Tuesday, 15 January 2013

BBC News Attacks Homeopathy Again

The BBC (and indeed most of the mainstream media) hates Homeopathy, in much the same way that it loves, and indeed, does all it can to promote Conventional Medicine, and support the financial interests of Big Pharma companies. The BBV, our public broadcaster, takes every opportunity to attack Homeopathy and Homeopaths, and in doing so, forgets entirely about its Editorial Guidelines which focus on 'Impartiality'.

The latest attack comes from BBC South West, and its "Inside Out" programme, which last night (14th January 2013) featured another attack on Homeopathy. You can watch it here. Or read about it here. However, in truth, you could save yourself time - it is the usual BBC News bias and bile, easily and simply described here. This programme follows an almost identical pattern to the notorious 'Newsnight' programme which gratuitously attacked Homeopathy in January 2011.

1. Underlying BBC's anti-Homeopathy programmes is the assumption that conventional medical vaccines (and drugs) are the treatments we should all be having (this time for Pertussin, or Whooping Cough). And if we do not avail ourselves of these treatments, there is a problem for the BBC to address. We are either foolish, or misguided. The MP for Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston, who figures in this programme, is a well-known and vocal opponent of Homeopathy (and supporter of drug-based medicine), who decries the fact that only 7 out of 10 children in her Devon constituency have been vaccinated against Pertussin. The DTP vaccine is, of course, given routinely to babies just a few months old - and parents have to 'opt out' to prevent their children having the injection. It is not a matter of parents 'forgetting' to get their children vaccinated!

The BBC's commitment to drug-based conventional medicine appears to be total. Their health and science correspondents appear to take the 'Sense About Science' approach to the Health Debate. And as a result, as far as the BBC is concerned, there is no Health Debate. The BBC's commitment to Big Pharma drugs can be seen in every news bulletin which presents them as 'magic bullets', and refuses to discuss their 'side-effects', 'adverse-reactions', or disease-inducing-effects (DIEs).

2. The programme completely ignores the obvious question that most good journalists would, at some point, want to ask - why are so many parents actively refusing to allow their children to have the DPT vaccination.

The BBC never moves beyond the assumption that such people are foolish, or badly informed, and that have no good or justifiable reason for doing so. The BBC never seems to want to investigate why people are asking Homeopaths for an alternative to something the NHS gives to them 'free'. What is their motivation? It is clear that the BBC does not want to ask them the question.

3. The programme ignores the 'good reasons' for refusing the DPT vaccine - that there are serious questions about both its effectiveness, and its safety for our children. These are not the quirky and unfounded prejudices of silly people. The concerns arise from solid evidence; from large numbers of parents who have children who were normal before vaccination, and sick afterwards; and from research evidence that is routinely ignored by the BBC.
It is this kind of evidence that persuade parents to seek alternative treatment, and to refuse conventional vaccinations. They are right in seeking safer and more effective treatments. They do not do so for any other reason than they feel that such vaccines are dangerous, and they no longer trust what the Conventional Medical Establishment, supported by the media, tells them. This biased BBC programme merely reinforces this view.

4. The programme makes the implicit assumption that the recent increase in the number of serious Pertussin cases, including a handful of deaths, are the result of children who have not received the DPT vaccine.

The ability of BBC News to make this assumption depends on their ability, and determination to ignore the growing evidence that various recent epidemics have affected vaccinated rather than unvaccinated children. Here are a few sources, there are many others, including a recent Mumps outbreak in the USA.
It is just not true that vaccinated children are safer than non-vaccinated children. Indeed, it is quite the reverse - regardless of what the BBC believes.

5. The programme, and particularly the presenter Sam Smith (who does not at any stage seek to adopt a stance of impartiality), makes repeated statements about Homeopathy - that there is no evidence supporting Homeopathy, that remedies have 'no active ingredients' so cannot possibly work.

This is, of course, the language and the attitudes of the Conventional Medical Establishment, but expressed here by a BBC presenter who appears to want to present herself as a concerned and impartial investigator.

It is difficult to determine whether the BBC takes this approach because it is ignorant of the centuries-old experience of Homeopathy, or the large and growing body of scientific studies that show that Homeopathy is an effective medical therapy, whose action is much more than just 'placebo'. If anyone wishes to know about the effectiveness of homeopathy, they just have to look at the evidence, available on the internet to everyone (although not the BBC apparently). Here are few few links to the treatment of Whooping Cough with Homeopathy/
Positive RCT evidence for the effectiveness of Homeopathy in 'upper-respiratory' complaints can be found in these two sources:

Bornhöft G, Wolf U, Ammon K, et al. Effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy in general practice – summarized health technology assessment. Forschende Komplementärmedizin, 2006; 13 Suppl 2: 19–29.
Bellavite P, Ortolani R, Pontarollo F, et al. Immunology and homeopathy. 4. Clinical studies – Part 1. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: eCAM, 2006; 3: 293–301.

The repeated recitation of the 'their is no evidence for Homeopathy' mantra will no longer prevail for anyone who takes a proper interest in health, or who genuinely looks at the evidence, which is available for anyone who wants to see it. It would appear, however, that this is not good enough for Sam Smith, and the BBC. Or is it just that the conventional medical mantras are easier to understand.

6. To support the BBC's hypothesis, that there is 'no evidence' for Homeopathy, the programme called on 'experts', and several times during this 10 minute programme, Sam Smith called on 'experts' who were entirely from the Conventional Medical Establishment. What is their view of Homeopathy? Well, surprise, surprise, they didn't think it works, and it can be dangerous. So what did experts on Homeopathy say? They had no real say in the programme! And what they are quoted as saying was presented in a confusing and contradictory way, by a presenter who clearly misunderstood, or perhaps did not want to understand, what she was being told. Perhaps this not surprising in a programme that took no time, and made to effort, to understand Homeopathy, and how it works.

Edzard Ernst, as usual, was featured in the programme, a long-time opponent of Homeopathy, but a 'Professor of Complementary Medicine' at a University faculty funded largely by Big Pharma companies.

And Sam Smith held in her hand a letter from 'The Nightingale Collaboration', an off-shoot of 'Sense about Science', itself a 'charity' funded largely by Big Pharma companies. She failed to mention the association with Big Pharma, naturally!

It is strange, but typical, that the BBC believes it can gets expert information on homeopathic treatment by asking non-Homeopaths, indeed, asking people who are well known to be antagonistic to Homeopathy

The Homeopathic Community no longer expects fairness or impartiality from the BBC. Several Homeopaths (and Homeopathic Patients) complained to the BBC about their 2011 Newsnight programme, and the response to the complaint, as much as the programme itself, showed clearly that the BBC does not act impartially or fairly in matters related to health.

This raises an important question about the BBC. If this public broadcaster reports in this partial and unfair way in matters relating to health, how can anyone be sure that it is reporting impartially and fairly in other areas of public concern.