MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

On a good day, I get several emails from complete strangers; some are complimentary, others are critical, and others again are just strange. Few are stranger than the exchange I am about to disclose.

The author asked me twice to treat his/her emails with ‘trust and confidence’; after the second email, I nevertheless felt that I should not respect this wish but needed to share this brief exchange with my readers. I have, however, erased all the details that would allow an identification of the author.

 

INITIAL EMAIL of 18/7/2016

I am responding to you latest post regarding “Informed Consent”. I have decided to do so because my instincts suggest that we may in fact have an empathy in our individual objective to establish an evidence base for complementary medicine. However, I do not have any empathy with many of the contributors to your blog and especially with those that have a desire to “grind homeopathic vets and feed them to the pigs” Given that you moderate the site, I am surprised that you allowed such a post.

As you are aware, I obtained a copy of your book “A Scientist in Wonderland” which I have read with considerable interest and as you know, I have posted extracts on your blog. In this respect I make the following observations:

1. Your early experiences of homeopathy were positive and on this basis I find great difficulty in accepting that you are as anti-homeopathy as you publically state. From my own experience, this is not logical.

2. I am of the opinion that the sad loss of your Hungarian friend and colleague is an influencing factor, particularly as you avoided any mention of him receiving any form of alternative medicine.

3. I can empathise with your frustration at the lack of support from the alternative medicine community, as I have experienced this in my own efforts.

4. I am inclined to accept the possibility that you are using the blog to deliberately provoke the homeopathic community into action from a long standing but understandable state of complacency. (If you know that something works, then why is there a need to prove it).

5. I find difficulty to believe that you are at home surrounded by such closed minded individuals, because, historically, you have always moved on from such situations. However, I am not sure that you know how you can escape from the trap that you now find yourself in. Is this what you want for the rest of your life?

For a variety of reasons, I embarked on this … venture as a means of finding evidence that these therapies do work and have found that the homeopathy community is somewhat less than supportive in my efforts, so I do understand your potential frustration.

I appreciate that my observations are assumption based and may be wishful thinking on my part; however, if my assumptions have validity, please contact me, otherwise ignore this message.

If you do choose to pursue this conversation, then it must take place under the strict condition of TRUST & CONFIDENCE.

 

MY REPLY of 18/7/2016

thank you for your email. you say you read my memoir; may I suggest you read it again – because the answers to your questions seem to be all in there. your assumptions about me are quite wrong, and I think my book explains why.

best regards
e ernst

 

THE RESPONSE of 21/7/2016

In Britain we have a saying “Don’t mention the war when speaking to a German”, so out of respect I refrained from mentioning the Nazi regime in my last message; however, as you have made an implied reference to it, I will now comment.

I have some six years of close working experience with a large German organisation … so that I am fully aware of the significant differences between the German and British mentality and approach to life. I am therefore able to appreciate many of the difficulties that you will have encountered when arriving in this country to take up the Exeter post, which by definition was designed to advise the UK alternative therapy community how to do things properly!

The Anglo/Germanic axis is a significant challenge under normal circumstances but for you to arrive in this country and make direct comparisons between alternative medicine and the Third Reich in a country that spearheaded the fight against the Nazi’s at a cost of nearly half a million British lives was a fatal mistake on your part.

Having spent some forty years in and around the alternative health world here in Britain, India and the USA I don’t think your view point can be further from the truth. What amazes me is that you do not moderate Nazi type comments such as “grinding homeopaths and feeding them to pigs” from your blog which is a complete contradiction to your reasoning.

Your blog purports to provide cautionary advice to would be patients choosing alternative health options but your band of followers seem to have no understanding whatsoever as to the importance of respect for others. They seem to believe that from the offset, respect has to be earned, which implies judgement. Any doctor or therapist that starts from this view point when dealing with a patient, should not be treating patients at all. Empathy and respect are key factors in the healing process and those that automatically practice this naturally operate under and accept a moral code of ethics which forms part of all training within the main alternative treatments. The fundamental ethic behind all medicine is “first do no harm”. How can this be achieved if you do not respect the patient, regardless of his views?

At a personal level, I am concerned that your early experiences have distorted your views and unfortunately you have managed to alienate yourself from the very form of healthcare that would best resolve these issues without the need for suppressive drugs.

I suggest that you re-read your book and honestly ask yourself if the “peaceful vantage point” referred to on page 170, in any way measures up to the “peaceful, happy time” you mention on page 36.

I again extend my offer of an exploratory conversation in an atmosphere of “trust and confidence”.

END OF QUOTE

I do not feel like adding any comments just now… perhaps just a few questions:

How is it possible that someone who has obviously read quite a bit of what I have published misunderstands so much of it? Deluded? Demented? Or worse?

48 Responses to “Don’t mention the war when speaking to a German”

  • Another quite stunning misunderstanding of the word ‘respect’.
    And once again – the belief that homeopaths have that their opponents, not they, are the ones with closed minds could be held only by people deluded enough to believe in homeopathy in the first place.

  • Well, you shouldn’t have mentioned the –

    Oh wait. You didn’t.

    Unless you did it in a really, really, REALLY tiny font…

    • I read and reread that terse reply wondering how I could be missing the veiled mention of the war. A microdot as period, perhaps? Thank you Pat Harkin, for reassuring me I was not alone in missing this allusion!

  • Sounds like he’s been taking something mind-altering in a sufficient concentration to disqualify it from being homeopathy.

  • ” They seem to believe that from the offset, respect has to be earned”

    Respect has to be earned. What a novel idea!

    The rest of the email leaves me, quite uncharacteristically, speechless.

    • Surely there is a difference between respecting a person and respecting a person’s ideas.

      It strikes me that the former is a good idea until good reason has been found to stop; whereas the latter is a bad idea unless good reason has been found to do so.

      Of course, there are plenty of people who believe that there is no reason good enough to stop one respecting another person, and I respect that. It is, after all, just a belief.

      • “Of course, there are plenty of people who believe that there is no reason good enough to stop one respecting another person, and I respect that. It is, after all, just a belief.”

        Respect would seem to be a quality to which you ascribe little value. Is the sexual abuse of a child not good enough reason to terminate respect for the abuser? Is the wanton murderer of dozens in a Tampa nightclub worthy of respect? And you ‘respect’ the ‘belief’ that no reasons justify withholding respect? Beliefs by definition are not grounded in evidence, they are ultimately capricious. Sorting through beliefs in ghosts, angry gods, vitalism and so forth, I find nothing, not a single thing, worthy of respect.

        Of course you needn’t respect my perspective; after all it isn’t a belief. It is a result of an exercise of reason.

  • I think that he/she should have simply asked why Edzard has allowed the hateful comment “grinding homeopaths and feeding them to pigs” to remain on his blog? What does it take to get moderated on this blog Edzard?

    • Does anyone, even the simplest-minded, slack-jawed rube believe that the ‘grind and feed to pigs’ comment was intended to be taken literally? No? Then why would that comment be moderated?

    • EUnicorn said:

      I think that he/she should have simply asked why Edzard has allowed the hateful comment “grinding homeopaths and feeding them to pigs” to remain on his blog?

      No, the first question to ask is whether that comment does actually appear on this website? The answer to that would appear to be, no, it does not appear anywhere, so your question is completely redundant.

      • Maybe it is best to let the police decide on whether the paragraph incites hatred.

      • Actually it was modestly proposed by myself here:

        edzardernst. com/2016/07/homeopathy-as-a-way-of-reducing-antibiotic-use-in-livestock/#comment-79732

        And it is a most telling tactic that Prof Ernst’s correspondant (Colin, perchance?), someone who pathologically treats the lives of humans and other animals as their personal liability-free playthings and has absolutely zero compunction about sending them to their graves[1] in greater service to his quasi-religious cult, would get a shrieking attack of the vapors because – Omigosh! – somebody on the internets uses harsh language and hyperbole (and ideally a very large hammer too) to drive his point home.

        Whether as a function of their narcissism or their sadism, the “Poland Invades Germany” persecution card has always been the first defense of cowards and bullies in order to excuse and justify their own appalling conduct… as those who’ve been observing the hard-/far-/alt-right apologists working their two-faced amoral little asses off to justify the horrific racist twitterstorm[2] unleashed by one of their chiefs against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones just this week.

        When someone is lying at a level that actively harms other people, whether or not he believe in those lies himself is largely moot. If he cannot or will not hold himself accountable, then society needs to do it for him, before he defrauds, injures, or kills again[3]. (Warning: linked article contains trigger phrases that may cause ethical people to punch nearby homeopaths straight through a wall. Just so you know.)


        “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” — Steven Weinberg

        [1] http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

        [2] http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/07/twitter-account-verification-abuse-free-milo

        [3] http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2011/08/jeremy-sherr-daktari-wa-mchawi-na-dawa-yake-mbaya.html

        • Very Swiftian. And it was a rather specific comment, not ‘all homeopaths’. I’m still not sure why google failed to find it for me, but there you go. Thanks!

  • I doubt if the police would do much Edzard. They might though advise you to remove the comment. Or they might not. Worth bringing this to their attention anyway so as to help define what is acceptable.

    • you may have missed the point: the comment has never been made on this blog!!! [at least I could not find it]

    • EUnicorn said:

      I doubt if the police would do much Edzard. They might though advise you to remove the comment. Or they might not. Worth bringing this to their attention anyway so as to help define what is acceptable.

      You seem to have reading or comprehension difficulties. There is no such comment.

      • Won’t stop it going into the folklore though, as with the vitriolic comments Doc ‘Trust Me I’m Not A Doc’ Dale claimed he’d seen, but was not able to help me track down.

  • Here’s a better idea: how about we just grind up everyone who has “VetFFHom” after their names and use them as pigfood instead?

    http://edzardernst.com/2016/07/homeopathy-as-a-way-of-reducing-antibiotic-use-in-livestock/#comments

    14th July 17.50 comment by ‘has’

    Very intersting to see some of the responses. I might be odd, slack jawed and have trouble with reading according to comments made on your blog. However the above might imply to some that ‘has’ is inciting hatred against veterinary homeopaths. Or are you trying to spin that VetFFHom refers to some other group? Some well known homeopathic Vets have the title VetFFHom. Google it Edzard. Are you ok with having this comment on your blog Edzard? Or do you think that this crosses the line?

    • However the above might imply to some that ‘has’ is inciting hatred against veterinary homeopaths

      Actually I believe it proves beyond all remaining doubt that you are indeed every bit as odd, slack-jawed, and reading impaired as we already think you are. Not to mention a dissembling coward who plays the persecution card as if that in any way would or should justify or excuse your own contemptible behavior; even if you were being persecuted, which you’re not.

      Oh, and yes, for the record I certainly do despise people who perpetrate animal and human cruelty; doubly so when they do so in the name of “medical care”. As should any person who puts others’ wellbeing before their own psychophantic religion: such behavior is no more tolerable or forgivable for being the product of willful self-delusion than plain old malice; in some ways even worse. At least an honest crook knows when the jig is up and clears the hell out of town. That you special-plead for exception and exemption even as you continue perpetrating injury and harm speaks volumes as to the sort of people that you and your ilk really are.

      So, funny how you should shriek so pathetically at obvious hyperbole after mendaciously lifting it out of context, while conveniently overlooking the serious suggestion that homeo frauds and abusers deserve an extended stay in jail. You wouldn’t be deliberately trying to misdirect people’s attention, now, would you?

      • My issue ‘has’ was simply whether you intended harm to veterinary homeopaths. Threats sometimes are carried out. It seems that you have now backtracked about your hate threats. That might have saved us all some trouble. Well done.

        • I concur:
          “Actually I believe it proves beyond all remaining doubt that you are indeed every bit as odd, slack-jawed, and reading impaired as we already think you are. Not to mention a dissembling coward who plays the persecution card as if that in any way would or should justify or excuse your own contemptible behavior; even if you were being persecuted, which you’re not.”

          • Dear Frank,
            Please move in to the present. visit
            http://www.report-it.org.uk/reporting_internet_hate_crime

            Note under other offences:
            ‘The content of a website can also be illegal when it threatens or harasses a person or a group of people.’

            That ‘group of people’ could be homeopaths or sceptics. If someone decided to write about ‘grinding up sceptics and feeding them to pigs’ then that group could be sceptics.
            Now call the law slack jawed , odd or what you like . You and I both have to abide by it. If you dont lke the law then tough.

          • “Dear” EUnicorn,
            I am in the present, both temporally, in sentiment and in consciousness, and, in saying that, I am also mature enough to understand there are figures of speech which can be a simile or metaphor and which represent speech and speech only.

            There are those, however, who will jump at shadows; those social-justice-warriors who will manufacture offence, even for others; those whose position is so weak they need to resort to any flimsy and implausible reason to deflect examination of their views; and those who are simply aresholes. I don’t know in which to place you but, at this point, it looks as though you fit all groups.

            This;
            “My issue ‘has’ was simply whether you intended harm to veterinary homeopaths. Threats sometimes are carried out. It seems that you have now backtracked about your hate threats. That might have saved us all some trouble. Well done.”
            is pure nonsense. The point ‘has’ was illustrating is that grinding up homeopaths and feeding THEM to pigs is as effective as feeding the pigs homeopathic water; both are useless at effecting a cure of anything. A sane, rational and reasonable person, with half an understanding of English, could see that. You, however, are none of those things. The legislation is to protect people from hate-speech, not to be used as a weapon by loons with no scruples.

            If you want to tilt at windmills, go draw your longbow elsewhere.

          • Good anger. Although misunderstanding of ’tilt’.

          • “Although misunderstanding of ’tilt’.”

            Just for you Barry; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilting_at_windmills.

          • It’s where we get ‘running at full tilt’.
            The anger was admirable though, even if EE’s ‘politeness’ rule was shattered at the end.
            But then-having read yesterday the ‘Doctor blows whistle on chemo’ rubbish that is currently infecting the Internet, and the comments of well-meaning but utterly gullible people who are suckered by it – I think a little righteous anger is perfectly understandable. I always wondered if claims that some Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere had their ‘feelings hurt’ by criticism of their religion were deliberate,patronising mistranslations. Same thing with reports of heterosexual married opponents of gay marriage having their feelings ‘hurt’. But nope – many altmeds really are that sensitive. Let’s be generally polite as far as possible, by all means. But it does seem that for some altmeds, the cold brisk shower of being told to ‘bugger off’ is occasionally necessary.

          • Frank Collins: “The legislation is to protect people from hate-speech, not to be used as a weapon by loons with no scruples.”

            As I noted previously, EUnicorn’s tactic for avoiding criticism is exactly the same one as used by the racist far-right in the US when called on their ongoing abuse of Leslie Jones. While it certainly doesn’t for one instant fool anyone who doesn’t already choose to fool himself, it is effective in helping to dilute and obscure the real abuse beneath a vast swamp of mendacious misdirection and bullshit. Downplaying and ignoring true acts of abuse is itself willful abuse, perpetrated upon the victim right at the moment she is utterly vulnerable and most urgently in need of support. And Jones is only one case; far from the worst or least able to defend herself. Take, for example, all those now-grown children molested over decades by that monster Saville while everyone around him, the police, and society, shunned and ignored their suffering for their own self-interest. Saville was a bestial sadist, a deviant psychopath as vile and exploitative as ever walked this Earth; but what was all these “good people’s” excuse for their casual aid and abetment?

            As Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” AltMed would happily legislate it. But while those who perpetrate pseudomedical abuse, racist abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse upon animals, adults, and children may vary greatly in motives, the outcomes of their acts are distinct only in degrees. Those who would carve out special inviolable exceptions for their own quasi-religious abuse of others should think long and hard what their determination to put their beliefs before people says about them as human beings; and of what doors their doing so unlocks to the even worse abusers behind them.

            Because, dearest EUnicorn et al, if that line you would draw in the sand is always behind you, you are already facing the wrong way.

          • @ Barrie Lee ‘Wellness’Thorpe on Tuesday 26 July 2016 at 13:55

            “It’s where we get ‘running at full tilt’.”

            Errr, no, they are separate and distinct expressions. While both have roots in “tilting”, as in jousting, they mean different things.

        • I know Prof Ernst asks that we not be rude to other commenters, but I must beg his extreme indulgence on this one occasion just so we’re absolutely clear here:

          @EUnicorn: You are an unmitigated nob.

          I have not “backtracked” one iota. If anything, the outrage and loathing of my original post towards these corrupt, incompetent, self-deluding vetmed quacks has gone up a notch, thanks to your pathetically childish smear work trying to excuse their vile animal cruelty because their critics’ harsh language is so much worse.

          So yeah, how about you do go crying to your local police desk and tell them someone was mean to you on the internet, and show them that original post 100% unedited and unabriged in full context of Dr Ernst’s article and comments? They’ll take one look, beat you soundly with a copy of Jon Swift, and throw you out their house too, because they have more than enough real crimes of hate and violence to be dealing with right now; and regardless of whether you’re a mendacious little shit or really are that fucking stupid, either way it is you and those just like you who are the problem, not the solution.

          Blood’s on your hands, not mine, animal abuser.

          • Please get some help ‘has’.

          • It isn’t ‘has’ who needs help, EUnuchorn.

          • EUnicorn,

            You seem to be in dire need of booking a course of my Pink Unicorn Therapy, which is scientifically proven to be more efficacious than homeopathy. NB: Its efficacy is proven only for the species Homo sapiens, so I offer no warranty for its efficacy on an EUnicorn.

          • Please take your attack of the vapors elsewhere, ‘EUnicorn’. You’re an embarrassment to ethics and intellect.

  • Complaints will be made Frank if people like you cross the line. The Police would decide on what if any action to take in the event of a complaint – Watch current developments regarding hate comments on the internet very carefully Frank. If I were you I would stick to name calling abuse like ‘insane’, ‘unreasonable’, ‘odd,’ ‘no understanding of English’, ‘deluded’. Threaten me or any group of people though with hate and I and hopefully many others will now complain to the Police who may not interpret ‘grinding up and feeding to pigs’ in the light hearted way you do.

    • @ EUnicorn on Tuesday 26 July 2016 at 12:04

      As I said; “The legislation is to protect people from hate-speech, not to be used as a weapon by loons with no scruples.”

      Do your worst and you will be seen for the pathetic, deluded loon you are. I don’t “hate” you or wish you harm, however, I will not be cowered by by some nutbag whose only fallback is threats, empty threats at that. (A not-so-subtle clue about the state of someone’s mind is the not-so-subtle use of their name repeatedly in a threatening manner.)

      “If I were you I would stick to name calling abuse like ‘insane’, ‘unreasonable’, ‘odd,’ ‘no understanding of English’, ‘deluded’.” Thanks for the advice.

    • “Threaten me or any group of people though with hate and I and hopefully many others will now complain to the Police who may not interpret ‘grinding up and feeding to pigs’ in the light hearted (sic) way you do.”

      Please do run to the police, EUnuchorn. You’ll have to find a particularly dim policeman though. I’d start with the horse stables if I were you. A policeman so inept that his superiors find him best suited to managing horse manure is just what you need. As to the others … you’ll be the gift that keeps on giving, a durable joke in the on-call room.

  • Frank said.
    ‘I don’t “hate” you or wish you harm’- Thank you Frank, that is good to know. I don’t hate you or wish you harm either.

    • You are weird. The only person here in need of help is you.

      I would also like to say I admire the prof for not censoring posts. That way, we all get to see the postings of some in their full, inglorious lunacy.

  • By the way – the ‘anti-robot’ maths test I had to complete in order to post my previous comment was already filled in for me. Thank goodness. I’d completely forgotten what you had to add to 8 in order to get 10.

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