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.

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Sorry, regular readers, I’ll be back to ranting about quackery or religious nutjobs very soon but, in the meantime, my attention has been drawn to a story that concerns subjects particularly close to my heart: humanism and, in particular, the critical thinking skills that every humanist should be striving to develop, especially if they aspire to positions of responsibility that affect other people’s lives.

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In support of the Libel Reform Campaign I am pleased to publish the following blog:

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.

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I’ve been off-line for a couple of weeks so this is a very belated response to Frank Swain’s gig at Westminster Skeptics at the beginning of August.

Frank Swain, aka SciencePunk, no longer calls himself a skeptic. This isn’t because he’s become less of one. On the contrary, he described himself as being “born of the skeptic movement” and “hugely enamoured” with it. But he has, in recent years, distanced himself from the “skeptic community” because he doesn’t want to be associated with its attitudes and behaviour.

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Is there no end to the bullying by the British Chiropractic Association? Not content with putting the man through two years of hell with their ridiculous libel action against him, this morning brought the news that they have now decided to deprive Dr Simon Singh of his day in court, where it was confidently expected that he would wipe the floor with them.

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I started this post yesterday, feeling I should write one to commemorate the anniversary of this blog, which began a year ago on International Women’s Day.

On the same day 37 years ago today, I went on my first march for women’s liberation in central London. We demanded an end to discrimination in education and the workplace, as well as contraception, abortion and nursery places for all who needed them. We protested about the demeaning way women were presented by various media and we challenged the ideology that women were responsible for the hateful way we were perceived and portrayed and for the sexual harrassment and violence visited upon us. 37 years ago, if I’d looked this far into the future, I would have expected International Women’s Day 2010 to be a day of celebration.

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Here’s a quick post to express my sympathy with all the posters at the richarddawkins.net forum (RDF) —  a place I hardly ever visited and never posted at but which must have had something going for it because when it was closed earlier this week it had over two million posts.

Reading some of the reactions to it, I am again reminded that people who’ve never been part of an internet forum community don’t have a clue about how important are these places that allow people from all over the world in engage with each other. To thousands of atheists they are a godsend, so to speak. And many of those who do know the benefits and spend most of their free time on one just can’t comprehend why not everyone feels as they do.

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I see that both the English Defence League (EDL) and their opponents in Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are in the news again after a bunch of EDL supporters turned up in Manchester today to stage a protest against Islamic extremism. Apparently, the UAF didn’t like it so staged a counter-demonstration. The short clip viewable here shows EDL placards saying ‘Patriotism is not racism’ and ‘No more mosques in England’, while crowds of UAF people shout “Nazi scum: off our streets!” Predictably, EDL supporters commenting on the web today saw the UAF counter-demo as an attempt to suppress free speech and called them ‘Unashamed Actual Fascists’, and suchlike.

Anyway, aware that the messages of the newly emerged EDL (which seems to have evolved from a group calling themselves Casuals United) and the Stop Islamification of Europe group (SIOE) have resonated with at least a few nice, respectable, secularist folk, I decided to take a closer look at what they and their opponents are about.

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I see the utterly tedious topic of the religious Thought for the Day slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has been back in the headlines lately after Radio 4 Controller, Mark Damazer, said the BBC Trust is considering complaints made by hundreds of disgruntled atheists. It’s very nice, I’m sure, of the BBC to finally consider the complaints when everyone I know who has ever complained received a standard rejection letter from Damazer taking the same daft ‘secularists get a big enough slice of the pie already’ line as many religionists do.

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Both of my parents died slow, horrible deaths. I won’t forget what those two strong, vibrant individuals became in old age and sickness: their fragility, their mental confusion, their physical agony and, above all, their unmitigated emotional distress. There are few things worse than seeing a frail old man or woman screaming and crying in pain and longing for death.

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