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Tags activism , homeopathy

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Old 3rd December 2007, 10:01 AM   #1
Peacock
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Individual activism against homeopathy?

What would you suggest to someone if they wanted to help contribute to the fight against homeopathy? I'm talking on an individual level and in the United States. If you suggest monetary support, which organizations are the most influential? Do you focus on the source or the sellers?

I'm working on a list, here's what I have so far:
  1. Boycott Homeopathic products and the companies who make them.
  2. Educate your friends and family.
  3. Support stores that don't sell them.
  4. Write letters to chain stores and ask them to remove the products.
  5. Write letters to the editor in response to newspaper stories that mention them.
  6. Write letters to magazine editors when they are mentioned in articles.
  7. Make financial contributions to groups that promote science and skepticism

Thanks for any other suggestions!
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Old 3rd December 2007, 10:17 AM   #2
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I think that complaining to the homeopaths' own organisations where you can show them to be breaching those organisations' own rules may be useful and could be used to have a significant impact from just one person's efforts

The reason is exemplified by the Society of Homeopaths in the UK. Their "Code of Ethics" has been drawn up quite carefully with a political eye to avoid trouble by requiring their members not to claim to be able to actually cure anything. Of course, this fundamentally contradicts the core beliefs of their members who really do believe magic sugar can cure cancer, AIDS and malaria (else why would they be homeopaths in the first place). So what they really believe is in flat contradiction with the code they have signed up to.

Now, the track record, thus far, shows that these organisations cover their tracks and/or just stonewall.

So, the key thing is that the complaints and the inadequate responses are collated for use as ammunition.

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You know it makes sense.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 10:17 AM   #3
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What about guerrilla activism? Like, posting signs in the homeopathy section of your local drug stores (and starting a website with printable signs to spread the practice), or making fake labels and taping them over products? (Something along the lines of "Sugar pill: May cause hyperactivity and loss of rational thought")

I'm just throwing these out there. I would not recommend these actions to anyone.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 10:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Badly Shaved Monkey View Post
I think that complaining to the homeopaths' own organisations where you can show them to be breaching those organisations' own rules may be useful and could be used to have a significant impact from just one person's efforts

The reason is exemplified by the Society of Homeopaths in the UK.
Fraid not BSM. Quackwatch was recently interfered with by the SoH for publicising a BBC TV report that showed that SoH members were selling 'cures' for malaria and not even advising such elementary precautions as mosquito nets. In the last week an SOH spokeswoman was directly challenged on this on BBC radio last week and said that all but one were not members and the one remaining did not contravene the SoH regulations. Haven't seen them repeat this claim where it can be challenged and don't expect to.

What seems to be having an effect in the UK, is literate highly qualified professionals publicly denouncing the rubbish. Ben Goldacre's column in the Guradian (UK) has even had a homeopath claiming that Goldacre is taking the food from his children's mouths over the rather trivial scientific matter of it homeopathy not working. Another has claimed that homeopaths have had to extend their practice into other areas (reflexology for one) to make ends meet. I feel so sorry for them
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Old 3rd December 2007, 12:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Acleron View Post
Quackwatch was recently interfered with by the SoH...

Actually, it was The Quackometer.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 01:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sthomson View Post
What about guerrilla activism? Like, posting signs in the homeopathy section of your local drug stores (and starting a website with printable signs to spread the practice), or making fake labels and taping them over products? (Something along the lines of "Sugar pill: May cause hyperactivity and loss of rational thought")

I'm just throwing these out there. I would not recommend these actions to anyone.
I was wondering about this. Just a few days ago, I was having a prescription filled at a Canadian pharmacy. Right on the counter were two homeopathic, er, remedies. One was for jet lag, the other was for something else that I don't recall. I picked up a package of the jet lag stuff and examined it. Here is what I found:

1. Homeopathic placebos--I mean, remedies--are expensive! That little package cost $20.
2. The concept of dilution was mentioned only in regard to a "C" factor, in this case, 30C. This meant that the ingredients listed on the label were not even there (except perhaps by freak accident). (See Mr. Randi's commentary on the meaning of 30C, equating it to "the same concentration as a solution of one grain of salt in ten thousand billion spheres of water the size of the solar system.")
3. The products were imported from the good old USA.

I wondered whether I should ask the pharmacist about this product placement. At my pharmacies in the US, none of them featured homeopathic products so prominently. Isn't this product placement akin to an endorsement of them by the pharmacist? And if so, is that the impression the pharmacist wants?

I also wondered what I would do if someone decided to buy such a product while I was at the counter. Would I say anything?

As it happened, I said nothing. No one except me expressed any interest in the products while I was there.

I'm still wondering what, if anything, I should do. After all, this pharmacy sells legit devices and medications, but right next to the legit stuff, you'll find woo-woo stuff like magnetic bracelets. I've got one crazy idea, though. I might invite James Randi (that former Canadian) to come up here and give a public lecture on homeopathy.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 01:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brown View Post
The concept of dilution was mentioned only in regard to a "C" factor, in this case, 30C. This meant that the ingredients listed on the label were not even there (except perhaps by freak accident).

Were the actual ingredients listed as being present in measurable quantities, or did it just say "[name of ingredient] 30C"? If it was in that form, it could be argued that the label wouldn't be claiming that there was any of the ingredient actually present.

Rolfe reports buying a bottle of 30C belladonna pills that had the ingredients listed as "sucrose/lactose".
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Old 3rd December 2007, 01:51 PM   #8
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I recently just had a conversation with a homeopath about the subject. She ended up shouting at me and invoking "quantum physics". It, of course, did no good for anyone ever, but it was fun!
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Old 3rd December 2007, 02:38 PM   #9
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If you know anyone who's an FRS ask them what they think of Prince Charles being one too. If you happen to know Prince Charles, put it to him that an honorable man in his position would step down from being an FRS if they were intent on continuing to act against science.

I'm aware that two other FRS's are homeopathy boosters, viz. Brian Josephson and Stephen Holgate, but at least they earned theirs the hard way before going crackers.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 03:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thing View Post
Stephen Holgate

Is he an FRS? The list on the Royal Society website jumps straight from Holford, Stayner to Holland, Charles.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 03:40 PM   #11
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I've found the best way to combat homeopathy locally is to simply tell people what a medicine being homeopathic actually means. Most seem to think it's some type of herbal remedy. The only problem I usually have is convincing them I'm not joking. A few will be gullible enough to buy homeopathic again, but the vast majority won't.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 03:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
I've found the best way to combat homeopathy locally is to simply tell people what a medicine being homeopathic actually means. Most seem to think it's some type of herbal remedy.
This is so true. I admit that I thought "homeopathic" meant herbal or natural, until I started reading here. So did my fiance.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 03:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
I've found the best way to combat homeopathy locally is to simply tell people what a medicine being homeopathic actually means. Most seem to think it's some type of herbal remedy. The only problem I usually have is convincing them I'm not joking. A few will be gullible enough to buy homeopathic again, but the vast majority won't.

I find this works as well.

I'm quite looking forward to the next Homeopathy Awareness Week.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 05:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Is he [Stephen Holgate] an FRS? The list on the Royal Society website jumps straight from Holford, Stayner to Holland, Charles.
You're right, he isn't. I'd got the idea from somewhere that he was and was so sure I didn't even check. Just as well he isn't given that he wrote this:
Quote:
If one accepts that ultradilutions below Avogadro's number provides [sic] a basis for a biological effect on complex cells and tissues, some attempt must be made to arrive at a rational explanation. One such explanation involves the paradigm of complexity, information and integration and, in particular, draws on the law [sic] of chaos.
(S T Holgate, 'Does homeopathy work and if so how?' in "Science-based complementary medicine" ed. Tom Meade, pub. Royal College of Physicians, 1998).

He shows a (black & white, low resolution) picture of the Mandelbrot set too. It's quite embarrassing really.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 05:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brown View Post
I was wondering about this. Just a few days ago, I was having a prescription filled at a Canadian pharmacy. Right on the counter were two homeopathic, er, remedies. One was for jet lag, the other was for something else that I don't recall. I picked up a package of the jet lag stuff and examined it. Here is what I found:

1. Homeopathic placebos--I mean, remedies--are expensive! That little package cost $20.
2. The concept of dilution was mentioned only in regard to a "C" factor, in this case, 30C. This meant that the ingredients listed on the label were not even there (except perhaps by freak accident). (See Mr. Randi's commentary on the meaning of 30C, equating it to "the same concentration as a solution of one grain of salt in ten thousand billion spheres of water the size of the solar system.")
3. The products were imported from the good old USA.

I wondered whether I should ask the pharmacist about this product placement. At my pharmacies in the US, none of them featured homeopathic products so prominently. Isn't this product placement akin to an endorsement of them by the pharmacist? And if so, is that the impression the pharmacist wants?

I also wondered what I would do if someone decided to buy such a product while I was at the counter. Would I say anything?

As it happened, I said nothing. No one except me expressed any interest in the products while I was there.

I'm still wondering what, if anything, I should do. After all, this pharmacy sells legit devices and medications, but right next to the legit stuff, you'll find woo-woo stuff like magnetic bracelets. I've got one crazy idea, though. I might invite James Randi (that former Canadian) to come up here and give a public lecture on homeopathy.
Ha! I actually did complain to a Canadian pharmacist once and he huffed and puffed and said that he had attended a seminar that had informed him there "was something to it". My current pharmacy does not seem to display or sell Homeocrapic products. I'll take a closer look next time.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 05:15 PM   #16
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To add to the list in the OP.

How about a pamphlet on "How to Make Your Own Homeopathic Medicines"? Such as: to cure a hoarse throat file your bathtub full of water and drop in a grain of chalk dust, stir well, and etc. Appropriate valid quotes from Hahnemann's The Organon of the Healing Art would add authenticity.
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Old 3rd December 2007, 05:46 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
I've found the best way to combat homeopathy locally is to simply tell people what a medicine being homeopathic actually means. Most seem to think it's some type of herbal remedy. The only problem I usually have is convincing them I'm not joking. A few will be gullible enough to buy homeopathic again, but the vast majority won't.
I've told my wife that, but she refuses to believe me.

Sio far, she's conceded that the ultradilution method is not something I've made up, but is convinced that it's a North American silliness, and that European (i.e., "real") homeopathy is herbal medicine.
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Old 4th December 2007, 01:46 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Thing View Post
You're right, he isn't. I'd got the idea from somewhere that he was and was so sure I didn't even check. Just as well he isn't given that he wrote this:

(S T Holgate, 'Does homeopathy work and if so how?' in "Science-based complementary medicine" ed. Tom Meade, pub. Royal College of Physicians, 1998).

He shows a (black & white, low resolution) picture of the Mandelbrot set too. It's quite embarrassing really.
Holgate (who I have known on and off since he was a junior medic, and worked with on occasions) is blatantly in the queue for a knighthood. Thus the brown-nosing around the aristocracy. I have lost all respect for him.
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Old 4th December 2007, 01:49 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Madalch View Post
I've told my wife that, but she refuses to believe me.

So far, she's conceded that the ultradilution method is not something I've made up, but is convinced that it's a North American silliness, and that European (i.e., "real") homeopathy is herbal medicine.

If she's prepared to regard the UK as European, here are a couple of pages you might like to show her:

http://www.helios.co.uk/technical.html
http://www.sulisinstruments.com/korsakovian.htm
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Old 4th December 2007, 01:52 AM   #20
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Acting alone is very hard work. I managed to pull together a small group of people who have made concrete progress in reducing UK public spending on homeopathy, but it helped a lot that these were prominent scientists and physicians. Small groups have disproportionately increased power - the homeopaths think we are a huge and wealthy organisation!
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Old 4th December 2007, 03:53 PM   #21
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Peacock - What's the point to fight Homeopathy that is something not actively harmful? I'd rather concentrate fighting junk food, food supplements, cigarettes, alcohol and many useless drugs as well as those homeopaths (and other quacks) that claim to cure Cancer, Aids, Malaria, Multiple sclerosis, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Paralysis etc.
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Old 4th December 2007, 04:16 PM   #22
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From "Futurama":

Amy: You should try homeopathic medicine, Bender. Take some zinc.
Bender: I'm 40% zinc!
Amy: Then take some Echinacea or a St. John's wort.
Farnsworth: Or a big fat placebo! It's all the same crap!
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Phytotherapist View Post
Peacock - What's the point to fight Homeopathy that is something not actively harmful? I'd rather concentrate fighting junk food, food supplements, cigarettes, alcohol and many useless drugs as well as those homeopaths (and other quacks) that claim to cure Cancer, Aids, Malaria, Multiple sclerosis, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Paralysis etc.

On what basis can you object to homoeopaths claiming to be able to treat the list of conditions you refer to above if you're not going to object to their treating other (perhaps more trivial) conditions for which homoeopathy also lacks evidence of efficacy?
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:31 PM   #24
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Mojo - Homeopathy, although ineffective, can be very useful if used by an MD in the context of conventional Medicine as I explained in another thread. If your Laws allow non MDs to practise and make false and misleading claims, then you should fight to change this situation.
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Old 5th December 2007, 12:58 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Phytotherapist View Post
Peacock - What's the point to fight Homeopathy that is something not actively harmful? I'd rather concentrate fighting junk food, food supplements, cigarettes, alcohol and many useless drugs as well as those homeopaths (and other quacks) that claim to cure Cancer, Aids, Malaria, Multiple sclerosis, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Paralysis etc.
You have answered your own question. Of course homeopathy can be actively harmful, for the reasons you state. But there is a vastly bigger picture. Should we encourage people to believe the unbelievable? I don't think so. Irrational beliefs cause a great deal of evil, and give people the excuses to to do things that reason would stop them doing. Irrationality has a corrosive effect on society. Turning specifically to health care, it will be impossible to further the cause of evidence based medicine of we allow certain practices to exist outside of scientific scrutiny. How are we going to get rid of the useless drugs you mention unless we apply strict tests of efficacy and safety to everything, across the board? The path you describe leads to folly.
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Old 5th December 2007, 01:02 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Phytotherapist View Post
Mojo - Homeopathy, although ineffective, can be very useful if used by an MD in the context of conventional Medicine as I explained in another thread. If your Laws allow non MDs to practise and make false and misleading claims, then you should fight to change this situation.
I am totally baffled as to how an MD is ever going to use homeopathy without making false claims. "Now I am going to prescribe for you an ineffective medicine".
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Old 5th December 2007, 01:18 AM   #27
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I should really give Peacock a bit more guidance, as requested in the OP. I'm not sure where you live, but in the UK we have a degree of regulation of retail business. For example I frequently report misleading ads to the Advertising Standards Authority. I have stopped a local acupuncturist from making false claims (indeed he has stopped advertising at all), and have stopped the advertising of a book that makes outrageous claims about the health benefits of vinegar. I am now working on a big natural health chain which disseminates huge volumes of literature making false claims. If every town and city had just one person who did this, we could stem the tide. Here is an article that might inspire you.
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Old 5th December 2007, 03:57 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Actually, it was The Quackometer.
Sorry
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Old 5th December 2007, 11:06 AM   #29
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Asolepius - I undestand your points. Doctors that prescribe homeopathic remedies for minor ailments are not making false claims because they may be effective, e.g homeopathic remedies on the 1DH contain active substances. Unfortunately you know little or nothing about Medicine and Homeopathy and that's your problem.
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Old 5th December 2007, 11:23 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Phytotherapist View Post
Asolepius - I undestand your points. Doctors that prescribe homeopathic remedies for minor ailments are not making false claims because they may be effective, e.g homeopathic remedies on the 1DH contain active substances. Unfortunately you know little or nothing about Medicine and Homeopathy and that's your problem.
Doctors prescribing homeopathic remedies for minor ailments are making false claims. Even if some homeopathic remedies contain active ingredients, reliable and valid information about effectiveness is missing (the only available information is of the kind we already know is highly unreliable and unlikely to be valid). It contravenes the international code of medical ethics to lie to your patients (by telling them something may be effective when good science tells us that is unlikely) or to fail to provide them informed consent (failing to inform them that they are receiving a placebo). Asolepius' understanding of medicine and homeopathy seems just fine.

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Old 5th December 2007, 12:40 PM   #31
Ivor the Engineer
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Doctors prescribing homeopathic remedies for minor ailments are making false claims. Even if some homeopathic remedies contain active ingredients, reliable and valid information about effectiveness is missing (the only available information is of the kind we already know is highly unreliable and unlikely to be valid). It contravenes the international code of medical ethics to lie to your patients (by telling them something may be effective when good science tells us that is unlikely) or to fail to provide them informed consent (failing to inform them that they are receiving a placebo). Asolepius' understanding of medicine and homeopathy seems just fine.

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It's more of a guideline, really.
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Old 5th December 2007, 01:06 PM   #32
Blue Wode
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Originally Posted by Asolepius View Post
I am totally baffled as to how an MD is ever going to use homeopathy without making false claims.

..especially in the UK where

Quote:
GMC [General Medical Council] rules have always stated that "information must be factual and verifiable".

‘The GMC is right to come down hard on doctors who wrongly prescribe complementary medicine’
Edzard Ernst
http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/sto...352030,00.html

Last edited by Blue Wode; 5th December 2007 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 5th December 2007, 01:33 PM   #33
blutoski
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Originally Posted by Phytotherapist View Post
Mojo - Homeopathy, although ineffective, can be very useful if used by an MD in the context of conventional Medicine as I explained in another thread. If your Laws allow non MDs to practise and make false and misleading claims, then you should fight to change this situation.
Could you link to the other thread, please. I find it incredible that anybody can support this claim without stretching the definition of homeopathic beyond recognition.
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Old 5th December 2007, 04:50 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Acleron View Post
Sorry

Don't worry: according to this, you're not the only one.
Quote:
A letter from the Chief Executive [of the Society of Homeopaths] Paula Ross

The letter on page 5 starts ďItís been a tough few weeks for homeopathyĒ and it continues the grumbling about the number of complaints the SoH has been getting. More remarkably, Paula Ross boasts about the legal action that SoH took against the quackometer site (which she mistakenly confuses with the US site, Quackwatch). When one realises the major disaster for SoH that this legal action caused, itís a bit surprising that the Chief Executive hasnít been fired.
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