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.



There is a bunch of homeopathic organisations in the UK. Unfortunately, one of them has the same initials as the British Humanist Association, an organisation I am proud to have been part of in various ways for some 20 years. Although I had no part in writing any text on the organisation’s website about homeopathy, I’m happy to defend its stance, which happens to coincide with my own. It is a stance entirely in keeping with a humanist world view, which judges each situation on its merits according to standards of reason and humanity.

The British Homeopathic Association is a charity whose overall priority is to “ensure that homeopathy is available to all”. It doesn’t appear to be a membership organisation but it seems anyone can become a ‘friend’ of theirs for an annual donation of £25.

Patrons are just royals and assorted celebrities. Idiots, obviously.

It seems the British Homeopathic Association takes strong exception to a short piece on the British Humanist Association’s website. Here’s a snippet:

British Humanist Association Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal said, ‘The fact that some NHS trusts continue to spend money on treatments known to be ineffective at a time when the health service is facing tremendous financial pressure is astonishing. Not only is this wasteful, but it could even put public health at risk. Public money could be better spent providing treatments that have been proven to work.’

A few days ago, Margaret Wyllie, Chair of the British Homeopathic Association, published the piece below on their website. It is so awful, I am happy to do them the kindness of bringing it to a wider audience.

In dispute with the BHA

No we’ve not fallen out with ourselves.

The BHA to which I refer is the British Humanist Association, a registered charity that according to the mission statement on its website believes in “equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief”. That is unless you are a patient in Liverpool seeking treatment from the city’s NHS homeopathy service. For the Humanists appear to have abandoned its egalitarian views to support a campaign to force Liverpool CCG to withdraw funding from a homeopathic clinic that has benefitted hundreds of patients over many years.

Although the service is provided by medically trained doctors with years of clinical experience, the Humanists haven’t sought out their views – or that of their patients – before coming to a decision, preferring instead to base their position on highly prejudiced statements from an anti-homeopathy campaign group called the Good Thinking Society, none of whom appear to have any medical training whatsoever. This seems somewhat at odds with one of the Humanists’ guiding principles that affirms their belief in “engaging in debate rationally, intelligently, and with attention to evidence”.

Before publicising its support for the campaign to deprive the people of Liverpool of their NHS homeopathy service did the Humanists engage in rational, intelligent debate with any proponents of homeopathy or genuinely evaluate all of the evidence? Sadly, no! Again this appears contrary to another of their cherished values: “… being cooperative, working with others of different beliefs for the common good”.

The Humanists also say they believe in “recognising the dignity of individuals and treating them with fairness and respect”. The tearful 94-year-old lady from Liverpool, who called our offices, distraught at the prospect of losing access to the NHS homeopathic treatment she receives for her rheumatoid arthritis, would no doubt dispute this.

We have written to the British Humanist Association explaining our point of view and detailing the factual inaccuracies contained in the statements they have issued about homeopathy. They responded saying their stance is the “only reasonable and humane position” that they could take.

The leadership of the British Humanist Association certainly espouses a strange brand of humanity.

Of course denying patients their choice of medical treatment is, as Margaret Wyllie implies, religious discrimination. But only when the ‘treatment’ they seek is homeopathy, which is actually a religious ritual disguised as a treatment and shouldn’t be provided on the NHS in the first place, especially outside the confines of designated hospital prayer rooms. Of course, if you believe in it, it may work but only on conditions that respond to placebo or just get better by themselves. Much like prayer.

Homeopathy is not an equal treatment to science-based medicine and, when it comes to the provision of healthcare, “equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief” means giving everybody equal access to effective treatments. It doesn’t include humouring those who believe in pre-science piffle.

The NHS doesn’t have the resources to provide whatever floats your boat. It has to be discriminating in what it funds and shouldn’t be funding treatments that don’t work, whatever they are.

The most extensive investigation ever carried out concluded recently that homeopathy was not effective for any condition. Of course, like homeopathists everywhere, the British Homeopathic Association reject the findings of the Australian NHMRC review on unsupportable grounds and offers some cherry-picked study of their own:

A recent meta-analysis published by the British Homeopathic Association ( has provided independently verified evidence that individually prescribed homeopathic medicines may have clinical effects that are greater than those of placebos.

The link takes us to the Robert T Mathie systematic review and meta-analysis which, for some inexplicable reason, is being served up as the plat du jour of evidence for homeopathy by believers everywhere at the moment, even though it’s just the same old story:

The low or unclear overall quality of the evidence prompts caution in interpreting the findings. New high-quality RCT research is necessary to enable more decisive interpretation.

That’s what homeopathy supporters think is a “positive” study??

It’s no secret that the weight of evidence is against homeopathy. That’s why those who oppose the provision of homeopathy on the NHS don’t have to be medically trained, though many are. Remember five years ago the British Medical Association voted overwhelmingly to oppose the NHS funding of homeopathy. They’re medically trained but, for some reason, Margaret Wyllie isn’t impressed.

Nor do we have to waste our time seeking the views of those who make a living providing it. One can, if one engages all the parts of one’s brain so they work as a team, probably anticipate what homeopaths working in the NHS will say about having to find a proper job and it wouldn’t get us any further and certainly wouldn’t be for any “common good”.

I don’t know why Margaret Wyllie thinks the British Humanist Association didn’t rationally debate the question or evaluate the evidence. Some have been doing so for years. There is a scientific consensus on homeopathy and that includes many members of our organisation, as well as the high-profile scientists among our Patrons. We’ve got people like Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, Professor Sir David King FRS and Professor Sheila McLean FRSE, FRCGP, FRSA. They’ve got people like Annabel Croft and Twiggy.

We don’t need the Good Thinking Society to tell us how to think good — we were doing that well before the GTS came along but, judging by her blog, the Chair of the British Homeopathic Association could do with a few lessons.

Here’s the first: As it says on the Humanist website, “a humanist is someone who trusts to the scientific method”.

Anyone canny enough to realise that personal perceptions can be mistaken and who trusts to the scientific method rather than their imagination cannot support homeopathy no matter how many old ladies from Liverpool thinks it helps their rheumatoid arthritis or how tearful they are when their placebo is taken away.

“Recognising the dignity of individuals and treating them with fairness and respect”, doesn’t mean giving them toy medicine on demand at the expense of other people’s lives. Nobody is going to die for want of homeopathy though they may die if they choose it instead of effective treatments. But people die all the time for want of real medicine — not just in developing countries but here in the UK too. Just ask oncologist Prof Michael Baum, whose patients’ died while they waited for the cancer treatments herceptin and aromatase inhibitors to be evaluated by NICE for cost effectiveness, after they’d passed all the clinical trials. That took two years during which time the NHS spent £20 million — several times what was needed for the new drugs — on refurbishing the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. (Source.)

As well as wasting money, providing homeopathy on the NHS gives it a credibility it doesn’t merit but which the lay homeopaths benefit from. As Pavan Dhaliwal reminded Margaret Wyllie in the rest of her response which, for some reason Mrs Wyllie doesn’t share with us, in addition to the lack of scientific plausibility and the lack of robust evidence, homeopathy can be “positively dangerous given that many lay homeopaths appear willing to prescribe it as an alternative to vaccinations for dangerous diseases such as malaria”.

Pavan continues:

You note that we are ‘the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.’ Given this lack of evidence and potential for harm, and the general paucity of state resources, we believe the only reasonable and humane position that we could take is to campaign for an end to state funding of homeopathy through the NHS and elsewhere.

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

BHA 1–0 BHA.

One Response to BHA vs BHA

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