MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

THE FIRST WORLDWIDE MANIFESTO AGAINST PSEUDOSCIENCE

2750 signatories from 44 countries have signed it [I was number 11] and today is its official launch. I am delighted to present to you the full text of the English version:

 

Let’s be clear: pseudoscience kills. And they are being used with total impunity thanks to European
laws that protect them.
They kill thousands of people, with names and families. People such as Francesco Bonifaz, a 7-yearold boy whose doctor prescribed homeopathy instead of antibiotics. He died in Italy [1]. People like Mario Rodríguez, who was 21 years old and was told to use vitamins to treat his cancer. He died in Spain [2]. People like Jacqueline Alderslade, a 55-year-old woman whose homeopath told her to stop taking her asthma medication. She died in Ireland [3]. People like Cameron Ayres, a 6-month-old baby, whose parents did not want to give their child “scientific medicine”. He died in England [4]. People like Victoria Waymouth, a 57-year-old woman who was prescribed a homeopathic medication to treat her heart problem. She died in France [5]. People like Sofia Balyaykina, a 25-year-old woman, who had a cancer that was curable with chemotherapy but was recommended an “alternative treatment”, a mosquito bite treatment. She died in Russia [6]. People like Erling Møllehave, a 71-year-old man whose acupuncturist pierced and damaged his lung with a needle. He died in Denmark [7]. People like Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert, a 40-year-old-woman whose therapist recommended the German NewMedicine to treat her breast cancer. She died in Germany [8]. People like Sylvia Millecam, a 45-year-old woman whose New Age healer promised to cure her cancer. She died in the Netherlands [9].

European directive 2001/83/CE has made –and still makes— possible the daily deception of thousands of hundreds of European citizens [10]. Influential lobbyists have been given the opportunity to redefine what a medicine is, and now they are selling sugar to sick people and making them believe it can cure them or improve their health. This has caused deaths and will continue to do so until Europe admits an undeniable truth: scientific knowledge cannot yield to economic interests, especially when it means deceiving patients and violating their rights.

Europe is facing very serious problems regarding public health. Overmedication, multi-resistant bacteria and the financial issues of the public systems are already grave enough, without the additional problem of gurus, fake doctors or even qualified doctors claiming they can cure any disease by manipulating chakras, making people eat sugar or using “quantic frequencies”. Europe must not only stop the promotion of homeopathy but also actively fight to eradicate public health scams. More than 150 pseudo-therapies have been identified as being in use throughout Europe. Thousands of citizens lives depend on this being prevented. In fact, according to a recent research, 25.9 % of Europeans have used pseudo-therapies last year. In other words, 192 million patients have been deceived [11].

Some believe there is a conflict between freedom of choice for a treatment and the removal of pseudo-therapies, but this is not true. According to article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person has a right to medical care. Lying to patients in order to sell them useless products that could kill them breaks their right to correct information about their health. This way, even if a citizen has a right to refuse medical treatment when he or she is properly informed, it is also true that nobody has the right to lie to obtain profit at the expense of someone else’s life. Only in a world in which lying to a sick person would be considered ethical, could homeopathy —or any other pseudo-therapy— be allowed to continue to be sold to citizens.

Effective treatments being replaced by false ones is not the only danger of pseudo-therapies. Obvious delays in therapeutic care occur when a person gets false products instead of medication at the early stages of a disease. Many times, it is then too late by the time they get treated with proper medicine. Moreover, several of these practices have serious effects on their own and may cause damage or even death because of their side effects.

Many pseudo-therapists argue that “the other medicine” comes with side effects as well, which is indeed true. However, the difference resides in that pseudo-therapies cannot cure a disease or improve your health, and because of that patients assume risks in exchange of promises that are a scam, according to the full weight of the scientific evidence available. Lying to a sick person is not another type of medicine, it is simply lying to a sick person.
Every country has to face the pseudo-therapies issue in its own ways. Yet it is not acceptable that European laws protect the distortion of scientific facts so that thousands of citizens can be deceived or even lead to their deaths.

We, the signatories of this manifest, therefore declare that:

1. Scientific knowledge is incompatible with what pseudo-therapies postulate, as in the case
of homeopathy.
2. European laws that protect homeopathy are not acceptable in a scientific and technological
society that respects the right of the patients not to be deceived.
3. Homeopathy is the best known pseudo-therapy, but it is not the only one nor the most
dangerous one. Others, such as acupuncture, reiki, German New Medicine, iridology,
biomagnetism, orthomolecular therapy and many more, are gaining ground and causing
victims.
4. Measures must be taken to stop pseudo-therapies, since they are harmful and result in
thousands of people being adversely affected.
5. Europe needs to work towards creating legislation that will help stop this problem.

Europe being concerned about the misinformation phenomena but at the same time protecting one the most dangerous types of it, health misinformation, is just not coherent. This is why the people signing this manifesto urge the governments of European countries to end a problem in which the name of science is being used falsely and which has already cost too many lives.

 

[1] Homeopathy boy died of encephalitis. Redazione ANSA, 2017.
http://www.ansa.it/english/news/general_news/2017/05/29/homeopathy-boy-died-of-encephalitis-3_13e02493-
4e62-4787-9162-12d831121ef6.html
[2] Grieving dad sues over ‘cure cancer with vitamins’ therapy, The local. Emma Anderson, 2016.
https://www.thelocal.es/20160412/grieving-father-sues-naturopath-over-son-cure-cancer-vitamins-leukaemia
[3] Asthmatic ‘told to give up drugs’. The Irish News, 2001.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/asthmatic-told-to-give-up-drugs-26063764.html
[4] Homeopaths warn of further tragèdies. BBC News, 2000.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/702699.stm
[5] Alternative cure doctor suspended. BBC News, 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6255356.stm
[6] Футболист рассказал трагичную историю жены. Она умерла от рака в 25 лет. Sport24, 2018.
https://sport24.ru/news/football/2018-08-28-futbolist-rasskazal-tragichnuyu-istoriyu-zheny-ona-umerla-ot-raka-v-25-let
[7] Mand døde efter akupunktur – enke vil nu lægge sag an mod behandleren, TV2, 2018.
http://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2018-01-23-mand-doede-efter-akupunktur-enke-vil-nu-laegge-sag-an-modbehandleren

[8] The price of refusing science-based medical and surgical therapy in breast càncer, Science Blogs, 2012.
https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/08/30/the-price-of-refusing-science-based-medical-and-surgical-therapy-inbreast-cancer
[9] Psychic ‘misled actress to hopeless cancer death’. Expatica. 2004.
http://web.archive.org/web/20070208144309/http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_i
d=19&story_id=4821
[10] Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001.
https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/files/eudralex/vol1/dir_2001_83_consol_2012/dir_2001_83_cons_2012_en.pdf
[11] Use of complementary and alternative medicine in Europe: Health-related and sociodemographic
determinants. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. Laura M. Kemppainen et al. 2018.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5989251/

54 Responses to MANIFESTO AGAINST PSEUDOSCIENCES IN HEALTH

  • 2750? Is that all they can get for a worldwide petition that has been going around for at least 3.5 months? Lots of people like me with science qualifications and experience fed up with the monomania focus on EBM have scientific qualifications are qualified to sign such a petition. So please bear in mind that a counter petition would attract 1000s too and maybe a lot faster. So I expect this to happen. So this could backfire.

    • “people like me with science qualifications and experience fed up with the monomania focus on EBM”.
      what would you like to focus on instead?

    • What you term “monomania” is what people who aren’t ideological crooks would call basic quality control. Which you’d think would be the minimum we could expect when lives are on the line. But apparently we expect too much.

      “people like me with science qualifications”

      I suggest you return them then, as they clearly aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

    • Let’s hear it for Evidently Baseless Medicine or Scientitiously Based Medicine. For every one whose death they blame on homeopathy, EBM kills 100,000 with its monomaniacal short-term focus, damn the chronic health effects of suppression. Somehow they call that health care. What a fraud.

      • Cite your evidence then. Be sure to show us how the total costs of real medicine’s harms exceeds its total benefits, indicating areas where extant efforts to acknowledge and reduce those harms are clearly inadequate. Also bear in mind Scopie’s Law is now in full effect.

        Meanwhile, homeopathy may kill relative few but cures† even fewer.

        Which, according to my mean old Allopathic Math, says that the harms of homeopathy greatly outweigh its benefits. Which is exactly what science expects when dividing a zero.

        († The two obvious exceptions being 1. ego-stroking the neurotic well, and 2. walletectomies that might be effective at reducing back pain caused by lugging way more money than sense—although, no doubt, “more research needed”.)

        • Go and sit in on a clinic at a homeopathic hospital, medical school or doctors office in India, then we can talk about it. You are living in your imagination.

          There have been lots of papers about how Evidently Baseless Medicine is killing in droves. Look around. Good in an ER, terrible for chronic disease unless you want to be on a suppressive med for the rest of your shortened life.

  • EBM is great when it works but so often it doesn’t work although the evidence says that it should or ADRs are found to be absent or under stated. So millions like me go to CAM which doesn’t work according to the ‘evidence’. We encounter a world far removed from the world of misinformation and lies which you portray so we get surprised by petitions like this. We have our anecdotes by the million which of course dont count as evidence in the world of EBM.
    As a result of this we become more determined to fight against a science narrative from a minority that seems to want to exert more and more control on our freedoms. I say again 2750 signatories after 3.5 months of trying is pretty poor.

    • what would you like to focus on instead?

    • 2750/7 billion. That’s 4 ten thousandths of a percent of the world’s population that is clamoring for this suppression of our ability to choose our health care. The SS (So-called Skeptics) know they have everyone’s best interest at heart, whether they have consulted with them or not. They are the ideological troopers of medical fascism whose reach is being extended exponentially by the tech giants that are censoring countervailing views. We should just bow before them.

        • Alison had a very great pain , two hrrible nights long. Once Colocynthis and she could sleep because the pain was away.It didn´t come back. I suppose, you don´t believe me. Either for this case, nor for many many more. Please open your eyes, your ears, your mind and your heart.: be a real science-man.

          • “be a real science-man”

            ??????????????

            Really, word-salad man, you wouldn’t know science if it ran over your head with a truck.

      • 3/10. Needs more foamy spittle.

        • I’m not the twit that wants to control everyone else’s Health care. Uninformed un-consent is medical fascism.

          • Patients have the right to choose. Peddlers do not.

            If the latter wants to advertise and sell its products as medically safe and effective, it is not unreasonable for us as a society to demand they prove that first.

            What you demand is a con-artists’ charter. It’s no different to saying a dodgy white van man should have the unfettered right to go around your old nan’s door and tell her a shingle is loose; then proceed to strip her entire roof, and windows, and driveway too.

            “But he’s such a nice man, and always drives me down to the cash machine so I can pay him” is not an excuse, never mind a justification.

            As a society, we relish dragging those blue-collar rogues through hot coals in payment for what they did to your poor nan’s home. So why do we suddenly start pulling our punches when some white-collar lag pulls the equivalent crap on your poor nan’s health?

          • @has There is lots of evidence that homeopathy works: studies and 220+ years of well-documented long-term cures.

          • @Roger: Are you Humpty Dumpty’s left nut? I think we should be told.

  • Instances of when EBM has failed and the original data.

    • do you think that EBM does not focus on original data?
      do you not know that EBM is work in progress and always has a focus on areas where it has so far failed?

      • Those affected by the failures of EBM are not going to wait decades for any focus on failure to manifest after a long process.
        If there had been any real focus on failure this century then surely you would by now have found less of us going to CAM?

        • I am not sure I understand.
          if there is good evidence, we follow it; it this is not the case, we have to do the best we can.
          there were well over 1 000 000 research papers last year; is that not evidence that EBM is focussing on filling the gaps?

        • Nirvana Fallacy, you terminal bore. So how about you stop waving your hands all around and start delivering some evidence. Verified benefits versus known costs. As someone who has “science qualifications” you really should know how this works.

      • Ok but the conclusions of the 1,000,000 research papers dont seem to get through to us CAMists. Calling us delusional and liars might not be the most helpful option.
        Maybe some of us would have more confidence in the system if there were 100 000 research papers a year presenting higher quality research with many more government sponsored.

        • @ Dendra

          if you do indeed have science qualifications then you ought to be well aware that “anecdotes” are the worst possible kind of evidence.
          there is no quality control whatsoever – so anecdotes are like “my nextdoor neighbour’s aunt’s second cousin had cancer and got cured with homeopathy – so there!”
          we have no proof that this person ever had cancer to begin with – what kind or what stage if they really did. We have no information if they received surgery, chemo, radiation – or how long they remained “cured” before dying of their condition.
          we don’t even have proof that this person exists!

          I’m afraid that if you are basing your belief in SCAM on such anecdotes then that is not very scientific!
          In addition outside of properly controlled trials people are very subject to selection bias, confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, availability bias, recollection bias – and all the other logical fallacies that humans are prey to.
          This makes relying on anecdotal evidence a fool’s errand – you could make a case for absolutely anything being effective or not to suit your prior prejudice. There is also a little thing called the placebo effect that comes into play.

          This is the big advantage that SBM and EBM have over SCAM modalities – that they at least try to work out what is effective and discard what is harmful and what is ineffective.
          Can you name any SCAM therapies that have been discontinued because they have been admitted to be useless? What great advances in homeopathy have been made in the last 50 years and which have been abandoned?
          What chiropractic “treatments” have been discontinued because research has shown them to be less than therapeutic? Why do chiros still pursue the elusive ‘subluxation’ that even they cannot consistently agree on in Xrays?
          Why do Reiki and Acupuncturists still wax about invisible energy fields that are invisible to all the most sensitive of modern scientific instruments?

          You are not practising science – you are practising make believe and putting pure ‘faith’ in nonsensical belief systems that have no basis in reality. This is simply self-delusion. The damage comes when other people become involved in the delusion and endanger their health as a result.

    • One of the things about real medicine is that it knows it makes mistakes, acknowledges those mistakes, and works its ass off to correct and improve its products and processes going forward.

      Do let us know when CAM starts owning its failures. Because that will be a first.

      • How do all those mistakes get through has?

        • Because reality is messy and hard, and humans are complex, fallible, and not in possession of a crystal ball.

          But obviously you’re above all that. Man, it must be sooooo nice to go through your entire life without ever once being wrong.

          Oh wait, that’s Religion, not science. Carry on, lightweight troll.

      • Has, Maybe the fundamental basis of Con-Med is a mistake; that you can ad hoc decide that certain symptoms are important and should be suppressed because they are the “disease” symptoms and all the other symptoms can be ignored because they are supposedly not important. Unless Evidently Baseless Medicine questions its basic assumptions (not likely) they are never going to fix that mistake. Status quo is too profitable.

        • Word salad from a mental cabbage. Please try again, this time in rational English.

          • don’t ask too much of Roger

          • has on Thursday 22 October 2020 at 23:15 said:
            “Word salad from a mental cabbage.”

            But cabbage is wonderful: take a fresh Savoy, remove outer leaves and inner core, cook lightly for a few minutes leaving a certain crunch and eat with freshly squeezed lemon and black pepper.

          • @Bob: Not a huge fan of cabbage but that recipe sounds quite yum. Don’t suppose you’ve got one that’ll make Roger as palatable?

          • has on Friday 23 October 2020 at 10:10 said:
            “Not a huge fan of cabbage but that recipe sounds quite yum.”
            French-style == long life,
            English-style == term of abuse

            “Don’t suppose you’ve got one that’ll make Roger as palatable?”
            Eating animal protein is how I wound up here, nursing nice new bone-metastases, so no, don’t even think about it – eat cabbages, no (added) salt, a little conventional therapy and a lot of Gerson + coffee enemas, then tell everyone about it and sit back to bathe in the abuse – works for me.

          • good luck with that

          • Edzard on Friday 23 October 2020 at 15:37 said:
            “good luck with that”

            Thanks (affirmative).

            During last oncologist-appointment, the guy was getting anxious about my bone-thinning (feels OK to me) and suggested I be taking D3 – holy cow, when did that happen? So I said “yes 800…” and he interrupts with, “…and K2?” – he stole my line 🙂

  • Ernst, old bean,

    Far better to have a concerted movement against pseudo-skepticism, lies and propaganda in medicine.

    And against mainstream censorship of views that are ‘off-message’, according to pharma and certain politicians (and according to certain bloggers).

    For example to bring attention to the total absence of govt encouragement for people to take vitamins C and D, and supplemental zinc, during the current scare campaign.

    This would include opposition the abomination of commercially-led ‘scientific research’ caught in the replication crisis. And censure of deliberate “knocking research” of alternatives, designed to fail (HCQ for a conventional example). At least something is being done about the former, but the general public is largely kept unaware of the problem.

    And to encourage a better public knowledge of the very real dangers of conventional medicine, reckoned paradoxically (and the source of much cognitive dissonance) to be the third highest cause of death in the Western world. (I’m sure you know the refs, but you probably don’t accept the science?) And that doesn’t even include other major unacceptable effects of conventional medicine.

    Then maybe we can make a proper comparison of risk without the unwarranted assumption that conventional medicine is somehow foolproof, never makes a problem worse, and is always impeccably effective.

    What nonsense when coffin-chasing pseudo-skeptics claim someone would definitely have been cured if only they had gone the conventional route, when many are using alternatives exactly because conventional approaches have failed or cause too many problems.

    Not to mention encouraging a better public dismissal of the Prime Pseudo-Skeptic Fallacy, that one should not be able to have a cure for which there is insufficient conventional evidence. AKA, ad ignorantiam fallacy.

    Hopefully then we could then put anti-science agenda-driven pseudo-skepticism and its follow-my-leader thinking, permanently out of business.

    • Will, patronising git,
      why don’t you show us the evidence that people need to take vitamins C and D, and supplemental zinc, during the current scare campaign?

    • Will: “Then maybe we can make a proper comparison of risk without the unwarranted assumption that conventional medicine is somehow foolproof, never makes a problem worse, and is always impeccably effective.”

      Nice strawman you have there. What a shame if someone were to set fire to it.

      Prof Ernst: “why don’t you show us the evidence that people need to take vitamins C and D, and supplemental zinc”

      QFT.

      Oops. Do I smell burning?

    • Then maybe we can make a proper comparison of risk without the unwarranted assumption that conventional medicine is somehow foolproof, never makes a problem worse, and is always impeccably effective.

      OK then, tosschops.

      Show us where that assertion has been made.

      Oh.

      You can’t, can you.

      What nonsense when coffin-chasing pseudo-skeptics claim someone would definitely have been cured if only they had gone the conventional route, when many are using alternatives exactly because conventional approaches have failed or cause too many problems.

      And, once again. Show us where this has happened.

      Once again.

      We’ll wait.

      For a response which will not be forthcoming.

      So you’re making shit up which you think sounds plausible to lend credence to what is your entirely faith-based argument.

      That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      Piss off, Will. You’re a typical clueless AltMed loon. And don’t come back until you’ve got something credible to show us.

  • Ernst: “why don’t you show us the evidence that people need to take vitamins C and D, and supplemental zinc”

    QFT.

    Do I smell straw burning?

  • “According to article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person has a right to medical care.”

    Are you sure? That should really read, “right to the *pursuit* of medical care.” because “right to medical care” violates one’s right to one’s own life, as would “right to housing” or “right to education” or “right to a million pounds” etc.

    • What you think is irrelevant, old Blob. The human rights declaration is refering to real health care.

      • Björn Geir on Tuesday 20 October 2020 at 09:12 said:
        “What you think is irrelevant…”
        That is true, but even if Kim Jong-un thinks that 2 + 2 == 4, that does not make it false.”

        “…real health care.”
        Who is to be the judge of that? The patient, or the State? The interested party or the disinterested? Oneself or State medicine that protects itself and attacks whistleblowers?

  • “Who is to be the judge of that?”

    Boom. Irony meter overload. AltMed works by fiat. Everyone else has to show evidence.

  • I signed several months ago!

  • in this text it is said that acupuncture – based on traditional Chinese Medicine, proven for hundreds of years and still ongoing effectively – is a pseudo-therapy ??? How can I believe other statements in this document then ? ?

  • “acupuncture … proven for hundreds of years and still ongoing effectively”

    Hundreds of years ago acupuncture was just another form of Galenic-style bloodletting, using bamboo trochars instead of barbers. The modern version using filiform needles was invented by Mao as part of his “barefoot doctor” con, to distract from the fact China didn’t have the money to afford real medicine for the proles back then. (Though Mao could afford real medicine for himself, of course.)

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/?s=acupuncture+mao

    As for TCM, that’s pretty much all garbage too. A Galenic model of disease (not even wrong), a bit of traditional herbalism, and mountains and mountains of absolute sh*te, currently being pumped by the CCP for financial grift and nationalist pride. There may be one or two chemicals with useful physiological properties (in much the same way a stopped clock is occasionally right), but sifting those interesting substances out from all the other dross and nonsense is being done by real medical researchers, not by the TCM quacks. Oh, and let’s not even get into the harms that TCM does by plundering our natural flora and fauna for its useless concoctions.

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/tag/traditional-chinese-medicine/

    Consider reading Dugald Christie’s accounts of medical care in China at the turn of the 20th century:

    https://archive.org/details/thirtyyearsinmo00chrigoog

    Christie was a religious missionary as well as a surgeon, so it’s not like he was there purely out of the goodness of his heart. Even so, he did good work dragging at least one part of China out of the dark ages in respect to its then-standards of medical care. Plus some of his descriptions of the diseases and practices that preceded him will really make your toes curl†.

    † (assuming you honestly give a crap about human suffering and aren’t just another grandstanding quackery shill)

  • How we can support and sign this manifesto?

  • This past year has being incredibly damaging to the orthodoxy that now purport to be following the ‘science’ and coercing people to have experimental drugs that they’ve no idea what the long term effects will be to allow us out of home imprisonment.
    Half a million horseshoe crabs are bled for their blue blood every year, chucked back in the sea and 100 million animals are tortured in the name of ‘science’. That hardly sounds progressive, does it?
    The lies that have emanated from the circle j**k of ‘peer review’ to convince us all of this deadly pandemic. . . which kills the old, ill and fat at a rate of 0.02% has be astounding.
    Publishing papers, pretending that natural immunity cannot be acquired in any way shape or form, refusing to acknowledge the destruction of our mental and physical health which leaves us vulnerable to stress related illness and not once giving any indication that a healthy diet, mind and body will render you less like to die from anything.
    This will be a turning point in the history of medicine, it’s clearly been bought and paid for completely by drug-pushing companies and has no ethical considerations or desire to create optimum conditions for us to be well.

    • Soph said:

      …this deadly pandemic. . . which kills the old, ill and fat at a rate of 0.02% has be astounding.

      Dismissing the deaths of these 126,122 ‘old, ill and fat’ individuals so callously is what is astounding.

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