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Thursday, 30 June 2016

The intriguing case of homeopathy in India | Edzard Ernst

Homeopathy must be effective! It is used extensively throughout the world, not least India! If it were ineffective, as all these nasty sceptics insist, Indians would not use it in such large numbers. 

How often have we heard this argument? Take, for instance, statements from the ‘peer-reviewed’ literature such as this one: “At present, in […]
Read on: The intriguing case of homeopathy in India

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Helios abandons ‘homeopathic vaccines’ | Edzard Ernst

Some homeopaths advise parents not to vaccinate their kids and use homeopathic vaccinations or ‘homeo-prophylaxis’ instead. Despite the fact that it has long been clear that this approach is not effective and even dangerous, some homeopathic pharmacies have been selling the remedies used for that purpose. In the UK, Helios has been at the forefront of this […]

Rose Rosetree, The New Strong and the Old Soft Soap | Plague of Mice

I was happily browsing the ebooks for something to instruct, enlighten and hopefully also amuse me after all the ventilator-driven faeces generated by some 17 million turkeys voting for Christmas last week. Proudly presented as one of the latest publications (it(s dated 27 June 2016) was this alluring œuvre by one Rose Rosetree:

The New Strong

Stop Fixing Yourself-And Actually Accelerate Your Personal Growth! (Rules & Tools for Thriving in the “Age of Awakening”) 

Author: Rose Rosetree 
Publisher: Women’s Intuition Worldwide, LLC 
Collections : Energy HEALING Skills for the Age of Awakening 
Categories : Spirituality & esotericism/ Healing/ Energy(Chi Kung, Reiki, Polarity), Personal development / Self-accomplishment / Inspiration & personal growth 

Ye-e-es. First off, I don’t believe that’s her real name. Too twee and too fitted to her market. It’s her own publishing company and only her books appear in the catalogue (which we will come to later), so “women’s” is misleading, as is …
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Monday, 27 June 2016

Alternative medicine in the ‘Disunited Kingdom’ | Edzard Ernst

I am sure that most of us have had enough of the endless discussions, information and foremost disinformation about Brexit; we truly had to endure them ad nauseam. And here I come with a post about the very subject.

Have I lost my senses?

Bear with me and find out for yourself. There has been little mention of alternative medicine in the […]

Take control!

This post isn’t entirely about the ill-advised and predictably destructive UK referendum. Nor is it entirely about quackery.

It’s about both.

The cringeingly-dubbed Brexit is now over, the “Leave” camp won by a narrow margin (which might well not have existed if all British expats in the EU had been allowed to vote), racist aggression is predictably on the rise, the poor regions who rely on EU subsidies to survive are having major “Oh fuck” moments, both Sterling and the stock markets have plummeted, the UK’s credit rating has fallen, and businesses are already beginning to pull out. That’s a far from exhaustive list…

Continue reading Take control! on Plague of Mice.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Boots the Chemist, legal complaints, and alternative medicines | Edzard Ernst

It has been reported that ‘Boots the Chemist’ have filed several legal complaints against The Guardian in relation to articles published by the paper in relation to its April 2016 investigation. The Guardian articles in question alleged that Boots, the UK’s largest pharmacy chain, had placed undue pressure on its pharmacists to perform medicines use reviews so that it could […]

Thursday, 23 June 2016

John Garrow (1929 – 2016) | Edzard Ernst

John Garrow died yesterday at home. 

John had suffered a stroke about 6 weeks ago but had previously been in good health. 

His professional achievements were too many to list here in full. He had been Professor of Human Nutrition, University of London, Honorary consultant physician St Bartholomew’s Hospital, St Mark’s Hospital, Royal London Hospital and Northwick […]

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Turmeric: lots of potential, but beware of the hype | Edzard Ernst

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a truly fascinating plant with plenty of therapeutic potential. It belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae and is native to southern Asia. Its main active ingredients are curcumin (diferuloylmethane) and the related compounds, demethoxycurcumin and bis-demethoxycurcumin (curcuminoids) which are secondary metabolites. Turmeric has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine and has a variety of pharmacologic properties including antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, […]

Monday, 20 June 2016

Homeopaths of the world: I herewith offer you a deal – please think about it | Edzard Ernst

Homeopaths assume lots of things; one of their main claims is, for instance, that the process of repeatedly diluting a remedy and vigorously shaking it at each step – they call this potentisation – renders it more potent. This is the famous MEMORY OF WATER’ theory of homeopathy. In Hahnemann’s own words: ‘…the power of a medicine in solution is much […]

Friday, 17 June 2016

Acupuncture: a new ‘white paper’ turns out to be a white-wash (ignorance or fraud?) | Edzard Ernst

The ACUPUNCTURE NOW FOUNDATION (ANF) have recently published a document that is worth drawing your attention to. But first I should perhaps explain who the ANF are. They state that “The Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF) was founded in 2014 by a diverse group of people from around the world who were concerned about common misunderstandings regarding acupuncture […]

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’ welcomes the first chiropractor | Edzard Ernst

Yes, yes, yes, I know: we have too few women in our ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’. This is not because I have anything against them (quite the contrary) but, in alternative medicine research, the boys by far outnumber the girls, I am afraid. You do remember, of course, who has previously been admitted to this austere club of excellence; only […]

Read on: The ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’ welcomes the first chiropractor

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Futility of Finding Physical Explanations for Homeopathy – The Quackometer Blog

From the very first decades of homeopathy’s existence in the early 19th Century, mainstream scientists have dismissed its claims for one simple reason: the extremely dilute nature of the remedies. As Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked in 1842 “So much ridicule has been thrown upon the pretended powers of the minute doses”.

Read the full post at The Futility of Finding Physical Explanations for Homeopathy – The Quackometer Blog

‘Alternative cancer cures’ cost money and lives | Edzard Ernst

You have to excuse me, if I keep coming back to this theme: so-called ‘alternative cancer cures’ are truly dangerous. I have tried to explain this already many times, for instance here, here and here. And it is by no means just alternative therapists who make a living of such quackery. Sadly, qualified medical doctors are often involved as well. As if to prove my point, here is a tragic story that broke yesterday: […]

Read on: ‘Alternative cancer cures’ cost money and lives

There’s nothing normal about anti-vaccine cyberbullies

You probably would not be surprised if I told you that the debate about vaccines and their association with a myriad of things (backed up only by loony, religious-like beliefs without any science) can get a little bit rough. I’ve told you about our Douchebag Emerti-ass Dr. Bob Sears and his crazy band of Facebook […]

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Naturopaths: rubbish at healthcare, excellent at character-assassination | Edzard Ernst

Britt Marie Hermes is a most remarkable women. She is an ex-naturopaths who has the courage to speak out against all that is wrong with naturopathy. 

On her website she writes: I used to be a naturopathic doctor. For 3 years, I practiced naturopathic medicine, licensed in Washington and Arizona. I earned my degree at Bastyr […]

Monday, 13 June 2016

Another researcher enters THE ALT MED HALL OF FAME | Edzard Ernst

The queue outside my ‘ALT MED HALL OF FAME’ was getting restless because I did not admit any new members for some time. So, I better get cracking! 

You remember, of course, who has been honoured so far; the list of members (main research interest, country) is as follows: 
Nicola Robinson (TCM, UK) 
Peter Fisher (homeopathy, UK) […]

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Homeopathy: research is for promotion, not for finding the truth (even if it is unethical) | Edzard Ernst

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is a common condition which can considerably reduce the quality of life of sufferers. Homeopathy is often advocated – but does it work? 

A new study was meant to be an “assessment of the clinical effectiveness of homeopathic remedies in the alleviation of hay fever symptoms in a typical clinical setting.” 

Scientists aren’t gods – quite the opposite: they’re fallible and accountable

I don’t know whether ‘Sir’ Simon Jenkins has acquired the clout to by-pass sub-editors and supply the (sub-)headlines to his own articles. If he has, then he palpably lacks the nuance one might fairly expect from a journalist of his seniority and standing, his recent piece – Scientists aren’t gods. They deserve the same scrutiny as anyone else – suggesting he’s not much better than any outrage-provoking, clickbait-generating hack.

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Friday, 10 June 2016

Pharmacists: to sell quackery means you are quacks – or have I got that wrong? | Edzard Ernst

The question whether pharmacists should sell unproven alternative medicines will not go away. On this blog, we have discussed it repeatedly, for instance here, here and here. The Australian Journal of Pharmacy’s latest poll shows that readers have their suspicions about the validity of naturopathic medicines, with a whopping 544 voters choosing the option, “No, there’s […]

Thursday, 9 June 2016

An invitation resulting in a rare insight into the acupuncturists’ mind-set | Edzard Ernst

I am editor in chief of a journal called FACT. It has a large editorial board, and I am always on the look-out for people who might be a good, productive and colourful addition to it. On 3 June, I sent an invitation to Mel Koppelman, who is by now well known to regular readers of this blog. […]

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Is this the end of homeopathy in Liverpool? | Edzard Ernst

I have previously reported about the issue of homeopathy on the NHS in Liverpool here. Since then, the NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has conducted a consultation on whether to continue funding. Personally, I think such polls are a daft waste of resources. 


I will explain in a moment; first read the (slightly shortened) […]

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Uncharitable charities? The example of ‘YES TO LIFE’ | Edzard Ernst

We tend to trust charities; many of us donate to charities; we think highly of the work they do and the advice they issue. And why shouldn’t we? After all, a ‘charity’ is ‘an institution or organization set up to provide help, money, etc, to those in need’. Not a hint at anything remotely sinister here – charities are good! […]

Monday, 6 June 2016

Placebo effects do not turn an ineffective therapy into an effective one | Edzard Ernst

The subject of placebo is a complex but fascinating one, particularly for those interested in alternative medicine. Most sceptics believe that alternative therapies rely heavily, if not entirely, on the placebo effect. Some alternative practitioners, when unable to produce convincing evidence that their treatment is effective, seem to have now settled to admitting that their therapy works (mostly […]

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Conflicts of Interest: Is there a difference between Doctors and Acupuncturists turned researchers? | Edzard Ernst

Guest post by Frank Van der Kooy

Some serious flaws in the scientific reporting of two acupuncture clinical trials, for the treatment of infertility and allergic rhinitis, were recently published on this blog. The overly positive way in which the researchers made their mostly negative results public, was also of concern. Both these studies were published by the researcher of the year, Prof Caroline Smith, of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Australia. The stream of comments and discussions that followed made me think of another commonly overlooked aspect when it comes to acupuncture clinical trials. Conflict of interest! In both these studies the authors declared to have no conflicts of interest and in other studies by this author this also seems to be the case. The question can be asked: If you are a practicing acupuncturist who runs a clinical trial of acupuncture, isn’t that, by default, a serious conflict of interest? The intention of this article is not an in-depth discussion of what a conflict of interest is, but rather to compare medical doctors with acupuncturists turned researchers. Let me explain  […]

Frank van der Kooy is a pre-clinical scientist with experience in phyto-chemistry and analytical chemistry with a focus on drug discovery from medicinal plants. He served in the position of senior analytical chemist at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Australia. 

Just(in) asking questions

This is probably the last post I’ll write about Justin Kanew. The first post is here, and the second is here. In the first post, I explained to you how Mr. Kanew was slowly descending into anti-vaccine world. In the second, the conversion was nearly complete. So complete, in fact, that Andrew Wakefield was given […]

Read more at: Just(in) asking questions by Reuben

Friday, 3 June 2016

Effectiveness, efficacy and wishful thinking…if all else fails, invent your own definitions! | Edzard Ernst

This post is dedicated to Mel Koppelman. 

Those who followed the recent discussions about acupuncture on this blog will probably know her; she is an acupuncturist who (thinks she) knows a lot about research because she has several higher qualifications (but was unable to show us any research published by herself). Mel seems very quick in lecturing […]

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Aromatherapy and reflexology are both effective…or aren’t they? | Edzard Ernst

Alternative medicine has no shortage of research that suggests it to be effective. Almost invariably, however, one finds – when looking a bit more carefully at such investigations – that the positive conclusions are not warranted by the data. Here is an excellent, recent example: 

This new study, authored by two Turkish nurses, was an RCT where the patients […]

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

An Interview with Biblenauts’ Tyler Lolong

by @TakeThatDarwin

Hey, Tyler. Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions about Biblenauts, which gives me an excuse to talk about Biblenauts on my Twitter account, which I enjoy doing.

For the past year and change, you’ve written and drawn Biblenauts, a Monday-Wednesday-Friday webcomic that explores the Old Testament. Is this your first webcomic? How do you stick to your schedule so — ah ha ha — religiously? And how did you decide that a webcomic was the best means of exploring the Bible in this way?…

Continue reading → An Interview with Biblenauts’ Tyler Lolong

The "Take This" blog is written by a collective of skeptics hunting down misleading, uninformed and sometimes outright insane claims on social media.

Are nonsense ‘cures’ for cancer a ‘soft target’?

I confess to wondering whether Edzard Ernst’s recent increased activity at The Spectator website has arisen due to the latter’s cynical recognition (following the lengthy reaction to Tarek Arab’s naïve, quackery-appeasing dreck) of his sure-fire clickbait potential. Certainly, a run of homeopathy-centric articles this month (May 2016) provoked some of the harpies who descend on these things in order to promote their cult to potential converts. And, inevitably, this draws reaction from those of a sceptical bent.

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