I hadn’t realised what had gone on in the UK in terms of woo until I read Ben Goldacre’s terrific and lightly humoured book. I was reading it at the time that charlatan Andrew Wakefield was found guilty on something like 30 charges of ‘grossly unethical behaviour’ via the British General Medical Council. I had only heard murmurings in Australia about the MMR vaccine furore in the late 90s and wasn’t sufficiently interested until I read Bad Science. I surprised myself by becoming quite incensed at Wakefield’s chicanery. So I was able to make many and vociferous comments in the on-line newspapers about Wakefield’s opportunism and appallingly poor professional behaviour at the appropriate time. It was also great to harness my comments to debunk homoeopathy and CAM at the same time.It was gratifying to see him walk away from his day job at Thoughtful House in the US as well.
The pity, of course, is in The Lancet’s handling of submissions made for inclusion in its august pages. I have always thought there has been the potential in the ‘peer reviewing’ fraternity for some shenanigans and, indeed, there have been some notable cases. Just shows that vigilance is and always has been the price paid for truth.
Then I came across Gillian McKeith in Goldacre’s book. Yet another opportunist and an appalling version of the species. I see she has been hired (yet again) by some TV group to star in a series of programmes in which she will make her subjects, cry, diet, pay them and make her at-home audience think she is doing a job worth doing. Where do these people get their critical thinking training?
Bad Science is one of those books that every adolescent should be given for his/her entry to teenager-hood. I think the woo complementary and alternative medicine crew would find it harder to garner their unscrupulous livings if people were more aware of the blatant rubbish that is touted through our pharmacies (!!!) as well as so-called ‘health food’ shops.
The damage and continuing potential for damage that such nonsense allows is alarming. My concern is also with those who think that their ‘illness’ has been cured by homoeopathy when the illness is self-limiting anyway, the quack instructions suggest a waiting period of several days (ha!!) and these people are only relating their own anecdotal experience. People need to learn that an anecdote does not a double-blind, statistically large sample experiment make. Whew!!