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.

Coming soon to a theatre near me…

Oscar Wilde regarded the theatre as the “most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. I’ve no idea what he was talking about but I often feel I don’t want to read or write another word about homeopathy, so it’s nice to blog about something else for a change.

Alternative is a new comedy play presented by Trunkman Productions — a small production company working mainly in fringe theatre — in association with the Nightingale Collaboration.

The play happens to be “set around the world of alternative medicine, specifically homeopathy,” as writer and producer, Trent Burton, puts it. To be very specific, one of the characters is a homeopath and she’s promoting homeopathy.

Just in case ten-foot bargepoles spring to mind, I’ve seen the script and it’s pretty funny. Of course, it’s easy to get a cheap laugh out of ridiculing homeopathy and people like Mitchell & Webb and Dara Ó Briain do it brilliantly.  (Edit: Just seen this one with Jack Dee). But it’s also easy for homeopaths to claim that they’re misrepresented in comedy and, to be fair, they’re usually right.

The homeopath in Alternative isn’t a figure of fun. She’s sincere, well-meaning and very believable. She explains homeopathy much like any other homeopath I’ve ever heard, so there’s really nothing for them to complain about. Well, they might quibble over the portrayal of the homeopath-patient relationship but — hello! — the patient is her brother. She already knows him and all about his problem. I think homeopaths and skeptics agree — though not for the same reason — that the time spent offloading to a homeopath is the most important part of the homeopathic experience, so to speak. I don’t know if making it a family affair was a cunning device employed by Trent Burton to spare us the lengthy ‘holistic’ consultation needed for an individualised remedy, but it works for me.

Talking of holistic consultations, I wandered into Ainsworths pharmacy in London recently and showed one of the white-coated staff the annoying flat wart that’s been squatting on my fingertip for the past twenty years, defying all attempts to remove it. She mentioned thuja as the homeopathic remedy of choice for warts, helpfully adding that, “It might work or it might not”.

She then advised me that the best thing would be to treat it “constitutionally”, which necessitated at least one full consultation with a homeopath so that an individualised remedy could be prescribed. An appointment would cost about £70 not including the ‘remedy’ or any follow-up appointments.

Over seventy quid to try to remove a wart by means of a nice chat and a few drops of H2O. Charlatans.

Anyway, there is no consultation with the homeopath in Alternative and, as both the homeopath and the conventional doctor come across as right twats in their different ways, there shouldn’t be any complaints from quacks about lack of balance. Some might feel conventional medicine is misrepresented in the person of the twattish GP but who cares? The play is a character comedy and the exchange with the GP, while high in comedic value, is frustrating for the patient in a way that will resonate with loads of people, including me.

The play isn’t preachy and doesn’t expose the darker side of homeopathy or bang on about the dangers of quackery like so many of us do. It’s a comedy after all — it’s supposed to make us laugh. Go find out if it does.

Alternative is doing two nights at the Camden fringe on 3/4 August and returning to the Etcetera theatre for six nights from 13th September.

Homeopathy Survey

By the way, the Homeopathic Regulation Survey, which went viral a few days is still online. It only takes a minute or two to respond to the loaded questions and doesn’t the whiny tone of Question 7 set your teeth on edge?

7. Why do you think homeopaths are being treated in this way?

The survey is anonymous. Although the colour scheme has led to some suggestion that it is the work of the Society of Homeopaths — and the survey is so idiotic that it wouldn’t surprise me if this were true — a spokeswoman for the Society has categorically denied it:

Thank you for your message. No this survey has nothing to do with the Society.

All the best

Maria Apps
Senior Manager

Given that the survey is unlikely to provide ‘X’ with the results they were hoping for, remaining anonymous makes it very easy to bury them and pretend the survey never happened. In any event, a lot of people say they enjoyed completing the survey so give it a go if you haven’t done already and then check out Alternative’s facebook page for an opportunity to win free tickets to the play on the strength of your answer to that last question.

Finally, this week’s episode of The Pod Delusion features an exclusive clip of the show together with interviews with Trent Burton and with a spokeswoman for the Nightingale Collaboration, who says pretty much the same thing as I’ve just written, funnily enough.

PS. Although this post hasn’t been about homeopathy, I’ll take the liberty of posting a link to my new, unfinished website: Discover Homeopathy.


10 Responses to Coming soon to a theatre near me…

  • Suggestion 1.
    On “Discover Homeopathy, list the obscure Latin named potions, what it really is and what its similarity is. As you mention, onions make you cry so must be good for tear related problems. I wonder if a proper dilution of tincture of onions can cure depression, because it is obvious that crying must make you depressed.

    Suggestion 2.
    Start a decent blog on herbal treatments, as this is the next step up from water to things that may actually help. I believe there are some people who definitely benefit from some plants and others see no effect. It’s a bit like finding what works with a child out of 20-30 suggestions, one or two may work on yours. A quick look at Google did not show any web sites with herbal advice w/o a sales connection, except Wikipedia.

    This sort of stuff is interesting: looked at Echinacea and recovering from the common cold.

  • Thanks, Jim. I’ll try to do more on the DH site in time for the next homeopathy awareness week but it ain’t half boring doing stuff on homeopathy.

    I’m very interested in herbal treatments so thanks for the link.

  • From:

    Friday, August 19, 2011
    Based in France, Boiron, a huge multinational maker of homeopathic- remedies, is suing an Italian blogger, Samuele Riva, for saying oscillococcinum, the companys featured flu medication, has no active ingredient. Congratulations Sam, I gave up trying to get Boiron to sue me, years ago but the Center for Inquiry, of which I’m a member, is pleading with Boiron to sue us. “Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum,” is listed as the active ingredient by the company. Its prepared at a concentration of 200CK HPUS from the liver of the Barbary duck. The 200CK means the solution has been diluted 1 part in 100, shaken, and repeated sequentially 200 times. HPUS means the medication is listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States, and prepared according to 1938 federal guidelines. Its a national disgrace that the antiquated law sanctioning homeopathy, introduced by Sen. Royal Copeland, himself a homeopathist, is still be on the books. The dilution claim is totally meaningless. Somewhere around the 30th of the 200 sequential dilutions, the dilution limit of Earth would be reached, with the entire Earth becoming the solute. That is, the possibility of even one molecule of the duck-liver extract remaining in the solution beyond that point would be negligible. Long before the 200th dilution, the dilution limit of the entire visible universe would have been reached. This is all quite meaningless. Astronomers put the number of atoms in the visible universe at about 10 to the 80th power. It would take many universes to get to a dilution of 200 C.

  • I was looking at the Phobia List on Wikipedia, especially at the short Jocular and fictional list. It occurred to me that some humorous phobias might zing alt-med practices. I offer:
    Dilutiphobia – fear of extremely diluted alt-meds.
    Hannemanophobia – Fear of homeopathy; see also dilutiphobia and homeopatheticaphobia.
    κυκλικήphobia – Fear of nonsense from the Greek for circular(κυκλική).(ala babelfish)

    The above should be edited and expanded. A published blog containing the terms could be referenced as a source for a Wikipedia entry.

  • A Limerick might do:

    In Seventeen Hundred Ninety Six
    Sam Hahnemann made the very first mix,
    By the Law of Similars
    Then dilution by swindlers,
    Established the profession of nicks.

    Where “nick” is the British slang for steal,
    so “nicks” is stealing, (repetitively).
    I wish the last line was better.

  • Better last line:
    Was the start of these deceitful tricks.

  • More on Boiron from Stephen Barrett’s
    Consumer Health Digest #11-28
    September 1, 2011
    [email protected]

    FDA urged to get tougher on homeopathy.

    The Center for Inquiry and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry have filed three petitions asking the FDA to address various aspects of the homeopathic marketing.

    **One petition asks the agency to initiate rulemaking that would
    require all over-the-counter homeopathic drugs to meet the same
    standards of effectiveness as non-homeopathic drugs. Although the FDA has the authority to require homeopathic drugs to undergo testing for effectiveness, it has not done so. This petition also asks the agency to require warning labels on homeopathic products unless they are shown to be effective.

    **The second petition asks the FDA to order Boiron to label the
    allegedly active ingredient in Oscillococcinum in English. This
    product, an alleged flu remedy, is said to be made by repeatedly
    diluting an extract of duck liver and heart. However, the label uses a Latin phrase to identify the ingredient, even though federal regulations require product to labels be written in English.

    **The third petition complains that Boiron’s advertising falsely
    suggests that Oscillococcinum has received FDA approval.

    Many homeopathic products–including Oscillococcinum–contain no
    molecules of the original substance(s).

    FDA regulations require the FDA to respond to citizen petitions with 180 days. However, a similar petition, filed in 1994 by Dr. Stephen Barrett and 41 other concerned persons, received no response.
    For additional information about Oscillococcinum, see

  • What response do you want? That your “sources” are crap and nobody will take you seriously until you provide real sources? You already know that, yet you continue linking to youtube and quack websites.

  • Hello, first comment 🙂
    I would like to know if anyone here is qualified enough to respond to this interesting question:

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