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Letters to the Editor Issue 125

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 125 - July 2006

Articles On Attack On Alternative Medicine 23/5/06
by Martin Walker

Every time there is an attack on alternative medicine, people write similar letters in response, defending these therapies; but always, there is a lack of analysis, historical or otherwise. This means that although the number of replies and combative responses is growing, and we are ‘learning’ in that sense, no one seems to be describing the supporters of orthodox medicine in their context and drawing attention to conflict of interest and vested interest. Consequently, it always looks as if these critics are serious people with important things to say, rather than shallow operators guided entirely by vested interest.

Dr Michael Baum was a founder member of the Campaign Against Health Fraud (now called HealthWatch www.healthwatch-uk.org/committee. html). HealthWatch, which is linked to important US lobby groups CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation into Claims of the Paranormal) and ACSH (American Council on Science and Health), has been responsible for a whole serious of attacks on alternative health, CAM and especially homeopathy.

Other signatories to the Times letter also have links with HealthWatch, most particularly Edzard Ernst who over the last decade has campaigned consistently against alternative medicine (and can most accurately be described as the only Professor of alternative medicine in Britain who argues the case for pharmaceutical medicine). Ernst spoke at the 15th Annual meeting of CSICOP held in London, where he delivered a quite childish but supposedly humorous deconstruction of alternative medicine to the assembled twenty odd anoraks in the audience. At that meeting amongst his own people, Ernst made no attempt to be even vaguely academic or supportive of alternatives.

Within the last two years, HealthWatch has been taken over – it has been floundering for years – by the new industry-backed lobby groups The Science and Media Centre and Sense About Science (SAS). These groups are backed with bundles of money from the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) as well as individual drug manufacturing companies. They are linked to some of the most avid de-regulating ‘libertarian’ US lobby groups.

The founder of the Campaign Against Health Fraud (HealthWatch), Caroline Richmond, has been writing for these lobby groups over the last couple of years and providing information for Mike Fitzpatrick who is both a member of SAS and makes journalistic contributions to Spiked, the online news vehicle of the ex-Revolutionary Communist Party members who are now deeply embedded in the pro-science Lobby Groups.

It was the above organizations working out of the Royal Society, which sent a letter to the Times with a list of signatories protesting about critics of GM crops. In this case however, environmental organizations and journalists like George Monbiot (the Guardian newspaper) organized with considerable effect against them. Why, oh why, can’t supporters of alternative medicine do the same! Apart from my two books, Dirty Medicine and Zero Risk, no one has come forward to organize web sites with an ongoing critique of these industry-backed lobbyists.

One last point: Prince Charles is to be congratulated for his continuing and committed support for alternative medicine but if I was him I would certainly get frustrated at the lack of serious support. In the early 1980s, it was Charles who opened and became a Patron of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. In 1990, the Centre was almost wrecked by a bogus scientific paper published in the Lancet, which claimed that women with breast cancer who attended the Centre died more quickly and in greater number than those who had orthodox treatment. The unfortunate response to this attack, was again, constant picky academic arguments about whether or not the paper’s writers had got their statistical analysis correct.

What there should have been was a full-blooded political assault on HealthWatch and its associates, the writers of the paper and the connivance of the Lancet in its publication. Fifteen years later, alternative medicine is coming under increasing attack from industrial vested interests, but we are unfortunately responding in the same piecemeal manner. It’s time that supporters of CAM and alternative medicine, really did get their political act together. While environmentalists, greens, anti-corporate critics and pharmaceutical company critics have all formed political fact gathering organizations, and write consistently about the corporate lobbies which are managing skewed news, the practitioners of homeopathy and other valuable therapies appear utterly unable to organize against the threat they are facing.

Anyone who wants to read in greater depth about any of the above, should obtain copies of my books Dirty Medicine and Brave New World of Zero Risk and perhaps visit the websites:
www.zero-risk.org and www.slingshotpublications.com
If we don’t make ourselves aware of the history of these attacks, we will never be able to combat them and they will gradually incur increasing damage.

Martin Walker.

Martin Walker is one of the very few investigative journalists in the Health Freedom Movement who has consistently exposed the corrupt forces behind the attacks on alternative medicine. He is the author of Brave New World of Zero Risk and Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health care.
Source:
Emma Holister emma@holisters.com
Forwarded by: Zeus Information Service
Alternative Views on Health
www.zeusinfoservice.com

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