Well, 10:23 has come and gone and we all seem to be standing. This does not surprise any of the participants. So your friendly neighbourhood contributor, upgraded from guest blogger, will live to protest quack medicines another day.
Homeopaths criticized it as a ‘stunt’ but did not think we’d be harmed.
(There were some charges levelled on Twitter about all of us being in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies. One because the campaign was too well organized to be grassroots…if we were I have yet to get my cheque). More than that, they started to speak of ‘individual cases’ which is quite funny as we were protesting the sale of a mass-made marketed brand carried by a major pharmacy chain. Perhaps, they should have been protesting with us to charge Boots with co-opting and commercializing their ‘practice.’ But that would be the pot calling the kettle black as most Alternative Medicines are basically a giant marketing tool for pushing pills or other dubious products.
This was brought to light by the lecture at Trick or Treatment (held after the 10:23 event, and the reason it was held that day), by the man who has brought to us Quackometer, Andy Lewis. Quack medicines come in disturbing forms such as Biometric Shields, which apparently shield you from the problems of modern day life, such as electromagnetic radiation. The basic lack of science understanding by people duped by this sort of nonsense is mind-boggling. One source of such radiation, of course, is THE SUN. Perhaps they just aren’t saying which part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum these devices protect against…
So the protest. There were various groups across the globe from, the UK, to Australia to Canada and the US. The big issue with the UK is the report by the Select Committee on the efficacy of Homeopathy which is to be released very shortly. Homeopathic remedies, hospitals and doctors cost the NHS £4 million a year. That’s a lot for sugar pills. Anyone on a waiting list for mental health services, surgeries and other proven or at least studied practices, would probably like a re-allocation of those funds. But to be fair, that’s a fraction spent on Chaplaincy at over £32 million.
So what was the protest like? It was cold. There was some snow on the ground and it was definitely below zero. However, everyone seemed to be chuffed at taking part and there was a jovial feeling to the entire event. I spent most of the time recording video for some the Pod Delusion and the consensus was that a) no one was scared b) all that would possibly happen would be a sugar rush.
Me, James O’Malley, Simon Singh
Lib-Dem MP Evan Harris told us about the Select Committee Report and some of the hilarious responses of those giving evidence for Homeopathy, including the importance of ‘shaking’ the solutions. They can’t be stirred but there has been no research on how they should be stirred, ie rigour, length etc. Which just serves to highlight the lack of science behind these magic pills.
Evan Harris & Co.
I can tell you, I have never been so interested in a Select Committee Report before.
In the end, we all downed our bottles of 30C diluted sugar pills. All I can say in support of these remedies is that they are quite tasty. They’d make a good candy or an addition to my tea. As a first protest, it was quite fun, and I talked to many other sceptics in the movement and from the general sceptical community – from those who also contribute to the Pod Delusion, bloggers like Jack of Kent and those lovely people from Skeptics in the Pub.
So if you are a sceptic/skeptic, know that you are not alone. Perhaps, even with our relative small numbers, we will make a difference and raise some awareness. Whether there is harm or not, 200 year old quack practices should not form a part of modern medicine or at least, if claim to be medicinal, should have to adhere to the same standards as the rest of the medical industry. In this light, homeopathy and it’s ilk will never pass the test.
And if you are interested, keep an eye on the 10:23 website for continuing coverage!