Skepticat_UK is

Maria MacLachlan

Accolades & Quackolades

"There are ~20 published reviews of my book, but this one must be THE BEST! THANK YOU."
Edzard Ernst

"Best blog of the day IMHO."
Simon Singh

"This blogpost is simply brilliant."
Mark Burnley

"You are a rude argumentative bully. You are a typical "skeptic" - not sceptical at all."
Andrew, anti-vaxer

"Your piece about House of Commons Science and Technology sub-Committee’s ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy was one of the best I’ve seen. Strength to your elbow."

" individual calling themselves ‘scepticat’ or ‘sceptikat’- a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants."
Centella, one of Dr Andrew Jones personal herd of sycophants.

"Excellent report, which I can vouch for completely."
Jack of Kent

"The ludicrous nature of the complaint, and some of the responses by Dr Ranj and the BBC, has already been expertly documented on the Skepticat UK blog".
Dean Burnett

"Choke on your own vomit and die in agony..."
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"A very good rebuttal…"
Anna Watson, anti-vaxer Arnica UK

"A staggering amount of pathological disbelief allied with a staggering amount of arrogance."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"I just love this blog, and this post is a fine example of it’s content – ‘Inside the spine wizard’s den’ – Skepticat. Why do some of us feel that we are above challenging argument and peer review? I just wish that I could write as well as some of these bloggers!"
Jonathan Hearsey, osteopath

"Skepticat is a particularly venomousness (sic) skeptic, a humanist who lives by the "golden rule", she refused to let me follow her on twitter because I am "bonkers" which may endear her to many in the chiropractic profession..."
Richard Lanigan, chiropractor

Facebook image helpfully captioned by Sandra A Hermann-Courtney (@brownbagpantry)

"Die Die die die!"
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"Loved that article. It really shows what chiropractors are really all about. What I call the "chiro show" Exposing people to totally unnecessary X-rays should be criminal. Thank you!"

"I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It's sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it."
Bebo, chiropractor (Note: In fact I'm the proud mother of two brilliant children, whom I mention frequently. Glad of the excuse to do so again.)

"Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted."

"I understand that you have been traumatised by your experience and that this is your way of coming to terms with the emotional scars."
Stefaan Vossen, chiropractor

"All you really seem interested in is banging your repetitive drum and preaching to the converted."
Rick, osteopath

"All the entries I’ve read are excellent. I’ll be coming back to read more. Love the cat logo as well."

"Research in Homeopathy Conference - Skepticat's hilarious account. She went to it."
David Colquhoun

"Her site is Skepticat UK... she wouldn’t know a punchline if it raped her. Or maybe she’d thank it."
Scott Cappurro, comedian

"I rather love the lunacy of the anti-Homeopathists, such as yourself."
James Pannozzi, acupuncturist & would-be homeopath

"Good blog from a skeptic which examines the "science" of Homeopathy in a very detailed way. Skeptics will love this. Proponents of homeopathy? Not so much."

"I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder."
Erika Alisuag, homeopathist

"I’m finding it difficult to come up with some suitable words to say how good and interesting your stuff is. So, in the absence of suitable hyperbole can I say what a very well written and presented blog you have here. Really well thought out and researched. And passionate about it too! Complimenti!"

"You’re whole life is worthless because you lack reason."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Great stuff Skepticat."

"When you have learnt some big words and also studied your history books you’ll find that the world was once thought to be flat…by people just like you."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Thanks for keeping the banner of reason flying high."
John Willis Lloyd

"This is just a general comment. I love this well-written an unfussy little blog (I don’t mean little in a derogatory way, but in the sense it’s not bombastic, self-important and posturing). Excellent material and a worthwhile focus, keep up the good work."

"Her website is a temple to diatribe – I have no sympathy for the homeopaths, etc, with whom she battles, but she clearly gets off on confrontation."
JF Derry

"Skepticat is strictly logical and attacks in unparliamentary words what she deems to be “quackery” – or suggestions that she sounds a little strident."
Andy Reporter

"LOVE the badass attitude! Seriously...KEEP IT UP!"

"You were a playful little diversion for a. moment, but I do have better things to do with my time than waste more than half an hour of it stooping down to play your ego supporting self delusional mind games……"
Susan Elizabeth, homeopathist

"An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it."
Alan C

"You need to do a course in anger management."
katenut, nutritionist

"FWIW I think you manage your anger rather well...mostly by focusing it into a thin, narrow beam of incisive rage which you then use to inscribe words on screen. ;)"

"Excellent description of the events."
Simon Perry

"You seem to be of probably well-meaning, but bigoted and fundamentalist disposition, just parroting slogans from others without any really knowledge or insight yourself."
Neil Menzies

"Superb, as usual"

"You seem only interested in ranting against an enemy which you are apparently still struggling to come to terms with “fifteen years” later."
Rick, osteopah

"Bravo, great post!"

"One day if you are not very careful you will be left behind in the dark ages. I’m sure this will not be printed..but hope it is read by you poor little scaredy cats."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Brilliant piece!"

"While you babble on like a total airhead about Myhill, you ignore the real doctors who are a danger in the UK".
struck-off doctor, Rita Pal, 'NHS whistle-blower'

"I sincerely hope I never get to your stage of wilful ignorance. You know absolutely diddly squat about the subject but you think your opinion is the only opinion."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Keep up the spin, you manky old chicken's foot."
JB, chiropractor

"I am forced to conclude you are blogging on behalf of a specific entity that does wish to remain anonymous."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map."
Erika Alisuag

"Such reporting lands you clearly in the realm of fundamentalist extremism–much noise, no substance, and money from those who have something to sell. It is so unfortunate that your listening skills are in need of repair."
Tanya Marquette, homeopath

"She seems to revel in presenting the many insults that she has attracted as a column of “Quackolades” on her site, as if war wounds on display,"
JF Derry, self-publicist

"Oh shut up SK. You write hot air and spew rubbish as usual."
Rita Pal again.

The BCA v Simon Singh Pt 2: The nerds are revolting

“I’m a Lib Dem, so you’ll have to forgive me but this is the biggest crowd I’ve seen…” said Dr Evan Harris, MP,  to an audience of fired-up skeptics in the Penderel’s Oak pub in London last night. He was joking but the turn-out to the meeting in support of Simon Singh was impressive, nevertheless.

The pub’s huge cellar bar was packed to the gills with “brothers and sisters in nerdiness”, as Ben Goldacre described us in his message of support, who were disgusted at the outcome of the preliminary hearing of BCA v Simon Singh, where Justice Eady had ruled that in saying the BCA “happily promotes bogus therapies”, Singh was alleging that they deliberately and dishonestly promote false treatments. (See my previous post.)

Since then, there’s been speculation and spirited discussion in the blogosphere and at Bad Science about what Simon should do next and last night he stood before us and said, to rapturous applause, that if his lawyers could see any chance that an appeal might work, he would go for it. For one thing, he wants his “day in court” in order to be able to talk about the article and why he said what he did. More important, however, are the broader issues. “I should be able to discuss scientific issues without fear of intimidation,” he said. In short, the libel laws need reform, a point echoed by virtually all the speakers.

Another point that has been made repeatedly by several commenters, in particular by solicitor Jack of Kent, who organised last night’s support meeting, is that scientific disputes cannot be settled by legal means. Evan Harris spoke of the need “for free scientific discourse”, not just in science journals but in the mainstream media. Dr Harris also condemned the MHRA registration of arnica and spoke of the “creeping exploitation of vulnerable consumers”.

The reform of the libel laws was the theme of journalist Nick Cohen‘s address. Nick recounted several appalling instances to illustrate how “time and again criminals use English libel law to silence critics”. One example is Roman Polanski, who’d pleaded guilty in the US to having sex with a 13-year-old girl but who then fled to Paris and has since been considered to be a fugitive from justice who risks arrest should he return to the US and who risks extradition to the US should he visit the UK. Polanski was able to sue the American Magazine, Vanity Fair, under English Libel Law, without having to set foot on English soil never mind enter an English courtroom because Justice Eady obligingly allowed him to give evidence by video link from Paris. As Nick himself commented, “How does someone on the run for child abuse have a reputation to lose?” More to the point was the Vanity Fair editor’s comment at the time: “I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom.”

Don’t we all?

The legendary David Colquhoun also spoke at the meeting. He lamented the elevation of chiropractors to the status of medics, lending them “an air of respectability that is entirely spurious”. He said the basic problem lay with the Department of Health, which has failed to grasp the nettle when it comes to dealing with alternative therapies. David read a brilliantly amusing extract from a newspaper exposing chiropractic as the nonsense it is. Unfortunately the newspaper, which was local to the Iowa town whence came Daniel Palmer, inventor of chiropractic, was dated 1894.

Comedian Dave Gorman, who was actually the first speaker last night — a great warm-up act — said that until two weeks ago he hadn’t realised that chiropractic wasn’t part of mainstream medicine. As a result of this case, he is now more informed about it. He commented on the irony that complementary therapists have a reputation of being woolly and liberal yet have chosen the least woolly and liberal means possible to silence their critics.

It was also good to see D:Ream keyboard player, Brian Cox, who these days is better known as Professor Brian Cox, among the invited speakers. Brian said what most of us were probably thinking i.e. that few of us would be prepared to take the personal risk that Simon Singh is taking in combatting “alleged charlatans, quacks and witch-doctors.”

A question from the floor about setting up a fighting fund drew from Simon a response indicating that he could finance this case himself but adding that, as many people have said they want to donate to this great cause, any such donations could be put to good use supporting others who find themselves waging similar battles.

Clearly there is huge support for Simon Singh and there is a strong feeling abroad that the BCA may have shot themselves in the foot by bringing this action. For one thing, it has alerted many more people who, like Dave Gorman, hadn’t realised the lack of scientific support for chiropractic. The words ‘chiropractic’ and ‘bogus’ will now be forever linked in the minds of many such people who hadn’t read the article and wouldn’t otherwise have known about it.

For an organisation to take on an individual critic in this way comes across as a breathtakingly vindictive ploy intended to intimidate anyone else who dares to expose bogus therapies for what they are. There is also the feeling that this case has a ‘last straw’ quality about it. Dr Simon Singh is an accomplished science journalist who knows what he’s talking about. If he can’t even say that bogus therapies are bogus without getting sued, what the hell can he say? What can any of us say?

As Jack of Kent said to Simon last night, “We’ll settle for you settling, but appealing is extraordinarily appealing.” Anyone who wants to get involved in supporting Simon Singh can find join the facebook group here or just keep an eye on Jack of Kent’s blog.

A video showing extracts from last night’s meeting is now available to view at The Lay Scientist blog. The same blog carries a definitive review of the science and (lack of) evidence behind claims made by chiropractors here.

9 Responses to The BCA v Simon Singh Pt 2: The nerds are revolting

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