David Colquhoun, Twitter-addicted scourge of scientific quackery
by Tim Adams posted on April 22, 2013 12:53PM GMT
Professor of pharmacology David Colquhoun is the take-no-prisoners debunker of pseudoscience on his unmissable blog
Patientsí guide to Magic medicine
This is a short guide, adapted and expanded from the list published here. It isnít exactly a scientific review. but it seems to me to sum up most of what a patient needs to know. At least it is more accurate than HRHís guide.
The guide has now been reproduced in the Financial Times (apart from the new last item). Perhaps it will even be read by more people than the original.
■Homeopathy: giving patients medicines that contain no medicine whatsoever.
■Herbal medicine: giving patients an unknown dose of an ill-defined drug, of unknown effectiveness and unknown safety.
■Acupuncture: a rather theatrical placebo, with no real therapeutic benefit in most if not all cases.
■Chiropractic: an invention of a 19th century salesmen, based on nonsensical principles, and shown to be no more effective than other manipulative therapies, but less safe.
■Reflexology: plain old foot massage, overlaid with utter nonsense about non-existent connections between your feet and your thyroid gland.
■Nutritional therapy: self-styled Ďnutritionistsí making untrue claims about diet in order to sell you unnecessary supplements.
■Spiritual healing: tea and sympathy, accompanied by arm-waving.
■Angelic Reiki. The same but with added ďAngels, Ascended Masters and Galactic HealersĒ. Excellent for advanced fantasists.
■Colonic irrigation: a rectal obsession that fails to rid you of toxins which you didnít have in the first place.
■Anthroposophical medicine: followers of the mystic barmpot, Rudolf Steiner, for whom nothing whatsoever seems to strain credulity
■Alternative diagnosis: kinesiology, iridology, vega test etc, various forms of fraud, designed to sell you cures that donít work for problems you havenít got.
■Any alternative Ďtherapistí who claims to cure AIDS or malaria: agent of culpable homicide.
■Libel: A very expensive remedy, to be used only when you have no evidence. Appeals to alternative practitioners because truth is irrelevant.
The last of these was inspired by Jack of Kent, the Prince among lawyers.