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

detox

Recently, I came across a remarkable paper about the German ‘Association of Catholic Doctors’ and homeopathic conversion therapy. Its author is Yannick Borkens from the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Science, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia. I think, it is worth reading in full, but here I have just a few excerpts for you:

Even in modern Germany of the 21st century there is still homophobia and other intolerances towards different sexualities and genders. These are also evident in the presence of so-called conversion therapies, which are still offered although there are already legal efforts. Among those groups, the Bund katholischer Ärzte (Association of Catholic Doctors) is a unique curiosity. Although this group is no longer really active, it is currently moving into the German focus again due to criminal charges and reporting in the tabloid press. The aim of this paper is to bring the Bund katholischer Ärzte not only into a more scientific but also into a more international focus. Furthermore, it is an ideal example to show what strange effects homophobia can produce…

The Bund katholischer Ärzte was founded in the year 2004 as the katholische Ärztevereinigung (catholic medical association). In 2010, the name was changed to BkÄ—Bund katholischer Ärzte. The BkÄ was founded by Dr. (I) Gero Winkelmann, a general practitioner and homeopath based in Unterhaching (the second largest municipality in the district of Munich—Bavaria) ()…

Nowadays, the BkÄ is best known for its conversion therapies and its general homophobic attitude. On its website, the BkÄ describes these topics as special forms of therapy from a Catholic medical point of view (“allgemeine wie auch besondere Therapieformen aus katholischer-ärztlicher Sicht”) and to the extent to which certain forms of therapy are harmful or even acceptable to Christians (“[…] inwiefern gewisse Therapieformen schädlich oder für Christen überhaupt annehmbar sind”). The term therapies (“Therapieformen”) does not actually describe medical therapies, but rather actions, measures, character traits and sexualities like homosexuality. Other topics addressed by the BkÄ are abortions, the prohibition of contraceptives (condoms and birth control pills), but also medical and biologically ethical topics such as stem cell research (). However, The BkÄ is primarily concerned with homosexuality and conversion therapies. But these differ from the classic and well-known therapies, which are mostly psychotherapies. On his online presences, Gero Winkelmann describes not only his therapeutic approaches but also scientific backgrounds, which however do not stand up to modern scientific knowledge and can (and should) be called pseudoscientific.

… Dr. (I) Gero Winkelmann is a German general practitioner with the additional title Homöopathie (homeopathy)… Nowadays he is best known for his homophobic and comparable views. He describes himself as a doctor who also practices his Catholic faith at work (). According to him, this is achieved through three pillars: Christian ethics, especially at the beginning and the end of life (“Christliche Ethik, insbesondere am Lebensanfang und Lebensende”), prayers and visits to church services (“Gebete und Besuch von Gottesdiensten”) and to participate in church services on public holidays and also on working holidays, especially as a doctor on call who works at untimely times (e.g. holidays, at night) (“Gerade als Bereitschaftsarzt, der zu “Unzeiten” tätig ist (feiertags, nachts) […] die Gottesdienste an Feiertagen und auch an Werktagen (z.B. Rorate-Amt) zu besuchen”) ().

The point of Christian ethics, in particular, requires a closer look. “Christian ethics, especially at the beginning and the end of life” results in a pro-life view. In the United States, this pro-life view, also known as pro-life movement, results not only in demonstrations and political petitions but also in violence, sometimes with death consequences. Since 1993, at least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics, mostly doctors and physicians who perform abortions. The perpetrators can often be assigned to a radical Christian spectrum (). In Germany, Winkelmann is both an opponent of abortion and contraceptives as well as an opponent of medical euthanasia. Before he became known throughout Germany through the establishment of the BkÄ, he founded the  association, which campaigns against abortion, but also against contraceptives and research such as stem cell therapy. The foundation was in the year 2000. However, there is neither an official establishment of the EPLD as an official association nor an official entry in the German association register. This also applies to the BkÄ (European Pro-Life Doctors, no publication date; ). In addition to the rejection of abortions and euthanasia, Winkelmann uses the EPLD webpage also to spread the view that condoms do not work and also do not help against AIDS. He explains this with the fact that the latex skin of the condom is too thin and the HI-Virus could penetrate it without any problems. According to him, this made condoms reflect a pseudo-security (). Furthermore, he also defended the statement of Pope Benedict XVI, that condoms could not help against AIDS. Pope Benedict XVI stated that on his Africa trip in 2009 (). Especially for men who have sex with men (MSM), the condom is an important means of protection against AIDS infections (). This is especially true in African countries that have a high AIDS rate. In some parts, the AIDS rate is 100 times higher than in the United States (with a similar sexual activity) ().

On his website, Winkelmann not only describes the scientific background of homosexuality and his conversion therapy (which, however, does not stand up to modern scientific findings) but also defends the use of conversion therapies in general. He describes that every bad state needs a reversal (conversion). Furthermore, users of those therapies should not be afraid of a reversal, inner maturation and strengthening of self-healing powers. In addition, users should not let themselves be deterred from improving the situation. Those statements prove that Winkelmann considers homosexuality to be an evil condition that requires conversion, which in turn leads to inner maturation. According to Winkelmann, there are various causes for homosexuality. The causes include hormones, liver damages, epigenetically transmitted syphilis or abuse in childhood (). Thus, he contradicts not only biological-medical but also socio-behavioral knowledge. However, his conversion therapies differ from the classic conversion therapies, which are often psychotherapies. In contrast to these, Winkelmann uses homeopathy in his conversion therapies. He himself does not call his therapy conversion therapy but constitution therapy. This constitution therapy is a whole-body therapy that is primarily intended to stimulate physical and emotional self-healing. In that therapy, he combines homeopathy with psychotherapy and religious care. At the beginning, the body is detoxified with sulfur globules and nosodes, globules made from pathological material. Winkelmann says that the therapy has already been successfully completed for many after this detoxification. It should be noted that there is no information available on the number of people who accepted Winkelmann’s offer. If the detoxification is not enough, a lengthy homeopathic therapy begins, which also includes psychological and religious support. In this therapy, Winkelmann uses Calcium Carbonicum and Clacium Phosphoricum globules. Religious support includes prayers, sacraments, anointing of the sick and the holy communion ().

______________________

The article left me speechless. I don’t know what to say other than thank Dr. Borkens for publishing the paper. Therefore, I will leave this here without further comment

Yes, today is WORLD CANCER DAY. A good time to remind us that SCAM providers are often a serious risk to cancer patients. Here is a very recent case in point:

It has been reported that a naturopath from Laval in Quebec who describes herself as a “cancer specialist” notably by offering coffee enemas, has been found guilty of the illegal practice of medicine. The Court of Quebec ruled that Annie Juneau, owner of the Vitacru Group, led people to believe that she had “medical knowledge and [that she was] was able to diagnose a health deficiency”. The fine for the offense can vary between $2,500 and $62,000 and which remains to be determined.

The College of Physicians of Quebec (CMQ) conducted an investigation where an agent claiming to be looking for information on colon therapy under an assumed name consulted the therapist. The naturopath charged a little over $300 for the visit and the purchase of prescribed natural products. During the consultation, the naturopath, Annie Juneau, claimed that “we are brainwashed by the medical community”. She introduced herself as a “cancer specialist” and explained that she could even treat patients suffering from advanced stage 4 cancer.

The website of the naturopath praised the merits of the coffee enema, a practice believed to date back to ancient Egypt, stating that “cancer patients deprived of its benefits are unable to detoxify at the speed that optimal healing requires.” ON the Internet and in person, Annie Juneau illegally led a reasonable person to believe that she could perform acts reserved for doctors, the court ruled. In her defense, the naturopath argued that her website contained disclaimers stating that she does not offer medical advice and that she clearly identifies herself as a naturopath. However, the court ruled that such disclaimers are not sufficient protection of the public.

___________________________

This case is the latest in a long row of naturopaths (and other SCAM practitioners) risking the lives of cancer patients. Here are a few recent ones that we have discussed on this blog:

The secret is simple, and it is for sale. The advertising could not be clearer:

“Get ready for some good lovin’ because more blood to your bits means better stimulation to your love organ, which may improve fertility and give you a boost to your libido.”

The supplement that can achieve all this for you is called ‘Nitro Wood‘. It contains the following ingredients:

PINE BARK + BEETROOT + CINNAMON + GRAPE SEED EXTRACT + GARLIC EXTRACT + CAYENNE PEPPER

And these herbal remedies are claimed to have the following effects:

  • Promotes Nitric Oxide Production Studies suggest that almost half the cases of sexual dysfunction in men are from lack of nitric oxide. This explosive blend naturally triggers the best kind of nitric oxide production — your own body’s.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure Healthy blood vessels significantly lower your risks of heart disease and stroke. This combination of superfood extracts is high in nitrates, which is nature’s way of keeping your blood pressure in check.

  • Improves Physical Performance
    You’ll notice a vast improvement in your physical activity and endurance, whether at the gym or in the bedroom. Whatever the playground, you’ll be knocking it out of the park!

And it comes with an authoritative endorsement:

Nitro Wood contains key nutrients that are proven to support healthy blood flow, improving your overall wellness, energy levels and performance in the gym — and in the bedroom (if you know what we mean 😉

Cedars-Sinai Cardiologist Dr. David M. Filsoof, M.D.

And at an ‘auto subscription’ prize of US$ 34.39 for 30 servings, this seems a bargain too good to miss. There is, as far as I can see, just one tiny little snag: I failed to find anything that looks remotely like evidence to suggest that ‘Nitro Wood’ has any effect whatsoever.

So, in case you are disappointed by this product and also prefer something that is ‘super safe’, how about this gadget?

Doubting your capability in bed? We got you! We are happy to offer you a product that can make you last long in bed while providing the maximum performance! Introducing the 4000ions HardSteel AlphaMaleMagnetic Bracelet

This STYLISH BRACELET is POWERED by a BUILT-IN INFRARED that has a BIO-ACT TECHNOLOGY that DELIVERS the fir (far-infrared) energy into a nano structure that PENETRATES DEEPLY in to the human skin and provides the following benefits: Reduces Inflammation, Strengthens Heart Health, Aids Digestion, Lowers Blood Pressure, Detoxify Body, Relieves Stress and Boosts Immune System. 

Please note how almost all the buzz-words of so-called alternative medicine are elegantly put to their strongest advantage:

  • bio
  • energy
  • nano
  • detox
  • stress
  • immune system

The ‘4000ions HardSteel AlphaMaleMagnetic Bracelet’ has the additional advantage of being more economical. It costs just Euro 10.26!

Alas, the gadget has the same drawback as the ‘Nitro Wood’ supplement: there is not a jot of evidence to suggest that it helps anyone else than the manufacturer.

Kneipp therapy goes back to Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897), a catholic priest who was convinced to have cured himself of tuberculosis by using various hydrotherapies. Kneipp is often considered by many to be ‘the father of naturopathy’. Kneipp therapy consists of hydrotherapy, exercise therapy, nutritional therapy, phototherapy, and ‘order’ therapy (or balance). Kneipp therapy remains popular in Germany where whole spa towns live off this concept.

The obvious question is: does Kneipp therapy work? A team of German investigators has tried to answer it. For this purpose, they conducted a systematic review to evaluate the available evidence on the effect of Kneipp therapy.

A total of 25 sources, including 14 controlled studies (13 of which were randomized), were included. The authors considered almost any type of study, regardless of whether it was a published or unpublished, a controlled or uncontrolled trial. According to EPHPP-QAT, 3 studies were rated as “strong,” 13 as “moderate” and 9 as “weak.” Nine (64%) of the controlled studies reported significant improvements after Kneipp therapy in a between-group comparison in the following conditions:

  • chronic venous insufficiency,
  • hypertension,
  • mild heart failure,
  • menopausal complaints,
  • sleep disorders in different patient collectives,
  • as well as improved immune parameters in healthy subjects.

No significant effects were found in:

  • depression and anxiety in breast cancer patients with climacteric complaints,
  • quality of life in post-polio syndrome,
  • disease-related polyneuropathic complaints,
  • the incidence of cold episodes in children.

Eleven uncontrolled studies reported improvements in allergic symptoms, dyspepsia, quality of life, heart rate variability, infections, hypertension, well-being, pain, and polyneuropathic complaints.

The authors concluded that Kneipp therapy seems to be beneficial for numerous symptoms in different patient groups. Future studies should pay even more attention to methodologically careful study planning (control groups, randomisation, adequate case numbers, blinding) to counteract bias.

On the one hand, I applaud the authors. Considering the popularity of Kneipp therapy in Germany, such a review was long overdue. On the other hand, I am somewhat concerned about their conclusions. In my view, they are far too positive:

  • almost all studies had significant flaws which means their findings are less than reliable;
  • for most indications, there are only one or two studies, and it seems unwarranted to claim that Kneipp therapy is beneficial for numerous symptoms on the basis of such scarce evidence.

My conclusion would therefore be quite different:

Despite its long history and considerable popularity, Kneipp therapy is not supported by enough sound evidence for issuing positive recommendations for its use in any health condition.

Prior research has generated inconsistent results regarding vaccination rates among patients using so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Given that SCAM includes a wide range of therapies – about 400 different treatments have been counted – variable vaccination patterns may occur within consultations with different types of SCAM practitioners.

A recent analysis aimed to evaluate differences between categories of SCAM regarding vaccination behavior among US adults.

Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS; n = 26,742; response rate 80.7%) were used. Prevalences of flu vaccination, consultations with SCAM practitioners in the past 12 months, and their potential interactions were examined. 42.7% of participants had received the flu vaccination in the past 12 months, 32.4% had seen one or more SCAM practitioners. Users of any type of SCAM were as likely as non-users to have received a flu vaccination (44.8% users versus 41.7% non-users; p = 0,862; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95–1.07).

Regarding specific SCAM types,

  • individuals consulting with naturopaths (p < 0.001; AOR = 0.67, 95 %CI = 0.54–0.82),
  • homeopaths (p < 0.001; AOR = 0.55; 95 %CI = 0.44–0.69)
  • chiropractors (p = 0.016; AOR = 0.9, 95 %CI = 0.83–0.98)

were less likely to be vaccinated. Other SCAMs showed no significant association with flu vaccination behavior. Independent predictors for a flu shot were prior diabetes, cancer, current asthma, kidney disease, overweight and current pregnancy. As well, higher educational level, age, ethnicity, health insurance coverage, and having seen a general physician or medical specialist in the past 12 months were also associated with a higher vaccination rate.

The authors concluded that SCAM users were equally likely to receive an influenza vaccination compared with non-users. Different SCAM therapies showed varied associations with vaccination behavior. Further analyses may be needed to distinguish influencing factors among patients’ vaccination behavior.

This survey confirms what we have discussed repeatedly on this blog (see, for instance here, here, here, here, and here). The reason why consumers who consult naturopaths, homeopaths, or chiropractors get vaccinated less regularly is presumably that these practitioners tend to advise against vaccinations. And why do they do that?

  • Naturopaths claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.
  • Homeopaths claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.
  • Chiropractors claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.

Do these ‘therapeutic options’ – detox, nosodes, spinal manipulation – have anything in common?

Yes, they are bogus!

Conclusion:

Many naturopaths, homeopaths, and chiropractors seem to be a risk to public health.

I have often warned that, even if chiropractic manipulations were harmless (which they are clearly not), this would not necessarily apply to those who administer them, the chiropractors. They can do harm via interfering or advising against conventional interventions (the best-research example is immunization) or by treating conditions that they are not competent to tackle (like ear infections), or giving advice that endangers the health of the patient.

Italian authors reported the case of a 67-year-old woman, who had been suffering from low back pain due to herniated discs, decided to undergo chiropractic treatment. According to the chiropractor’s prescription, the patient drank about 8 liters of water in a day. During the afternoon, she developed headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, for which reason she consulted the chiropractor, who reassured the patient and suggested continuing the treatment in order to purify the body. The next day, following the intake of another 6 liters of water, the patient developed sudden water retention, loss of consciousness, and tonic-clonic seizures; for this reason, she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with a coma from electrolyte alterations.

The diagnosis of water intoxication was stated based on the history reported by the family members; according to the clinical findings, the hydro-electrolytic alterations were adequately corrected, allowing the disease resolution. Once resolved the intoxication, the patient underwent surgery to treat a shoulder dislocation and a humerus fracture which occurred due to a fall consequent to the tonic-clonic seizures.

The Judicial Authority thus ordered a medico-legal evaluation of the chiropractor’s behavior in order to identify any professional liability issue.

The Italian authors commented that this case is peculiar since it shows the dangerous implications for the patients’ health and safety deriving from the prescription of a large quantity of water intake, without any control by the chiropractor, and thus underestimating the risks of such a practice, as evidenced by the suggestion to continue the water intake aiming to detoxify the body from pharmacological substances. As a consequence, the patient developed a severe form of hyponatremia, leading to life-threatening complications that could have been otherwise avoided.

The medico-legal evaluation of the case led to the admission of professional liability of the chiropractor, who
thus had to pay the damages to the patient.

It is, of course, tempting to argue that the patient was not very clever to follow this ridiculous advice (and that the chiropractor was outright stupid to give it). One might even go further and argue that most patients trusting chiros are not all that smart … one could … but it is far from me to do so.

Epidemiological studies on the association between coffee intake, arguably a herbal remedy, and cancer risk have yielded inconsistent results. To summarize and appraise the quality of the current evidence, researchers conducted an umbrella review of existing findings from meta-analyses of observational studies.

They searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and the Cochrane database to obtain systematic reviews and meta-analyses of associations between coffee intake and cancer incidence. For each association, they estimated the summary effect size using the fixed- and random-effects model, the 95% confidence interval, and the 95% prediction interval. We also assessed heterogeneity, evidence of small-study effects, and excess significance bias.

Twenty-eight individual meta-analyses including 36 summary associations for 26 cancer sites were retrieved for this umbrella review. A total of 17 meta-analyses were significant at P ≤ 0.05 in the random-effects model. For the highest versus lowest categories, 4 of 26 associations had a more stringent P value (P ≤ 10− 6). Associations for five cancers were significant in dose-response analyses. Most studies (69%) showed low heterogeneity (I2 ≤ 50%). Three and six associations had evidence of excessive significance bias and publication bias, respectively. Coffee intake was inversely related to the risk of liver cancer and endometrial cancer and was characterized by dose-response relationships. There were no substantial changes when the researchers restricted analyses to a meta-analysis of cohort studies.

The authors concluded that there is highly suggestive evidence for an inverse association between coffee intake and risk of liver and endometrial cancer. Further research is needed to provide more robust evidence for cancer at other sites.

This is an interesting analysis that begs many questions. Let me just make four brief points:

  1. Correlation is not causation! Epidemiological studies throw up all sorts of associations that are too often mistaken as causal relationships. The question of whether coffee causes a decrease in the risk of certain cancers is as yet unanswered. The authors mention dose relationships which would, of course, increase the likelihood of a causal effect. Yet, they do not prove it.
  2. Another argument that would strengthen the possibility of a causal effect would be a plausible mechanism of action. However, the biological mechanism of how coffee might affect the risk remains unclear. Coffee contains a range of biologically active chemicals, including caffeine and phenolic compounds. In so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), coffee is also claimed to be a ‘detox‘ remedy. Yet it is unclear how exactly they might reduce the risk.
  3. The studies were all about the oral consumption of coffee. None considered anal application, like in Gerson therapy.
  4. The only way to find out whether coffee does, in fact, reduce the risk of certain cancers is to conduct prospective controlled clinical trials. Such studies are, however, not easy to conduct, particularly if designed such that their findings are truly reliable.

So, the answer to the question DOES COFFEE CONSUMPTION PREVENT CANCER? will remain unanswered for some time, I am afraid. Meanwhile, I suggest we enjoy our coffee per oral (and avoid it per anal).

As I don’t live in the UK at present, I miss much of what the British papers report about so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Therefore, I am a bit late to stumble over an article on the business activities of our Royals. It brought back into memory a little tiff I had with Prince Charles.

The article in the Express includes the following passage:

The UK’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst, dubbed the Duchy Originals detox tincture — which was being sold on the market at the time — “outright quackery”.

The product, called Duchy Herbals’ Detox Tincture, was advertised as a “natural aid to digestion and supports the body’s elimination processes” and a “food supplement to help eliminate toxins and aid digestion”.

The artichoke and dandelion mix cost £10 for a 50ml bottle.

Yet, Professor Ernst said Charles and his advisers seemed to be ignoring the science in favour of relying on “make-believe” and “superstition”, and said the suggestion that such products could remove bodily toxins was “implausible, unproven and dangerous”.

He noted: “Prince Charles thus financially exploits a gullible public in a time of financial hardship.”

This passage describes things accurately but not completely. What actually happened was this:

Unbeknown to me and with the help of some herbalists, Duchy Originals had developed the ‘detox tincture’ during a time when I was researching the evidence about ‘detox’. Eventually, my research was published as a review of the detox concept:

Background: The concept that alternative therapies can eliminate toxins and toxicants from the body, i.e. ‘alternative detox’ (AD) is popular.

Sources of data: Selected textbooks and articles on the subject of AD.

Areas of agreement: The principles of AD make no sense from a scientific perspective and there is no clinical evidence to support them.

Areas of controversy: The promotion of AD treatments provides income for some entrepreneurs but has the potential to cause harm to patients and consumers.

Growing points: In alternative medicine, simplistic but incorrect concepts such as AD abound. AREAS TIMELY FOR RESEARCH: All therapeutic claims should be scientifically tested before being advertised-and AD cannot be an exception.

When I was asked by a journalist what I thought about Charles’ new ‘detox tincture’, I told her that it was not supported by evidence which clearly makes it quackery. I also joked that Duchy Originals could thus be called ‘Dodgy Originals’. The result was this newspaper article and a subsequent media storm in the proverbial teacup.

At Exeter University, I had just fallen out of favor because of the ‘Smallwood Report’ and the complaint my involvement in it prompted by Charles’ first private secretary (full story in my memoir). After the ‘Dodgy Originals story’ had hit the papers, I was summoned ominously to my dean, Prof John Tooke, who probably had intended to give me a dressing down of major proportions. By the time we were able to meet, a few weeks later, the MHRA had already reprimanded Duchy Originals for misleading advertising which took most of the wind out of Tooke’s sail. The dressing down thus turned into something like “do you have to be so undiplomatic all the time?”.

Several months later, I was invited by the Science Media Centre, London, to give a lecture on the occasion of my retirement (Fiona Fox, the head of the SMC, had felt that, since my own University does not have the politeness to run a valedictory lecture for me, she will organize one for journalists). In that short lecture, I tried to summarize 19 years of research which inevitably meant briefly mentioning Charles and his foray into detox.

When I had finished, there were many questions from the journalists. Jenny Hope from the Daily Mail asked, “You mentioned snake-oil salesmen in your talk, and you also mentioned Prince Charles and his tinctures. Do you think that Prince Charles is a snake-oil salesman?” My answer was brief and to the point: “Yes“. The next day, this was all over the press. The Mail’s article was entitled ‘Charles? He’s just a snake-oil salesman: Professor attacks prince on ‘dodgy’ alternative remedies‘.

The advice of Tooke (who by then had left Exeter) to be more diplomatic had evidently not borne fruits (but the tinctures were discreetly taken off the market).

Diplomatic or honest?

This has been a question that I had to ask myself regularly during my 19 years at Exeter. For about 10 years, I had tried my best to walk the ‘diplomatic route’. When I realised that, in alternative medicine, the truth is much more important than diplomacy, I gradually changed … and despite all the hassle and hardship it brought me, I do not regret the decision.

Research into both receptivity to falling for bullshit and the propensity to produce it have recently emerged as active, independent areas of inquiry into the spread of misleading information. However, it remains unclear whether those who frequently produce bullshit are inoculated from its influence. For example, both bullshit receptivity and bullshitting frequency are negatively related to cognitive ability and aspects of analytic thinking style, suggesting that those who frequently engage in bullshitting may be more likely to fall for bullshit. However, separate research suggests that individuals who frequently engage in deception are better at detecting it, thus leading to the possibility that frequent bullshitters may be less likely to fall for bullshit.

Canadian psychologists conducted three studies (N = 826) attempting to distinguish between these competing hypotheses, finding that frequency of persuasive bullshitting (i.e., bullshitting intended to impress or persuade others) positively predicts susceptibility to various types of misleading information and that this association is robust to individual differences in cognitive ability and analytic cognitive style.

This seems to make sense – at least in the contest of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Those promoting bullshit are the ones that fall for bullshit.

Think of Prince Charles, for instance. In his book HARMONY and on many other occasions he insists on promoting homeopathy and other SCAM, like for example iridology, osteopathy or detox. He even advocates homeopathy for animals and he proudly tells us that, on his farms, he has instructed the personnel to give his cows homeopathy. Thus he is a good example of someone who is frequently bullshitting with the intend to impress or persuade others while, at the same time, being highly susceptible to various other types of misleading information, such as iridology.

Charles is a good example because we all know about the alternative bee under the royal bonnet. But he is certainly not alone, quite to the contrary. If you look around you, I am sure you will find that there are no end of bullshitters who fall for bullshit. Before bullshit became a term used even in scientific journals, they used to say ‘one can never kid a kidder’, but the new research by the Canadian psychologists seems to suggest that the assumption is not entirely correct.

I was reminded of an event that I had forgotten which, however, is so remarkable that we should remember it. It relates to nothing less than a homeopath’s attempt to save the world!

The homeopath’s name is Grace DaSilva-Hill. She has been a professional homeopath since 1997, with a clinic in Charing (Kent) and international on Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp video. She practises Sensation Homeopathy as refined by Drs Joshis (Mumbai), and Homeopathic Detox Therapy as developed by Dr Ton Jensen. She is also a practitioner of EFT-Tapping. In 2014, Grace very nearly saved the world with homeopathy – well, at least she gave it her very best try. Here is her original plan:

 

Ocean Remedy

Yes, I agree, that’s hilarious! And it’s hilarious in more than one way:

  1. It is funnier than any comedian’s attempt to ridicule homeopathy.
  2. It is a highly effective approach by homeopaths to discrediting themselves.

But, at the same time, it is also worrying. Homeopaths are taken seriously by many influential people. Think of Prince Charles, for instance, or consider the way German homeopaths have convinced the government of Bavaria to invest in research into the question of how homeopathy can be used to reduce antibiotic resistance.

At the time, the formidable Andy Lewis on his QUACKOMETER commented as follows:

We might dismiss this as the fantasies of a small group of homeopaths. However, such thinking is widespread in homeopathic circles and has consequences. Grace is a well known homeopath in the UK, and in the past, has been a trustee and treasurer for the Ghana Homeopathy Project – an organisation that has been exporting this European form of quackery to West Africa. Grace believes that serious illnesses can be treated by a homeopath. For an article in the journal of the Alliance of Registered Homeoapths, Grace discusses treating such conditions as menigitis, malaria and stroke.

Homeopaths in West Africa have hit the news this week as a group tried to enter Liberia in order to use their spells on people with Ebola. The WHO fortunately tried not let them near any actual sick people and they have been kicking and screaming since. The Daily Mail’s rather dreadful article reported that they

“had used homeopathic treatments on patients, despite the instructions from health officials in the capital Monrovia not to do so. She said she had not felt the need to quarantine herself after returning to India but was monitoring her own condition for any signs of the disease.”

The homeopaths appear to have absolutely no understanding how dangerous and irresponsible their actions have been….

Homeopathy is stupid. Magical thinking. A nonsense. Anything goes. And whilst those doctors in the NHS who insist on spending public money on it without taking a responsible stand against the common and dangerous excesses, they can expect to remain under constant fire from those who think they are doing a great deal of harm.

Meanwhile, the public funding of homeopathy in England has stopped; France followed suit. Surely Grace’s invaluable help in these achievements needs to be acknowledged! If we regularly remind decision-makers and the general public of Grace’s attempt to save the world and similarly barmy things homeopaths are up to, perhaps the rest of the world will speed up the process of realizing the truth about homeopathy!?

Recent Comments

Note that comments can be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted but you must tick the box: “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

The most recent comments from all posts can be seen here.

Archives
Categories