Over the past week there has been an ongoing ‘evidence check’ by the ‘House of Commons Science and Technology Sub-Committee’ to see whether the governments current policies on issues relating to homeopathy were supported by scientific evidence. The manner in which the evidence is being checked largely revolves around a series of expert panels being questioned by a committee of MPs.
In the first of these panels which took place on the 25th November 2009 the panels of experts stacked up as follows:
Dr. Ben Goldacre– Medical doctor, writer and Guardian columnist. Merciless mocker of bad science and tireless advocate of good science. Tracey Brown- Managing director of science advocacy charity Sense About Science. Another tireless promoter of science who is a familiar face to all those following the Simon Singh libel case. Prof. Jayne Lawrence- Chief Scientific Advisor for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Title says it all really. Paul Bennet- Professional Standards Director of well known pharmaceutical retailer, Boots. Present because Boots is one of the largest retailers of Homeopathic remedies in the UK. Robert Wilson- Chairman of the British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers. Shockingly an advocate for homeopathy.
Prof. Edzard– Director of Complementary Medicine Group at Peninsula Medical School. Long term researcher into the validity of alternative treatments and co-author of Trick or Treatment: Alternative medicine on trial with Simon Singh. Dr. James Thallon- Medical Director of NHS West Kent. Not familiar with the chap but he seemed to be an advocate of evidence based medicine and hence less than impressed with homeopathy. Dr. Peter Fisher- Director of Research at Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. Hard to direct research at a homeopathic hospital without being a staunch advocate for homeopathy. A practising homeopath and a medical doctor. Dr. Robert Mathie- Research Development Advisor of the British Homeopathic Association. Another staunch advocate for homeopathy.
I apologise for the long delay in posting. I have not been blogging lately due to the ridiculous sunny weather which London and myself are currently enjoying. However, now that the initial shock of seeing the sun for such extended periods has begun to wear off a little I’m going to try and get back to my regular blogging schedule (which in case anyone is wondering is supposed to be a post every 3-5 days).
Now although I have been enjoying the sun, I have not been completely slacking off as I have also been attending a couple of sciencey/skeptical events in particular ‘The Night of 400 Billion stars (and maybe some string theory)‘ at Bloomsbury Theatre and the Skeptics in the Pub/Ben Goldacre ‘Troublemakers Fringe‘ alternative to the ‘World Conference of Science Journalists’ at the Penderel Oak.
So I thought it might be a good way to get back into the blogging swing to give a ‘short’ roundup/review of both events. Here goes…
Psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall is credited as the creator of “the complicated mathematical formula” that underlay this discovery and the article also included some of his sage advice on the best ways to be happy this summer.
Here is the formula in full:
O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He.
Put simply, he gave values to each symbol and added being outdoors (O) to nature (N) multiplied by social interaction (S), added memories of childhood summers (Cpm) divided by the temperature (T), and added excitement about holidays (He).
And here are some of Dr. Cliff’s comments on finding happiness:
People may be less able to afford other leisure activities but it’s free to walk in the park or paddle in a stream.
The most important thing in our lives are our relationships – and no amount of money can buy that.
Now, there are several issues that could be taken with all of this, namely:
With all the hoo-haa surrounding the dreaded swine flu it has been hard to know which sources to trust. So as a followup to my previous post on the topic I’ve compiled a short list of some excellent articles which I recommend that anyone with an interest in finding out reliable information on the topic have a look at.
A frequent point that comes up in most discussions of alternative medicine is- what’s the harm? So what if they don’t have any real evidence that they work? If people want to get a nice foot massage at a refloxology session or take homeopathic pills when they get a cold is that really so bad?
My general response to such points is that I agree that, generally speaking, most people in the West who make use of alternative medicine treatments aren’t really doing any harm. In fact I would go so far as to say that in a fair amount of cases the treatments are probably beneficial to the individual due to a combination of the placebo effect and relaxation. The problems come however when we look further afield than those using alternative medicine as a complementary system of medicine for minor health problems.