MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Getting good and experienced lecturers for courses is not easy. Having someone who has done more research than most working in the field and who is internationally known, might therefore be a thrill for students and an image-boosting experience of colleges. In the true Christmas spirit, I am today making the offer of being of assistance to the many struggling educational institutions of alternative medicine .

A few days ago, I tweeted about my willingness to give free lectures to homeopathic colleges (so far without response). Having thought about it a bit, I would now like to extend this offer. I would be happy to give a free lecture to the students of any educational institution of alternative medicine. I suggest to

  • do a general lecture on the clinical evidence of the 4 major types of alternative medicine (acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy) or
  • give a more specific lecture with in-depth analyses of any given alternative therapy.

I imagine that most of the institutions in question might be a bit anxious about such an idea, but there is no need to worry: I guarantee that everything I say will be strictly and transparently evidence-based. I will disclose my sources and am willing to make my presentation available to students so that they can read up the finer details about the evidence later at home. In other words, I will do my very best to only transmit the truth about the subject at hand.

Nobody wants to hire a lecturer without having at least a rough outline of what he will be talking about – fair enough! Here I present a short summary of the lecture as I envisage it:

  • I will start by providing a background about myself, my qualifications and my experience in researching and lecturing on the matter at hand.
  • This will be followed by a background on the therapies in question, their history, current use etc.
  • Next I would elaborate on the main assumptions of the therapies in question and on their biological plausibility.
  • This will be followed by a review of the claims made for the therapies in question.
  • The main section of my lecture would be to review the clinical evidence regarding the efficacy of therapies in question. In doing this, I will not cherry-pick my evidence but rely, whenever possible, on authoritative systematic reviews, preferably those from the Cochrane Collaboration.
  • This, of course, needs to be supplemented by a review of safety issues.
  • If wanted, I could also say a few words about the importance of the placebo effect.
  • I also suggest to discuss some of the most pertinent ethical issues.
  • Finally, I would hope to arrive at a few clear conclusions.

You see, all is entirely up to scratch!

Perhaps you have some doubts about my abilities to lecture? I can assure you, I have done this sort of thing all my life, I have been a professor at three different universities, and I will probably manage a lecture to your students.

A final issue might be the costs involved. As I said, I would charge neither for the preparation (this can take several days depending on the exact topic), nor for the lecture itself. All I would hope for is that you refund my travel (and, if necessary over-night) expenses. And please note: this is  time-limited: approaches will be accepted until 1 January 2015 for lectures any time during 2015.

I can assure you, this is a generous offer  that you ought to consider seriously – unless, of course, you do not want your students to learn the truth!

(In which case, one would need to wonder why not)

38 Responses to My offer to educational institutions of alternative medicine

  • Why don’t you extend your offer to any “educational institution of medicine”?

    According to BMJ only 11% of ALL treatments (conventional and alternative) carries sufficient evidence of efficiency.

    • I herewith do [but they have little interest in teaching alt med in my experience]

      • Do not be so sure. It is a part of the curriculum to know about alternative medicine at many universities.
        And you could add one of two subjects from the conventional side like anti depressants or statins to make your offer even more interesting.

        • 1) well, I can be quite sure after working in unis for ~40 years.
          2) I don’t give lectures on subjects outside my area of expertise.

    • L.H. Olavius said:

      According to BMJ only 11% of ALL treatments (conventional and alternative) carries sufficient evidence of efficiency.

      Oh? Where does it say that?

      • He’s referring to BMJ’s Handbook of Clinical Evidence, which has been abused by CAM supporters time and time again. I’ve written about it before in a comment on SBM, so I’ll just reproduce (part of) that comment here:

        “This handbook (which is regretfully behind a paywall) has been in existence for about 15 years and contains information about the effectiveness of some 3.000 treatments as reported in (mostly) RCTs. The 2012 edition concluded that of these treatments:

        – 11% was beneficial;
        – 23% was likely to be beneficial;
        – 7% was a trade-off between benefits and harms;
        – 6% was unlikely to be beneficial;
        – 3% was likely to be ineffective or harmful;
        – 50% was of unknown effectiveness.

        Supporters of CAM frequently use these figures to claim that only 11% of conventional medicine is evidence-based, and even that the rest is quackery. Alternatively, they claim that only 11% of all regular medication is proven to be effective (they narrow “treatments” down to “medication”; but then again, these people believe that regular doctors take pleasure in prescribing antibiotics and other ‘poisons’ all day). However, they are missing a few important points:

        – The Handbook is not all about conventional medicine [at least L.H. Olavius admits that]. In fact it also includes quite a few CAM-treatments, such as acupuncture for various conditions. Here’s what BMJ itself says:

        “‘Unknown effectiveness’ is perhaps a hard categorisation to explain. Included within it are many treatments that come under the description of complementary medicine (e.g., acupuncture for low back pain and echinacea for the common cold), but also many psychological, surgical, and medical interventions, such as CBT for depression in children, thermal balloon ablation for fibroids, and corticosteroids for wheezing in infants.”

        It is, of course, notoriously difficult to prove in an RCT whether surgically removing a person’s inflamed appendix is in fact ‘effective’ and therefore ‘evidence-based’. But no-one will doubt it is.

        – The Handbook is only about the treatments that are available. In fact, again BMJ explicitly states that:

        “our categorisation of the effectiveness of treatments does not identify how often evidence-based and non-evidence-based treatments are used in practise. We only highlight how evidence based treatments are for certain indications, based on randomised controlled trials.”

        If we look at how often evidence-based treatments are used in practice, we can agree with Ben Goldacre (Bad Science) that, depending on specialty, between 50 and 80% of all interventions are evidence-based. It could and should be higher, of course, and it probably would have been higher if we hadn’t been forced to use so much of our time fighting CAM-religion.”

        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/false-dilemma-of-david-katz/
        http://www.cochrane.org/faq/it-estimated-only-10-35-medical-care-based-rcts-what-information-based

        • and in case you don’t want to take Goldacre’s word, here is a fully referenced article on the fact that most treatments actually used in conventional clinical practice are evidence-based http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15160706

          • Thank you for providing that article with further links inside and disregarding the fact that in an earlier reply you stated you dont lecture outside your expertise.

            If we take the first reference (Gill et al) it is unclear – to me at least – in what BMJ category the 81% falls under. The same goes for the rest of the references, i.e. it is unclear what constitutes as evidence. Is it from the 11% group, or the 34% (11+23) group or the 41% group (11+23+7). Furthermore, it is interesting the relatively low number of patients involved and the relatively low percentages of RCTs. This is often the critique raised towards CAM evidence.

            Then it is not clear – again to me at least – how you or Imre/Ramay (I cannot access that article) picked your references in order to avoid bias, i.e. not only picked articles with a “positive” outcome.

            Thus, my point still stands – out of 3000 interventions investigated – only 11% carries sufficient evidence. You say that the 75% of all treatments fall within the 11% group. Counting the number of prescriptions for anti depressants, statins, etc., which is clearly out of that 11% group I very much doubt this.

          • you may have doubts – but do you have evidence?

          • Ah. I see you’ve shifted your position.

        • Laurens said:

          He’s referring to BMJ’s Handbook of Clinical Evidence, which has been abused by CAM supporters time and time again.

          Oh, I knew that – just wanted L.H. Olavius to confirm it before I showed him the error of his ways… 😉 But thanks for saving me the time!

        • if I remember correctly, the paper in question actually states that it cannot be interpreted the way quacks interpret it, and says why..

  • slight typo here. should

    Perhaps you have some doubts about my abilities to lecture? I can assure you, I have done this sort of thing all my life, I have been a professor at there different universities, and I will probably manage a lecture to your students.

    say

    Perhaps you have some doubts about my abilities to lecture? I can assure you, I have done this sort of thing all my life, I have been a professor at three different universities, and I will probably manage a lecture to your students.

    Great offer, but I don’t imagine you expect to be inundated.

    Alistair

  • A Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic just explained in numerous tweets to me that at their college they do not need me because they cover all my points. GOOD FOR THEM!

  • Dear Professor Ernst

    We at the Anglo European College of Chiropractic (AECC) would be delighted for you to come down and discuss your views concerning specifically Chiropractic , as we feel we do not have the expertise or the cultural authority to speak for other professions in a more generic talk. We can certainly cover your travelling expenses and accommodation while down here in beautiful Bournemouth and would love to take you out for a meal if you can spare the time while you are with us. I consider your offer to be kind and generous and, as long as we might have some opportunity to debate following the lecture, as I’m sure our students will be wanting to ask questions, then we would very much welcome you here at the AECC. For our part we can promise you a respectful and thoughtful, if I suspect robust, session which we will conduct with the utmost courtesy, academic rigour and professionalism concerning the intellectual conduct that this event deserves. Please contact me directly using my email (dnewell@aecc.ac.uk) and we can start to arrange a date which might be convenient to us both. Kindest regards. Dave Newell

    • as you know, I have lectured at your institution once before. but I will come again, if we can agree on a time – I will send you an email, as you suggested.

  • ps……I would just like to add that we do not consider chiropractic care to be an alternative to medicine here at the AECC.

    I think someone once rightly said that alternative medicine that has evidence to show its works is just called medicine. We would be more comfortable with complimentary medicine I suspect as we see ourselves working as much as we can within the health care environment with other health care providers to provide the best care available for our patients including the patients families and where possible removing barriers to returning to the work place (I’m sure you are aware of Kim Burtons’ extensive work in this area) Not to pre-empt the debate, but I feel that there is indeed evidence that supports the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the type of MSK chiropractic management that many chiropractors deliver for their MSK patient. But clearly that will be the subject, no doubt, of your talk…….KR.. Dave Newell

    • I’m happy to hear you offer complImentary medicine. I’d take you up on that if I were in need of useless treatments. Tarting up nonsense as complEmentary “medicine” doesn’t change anything.

      • Dear Irene

        How might you define Medicine. Id be interested to know. And thank you for your clearly thought through response.

      • Irene……I see you still haven’t given me a definition of medicine?….I can be very patient? Maybe you could outline exactly what it is about chiropractic and osteopathic approaches to care that demand they are CAM and not orthodox medicine………

  • several people have asked me to keep them up-dated with the outcome of my offer.
    this is what has happened so far:
    1) the ANGLO-EUROPEAN COLLEGE OF CHIROPRACTIC asked me to give a lecture. I agreed and they wanted to make a panel discussion of it. I said I would bring my friend Simon Singh to sit on the panel and that I would want the public to be allowed to attend. they rejected both of these suggestions and we have now agreed on a straight forward lecture for students only entitled CHIROPRACTIC: FALLACIES AND FACTS. It is scheduled for 14 January 2015.
    2) a college of osteopathy also contacted me. because of the holidays, no agreement has yet been reached.
    3) a nationwide institution of higher learning from Germany contacted me. they are currently trying to arrange a small lecture tour for 2015.
    THESE RESULTS ARE ENCOURAGING!!!
    sadly they are also disappointing – there are 1000s of alt med institutions that do not seem to be interested in their student learning the truth about alt med. perhaps they even fell threatened by this prospect?
    One might think that they did not know about my offer – but many must have heard about it [the post was tweeted over 150 times]. others might say that, with Christmas and all that, the time limit was too tight.
    GOOD POINT!
    I have now decided to extend my offer for another two weeks – so, if you want to take advantage of it, act soon.

    • Edzard said:

      sadly they are also disappointing – there are 1000s of alt med institutions that do not seem to be interested in their student learning the truth about alt med.

      You sound surprised…

    • That’s a bit disingenuous Edzard…..we were fine with Simon being on a panel but you wanted him to give half of your lecture. We felt this was not what you originally offered, and that revisiting the BCA legal case as you suggested was something that we and our students already knew about and would be not as useful. It was yourself Edzard who said that without this arrangement you would not do a panel discussion. The panel discussion was initially my preferred option as it would have allowed a broader exploration of the content of your lecture from experts from both sides.

      Concerning the public, we felt we were unable to invite the outside participants due to limited facilities and a potentially huge interest from the profession and our students……I have the e mails if you would like me to put the here….just for the record?

      • yes, please – the full and unabbreviated exchange.

        • Here are the e mails. My take on this was that you would only do a panel format if Simon was to give 50& of your lecture on the BCA libel case which we felt was of a purely now, historical nature. I guess others can judge. I don’t want to generate further misunderstanding and potential animosity over this issue, but that’s how I feel the conversation went. If you are willing now to have a panel discussion post a lecture by ONLY yourself we would be happy to have Simon on a subsequent panel. But if you insist that Simon has to give 50% of your talk on the libel case in order to agree to a panel, we will forgo the panel and keep as it is. I suggest that time is rather short now and keeping the format agreed would be probably pragmatic.

          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 13:37
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          That sounds excellent Edzard…we are agreed

          So let me know the times and dates nearer the time. I suggested starting at 2pm on the afternoon of the 14th and run to 15.30 although I’m sure students will probably want to pick your brains more as they are a genuinely curious bunch. However, if you wish we can spirit you away…..

          Have a great Christmas, with the only things that really matter……. the love of family and company of good friends……and good whiskey of course :>)

          D

          Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FRCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research Anglo European College of Chiropractic E mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Tel: 01202 436207

          —–Original Message—–
          From: Ernst, Edzard [mailto:E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 13:39
          To: David Newell
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          THANKS DAVID
          in this case, I would prefer CHIROPRACTIC: FALLACIES AND FACTS I will try to cover all the topics you mention.
          what do you think?
          cheers
          edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          ________________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 13:34
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          Hi Edzard

          We feel that the students here would be interested in what you feel about chiropractic specifically. I think in my early e mail I asked that you present something specific to your views on our profession if that would be possible.

          Chiropractors provide a range of interventions for patients with MSK and it would be informative if you perhaps talked about how you see the place of this type of conservative care for MSK, the evidence for and against and your views as to where you see the major challenges to our profession as articulated often on your blogs.

          Of course you will almost certainly want to touch on the more alternative and vitalistic aspects of CAM as some in the chiropractic profession certainly have these views and an exploration of the fallacy of this approach would be helpful.

          Within something like this might also be a critique of the research or lack of as pertaining to what chiropractors do.

          Maybe a title such as ‘Does the chiropractic profession have a place in modern health care’………..and please forgive my presumption in suggesting a title, but something akin to this idea?

          Timing is fine Edzard

          D

          Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FRCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research Anglo European College of Chiropractic E mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Tel: 01202 436207

          —–Original Message—–
          From: Ernst, Edzard [mailto:E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 13:18
          To: David Newell
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          thanks David,
          that concept sounds [almost] fine to me – one thing that needs clarification is my question from yesterday WHICH MODALITIES PRECISELY?
          as you seem to want a lecture on CAM in general, I could give a talk where I go through some of the most important misconceptions in this area, while referring to a range of modalities. in the past, I found this method very useful. this lecture would then be entitled ‘CAM – FALLACIES AND FACTS’. I think that this approach would make it both interesting and stimulating for students; it would furthermore enable me to cover various modalities in one single lecture without having to change subjects constantly.
          I would speak for about 1 hour and take questions [only those directly related to the lecture] for half an hour. so the event would be in total 1.5 hours only.
          how does that suit you? please advise, as I would then prepare my talk over the holiday period.
          cheers
          edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          ________________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 12:53
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          Hi Edzard……

          OK, let’s do the 14th in the afternoon if that is the only date.

          It will be a lecture from you and some questions from the audience. Around about 2 hours in total. We will not officially record this, as you wished

          I would be very happy to take both you and your good wife out for a meal on the evening you are staying and we can suggest some good hotels and BnBs if you so wish.

          Please let us know when you will arrive and I can pick you up.

          My mobile is ——————– and we can fill in the details nearer the time and I very much look forward to you coming down.

          In the meantime I hope you have an excellent Christmas and New Year

          Kindest regards

          D

          Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FRCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research Anglo European College of Chiropractic E mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Tel: 01202 436207

          —–Original Message—–
          From: Ernst, Edzard [mailto:E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk]
          Sent: 18 December 2014 10:54
          To: David Newell
          Subject: RE: your talk at the AECC

          Hi David,
          my diary has been filling up fast in the last weeks. my best I can offer now is an afternoon lecture on 14 jan [you previously indicated that Wednesday afternoon would be fine]. I would probably come with my wife and stay over night in Bournemouth; we would, of course, do all the bookings ourselves.
          I hope this fits in your schedule as I hardly see other options in my diary [the 14th might be another one].
          regards
          edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          Twitter: http://twitter.com/EdzardErnst
          Blogs:
          http://edzardernst.com/
          ‘Pulse’ magazine: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/rss.asp?navcode=969
          The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/search?q=edzard+ernst&section=science
          BMJ http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=bmj+blog+edzard+ernst

          ________________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 17 December 2014 16:50
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Subject: Re: your talk at the AECC

          Hi Edzard

          We would like you to talk to your interpretation of the evidence supporting or otherwise the common modalities routinely used by chiropractors as health care providers if that’s OK or something along those lines.

          Would you accept an audio recording? The reason we are keen to do this is it provides an objective record of what was said to avoid any chance of others disputing and spinning the content, post the event. As you know there may be such individuals on both sides of the fence keen to do this and we would like to provide both ourselves and you a chance to refute any such misinterpretation if need be.

          We would not make this public if you did not. Given the passionate opinions inevitably generated by such a talk and the audience likely to attend, with much respect, we feel rather strongly about some objective record being taken for both your and our assurances of avoiding the problem outline above.

          Kindest regards

          D

          Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research AECC E mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Tel: 01202 436207

          > On 17 Dec 2014, at 16:33, Ernst, Edzard wrote:
          >
          > thanks
          > what do you want me to talk about?
          > I don’t think I accept to be filmed.
          > best regards
          > edzard
          >
          > **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**
          >
          > Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS
          > PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
          >
          > Twitter: http://twitter.com/EdzardErnst
          > Blogs:
          > http://edzardernst.com/
          > ‘Pulse’ magazine: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/rss.asp?navcode=969
          > The Guardian:
          > http://www.guardian.co.uk/search?q=edzard+ernst&section=science
          > BMJ http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=bmj+blog+edzard+ernst
          >
          > ________________________________________
          > From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          > Sent: 17 December 2014 16:20
          > To: Ernst, Edzard
          > Cc: Haymo Thiel
          > Subject: Re: your talk at the AECC
          >
          > Dear Professor Ernst
          >
          > I apologise for the delay. I have been out of the country working the
          > last few days and have not gotten around to following up on my e mails
          > as I would do normally
          >
          > Concerning your visit to us. We would really like you to come and give your lecture with some questions from the audience following your talk. We feel when visiting lecturers give talks that questions and answers would be entirely normal academic practice and hope that you will feel the same.
          >
          > So we would forgo the introduction by myself and just have your talk and some questions to yourself WITHOUT a panel.
          >
          > Given this format we feel that Simons presence would not be necessary and we respectfully suggest that it would be just your self at this time.
          >
          > Can I suggest the date of the 27th of January starting here at 6pm
          >
          > This would consist of a 45min lecture from yourself (or whatever time you feel you need up to a maximum of 1 hour) followed by 30min questions from the audience.
          >
          > We would video both your talk and the question and answers session and
          > of course would provide you with a copy of this
          >
          > I do hope this is satisfactory to you and look forward to your reply
          >
          > Kindest regards
          >
          > Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research AECC E
          > mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          > Tel: 01202 436207
          >
          > On 16 Dec 2014, at 15:25, Ernst, Edzard <E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk> wrote:
          >
          >
          > Hi David,
          >
          > I was wondering whether I will receive a response to my email of 9/12.
          >
          > Regards
          >
          > Edzard
          >
          >
          > **Please note my email address has changed to
          > E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**
          >
          > Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS
          > PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER
          >

          > On 10 Dec 2014, at 15:28, Ernst, Edzard <E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk> wrote:

          Hi David,
          My offer as published on my blog was that of a lecture to students. What you are proposing is a debate + recording + a position statement for chiropractic. If you want that format, I insist on Simon sharing the platform with me.
          Regards
          Edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          ________________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 09 December 2014 17:16
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Cc: Haymo Thiel
          Subject: Re: Your Talk here at the AECC

          Dear Edzard

          Having discussed this with colleagues here at the AECC and we do not feel that the issues pertinent to Simons’ case with the BCA is perhaps as contemporary as the content of the lecture you proposed to give. With all due respect to Simon and notwithstanding the importance of this case at the time we feel this issue has now past and would not be of interest to our audience at this time.

          Can I then suggest we revert to the following agenda and instead of a panel have a session for written questions to the chair from the audience at the end of your lecture.

          This would then take the form of

          1. 15min introduction and overview of how we see our profession and its place in health care 2. 45 min your lecture 3. 30 min Q and A session from the audience

          Can I suggest the following dates
          15,20 or 27th of January starting here at 6pm.

          Of course I can pick you up from Bournemouth station if you let me know you’re train times if indeed that is how you intend on coming down.

          Kindest regards

          D

          Sent from my iPhone

          On 8 Dec 2014, at 21:31, Ernst, Edzard <E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk> wrote:

          hi david,

          I will do the lecture together with simon singh. can we split out lecture time 50:50? he will talk about his libel case and I can lecture on whatever topic you want me to. bad days in jan are 12, 14, 19, 21-26, 29, 30.
          I look forward to your reply

          edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          ________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 05 December 2014 16:30
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Cc: Haymo Thiel
          Subject: RE: Your Talk here at the AECC

          Hi Edzard

          A January evening would be fine (6pm) although we would prefer late January (except the 28th ) if at all possible. However, if it made any difference we would be able to accommodate a Wednesday afternoon also…..just in case that helps. I will look at discussing some evening dates in January at college and get back to you asap.

          I think our venue here would make it very difficult to be open to the public as we have limited space and we have so much interest from chiropractic students and registered clinicians that we would find it impossible to accommodate a large public event. We took up your offer on the basis of knowing we had the capacity for the sort of student and clinician audience we were likely to have and unfortunately would have to restrict it to such an audience.

          I wonder if you might consider yourself and chosen colleague of yours engaging in a Question Time ‘type’ panel debate following your lecture, with some clinicians, myself and a neutral chairman as agreed by both of us.

          We feel that as an academic institution, debate and discussion would be a corner stone of our activity and we would very much like to field some questions from the audience in this manner so as to provide an opportunity for the audience to get views other than your own. We would film this and of course you would receive a full version of this film that you could distribute as you felt fit, as would we.

          So the evening might go along the lines of

          1. 15min Introduction and overview of how we see our profession and its place in health care

          2. 45 min Your lecture

          3. 45 min Panel answering questions form the audience

          We are looking forward to having you here and please feel free to contact me anytime

          Kindest regards

          D

          Dave Newell BSc, MSc, PhD, FCC (Hon) FEAC Director of Research Anglo European College of Chiropractic E mail: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Tel: 01202 436207

          From: Ernst, Edzard [mailto:E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk]
          Sent: 05 December 2014 14:54
          To: David Newell
          Subject: RE: Your Talk here at the AECC

          hi david,

          an evening lecture [6pm] in January would be fine. if possible, I would like it to be open to the public. please suggest a few dates that fit into your schedule.

          thanks

          edzard

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          ________________________________
          From: David Newell [DNewell@aecc.ac.uk]
          Sent: 02 December 2014 11:13
          To: Ernst, Edzard
          Cc: Haymo Thiel
          Subject: RE: Your Talk here at the AECC
          Hi Edzard (I hope you don’t mind me using your first name, please tell me if you prefer me not to)

          Thank you so much for your kind offer again……

          I guess we are coming up to the end of term now and the dreaded Christmas looms :>0…so next term which runs from mid-January until late April would be ideal if that suits your schedule.

          We would be happy for it to be during the day or in the evening. I guess because of extensive contact hours , some students would not be able to attend on some days and at some times during the day, but Wednesday afternoon is certainly a possibility, or of course an evening…maybe starting around 6pm.

          Ide like to have a chance to take you out afterward as well so I guess if in the evening a 6-7.30/8pm session seems reasonable if you felt that was long enough or not too long. That gives us time to go and get some calories after….

          Just let me know your thoughts on how you see it and I know we will be able to accommodate that somehow.

          Wonderful to be able to talk to you more directly after all this time…

          Kindest regards

          D

          Ps……………I have copied in our Principal here, Professor Haymo Thiel, to keep him in the loop

          Dave Newell BSc MSc PhD FRCC (Hon) FEAC
          Reader and Director of Research

          AECC
          13-15 Parkwood Road, Bournemouth,
          Dorset, BH5 2DF. United Kingdom

          Direct line Tel 44 (0)1202 436207
          Email: dnewell@aecc.ac.uk
          Web: http://www.aecc.ac.uk

          From: Ernst, Edzard [mailto:E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk]
          Sent: 02 December 2014 10:55
          To: David Newell
          Subject:

          thanks for inviting me to lecture – when were you thinking of hosting the event and what sort of event did you have in mind?

          regards

          e ernst

          **Please note my email address has changed to E.Ernst@exeter.ac.uk**

          Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.) EMERITUS PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

          • I THINK YOU INTERPRETED THIS NOT CORRECTLY.
            the crucial email from me said:
            “My offer as published on my blog was that of a lecture to students. What you are proposing is a debate + recording + a position statement for chiropractic. If you want that format, I insist on Simon sharing the platform with me.”
            I still stand by this offer and suggest that this is what we will do [without Simon who, as I happen to know is no longer free on that day anyway] – so please confine the event to students [I am not sure what you mean by the term ‘clinicians’ but I did never offer to lecture to graduated chiropractors, did I?]

    • Dear Edzard, if you do come to the AECC in Bournemouth and the dates align you would be most welcome to come and speak to Bournemouth Skeptics too. We would be happy with any format, a talk from yourself, or better still some sort of panel or debate with members of the AECC. It’s a shame the AECC don’t seem keen to host such an open public discussion. You’d be most welcome to bring your esteemed friend Simon along too. He has previously given a talk for us and both the talk and the man were brilliant. If you are interested drop me an email once you have dates confirmed with the AECC.

      Regards, Andy

  • Ps…for the record as well….thank you for coming to talk to us. We are looking forward to welcoming you at the AECC.

  • Ok Edzard. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on what depend there and let others judge. Looking forward to you coming to talk and us being able to ask some questions.

  • Professor Ernst wrote: “The ANGLO-EUROPEAN COLLEGE OF CHIROPRACTIC asked me to give a lecture. I agreed and they wanted to make a panel discussion of it. I said I would bring my friend Simon Singh to sit on the panel and that I would want the public to be allowed to attend. They rejected both of these suggestions and we have now agreed on a straight forward lecture for students only entitled CHIROPRACTIC: FALLACIES AND FACTS. It is scheduled for 14 January 2015.”

    Dave Newell wrote: “That’s a bit disingenuous Edzard…we were fine with Simon being on a panel but you wanted him to give half of your lecture. We felt this was not what you originally offered*, and that revisiting the BCA legal case as you suggested was something that we and our students already knew about and would be not as useful. It was yourself Edzard who said that without this arrangement you would not do a panel discussion. The panel discussion was initially my preferred option as it would have allowed a broader exploration of the content of your lecture from experts from both sides. Concerning the public, we felt we were unable to invite the outside participants due to limited facilities and a potentially huge interest from the profession and our students.”

    @ Dave Newell

    *Professor Ernst’s original offer was to give a lecture to students at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC).
    It was *you* who attempted to change the offer, i.e. in your email exchange you wrote: “I wonder if you might consider yourself and chosen colleague of yours engaging in a Question Time ‘type’ panel debate following your lecture, with some clinicians, myself and a neutral chairman as agreed by both of us.”

    Professor Ernst replied to your email enquiry with: “My offer as published on my blog was that of a lecture to students. What you are proposing is a debate + recording + a position statement for chiropractic. If you want that format, I insist on Simon sharing the platform with me.”

    You replied in an email: “Having discussed this with colleagues here at the AECC and we do not feel that the issues pertinent to Simons’ case with the BCA is perhaps as contemporary as the content of the lecture you proposed to give. With all due respect to Simon and notwithstanding the importance of this case at the time we feel this issue has now past and would not be of interest to our audience at this time.”

    You also emailed: “we would forgo the introduction by myself and just have your talk and some questions to yourself WITHOUT a panel…Given this format we feel that Simon’s presence would not be necessary and we respectfully suggest that it would be just yourself at this time.”

    Professor Ernst emailed back: “what do you want me to talk about? I don’t think I accept to be filmed.”

    You then emailed: “We would like you to talk to your interpretation of the evidence supporting or otherwise the common modalities routinely used by chiropractors as health care providers if that’s OK or something along those lines…It will be a lecture from you and some questions from the audience. Around about 2 hours in total. We will not officially record this, as you wished.”

    Professor Ernst emailed back: “I could give a talk where I go through some of the most important misconceptions in this area, while referring to a range of modalities. in the past, I found this method very useful. this lecture would then be entitled ‘CAM – FALLACIES AND FACTS’….I would speak for about 1 hour and take questions [only those directly related to the lecture] for half an hour. so the event would be in total 1.5 hours only.”

    You emailed a reply: “Maybe a title such as ‘Does the chiropractic profession have a place in modern health care’………..and please forgive my presumption in suggesting a title, but something akin to this idea?”

    To which Professor Ernst replied in an email: “in this case, I would prefer CHIROPRACTIC: FALLACIES AND FACTS I will try to cover all the topics you mention.”

    Then on Monday 05 January 2015 at 09:59 you wrote: “My take on this was that you would only do a panel format if Simon was to give 50% of your lecture on the BCA libel case which we felt was of a purely now, historical nature. I guess others can judge.”

    Well, I for one judge Professor Ernst’s response to you as being perfectly reasonable (as opposed to disingenuous as you claim) since it was you who attempted to include a panel debate with ‘other clinicians’ alongside his original offer to lecture to students only. Remember, you said “the panel discussion was initially my preferred option”. It was, therefore, not unreasonable for Professor Ernst to have put forward his preferred option of having Simon Singh present 50% of his lecture to students and then sit with him on the panel after it. In other words, why should the AECC call all the shots? Also, you wrote: “we do not feel that the issues pertinent to Simons’ case with the BCA is perhaps as contemporary as the content of the lecture you proposed to give. With all due respect to Simon and notwithstanding the importance of this case at the time we feel this issue has now past and would not be of interest to our audience at this time”. I completely disagree with that. Simon Singh’s case continues to be hugely relevant to the practice of chiropractic. Indeed, here is what he wrote recently:

    QUOTE
    “After the British Chiropractic Association lost its libel action against me, there seemed to be a genuine effort to create a coherent identity that was compatible with the best available evidence. However, the more radical elements in the profession seemed to kick up a fuss, and I suspect that we are back to square one with chiropractors making all sorts of weird claims and a regulator that is unable or unwilling to take control.”
    http://www.ebm-first.com/chiropractic/uk-chiropractic-issues/2084-pointing-the-bone-at-chiropractic-quackery-lessons-from-the-uk.html

    Surely it’s imperative that students understand the above? In other words, why shouldn’t the AECC students be allowed to hear that Simon Singh showed that there was no good evidence for paediatric chiropractic – and that despite that, the Royal College of Chiropractors has a Pregnancy and Paediatrics Faculty: http://rcc-uk.org/index.php/paediatrics-faculty/

    Shouldn’t chiropractic students be allowed to question the real value of what they’re spending their time and money on?

  • How did the lecture at the AECC go?

  • Dear Professor Ernst
    I would like to explore the possibility of arranging a lecture at the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic at the University of South Wales to both staff and students. The format employed at the AECC seems to have been very successful and well received. The Chiropractic Student’s Society is keen to go ahead with your presentation. We have about 370 students across the programme so I would hope for a decent turnout. If the offer is still in force please contact me on my email (david.byfield@southwales.ac.uk) and we can work towards a suitable date. I hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards
    David Byfield
    Head of Chiropractic
    University of South Wales

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