Following David Tredinnick’s recent alternative turn in the House of Commons, attention has been given to acquiring the ‘clear evidence that homeopathy is effective in treating autism‘. A Freedom of Information request (by Alan Henness, who has also blogged on ‘The evidence for David Tredinnick MP‘) eventually turned up a copy of the documentation that Tredinnick sent to Health Minister, Norman Lamb, the latter having declared he ‘… should be happy for him to send me more information…’.
Attached to Tredinnick’s dim, logically fallacious letter to Mr Lamb were two documents:
- a screenshot of a page from the website of a homeopath, the late Dr. Tinus Smits, featuring his ‘CEASE (Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression) Therapy’.
Note: no published, peer-reviewed, scientific research; but an article in a homeopathy magazine; and a page from a homeopath’s website featuring apparently anti-vaccination propaganda.
The former is written by a homeopath named Carol Boyce. In a shaded introductory box, the very first sentence implies blame for the rise in Autistic Spectrum Disorder on conventional medicine, through the disparaging label, ‘The might of allopathic medicine…’. (My emphasis in bold; this Hahnemann-coined nonsense term is a frequent resort of homeopaths, misused to the extent that many properly practicing medical doctors improperly apply it to themselves.) And the anti-science, medical conspiracy theorising becomes apparent in the first few paragraphs, which contain support for Andrew Wakefield’s long discredited, media-propagated link between autism and the MMR triple vaccine.
There then comes a quite hysterical (not in the funny sense) statement:
‘Under the guise of ‘protecting’ children from the ‘scourge’ of childhood diseases, known to kill or maim just a handful of (already sick) children every year in the West, the push for enforced mass vaccination may be trading our children’s entire futures and with them the very future of society itself.’
This confused and confusing anti-vaccination rant is breathtaking in its implausibility and irresponsibility. And, with typical quack non-sequitur, is clumsily spliced to claims as to the eugenic benefits to be had from homeopathy. This digresses into an appeal to celebrity (the anti-vaccine activity of Jenny McCarthy), before inevitable either/or illogical conclusion of the requirement for homeopathy as ‘a logical choice [for]… ASD [as] a neurological expression of a metabolic problem’ (for which, we’re told, orchids are effective). Then proceeds named examples of several homeopaths, the first on this list providing Tredinnick with his other lazily obtained ‘clear evidence’ sample: Dr. Tinus Smits’s CEASE Therapy, which uses:
‘… the 30C, 200C, 1M and 10M potencies to clear out the energetic field of the patient from the imprint of toxic substances or diseases.’
Alarmingly, David Tredinnick, MP for Bosworth, and member of the House of Commons Select Committees for Health and for Science and Technology, apparently buys this! Does he also, then, lap up pseudoscientific language, such as:
‘Even illness, medication and vaccination in the energetic field of the father and mother before pregnancy can be transmitted to the child by energetic transfer.’
Is this ‘clear evidence’ to him? Because I’m damned if it makes any sense whatsoever! But Smits’s anti-vaccination rhetoric is clear enough and includes some very problematic and disturbing statements:
‘In the United States the enormous increase in autism cases (from 1:180.000 to 1:180) coincides with the introduction of the MMR… vaccine…’
‘All autistic children should be detoxified using the homeopathically diluted remedies of the vaccines that have been administered to the child.’
‘Autistic children should never again be vaccinated!’
Anti-vaccination propaganda aside, as would be predicted of a quackery screed there is much mention of nutrition, vitamin C, detoxification, copious anecdotage; and Big Pharma-led conspiracy theorising, which raises further concerns that Tredinnick’s ‘sources’ don’t much bother themselves with: How do complicit medical professionals with autistic family members approach treatment?
‘The possibility that an inexpensive, safe and effective solution may exist is something they are unwilling to comprehend.’
‘The fact that the allopathic profession and the pharmaceutical industry that controls the profession have nothing constructive to offer these families, ought to make them at least curious about the work being done by homeopaths in this arena. That they are obstructive makes clear, if clarity were still needed, that the opposition to homeopathy has absolutely nothing to do with protection of patients and all to do with protection of powerful vested interests.’
Which is not dissimilar to what Tredinnick recently said. Does he himself believe that the medical profession doesn’t actually want to help families affected by ASD?
Mr Tredinnick has surely been confronted with attempts to enlighten him that the type of material from which he draws does not constitute evidence. But he pays no heed; belittles and dismisses critics and detractors concerned at the irresponsible nonsense he advocates as “ignorant bullies”. More concernedly, however, provision of such material by Mr Tredinnick raises serious questions: what it suggests about his attitude to vaccination and/or sympathy for the anti-vaccination lobby; whether he subscribes to the Big Pharma conspiracy theory; whether he is fit to serve on the House of Commons Select Committees for Health, and for Science and Technology.
Boyce concedes her anecdotalising, with the handy suggestion that clinical trials are not applicable to cases of ASD, thus justifying homeopathy, regardless:
‘… I looked for cases where it would be difficult to assert the placebo effect, and children with ASD seemed a good choice.’
‘Of course these cases are simply more anecdotal evidence – all these children treated homeopathically may have ‘grown out’ of their problems or got better by themselves. It may all be nothing more than more coincidences. But why these dramatic improvements all occurred within hours, days or a couple of weeks of receiving homeopathic treatment after years of suffering then becomes the mystery. Unless of course there really IS something in this homeopathy!’ [sic]
As does Tredinnick; in his letter* to Norman Lamb, he states:
which reads like acknowledgement that anecdotes are weak (not ‘clear’) evidence. So why, rather than supply a copy of an anecdote-laden article, and a screenshot of a dubious website, does he not supply copies of/links to a few of those supposed ‘… 188 RCT papers… published in good quality scientific journals’ which he implies are stronger and clearer? (Oh, ‘inconclusive’ does not mean positive, either; it means, err… !). Though he neither informs what they are nor where specifically they are published, we can be pretty certain not one is on homeopathic treatment of autism (certainly, there are none to be had from PubMed and Cochrane searches) – otherwise he’d have dug it out (wouldn’t he?). Leaving aside the homeopathic double standards when considering randomised clinical trials (which we’re frequently told are inapplicable because RCTs don’t consider the individual), where is the relevance in wandering off topic with un-cited papers on homeopathy? Where is the ‘clear evidence that homeopathy is effective in treating autism’?
Today (Monday 23rd February 2015), the The Confederation of Healing Organisations is holding an event at Portcullis House, Westminster, considering ‘The empirical case for Healing – Assessing the scientific evidence for non-contact healing effects’, which is considering ‘Healing as a complementary therapy within and alongside the NHS.’ Guess who has organised it?
* With thanks to Alan Henness for provision.