Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Is it rational, let alone ethical, to call someone a fraud, a charlatan, a con artist without proof ?

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Is it rational, let alone ethical, to call someone a fraud, a charlatan, a con artist without proof ?

We know that everyone can be fooled, that there are incredibly strong psychological forces constantly at work to fool us. We all think we are better looking, smarter, more successful than we must necessarily be. In other words we can’t all be above average, but the vast majority of us think we are. Now there are certainly cases where outright deception has been used in the promotion of the paranormal and the various pseudoscience’s, but that in no way implies that it is always(even mostly) the case.

Having attended various “Health and Wellbeing” type expos and events. I have never seen a purveyor of such things that seemed genuinely financially successful. They all seemed to be people who had uncritically invested both time and money into either a franchise or lifestyle and were now trying recoup (with the exception of the “Christian Science” stand). I strongly feel however that these people are as much the victims of uncritical thought as anyone else, usually more so. It’s them that would spend the most money on the various cultural necessities of their lifestyle, New Age Books, crystals etc. Also consider this; they are the parents most likely to not vaccinate their children.

So what are we doing about this? If we’re insulting them, calling them names or implying, even just flat out calling them stupid, do we really expect them to change? Do we really believe that they’re communities are not self perpetuating? We seem intent on stopping our opponents from getting new followers (customers), but what if they don’t need new customers. Even if my assumption is wrong, is educating those already inclined to listen enough?

It’s really, really easy to just be snide and make fun of our opponents, to be smug just because we know we have the evidence to back up our beliefs.

It’s also really, really easy to forget that we didn’t always have the critical thinking skills and awareness that we have now.

I’m aware that I have done this in the past. I’ve been frustrated at not being able to get a message across, and I’ve fallen to Ad Hominum attacks as a result. But as difficult as it can be not to reflexively do this, knowing what we know about the harms perpetuated due to erroneous beliefs, I know I must try to change that pattern.

It’s much more difficult to step back for a minute, actually try to see where people are coming from before launching into a tirade, but it may be vital if we want to get our message out there. If we actually do want to change things, fix things and help people, we really need to lift our game. It’s obvious to me by now that everyone has something they can contribute to this ‘movement’, and everyone should contribute as much as they feel comfortable with. But if we all just slow down just enough to catch our breath, look at what we are doing and see if it matches our goals and the goals of the movement, things can only improve.

I really recommend reading the following articles:

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/proper_criticism/

Then check out:
http://www.skeptic.com/get_involved/skeptical_activism.html

Thanks for hearing me out and as always I appreciate the feedback,

Jayson D Cooke
GUSSF

Twitter: Jayson_d_cooke

jayson.d.cooke@gmail.com

http://www.meetup.com/SkepticsandFreethinkers/

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=14643&uid=6117798570#!/group.php?gid=6117798570

Homeopathy websites ignore retraction orders

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 08/04/2010

Reporter: Steve Cannane

The Theraputic Goods Administration is being criticised after revelations that last year a third of the companies found to have breached advertising rules failed to publish retractions and withdraw misleading information.
Transcript
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The panel that handles complaints against misleading advertisements for medical products and services is being criticized tonight for failing consumers.

Lateline can reveal that last year a third of the companies were found to have breached the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s rules on advertising and they failed to publish retractions and withdraw misleading information.

Steve Cannane has this report.

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: Fran Sheffield runs a homeopathic practice on the Central Coast of NSW and she has a controversial position on vaccination.

FRAN SHEFFIELD, HOMEOPATH: The research we have, and it is limited research, shows that the rate of protection that a homeopathic immunising agent provides seems to be similar and in some instances better than what the orthodox vaccines offer. In terms of safety they are way, way better than vaccines.

STEVE CANNANE: On her website Homeopathy Plus! Fran Sheffield claims homeopathic immunisation is effective against polio, meningococcal, cholera, whooping cough and other serious diseases.

DR KEN HARVEY, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY: There is no good scientific evidence to my knowledge that homeopathic immunisation works. There is references in obscure journals that you cannot find and there is anecdotal reports by homeopaths that it works, but it’s not in the mainstream scientific literature.

STEVE CANNANE: Dr Ken Harvey made a complaint against Homeopathy Plus! to the Complaints Resolution Panel. They review potential breaches of the advertising code in relation to therapeutic goods.

DR KEN HARVEY: The complaint resolution panel agreed there was a breach of at least nine sections of the Code and one sections of the Therapeutic Goods Act, including very serious sections such as promoting to the general public the treatment of serious diseases for which there was no evidence of efficacy.

STEVE CANNANE: The Complaints Resolution Panel asked Fran Sheffield to remove the claims about immunisation, and to publish a retraction which included the statement:

(Excerpt from Complaints Resolution Panel request)
VOICEOVER: We did not provide adequate evidence to support the claims made in the advertisement, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, and unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.

STEVE CANNANE: But Fran Sheffield has refused to publish the retraction. She says she wasn’t advertising – merely providing information, and sufficient evidence to back up claims about homeopathic immunisation.

FRAN SHEFFIELD: I’m providing the evidence on the website. I think you’ve had a chance to go and read the historic usage and our recent trials on it.

STEVE CANNANE: But they say that evidence doesn’t stack up, it’s not good enough, it’s not strong enough.

FRAN SHEFFIELD: Well, obviously I’m disagreeing with them, and that’s why the retraction hasn’t gone up.

STEVE CANNANE: Fran Sheffield is not alone. In 2009 a third of those found to breach the code failed to comply with the panel’s recommendations.

If a failure to comply is reported to the panel, it goes back to the Therapeutic Goods Administration or TGA. But what happens next is a mystery. The TGA does not publicise what action it takes.

DR KEN HARVEY: It’s unclear why the Therapeutic Goods Administration is not transparent at all. And certainly it’s annoying to people who put in complaints. You feel that it’s hardly worthwhile and it certainly encourages the sponsors to keep on doing bad things.

STEVE CANNANE: No-one from the TGA was available to talk to Lateline, but in a statement said.

(Excerpt from TGA statement)
VOICEOVER: The TGA is actively working to improve the transparency of its regulatory processes, and will be publishing its actions relating to handling of complaints referred from the CRP.”

STEVE CANNANE: The TGA also confirmed that no legal action has been taken over non-compliance.

But reform could come soon.

MARK BUTLER, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: The Australian community is entitled to expect that an advertising complaints system will be timely, transparent and have teeth and I’m not sure we have that at the moment.

We’re now in a position I hope in the near future – as I have indicated to those players – of publishing options for reform that we think will address all of those issues in one fell swoop.

STEVE CANNANE: But in the meantime, practitioners are able to continue to make questionable claims about various remedies without fear of sanctions.

A recent Homeopathy Plus! email alert was headed “Homeopathy as Good as Chemotherapy for breast cancer.”

Steve Cannane, Lateline.

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2867990.htm

Further to Getting Secular back in Schools…

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 2:38 PM

“A mother writes to me, torn with guilt about a decision she made about the education of her daughter, who began kindergarten this year. The family doesn’t believe in ”structured religion”, preferring instead to raise their children as ”tolerant of all religions but followers of none”.
For this reason, she refused her child’s participation in scripture instruction offered by the school.
But the five-year-old was the only child in her year to be excused from the lesson and so was forced to sit alone outside the classroom while it proceeded. The little girl was so distressed that her mother – let’s call her Karen – reluctantly gave permission for her to attend Anglican scripture. But the decision doesn’t feel right and she’s still not sure that it is. What should she do?

An alternative would be for the child to have the option to attend Ethics classes rather than the ”structured religion” her mother preferred her not to attend. However there are organisations out there that for some reason would deny parents the option of their children receiving state provided education without religions instruction. Word on the street is a rent-a-crowd have been busy inundating NSW MLC Penny Sharpe’s inbox, pleading with the government to kill the St James Centre NSW ethics classes so they won’t compete with scripture classes.

We need to let Penny know that there is widespread support for the ethics classes in NSW. It would be great if you could all alert your family and friends of this, and encourage them to send a message of support today.

Here’s the page to contact her by email: http://pennysharpe.com/contact

Or you can tweet her at @PennySharpemlc

Or send her a message on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pennysharpemlc

Media coverage of the issue:
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/find-these-kids-an-alternative-for-gods-sake-20100411-s0c7.html

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/keneally-allows-anglican-church-to-vet-content-of-ethics-lessons-20100412-s43m.html

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/bishop-enters-battle-against-secular-ethics-classes-20100413-s7pp.html

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/you-cant-teach-ethics-without-referring-to-christianity-20100409-rxai.html

http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/media-releases/ethics-classes-not-attack-religion

Jayson D Cooke

The Video That Ended a Career

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Begin forwarded message:

The Video That Ended a Career
April 9, 2010

When it comes to incriminating videos these days, the one of Bruce K. Waltke might seem pretty tame. It shows the noted evangelical scholar of the Old Testament talking about scholarship, faith and evolution. What was incriminating? He not only endorsed evolution, but said that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming to accept science.

“If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness,” he says, according to several accounts by those who have seen the video. Those words set off a furor at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Waltke was — until this week — a professor. (The seminary is evangelical, with ties to several denominations.)

The statements so upset officials of the seminary that Waltke had to ask the BioLogos Foundation, a group that promotes the idea that science and faith need not be incompatible, to remove it from its Web site (which the foundation did) and to post a clarification. The video was shot during a BioLogos workshop. But even those steps weren’t enough for the seminary, which announced that it had accepted his resignation.

Waltke is a big enough name in evangelical theology that the incident is prompting considerable soul-searching. On the one hand, his public endorsement of the view that believing in evolution and being a person of faith are not incompatible was significant for those who, like the BioLogos Foundation, support such a view. Waltke’s scholarly and religious credentials in Christian theology were too strong for him to be dismissed easily.

But the fact that his seminary did dismiss him is viewed as a sign of just how difficult it may be for scholars at some institutions to raise issues involving science that are not 100 percent consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

“I think it’s a really sad situation, even if this isn’t the first time a scholar at a religious institution has been released for unorthodox views,” said Michael Murray, vice president for philosophy and theology at the John Templeton Foundation, which supports BioLogos and other efforts to bridge science and religion.

Waltke could not be reached for comment on the situation. He did issue a joint statement with the head of BioLogos in which he stood behind the substance of what he said in the video, but also said that he wished he could have provided more context, particularly his view that it is possible to believe in evolution and also believe in “in the inerrancy of Scripture.”

Michael Milton, president of the seminary’s Charlotte campus and interim president of its Orlando campus, where Waltke taught, confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video. Milton said that Waltke would “undoubtedly” be considered one of the world’s great Christian scholars of the Old Testament and that he was “much beloved here,” with his departure causing “heartache.” But he said that there was no choice.

Milton said that the seminary allows “views to vary” about creation, describing the faculty members there as having “an eight-lane highway” on which to explore various routes to understanding. Giving an example, he said that some faculty members believe that the Hebrew word yom (day) should be seen in Genesis as a literal 24-hour day. Others believe that yom may be providing “a framework” for some period of time longer than a day. Both of those views, and various others, are allowed, Milton said.

But while Milton insisted that this provides for “a diversity” of views, he acknowledged that others are not permitted. Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn’t arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life), are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this.

Asked if this limits academic freedom, Milton said: “We are a confessional seminary. I’m a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession. Nor do I have a freedom that would allow me to express my views in such a way to hurt or impugn someone who holds another view.” Indeed he added that the problem with what Waltke said was as much his suggestion that religion will lose support over these issues as his statements about evolution itself. (The statement of faith at the seminary states: “Since the Bible is absolutely and finally authoritative as the inerrant Word of God, it is the basis for the total curriculum.”)

Given Waltke’s role and reputation, Milton said that his resignation wasn’t accepted on the spot. But after prayer on the question, Milton said, officials accepted the resignation.

Even before word of Waltke’s resignation spread, his need to ask BioLogos to remove the video worried many Christian thinkers who want more public discussion about science. A blogger at Jesus Creed wrote that he didn’t agree with all of Waltke’s views, but very much agreed that they deserved serious discussion.

The blogger focused his praise on a quote from Waltke in the video in which he said that “to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it, I think it’s our spiritual death.” The blogger wrote that “we do not preserve the church by drawing lines and building walls.” Such a philosophy, he added, will not be easy, but may be essential. “Unfortunately growth causes growing pains — and growth brings uncertainty. People get defensive and people get hurt. We see this today and are poorer for it. It is also — my opinion, not from Waltke’s comments — our spiritual death in witness to the world when we backstab, fight, condemn, and censor amongst ourselves. We are our own worst enemy.”

At BeliefNet, Rod Dreher blogged that “even though I would agree that Waltke’s controversial remarks were overstated, it is all but incomprehensible that in 2010, any American scholar, particularly one of his academic distinction, could be so harshly bullied for stating an opinion consonant with current scientific orthodoxy. Doesn’t Waltke at least have the right to be wrong about something like this?

“Don’t mistake me, I believe that any and every religion, and religious institution, has the right, and indeed the obligation, to set standards and to enforce them. But is this really the hill these Reformed folks want to die on?” (Dreher is director of publications at Templeton but stressed that his blog does not represent the foundation.)

Darrel Falk, a professor of biology at Point Loma Nazarene University and president of BioLogos, said he was “disappointed” by what happened to Waltke, and said that it showed the need to continue to promote meaningful dialogue between those in the worlds of science and faith. He said that Waltke took “a real risk” by speaking out, and that there is going to be a danger for those who work with religious groups whose leaders and members “just don’t understand science.”

On the BioLogos Web site, Falk posted a statement Thursday called “On the Courage of Bruce Waltke.” He closed the statement this way: “Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created. I could list other pioneers, a number of whom are good friends and colleagues.

“Right there alongside them will be Dr. Bruce Waltke who, in the latter phase of an extremely distinguished career, had the courage to tell the Church what it needed to hear. The fact that he did so with a remarkably gentle spirit of love will be a reminder to all that the real battles are won when we simply live the reality of the Gospel. To do this — in the face of adversity — is the ultimate in courage.”

— Scott Jaschik

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/04/09/video

How will Gloria Thomas celebrate World Homeopathy Awareness Week?

In Homeopathy Awareness Week, Uncategorized on April 6, 2010 at 2:32 AM

A subheading in The Australian in September 2009 read:

“BABY Gloria Thomas died an excruciating death after weeks of agony caused by the virulent eczema that eroded her skin, covered her body in wounds and retarded her development.”

The parents of this poor girl refused to seek professional medical care, instead relying solely on homeopathic treatments. This was despite the child’s clearly deteriorating condition and what must have been unimaginable suffering over a period of 5 months. Gloria Thomas died on the 8th of May, 2002 at 9 and half months of age, weighing just 2kg more than her birth weight, her hair having turned grey, her body malnourished, and her skin cracked open.[1]

Unfortunately the preventable death of this infant is far from an isolated case with website http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html detailing a further 437 cases of harm due to the reliance on homeopathic concoctions.[2]

So what is Homeopathy and what do these treatments consist of?
According to the Australasian College of Natural Therapies website:
Homoeopathy is a system of medicine that works by administering patients a dilute dose of a substance that in a crude form would cause symptoms similar to that which the patient is experiencing. Homeopathic medicines often contain active ingredients diluted to a beyond a measurable level.[3]

Unfortunately for proponents of homeopathy and their customers the measurable amount is zero and the end product is nothing more than whatever liquid was used to dilute the original substance. In other words there is no active ingredient in homeopathic products at all, yet they are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets around Australia and the world.

Type homeopathy into a search engine and you will find countless sites promoting so called treatments as an alternative to conventional medicine; supplements and the like for all manner of ailments, most often in what can be considered by their users as authoritative health websites. These web sites often contain links to other claims that are scientifically dubious and often either untested or refuted in controlled conditions.

A 2002 position statement on Complimentary and Alternative medicine presented to the White House by the National Council Against Health Fraud[4] contains the following excerpt from a New England Journal of Medicine editorial:

“There cannot be two kinds of medicine –conventional and alternative. There is only Medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted. But assertions, speculation and testimonials do not substitute for evidence. Alternative treatments should be subject to scientific testing no less rigorous than that required for conventional treatments.”[5]

While Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the body responsible for the regulation of such treatments, advises us that:

“complimentary medicines may only carry indications and claims for the symptomatic relief of conditions (other than serious disease, disorders, or conditions), health maintenance, health enhancement and risk reduction.”

However as the case of Gloria Thomas shows us, even relatively mild conditions if left untreated long enough can be fatal. Even if the homeopathic preparations themselves are not harmful, their use in substitution of proven and scientifically validated treatments can have the direst of consequences.

As prominent Melbourne pharmacy and drug information consultant Ron Batagol is quoted as saying:

“You need to be quite careful that you’re not excluding the urgent need for medical treatment, because coughs and colds can lead to severe bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia and you really need to be looking after these things medically”

Listing with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), is conditional on evidence that

“…must be sufficient to substantiate that the indications and claims are true, valid and not misleading.”

Yet the scientific literature is littered with the results of many years research on the effectiveness and validity of homeopathic treatments and they are overwhelmingly inconsistent in terms of quality, yet consistent with one result, that homeopathic treatments do nothing more than elicit what is referred to as the ‘placebo effect’ in respondents.

Our minds can anticipate expected effects of perceived treatments, creating the often self fulfilling expectation that the respondent is feeling better, regardless of the effectiveness of treatment. It is an expected condition of medical trials that this placebo effect be accounted for and eliminated as a source of potential bias in a study in order to differentiate actual curative effects from this expectation driven subjective response. Unfortunately outside of laboratory conditions and particularly for the non-medically trained public, a placebo response can be seen as a positive health result, but in actuality the root cause of their complaint has not been addressed and may grow worse if effective treatment is not administered.

In 1993 the Council of the Faculty of Homeopathy, London issuing a statement advising

“The Council of the Faculty of Homeopathy, London, strongly supports the conventional vaccination program and has stated that vaccination should be carried out in the normal way, using the conventional tested and proved vaccines, in the absence of medical contraindications.”

Closer to home, the Executive Director of the Australian Natural Therapies Association is on public record as having said that no properly qualified natural therapist would recommend homeopathic ‘immunisation’ as an alternative to conventional immunisation. Yet despite these assertions, UK science written Simon Singh has described the findings of of Edzard Ernst and Katja Schmidt at Exeter University who conducted a survey among UK homeopaths. Emails were sent by the pair to168 homeopaths in which they effectively pretended to be a mother asking for advice about whether or not to vaccinate her one-year-old child against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Singh advises that of the 77 respondents, only two advised the mother to immunize.

In 2009, Dr Ken Harvey, a physician at La Trobe University’s school of public health complained to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s complaints panel about a group called Homeopathy Plus! for allegedly promoting immunisations for a range of diseases when there is no scientific evidence to back it up.[12]

When asked what he expected to come of the complaint, Dr Harvey said he was not confident the TGA would take any meaningful action was quoted as saying

“It’s a complaint-driven system that doesn’t do anything,”.

Action was taken against the offending websites however in early 2010 which as a consequence of the TGA finding numerous breaches of the advertising code, the investigating Panel ruled for Homeopathy Plus! and http://www.d-n-h.org to remove the misleading material and issue the following retraction on their websites which is to remain for 90 days.

In spite of this finding by the peak regulatory body in Australia, the websites in question still contain the same misinformation that led to this ruling in the first place and the retraction seen above is not to be found.

Just as the situation seems hopeless however, in February 2010, The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee of the United Kingdom, having taken submissions from scientists and homeopaths to determine if homeopathy was effective, and therefore deserving of government funding, released their findings. They advised:

“In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that
homeopathic products perform no better than placebos”.

“We do not doubt that homeopathy makes some patients feel better. However, patient satisfaction can occur through a placebo effect… When doctors prescribe placebos, they risk damaging the trust that exists between them and their patients”. [17]

The report advises the UK government that the National Health Service should cease funding homeopathy as evidence shows homeopathy doesn’t work and that explanations for why homeopathy works are “scientifically implausible.”[18]

Just weeks prior to this announcement, The New Zealand Skeptics, in conjunction with 10:23, Skeptics in the Pub, The Australian Skeptics and others globally, held a mass overdose of homeopathic concoctions. Predictably all survived the stunt, however in response to the widely televised event New Zealand Council of Homeopaths spokesperson Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that

“there’s not one molecule of the original substance remaining”

in homeopathic treatments, a fact not commonly shared by the homeopathic establishment.

Public pressure and less than flattering media coverage of the real evidence of homeopathic treatments is on the rise and if maintained, could very well lead to homeopathy going the way of phrenology, relegated to the dustbin of science, or at best a medical curiosity that our grandchildren will read about and laugh. However as Dr Ken Harvey pointed out, the TGA here in Australia is a complaint driven process. With that in mind I encourage everyone who reads this to explore the literature, speak to your Doctors and health professionals, and please forward a complaint to this http://www.tga.gov.au/contact.htm”>link:

The ball is rolling and I believe that this push against non-evidence based treatments can be brought into the public consciousness in such a way that little Gloria Thomas death may help other children and adults alike avoid her fate. The following are just some links to Australian media outlets that could be great public forums for this issue to gain the exposure it needs, the list provided here is by no means exhaustive and local newspapers are always hungry for stories:

http://au.todaytonight.yahoo.com/

http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/weekend-sunrise/

http://www.kerri-anne.com.au/

http://ten.com.au/the-circle.htm

and this great site for contact details of local members of parliament:

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/find-your-local-mp.htm

If you are not within Australia then simply utilising your preferred search engine will lead you to applicable media in your locale. If we all tell our friends, neighbours, relatives, local media and local, state and federal politicians and anyone who’ll listen, the word will get out. I can’t help but think, wouldn’t it be great if this was the last Homeopathy Awareness Week.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and as always please feel free to provide feedback.

Jayson D Cooke

GUSF

www.gussf.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6117798570

To make a complaint to the TGA http://www.tga.gov.au/contact.htm

References

[1] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/legal-affairs/parents-jailed-for-baby-fatal-neglect/story-e6frg97x-1225780651088

[2] http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

[3] http://www.acnt.edu.au/index.asp?template=course&coursecode=6HON

[4] http://www.ncahf.org/pp/whcpp.html

[5] Angell M, Kassirer J. Alternative Medicine—The risks of untested and unregulated remedies. New England Journal of Medicine 339:839-841, 1998. http://kitsrus.com/pdf/nejm_998.pdf

[6] http://www.tga.gov.au/cm/cmreg-aust.htm

[7] http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/23/2827835.htm

[8] http://www.tga.gov.au/cm/cmreg-aust.htm

[9] http://scepticsbook.com/wp-content/uploads/CRP_Determination_Homoepathic_Immunisation-1.pdf

[10] http://scepticsbook.com/wp-content/uploads/CRP_Determination_Homoepathic_Immunisation-1.pdf

[11] http://www.1023.org.uk/whats-the-harm-in-homeopathy.php

[12] http://www.smh.com.au/national/homeopath-sites-immunisation-claims-criticised-20090924-g4sc.html

[13] http://www.smh.com.au/national/homeopath-sites-immunisation-claims-criticised-20090924-g4sc.html

[14] http://www.skeptics.com.au/latest/news/homeopathy-websites-prosecuted-for-false-misleading-advertising/

[15] http://homeopathyplus.com.au/hplus/immunisation-issues/fact-sheet—-homeopathic-immunisation.html

[16] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/4507.htm

[17] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/4507.htm

[18] http://www.skeptics.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/45.pdf

[19] http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1001/S00073.htm

Is the recovered memory movement still around?

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Monday 5 April 2010 8.30pm – 9.20pm ABC1 Four Corners revealed what happens when an unqualified therapist forces his patients to delve into their so-called “hidden memories”. Trauma, police investigations and families torn apart.

If anyone missed the show it will be available here http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/543042 until the end of April.

I found the episode astonishing, a mix of new age meditation retreat, discredited recovered memory therapy and many aspects of cult mentality with pseudo-therapist Matthew Meinck as the cult leader and instigator.

If you are a victim of such manipulative conduct as was seen on this episode of Four Corners, the Australian False Memory Association website http://www.afma.asn.au/afmacontact.html lists the following contact details for members of the AFMA who volunteer their time to assist. After getting over the initial shocks, some are able to assist in this way. Please appreciate that the AFMA arose out of this devastation, with few financial resources. Inquiries will be met as promptly as possible, but please keep in mind the AFMA is a voluntary organisation.

AFMA CONTACTS:

Sth Queensland Gloria 1300 88 88 77
Nth Queensland Chris Forsberg 07 4033 2619 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              07 4033 2619      end_of_the_skype_highlighting [home]
07 4031 9418 [work]
Sydney Gloria 1300 88 88 77
Victoria Boz 1300 88 88 77
Canberra John 02 6249 7998
Tasmania Boz 1300 88 88 77
South Australia Evelyn 08 8337 5461
Western Aust. Evelyn 08 8337 5461
Northern Territory Evelyn 08 8337 5461

All inquiries are treated in the strictest confidence.

If you have been a victim of Matthew Meinck in particular, the website: http://matthewmeinck.blogspot.com/2008/11/whom-can-you-complain-to.html

Advises that if you have a complaint about Matthew Meinck, and you have parted with money or goods in return for his ‘services’, you can complain to:
Minister: The Hon Troy Buswell, MLA – Minister for Commerce

Department of Consumer & Employment Protection
219 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
Locked Bag 14
CLOISTERS SQUARE WA 6850
Phone: 08 9282 0777
Fax: 08 9282 0850
General Information & Advice 1300 136 237

Many people are fearful of reprisals if they make formal complaints. However, if complaints are not lodged it is extremely difficult for Consumer Affairs to warn other enquirers about Matthew Meinck, or to make recommendations to the government regarding any need for legislation. In addition, without complaints Matthew will continue to prosper, getting away with what he is doing and making him even less likely to care for the consequences of his actions.

If you suspect there has been an abuse of the practice of hypnosis by Matthew Meinck
then contact:

Secretary,
Australian Society of Hypnosis,
Austin Hospital,
Heidelberg,
Victoria 3084.

Even though WA has no regulations about hypnosis you should still report such activities.

If you or your family have suffered emotional or physical health problems
as a result of the activities of Matthew Meinck then write to:

Office of Health Review (OHR)
Level 12, St Martin’s Tower, 44 St George’s Terrace Perth 6000
GPO Box B61 Perth 6838
Phone – (08) 9323 0600
Freecall™ 1800 813 583 (inside WA)
Fax – (08) 9221 3675

Although the commissioner is only supposed to be responsible for
registered health professionals it’s about time people started letting these offices know what unqualified people like Matthew are getting up to!

Also complain to your local Member of Parliament – both state and federal. If we are going to have a co-ordinated policy on abuse of psychological methods our state and federal governments need to cooperate.

In the United States there are now hundreds of people suing organisations that they have been involved in for compensation. Group actions of this sort may in the end be one of the most powerful ways of limiting the activities of groups, as money is certainly their Achilles heel. Some victims have already won large compensation payouts.

I strongly suggest that anyone who has been damaged – either personally or
through a member of their family – should seek legal advice regarding appropriate
compensation. Contact CIFS in Australia

HELPFUL ORGANISATIONS
CIFS
Cult Information and Family Support
P.O box 385
West Ryde
NSW 1685
Australia
Fax 02 9868 7245

Jayson D Cooke