Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 28 December 2019

How will you celebrate Buntingmas? Craft ideas and classroom activities.

**NEW** instructions for very easy paper bunting "How to make low-tech bunting from paper"

Buntingmas (or The Festival of Bunting) is a thing I invented in 2019 to celebrate bunting. The first Buntingmas is on Saturday 11th April 2020. I'm still working out the details ;)

While I'm not particularly pro-monarchy (I don't much mind them) I remember greatly enjoying the 'floribunta' that bloomed across UK high streets in 2011 when one of the royals got married. There were also bunting fights in supermarkets as they ran out of the tethered celebratory flags. Tom Scott created Buntify the internets, a bunting overlay for websites that wanted to do do their civic bunting duty. It was a bit of fun that let you add bunting and a patriotic jingle to any website. Then in 2012 we had all the Olympic bunting so there were a couple of years of fairly heavy bunting exposure.

The very simple aim of Buntingmas is to 'put up' some bunting in whatever way 'put up' is relevant for you. If you hate bunting don't do that and instead you are merely encouraged to 'put up with' bunting.

I think of the 'type specimen' of bunting as a series of fabric pointed flags strung together but it's up to each individual Buntingmas celebrant to decide what sort of flags, pennants or other types of bunting to use.

1. Craft options
2. Classroom activities and other educational opportunities
3. Gallery of my favourite bunting

1. Craft options might include paper/card and string bunting, knitted or crocheted bunting as well as the more classic fabric bunting creations. There's also bunting jewellery made of polymer clay, bunting 'toppers' to stick on cakes or fondant edible bunting as in the video below. Sometimes there are bunting making classes / workshops.

Or you can just buy bunting.

2. Classroom activities and other educational opportunities
While bunting has a celebratory air about it, the wider use of flags as a communication tool is pretty fun and interesting.
  • Signal flags and codes in the classroom
  • How to teach semaphore using flags
  • For younger classrooms each child could make a 'personal flag' (including stuff on it that they feel best represents them) either to decorate the room or take home. The instructions suggest getting other classmates to guess who created each flag.

The photo of the flags on a boat below actually spell out 'Welcome Aboard', using the code of the international maritime signal flags. I have a tea-towel with the signal flags info on it (Mr Brown also wears an apron with the pattern on in Paddington 2).

3. Gallery of my favourite bunting
All photos taken by me, most are on Twitter.

Tiger / Flying Tiger occasionally also sells mini bunting as well as larger garlands.

Mini-bunting above comes from Tiger in Lewisham, though it has shops all over the place. This bunting is permanently installed above my kitchen door.

I created the above space-themed bunting using laminated paper (designed on PowerPoint, with images added). It tells the story of the film I'm screening (The Dish) at the 2018 Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival. The bunting is attached to one of the guy ropes holding up the open air screen set up in the grounds of Charlton House. My boss' son now owns this bunting. (I also made some work-themed bunting for my boss' office).

Imagine all this bunting whiffling in the breeze at the 2017 Wilderness Festival. Someone had festooned the Information Tent with colourful bunting making it very easy to find.

This is a lantern I made for the Dec 2018 Blackheath Village Day at the bunting making workshops held in Blackheath Halls / Conservatoire. The logo / theme of BVD is actually bunting (!) so I adopted that for the theme of my lantern, lit with a battery-operated tea-light.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Misleading homeopathy marketing (again) - complaint submitted to Advertising Standards Authority

I'm grateful to 'BrownBagPantry' the prolific tweeter of homeopathy-related matters. Her screenshot of Alan's (zeno001) tweet alerted me to a problem with the claims made by Highgate Holistic Clinic in a tweet and on their website. I would have missed his tweet on the #homeopathy tag as Alan hadn't tagged it, so my thanks to BrownBagPantry for being solely responsible for bringing it to my attention and causing me to submit a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the clinic's misleading advertising. Had I been looking at the tag on Christmas Day I might well have seen the clinic's own tweet (as they did hashtag it) but I wasn't, so all credit to BrownBagPantry.

Normally if I'd spotted one of Alan's tweets about a misleading advert I'd have DMed him asking if he'd reported it and he might reply that he had, or that someone else had already done so, or that he was perhaps waiting until after the holidays before tackling it etc. However that's not going to happen today as I'm just going to get on with the complaint and add the text here here.

I've taken screenshots of the tweet and parts of the website to share with the ASA though I hadn't planned to add them here.

Background research
Highgate Holistic Clinic's website claims that the homeopath is a registered member of the Society of Homeopaths however double-checking on the 'Find a Homeopath' site indicates that she's a member of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, but doesn't mention SoH membership. As a courtesy I'll let the SoH know about this in case she isn't and the info is incorrect.

Text of my complaint to the ASA
Note - the online form doesn't permit hyperlinks (where the link is behind a word) so the link was pasted in full in a list at the end with a number in brackets next to the relevant part of my text, eg [1]. It also doesn't permit bold or italic so the text has been slightly reformatted for clarity here. The text of a complaint must also be less than 5,000 characters (I had about 1,800 to spare).

--oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--

I'm complaining about a tweet from a clinic, the text of which implies that homeopathy can cure conditions, and the content of two pages from the clinic's website.

The tweet
"#Homeopathy is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. In other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if taken in large amounts." - it is not possible for homeopathy to cure any symptoms so the text of this tweet is misleading.

The tweet links to a page on the clinic's website, which says
"Danielle Abramov is committed to homeopathy as it treats the person as a whole without the side effects of conventional medicine" - I think this statement may discourage people from visiting a doctor or from taking real medicine. It implies that medicine offers only side effects.

"...working with them towards improving their health naturally – offering a real alternative to or support for conventional treatment." - this implies that homeopathy is an alternative to conventional treatment, and also implies that it is a 'real' alternative. It isn't. I've no objection to 'support for conventional treatment' though.

"In India homeopathy is considered to be equal to allopathic medicine." - this is largely untrue but what is relevant here is the implication that homeopathy should be considered as some sort of real thing, implying that it can help people.

"Danielle Abramov is also a qualified Vega practitioner. The Vega machine is a non-invasive, painless, diagnostic tool for determining some of the causes of ill health, be it persistent viral, fungal or bacterial overload, vitamin or mineral deficiency, food intolerance or emotional blocks." - the Vega machine is not a valid diagnostic tool and you have previously noted that it is "not capable of diagnosing [respiratory allergy and sensitisation to common aero-allergens]", I do not believe it is capable of diagnosing viral, fungal or bacterial overload either. Also a lay homeopath [one who is not also a doctor or other healthcare professional] is unlikely to be competent to diagnose any health conditions (using this or any other 'diagnostic' tool).

The website also has a page on therapies that includes a section on homeopathy
The section on homeopathy says that it "... can help with many issues such as Asthma, Anxiety, Allergies, Bronchitis, Childhood Diseases

Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats, Depression, Digestive Disorders, Earache, Eczema, Exhaustion, Emotional issues, Fibroids, Grief, Headaches & Migraines, Menopause, Menstrual Complaints & Infertility, Pregnancy & Birth, Sleep Problems, Thyroid Imbalances, Urinary Disorders, Vaccination Side-Effects, Varicose Veins etc.
" - none of these can be helped by homeopathy, some are serious medical conditions that need appropriately qualified medical care and support. I also do not believe that homeopaths or clinics are allowed to list named conditions.

--oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--   --oo--

What happens next?
Several years ago the ASA changed the way it handled homeopathy-related complaints. Rather than asking homeopaths to provide evidence for particular claims the ASA took a more holistic view and, recognising that homeopathy doesn't work for any condition, determined that any homeopathy claim was misleading and that there was no need to undertake an investigation for each complaint submitted. Instead, each complaint is handled as a case of non-compliance by the Compliance Team - so my complaint will be handled by them and I won't know the outcome (only adjudications are published).

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Blog stats for this blog part 10 (25 December 2019)

tl;dr version
I've been blogging at Google's Blogger for over 10 years now and Blogger records over 2.9m visits for this Stuff that occurs to me blog, but Google Analytics tends to be vastly more conservative and suggests it's nearer ~700,000 visitors and ~800,000 visits (ie each person visiting slightly more than one page). In 2019 I've had about 13,000 visitors here, quite a big drop from when I was posting about three or four times as many posts on this blog. I'm blogging more elsewhere (How to Do Various Techy Things had 149,000 visitors this year for example).

Every year I post the blog stats for this blog, and this is my tenth year of doing so (previous years at the end). I do it in case other people might be nosey :)

There seems to be a correlation between the number of posts I write on this blog and its visitors / pageviews, apart from an odd blip in December 2016. I don't have a posting schedule, as the title of this blog suggests I literally only post 'Stuff that occurs to me', as and when it occurs. As I blog a lot elsewhere too this site has diminished somewhat.

  • Table 1: Blog posts per year, by year (= how many blog posts have I written each year?)
  • Fig 1: Blogger's 'all time view' for this site
  • Table 2: Blog stats, by month, for 2019 (= how many people visited this blog, per month, this year?)
  • Table 3: Annual and lifetime views of this blog (= how many people visited this blog each year and the overall total?)
  • Fig 2: Google Analytics 'all time view' for this site
  • Fig 3: The most popular posts on this blog, all time, Blogger stats
  • Particular features of this blog
  • All previous annual stats overview posts, by year

Table 1: Blog posts per year, by year

2009 (45)
2010 (77)
2011 (89)
2012 (141)
2013 (141)
2014 (100)
2015 (50)
2016 (40)
2017 (45)
2018 (30)
2019 (33)

Fig 1: Blogger's 'all time view' for this site 
 Fig 1: Blogger stats 'all time view'. All time views as of today is 2,971,921

I briefly switched off this blog in Dec 2016 as I seemed to be getting a suspiciously high number of visits from Russia (I assumed bots) and January is still showing unusually high numbers. You can see the December blip in the all-time view from Blogger above (Fig 1). 

The most interesting thing about the stats for me is always the vast difference between Blogger's pageviews (1st column in Table 2) and Google Analytics' (3rd column in Table 2). This is generally understood to be because Blogger counts every 'hit' including Google's indexing crawlers and not just real people. I've also included the number of people visiting each month (2nd column), to my knowledge Blogger doesn't provide that info. Odd because Blogger 'is' Google. See explanation below for what numbers in brackets  mean.

Table 2: Blog stats, by month, for 2019
Month              Pageviews (Blogger)      Visitors (Google)         Page views (Google)
January (7) 10,665 1,312 1,508
February (0)   9,494 1,121 1,306
March (2)   9,455 1,041 1,207
April (4) 10,058   928 1,005
May (3) 10,720 1,105 1,247
June (0)   9,401 1,113 1,252
July (3)   9,851 1,246`̉ 1,395
August (1) 11,108 1,237 1,436
September (2)   9,115 1,086 1,283
October (4) 11,891 1,212 1,490
November (4) 13,338 1,053 1,254
December (3)   8,235..    963 1,339
Total (33)        115,096..                          13,316                           15,722

Table 2 info
Figures in brackets next to the month are the number of blog posts published that month.

Table 3: Annual and lifetime views of this blog

Year              Pageviews (Blogger)      Visitors (Google) Page views(Google)
2010 (77) 23,351     9,630*   18,958*
2011 (89) 65,972   22,343   40,263
2012 (141) 187,506   57,040   77,869
2013 (141) 553,064 136,941 164,352
2014 (100) 779,632 199,217 226,419
2015 (50) 498,355 113,129 130,115
2016 (40) 379,613   66,614   77,092
2017 (45) 202,609   42,090   46,179
2018 (29) 141,815   20,725   24,044
2019 (33) 123,331   13,316   15,722
Lifetime      2,955,248                            681,045                 821,013
                    2,971,857*                          680,073^               824,140^^

Table 3 info
Figures in brackets next to the year are the number of blog posts published that year.
*I began counting stats on Google Analytics in April 2010. Blogger began its own stats system in July 2010.
*, ^ and ^^ are counts of everything in the columns above done in different ways hence a slight disparity.

Fig 2: Google Analytics 'all time view'.

 Fig 2: Google Analytics' 'all time view'.

 Fig 3. Most visited posts for this blog (for all time) 
Fig 3: The most popular posts on this blog
Features of my blog to take into account
Or, mitigating circumstances / excuses ;)
  • People find my posts almost entirely through search engine results (I don't promote my blog heavily on social media, though I do mention it fairly regularly)
  • The most popular posts here are about how to do something, often on Twitter - the answer to people's question(s) can usually be found within the first summary, or tl;dr, paragraph or the title, with the rest of the post containing supplemental information. This means that I have a VERY high bounce rate (91%) - people arrive, see the answer, leave. If this were a sales website that would be disastrous but as a largely 'how to' info blog that's OK. 
  • My blog is about many different things and therefore unfocused.
  • I don't have a regular posting schedule and literally post stuff as it occurs to me, which is appropriate given the name of the blog. Sometimes two posts in a day, sometimes nothing for weeks.
  • I have several other blogs including a dedicated 'howto' blog where I post most of my instructional posts. I also have one for stuff near Blackheath, one to collect recipes that weren't too disastrous), not to mention work blogs - so I am rather spreading myself thinly and this is reflected in fewer posts here and consquently fewer visits/-ors.

Previous posts about this blog's stats

    Sunday, 15 December 2019

    "Book Keengwe" regularly sends me what appears to be academic spam emails about computing education

    I've not managed to make sense of this one yet. It appears that there really is someone at North Dakota called [Redacted] or [Redacted] Keengwe who does write academic books but I'd be surprised if they're the author of these emails, as they seem pretty spammy. Possibly Book Keengwe is misusing the real person's name and the university name to spam anyone with an academic email address so I've let the university know, though I realise there's probably not much they can do. The emails all come from a Gmail account rather than the UND address, so a little suspicious perhaps.

    Because I wasn't initially certain that they were spam I'd replied to a few of them, initially to explain that "I have no competence in this area and assume these emails have been sent in error, Jo", in response to a request about 'Handbook of Research on Online Pedagogical Models for Mathematics Teacher Education' (I think that reply was sent last year).

    More recently in November 2019 I replied more tersely "Please do not send these requests to me. I am deleting them unread and have no interest or expertise in this area. I have previously told you this but it seems to have not made a difference." in response to a request about a "Book on Innovations in Non-Traditional Educational Practices - Proposals Due Dec. 1, 2019". I was assured in a reply that would be the last I'd hear of it. Hmm.

    At this point I set things up so that anything from this email address would be deleted before coming to my mailbox. This works well on my computer... but annoyingly not on my iPhone, so I spotted another one this morning, reproduced below with the subject 'Equity in Computer Science - Final Call for Chapter Proposals - Due Dec 23, 2019'. This entire blog post (and my contacting the U of N Dakota) is my response to that ;)

    I'd also previously contacted my employer's IT helpdesk and JISC (who host academic email addresses) and asked them to stop this spam ('Handbook of Research on Integrating Computer Science and Computational Thinking in K-12 Education') from reaching any other academic address but alas they can't as we've all moved on to Office 365 so Microsoft are now in charge of what's spam. So I'm publishing this blog post in case anyone else is searching for Book Keengwe-related information.

    While I do work in computing education I'm an administrator not an academic so unsuitable as an author, and I'm certainly not going to ping out manuscripts to people with no information about how royalties, if any, would be shared. There was a PDF attached with the email but I've deleted it unread in case it was iffy.

    Text (names redacted)

    Proposal Submission Deadline: December 23, 2019

    Handbook of Research on Equity in Computer Science in P-16 Education

    A book edited by: [Redacted], University of North Dakota, USA & [Redacted] Montclair State University, USA.

    The growing trend for high-quality computer science (CS) in school curricula has drawn attention in U.S. classrooms. With an increasingly information-based and global society, CS education coupled with computational thinking (CT) has become an integral part of an experience for all students, given that these foundational concepts and skills intersect cross-disciplinarily with a set of mental competencies that are relevant in their daily lives and work. While many agree that these concepts should be taught in schools, there are systematic inequities that exist to prevent students from accessing related CS or CT skills. Therefore, this handbook will highlight relevant issues, perspectives, and challenges in P-16 environments that relate to the inequities that students face in accessing CS or CT and methods for challenging these inequities in hopes to achieve the CSforAll movement.

    The chapters will highlight the issues, perspectives, and challenges faced in P-16 environments (i.e. gender and racial imbalances of students in CS classes; population of growing CS teachers who are predominantly white and male; what and who are the high-school gate keepers of CS courses; teacher preparation or lack of faculty expertise; professional development programs; and college admission criteria for CS programs). Book will also explore the challenges and policies that are created to limit access, and thus, reinforce systems of power and privilege.

    Suggested themes include, but are not limited to the following: CS/CT Definitions—for who/whom is it intended for; CS Standards; CS/CT Access—what are the implications and limitations across P-16; CS courses & AP Testing: Current Numbers; Teacher Preparation in CS: Preservice and Inservice programs; Evaluation and assessment of CS/CT; and Suggestions and strategies for challenging existing notions.

    Potential contributors are invited to submit 1-2 pages chapter proposal (or full chapter draft) outlining the proposed topic and/or issue to be discussed on or December 23, 2019. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by January 5, 2020 about the status of their proposals and will be sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected on or before March 15, 2020. All chapters will undergo double-blind review and returned to authors with suggestions for improvement. Revisions are expected by April 15, 2020. Final Materials are expected by May 1, 2019.

    Inquiries and submissions can be forwarded electronically (Word document) to:
    [Redacted, but name and affiliation used is a real person, but a different non-academic email address is given]

    Wednesday, 4 December 2019

    What Doctors Don't Tell You magazine returns as Get Well magazine in UK shops

    tl;dr: I've asked Sainsbury's why they've started selling Get Well magazine (also known as What Doctors Don't Tell You and WDDTY) again, having previously stopped selling it, and their spokesperson said -
    “We stock over 700 different publications and, with the exception of explicit material, we do not routinely make a judgement on content.

    We are however aware of the concerns around this magazine so have taken the decision to review whether we will continue to stock it.”
     Of course they could decide that their review has convinced them to continue to stock it...

    It seems I've not written on this blog about What Doctors Don't Tell You aka WDDTY aka Get Well (its new branding) magazine since 2014. Around that time (2012-2014) the magazine was on sale in a number of UK supermarkets before the efforts of doctors, scientists, activists and skeptics got it largely removed, though it crept back in a few places.

    Concerns about the content of and advice given in the magazine had done the rounds in mainstream and social media / blogs. Tom Whipple reported in The Times (Oct 2013) that there had been a "Call to ban magazine for scaremongering". Dr Margaret McCartney tore strips off it ("ridiculously alarmist") in an exchange with one of the editors, Lynne McTaggart, and umpired by Dr Mark Porter on Inside Health (Oct 2012). A big chunk of the advertising within the magazine was found to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority's codes.

    The best place to get an overview of the catalogue of the various magazine articles considered problematic is on Josephine Jones' blog: "WDDTY: My master list" which links most of the mainstream articles and blogs, and gives a timeline of events.

    Earlier this year the magazine sent an email to subscribers highlighting that they were rebranding the version of the magazine on sale in UK stores as 'Get Well' though keeping the 'What Doctors Don't Tell You' branded version for subscribers.

    The magazine now seems to have reappeared in Sainsbury's and concerns were immediately raised about that and about one article in particular called 'Reversing Autism' which is a story of one woman and her autistic son. There has been an emerging Twitter campaign to ask @Sainsbury's to remove the magazine from its shelves and shops. I contacted their press team, explained I was going to write about the magazine's reappearance there and asked if they'd be happy to explain why they decided to start stocking it again. The quote above was the reply. I hope they will decide to stop stocking it but have spotted the ambiguity in the spokesperson's quote.

    I have not seen the magazine myself 'in the wild' for a number of years but have no reason to doubt everyone on Twitter who's saying it's reappeared.

    My favourite of WDDTY's errors
    On 1 July 2014 the magazine editors wrote a Facebook post about several of the people who'd written or complained about the magazine and they somehow managed to include me in this. Amusingly there were a number of errors in there (my name spelled wrongly, they said I worked for someone I'd never heard of, my efforts to get them to correct this went nowhere) but more interesting was the tiny error they made about how many people followed Simon Singh on Twitter.

    Here's what the post said "Their numbers aren’t large (there’re only about 80 of them in total), and they aren’t well followed ... Simon Singh, just 44 actively following him..."

    Here's a screenshot of his Twitter profile from 2014.

    As of 2014 Simon was following 44 people and had 54.1k followers.

    They'd simply got it the wrong way around, an easy thing to fix. Everyone pointed this error out assuming that the 'cognitive typo' as I called it would be quietly fixed and we'd move on.

    In an unusual scene in the Facebook comment thread they instead offered this clarification - "Just to set the record straight.Simon Singh has had 54k people over the years who have, at some point, tuned into his Tweets. But the actual number of people who are actively following him at this time are, as I said, 44." 

    This is just not true.

    Thursday, 21 November 2019

    There's apparently a complaint in with the Australian Commonwealth Ombudsman about the NHMRC's Homeopathy report

    Update 4 Dec 2019: I've received a holding letter from the Ombudsman while they consider my request.

    Well this'll be confusing :) The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a report on homeopathy in 2015 pointing out that it's not much cop and shouldn't be recommended as a treatment. Lots of homeopaths were very cross about that and apparently three homeopathy-supporting societies* put in a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman the following year, in August 2016, saying that the NHMRC had done wrong.

    It's now November 2019 (three years and three months on) and to my knowledge the Commonwealth Ombudsman has not produced a verdict (or indeed a peep) about the apparent complaint.

    In April 2017 Edzard Ernst reported on an article in What Doctors Don't Tell You which said that a complaint had been submitted. The Australian Skeptics society tried (in May 2017 and August 2017) to find out if there really had been a submission to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and were told by a source in August there that there was no record of submission.

    A news article from ECHAMP on 22 January 2019 said that the Commonwealth Ombudsman's verdict was imminent. Still no sign of it though.

    I've emailed the Commonwealth Ombudsman (copy below) to see if I can find out any other information. I'm not an Australian citizen so they might just ignore me, or they might be unable to tell me anything about an ongoing investigation. It's also possible that I've phrased things in the wrong way and I need to get better at FOIA requests!

    *The Australian Homeopathy Association, Complementary Medicines Australia and the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. According to the Homeopathy Research Institute these three bodies used some of the HRI's own analysis of the NHMRC 2015 report. The HRI wrote about the complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman but the other three organisations appear to have been rather quiet about it.

    Dear Commonwealth Ombudsmen and Ombudswomen :-)

    I am writing to you under the FOIA scheme to find out about the existence and status of a complaint apparently made by homeopathy societies to you in 2016 about the conduct of and report from the NHMRC. Please note that I am not an Australian citizen (I'm British) so I'm not sure if you will be able to respond to me but if so please let me know if there's a charge, I will be happy to contribute. My questions are in red.

    The reason that I am asking if any complaint has been made is because the existence of this submission from homeopathic societies has been called into question by the Australian Skeptics who could find no record of it (in April 2017). They also reported (in August 2017) that it appears that no submission was received by you, so its status is a bit of a mystery!

    On the Homeopathy Research Institute's (HRI) page (below) they claim in the first paragraph that the Commonwealth Ombudsman is in receipt of a complaint submission from the CMA, AHA and ATMS August 2016. 1. Please can you confirm if you have received a complaint document from those organisations relating to the NHMRC?

    The second paragraph implies that you made an initial assessment of their complaint and found that it was of sufficient merit to warrant an investigation. 2. Please could you confirm that you (a) made this assessment of its merit and (b) found that it warranted further investigation.

    3. Could you also confirm if an investigation was launched and what meetings (dates) were set up and with whom (organisations).

    Source / Linked PDF for Executive Summary

    A news article from 22 January 2019, from European Coalition on Homeopathic & Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ECHAMP) indicated that your verdict on this report was 'imminent'. 4. Are you preparing a verdict on any complaint you've received from these homeopathy societies?


    5. If so, will such a verdict be made public, and when?

    Thank you very much
    Jo Brodie

    Wednesday, 13 November 2019

    I don't think Argos is giving away free Black Friday vouchers today with ""

    I've just seen a Facebook post suggesting that Argos is giving away a voucher today only as special deal. The link / URL / address is a little unusual in that it contains argos•co•uk but also has shopgift•win at the end of it, as part of the same link.

    argos•co•uk•shopgift•win as opposed to argos•co•uk/shopgift•win

    This made me a bit suspicious so I did a WHOIS search to find out a bit more by pasting the full link here

    It returned this page telling me that the domain was registered 3 days ago. It also made it very clear (look at the lack of argos in that link) what the domain actually was. So I don't think it's really from Argos. 

    Firefox also helpfully greys out bits of addresses to highlight what's the domain and what might not be.

    shopgift•win is in black text, it's not really is in black
    In taking the next screenshot of the anonymised post on Facebook I also spotted the little info 'i' icon beween the red logos and the grey panel at the bottom, on the right...

    ... clicking on that tells me the same thing as above (useful info from Facebook which is a plus)

    The voucher page asks questions and invites you to share a Facebook link - I'd recommend ignoring it. As I didn't find any other information about it on Google, Argos' page or on social media I thought I'd write this up in case anyone else was wondering if it was real and searched, as I did. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of this is other than to get a link shared and perhaps access Facebook information.

    Sunday, 10 November 2019

    Support pedestrians at Globe Road / Mile End Road - my submission to Tower Hamlets Local Infrastructure Fund consultation

    Update 14 Nov 2019: Found this petition to the GLA (Mayor's office), by Assembly Member Unmesh Desai, from March 2018 which says that "We understand these locations are under TfL’s jurisdiction as the A11 [Mile End Road] is a “red route” and that Tower Hamlets Council has also raised these concerns directly, but TfL have said they have no plans to change the traffic signals to introduce a pedestrian phase or any crossings."

    tl;dr The Globe Road / Mile End Road pedestrian crossing improvement project

    Recently I spotted a large advert near Stepney Green telling me that Tower Hamlets is undertaking a building expansion of some sort, and that developers are required to stump up some cash* for the Local Infrastructure Fund (LIF) with a link pointing to

    When I arrive at Stepney Green tube station I have to get across Globe Road which is not easy as traffic comes from three directions and there is no pedestrian-gap in traffic flow. When traffic is turning left (in or out of Globe Road) the traffic coming from a third direction is stopped. When that traffic flow is ON the other one is stopped, but there's no point when the pedestrians have right of way - we just have to watch the road and wait for a gap. It's appalling.

    Perhaps counterintuitively there are relatively few accidents or injuries there and I expect this is because pedestrians are mostly extra cautious. I've seen braver (or blither) road-crossers having to pick up speed halfway across when they spot a car bearing down on them, and cars often honk at pedestrians as it is always some car's right of way at that spot.

    I'm glad it's relatively safe but it's useless in terms of supporting walking as it prioritises road traffic to the entire exclusion of pedestrians. I'd like Tower Hamlets to look again at this (I wrote to them about it in 2014 and blogged it here).

    Below is my submission.

    Useful websites points to which points (via a large green 'Take part in the consultation' button) to at which point you're shown a tiny map and have to decide which area you want. Mine's LIF Area 1 (

    These are the projects that have been approved already:

    My submission
    1. I work in the borough
    2. I selected "The road network (eg improving road access)" as my priority issue from a long list of important things, I could have selected loads
    3. I dissed question 2 a bit ("Q2 is a bit silly, surely. All of these are important but I am writing to you solely about one aspect.")
    4. I was asked to pick my top 3 from Q2 but had only picked one so put it again
    - Then I was asked to outline my suggested improvement project (see below).
    5. Demographic info about me - work locally, age 45-54, female, no health problems, white, straight, no religion, British, single, not pregnant in last year (!) - gosh they want a lot of info!

    I've added bold and emphasis and hyperlinks in the bits below, the form is just plain text. The image wasn't included in the submission but added here for clarity, and to break up the text a bit!

    What is the issue that needs addressing?
    Title: The Globe Road / Mile End Road pedestrian crossing improvement project.

    Better road crossing markings and traffic control at Stepney Green station, at the junction between Globe Road (B120) and Mile End Road (A11).

    Pinched from Google Maps

    How do you think the issue could be addressed by a new infrastructure project?
    The problem: Pedestrians are very poorly served at this junction. There is no crossing. There is no time point in the traffic management signalling pattern that is *for* pedestrians, only for road vehicles. Pedestrians must wait for a gap in traffic to cross. This is easy enough for fit young people and those already familiar with the crossing, but not for older, slower or disabled people. Cars (technically correctly) assume anyone crossing is in their way and honk at people unhelpfully. It is an unpleasant place to be forced to cross.

    Background to my submission: I've previously written (in 2014) requesting a new crossing ( and learned that it had been explored but had been deemed not feasible at the time. I also learned that there are relatively few accidents or injuries at the crossing - perhaps because people aren't sure what to do so behave more cautiously (pedestrians at least). While a lack of accidents is good it doesn't solve the difficulties some residents and visitors will have in walking in that area.

    This is a 'sub-radar' problem I think. Because relatively few people are being injured it is easy to assume that the current crossing 'works' - but if you want to encourage and support people to walk then please make it easier for them to do so.

    Solution 1: I think a proper crossing is the best and safest given the volume of people going to and from Stepney Green station. It's in constant use. It's a shame if cars are inconvenienced but I think Tower Hamlets should be prioritising non-car transport at this particular spot right by a tube station and also in these 'let's get everyone walking more' times.

    Solution 2: indicate to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians that the area does not have a 'crossing cycle' for pedestrians. I don't know of other examples of how this might be implemented (perhaps this will be a pioneering road crossing format, invented by Tower Hamlets transport geniuses!). There are several possible examples -

    Solution 2a:
      A sign to warn drivers that pedestrians are crossing and to be careful / watch out for them.

    Solution 2b: paint the road surface in a different colour, investigate how (temporary?) signage could train pedestrians and drivers about how to use the 'crossing' - basically to remind cars that they don't have any particular right of way over pedestrians. By the way there are no instructions at a zebra crossing as everyone has learned how to use them.

    Solution 2c: resurface the road to force a speed reduction as cars enter Globe Road from either Mile End (turning left if coming from Whitechapel) or turning right if coming via White Horse Lane - this is the more problematic traffic route).

    Solution 3: Alert pedestrians with a sign pointing out the zebra crossing a few yards away up Globe Road by the post office. This involves an additional walk but may suit some, and it's not particularly obvious that it exists when at the junction.

    Solution 4:
    Force drivers exiting White Horse Lane to turn left onto Mile End Road before implementing some U-turn arrangement on Mile End Road itself so that all traffic entering Globe Road from Mile End Road is turning left

    Solution 5: I'm only including the concept of 'flex space' ( or shared space so that it can be discounted as it seems to be not that helpful in practice, and I suspect the area is too small to accommodate such a thing. The blog post linked in stepsfromthecanal is based in Canada but points out some wider problems with flex space.

    Misc: I assume a ramped bridge across the road (!) is out of the question but I suppose I should mention it. Helpful to tube users (but not as much use for non-tube pedestrians) would be to have an exit on the same side of the road as the Co-op in addition to the current arrangement, but I realise that might be quite tricky.

    Please tell us the exact location of the proposed project (road name, post code etc):

    What 3 Words:

    Google Map -,+Bethnal+Green,+London/@51.5219429,-0.046597,20z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x48761cd78ded20ed:0x26c09ce6a775bb33!8m2!3d51.5246607!4d-0.0486583

    I have also previously blogged about this problem

    *Background from this page
    "Tower Hamlets is one of the fastest growing boroughs in the country.

    We know that every new development increases the pressure on things like your GP surgery or your school. It could also mean spaces like parks, roads and cycle paths feel busier than before.

    That’s why we require developers building in Tower Hamlets to contribute to the Local Infrastructure Fund (LIF), a pot of money that is used to pay for projects in the communities where development is taking place.

    We expect the fund to generate around £6 million between April 2019 and March 2020.

    On Monday 30 September 2019, we launched a consultation to find out what you, our residents, think we should be spending our LIF money on. There will be an online questionnaire as well as a series of events held across the borough."

    Sunday, 3 November 2019

    Christmas 2019: How to watch #Elf in London this December

    1. Film listings for Elf
    1a. Google Spreadsheet version
    2. Sources for listings

    1. Film listings for Elf
    Saturday screenings are in bold. Any errors or omissions? Please let @JoBrodie know, thanks! Also if you're just interested in the current week's and the following week (when the Elf season starts!) look at LondonNet's listings for Elf.

    Note that some of these screenings are events and so time may be event starting time rather than screening time, check a venue's homepage if in doubt.

    Some of the information below has come from Park Circus, the company which licenses the film to venues wanting to screen it. As such they know where it will be shown but the cinemas themselves might not yet be publicising the event so there may be gaps.

    1a. Google Spreadsheet version

    NOV/DEC 2019

    1. Saturday 16 Nov, 8pm - Backyard Cinema - Christmas at the Snow Kingdom, Wandsworth
    2. Monday 18 Nov, 8pm - Backyard Cinema - Christmas at the Snow Kingdom, Wandsworth
    3. Friday 22 Nov, 4pm - Backyard Cinema - Christmas at the Snow Kingdom, Wandsworth
    4. Thursday 28 Nov, 8pm - Backyard Cinema - Christmas at the Snow Kingdom, Wandsworth
    5. Tuesday 3 Dec, 8pm - Backyard Cinema - Christmas at the Snow Kingdom, Wandsworth
    6. Wednesday 4 Dec, 6.35pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    7. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Beckhenham
    8. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Camden
    9. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Covent Garden
    10. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Greenwich
    11. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Kingston upon Thames
    12. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Lee Valley
    13. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Richmond
    14. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon South Woodford
    15. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Streatham
    16. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Uxbridge
    17. Friday 6 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Wimbledon
    18. Friday 6 Dec, 7pm - St Katharine Docks Floating Film Festival, St Kats, Tower Bridge
    19. Saturday 7 Dec,  tbc - Empire Walthamstow
    20. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.20pm - Odeon Covent Garden
    21. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.20pm - Odeon Streatham
    22. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.20pm - Odeon Surrey Quays
    23. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.20pm - Odeon Uxbridge
    24. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.30pm - The Soho Hotel
    25. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.50pm - Odeon Greenwich
    26. Saturday 7 Dec, 3.50pm - Odeon Wimbledon
    27. Saturday 7 Dec, 6pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    28. Saturday 7 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Greenwich
    29. Saturday 7 Dec, 6.20pm - Odeon Wimbledon
    30. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon Beckenham
    31. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon Camden
    32. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon Kingston upon Thames
    33. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon Lee Valley
    34. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon Richmond
    35. Saturday 7 Dec, tbc - Odeon South Woodford
    36. Sunday 8 Dec, 11.30am - The Exhibit, Balham
    37. Sunday 8 Dec, 2pm - South Place Hotel
    38. Sunday 8 Dec, 3pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    39. Sunday 8 Dec, 5pm - Showcase Cinema de Lux
    40. Sunday 8 Dec, 5pm - Showcase Cinema Newham
    41. Sunday 8 Dec, 6pm - Hush Mayfair - SOLD OUT
    42. Sunday 8 Dec, 7pm - Charlotte Street Hotel
    43. [Monday 9 Dec, 7pm - FEST Camden - not listed on their website but on Design My Night]
    44. Monday 9 Dec, 7.30pm - Picturehouse Ashford
    45. Monday 9 Dec, 7.30pm - Picturehouse West Norwood
    46. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse 
    47. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Bromley
    48. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Clapham
    49. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Crouch End
    50. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse East Dulwich
    51. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Greenwich
    52. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Hackney
    53. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Central
    54. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Ritzy Brixton
    55. Monday 9 Dec, 8.30pm - Picturehouse Stratford East
    56. Tuesday 10 Dec, 1.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    57. Thursday 12 Dec, 7pm - Nomad Cinema, Citypoint Moorgate
    58. Friday 13 Dec, 5pm - Rivoli Ballroom, Brockley
    59. Friday 13 Dec, 5.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    60. Saturday 14 Dec, 12.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    61. Saturday 14 Dec, 3pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    62. Saturday 15 Dec, 6.05pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    63. Monday 16 Dec, 12.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    64. Monday 16 Dec, 7.30pm - Showcase Cinemas (Cinema de Lux, Newham)
    65. Monday 16 Dec, 8.30pm - Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace
    66. Tuesday 17 Dec, 1.35pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    67. Tuesday 17 Dec, 8pm - The Exhibit, Balham
    68. Wednesday 18 Dec, 3.40pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    69. Wednesday 18 Dec, 8pm - The Exhibit, Balham
    70. Thursday 19 Dec, 3.40pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    71. Thursday 19 Dec, 5.30pm - Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace
    72. Thursday 19 Dec, 8pm - The Exhibit, Balham 
    73. Friday 20 Dec, 1.10pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    74. Friday 20 Dec, 8.45pm - Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace
    75. Saturday 21 Dec, 3.20pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    76. Saturday 21 Dec, 4pm - The Exhibit, Balham
    77. Saturday 21 Dec, 7pm - Nomad Cinema, Citypoint
    78. Saturday 21 Dec, 8.10pm - Open Air Cinema Kent
    79. Sunday 22 Dec, 12.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    80. Sunday 22 Dec, 2pm - Charlotte Street Hotel
    81. Sunday 22 Dec, 2.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    82. Sunday 22 Dec, 3.30pm - Exhibit B, Balham
    83. Sunday 22 Dec, 4pm - The Exhibit, Balham
    84. Sunday 22 Dec, 6.30pm - The Exhibit, Balham
    85. Monday 23 Dec, 12.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    86. Monday 23 Dec, 6pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    87. Tuesday 24 Dec, 3.15pm - Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square
    LondonNet's page for Elf lists some other cinemas which will apparently be screening the film between Sat 21 Dec and Fri 27 Dec but no other information is available at the cinema's websites, yet.
    - Arthouse Crouch End
    - BFI Southbank
    - Curzon Aldgate
    - Olympic Studios

    2. Sources for listings
    I've been collecting the published screenings of Elf in London for a few years so I now have a collection of venues that have previously screened the film so for those ones I do an occasional trawl through their sites to see if anything has been added. Park Circus own the rights so know who's screening it and have published some of them. Eventbrite and Design My Night sell tickets for lots of pop-up places so worth checking for things Elf-related. Twitter searches, Google. No potential candy cane left unchomped :)

    These are pages from venues that have previously screened Elf (so links may be out of date until I fix them and those ones are in bold).
    Any errors or omissions? Please let @JoBrodie know, thanks!

    Wednesday, 30 October 2019

    A burst of newspaper articles critical of homeopathy

    tl;dr Thanks to efforts from the Good Thinking Society and skeptical activists homeopathy is in the news again, this time it's further criticism of the decision to accredit the Society of Homeopaths' register.
    If you've enjoyed the recent burst of articles in the news that have been critical of homeopathy you might like to know that the Good Thinking Society are the people to thank for this. They are currently crowdfunding funds to support a Judicial Review against the decision to accredit the Society of Homeopaths. If you're able to, you can donate here.

    The latest crop (and a bumper crop it has been!) of stories relates to the decision made by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to re-accredit the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) for 2019-2020 despite concerns that some of their members claim to treat autism and others offer 'alternatives' to vacination. Their re-accreditation is up again for renewal and anyone was able to share their thoughts about whether they should be re-accredited (I shared mine) as long as they submitted their thoughts by 22 October 2019. The SoH first received PSA accreditation in 2014.
    • Going forward - quite a few people think the PSA should not re-accredit the SoH from Jan 2020 and have written to ask them not to do this
    • Retrospectively - The Good Thinking Society (GTS) would additionally like a ruling on the PSA's previous re-accreditation of the SoH (2019-2020). They have been given permission to proceed with a Judicial Review to look into that decision, and to see if it can be rescinded. You can help with the costs of the judicial review too, with a donation.
    The GTS have caused this latest splurge of newspaper articles because they asked the head of NHS England (Simon Stevens) to write to the PSA and share his thoughts about SoH accreditation - and he did, and it has caused quite a stir. I'll remember this next time I see homeopathy advocates saying that skeptics have no influence ;)

    1. Daily Mail
    NHS chief Simon Stevens blasts homeopathy as 'dangerous' and blames the industry for fuelling antivaxx myths
    27 October, 22:01
    They broke this story with a front-page which is itself a lovely surprise.

    2. The Times (article)
    NHS chief wants homeopathy to lose official stamp of approval
    28 October, 00:01

    3. The Times (editorial)
    The Times view on calls to revoke accreditation of homeopathic practitioners: Bad Medicine
    Homeopaths can cause great harm and deserve to be stripped of their accreditation
    28 October, 00:01

    4. The Guardian
    Head of NHS voices 'serious concerns' about homeopathy
    28 October, 07:51

    5. BBC
    Health bosses' 'serious concerns' over homeopathy
    28 October, 10:57 (based on link's first appearance on Twitter)

    6. The Independent
    NHS bosses bid to blacklist ‘bogus’ homeopathy amid fears of anti-vaccine misinformation
    28 October, ~12.31pm (based on the article's author's tweet)

    The story has also spread into specialist news stories including The BMJ (Homeopathy should have professional accreditation revoked, NHS leaders urge, 29 October) and the Pharmaceutical Journal (NHS England expresses concern over accreditation of homeopaths, 29 October) and Google News lists plenty of other places where it's been published.

    With activism there are always two things - the meat* and the marinade. The meat is the big-change stuff like policy changes, regulatory action and so on whereas the marinade relates to the background in which opinion towards a topic changes. Both support each other.

    With homeopathy it's become very clear that in the last few years there have been an increasing number of negatively-framed newspaper articles on the topic, a notable comparison with articles in previous years which were often rather fawning towards homeopathy and other alternative medicines.

    It feels like it might have reached a bit of a peak this week with a front cover on the Daily Mail (which is finally pivoting towards encouraging parents to vaccinate) criticising homeopathy.

    Apparently there may be some more stories in the pipeline on homeoprophylaxis though possibly Brexit and election news have taken over for now. Anyway I've written a Wikipedia article on Homeoprophylaxis just in case.

    Three days after news of Simon Stevens' letter to the PSA broke the SoH had not issued any response - no news story on their blog, no tweet or Facebook post and they've either declined to comment to the authors of these articles or not replied as far as I can tell.

    Inexplicably the British Homeopathic Association published a short piece bemoaning the latest crop of news articles but much of it is mistaken or incomplete so I'm not sure that helps much.
    *or meat substitute for veggies or vegans!

    Tuesday, 22 October 2019

    My submission to the Professional Standards Authority asking them to rethink their accreditation of the Society of Homeopaths

    This is what I sent to the Professional Standards Authority today about their re-accreditation of the Society of Homeopaths. If this doesn't mean much then you may want to skip to the end and read the 'background explanation' first.

    This submission was one of a few sent in by skeptics (scientists, doctors, bloggers) as part of the PSA's open invitation to 'Share Your Experience' (of whatever register they're currently considering). This opportunity is available for a few weeks whenever an accredited register indicates that it would like to be considered for re-accreditation. 

    This relates to the next round of re-accreditation, note that the Good Thinking Society have been given permission to have a Judicial Review of the PSA's earlier decision to re-accredit them last year, in light of significant concerns about autism treatments and advice on vaccination etc.

    A. Letter to the PSA
    B. Background explanation

    A. Letter to the PSA

    Dear Accreditation team

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the ‘Share your experience’ consultation regarding the Society of Homeopaths and its interest in having its register re-accredited.

    My direct experience of the Society is that everyone I’ve communicated with there has been courteous so I have no complaints about any personnel. I have been frustrated with the slow pace of getting websites I complained about changed(1) (though they have mostly been changed) however my wider experience of the Society in terms of its public statements and responses has been more frustrating. I am also unhappy that members are still offering CEASE therapy, regardless of any claims made about it.

    1. Lay homeopaths are not healthcare professionals
    Taking the second clause first - “We help to protect the public through our work with organisations that register and regulate people working in health and social care.”

    Homeopaths are not qualified to give health advice and cannot meaningfully diagnose or treat any condition. This alone could have excluded the SoH’s register from accreditation by the PSA in the first place.

    Homeopaths’ training seems to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of health, physiology or pathology (and frequently chemistry and physics too) and they are not always giving good or sensible advice.

    Given the concerns that CEASE is harmful to and discriminates against autistic children (and that marketing compliance would not necessarily stop the ‘treatment’ from being offered) I am surprised that accreditation has been continued. I do not think the Society of Homeopaths should be re-accredited.

    2. CEASE is problematic whether or not it’s mention in marketing
    Autism is not curable and implying (through the use of the acronym, the full version, or other text) that it can be cured, eliminated or otherwise lessened through supplements and homeopathy is cruel to autistic people and to the parents of autistic kids.
    The treatment itself is potentially harmful; the source material (though I have not seen the current training manuals) have recommended very high doses of vitamin supplements, against NHS advice, and seems to celebrate diarrhoea as a way of ‘detoxing’. This is nonsense. The CEASE therapy website (to which several SoH members still link (2)) recommends odd dietary restrictions and a baffling avoidance of microwaves.
    The concept of CEASE is linked to anti-vaccination sentiment with an inherent suggestion that vaccines are one of several ‘toxins’ that can lead to a toxic imprint which might be reversed by giving homeopathic “anti-toxins” based on vaccines such as MMR, this promotes the wrongheaded notion that there is any link between MMR and autism.
    Even with full marketing compliance SoH members could still be offering CEASE. The treatment isn’t a treatment for autism, it’s not been properly tested and is potentially harmful. It’s also not clear how anyone offering Skype consultations is able to properly assess a child. Anyone offering CEASE to an autistic child is acting against the child and the family’s best interests. By comparison people are no longer permitted to offer ‘gay conversion therapy’.

    3. The SoH’s responses around CEASE have not been helpful
    The SoH’s 2016 Annual Review highlighted CEASE as something that was “noted as (a) popular CPD topic among our membership” instead of stating that it should not be on the market.
    Their position statement on CEASE says that it is “acceptable” for members to market CEASE therapy but that they should not imply a complete cure as that “would be unethical and in breach of the Code of Ethics” - rather than simply “not possible”.
    Members were slow to amend their websites after I complained about the websites of five RSHoms offering CEASE. Changes took several months though change did happen.(1)

    4. Their responses to criticisms of homeopathy are also not helpful
    • The SoH’s response to the ASA sending a compliance letter to UK homeopaths in September 2016 was to “seek legal advice on the legitimacy of the ASA and the actions it is taking pursuing homeopaths”, though they did follow legal advice not to pursue that further.
    • Rather than sanctioning a member for spending half an hour talking about homeopathy and vaccines (homeoprophylaxis) to what turned out to be a newspaper reporter the Society complained about the journalist to IPSO. Their position statement on homeoprophylaxis starts out strongly but ends disappointingly by suggesting there may be something in it.
    • News that the Good Thinking Society intended to request a judicial review into your decision to re-accredit the SoH was described as “whipping up hysteria.”

    5. Accrediting the SoH does not protect the public
    We help to protect the public through our work with organisations that register and regulate people working in health and social care” - I would argue that the public are not protected by accrediting the SoH’s register of members. What is the benefit of recommending that people “only choose practitioners who are regulated or on an Accredited Register” when those practitioners are likely to be offering unwise advice about vaccinations or non- and potentially harmful treatments like CEASE?

    6. Comments on menopause are also likely to be misleading
    A separate statement from the SoH on menopausal symptoms shows that women are not
    being given good advice either. I think this advice is likely to be misleading (and may well be at odds with ASA / CAP recommendations).

    Homeopathic remedies which can help to ease the symptoms of menopause are being highlighted to help women who are currently unable to get their hands on HRT” - this is from a news story in Sep 2019 in which I suspect the evidence offered is unlikely to satisfy the ASA. Surely no-one should be implying that homeopathy can help symptoms of menopause. (The compliance letter sent to homeopaths in the UK in Sep 2016 said “homeopaths may not currently make either direct or implied claims to treat medical conditions”).

    7. Footnotes
    (1) Website marketing claims took a long time to be amended
    I wrote to the SoH on 9 November 2017 with details of five of their (then) members about problematic claims on their websites. I blogged about this a month later - I did not expect many changes to have been made by then but in several cases it took more than six months for changes to be made (it seemed to happen between June and July 2018). One homeopath is no longer a member (as of December 2017) and the websites of the remaining four are much improved, for example removing the link to the cease-therapy dot com website or not writing out the acronym in full.

    (2) Examples of homeopaths currently linking to the ‘cease-therapy dot com’ website
    Linking to this website is a problem because misleading claims are plentiful there but are not being said ‘directly’ by the homeopath, nor is the website within the UK’s jurisdiction.

    [I have redacted from this post the names of the homeopaths and the links to their websites]

    B. Background explanation
    The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) regulates the regulators in healthcare. As an example they oversee the General Medical Council (GMC) and the GMC regulates doctors by keeping a register of members, setting standards, checking that doctors' education is up to scratch (and revalidating their learning) and by investigating complaints made about doctors. The GMC's operation is also regulated by the law (specifically by the Medical Act 1983).

    The PSA also provides a similar scheme for organisations "that register health and social care practitioners who are not regulated by law" and this is where the Society of Homeopaths comes into the equation. They also keep a register of homeopaths, set standards, require a minimum of study and investigate complaints about homeopaths. Because of this their register of members (who can use the term RSHom to indicate that they are registered members of the Society) was accredited by the PSA in 2014 and has been re-accredited every year since.

    In 2017 several skeptics expressed concern to the PSA that a number of their members were offering CEASE therapy to families with autistic kids and implying that it could help them (some of them made stronger claims). The PSA took action and in their re-accreditation asked the SoH to address this, adding conditions to their re-accreditation in 2018. The PSA considered at the next round of re-accreditation that the SoH had satisfied these requirements - however members are still offering CEASE and continuing to make misleading statements about autism and vaccination. Many of them give harmful advice around vaccination and some of them have even implied to potential customers that such a thing as a homeopathic alternative to vaccination exists (it does not).

    Accreditation by the PSA does not mean that it thinks homeopathy works - they don't consider the efficacy of any particular treatment, only that the organisation registered keeps records of members. This is probably fine where an organisation is providing a valuable service but perhaps less so where an organisation has some of its members offering harmful autism treatments.