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

Thursday, 18 July 2019

I've created a Wikipedia page for the Society of Homeopaths

A few months ago I spotted that the British Homeopathic Association (BHA) and Faculty of Homeopathy (FoH) had Wikipedia pages but the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) didn't and I'd been meaning to create a page to redress that. It's been interesting revisiting some of their activities and with their recent re-accreditation by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) and the Judicial Review into that decision that has been requested by the Good Thinking Society I thought it was time to get a move on, so here it is: Society of Homeopaths.

The BHA's page begins with a paragraph about when the association was formed and by whom, then highlights that homeopathy is an unevidenced pseudoscience before going on to highlight two examples of BHA's activities. The first is about the quality (apparently not great) of the evidence they submitted to the House of Commons Evidence Check on Homeopathy from 2009, the second is about their failed Judicial Review of NHS England's decision to top funding homeopathy.

I followed the same pattern for the SoH page and so far I have the following information in there.
  • An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) adjudication against the SoH in 2013 for engaging in false advertising and discouraging people from seeking essential treatments
  • SoH considered legal action in 2016 against the ASA after it wrote to UK homeopaths to remind them of the rules for marketing material, but they were advised against it by their legal advisor
  • In 2017 skeptics* complained to the PSA about the SoH as their members were offering CEASE therapy for autism. The PSA put some obligations on the SoH in place but re-accredited them. One of the obligations was to publish a position statement on CEASE (and monitor risks from member homeopaths offering this).
  • In May this year there was an undercover interview by The Times with a number of homeopaths one of whom was both a member of the SoH and also offering 'homeoprophylaxis' (an alternative to vaccination, which doesn't offer any protection). Rather than bring about disciplinary proceedings the SoH defended the member and said they would complain to the press regulator.
  • As a result of the PSA re-accrediting the SoH (on 1 April no less) the GTS has filed a request for a Judicial Review to be undertaken of that decision, you can read more about that here (and donate to the crowdfunder).
*the term skeptics refers not just to bloggers and activists by doctors, scientists, healthcare professionals and patients who are concerned about health claims.

Next to investigate, write, reference and add are
Obviously I want the Wikipedia article to be reasonably encyclopaedic (kind of the point!) but I don't think it's necessary to itemise every single thing. Here are some things I've not added, or only lightly referenced.
  • I've added the latest (as at Sep 2018) official number of society members (according to PSA's accreditation document) but struggled to make sense of the membership numbers overall so haven't included further information. Their current 'About us' website page has 1,200. In their 2009 submission to the HoC EvCheck they give it as 2,500, in 2013 it was 1,300.
  • Probably I won't add anything about the problem of Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford University letting the SoH have their conference and AGM on site despite concerns about legitimising homeopathy, not to mention how the university's autistic students might feel about that happening. 
  • Also there's some stuff about alleged links between a (former) SoH staff member and the long-since debunked MMR-autism controversy but that might require legal considerations, so probably best left out for now.
  • The SoH has today published a news article on the fact that members can add additional therapies to their insurance package. Some SoH members offer a range of services, including homeopathy, but the standard insurance covers them only for homeopathy. Whether or not society members are underinsured might be a bit niche for Wikipedia.
The purpose of this post then is to combine some stuff that's on Wikipedia with stuff that isn't. I think it's important and helpful to have overview information of a topic, particularly where something involves many years of historical skeptic activism. It's easy to forget things and so useful to keep it all together.



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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).