yes, I love the ‘chemicals’ argument. It’s akin to the equally idiotic ‘it can’t be harmful, it’s natural‘ argument. So, your fucking retard, are anthrax, e-coli, botulism and the black death.

  6. avatar

    What an unspeakable bunch of cunts:

    Well put.

    Nice article.

  7. avatar

    I thought just like you do Matthew, then I took some pills and stopped questioning stuff. I’d condemn it but I’m much happier now. Come to America, I work with two perfectly healthy people who take 5 and 7 pills a day respectively.

  8. avatar

    i, for one, am loving the phrase “big pharma.” i think i may change my screen name to that.

  9. avatar

    Big Pharma is a nice shortcut for some of the ugliest corporations in the world. The number of American parents who are filling their kids with what are basically narcotics is truly scary. They are trying to make similar inroads in Europe as well, but it is proving harder. I can’t see that lasting though.

    Basically they have to come up with a way for making money out of people as prosperous and healthy as at any time in human history. The result? Body dismorphic disorder. Self actualisation issues. A recklessly wild expansion of what it means to have a mental illness. Fucking disgraceful.

    At least the quacks and the alties are often only ripping off people who can afford to be foolish. This is why their shift into actual diseases is so shameful.

  10. avatar

    i’ve always thought greed is at the root of most wrongs–what people won’t do for another dollar. and in this case, they’re preying on a basic human desire, to be healthy, and taking total advantage of people’s trust that they’re there to make them better. between them and the for-profit insurance companies, it’s a wonder any real medicine gets done. shameful, indeed.

  11. avatar

    It’s one of the reasons privatised healthcare is a concept that has always filled me with horror. Imagine bringing the profit motive into something so crucial! It’s just insanity.

  12. avatar

    Next time somebody brings up the chemical argument at a dinner party or the office canteen just offer them a nice cold glass of Di-hydrogen Mon-oxide and some nice sodium chloride to sprinkle on their food.

  13. avatar

    My favourite is mental illness of the month drives. yep, a few years back, we were all depressed and the gave us Prozac, now we are all “Bi-Polar”. I think that means that schizophrenia is a big dollar but not enough people were getting the voices. Now, if you wake up happy and get pissed off later – you too, can have your own mental illness.

    In the US, illness (despite being dreaded due to cost) is almost a badge of honour. the best conditions being those that require medication but don’t actually invalid you. Depression, hyperactivity, anxiety? take some pills!

    My personal favourite is Restless Leg Syndrome. There are ads all over the US exhorting you to take narcotic sleep aids if you get jittery legs at night. Fuck the occasional leg twinge, take smack and have a good nights sleep!

  14. avatar
    Dr_Pressure

    Nice article. Keep up the good work :)

  15. avatar

    Simple facts:

    Some remedies, which are classed as alternative have been used successfully for thousands of years. The use of herbs and joint manipulation for instance. They were used first and have lasted the longest.

    The present problem is the bullshit that has developed namely:

    Money grabbing big business – Big Pharm and the statutory regulated purveyors – the medical doctors.

    A virtually unaccountable National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Try complaining via the National Health Service Litigation Authority -a body set up to defend the NHS. The only way for patient redress is the expensive law system. The NHS should only be paid on results. We should be given an NHS credit card. We pay for the service. No service – No money. The service to include results and polite delivery of the service.

    Poor quality regulation of so called health professionals. For example the establishment of the two doyen statutory tribes, the osteopaths and chiropractors, by the Osteopaths Act 1993 and the Chiropractors Act 1994. These acts promoted by HRH Prince Charles, and enacted by the Parliamentary Executive allowed two groups to be established to promote their own professions and not in the public interest. The clause ‘in the public interest’ was removed from the actual act even though it was in the white paper. Both tribes have also been exempt from compliance with the Health Act 1999, which imposes a statutory duty of quality on other statutory health care providers. This means the provision of a risk assessment. Try this one – ask any osteopath or chiropractor to provide you with risk benefit statistics for the treatment you are about to receive as part of informed consent. The statutory bodies mentioned do not have any statistical source of the risks of treatment.

    Comments:

    At the moment the only source for statistics of the nature of the risks is through depositions left at http//www.injuryreporting.co.uk This is an independent and anonymous reporting site for members of the public to leave their comments about adverse treatment results. It was established in 2008 following my report into the risks of spinal manipulation see http//www.brettom.com

    If statutory regulation produces such a poor showing in service why do we need more and what therefore is the value of yet more registers. The best method of finding alternate medical help is by word of mouth and going back to basics where possible – even simple things like hygiene, good quality food, exercise and moderate habits can help.

    Non of the above is to be taken as a recommendation not to consult or obtain treatment from any of the aforementioned. Just to be aware.

    Opinion:

    The above are a random selection of examples of bad governance in health care – poor quality service from the parliamentary executive – big business lobbying – vested interest by medical professions in the form of tribalism – a proliferation of bureaucratic jobsworthies.

    It all boils down to two things lack of accountability and self interest.
    I hope this helps get the picture.

    Tom Brett

  16. avatar

    I am a homeopath. That’s because I went to see one over 20 years ago and the results were so startlingly good that I hade to take it seriously. There is something perculiar about the manufacture of homeopathic medicines which makes them effective (not just dilution) called succussion.

    Try telling my most recent patient that I have not dramatically helped her over a bad case of shingles this winter. I don’t think you would convince her that her response was all in the mind, placebo etc.

    I was a fully paid up registered member of the Society of Homeopaths, and no homeopathy isn’t going away simply because of your inability to grasp a piece of science we can’t yet explain.

  17. avatar

    I am blind to the world. I dont give a fuck.

  18. avatar

    Lets categorize ourselves. Then maybe I can fit in to society.

  19. avatar

    I kick my legs when i dream people are trying to kill me.

  20. avatar

    What the fuck are you on about you imbecile?

  21. avatar

    On about? isnt that what this whole thread is about?

  22. avatar

    Okay, “illness is specific to the individual”. Who says what is sick and what is healthy?

  23. avatar

    Illness is not just specific to the individual. Are you seriously trying to suggest that it is?

  24. avatar
    cayman fucker

    FUCK YOU SOCIETY OF SKEPTICS!
    Why don’t you buy a coffin and bury yourself into believing anything you want and just let other decide for themselves without your crappy interference? Cunt!

  25. avatar

    You’re absolutely right. We should allow people to dish out bogus medicine to people who are trusting them to heal their illness, because, like, whatever, it’s a free country.

    If you think that then you are an idiot. An idiot with no conscience whatsoever.

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