Homeopaths are constantly trying to make out that they are a proper profession. They even have a professional body – The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) - which claims to regulate their activities. Last year, Sense about Science caught out a number of their members selling homoeopathic malarial prophylactics. One explained that it would “fill up the malaria shaped hole in your energy”! At the time the SoH pretty much refused to admit there was a problem.
Earlier this year I followed a link to the homeopath Sue Young’s blog where I found the “Parliament of Owls” which she (appropriately enough) acronymed to POO. The contents were often truly bizarre, and some was quite disturbing. On one occasion, after numerous claims as to the virtues of homeopathy a poster nicknamed “superburger” challenged her outright on her claims re AIDS. She responded by saying that she would use homeopathy to treat AIDS.
This is a direct breach of the Society of Homeopathy’s “Code of Ethics and Practice” so I emailed them with my concerns and provided a link. Patricia Moroney, the Society’s Professional Conduct Officer, wrote back by snail-mail and asked me to identify where I thought the Code had been breached. She did enclose a copy so I read it through and not only confirmed that Young was in breach of Rule 72 but various other of her POO pronouncements appeared to be in breach of various Rules as well. I therefore wrote the following in reply:-
Dear Ms Moroney
Re. Sue Young
Thank you for your letter in regards to my email regarding the above.
In her blog post The Parliament of Owls 2:2007 Iatrogenic Illnesses she makes the statements:-
“…mercury is a poison in large amounts so they fill our children’s teeth with it…” and
“These people were fit and well before they went to the dentist.”
First, anyone reading these words and giving credence to them will be discouraged from seeking dental treatment for themselves and their children. Second, I, like many of my generation, have amalgam fillings in my teeth. I do not suffer from mercury poisoning so clearly these statements are in breach of Rule 23 of the Code of Ethics and Practice which states “The gravity of a patient’s condition is not to be exaggerated”. I would further argue that the whole post is in breach of Rule 68 which urges homeopaths “To be careful not to draw up … any false or misleading documents.”
In comment 9 following the post she claims that tap water is toxic. This is untrue but I leave to the water companies to determine how best to respond to this slander of their product; my concern is that, given the context, this is an endorsement of bottled water and Rule 48 clearly states that “…No member may use their Society membership in the commercialisation of any product…” moreover this claim renders the post a “false or misleading document”, in breach of Rule 68.
Also in this comment, she quotes a ‘black friend’ as saying:-
“…we will just have to have a final solution to the white race eventually.”
By posting this statement she is endorsing an incitement to race hatred which is of course illegal. I draw your attention to Rule 55 which states that a homeopath is required “To comply with the law of the state, territory or country where the homeopath practices”. It did occur to me that this quote could be a fabrication but in that case I would argue that the anger it may incite in whites reading it is also an incitement to race hatred and thus still in breach of Rule 55.
Incidentally, racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination are not explicitly proscribed by the Code which I find to be a startling omission in this day and age.
In comment 14 following The Parliament of Owls 3:2007 Suppression she writes:-
“You ask ‘Do you accept that AIDS is a syndrome? Do you accept that HIV causes AIDS? Do you think homeopathy can treat AIDS or syphilis?’
“My answer, yes, yes, yes”
In comment 27 she writes:-
“…if I got AIDS – yes I would use homeopathy.”
These statements quite clearly imply that homeopathy can cure AIDS and thus is in breach of Rule 72 which states that a homeopath is required “To avoid making claims (whether explicit or implied; orally or in writing) implying cure of any named disease.”
I look forward to your response to these concerns.
There then followed weeks of silence so in September I wrote again to ask what progress had been made. On 3 October, Ms Moroney wrote back to say that they were “still investigating”. Since then, there has been silence.
In the meantime, Gimpy of Gimpy’s Blog discovered that the Society’s own website is in breach of their Code, see http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/. Clearly, if they don’t follow their own Code they are hardly likely to take action against one of their members who disregards it, which would explain why my complaint seems to have been stalled. The question that has to be asked, therefore, is what purpose is the SoH actually serving?
If we look here http://dcscience.net/?p=171 we see that the SoH threatened lecanardnoir of Quackbuster fame with libel over one of his posts but refused to say exactly what they considered to be wrong with it. Given their crude use of Britain’s oppressive libel laws to silence opposition it is clear that their purpose is simply to silence criticism, however justified, of their members.