More From Woo-full Westminster

[BPSDB]It would appear that the University of Westminster have learned nothing from the intellectual mauling they received from Professor David Colquhoun over their homeopathy degree.

I happenned to be looking at their website today when I noticed that they are offering an undergraduate diploma in qigong tuina. I had never heard of this so clicked the link to have a closer look.

Oh dear. Lots of stuff about qi energy, including claims that the understanding of this nebulous concept will improve diagnosis and treatment. However, a contact email address for Rosey Grandage, the diploma course leader, is conveniently given so I emailed the following:

Dear Ms Grandage

As a science blogger I was intrigued by the fact that the University of Westminster School of Life Sciences offers the above diploma. I was particularly interested in the assertions that:

1. When combined with qi gong (the study of qi or vital energy) these techniques give a deep and effective means of diagnosing and understanding illness on many levels.


2. Case taking, diagnostic skills and treatment techniques are enhanced by the practice of qigong, which gives the practitioner the ability to understand both their own and the patients qi

I would be grateful if you could let me have a link to the research which supports the claims that diagnosis and treatment are improved by an understanding of qi.

Yours sincerely

John Hawcock

If I get any sort of reply to the above, I will let you know.

Meanwhile, I learn that:

The course assumes a thorough working knowledge of western anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

I do wonder what they mean by “western” in this context. Does the University of Westminster School of Life Sciences think that human biology is different in the East? Are skeletons structured differently there? Do organs have a different function? Does the germ theory of disease not apply?

One would have thought that somebody who knows how the human body actually works would not be much attracted to mysticism, so what sort of people are Westminster trying to attract to this course?

Successful applicants will normally be members of a professional organisation such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the General Council of Osteopaths, the Royal College of Nursing or the Shiatsu Society.

I am not at all surprised to see Shiatsu among that list, since Shiatsu is another school of ancient eastern thought that nobody ever heard of before the twentieth century. Osteopathy is a little disturbing as it is supposed to be the respectable end of muscular-skeletal manipulation, unlike the woo-ful British Chiropractic Association.

It seriously worries me to see The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Royal College listed as sources of recruits to this course. I do not know how many CSP or RCN members sign up for this course but if any at all do then we are left with the disturbing thought that there are people who are qualified physiotherapists and nurses who cannot distinguish between evidence and magical thinking.


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8 Responses to “More From Woo-full Westminster”

  1. Rob A Says:

    I thought osteopathy was a pseudo-religion like chiropractic?

    • jaycueaitch Says:

      I don’t think it’s quite as bad. No bollocks about ‘subluxations’ and confine themselves to claims about muscles and joints rather than the unevidenced claims of the chiropractors

  2. symball Says:

    Unfortunately many of the more respectable professions have also been infiltrated by the more woo friendly- many people who have quite valid evidence based vocational qualifications or licenses also offer some less than scientific spin off treatments.

  3. Neuroskeptic Says:

    “Tuina is one of the three main modalities of Chinese medicine, the others being acupuncture and herbs.”

    So it sounds to me like Chinese medicine is based on eating tuna with herbs… tasty.

  4. An Informative Silence « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] Letting Off Steam Venting my anger at the woos « More From Woo-full Westminster […]

  5. A Second Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] health claims. I discovered that the University of Westminster’s School of Life Sciences is offering a course in qigong tuina. The website made claims about students learning to use qi to diagnose and heal. This being a […]

  6. Unevidence Based Medicine « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] can read the reply here. As I have mentioned previously I was somewhat surprised that a university biology department was making claims about […]

  7. Dumbass Says:

    I like how this course only “assumes” a thorough working knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

    “We’re not going to actually make sure you have a valid education in these topics… we’ll just go by the honour system!”

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