Thursday, 9 January 2014

Militant Skepticism and Homeopathy: what do they have to say?

"The fate of militant skepticism, whatever it may be, will drift apart from the serious business of doing science. After all, no scientific discovery was ever made by negative thinking. There has to be an open-minded curiosity and a willingness to break new ground, while the militant skeptics represent the exact opposite: they are dedicated to the suppression of curiosity and protecting rigid boundaries of 'real' science".

I have noticed that a group of 'Homeopathy Denialists', Militant Skeptics all of them, are now contacting me through my Twitter feeds about Homeopathy. It is not edifying reading, mainly abusive, certainly nothing interesting or informative, and usually not justifying a response. (See also my previous blog outling the activities of these people).

Certainly, the only reason for writing this particular blog is to highlight, through their comments, how little they have to say, how little of importance they have to contribute to the health debate! Here are just a few examples of what they say - usually to my tweeting of new information and research on medical issues!
  • @stevescrutton is a blivot. Namely: 2cwt of wet manure in a 1cwt bag (Guy Chapman)
  • Hilarious that @stevescrutton thinks toxicity of paracetamol is a secret! Ignorant cunt (Guy Chapman)
  • DANGEOURS bullshit (Guy Chapman).
  • Homeopathy = bonanza of fallacies (Edzard Ernst).
  • Homeopathy Quack Medicine (Edzard Ernst).
  • You do know @stevescrutton you are an idiot. Not to mention a congenital liar (Edzard Ernst)
  • Scrutton should be in jail for manslaughter. Utter hogwash., of danger of believing in homeopathy (David Colquhoun).
  • What an utterly stupid and irresponsible thing to even suggest, let alone actually do (Paul Morgan)
  • A clueless article! No idea whatsoever (Paul Morgan).
  • Maybe you and the Health Danger should do a little research before tweeting. May make look marginally less stupid (Paul Morgan).
  • Utter hogwash. Another example of the danger of believing in homeopathy (Paul Morgan).
  • No, homeopathy is just placebo. Again, stupid and irresponsible treatment suggestion. Dangerous (Paul Morgan).
  • Yep. homeopathy is delusion (Spelling Patrol).
  • Do you believe in miracles then? It'd take a full miracle to make either do research or look less stupid (Dragon Blaze).
  • Disappointed to see that @stevescrutton is still a thing (?????) (Birmingham Skeptics).
  • Homeopathy is for fuckwits and rip off scammers (Cycling Mikey).
So not much enlightenment there, then, and certainly a complete paucity of useful information! Just statements of blind prejudice, expressed by people who seem more able to write abusively than take part in a proper discussion about health issues!

Who are these Homeopathy Denialists? 
They are people who take every available opportunity to attack homeopathy, and indeed any other 'alternative' medical therapies, such as Natureopathy, Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, and many more. Like this comment...

Homeopathy is the biggest scam next to the blood suckers that claim there is a god" (Lee Spaner).

Why do they oppose Homeopathy? 
They claim that Homeopathy does not work, that it cannot work, and that there is no evidence that it works. In order to maintain this position they ignore any evidence demonstrating that it does work, and that it has been, and continues to be responsible for curing millions of patients, throughout the world, for over 200 years now. 

Homeopathy has a long history of effective treatment with patients, with every known illness or disease. 

But homeopathy denialists dismiss any 'individual' case of successful treatment or cure as 'anecdotal'. They claim to accept only the evidence provided by ‘Randomised Controlled Testing’ (RCTs) - which they equate with 'science'. However, there are two types of RCT that they refuse to consider: 
  1. They ignore all the RCT evidence that demonstrates that Homeopathy does work - and there are now over 300 that proves this very point.
  2. And they ignore the fact that each and every one of the disastrous conventional drugs and vaccines, now withdrawn or banned, that are now known to have caused disease and death, have all been 'proven' by RCTs.
Indeed, homeopathy denialists deny even the future possibility of scientific evidence for homeopathy. For instance, 'Dragon Blaze' gave this response to evidence that was explaining the working mechanism of homeopathy: "Not going to happen, as there's no science that could prove homeo, especially not QM". And Bee Rational, who told me that "homeopathy is safe because it has no active, therapeutic ingredient. This is also why it doesn't work.

Are they supporters of conventional, drug based medicine? 
Clearly, homeopathy denialists support the Conventional Medical Establishment. They certainly claim to support what they call 'evidence-based medicine', and they state unequivocally that only conventional, drug-based medicine is based on 'evidence'. And they clearly don't like anyone who speaks against conventional, drug-based medicine.

"Oh dear, @stevescrutton, you're a homeopath and an anti-vaxer" (Rah).

Correct on both counts! Oh dear!! However, it is very noticeable that they rarely (if ever) defend Big Pharma drugs and vaccines when they are criticised for the harm and damage they have done to patients, and many of my blogs do.

When I blog, tweet, or use Facebook to provide evidence of the failure, and the dangerousness of drugs and vaccines, even when I highlight the fraudulent activities of Big Pharma companies over the testing, regulation, promotion of drugs and vaccines, there is total, deafening silence.

There are a few, rather pathetic exceptions to this general rule. Paul Morgan attempted to defend Paracetamol.

"Oh dear! Paracetamol OD has been popular suicide attempt method for years! Unbelievably ignorant if you think this is news".

Why Denialism is such a strange activity? 
Most people will support the causes they believe in, and the stronger their belief, the stronger their support - quite rightly. The peculiarity of Denialism is that their enthusiasm shows that they are 'against' something rather than 'for' something.

What do Denialists have to say? 
When their activity is analysed it becomes clear that they have only one, very simple message - Homeopathy does not work. Yet even when you examine the evidence they use to support their beliefs (they claim to be interested in science) - there just isn't any!
  • They use humour (which I admit is sometimes quite funny, if a little pointless, and ill-informed). Alan Henness is particularly inspired by laughter!
    • Hilarious drivel
    • LOL!
    • Here is a list of diseases that can be safely and effectively treated by homeopathy……………………………………………... That is all.
    • And this from Antonio Johnson: "Homeopathy is the second most used healthcare system? You mean after medicine?
    • And this response from Clay Jones. If homeopathy qualifies as system of healthcare then so is prayer or crossing your fingers.
    • Well, I guess we all need to get our water and sugar from somewhere (Mark Chatterly).
    • How Homeopathy helps our family to lose money on over-priced sugar (Edzard Ernst).
All clever, perhaps even amusing stuff - but totally devoid of any semblance of argument or enlightenment!
  • Convinced that homeopathy does not work, they proceed to say that anyone who says that Homeopathy does work is making 'dangerous' and 'misleading' statements, which, of course, would be correct (and if they had any evidence to support the initial premise - which they fail to provide).
    • No, it isn't. Homeopathy = a failure to act. DANGER (Carnum Marcus-Page).
    • have you read the page on whooping cough? dangerous nonsense (Jonathan Mason).
    • Whooping Cough. Homeopathy more effective than conventional medical treatment << DANGEOURS bullshit (Guy Chapman).
    • Autism and Homeopathy - should not be mentioned in the same sentence (Edzard Ernst).
This is particularly so if mention is made of the treatment of cancer. The law of the land, of course, says that no-one can advertise the fact that they can treat cancer. However, what the law cannot do is to ignore the fact that increasing numbers of people are moving to alternative treatment, including homeopathy, to treat their cancers - and that many people have been successfully treated. See (1), (2), (3), (4), (5).
    • Homeopathy and cancer: stupid, malicious or criminal? Edzard Ernst.
    • What?! How dare any homeopath quack go near a breast cancer sufferer or any ill person for that matter (Vix+ Comquat).
    • I beat breast cancer. I'd like to say Thank you to medical science & a big Fuck you to (Amy Sloman). I know many people who have survived cancer via homeopathy; they would not dream of making such a nasty and abusive comment about conventional medicine, or conventional medics.
    • I know of two active prosecutions for Cancer Act. Now is not a good time to push your luck (Guy Chapman).
Yes, there are always plenty of threats too - especially from Guy!

And Malaria is another disease that gets the homeopathy denialist going! This is the blog that caused the problem for the denialists!
    • You're off message. Even @SOHhomeoapthy admits homeopathy can't prevent malaria. Mendacious quack! (Guy Chapman)
    • Anti-malaria drug. Liar. It's just not recommended for oral use any more. Do you even read your own nonsense? (Mark McAndrew).
    • No dear chap, it's because doctors don't want people to die from the ignorance and lies - unlike you. How's your malaria? (Mark McAndrew).
  • In all this, homeopathy denialists always make an implicit assumption - that conventional medical treatments are both safe and effective, and that therefore, to suggest any other form of treatment diverts or prevents patients from seeking it. Of course, what this denies is that increasingly people are turning away from conventional drugs and vaccines, and looking for safer, more effective treatments.
  • Whilst all this would suggest that Denialists are making an argument in favour of conventional medical treatment. Yet, as I have already said, they never respond to any criticism that Conventional Medical treatment is at best ineffective, and at worst, highly dangerous to our health.
  • And Homeopathy denialists always seem to want to engage in argument at a 'Pantomime' level. So if, for example, I say that "Homeopathy works": they respond with"Oh! No it doesn't!.
And by contacting me directly through Twitter I must assume they want me to continue the argument by saying "Oh! Yes it does!" I always refrain from doing so!

Who funds the activities of the Denialists? 
The truth is that I don't know (and really, I must admit, I don't care) who funds these people. Much of their activity, and the views and opinions they express, run in parallel to the aims and objectives of the organisation "Sense about Science" (SaS), which itself is  largely funded by Big Pharma money, and which supports both the pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines industry, and the GMO food industry.

Yet would the Pharmaceutical industry really want to fund the rather absurd and cretinous activity of Homeopathy Denialists? 

If they do it would suggest that Big Pharma is becoming more desperate then they really need to be. In matters relating to health, Big Pharma interests (the Conventional Medical Establishment) already exercises virtually total control over the Government, the Department of Health, and the NHS, as well as the regulatory agencies such as the MHRA, and NICE. 

And as far as the dissemination of information is concerned, Pharmaceutical interests still have a large measure of influence and control over the mainstream media, and what they say about health issues, as well as many other influential organisations, including the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Indeed, the ASA is one of the latest vehicles being used to attack homeopathy ASA is currently seeking to control what Homeopaths can say about what homeopathy can offer to patients. As far as health issues are concerned, the ASA appears to be actively supporting a restraint of trade - certainly as far as the practice of medicine is concerned!

Homeopathy Denialists are making much about the fact that the ASA has recently said that my own personal website breaks their advertising rules. ASA's stance is that they do not believe there is any evidence supporting Homeopathy (mirroring the views of SaS, and the Denialists), and that as a result homeopaths cannot make any claim for 'treating' illness, or 'curing' disease - despite the fact that this is the only thing homeopathy does! 

ASA does not accept the evidence of successfully treated, or cured patients (mirroring the views of SaS and Denialists). And ASA does not accept the RCTs that demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of homeopathy (mirroring the views of SaS and the Denialists). So these are just some of the comments coming my way!
  • Still peddling that mendacious nonsense, Steve? How's the ASA viewing it?" (Guy Chapman)
  • You are breathtakingly stupid. Trading Standards are now ASA's legal backstop and they CAN AND WILL prosecute Cancer Act (Guy Chapman).
  • Yes. ASA need to initiate prosecutions against @stevescrutton for repeated breaches of  CAP (Paul Morgan).
  • I second @SceptiGuy assertion that you are dim indeed. #Homeopathy is #bunk AND the ASA WILL prosecute (CaPPsiE).
So have I broken the rules of ASA? In terms of the way ASA are currently interpreting their rules in relation to Homeopathy, and other alternative medical therapies, I most certainly am, and will continue to do so. Why?

I will do so in the interests of defending Health Freedom, and promoting Informed Patient Choice.

Homeopathy denialists wish to continue the health monopoly currently enjoyed by the conventional medical establishment. I am opposed to it. Too many people are suffering from drugs and vaccines that are largely ineffective, and certainly dangerous - indeed, drugs and vaccines that our conventional doctors know to be dangerous. 

The public has a right to know. And so I will not be silenced by militant skeptics.