SoH Letter to the Guardian

If you visit http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/whats-new/press-releases.aspx you will find the text of a letter they have sent to the Guardian in resonse to Ben Goldacre’s column ‘Threats – the homeopathic panacea’. The column can be found at www.badscience.net and presumably on the Guardian’s website as well. The Society is trying to spin its way out of the issues raised by Dr Goldacre. Andy Kirk (Chair, Society of Homeopaths) wrote:-

The Society of Homeopaths took the content of the BBC Newsnight programme very seriously and responded via press statements and media interviews promising action if it were required.

The SoH’s Melanie Oxley was interviewed on the programme. She did her best to dodge the questions put to her by the interviewer and started  burbling about homeopathic provings. The press release they put out subsequently failed to address the issues raised in the programme. See for yourself at http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/whats-new/past-press-releases/ scroll down to the July 2006 entry. Andy Kirk continues:-

We contacted the programme makers directly to ask for their evidence that any Society members had given dangerous or misleading advice to members of the public. They were unable to provide a single example.

Simon Singh, of Sense About Science, alleged that three of the homeopaths caught on film giving potentially lethal advice were members of SoH and that one was a Fellow! If these people were falsely claiming membership then one would have expected the SoH to take  out an injunction against them to stop them making false claims of membership. Such claims, combined with their dangerous advice, would surely lower the reputation of the Society and the SoH is very protective of its reputation. I am not aware of any such action ever being taken. If their claims of Society membership were true, then the Newsnight footage provided the evidence the Society claims to need. Kirk continues:-

…we reissued our Guidelines on advice for the prevention of malaria and sent a copy to every member within a day of the programme being aired.

I cannot find these guidelines on the public part of their website. They may be behind their members only paywall. As to their attemped censorship of Andy Lewis:-

“The Society instructed lawyers to write to the Internet Service Provider of Dr. Lewis’ website because the content of his site was not merely critical but defamatory of The Society, with the effect that its reputation could have been lowered. Dr Lewis, in his article, stated as fact highly offensive comments about The Society…”

Two things: the article can be read at http://homeopathiccomplaints.wordpress.com/ amongst many other places. Judge for yourself whether it is offensive or merely emphatic. Furthermore, Andy Lewis emailed the SoH to find out which of his assertions were a problem (read the email at http://www.badscience.net ). He received no reply.

 “The very crude abuse posted on various websites and e-mailed to The Society since our action suggests that these bloggers/authors are not people who are interested in a real debate on the basis of either science or the public good but who simply want to attack homeopathy for the very sake of it.”

Here Kirk attempts to use the comments made by bloggers after the legal action as justification for taking the legal action. There’s doubtless a posh latin term for this particular logical fallacy but it’s better known as putting the cart before the horse.

“During the course of the [House of LordsSelect Committee on Science & Technology's Inquiry into CAM], the Society was cited as a model of best practice in voluntary self regulation…”

Cited by who? The implication of this paragraph is that it was the Select Committee that so cited them but I cannot find this citation in any record of the proceedings. In any event, given their record on investigating complaints, what is the worst practice like if this lot are the best? In his final paragraph, Kirk writes of the SoH’s “culture of research”.What research would that be? The ludicrous “provings” I descibed in “A Beginners Guide to Homeopathy” or perhaps they mean this: http://www.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?C3E78B91C3859F98 ? A “survey” which has only one allowed answer. That is one way of getting 100% support! Just like a North Korean election.

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One Response to “SoH Letter to the Guardian”

  1. jdc Says:

    Excellent stuff. I very nearly started clapping as I read that – but the colleague I share an office with already thinks I’m slightly odd.

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