The BBC Watchdog programme’s treatment of self-acclaimed “healer, energy worker, teacher and psychic”, Adrian Pengelly, which aired last week, seems to have upset a few people. Pengelly has many satisfied customers who did not appreciate the humiliating exposure of someone they know to be a very nice man who has helped them.

According to a sycophantic piece in today’s Daily Mail, more than 200 of his clients lobbied the BBC in protest before the programme was aired. I’d add that every mention of the programme since has drawn fresh testimonials of his amazing power (see the comments beneath the Mail article for examples) and protests about the evil Watchdog team who cruelly tricked this kind and gentle man.

Kind he may be, but there are some pretty preposterous claims on Adrian Pengelly’s website.

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‘Female quackbuster aims to protect the vulnerable’, is the irresistible title of a paper that was Tweeted a few days ago. The paper is brought to us by the Zeus Information Service, a website whose stated aim is to “unite people and organisations worldwide who believe in the value of natural health therapies and want to continue to use them.”

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally come out and whispered that, in spite of its public policy of supporting the integration of alternative therapies into national health systems, it doesn’t actually recommend the use of homeopathy for HIV, malaria, TB, influenza and infant diarrhoea.

Goodness me! I do hope this staggering confession, which was squeezed like blood from a stone by researchers and medics from the Voice of Young Science network, offends anyone with quackish sensibilities.

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I almost found myself in the unprecedented position of defending alternative therapies recently. Well, not the therapies themselves but those who believe in them. Given that I devote much of this blog to attacking these very same people as deluded morons, this admission will come as a surprise to regular readers. But after reading the story of the child who died of diabetic ketoacidosis because her parents — Dale and Leilani Neumann — failed to get medical help and relied on the power of prayer instead, I was feeling almost charitable about the father of Gloria Thomas, who’d relied on homeopathy to save his desperately ill child’s life. At least homeopathic ‘remedies’ — as they are laughingly called — are tangible and some people swear that they work as they’re supposed to and not just as a placebo. Obviously, these people are wrong but at least I can see where they’re coming from (a place of  astonishing ignorance).

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On request from Sense about Science and together with countless other websites that are concerned with truth and justice, I am pleased to post on this blog Simon Singh’s article, which originally appeared in the Guardian newspaper’s Comment is Free column on 19 April 2008 and which gave the British Chiropractic Association the hump. (I blogged previously about this story here and here.)

The Guardian has taken the article down, thereby depriving the public of access to the very useful information and arguments it contained. However, the more websites that carry it, the more accessible it will be. So up yours, BCA.

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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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It’s high time I took another pop at homeopathy. I know more and more people are wising up to this particular brand of quack lunacy but, as someone who each morning receives a new list of web articles written by delusional homeopaths happily promoting their bogus therapies, I believe it’s important in the interests of balance to keep ridiculing it.

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I’m seeing a guy who is so black, he’s purple. It’s like fucking a mood ring. I can’t wait until he dies so I can see what colour he turns.

It was at this point in Scott Capurro’s gig at the Hampstead Comedy Club last  night that I decided to switch off, get out my ipod and play a game of poker. I’m not easily offended but I am easily bored and last night I was bored out of my skull watching Capurro tossing off. Seriously, he reminded me of a saddo in a dirty raincoat getting off on revealing his willy to an unsuspecting crowd, whose unappreciative reaction makes him want to jerk off even harder.

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‘Walking with dinosaurs’ is the supremely appropriate title of a post on Lifelinking’s blog about last Saturday’s sectarian march — or ‘festival of bigotry’ as he calls it — through the city of Glasgow and this brief post of mine is mainly intended to bring his a few more viewers. But if I can offend a few bigots myself along the way, that’ll be a bonus.

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Quacks love anecdotes. They seem to love them even more when they’re not true. On the web I’ve seen, for example, homeopaths claiming to have successfully cured cancer and kidney disease to the rapturous applause of their imbecilic devotees. I recall one even claiming to be able to treat third-degree burns better than conventional medicine and encouraging his sceptical critics to go burn themselves badly so he could prove it. Ethics aren’t something common or garden quacks like to bother their pretty little heads about, evidently.

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It was good to see people enjoying themselves and celebrating diversity with such enthusiasm at London’s Gay Pride yesterday.

Bigots
Bigots

These guys on the right gave a great performance. They’d obviously been rehearsing a long time and — it may be a cliché — but they lived the part.

I was at the Pride by accident. I’d forgotten it was on but I emerged from Charing Cross station into Trafalgar Square and found myself in the middle of it. I didn’t stay long because I wanted to catch the last few hours of the nearby summer science exhibition, which was fab, by the way.

I was sorry I missed the parade through Central London an hour earlier but was delighted to catch this piece of street theatre by a small group of players, mainly old men and a few women wearing strange hats.

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A couple of days ago Dr Andrew Wakefield issued a press release from Thoughtful House, the Texas clinic he founded, stating that the Press Complaints Commission has ordered the Sunday Times newspaper to remove Brian Deer’s stories about him from the newspaper’s website. “The PCC decision today appears to indicate there are questions about the accuracy of the Deer stories,” it says.

Back in February, the Sunday Times published an article by Brian Deer alleging that Wakefield had “changed and misreported results in his research” for his notorious Lancet paper, which linked MMR to autism. Wakefield is currently being investigated by the General Medical Council on charges of professional misconduct in connection with this paper.

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Having now written three negative posts about particular Muslims, I was hoping that this one would be a lot more positive. I had high expectations of a gathering initiated by the Dialogue with Islam organisation and co-hosted by the Central London Humanist group. On its website Dialogue with Islam appears to be a well-intentioned initiative whose declared sole aim is to “provide a bridge of understanding and discussion between the Western Intellectuals and the Muslim community in Britain”. The website features quotes from a few high-profile journalists and politicians giving the impression that, thanks to Dialogue with Islam, valuable and constructive discussions were taking place from which we could all learn something.

As a result of the meeting I attended — a precious hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back — I have resolved, firstly, not to bother attending any more CHG meetings that are addressed by religous speakers and, secondly, to join the National Secular Society.

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Or something like that. Last night I went to the Conway Hall Humanist Centre in London’s Red Lion Square Conway Hall balconyfor a meeting organised by the Central London Humanist group.

For those that don’t know it, the Conway Hall was built some 90 years ago by the South Place Ethical Society — a Society dedicated to fostering “freedom in moral and spiritual life and thought”. The SPES describes itself as “the oldest freethought community in the world. It was founded in 1793 as a dissenting congregation and for more than two centuries has been a focus for serious discussion of basic ethical principles. By 1888 SPES had rejected the existence of God and became an Ethical Society, the only one which now survives. SPES is now an educational charity and maintains a proud tradition of free enquiry in all areas of thought and action.”

So it was a bit of a surprise and actually quite alarming to arrive there on a hot summer evening and find a number of women shrouded from head to foot in black being shepherded upstairs by men who were dressed a good deal more comfortably.

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Awww…just when I was planning a blog post examining some of the outrageous and unsubstantiated claims being made on the websites of countless British chiroquacktors, I come across the email — courtesy of Chiropracticlive.com and copied below — telling them to take down their websites. As I’ve been sitting back munching popcorn for the last week while others have been toiling away in pursuit of truth and justice I can’t, alas, take any of the credit for provoking this extraordinary panic action, so I feel I must at least do my bit to help spread the good news. It’s only fair.

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Ever open-minded and keen to learn about the complexities of one of the most popular alternative therapies and unwilling to rely on the biased news media and sneering science blogs, I tried to find a trustworthy source of information about the homeopathic product, Malaria Officinalis 30c, which has been in the news a bit lately.

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Compassion and self-sacrifice are completely futile on atheism because unless there is a moral payback, unless there is a return, a dividend, it makes no sense to risk your own life for another.

So said Muslim missionary, Adam Deen, in a recent “debate” with Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association, at Birkbeck University in London.

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“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.

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Yesterday I sat in an English courtroom and and witnessed a travesty. I was in a public gallery packed with Simon Singh’s supporters for the preliminary hearing of the BCA v Simon Singh at the High Court. The BCA had objected to an article Dr Singh penned for The Guardian newspaper, which appeared during ‘Chiropractic Awareness Week’ in April 2008. The article has since been removed from the newspaper’s website but can currently still be viewed here.

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This post is dedicated to the memory of baby Gloria Thomas, who died in May 2002 and whose mother and homeopath father are standing trial in Australia for manslaughter by gross criminal negligence because they failed to get professional help for their child in spite of her “bleeding, crying and malnutrition”.

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Given the mountains of crap spewed at us everywhere we look by homeopushing gobshites, it was a refreshing change last week to see Professor Lesley Regan front this BBC TV programme exposing homeopathy for the poppycock it is.

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Atheists, by virtue of being atheist, think there’s nothing wrong with deliberately flying light planes into buildings, killing thousands of people. This view was expressed by a a 25-year-old Muslim from East London with a talent for self-advertisement, who hilariously describes himself as an “intellectual activist who has been working in the field of Muslim apologetics for almost a decade”.

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American Jenny McCarthy is a self-appointed vaccine expert, having graduated from the University of Google after an earlier successful career as a slapper, the grotesque details of which are described on countless websites less concerned with maintaining high standards of taste and decorum than this one.

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Matthias Rath is a German scientist, physician and vitamin pill salesman who went to South Africa — a country where 6.3 million people are HIV positive — and launched a misinformation campaign which claimed, amongst other things, that the life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV patients were, in fact, poisoning them and they should taking his vitamin pills instead.

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I find few things more boring than hearing atheists endlessly whingeing about religion but one of them is journalists whingeing about atheists. Madeleine Bunting in today’s Guardian is a case in point. And Bunting doesn’t just whinge, she has constructed from her fevered imagination a whole scenario in which the “country’s finest minds” are trying hard to have interesting and meaningful discussions about religions but are being “drowned out” by the “foghorn volume” of the so-called New Atheists.

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