The end of homeopathy?

Probably not, but one can hope.

British homeopaths are celebrating Homeopathy Awareness Week, yet it seems to me there is very little for them to celebrate.

Earlier this year, a report from the Commons Science and Technology Committee concluded that the principles of homeopathy are implausible and that the evidence fails to show that it works better than placebo. The MPs also criticised homeopaths for trying to mislead the public by providing inaccurate information. Their recommendation to government was to stop funding homeopathy on the NHS.

Then the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health, a staunch supporter of homeopathy in the NHS, folded in the midst of a police investigation for fraud and money laundering.

Last month, the British Medical Association described homeopathy as “witchcraft” and called for an end to all funding on the NHS.

A streak of bad luck? Not really. Homeopathy’s fortunes have been crumbling for quite some time. The evidence to suggest that it has effects beyond those of a placebo has become less and less convincing. In 2005, The Lancet even pronounced “the end of homeopathy”.

I suspect there will come a time when homeopathy becomes far less significant in society, but I believe that day to be very far off. People are just too willing to believe the snake oil salesmen out there – and the snake oil salesmen are all too happy to oblige that will to believe.

But there is some immediate good news. (In fact, so immediate, it’s in the past.)

As a result, one of the five NHS-funded homeopathic hospitals had to close. After assessing the science, its NHS trust found that the evidence did not justify any further funding.

Of course, even the homeopaths knew their junk had no evidence. They aren’t interested in any real science. And just to prove that point, they became bold and made their lying all the more public.

Faced with increasing criticism, UK homeopaths become more and more desperate. My team has found that the Society of Homeopaths even appears to have been in breach of its own code of ethics in attempting to promote homeopathy. On the society’s website, numerous statements about efficacy were made that were not backed by science and so were not allowed under its own regulations.

The society’s chief executive commented at the time, in November 2009, that she was grateful to me for highlighting these issues and that the society would investigate and make amendments where appropriate. The website has since changed but many, perhaps even most, members of that organisation continue to make claims that violate their society’s ethical standards.

I don’t for a moment expect the ethical standards of a fundamentally dishonest organization do anything significant with all these violation. Even if they do manage to clean up some of their act, their basis is still magical thinking that has no roots in science. The only way they could ever be called ethical sans a smirk is if shut down their whole operation.

It’s so simpy!

Instead of laying low like a good quack, Christopher Maloney has expanded his lies. He has made several sites, each one more poorly done than the last. And it’s all so perplexing. He cannot make anything better. We’ve already destroyed his web presence – “we” meaning the readers of this site, Richard Dawkins’ site, PZ Myer’s site, Respectful Insolence’s site, Dr. Novella’s site, David Colquhoun’s followers on Twitter, and the hundreds of other bloggers who picked up on the malarkey of Maloney. The best he can do is not make things worse. But fine. If he wants to keep expanding his Internet footprint (despite not really understanding how the Internet works), I’ll keep posting about him on my blog. After all, sure, I’m number 1-4 in Google for “Christopher Maloney Maine” when the quotation marks are included, but I’m only number 6 without them.

Of course, maybe this is just me making another simpy rant.

Previously, I have been bewildered by your need as individuals and as a group to attack me. But as I have come to understand you, it has become clear that you are sad and lost. Rather than engage in constructing the society that you would like to live in, you have given up hope and simpy rant from the sidelines.

I guess he’s made some progress. Instead of going to length to let all who visit his main website know that half the Internet has attacked him, he has moved everything several links away. But he loses points for directly addressing two distinct audiences on the same page.

Pharyngula: the Master Blog

Unless you happen to be interested in the opinions of the ignorant (basically internet graffiti), it is necessary to both moderate a blog and to respond to personal emails. Since PZ Myers does neither, his blog is the equivalent of a bathroom stall in terms of quality of information.

Yet if you search for replications of Myers’ blog posts, you will find several dozen individuals who are intelligent enough to copy his information but do not engage in any true evaluation. These are his “minions” people who either automatically post his ramblings or add their own profanity to his tirades.

I actually have several responses from PZ in my email. Hell, I even have a Cc response from Simon Singh during the height of his legal troubles. Maybe not everyone deserves a response about everything? Crazy, I know.

As far as moderating goes, no. Unless someone is spamming or posting something which may bring about moderation from the hosting site (e.g., porn), there ought to be free range for users. I can understand why a naturopath would be against this sort of open exchange, but Maloney is wrong on this one.

Next up, Maloney links to a number of “Myer’s Minions”, arbitrarily picking 12 (several of which I hadn’t even seen until just moments ago) and calling them “The Dirty Dozen”. I presumed they would all be “simpy” copy and paste jobs of PZ’s post. That would make sense since he apparently has excluded FTSOS from the list, right? Well, most are repeats, but a couple clearly are not. One is Dr. Novella’s post which goes to length to refute Maloney’s bull and misrepresentations. Another is A Hot Cup of Joe. This one gets cited twice, once for a recount of PZ’s post. The second time, however, goes to length to address Maloney’s malarkey.

So give this a moment’s thought (because Maloney clearly did not). He’s been trying to hammer home that everyone is just a minion or parrot of PZ’s, yet he includes sites which do no such thing. (Note, there is nothing wrong with the repeats; they’re why I’m back in business.) One wonders why, then, he would exclude the central person in the criticism of him and his profession – me.

But don’t worry! Under “Pharyngula” I finally get my mention. (Because that’s the location that makes the most sense. Sure.) I’m so flattered.

The Maine kid with an English degree who can’t read science.

First I was a freshman. Then I was 18. Then I was an English major. And now I have an English degree. Oh, and naturopaths apparently read science. Not scientific literature, raw data, or anything of that nature. They literally read science itself. It’s magical.

Here Maloney links to an old post of his which just repeats his lies and anti-vaccine positions. I’ve already addressed them.

My absolute favorite part of Maloney’s new quack outlet has to be this.

Did Myers basically turn over his blog to some Maine kid? Is he losing it? I haven’t seen a single “campaign” against the pope, child molesting priests, or specific evangelicals. I’ve been reading through Myers blog, and organizing attacks is not his style. He’s not a rabble rouser, he’s a rabble collector. More like a bar tender than a guru.

There are two possibilities here. One, Maloney is lying and he has not actually read through PZ’s site. Two, he has read it, but he just likes to lie that much. It’s tough to pick one.

When has a week gone by where PZ hasn’t attacked the pope or priests? Since when is attacking Graham and others not specific enough? Was Crackergate not a big enough “campaign”? Christ. This is such basic information about Pharyngula.

A lot of this junk has already been addressed, I know. For instance, Maloney is still insisting that he had a post which was not allowed. He has already been told several times that he triggered the spam filter because he included five links. The exact same thing would happened to him on FTSOS (and I think I’m being rather generous with how many I allow). But do any of these facts matter? Of course not.

So I will end with this final gem:

For the sake of clarity, I took on the role of Quackalicious and was clear about who I was. Almost all the posters maintain anonymity, allowing them to say things that they would never say to someone in public. The following posts should be taken within the framework of a black man walking into a KKK meeting. People were prejudiced against me from the start, and I had to keep my temper while having a deluge of profanity hurled my way.

Oh, totally. I can really see how the plight of a black man is so similar to Maloney’s. I mean, he was judged by the piss-poor content of his ideas, his lack of empirical evidence, his dishonest behavior, and his insistence on spamming up the place with his Gish Gallop routine. Really, if black people would have just stopped doing all that, well heck, we probably wouldn’t even have had a civil war.

Where’s the shame?

I really just think Christopher Maloney doesn’t quite understand the Internet. He will make out-of-context posts all over the place, often just repeating himself. For instance, once the Internet blew up in his face, he posted this letter on a number of sites. It makes specific references and is directly addressed to PZ. His website was even worse, where he put a shitload of posts (which no one was about to tease apart) from Pharyngula and elsewhere where he basically says “Look! Look at my responses! They were dismissed everywhere else, but now that I’m reposting them, they must be true!” He has since taken down a lot of that material, so I guess that shows promise. Honestly. By addressing everything with so much Gish Gallop nonsense, he only made himself look worse (which is a feat in itself); everything clearly was (and is) stressing him out, his (misdirected) SIWOTI sense was (and is) going off the chart, and he was (and still is) only making it worse. Since he obviously can’t make anything better for himself at this point, the best he can do is not make it worse. That should have been obvious from the get-go. It’s the Internet. Learn it.

But, alas, he wants to keep it going.

I have requested meeting Hawkins’ in person, and he has responded by running to your blog.

Note the time stamp on that post. It was May 6 at 7:52 am. Maloney made his request on May 5 at 9:07pm (and it came across as an ambiguous, disoriented threat to go to the police). Now look at the time PZ made his post. May 4 at 5:44pm. Maloney made his request a full day after I emailed PZ with an update. This rearranging of events is common for Maloney. I’ve already documented quite a bit of his lying, but he’s getting so blatant now that I’m almost bored.

Of course, there’s more.

Since this is our first actual exchange, I will repeat. Like all stalkers you will not have the courage to meet with me. It is part of the pathology of stalking, and you are creating a feeble rationale.

Immediately above that post I said I would meet him. The only “feeble rationale” that I put forth was that I would not do it at his convenience, on his terms, sans all other witnesses people, and I would not let him “ply” me with anything, even if it is only useless homeopathic ‘medicine’. He is the one demanding the meeting; he does not get to dictate the terms. Of course, to him this means that I won’t meet him at all.

If you were capable of examining your own actions objectively, you would see that I have not reacted angrily to months of ignorant abuse. I reacted only when you managed, somewhat bizarrely, to get me noticed by Myers.

Right. The hours of hunting down critical websites, the trolling of threads on Pharyngula a month later, and the lengthy posts on his own site certainly do not indicate any sort of anger. Right…r-right?

Oh, and it wasn’t bizarre at all that PZ posted about Maloney on Pharyngula. Maloney and Moritz emailed each other back and forth before collaborating on a plan to get me shut down. The fact that Moritz was the one who sent the whining email is inconsequential to the guilt of Maloney.

But, despite months of your obsession, this is our first actual exchange. To claim that I am somehow the irrationally angry person is classic projection of your own pathology.

Says the guy who has been continuously claiming on his own website that I’m the obsessed one? While he continued to troll Pharyngula, pressing what had become an old, dead issue?

I would ask you this: how have I injured you? Have I reacted in any way that would justify your obsession with me? The only email I sent you was one requesting no contact with me, my family, or my neighbers, which you did not honor.

I actually honored the request not to contact Maloney or his family. He claims he received a paper, but given that he also claims I stuffed it in his screen door, I suspect he’s just lying again. (I never open anyone’s doors, and I doubt I mistakenly gave him a paper in the first place anyway.) His request I not contact his “neighbers”, however, was a silly one. Aside from the fact that the relative closeness of the houses to each other in that area makes it good for distribution, the people physically closest to Maloney need to know the sort of quackery he practices.

But as for injury, naturopaths do not have the proper training to be receiving patients, except according to unfortunate state laws. That is enough motivation for me. The fact that Maloney brought attention to himself in the first place with a letter to the editor of the local paper just raised his profile.

Now I am requesting that we sit down and discuss the situation like adults, but it is evident that your pathology is too severe to allow you any insight.

No, he is requesting that we sit down with no witnesses people so he can “ply” me with diluted ‘medicine’. I’ll be happy to call him a quack to his face, but not under ridiculous, creepo terms.

Your university told me that they have brought up counseling for you, but that they could not force you to take their suggestions.

I have been forwarded an email where Maloney claims to have gone to my university. Apparently he wanted to discuss whether or not my paper was endorsed by UMA. I’ve never claimed any sort of endorsement, so I’m not sure why Maloney would think I have. At any rate, I’ve never been contacted by anyone from UMA for any reason whatsoever. Maloney is lying. Again.

The Augusta police department is very familar with you, and if you continue your obsession I will need to take legal action. Not as a threat, Michael, just to make sure you get help.

He says the APD is familiar with me as if I don’t know. After I wrote about how one officer had no idea how to handle a freedom of information request, I personally delivered a copy to the police department. When I later discovered that another officer who was mentioned in the article had a Facebook profile, I friend requested him (not because I thought he would accept, but instead because it made me chuckle to do it at all), sending him all the links in which he was mentioned.

But it’s cute that Maloney is pretending as if he isn’t making a threat. No, no. It’s just out of genuine concern for my welfare, right? Don’t mind all the lies leading up to this new claim.

But I’m curious. What would a lawsuit from Maloney look like? Aside from probably getting him far more national attention, I suspect it would be utterly ridiculed when everyone realized that the complaint came down to “someone was mean to me!”. But hell, maybe I would get more emails from people like Simon Singh and Richard Dawkins.

Christopher Maloney: still lying

You all know Christopher Maloney, the quack with a history of lying. For quite some time he has remained pretty quiet, unlike Andreas Moritz, thus preventing himself from appearing on FTSOS too much. Unfortunately, I just came across some of his lies.

2/25/10
Michael Hawkins’ blog was offline for all of four days, including a weekend that involved a general wordpress failure of many sites. At this point it is clear the entire skeptic charade was a lot of screaming about nothing but standard software error. I don’t expect an apology anytime soon.

First, my site was down for 6 days. Second, Maloney is trying to say that the reason my site was down was because WordPress had technical difficulties. Those difficulties lasted a short period of time and were unrelated to the suspension of FTSOS that happened. But does anyone expect a scummy person like Maloney to be honest?

Michael Hawkins of Augusta ran a blog attacking me for a few months. In the process he began arguing with his webhost, got himself suspended, then argued with them again and got kicked off.

He flatters himself. There was one post of a letter I sent to the editor in response to Maloney. That letter was too strongly worded, so I sent another and posted that. I then responded to the responses that raised. I then responded to an email that threatened legal action from one of Maloney’s fans. (There was also one more post that merely mentioned Maloney, but was not about him.) He makes it sound like this blog is all about him. It isn’t. Most of the topics are far more interesting, and in fact, there were over 75 other posts made over the time I mentioned Maloney.

Of course Maloney has to conveniently forget all the details, right? He says that “in the process” of my posts about him I began arguing with WordPress. That isn’t true. I only made a post about “Mark” from WordPress being a simpleton after I got a warning from WordPress (as well as a brief suspension, what with this host’s shoot-first policy). I was pretty much done with Maloney at that point. But, of course, what Maloney doesn’t mention is that he was emailing Moritz back and forth; Moritz, armed with false information about Maloney’s status in Maine, had gone to WordPress. Does anyone else believe this makes Maloney innocent?

But there’s more!

My deepest apologies to my friends and neighbors who received the “Without Apology” hate mail.

Michael Hawkins is someone I have never met. He is not a patient, does not know any of my patients, and is only interested in attacking me because he wants attention. Today he waited until I was away from my home before stuffing his hate mail inside my screen door, which gives a pretty good sense of him as a person.

As I noted in my post about that edition of Without Apology, I specifically tried avoiding Maloney’s home. There were two houses which had lights on inside, but the outside light was too low for me to see the numbers. Since I don’t like approaching homes while people are awake at that time unless I can throw my paper from a distance (I’d rather not scare people), I did not get close enough to check the exact address. Maloney’s house number is 4, so I thought I was avoiding house 4 and 6 or 4 and 2. If anything, I was disappointed that I couldn’t risk giving all his neighbors my publication. Apparently he did get a paper, which is great, but I specifically tried avoiding giving him one because he sent me an email telling me not to contact him, his family, friends, or neighbors. He has a legitimate request on the first two counts, but his friends and neighbors are not off-limits. The fact that he mentioned them (not that I know any of his friends) is why I went to his neighborhood.

But my favorite part of this is that he thinks I know when he is and isn’t home. How? Does he think I stalk him? That’s the first time I’ve ever been on his small road. Hell, I wasn’t even sure which house was his. And I certainly didn’t “stuff” anything in anyone’s screen door. I would never open someone’s door like that because 1) that’s creepy and 2) it would make a lot of noise. It’s possible that I placed a paper in the handles of some doors, but I doubt it since the papers are small and would have just fallen out. I pretty much just throw the papers on porches or some other visible location.

I encourage any and all neighbors to contact the Augusta city police department if they see him lurking around. The department is already very familiar with him because he spent one of his “newspaper” issues attacking them after he received a parking ticket.

Lol? Yes, lol.

I walked around his neighborhood in light colored khakis and a red shirt. I’m not sure how that is lurking.

But again with the lies. My article about the Augusta Police was not merely over a parking ticket. It was about an officer who did not understand that he needed to hand over certain records under the Maine Freedom of Information Act. The ticket was from years ago and played a small role in the motivation for asking for the records. (The bigger motivation was course requirement for a journalism class I happened to be taking.) I eventually received a written and signed apology from the chief of police over the incident.

On a side note, I’ve been surprised no one has asked me what I’ve been doing this whole time. I know people have seen me in various neighborhoods, but no one has asked me what’s up. Granted, other than once when it was freezing, I always wear fairly bright clothes, but it seems like the “Neighborhood Watch” signs should mean something.

But sure, tell the police that you see me. If I continue with the paper, I’ll even be sure to let them know when I’m going to be distributing it so they don’t have to waste their time asking me for ID over something that is not illegal. I mean, Christ. I have my name all over the paper, I know the police have seen it (I personally dropped it off at the police station), and I even have contact information included.

My understanding of him is that he is a desperately lonely UMA freshman who has fallen in with a group of atheists online and this hate mail process is a bit like trying to join a gang for him.

Well, it’s not like anyone has ever thought Maloney has much understanding of anything.

Aside from being a senior (who will have a Liberal Studies degree next semester, followed by a Biology degree shortly thereafter), I find it unfortunate that Maloney is trying to ‘win’ his case by using “atheist” as if it’s a dirty word. Atheists are some of the brightest people around, especially those who are in the limelight, so I ought to be taking this as a compliment. And really, wasn’t it atheists who helped me get my blog back? Thanks again to PZ, Richard Dawkins, and all the others who sent emails of support and made anti-quack posts on their sites.

Hawkins’ whole group has targeted me as someone small enough that they can attempt to bully me.

Really? PZ Myers dealt with the whole uproar over Crackergate. Richard Dawkins is one of the most famous atheists in the world. Simon Singh, who also sent me an email, recently beat the quackery of chiropractors in the U.K. Is this really about bullying or is it just that Maloney practices quackery?

I’m not sure if they’d like me to simply shut down or to cease to exist. I have been providing them with a steady stream of medical studies supporting what I practice, but for the most part these “scientists” are more interested in swearing at me than engaging in conversation.

Here’s another instance of someone undeserving of respect demanding he be given it. It’s pathetic. Oh, and Dr. Steven Novella had a pretty good take down of all those studies Maloney was abusing.

Christopher – you are just going through all the CAM logical fallacies, aren’t you.

Now you are playing – I have bad evidence, but so does regular medicine.

There is simply no comparison. We have already demonstrated that your ability to asses the evidence is incompetent, and you have not answered any of the direct questions. You cited irrelevant research, and you partially quoted an abstract drawing the wrong conclusion. You might as well just make it up.

The level of evidence for elderberry and garlic is so slight that the reliability is close to zero – this is almost as good as no evidence at all.

You cannot defend your position, so you trot out all the canards against mainstream medicine.

And to answer Maloney’s curiosity, we would like you to shut down. Your existence is okay.

I have been unimpressed by the level of scientific knowledge displayed and find myself having to explain the basics of medical research.

Again, Mr. Novella:

Christopher,

You are making excuses. There is not a difference between practice and science – practice should be based upon science. You simply cannot really know what works without scientific evidence. It is naive hubris to think otherwise.

Update: I guess I missed some more lies.

(Series of unfunny junk written without a bit of irony.)

Maloney also posted that on Pharyngula. Here is a rather succinct response.

No, the Qwackster is not a Poe. Just an idjit. Somehow, he thinks he becoming an authority via his repetative posts, so we will believe his malarky. That isn’t working, and he looks more desparate and deluded with each post. If he had even a smidgeon of intelligence he would just fade into the bandwidth, and quit wasting his time.

Double update: PZ has a new post.

Congratulations to Simon Singh

Simon Singh no longer has to worry about that pesky, quacking lawsuit against him.

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has admitted defeat in its defamation battle with science writer Simon Singh.

The BCA yesterday served notice of discontinuance of its action against Dr Singh.

But wait! There’s more! (And it’s even better.)

Solicitor Robert Dougans, of law firm Bryan Cave, which represented Dr Singh, said: “To have won this case for Simon is the proudest moment of my career, but if we had the libel laws we ought to have I would never have met Simon at all.

“Until we have a proper public interest defence scientists and writers are going to have to carry on making the unenviable choice of either shying away from hard-hitting debate, or paying through the nose for the privilege of defending it.

He said the only issue which remained to be settled was the amount of his costs Dr Singh would be able to recover from the BCA, and how much he would have to pay himself.

It is believed that Dr Singh’s costs amount to some £200,000.

Simon Singh wins

Simon Singh is a physicist and author who has been facing legal challenges from a bunch of U.K. chiropractors who sued after he called them out for being quacks. His legal woes at first looked mournful as decisions were going against him, but he has just won his appeal.

Dr Singh questioned the claims of some chiropractors over the treatment of certain childhood conditions.

The High Court had said the words were fact not opinion – meaning Dr Singh could not use the fair comment defence.

However, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley ruled High Court judge Mr Justice Eady had “erred in his approach” last May, and allowed Dr Singh’s appeal.

BBC News science correspondent Pallab Ghosh says that, had Justice Eady’s ruling stood, it would have made it difficult for any scientist or science journalist to question claims made by companies or organisations without opening themselves up to a libel action that would be hard to win.

Two things. First, the U.K. has extravagant names for its justices. Second, this is great news for science. It’s an all too common tactic of quacks to threaten lawsuits. Their goal is to quash criticism; they damn well know what they pedal has little to no evidence. To expose that fact is to undermine the whole PR machine that keeps these people in business.

Dr Singh described the ruling as “brilliant”, but added that the action had cost £200,000 “just to define the meaning of a few words”.

Again, the hope of the chiropractors was that this excessive cost associated with these legal matters would result in a settlement. The Guardian, where Singh’s article originally appeared, had even offered to pay to settle. Fortunately, Singh fought for the intergrity of the scientific process and pushed ahead with all the court proceedings. (The Guardian still chose to pay for his legal advice.)

The British Chiropractic Association said it was disappointed to lose the appeal but it was “not the end of the road”.

BCA president Richard Brown said: “We are considering whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and subsequently proceed to trial.

“Our original argument remains that our reputation has been damaged. The BCA brought this claim only to uphold its good name and protect its reputation, honesty and integrity”.

The distinction between chiropractors with real medical training who can actually offer people help and sometimes even effective therapy versus those who are just quacks is becoming increasingly useless because the field has such low standards. I have no idea what Richard Brown is thinking when he actually claims his association has this so-called honesty and integrity. Perhaps it’s fair to say a few individuals are reputable (within particular constraints and boundaries), but as a whole? No. Even if this decision went against Singh (forcing him to defend his comments as fact as opposed to opinion), he would still eventually win. It’s just too implausible to think so many people can honestly think so many things to be true without any evidence.

Oh wait.