22 January, 2008
Once again an abusive legal threat is the cause of truth and free speech, in the name of the Quackometer, being under fire. Last time it was a quackery marketing outfit known as the Society of Homeopaths who persuaded a lawyer (or as Ambrose Bierce so aptly defined it, “A liar with a roving profession”) to put pressure on a lilly livered apology for a Web Hosting company, Netcetera, to take down a page they didn’t like. Not because it was dishonest – in fact to the contrary, it was a deeply honest and serious criticism that the Socety of Homeopaths would rather no-one knew about.
Well, wouldn’t you know, it’s happened again. This man
Mr Joseph Chikelue Obi has decided to threaten the Quackometer’s web host with a lawsuit, and £1 million a day penalty, unless pages about him and his disgraceful activities are removed from their server. This is nothing short of attempted extortion. Of course, the web host who has no interest in their client’s interest nor the rights and wrongs of anything, has decided to cave in to a legally baseless threat.
So, in the interest of truthfulness and combating quacks and charlatan’s like the odious Mr Obi, there is no alternative but to re-publish the Quackometer’s “offending” pages here:
Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery – Dublin
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I had to share this with you. Following on from my recent Quack Word ‘Doctor’ blog, I came across the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) , a Dublin based – well, I’m not sure quite what it is…
What caught my eye was just the shameless aggrandisement of the site. It is quite hilarious, if not a little repetitive at times. Calling yourself ‘Doctor’ is somewhat pompous when all you have done is paid for some international postage. However, the man behind RCAM has absolutely no shame and titles himself as the:
Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)
Wow! Probably, just Joe to his mates. Naturally, when you Google the qualification FRCAM(Dublin), there is only person who appears to revel in this achievement. I’ll leave the rest as an excercise for the reader.
The distinguished provost looks like he is just another pseudoscientific nutritionist, his spin being “Nutritional Immunomodulation”. This is obviously a lot more clever than Patrick Holfords mere ‘Optimum Nutrition’, but having only one ‘omnipill’ is probably a poorer commercial decision that Patrick’s vast range of supplements.
Obviously, Professor Obi has had a few problems with what probably amount to bewildering comments about his site as the legal threats and press releases concerning his ‘ethical’ responses to criticisms cover more space than anything else. ‘Ethical’ is a favourite word on the site.
The most recent press release states,
7th September 2006 : The Distinguished RCAM Provost, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK) has formally accepted appointment as Chief Professorial Examiner for the Doctor of Science (DSc) programme in Evidence Based, Alternative Medicine (EBAM) of a highly respected International University in one of the British Commonwealth Protectorates.
This new qualification is primarily aimed at Medical Graduates, Physicians, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Dentists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Opticians, Wellness Consultants, Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths , Healers, Podiatrists , Chiropodists , Scientists , Healers ,Therapists, Homeopaths, Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Nurses wishing to ethically upgrade their current Qualifications in Alternative Medicine over an exceedingly intensive 12 – 36 month period of study.
British Commonwealth Protectorates? Could that be Dublin?
I really have no idea what this organisation is all about. But it looks like it could be getting quite big soon…
RCAM currently has International Vacancies for One Million (1,000,000) ‘Foundation Fellows’ (‘Movers and Shakers’) ; who will independently play a highly pivotal role in diligently mentoring (and regulating) it’s future Global Membership.
So if you really think that you seriously have what it takes to become a ‘Leader’ in Alternative Medicine , then (perhaps) RCAM may definitely be exactly what the Doctor ordered for you.
One million. That’s a lot of quacks! And they are just to mentor (and regulate) the wider quack membership! This man has ambition.
The Big J really hates real doctors. This is his most recent press release…
RCAM would like to warmly commend the various Chieftans of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for ethically and appropriately ignoring utterly misguided calls (from a rather amusing Group of thirteen Clinical Yestermen) to compel Hard-Working (and Tax-Paying) British Citizens to additionally pay for Life Enhancing Alternative Medicine Interventions out of their very own pockets – rather than get such treatments free via the NHS. RCAM would like to also categorically state that such exceedingly flawed ‘G-13′ demands that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom expediently abandon Alternative Medicine altogether (in total favour of Conventional Medicine) be diplomatically treated with the very utmost contempt which such unguarded verbal flippance duly deserves ; as none of these 13 ‘Eminent UK Scientists’ behind such calls has professionally attained Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications in Alternative Medicine and as such cannot be deemed competent enough to make such sweeping ‘Shilly-Shally’ statements about the noble independent specialty of Alternative Medicine.
RCAM therefore publicly advises the General Public to lawfully go about their normal Wellness-Seeking Behaviour as usual – without any unwarranted prejudice or fear resulting from such highly self-serving, morally unethical , abjectly crude , totally unprofessional, utterly unstatesmanly, morbidly barbaric, wantonly uncivilized, profanely undemocratic and unspeakably sacrilegious perpetual affronts on the therapeutically formidable institution of Alternative Medicine.
Now, I do not have ‘Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications’ in Santa Clause Studies to know he does not exist. But hey. I must be a morbidly barbaric and profanely undemocratic, unethical duck.
So, struggling around the acres of pomposity I find one place where Prof Joe might be making some money. You can call him to seek his wisdom, after pre-booking an hour’s slot (and handing over your credit card) for a mere 300 Euros. Alternatively, you can pay by the minute on the contact line for a trifling $10 per minute.
Its going to cost you $20 just for Joe to say Hello and to read out his numerous titles, qualifications and names. Not bad ‘ethical’ work.
Ethical Quackery, the Monarchy and Kate Moss
Thursday, October 12, 2006
No, this is not about our Defender of Quackery, our Quack-in-Chief His Royal Quackiness, Prince Charles, but about the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi. And yes, it is just a rather lame story written solely to get a picture of Kate on my blog.
I’ve written a rather lazy blog on the distinguished professor before that was just a bit of a gawp at his quacktastic website and what looks like a health phone-line scam.
Well, I’ve done a little more digging with Google and it has revealed a few quack gems. It has been pretty hard work, since Google returns some 6,000 pages, the vast majority just appears to be Prof Obi’s self-promotion. However, if you persist in digging a few interesting facts turn up.
So, what has the little black duck found out about the “most Controversial Retired Physician and ‘A-List’ Medical Celebrity, Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi”?
Here we go…
1. The Irish Independent reports that his college does not exist at the Dublin address given on the web site. There’s a surprise! It’s just a front.
2. The Independent goes on. “In January 2003, he was suspended by for serious professional misconduct at South Tyneside District Hospital. Among the allegations made were that he failed to attend to patients, wrote strange notes about colleagues and at one point gave a dating agency phone number to a psychiatric patient.”
3. He was being investigated by the police for taking thousands of pounds of a 58 year old woman to in order to cure a long standing illness.
4. The GMC strike Dr Obi off their register for “serious professional misconduct”. So much for him being retired.
5. On another tack, Dr Obi has been involved in a little cyber-squatting. This looks as if it took place while he was a doctor – always after a few quid!
6. Since then, now self-titled Prof Obi, a few new avenues have been opened, including trying to entice Kate Moss away to one of his ‘safe-houses’ in Ireland. Hat’s off!
He is quoted as saying:
“Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Miss Moss still has fundamental rights, just like anyone else out there, and as far as I am concerned, she is not guilty of anything until an Ethical Jury says so.”
(I mentioned before that ‘ethical’ was one of his favourite words.)
7. Prof Obi has been developing a Penis Enlarger (watch out Kate) that his own Royal College has now endorsed.
8. At least one person (out of the targeted million) has paid Prof Obi the fees for his college to accredit them. Dr Michael Keet (8 Canards) of the Central London College of Reflexology handed over ‘hundreds’. Do we feel sorry for out-quacked quacks? I guess we ought to.
9. For those of you wanting to see behind the grand titles and see the real human being, Joseph lists his interests as Comedy in London, Whole Food Nutrition and Christian Music. On this ‘Meetup’ site, he describes himself as “Just a very ordinary guy . . .”. That’s nice.
10. His name appears very often on the blog Abolish The General Medical Council (GMC), often reporting something he has got up to. The blog describes itself as:
An ethical blog for those who publicly feel that the General Medical Council (GMC) should be Statutorily Abolished in favour of a Medical Licensing Commission (MLC) to solely register and revalidate Doctors who practise Conventional Medicine in the UK. The Blog also recommends that the GMC/MLC hands all disciplinary functions over to an Independent Clinical Tribunal (ICT) in keeping with the EU Convention on Human Rights ; to avoid (both) Institutional Bias and Multiple Jeopardy.
Oooh. There is that word ‘ethical’ again. And ‘European Human Rights’. No name is given for the blog author but the avatar is a portrait of the queen. Another apparent obsession of Prof Obi – royalty. Could the author be none other than the Professor himself, a little agrieved for his ticking off? I hope you all click through to the blog. Maybe we will show up in his stats and whoever the writer is can get in contact and confirm one way or another.
I rather hope it is, as the final thing I turned up would just be fantastic…
11. Is the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Obi now selling ethical ring-tones? I do hope so.
Watch out Crazy Frog! Here comes the Crazy Provost…
For completeness I am posting here an extract from the North East News, Evening Chronicle article linked to above.
In the article dated 21st April 2004 it states:
Long list of titles
Dr Obi uses a number of medical and professional titles online and claims membership of a long list of organisations.
These include FRCAM (Dublin), FRIPH (UK) FACAM (USA) and provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM Dublin).
The Royal College of Alternative Medicine appears to be little more than a website. It is listed as a company at Companies Registration Office in Dublin but the phone number given is not in use. Fellowship of the RCA is available to buy from the site.
Dr Obi, originally from Nigeria, does not say where he did his doctorate in science (DSc) or when he joined the Royal Institute of Public Health (RIPH). No one was able to confirm whether or not Dr Obi was a member of the RIPH when the Chronicle contacted it.
Dr Obi says he is a member of the Institute of Clinical Research (ICR), a training body based in Maidenhead that sells membership online for £50.
He also says he is a member of the International Stress Management Association, which also sells membership online from as little as £30.
Dr Obi also claims to be a member of the World Medical Association (WMA), which sells annual membership via its website for 37 euros.
Events that led to failed career
August 2000 – Starts work as a senior house officer in the department of psychiatry at South Tyneside District Hospital.
January 2001 – Leaves following a complaint.
September 2002 – Registration suspended by the GMC for 18 months for reasons
surrounding his “fitness to practise” and “for the protection of the public”.
January 2003 – Dr Obi is found guilty of serious professional misconduct by a GMC hearing which he does not attend.
Obi is said to have made offensive and insensitive comments to psychiatric patients and failed to respond to his pager.
In a previous job in Harrogate it was alleged he failed to conduct an outpatient clinic and failed to properly treat a patient with a heart attack.
And in Pontefract he is said to have described a colleague as a “stupid cow”, spent an excessive time on a computer, and called a surgeon a liar.
August 2003 -Dr Obi launches a campaign to get elected to the North East Assembly, even though no referendum has been held. He describes himself as “North East Assembly Aspirant – Independent (non-aligned)”.
August 2004 -Dr Obi refused to speak to the Chronicle. His campaign website is closed down after he posted defamatory statements there.
A subsequent article entitled Shamed doctor quizzed was published on 15th September 2004.
It’s a pity the Quackometer’s web host, Netcetera, can’t be bothered to read about Mr Obi’s disreputable past.
On 24th August 2004, the Evening Chronicle had this to say about Mr Obi:
Avoid at all costs
Sacked for serious professional misconduct and his registration suspended by the GMC, Joseph Chikelue Obi is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the best man to be trusted with your health.
Yet the disgraced former health employee is free to peddle his dubious services on the internet.
Despite being booted out of his job at South Tyneside General Hospital, the shamed health worker is currently touting for business on the worldwide web.
And he’s doing very well out of it, thank you very much.
One desperate woman, unaware of his past, has handed over £3,500 and, not surprisingly, is now feeling even worse than ever.
Operating under the grand title of Professor Obi, it appears he is breaking no law and is free to sell health advice to anyone willing to part with their hard-earned cash.
He may be untouchable in the eyes of the law but morally he is surely operating on shaky ground. Is a disgraced hospital worker really the best person to be dishing out health advice?
If you’re thinking of taking up Mr Obi’s advice, we would advise you to read our story first. It may save you some money.
I can’t think why Mr Obi, who appears to be a professional scumbag, hasn’t sued the Evening Chronicle. Will the spineless fuckwits at Netcetera take note? Don’t hold your breath.
19 December, 2007
Like most civilized people, I think, I am not in favour of legalizing fraudulent practices. And when we think of fraudulent practices we tend to think of people being relieved of their savings by unscrupulous and usually unlicensed financial sharks and the like. But there are other kinds of fraud. For instance, what about homeopathy?
I wrote the following about the fraud known as homeopathy in response to a comment from another BadScience forum member, and on the prompting of yet another member I am posting it here.
Many people regard homeopathy as nothing more or less than fraud. It is a means of taking advantage of among others, desperate, vulnerable and gullible people.
Homeopaths say that people report being/feeling better after having used homeopathic preparations, as if that justifies its continued existence. However, the overwhelming evidence is that it works no better than a placebo, which is another way of saying it is self-deception; irrespective of what biological mechanisms that self-deception might trigger. There is not a single incontrovertibly verifiable case of homeopathy ever having cured a non-self-limiting condition, after 200 years of making claims. Any other success that homeopathy might claim for efficacy, which basically involves self-limiting, psychosomatic or non-existent conditions, can be put down to any of a number of more likely causes; not least of which is the self-limiting nature of the condition.
Homeopathy is a multi-million pound industry with very few of the overheads associated with pharmaceutical industry. There are no research costs (because there is no research, or more accurately nothing to research). Manufacturing costs are limited to basically sugar pills and bottled water. There are no active or esoteric ingredients to pay for.
The pharmaceutical industry pays for its own research and has to provide evidence of efficacy and safety before a drug is introduced into the market. It’s a process that can take ten years or more. Homeopathy on the other hand does no research and wants others to put up the money whenever they suggest something should be researched. They do not have to provide evidence of efficacy (there is none), and providing evidence of safety for sugar pills and water is a relatively easy and cheap thing to do.
Homeopaths don’t trust anyone else’s research and reject the idea of randomised, double-blind controlled trials (principally because they always fail them). Yet they want outside funding to conduct their own shoddily run trials, without controls, skewed to give the results they think they should have. The Society of Homeopaths has in the recent past touted what was nothing more than a customer satisfaction survey as incontrovertible evidence as to the efficacy of homeopathy. I could go on.
The SoH, in particular, behave in a manner not inconsistent with being a marketing front for a legalised scam.
Some people think it’s outrageous that a single penny of tax payers’ money should be spent on subsidising what is in effect a fraudulent practice. The question should be – “who thinks it’s ok that fraudulent practices should be supported by public money through the NHS?”
We take a dim view of people being defrauded by financial operators and institutions, yet we allow and actively support the same process when it is carried out by a homeopath.
25 October, 2007
The Society instructed lawyers to write to the Internet Service Provider of Dr. Lewis’ website because the content of his site was not merely critical but defamatory of The Society, with the effect that its reputation could have been lowered. Dr Lewis, in his article, stated as fact highly offensive comments about The Society and it is for that reason that The Society decided it had no option but to take action. The very crude abuse posted on various websites and e-mailed to The Society since our action suggests that these bloggers/authors are not people who are interested in a real debate on the basis of either science or the public good but who simply want to attack homeopathy, for the very sake of it.
Due to the unpleasantness and surprisingly vitriolic nature of the postings on the Quackometer website and others, The Society has taken a conscious decision not to respond to these bloggers.
Anyone who has tried complaining to the SoH, along with anyone acquainted with their comedy code of ethics, will know that Andy Lewis’s article was the epitome of restraint and factual to a degree to which the SoH seems incapable of aspiring. The Society of Homeopaths has a serious problem with honesty. In fact, just like the quackery they promote, their “justification” for their Stalinist approach to comments they just happen not to like is demonstrably dishonest. They were not defamed in any sense of the meaning of the word. Nothing false was printed, merely factual observations which they cannot deny. Any defamation, as I see it, is all coming from the SoH.
The fact that Andy Lewis’s observations were not flattering to the SoH is really neither here nor there. It is clear to me however that the Society’s censorship action was a monumentally incompetent attempt at a public relations exercise to counter what it sees as mounting bad publicity. It had nothing to do with any facts of the case, offensive or otherwise, as anyone with the ability to read English could easily discover. One might be tempted to come to the conclusion that their acquaintance with public relations and its purpose is as vague as it is with science or medicine.
It would not be defamatory to label someone who molests children as a paedophile, or someone who maliciously sets fire to property as an arsonist. In the same way it would not be defamatory to label an organisation that flouts its own code of ethics, allows its members to do likewise and ignores all complaints about ethics code violations, as a bunch of fraudulent shysters.
What the censorship of the Quackometer and the shoddy attempt at its justification show is that what lies at the heart of the contemptible marketing organisation masquerading as a professional body, known as the Society of Homeopaths, is unpleasantness, arrogance and mendacity.
21 September, 2007
Last week the SoH decided they didn’t like a comment on the Quackometer. As far as anyone knows there was nothing factually incorrect about the article. It merely demonstrates how negligent are the SoH when it comes to enforcing their own rules. So, instead of defending themselves by arguing their case and pointing out the errors in the Quackometer article they requested that host server remove the offending item or face further legal consequences. The host, being based in the UK, caved in rather than call the bluff of the SoH.
In the light of what can only be described as a fascistic attitude towards unfavorable comment many bloggers around the world have justifiably reacted against the bullying SoH and re-published the text of the original offending article written by Any Lewis, the Quackometer’s originator and master.
This is the first entry of this occasional blog and I can think of no better gesture than to join with the ranks of skeptic and BadScience blogs and re-publish, without further comment, “The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing”.
The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) are a shambles and a bad joke. It is now over a year since Sense about Science, Simon Singh and the BBC Newsnight programme exposed how it is common practice for high street homeopaths to tell customers that their magic pills can prevent malaria. The Society of Homeopaths have done diddly-squat to stamp out this dangerous practice apart from issue a few ambiguously weasel-worded press statements.The SoH has a code of practice, but my feeling is that this is just a smokescreen and is widely flouted and that the Society do not care about this. If this is true, then the code of practice is nothing more than a thin veneer used to give authority and credibility to its deluded members. It does nothing more than fool the public into thinking they are dealing with a regulated professional.
As a quick test, I picked a random homeopath with a web site from the SoH register to see if they flouted a couple of important rules:
48 • Advertising shall not contain claims of superiority.
• No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.
72 To avoid making claims (whether explicit or implied; orally or in writing) implying cure of any named disease.
The homeopath I picked on is called Julia Wilson and runs a practice from the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. What I found rather shocked and angered me.
Many illnesses and disease can be successfully treated using homeopathy, including arthritis, asthma, digestive disorders, emotional and behavioural difficulties, headaches, infertility, skin and sleep problems.
Well, there are a number of named diseases there to start off. She also gives a leaflet that advertises her asthma clinic. The advertising leaflet says,
Conventional medicine is at a loss when it comes to understanding the origin of allergies. … The best that medical research can do is try to keep the symptoms under control. Homeopathy is different, it seeks to address the triggers for asthma and eczema. It is a safe, drug free approach that helps alleviate the flaring of skin and tightening of lungs…
Now, despite the usual homeopathic contradiction of claiming to treat causes not symptoms and then in the next breath saying it can alleviate symptoms, the advert is clearly in breach of the above rule 47 on advertising as it implicitly claims superiority over real medicine and names a disease.
Asthma is estimated to be responsible for 1,500 deaths and 74,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK each year. It is not a trivial illness that sugar pills ought to be anywhere near. The Cochrane Review says the following about the evidence for asthma and homeopathy,
The review of trials found that the type of homeopathy varied between the studies, that the study designs used in the trials were varied and that no strong evidence existed that usual forms of homeopathy for asthma are effective.
This is not a surprise given that homeopathy is just a ritualised placebo. Hopefully, most parents attending this clinic will have the good sense to go to a real accident and emergency unit in the event of a severe attack and consult their GP about real management of the illness. I would hope that Julia does little harm here.
However, a little more research on her site reveals much more serious concerns. She says on her site that ’she worked in Kenya teaching homeopathy at a college in Nairobi and supporting graduates to set up their own clinics’. Now, we have seen what homeopaths do in Kenya before. It is not treating a little stress and the odd headache. Free from strong UK legislation, these missionary homeopaths make the boldest claims about the deadliest diseases.
A bit of web research shows where Julia was working (picture above). The Abha Light Foundation is a registered NGO in Kenya. It takes mobile homeopathy clinics through the slums of Nairobi and surrounding villages. Its stated aim is to,
introduce Homeopathy and natural medicines as a method of managing HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Kenya.
I must admit, I had to pause for breath after reading that. The clinic sells its own homeopathic remedies for ‘treating’ various lethal diseases. Its MalariaX potion,
is a homeopathic preparation for prevention of malaria and treatment of malaria. Suitable for children. For prevention. Only 1 pill each week before entering, during and after leaving malaria risk areas. For treatment. Take 1 pill every 1-3 hours during a malaria attack.
This is nothing short of being totally outrageous. It is a murderous delusion. David Colquhoun has been writing about this wicked scam recently and it is well worth following his blog on the issue.
Let’s remind ourselves what one of the most senior and respected homeopaths in the UK, Dr Peter Fisher of the London Homeopathic Hospital, has to say on this matter.
there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.
Malaria is a huge killer in Kenya. It is the biggest killer of children under five. The problem is so huge that the reintroduction of DDT is considered as a proven way of reducing deaths. Magic sugar pills and water drops will do nothing. Many of the poorest in Kenya cannot afford real anti-malaria medicine, but offering them insane nonsense as a substitute will not help anyone.
Ironically, the WHO has issued a press release today on cheap ways of reducing child and adult mortality due to malaria. Their trials, conducted in Kenya, of using cheap mosquito nets soaked in insecticide have reduced child deaths by 44% over two years. It says that issuing these nets be the ‘immediate priority’ to governments with a malaria problem. No mention of homeopathy. These results were arrived at by careful trials and observation. Science. We now know that nets work. A lifesaving net costs $5. A bottle of useless homeopathic crap costs $4.50. Both are large amounts for a poor Kenyan, but is their life really worth the 50c saving?
I am sure we are going to hear the usual homeopath bleat that this is just a campaign by Big Pharma to discredit unpatentable homeopathic remedies. Are we to add to the conspiracy Big Net manufacturers too?
If I can just interject here — the above paragraph is quite incredibly ironic, and slightly prescient, given the development since. I particularly liked the bit about “Big Net manufacturers”… –Andrew
It amazes me that to add to all the list of ills and injustices that our rich nations impose on the poor of the world, we have to add the widespread export of our bourgeois and lethal healing fantasies. To make a strong point: if we can introduce laws that allow the arrest of sex tourists on their return to the UK, can we not charge people who travel to Africa to indulge their dangerous healing delusions?
At the very least, we could expect the Society of Homeopaths to try to stamp out this wicked practice? Could we?