Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snooze you lose... (and an update on WonderQuack Obi)

I was sleeping, hence I lost. Well, not so much sleeping as working and not so much losing as watching excellent stories appear hither and thither that would have been the bread & butter of blog entries here, being blogged more clearly, more cleverly and humorously elsewhere.

Since the fun and games with WonderQuack "Dr" Joseph Chikelue Obi, we have had lots of fun from the usual outlets.

The outcome of the WonderQuack Joseph Chikelue Obi debacle was interesting. The Quackometer post which initially caused the hoo-haa was removed from Google.ie by Google themselves. Now, a quick search of Google.ie for "Joseph Chikelue Obi" brings up no less than 7 reprints of the offending blog in the top 10. Hoorah!

I count that as a result not only against the sabre-rattling bullyboy tactics of WonderQuack Joseph Chikelue Obi but also against the yellow-bellied brownpants that deemed it suitable to be removed from Google.ie. The Quackometer has also found a few anomalies regarding the way Obi does his business, along with his hard-to-find brother.

In the end, about 40 or so blogs carried the story in a wonderful "I'm Spartacus" sort of way. WonderQuack Joseph Chikelue Obi looked at it differently. Or at least, his messenger is not to be trusted:

When I was told that the Enemies of Alternative Medicine had recruited 5000 (Five Thousand) Bloggers to write rubbish about me 24 hours a day , ( every single day of the year ) , I said OK . . . Let's wait and see precisely what they will say

(from professorjosephchikelueobi.com)

Hmmm.....perhaps more time doing sums and less time in suspended paranoia would be more fruitful.

Now , after speedreading almost everything that they have written ... I have reached the simple conclusion that their plan has massively backfired ; as all that their 5000 Blogposts have done is provide me with even more ammunition for my Multiple Lawsuits . . . both against the Hosting Company of the Defamatory Blog Itself and the General Medical Council.


Speedreading 5000 blogs? That is a lie. For two reasons. Anyway, I'm bored with Obi.

What's the point of spending time with a bonkers Walter Mitty type character like Obi when we can
A) sing the high praises of the ASA (again) for slapping down Health Products for Life (with Patrick Holford's face on them) for making unsubstantiated claims and not telling the truth.

B) Be gladdened that the NHS is deciding that homeopathy is not where public money should be spent

C) Be filled with cheer that (although not a patch on the ASA), Trading Standards can show some balls when they need to and close down conmen selling cancer cures.

Much, much more invigorating. Problem is, with all these success stories of honesty, integrity and good guys winning, it's hard to keep up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Complimentary and Alternative medicine once again use bullying threats and extortion to cover up quackery

Not so long ago, The Society of Homeopaths tried to silence Le Canard Noir and his excellent Quackometer site by threatening legal action because the Quackometer exposed their quackery factually and mannerly.

A zillion blogs of people laughing at SoH had them scampering back to their 30c Arnica sugar pills.

Now, a suspended, disgraced former health employee who is the head of a college that doesn't exist (by the name of Joseph Chikelue Obi) has decided he wants some publicity and has done a "Society of Homeopaths" on the Quackometer and threatened to sue The Quackometer's webhosts unless they remove allegedly defamatory material from the website. Except that, just like SoH, no details are apparently given and no direct communication with The Quackometer as apparently been received. I think you'll agree that this is a spineless bully boy tactic which only undermines his already empty case.

But then when you find out about the sort of person he appears to be from freely available (and yet interestingly, non-legally challenged) newspaper media, his dirty tricks seem to be par for the course.

Self-titled Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi MBBS MD DSc MPH FRIPH, is not a man with whom I would do business, given the following account:

Dr Obi, using the title professor, said his company, Advanced Wellness Interventions, could provide "a multi-disciplinary team of almost seven different practitioners".

He said he would need a lifetime registration fee of £2,500, and an appraisal fee of £1,000 to cover a three-hour telephone consulting session and an intensive home visit and until this was paid in cash into his bank account he could enter into no further correspondence.

Desperate to be cured, Mrs Lewis, widowed and living alone, says she paid her life savings into Dr Obi's account as requested, and although he did visit her house she said he made no diagnosis, arranged no tests and has not been in touch since.

She said: "I don't normally part with money like this, but I was so desperate because I have been ill for so long and no one can do anything.

"He did come down and see me but directed a lot of the questions at my partner and we didn't seem to get anywhere.

"He was very charming. He kissed my hand on the way out.

"But that was the last I've heard from him.
(Quote from here)

Nice. What a nice, nice man. What a gentleman. Quite apart from his apparent nastiness, how can you have "almost seven different practitioners"? Probably in the same way he "almost" pays people back after ripping them off.

A full resume of this odious man has been expertly put together by PV on his No Nonsense blog .

My only fear is that rather than being a morally-devoid, money-grabbing, attention-seeker he actually has real, proper mental issues that really need addressed by a professional.

This one will blow over just like the SoH affair (still wiping the egg of their faces), the excellent Quackometer site will find an ISP with a bit more cajones than the lilly-livered-childish-shit-yer-pants one he has at the moment, and we'll be able to get back to great British sport of moron-baiting.



The original blog in question from The Quackometer is replicated below for your enjoyment and discernment:

Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery - Dublin
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I had to share this with you. Following on from my recent Quack Word ‘Doctor’ blog, I came across the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) , a Dublin based - well, I’m not sure quite what it is…

What caught my eye was just the shameless aggrandisement of the site. It is quite hilarious, if not a little repetitive at times. Calling yourself ‘Doctor’ is somewhat pompous when all you have done is paid for some international postage. However, the man behind RCAM has absolutely no shame and titles himself as the:

Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)

Wow! Probably, just Joe to his mates. Naturally, when you Google the qualification FRCAM(Dublin), there is only person who appears to revel in this achievement. I’ll leave the rest as an excercise for the reader.

The distinguished provost looks like he is just another pseudoscientific nutritionist, his spin being “Nutritional Immunomodulation”. This is obviously a lot more clever than Patrick Holfords mere ‘Optimum Nutrition’, but having only one ‘omnipill’ is probably a poorer commercial decision that Patrick’s vast range of supplements.

Obviously, Professor Obi has had a few problems with what probably amount to bewildering comments about his site as the legal threats and press releases concerning his ‘ethical’ responses to criticisms cover more space than anything else. ‘Ethical’ is a favourite word on the site.

The most recent press release states,

7th September 2006 : The Distinguished RCAM Provost, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK) has formally accepted appointment as Chief Professorial Examiner for the Doctor of Science (DSc) programme in Evidence Based, Alternative Medicine (EBAM) of a highly respected International University in one of the British Commonwealth Protectorates.

This new qualification is primarily aimed at Medical Graduates, Physicians, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Dentists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Opticians, Wellness Consultants, Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths , Healers, Podiatrists , Chiropodists , Scientists , Healers ,Therapists, Homeopaths, Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Nurses wishing to ethically upgrade their current Qualifications in Alternative Medicine over an exceedingly intensive 12 - 36 month period of study.

British Commonwealth Protectorates? Could that be Dublin?

I really have no idea what this organisation is all about. But it looks like it could be getting quite big soon…

RCAM currently has International Vacancies for One Million (1,000,000) ‘Foundation Fellows’ (’Movers and Shakers’) ; who will independently play a highly pivotal role in diligently mentoring (and regulating) it’s future Global Membership.

So if you really think that you seriously have what it takes to become a ‘Leader’ in Alternative Medicine , then (perhaps) RCAM may definitely be exactly what the Doctor ordered for you.

One million. That’s a lot of quacks! And they are just to mentor (and regulate) the wider quack membership! This man has ambition.

The Big J really hates real doctors. This is his most recent press release…

RCAM would like to warmly commend the various Chieftans of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for ethically and appropriately ignoring utterly misguided calls (from a rather amusing Group of thirteen Clinical Yestermen) to compel Hard-Working (and Tax-Paying) British Citizens to additionally pay for Life Enhancing Alternative Medicine Interventions out of their very own pockets - rather than get such treatments free via the NHS. RCAM would like to also categorically state that such exceedingly flawed ‘G-13′ demands that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom expediently abandon Alternative Medicine altogether (in total favour of Conventional Medicine) be diplomatically treated with the very utmost contempt which such unguarded verbal flippance duly deserves ; as none of these 13 ‘Eminent UK Scientists’ behind such calls has professionally attained Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications in Alternative Medicine and as such cannot be deemed competent enough to make such sweeping ‘Shilly-Shally’ statements about the noble independent specialty of Alternative Medicine.

RCAM therefore publicly advises the General Public to lawfully go about their normal Wellness-Seeking Behaviour as usual - without any unwarranted prejudice or fear resulting from such highly self-serving, morally unethical , abjectly crude , totally unprofessional, utterly unstatesmanly, morbidly barbaric, wantonly uncivilized, profanely undemocratic and unspeakably sacrilegious perpetual affronts on the therapeutically formidable institution of Alternative Medicine.

Now, I do not have ‘Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications’ in Santa Clause Studies to know he does not exist. But hey. I must be a morbidly barbaric and profanely undemocratic, unethical duck.

So, struggling around the acres of pomposity I find one place where Prof Joe might be making some money. You can call him to seek his wisdom, after pre-booking an hour’s slot (and handing over your credit card) for a mere 300 Euros. Alternatively, you can pay by the minute on the contact line for a trifling $10 per minute.

Its going to cost you $20 just for Joe to say Hello and to read out his numerous titles, qualifications and names. Not bad ‘ethical’ work.

Ethical Quackery, the Monarchy and Kate Moss
Thursday, October 12, 2006
No, this is not about our Defender of Quackery, our Quack-in-Chief His Royal Quackiness, Prince Charles, but about the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi. And yes, it is just a rather lame story written solely to get a picture of Kate on my blog.

I’ve written a rather lazy blog on the distinguished professor before that was just a bit of a gawp at his quacktastic website and what looks like a health phone-line scam.

Well, I’ve done a little more digging with Google and it has revealed a few quack gems. It has been pretty hard work, since Google returns some 6,000 pages, the vast majority just appears to be Prof Obi’s self-promotion. However, if you persist in digging a few interesting facts turn up.

So, what has the little black duck found out about the “most Controversial Retired Physician and ‘A-List’ Medical Celebrity, Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi”?

Here we go…

1. The Irish Independent reports that his college does not exist at the Dublin address given on the web site. There’s a surprise! It’s just a front.

2. The Independent goes on. “In January 2003, he was suspended by for serious professional misconduct at South Tyneside District Hospital. Among the allegations made were that he failed to attend to patients, wrote strange notes about colleagues and at one point gave a dating agency phone number to a psychiatric patient.”

3. He was being investigated by the police for taking thousands of pounds of a 58 year old woman to in order to cure a long standing illness.

4. The GMC strike Dr Obi off their register for “serious professional misconduct”. So much for him being retired.

5. On another tack, Dr Obi has been involved in a little cyber-squatting. This looks as if it took place while he was a doctor - always after a few quid!

6. Since then, now self-titled Prof Obi, a few new avenues have been opened, including trying to entice Kate Moss away to one of his ’safe-houses’ in Ireland. Hat’s off!

He is quoted as saying:

“Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Miss Moss still has fundamental rights, just like anyone else out there, and as far as I am concerned, she is not guilty of anything until an Ethical Jury says so.”

(I mentioned before that ‘ethical’ was one of his favourite words.)

7. Prof Obi has been developing a Penis Enlarger (watch out Kate) that his own Royal College has now endorsed.

8. At least one person (out of the targeted million) has paid Prof Obi the fees for his college to accredit them. Dr Michael Keet (8 Canards) of the Central London College of Reflexology handed over ‘hundreds’. Do we feel sorry for out-quacked quacks? I guess we ought to.

9. For those of you wanting to see behind the grand titles and see the real human being, Joseph lists his interests as Comedy in London, Whole Food Nutrition and Christian Music. On this ‘Meetup’ site, he describes himself as “Just a very ordinary guy . . .”. That’s nice.

10. His name appears very often on the blog Abolish The General Medical Council (GMC), often reporting something he has got up to. The blog describes itself as:

An ethical blog for those who publicly feel that the General Medical Council (GMC) should be Statutorily Abolished in favour of a Medical Licensing Commission (MLC) to solely register and revalidate Doctors who practise Conventional Medicine in the UK. The Blog also recommends that the GMC/MLC hands all disciplinary functions over to an Independent Clinical Tribunal (ICT) in keeping with the EU Convention on Human Rights ; to avoid (both) Institutional Bias and Multiple Jeopardy.

Oooh. There is that word ‘ethical’ again. And ‘European Human Rights’. No name is given for the blog author but the avatar is a portrait of the queen. Another apparent obsession of Prof Obi - royalty. Could the author be none other than the Professor himself, a little agrieved for his ticking off? I hope you all click through to the blog. Maybe we will show up in his stats and whoever the writer is can get in contact and confirm one way or another.

I rather hope it is, as the final thing I turned up would just be fantastic…

11. Is the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Obi now selling ethical ring-tones? I do hope so.

Watch out Crazy Frog! Here comes the Crazy Provost…


EDIT:
Here is a list of other blogs who have supported this issue:

I'm not sure that's ethical

legal threats and extortion to suppress the truth

Orac is on the case.

The BadScience Forum has more details and discussion as does the Randi Forum

Science and Progress
Rich Speaks…
No Nonsense!
Ambri-guous
Rich Scopie
Brain Duck
Soberish
Skeptico
A day at the pharmacy
Fooeey
jdc325
FlammableFlower
Sunclipse
NeuroLogica
Paholaisen Asianajaja
Shpalman
Holford Watch
UK-Skeptics
Mugs and Money twice
Chemo Brain
D-Notice
Letting off Steam
Apathy Sketchpad
Wandering Primate
White Coat Underground
Infofilia
Overscope
House Jihad's House of Pancakes
Puddle
The Macho Response

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Porky Pies!

Just a quickie - what is it with 'pseudoscience' TV presenters and their inventive CVs? Here we have three people who've told massive porkies (pardon me, completely accidental typos) on their CVs and have got away with, way after the time when it would have mattered.

We have "Professor" Patrick Holford - DC's Improbably Science and Holford Watch are the best places to catch up on that story.

Then we had Doctor **Cough** Gillian McKeith - Bad Science is your destination for that one.

And now we have "Bringing Up Baby"'s Claire Verity whose CV, it turns out, is a lot shorter than she would have you believe.

It's not difficult to check a CV.

Thanks for reading.

King Of World, Dr* T, Dip. Everything, GOD, Make. of Univ.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Garlic & Porky Pies Prevents Cancer! (Followed by an ASA slap)

I love the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). I've blogged about them before, because it's them wot decides whether adverts are fair, factual and truthful.

The adjudications come out every week on their website (usually on a Wed) and they are generally worth a scan to see what goes on.

Almost every week almost without fail some nutritionist/"wellness" company (very reputable, guv, honest) gets a slap on the chops by the ASA for forgetting to read their GCSE textbook. (Ironic in the case of Equazen who got their bottom smacked for promoting their fishy fish oils with unsubstantiated claims to ...er... GCSE kids - you may remember the Durham Fish Oil "trials")

This week is no exception. In fact there are two;

The first is from Simply Supplement - promoting their garlic capsules. (Why people don't go to their grocer and buy a garlic bulb and put in food, I don't know). Anyway , the ASA asked them to substantiate the following claims:

1. "helping to keep your Cardiovascular and general health at its optimum",

2. "a 12 week trial in America showed that garlic reduced the overall cholesterol level of its participants by 6 per cent"; and

3. "not only this but also it was found that Garlic could help to reduce the number of chemicals that the DNA holds which set the stages for Cancer".

4. whether the claim "trials have shown that Garlic actually inhibits cancer cells to try and stop them from producing" could be substantiated; and

5. whether the ad discouraged the reader from seeking essential treatment.


Now 1 is just a Holfordian weasel sentence in my opinion. Doesn't really say anything (sort of like when anything comes onto the nutrition market it always claims to 'boost your immune system' or 'aid digestion' - meaningless pleasantries), number 2 is easily checked by looking up the reference.

Then we get to crazy stuff - the bit about garlic molecules getting in and about your DNA to brush out the bad chemicals. If you aren't rolling on the floor laughing, then you should really sign up to GCSE Biology at the earliest opportunity, or ask a grown-up. Number 4 - inhibits cancer cells to try and stop them from producing?. No idea. Indeed, when the ASA asked Simply Supplements for substantiation, they offered nothing of the kind and shrugged their shoulders.

The second one this week is more involved - Pharma Nord (whose strapline is "Nutritional Supplements supported by scientific research") and their product "Bio-CLA & Green Tea". CLA is conjugated linoleic acid.

It's a bit long and you can read all about it here, but it contains wonderful pseudoscientific watery rubbish like:

CLA ... is a 'good' fat that helps you burn 'bad' fat


It claimed to aid weight loss and cure depression, a serious medical condition. Needless the say the ASA weren't having any truck with that.

The ASA also found they couldn't substantiate their claim that "CLA and Green Tea extract work together to maintain healthy muscle/fat balance within the body. Green Tea activates fat-burning mechanisms in the body and increases energy expenditure".

And, like in the case above, they were told - DON'T DO IT AGAIN. Which to me, is where the excellence, veracity, high standards and critical scrutiny come tumbling down around our ears. The ASA is a lion with rubber teeth - it does an excellent job at keeping adverts in check, the problem is the findings may only surface months after the ad has run, when everyone will have forgotten the ad (but, if the ad was any good, remembered the message). It's only when the ASA bitchslaps a big company that the media follows it up.

I wonder is there a way of making the ASA more pokey, more ninja-like. Is it possible to start fining companies who transgress the rules of advertising (truthfulness, substantiation, ethics etc)? I think it might mean we would see less "liquid calcium" in our toothpaste (very hot, surely?) for one.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm DYING - please.....dial 999 and ask for a homeopath.......

"Emergency homeopathic services, how can I help"
"It's my father - he's clutching his left arm, is red and blotchy in the face and wheezing - what should I do?"
"MMmmm....let me check materia medica.....Arnica and belladonna methinks. 30c in both cases - goodbye"

---------

Silly, I know. Churlish even, yet this is the sort of tripe that homeopaths seem to think is acceptable. I don't understand the mindset at all, yet a brief trawl through some of the UK's homeopath websites presents the utter incomprehensibility and stupidity of homeopathic first aid.

The above example was taken from the site Naturally Better, the very name of which throws the Society of Homeopaths Code of Conduct out the window by comparing homeopathy favourably to conventional medicine. Still, the rest of the page in question is utter nonsense - literally unbelievable!

Firstly we have:

Arnica - Give first in any accident or injury. For bruises, bumps and bangs. It is basically for any physical shock or trauma


Those are my italics/bold. I wanted to stress the point of being told that in ANY injury, first give arnica - it's for ANY physical trauma. WTF? Physical trauma is defined as

an injury to the body, which is frequently manifested by radiographically evident abnormalities. Examples of such injuries are fractures, subluxations, dislocations, and tears.

Ref: Medcyclopedia

Utter rubbish. I can't honestly believe anyone in the right or even partially wrong mind would think to grab a 30c arnica rather than get to the nearest A&E. Or perhaps call 999. I can only think that these muppets don't know what physical trauma is, because I can't imagine anybody being as daft as to follow their instructions. Enter Kate Gathercole at Hereford Homeopathy:
Homoeopathy can also be offered for first aid relief in situations of acute shock, grief, and physical or emotional trauma


**sigh**

Anyway, back to those Naturally Better people. How about:

Belladonna - High fever with red face, hot head. Delirium. Earache, sore throat, sunstroke, eyes sensitive to light.


EYES SENSITIVE TO LIGHT.......look at the rest of the symptoms. Those are the symptoms of meningitis (to a layperson). MENINGITIS. I know it's a big word, but it can kill and not one molecule of arnica (/irony) is going to stop it. This sort of utterly inappropriate information should be banned because not-very-well-read people might believe it.

I should point out that not all homeopaths are so overwhelmingly stupid. Helianthus Homeopathy in Bovingdon, Herts, has obviously thought long and hard about being called to Junction 18 of the M25 with their first aid homeopathy bag:

However, cases of road accidents, deep wounds and severe burns etc. where surgery or immediate blood transfusion is required, need to be treated by someone other than a homeopath. However. in an emergency situation before other methods of treatment are possible, homeopathic remedies when given immediately can assist.


Again, the italics are mine. Someone other than a homeopath. Hmmm... who would that be? How about a city banker? In the parochial mind of the twisted homeopath, it just hurts too much to say "a qualified medical practitioner". It really must hurt. Why would you write "someone other than a homeopath" unless you meant "in a road accident, a homeopath is the LAST person you want around". Which is a statement I, incidentally, agree with. Even with the first clause.

It's late, I'm tired, but I just can't think of first aid situation, sorry emergency where no (effective) treatment would be possible, and so giving out (ineffective) sugar pills would be the best idea.

As an aside, it's yet another (and my god/allah/visnu there are many) example of the Society of Homeopaths laughable Code of Conduct being broken:

Which diseases can be treated?
Homeopathy is effective in almost all types of acute and chronic cases


**sigh** Society of Homeopaths Code of Conduct (SoH CoC) 48 part ii

No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.


So what should the average punter, with an axe in his arm (for instance) do in an emergency?

Enter Helix House Natural Health Centre in Oxford:

What should I do in an emergency?

If you cannot get hold of your homeopath, consult your GP or go straight to a hospital Accident & Emergency unit.


Eh? IF? IF? These people seem like they're on planet banana! Luckily, in Rachel at Brighton Naturally has a homeopathic helpline specifically for emergencies. It's a pittance at £1.50/min, kind of like the opposite of "hear me moan" - "let me hear you moan". (Also in my mind breaks SoH CoC No 14:

Homeopaths are responsible for avoiding exploitation of their patients financially,


Who on earth in an emergency would try to contact their homeopath?

Well sadly, some people do. I would speculate (forgive me) that it isn't the middle-aged, middle-classed female worried well, but people who are perhaps not in a position mentally to be discerning. One sad case came to light last year when a homeopath had asked her patient to only follow her homeopathic remedies, which led to the patient stopping her heart medication and dying of acute heart failure.

It happens. And it shouldn't. By letting muppets like those above try to treat first aid with ineffective sugar pills because of some seemingly parochial grudge against modern medicine, peoples lives are being put at risk.

It's seems proper to remind anyone who hasn't read it, of Andy Lewis' excellent piece of work "The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing", which was blogged by this site here once the Society of Homeopaths threatened to sue his hosting company.

Outwith of the fact that there is not one single shred of evidence that shows it works (how else can you explain the SoH CoC 48 ii

No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.


surely it is time to put the whole lot in the bin. Or at least a bin marked "Cult".

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Where was that Mother of All Storms?

Just watched the weather - looks like we're in a little cold snap. But then, it's January in the Northern Hemisphere, so it's hardly 'Man Bites Dog'.

Made me think though - not sure if you read this entry (Good Evening Mrs Storm, is your daughter in?) in November, regards this stoopid story in the Daily Express (Mother of All Storms with blast Britain at Christmas).

Well, needless to say, it didn't happen. Not one tornado. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Bugger All.

What a waste of bloody time, paper and, "journalists". Piers Corbyn is a waste of time.

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