The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for June 6th, 2009

Death by Alternative “Medicine”

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 6, 2009

In my most recent post – Silencing Skepticism: The Case of Simon Singh – I outlined the dangers in allowing alternative “medicine” woo-meisters to silence skeptics.  But in the process of writing that entry, I left out perhaps the most important reason why skeptics must fight against attempts to silence them: alternative “medicine” can kill.

Case in point…

Parents guilty of manslaughter over daughter’s eczema death

A couple whose baby daughter died after they treated her with homeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicine have been found guilty of manslaughter.

Gloria Thomas died aged nine months after spending more than half her life with eczema.

The skin condition wore down her natural defences and left her completely vulnerable when she developed an eye infection that killed her within days of developing.

Thomas Sam, 42, a homeopath, and Manju Sam, 37, of Earlwood, Sydney, were charged with manslaughter by gross criminal negligence.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. ‘Nuff said.

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Silencing Skepticism: The Case of Simon Singh

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 6, 2009

There is a very important issue regarding skepticism & free inquiry that came to my attention just today.  I was listening to the latest (June 3rd) Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, and they were discussing the case of Simon Singh. Singh is a science journalist in Britain, who has written a number of popular science books (such as Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book) plus a lot of newspaper articles.

And it was one of these articles, written for The Guardian in April 2008, that got him into some trouble.  In this article – titled “Beware the Spinal Trap” – he criticizes the alternative “medical” woo of chiropractic and specifically takes to task the British Chiropractic Association for the promotion of nonsense such as using chiropractic subluxations to treat children with asthma.  In short, Singh laid down the gauntlet to the BCA in his article by noting that they didn’t have any scientific evidence to support their claims.

The BCA’s reaction?  They’re suing Singh for libel. No written response to The Guardian outlining flaws in Singh’s argument, nor did the BCA attempt to provide evidence showing their claims – this despite the fact that they were invited to do so publicly by The Guardian. Instead they sue Singh in an attempt to use England’s libel laws in order to shut down any public criticism of their pseudoscientific garbage.

**Aside: You can read the entire account of this sordid affair, in Simon Singh’s words, at this link.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in free inquiry, medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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