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The EU Officially Embraces Quackery PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Our associate in Hungary, Gabor Hrasko, informs us of this alarming situation:

You might be unaware of the fact that EU [the European Union] is promoting homeopathy and other alternative medicine in its directives. It urges the member countries to provide a simplified registration process for homeopathic remedies where the efficacy and safety of these drugs does not have to be proven. Chapter 2/Article 13/Paragraph 2 states:

Member States shall establish a special simplified registration procedure for the homeopathic medicinal products.

Hungary did it immediately. In my opinion it is against the Competition Act, as it provides exceptions for homeopathic remedies. It uses pseudoscientific reasoning, like "it can not cause harm due to the high dilution" while it does not use the same reasoning to realize that it could not have a specific effect due to that same fact.

All-in-all, homeopathy remains an important issue for the European skeptics, not only because it is a clear example of pseudoscience (as it is handled by the US skeptics), but because IN SPITE OF THIS it is a widely used practice. In Hungary and in many other countries it is used by real doctors who spent six years in prestigious universities studying physics, chemistry and evidence-based medicine earlier.

I must ask: Just why are such exceptions - "special procedures" - granted to quack notions, just because they are popular delusions?  Do we have to wait for major losses of life to occur, with the inevitable monstrous lawsuits that would ensue, before anyone assigns any importance to stopping fraudulent systems before they get to that state? I once thought that the EU was a splendid idea, but then I addressed a meeting in Oslo before Norway joined up, and found that those before me had no notion of the true nature of this farcical concept called homeopathy. Did they react to my exposure? No, they opted to go along with the fraud, anyway...

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written by tokoloshe, February 07, 2009
Along the same lines as your argument...

What would happen if a person who was suffering some sort of pain took a homeopathic remedy prescribed by a doctor, and reported back that the homeopathic dilution amplified the pain to a level that was excruciating. Pain that literally brought them to tears. They then sued the doctor or the homeopathic company for malpractice, not for failing to cure the original ailment with a treatment that is not proven, but for prescribing a solution that was just too strong. Something along the lines of the pain memory in the water unequivocally adding to their existing pain.

It would be an interesting legal defence. smilies/grin.gif
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politics - same old stuff
written by MadScientist, February 07, 2009
What politician wants to do something which is good for the people but unpopular with loud louts? How many politicians out there are genuinely interested in the public good rather than their own good? I suspect such politicians are a minority these days no matter where on the planet. Perhaps the politicians still believe in the antedeluvian notion "vox populi, vox dei"? Personally, I've always believed that "vox populi, vox stulti" was more apt. Unfortunately, although an Aristotelian republic may sound like a good idea I can't imagine it working as intended, so we're probably stuck with current forms of democracy. Unfortunately, so long as politicians can promise to raid the public treasury for their supporters, democracy seems little more than a euphemism for mob rule.

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written by BillyJoe, February 07, 2009
What would happen if a person who was suffering some sort of pain took a homeopathic remedy prescribed by a doctor, and reported back that the homeopathic dilution amplified the pain to a level that was excruciating.

Actually, homeopaths often warn patients of just such an eventuality. They call it an "Aggravation" - an indication that the immune system is responding and that therefore the remedy is actually working! There are also other explanations for why an "aggravation" occurs but, the point is, they have this base well and truely covered. Sorry.

Here is a link:
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/h...xaggs.html
It is always wise to "know your enemy".

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by yarro, February 07, 2009
The Eu directive is from 2001 and can be read here:
WARNING: EXCESSIVE LEGAL MUMBO JUMBO
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUr...83:EN:HTML
Amended in 2004 by:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUr...27:EN:HTML

Especially article 14 of significance:
Article 14

1. Only homeopathic medicinal products which satisfy all of the following conditions may be subject to a special, simplified registration procedure:

- they are administered orally or externally,

- no specific therapeutic indication appears on the labelling of the medicinal product or in any information relating thereto,

- there is a sufficient degree of dilution to guarantee the safety of the medicinal product; in particular, the medicinal product may not contain either more than one part per 10000 of the mother tincture or more than 1/100th of the smallest dose used in allopathy with regard to active substances whose presence in an allopathic medicinal product results in the obligation to submit a doctor's prescription.

At the time of registration, Member States shall determine the classification for the dispensing of the medicinal product.

2. The criteria and rules of procedure provided for in Article 4(4), Article 17(1) and Articles 22 to 26, 112, 116 and 125 shall apply by analogy to the special, simplified registration procedure for homeopathic medicinal products, with the exception of the proof of therapeutic efficacy.

3. The proof of therapeutic efficacy shall not be required for homeopathic medicinal products registered in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article, or, where appropriate, admitted in accordance with Article 13(2).


It's beyond belief and one can only speculate as to why the EU has chosen this path.
My guess is a fierce lobby by the industry. Money, money, money, that's what it is all about!

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written by Willy K, February 08, 2009
/SARCASM ON
If someone does happen to die whilst using homeopathic potions it is obviously not the fault of the medicine, it is the patients fault for not praying to the correct deity and for forgetting to fill the offerings coffer at their local house of worship.
/SARCASM OFF
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written by kedo1981, February 08, 2009
Simple simple WOO medicine will kill off the patient for far less money.
The health care systems of the EU are economically un-sustainable, the bosses know this, Prince Charles knows that, why has he promoted WOO for the Brits
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written by bosshog, February 08, 2009
MadScientist:
Your thoughts echo my own.
Randi asks: "Just why are such exceptions - "special procedures" - granted to quack notions, just because they are popular delusions?"
The answer is that we live in a Democratic age. The people want homeopathy so their representatives enable them to have it. All in all I believe this is the lesser of evils; freedom includes the freedom to be stupid. A free person takes on the responsibility to inform himself and beware of liars and quacks. If he fails to do so the misfortune is on his head. What I worry about more than quack doctors is quack government.
Our current "leaders" are pursuing a policy that the best way to deal with the consequences of their fiscal bungling is to borrow a trillion dollars from the Chinese Communists. I'd like to hear what the foolish people think.
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written by BillyJoe, February 08, 2009
freedom includes the freedom to be stupid. A free person takes on the responsibility to inform himself and beware of liars and quacks.

Stupidity is not a freedom. It is a deficiency. If people do not have the experience or mental ability, how can you demand that they be responsible for themselves. Part of the role of goverments is to protect the vulnerable in our society.
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written by bosshog, February 08, 2009
BillyJoe:
I strongly disagree. The vast majority of homeopathy patrons are not mentally deficient morons any more than the vast majority of Fundamentalist Christians or New Age smoke eaters or atheists. If a person is truly mentally deficient then the state can take care of that individual on an individual basis; the rest of us must be free to make our own decisions regardless of what you or I think of them.
The Soviet Union routinely locked people away for the "mental aberration" of not accepting the party line. The Inquisition destroyed people for the evil lunacy of practising witchcraft. The Chinese Communists to this day imprison people for "insane" religious practices and political activities not approved by the state. I'll take freedom, as messy as it is.
And yes: stupidity IS a freedom.
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PS:
written by bosshog, February 08, 2009
Weren't we all recently fretting and wringing our hands over Norway's considering enforcement of its blasphemy laws on the grounds that "the fool hath said in his heart 'there is no God'" and that this vulnerable fool needed to be protected from himself?
We won't even go into the Scopes Trial, intended to protect the children of Tennessee from the stupidity of evolution...
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the right to be stupid
written by MadScientist, February 08, 2009
I agree with BillyJoe - stupidity is a defect, not a right. We can't encourage stupid behavior or society will degenerate. Supporting quackery because some people want it is not right - that's just being a stupid toady, not being a responsible leader. In principle people elect leaders to look after the public good and to do things which are beneficial to society; giving ignorance free reign is not something encouraged by political philosophy. Support for quackery has a detrimental effect on everyone - for example:

* more people may believe quackery is legitimate - after all, it is protected by legislation
* health insurance companies will pay for quackery and everyone who does not support quackery will suffer through increased insurance costs

In the USA at least, individual freedom ends when society is threatened. Quackery is a very serious threat to society; don't fall for any arguments that it does no harm.
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Diluted science
written by Gabor Hrasko, February 08, 2009
Randi had not cited from my mail that registering a remedy as a drug means that it has to go through clinical trials to prove efficacy and safety. Simplified registration means that homeopathic remedies does not have to go through this process. Registering them in this way is not much more difficult than registering a dietary supplement, BUT they receive the status of a real drug. It is true that - at the moment - it is not allowed to use medical indication on the box - but who reads the box? Medical indications are used everywhere in all documents of homeopathy and patients hear it from the homeopaths. Well, they go to the homeopath a they have som bad medical conditions. Why to prescribe something that does not have a medical indication?

On the other hand in our circumstances - when real doctors are practicing homeopathy - it is the dilution of science, the scientific method. When doctors organize conferences where other doctors get credit points if participate about the memory of water and other unscientific stuff about homeopathy, then real science is in danger.

Gabor
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Further to MadScientist...
written by BillyJoe, February 08, 2009
bosshog,

I'm not sure that I understand your point about the Soviet Union, The Inquisition, and Chinese Communism. I wasn't talking about taking action against stupid people, I was talking about protecting these indivduals against the people who exploit them.

And people who disply stupidity by being taken in by scams, are mentally deficient. Not globally mentally deficient, of course, but deficient in critical faculties regarding the detection of scams. And deficient in real life experiences of scams. And often through no fault of their own.

And people don't choose to be stupid. Stupidity in detecting scams is almost a default position. You actually have to train yourself to detect them. In the mean time, I think governments should protect them against their exploiters.

BJ



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written by bosshog, February 09, 2009
BillyJoe:
The point of my alarmist cold war rhetoric (I know, I rail sometimes) is concern over the increasingly blythe acceptance of government control over our lives in the name of protecting us from ourselves. Certainly our government shouldn't be PROMOTING claptrap like homeopathy, but the examples I reeled off illustrated the tendency of tyranical powers to label anything it finds threatening as "mental illness" and throttle it. The beauty of the American ideal of freedom is that people can choose their own path and speak their own minds freely without the government deciding if it is acceptable to itself. This ideal has badly eroded in the last hundred years or so. I think homeopathy should not be interfered with by the government. I also believe that drugs should be legal, gays should be able to marry and inept businesses should be allowed to fail in favor of those that are competently run.
As for stupidity, I didn't say it was a choice, I said it was a right. Homosexuality is not a choice either, and people were once put into insane asylums for practicing it in order to "protect them from their perversions". I believe Christianity is stupid, but I don't believe that we should outlaw it to protect ITS followers from being bilked by TV evangelists. Who am I to decide for you how you may live your life?
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a side issue: adverts on the site?
written by DrDoLittle, February 09, 2009
This has probably been mentioned already, but I am struck with the plethora of Google ads infesting Randi's page with solicitations to "learn homeopathy", "buy homeopathic remedies", and such. Is there any way to alter this? Surely JREF doesn't want to be a click-point to increase traffic on a quack shill site...?
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A cynical take
written by PsyberDave, February 09, 2009
James Randi mentioned a few years ago that when he went to China, he noticed government-sponsored billboards for smoking. It is as if the government encourages people to smoke.

The speculation is that if the government pays for everyone, then it may be fiscally prudent to encourage an early demise rather than pay to support people who live many years past retirement.

Maybe that is what happens in socialist countries. Maybe it makes sense to a government that pays for health care that they encourage people to take inexpensive "medicine" that is ineffective, thereby increasing the death rate of those past the age of financial contribution.

No longer part of the tax base? Smoke up and take this homeopathy for your lung cancer.

This is all speculation on my part, of course, but testable perhaps.
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 09, 2009
Yarro nailed it, early on. Since these sham therapies and 'medicines' require no research or development they are profitable right out of the gate. CAM has a huge lobby. Politicians love lobbyists. It's all about the money. Shovel enough money at a politician and he/she'll vote for anything. Homeopathy kills few and only indirectly, by delaying or pre-empting real medical intervention on the statistically far fewer truly serious diseases, while it's typically used for lesser or minor afflictions. It's crap and most politicians know it, but it's low risk for them and there's sooooo much easy money in it for them. In the US, the governmental sCAM movement was started by a US Senator.

Secondarily, it's about the squeaky wheel. There's a huge imbalance in the number of political constituents asking for it over the number complaining about it, also making it a no-brainer for politicians.

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BBC covers arthritis research findings
written by jeffblack, February 09, 2009
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7875192.stm

Alternative therapies don't get much help from the arthritis research campain
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written by BillyJoe, February 09, 2009
bosshog,

Well, I'm going to live in hope that governments will one day act against the charlatans who defraud its citizens of their hard earned cash. You want to market a pharmaceutical, you first prove it works. You want to market a homeopathic remedy, you first prove it works. You sell obvious frauds like bomb detection devices, you get thrown in prison. You sell quack cancer cures and you get tried for murder.
There is just far too much advantage to the hoaxer and scammmer in our society and little or no protection for their hapless victims.

Bj
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Joined up for what?
written by eirik, February 10, 2009
"but then I addressed a meeting in Oslo before Norway joined up"

Joined up for what? EU membership? Norway is not a member of the EU. The people of Norway has voted against EU membership in two referendums (1972 and 1994).

E.M.
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One in every family...
written by SheldonHelms, February 10, 2009
The next time a Brit derides me for being a citizen of a country that's "so religious," I'll just remind him/her about this EU decision. Europeans have a habit of downward social comparison in their dealings with Americans, but they almost always forget just how much woo-woo exists in their own countries. If it didn't, Randi wouldn't have so many Frequent Flier miles built up! LOL
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
"Let he who is without woo cast the first bone."

Gospel of Joe 21:13
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"Official Skepticism" in Hungary...
written by alexthemagician, February 11, 2009
I`am really really skeptic! about the Hungarian skeptical forums and organizations...
Mr.Randi knows well what I`am talking about...smilies/smiley.gif

Just to inform You...:
none of that "skeptical" organizations and their forums did their job...! when Uri Geller`s The Successor "show" was running (against) that country -last year...!

For example-Randi knows...-how the magicians exposed Uri Geller in Hungary... -without the any little help of the skeptical lines... Really really funny story indeed...smilies/smiley.gif

I would be happy to read about that story here by Mr.Randi..., because we were often in touch,
Randi did help for me a lot in that private fight...smilies/smiley.gif

I informed the public in one forum in Hungary, that I seeing deep problems and big mistakes in the structures and "strategies" of that skeptical organizations -without magicians...???

I suggested to Randi several times to rethink and renew his connections here in that levels,
because really really strange things are running in that country,
as I saw the skeptical forums, organizations they just used Randi`s name, nothing else...,
while we saw an empty talks, dialogs with cheated "stupid" peoples, fans about the magic tricks of that show...smilies/smiley.gif

We saw here the big and strange silence of the science and "official skepticism",

while we was fighting against Uri Geller...-and we won...smilies/smiley.gif


ALEX, S.H.


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Skeptics in Hungary without magicians
written by Gabor Hrasko, February 11, 2009
Alexthemagician,

please contact me, I am the executive president of the Hungarian Skeptic Society and we very much welcome any interested magicians.

gabor@hrasko.com
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Miracles starting for Hungary too...
written by alexthemagician, February 11, 2009
Dear Gabor...

I`am very very happy for You indeed... I will discuss with Mr.Randi also about it...

I`am seeing, that stg. good starting in Hungary too...

We will contact very soon...,smilies/smiley.gif


Many Thanks...,
___________________
ALEX, S.H.
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Heal The World...!
written by alexthemagician, February 11, 2009
Yes, The Powers by Politics...

Even the legal health systems and their bases their philosophies are simply
against the human health itself worldwide!, not even that kind of trickery...

The two opposite philosophy in that levels are the biggest shame of that planet..

The health in not for sell-never...! It`s never aloud to be a (good or bad) business...!

___________
ALEX, S.H.



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written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
"Card be pick! Card any!"
"Huh? Wuddee say?"

(lol, j/k)

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