Category Archives: woo

Should ‘alternative medicine’ be taught in universities?

The use of complementary therapies on the NHS will be explored in a More 4 documentary, which will reveal that £12m has been spent on homeopathy over the last three years.

Why does it matter? Homeopathy – where patients are treated with a diluted dose of the substance that caused their original symptoms – has been widely discredited as little more than “sugar pills” by scientists.

After a six-year campaign by Professor David Colquhoun at University College London, the last BSc in homeopathy was suspended by Westminster University in March after it failed to recruit enough students. Five homeopathy degrees have been scrapped since 2007.

But there are still plenty of complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) courses available in universities, and the NHS continues to offer a variety of therapies, including homeopathy, despite a lack of research evidence to show their effectiveness.

The Liberal Democrat science spokesman, Dr Evan Harris, says the NHS is wrong to spend money on unproven treatments and effectively to give them a “stamp of approval” by doing so.

But Dr Peter Fisher, of the Royal London Homeopathic hospital, argues that there is strong evidence that patients benefit in the long term.

What do you think? Should universities be allowed to run such courses, or the NHS to provide patients with these alternative therapies?


Wandsworth Council endorses religious discrimination in education

By Community Correspondent Stephen Evans

The new Equality Bill may be working its way through Parliament, but Wandsworth Council is still wholeheartedly endorsing religious discrimination and segregation in education.

A recent edition of Brightside, the magazine of Wandsworth Council, proudly announced that a “New Catholic school comes a step closer”. The Council has announced that the Saint John Bosco school will be the only completely new school to be built in the borough as part of the government-funded ‘Building Schools for the Future’ project.

Unfortunately, for the non-Catholics amongst us, this will be yet another religious school in Wandsworth that discriminates against the children of non-religious parents and those of the ‘wrong’ faith.

Just take a look at some of the admissions criteria for Wandsworth’s new state school:

• Baptised Catholic students whose parent(s) and themselves are active committed Roman Catholics.

• Baptised Catholic students who are active committed Roman Catholics.

• Baptised Catholic students who are currently attending a Roman Catholic school.

• Baptised Catholic students for whom there is evidence that the Church (e.g. parent(s), priest, parish worker or godparent) is actively and prayerfully working for their Roman Catholic upbringing.

• Christians who are active in their churches which are in membership of Churches Together in England.

• Other students, subject to their numbers and/or attitudes not endangering the Catholic ethos of the school.

There’s a further warning on the Wandsworth Council website that the Governors will “request proof of baptism and evidence of practice from the relevant Parish Priest or Minister.

How on earth can such backward and antiquated discrimination against the non-religious be allowed in modern Britain?

The National Secular Society has consistently campaigned against faith schools, arguing that they are unjust, discriminatory and detrimental to community cohesion. Many experts seem to agree.

For example, research from London South Bank University demonstrates that the only way to achieve full integration in our communities is for all children to be educated together from primary stage. These findings are backed up by a new study carried out by Psychologists at the University of Ulster on the effects of integrated and segregated schooling in Northern Ireland. They found that sectarianism could be defused if more Catholic and Protestant children were sent to mixed-religion schools. Further recent research by the LSE and the Institute of Education demonstrates that religious schools not only fail to improve standards, but also create ‘social sorting’ of children along lines of class, ability and religion.

By endorsing faith schools, Wandsworth is colluding with religious organisations in segregating children by their parent’s faith – and often as an indirect result, by their race. Many areas of Wandsworth, like most other London boroughs, while being very multicultural remains heavily segregated. We desperately need less division in our communities, not more.

Faith schools are notorious for ‘cherry-picking’ the most promising children from the most affluent families, resulting in a version of ‘private schooling on the rates’. The effect is to deprive community schools of such pupils, making their already-difficult task nearly impossible. Religious schools may well be popular with parents lucky enough to get their children into them, but less so with the population as a whole who just want good schools, not religious schools. An ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper found two thirds of the population said there should be no state funded faith schools at all.

So why is the Labour Government, and Tory opposition for that matter, so intent on handing over the education of children to religious organisations?

I put that question in a letter to local MP Sadiq Khan, but have yet to receive a response. Perhaps this is unsurprising. After all, the honourable member for Tooting is a well known advocate of mixing religion and politics and was the former Chairman of Tooting’s Gatton Primary, a state funded Muslim faith school which, in its own words, aims to: “inculcate in pupils the character and religion to live as a true Muslim.”

What makes the whole situation even more perverse is that there is little doubt that religious belief is in serious decline. Normal Sunday attendance at churches in England in 1980 exceeded 10% of the population. Today it’s around 6% and is projected by Christian Research to drop to 1.2% by 2050. The Government’s own latest Social Trends Survey revealed that 45.8% of British people now regard themselves as non-religious. In light of such findings how can anyone justify an expansion of religious schools?

The faith school system gives the religious, or those that pretend to be religious, greater choice while leaving the non-religious seriously disadvantaged. With state funded ‘minority’ faith schools on the increase, the situation is only going to get worse.


Can religion really save the world?

Tony Blair is not the first person to think that religion will decide the fate of the modern world.

“The 21st century”, said André Malraux, at the height of the Cold War, “will be religious or it will not be at all.” But can they be right? When we look round the world today, the presence of religion in any conflict seems to make it more intractable, and bitter. Our instinct is to take the principle out of conflicts and turn them into pragmatic disputes, susceptible to reasonable resolution.

That is certainly the approach the Tony Blair’s “peace process” took in Northern Ireland. Many people will feel that the answer to religious wars is less religion, not more of the “right” sort. But there are two problems with this approach. The first is that secularism is losing prestige in the places where wars are actually under way. There’s not enough of it about to quench the fires. The second is a very simple question: if secular common sense doesn’t start disputes, what makes us think it can end them? Perhaps the kinds of dispute for which people will kill, and die, will always have a religious dimension.


Humanists disappointed with Faith Foundation’s new education programme

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today commented on the launch of a new global education programme from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, ‘Face to Faith’.

Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education and Public Affairs commented, ‘Given our own commitment to improving understanding and working with people with different beliefs, we support programmes that purport to encourage such dialogue and learning. However, it does seem that this programme may be exclusively for religious people, which would be a missed opportunity for real education about people from all different backgrounds, including non-religious young people throughout the world.’

‘In any case, it does seem ironic that the aims of this education programme to counter prejudice and tension and to increase awareness of people with different beliefs contradict the realities of British education policy during Mr Blair’s premiership. At that time, the government began to expand significantly the number of “faith schools”, while at the same time permitting them to discriminate widely in their admissions and employment on religious grounds, creating religious segregation of children and young people which we know contributes to social inequalities and damages community cohesion.’


McTimoney Chiropractors told to take down their web sites

The Quackometer reports;

This letter has been issued from the McTimoney Association to all its members…

Date: 8 June 2009 09:12:18 BDT

Subject: FURTHER URGENT ACTION REQUIRED!

Dear Member

If you are reading this, we assume you have also read the urgent email we sent you last Friday. If you did not read it, READ IT VERY CAREFULLY NOW and – this is most important – ACT ON IT. This is not scaremongering. We judge this to be a real threat to you and your practice.

Because of what we consider to be a witch hunt against chiropractors, we are now issuing the following advice:

The target of the campaigners is now any claims for treatment that cannot be substantiated with chiropractic research. The safest thing for everyone to do is as follows.

  1. If you have a website, take it down NOW.

When you have done that, please let us know preferably by email or by phone. This will save our valuable time chasing you to see whether it has been done.

  1. REMOVE all the blue MCA patient information leaflets, or any patient information leaflets of your own that state you treat whiplash, colic or other childhood problems in your clinic or at any other site where they might be displayed with your contact details on them. DO NOT USE them until further notice. The MCA are working on an interim replacement leaflet which will be sent to you shortly.
  1. If you have not done so already, enter your name followed by the word ‘chiropractor’ into a search engine such as Google (e.g. Joe Bloggs chiropractor) and you will be able to ascertain what information about you is in the public domain e.g. where you might be listed using the Doctor title or where you might be linked with a website which might implicate you. We have found that even if you do not have a website yourself you may still have been linked inadvertently to a website listing you or your services.

CHECK ALL ENTRIES CAREFULLY AND IF IN DOUBT, CONTACT THE RELEVANT PROVIDER TO REMOVE YOUR INFORMATION.

CHECK OUR PREVIOUS EMAILS FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE AND KEY WORDS TO AVOID.

KEEP A LOG OF YOUR ACTIONS.

  1. If you use business cards or other stationery using the ‘doctor’ title and it does not clearly state that you are a doctor of chiropractic or that you are not a registered medical practitioner, STOP USING THEM immediately.

5. Be wary of ‘mystery shopper’ phone calls and ‘drop ins’ to your practice, especially if they start asking about your care of children, or whiplash, or your evidence base for practice.

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, YOU MAY BE AT RISK FROM PROSECUTION.

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, THE MCA MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ASSIST YOU WITH ANY PROCEEDINGS.

Although this advice may seem extreme or alarmist, its purpose is to protect you. The campaigners have a target of making a complaint against every chiropractor in the UK who they perceive to be in breach of the GCC’s CoP, the Advertising Standards Code and/or Trading Standards. We have discovered that complaints against more than 500 individual chiropractors have been sent to the GCC in the last 24 hours.

Whatever you do, do not ignore this email and make yourself one of the victims. Some of our members have not followed our earlier advice and now have complaints made against them. We do not want that to happen to you.

Even if you do not have a website, you are still at risk. Our latest information suggests that this group are now going through Yellow Pages entries. Be in no doubt, their intention is to scrutinise every single chiropractor in the UK.

The MCA Executive has worked tirelessly over the last week keeping abreast of development and contacting at risk members. We have decided that this is our best course of action to protect you and the Association at this time of heightened tension. This advice is given to you solely to protect you from what we believe is a concerted campaign, and does not imply any wrongdoing on your part or the part of the Association. We believe that our best course of action is simply to withdraw from the battleground until this latest wave of targeting is over.

Finally, we strongly suggest you do NOT discuss this with others, especially patients, Firstly it would not be ethical to burden patients with this, though if they ask we hope you now have information with which you can respond.

Most importantly, this email and all correspondence from the MCA is confidential advice to MCA members alone, and should not be shared with anyone else.

Please be aware that the office phone lines are likely to be busy, so, if you need our help, please send an email to the office and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Yours,

Berni Martin

MCA Chair.

Best wishes,

Nicki

Stunning. What have they got to hide?

The McTimoney web site itself now just reads:

For all enquiries regarding McTimoney chiropractic, please contact :

McTimoney Chiropractic Association
Crowmarsh Gifford
Wallingford OX10 8DJ
admin@mctimoney-chiropractic.org
Tel : 01491 829494

The most stunning admission is that Chiropractors are told:

IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, YOU MAY BE AT RISK FROM PROSECUTION.

****************************************************************************************************

All the missing websites have been archived here: http://yaxu.org/tmp/chiros.html

Smashing job yaxu

PS Dont forget to sign the Simon Singh support campaign.

http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/333/


Should ‘alternative medicine’ be taught in universities?

The use of complementary therapies on the NHS will be explored in a More 4 documentary, which will reveal that £12m has been spent on homeopathy over the last three years.

Why does it matter? Homeopathy – where patients are treated with a diluted dose of the substance that caused their original symptoms – has been widely discredited as little more than “sugar pills” by scientists.

After a six-year campaign by Professor David Colquhoun at University College London, the last BSc in homeopathy was suspended by Westminster University in March after it failed to recruit enough students. Five homeopathy degrees have been scrapped since 2007.

But there are still plenty of complementary and alternative medicine (Cam) courses available in universities, and the NHS continues to offer a variety of therapies, including homeopathy, despite a lack of research evidence to show their effectiveness.

The Liberal Democrat science spokesman, Dr Evan Harris, says the NHS is wrong to spend money on unproven treatments and effectively to give them a “stamp of approval” by doing so.

But Dr Peter Fisher, of the Royal London Homeopathic hospital, argues that there is strong evidence that patients benefit in the long term.

What do you think? Should universities be allowed to run such courses, or the NHS to provide patients with these alternative therapies?


Hit those unhappy mediums

The people who visit psychics are vulnerable and unlikely to complain – new consumer legislation is letting them down

touristWilliam Little

    This time last year you’d be forgiven for thinking that mediums and psychics had finally run out of luck. New consumer legislation that replaced the Fraudulent Mediums Act (FMA) was widely interpreted as forcing psychics to put up a disclaimer saying what they did was not scientifically proven. Under the old law, prosecutors had to prove an intent to deceive, but under the new regulations psychics had to prove they did not mislead, hence the disclaimers. The British Humanist Society announced at the time that people would be better protected from psychics preying on the vulnerable. They are not.

    Phone calls to trading standards officers around the country by aggrieved mediums at the Spiritualists National Union revealed that some officers didn’t know how to interpret the new law, while many didn’t know that it had changed at all. This confusion is reflected in the official figures. Since the legislation came into force a year ago (regulating all trades, not just mediums), Trading Standards have received more than 872,000 complaints, of which only 240 were about psychics. Now the Department for Business and Regulation, in an email to the Spiritualist Union this year, has openly stated: “It’s not clear why mediums believe there is now a need for disclaimers.”

    Now according to legal representation for the Spiritualist Movement, putting up a disclaimer was always discretionary – a matter of psychics showing due diligence that they had made every effort to warn people that it’s just a demonstration, a mere distracting entertainment. As everyone who visits a medium believes in his/her psychic abilities, they will no doubt feel they’ve received what they paid for, disclaimer or no disclaimer.

    But the people who visit mediums are vulnerable; they are attached to their beliefs like a comfort blanket in a storm. In that state of mind, would they realise that they should complain? The Office of Fair Trading has a measure of vulnerability that determines not just how harmful fraud is, but to what degree a person’s belief makes them more willing to believe and thus be duped. But complaints that Trading Standards investigate are almost always of financial loss or physical harm rather than psychological damage, which gives little recourse to those harmed by psychics.

    So what makes someone vulnerable enough to see and believe in a psychic? To answer that we first have to control our knee-jerk attitude that stigmatises people who visit mediums as ignorant and stupid – that in itself shows a staggering ignorance of the social and personal forces that construct and reinforce someone’s belief. No one would disagree that health inequalities are a complex interaction of social forces that reward the less well-off with shorter lives. Guardian readers wouldn’t shout at a morbidly obese person, “it’s ‘cos you’re stupid”, so neither should we do the same to someone who gets comfort from a medium, rather than a Mars bar. Sure, it might not lead to cancer or heart disease, but the social causes are similar, though the consequences are not as straightforward.

    Much of the evidence about psychics and vulnerability is anecdotal, which doesn’t invalidate the experiences, but shows that these individual cases deserve at least a measure of our empathy. So what do we think about the psychic who led on a traumatised mother with a missing child while wasting police time with her psychic hunches? We might loathe her, but what if the mother felt strengthened by her presence? Or what about the businesswoman who lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack and entered a deep depression for two years? Then for the first time in her life she saw a medium who claimed to get in touch with her husband. The depression lifted, she was able to get on with her life and she hasn’t been to see a medium since, although her belief in the afterlife has been strengthened. Are they stupid or just using the most effective tool they can to help them get through life’s traumas?

    And why would the mother with a missing child feel that she should report this medium if her belief is so strong that she sees nothing wrong? Should we protect her or dismiss her as ignorant and deluded? Should the police encourage psychics by bowing to families’ wishes to include them in the search, which is current police policy? Who’s the fraud – the police or the medium? Who should trading standards investigate? And is society to blame for not coming up with a list of belief inequalities? Why do people believe, what do they get out of it and are there common forces determining these beliefs? Working class women, disempowered and poor, have been the mainstay of the psychic movement since the first eruption of psychic energy in the mid-1800s. Little has changed. Their belief in magic is an escape route from a deprived background and a call for help in a world that only gives them endless consumer goods and a bad education. It’s the middle class, remember, who can afford their own magic of opportunity and aspiration.

    Yet where the new consumer protection should act, it fails. Psychics on premium rate psychic telephone services are forced to keep callers on the line for at least 25 minutes to make the company enough money. Yet Trading Standards have not prosecuted any psychics or companies ripping people off in this way. “It’s a cut-throat business,” one psychic told me. “The ladies who set up these premium-rate phone lines start with the best of intentions, after that they start screaming that we have to do and say anything to keep them on the line.” These premium psychics tell callers that unless they talk through their relationship problems they will be harmed, or that they can see a dark presence in their lives. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s not the point. The point is seeing it from their perspective, which is a lot harder than most people will accept. Only then will we come to realise that just because people don’t realise they have to complain doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid complaint.