"The most meticulous regulation of nonsense must still result in nonsense.
– Edzard Ernst, M.D., PhD.
In the US the practice of health care is regulated by the states. Each state board of health issues professional licenses, manages complaints and compliance, and essentially regulates the standard of care. This means that the state legislatures pass the laws that establish which professions will be licensed and under what rules.
In other words - in the US alone there are at least 50 legal fronts along which we need to defend the scientific legitimacy of health care.
The news of the murder of a 20-year-old woman, Kepari Leniata, from Papua New Guinea for witchcraft has made headlines across the world. Leniata’s relatives accused her of killing a boy through sorcery. They ‘tortured her with a hot iron, stripped her naked, tied up her hands and legs and threw her into the fire in front of hundreds of people’. Police and firefighters were at the scene but couldn’t save her life. The lynch mob outnumbered them. Belief in witchcraft and sorcery is very strong in Papua New Guinea. Witch killing is widespread in this former Australian colony.
Every year, hundreds of people mainly women are murdered because of belief in witchcraft. Women are made out to be the scapegoats for the ills many people in the country suffer. These killings take place mainly in rural communities where belief in superstition and magic is very strong. Modern education and development, including the introduction in 1971 of the Sorcery Act by the Australian Colonial administration, have not succeeded in eradicating this harmful traditional practice. The government of Papua New Guinea lacks the political will to make witch-hunts a thing of the past on the Island. The government needs to uphold the rule of law, provide protection and support to accused persons and bring witch hunters to justice.
Recently, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiologist who accepts “reiki” and “evening-out the human body’s energy aura,” announced his acceptance of homeopathy, possibly the most thoroughly tested quack medicine claim, ever; it has failed every double-blind, legitimate, scientific set of tests to which it has been subjected. In November 2002, I offered the JREF million-dollar prize to the UK homeopaths if their claims could pass an extensive test based upon the protocol designed by Dr. Jacques Benveniste [1935-2004] -- a major supporter of homeopathy -- supervised by the Royal Society, the Royal London Hospital, University College, London, and Guy's Hospital, and witnessed by the homeopaths themselves. The results were quite negative, but Dr. Oz has chosen to accept this weird idea, and endorsed it on his site. Comments immediately poured in on his website for his “Homeopathic Starter Kit”…
In 2003, Randi challenged Dr. Emoto’s claims surrounding Tri-Vortex Technology, an “alternative medical technology” developed by Brian David Anderson (in the US) and Anton Ungerer (in South Africa).
Recently in India, Naveen Jindal, a Member of Parliament and one of the biggest industrialists in the country came across the "bangle" and its miraculous claims during his trip to South Africa and believes in its powers. He has recently senttweets to the effect that he has personally "personally from this" and that it is “unfair to dismiss the claims”.
Indian mentalist, magician and skeptic, Nakul Shenoy, has been applying publicscrutiny to these claims, which he believes are harmful to the public good. Randi.org interviewed Nakul on his public education and skeptical activist campaign.
JREF: First off, what is the exact claim and who is making it?
Nakul Shenoy: This "Tiranga bangle" campaign was inaugurated by our Minister of State (HRD) Shashi Tharoor and is avidly promoted by eminent industrialist and Member of Parliament Naveen Jindal, and will be distributed through his Flag Foundation. Then again, it is not just a tri-coloured band that would foster patriotism and the spirit of one-ness.
This bangle, supposedly powered by "Tri-Vortex Technology" and imported from South Africa, claims to cure a long list of ailments — everything from acidity to arthritis — and also purify water and even protect people from harmful cell phone radiation! Further, we are assured that it would "prove particularly beneficial for athletes and the elderly". There have been a number of mediareports that focus on the product launch of the bangle and its amazing properties.
This last Sunday, I appeared on Skeptically Yours, a relatively new show hosted by Emery Emery and Heather Henderson. My fellow guests were podcaster Ross Blocher and comedian and YouTuber John Rael.
The freewheeling discussion was fun, and explored the proper scope of skepticism, and recent debates online on the topic between JREF Senior Fellow Steven Novella and atheist blogger PZ Myers. We discussed why JREF is not an atheist organization, even though many of us who work and volunteer here just happen to be atheists. We talked about whether skepticism “majors in the minors,” as opposed to focusing on more important issues than just “Bigfoot skepticism.” We explored the best ways to engage those who hold unwarranted beliefs. We distinguished between the method of skepticism and the conclusions of atheism, and how atheism is not necessarily continuous with skepticism. We talked a lot about celebrating religious, political and ideological diversity, as well as other important kinds of diversity, within skepticism. And we explored whether or not scientific skepticism is overtly hostile to atheism or social justice issues.