21 November, 2018
by Dr Ken Harvey, with an introduction by Ken Greatorex
To set the scene for those not familiar with the glacial machinations of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration: Until recently in Australia we had a complaint process whereby if you wanted to complain about the advertising of a particular listed medicine, you submitted. to the Complaints Resolution Panel. It was woefully under resourced, but it did its job, carried out inquiries then reported established breaches in conduct to the TGA. The TGA acted – sometimes.
Then things changed. Against the urging of such groups as The Australian Skeptics, Friends of Science in Medicine, Choice and other consumer advocates, the TGA became the body which dealt directly with such complaints.
As one who attended and absorbed the excellent review from Professor Harvey and three of his students, the result of this change has been:
- totally predictable
(left to right: Mal Vickers, Kithmini Cooray, Mary Malek, Ken Harvey)
The audience did not agree that the ongoing advertising of ‘Bright Brains’, illustrated by Kithmini, had achieved compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2015. In short, they disagreed with the TGA outcome statement about this complaint. Read the rest of this entry »
16 September, 2018
Homeopath practitioners believe that by diluting a solution of a substance that mimics the effect of a disease the diluted concoction will cure the disease. The solution is usually diluted so many times that chemists calculate there may be no molecules of the original substance left in the final medication.
Homeopathic Dilution: other diluents beside alcohol are water and sugar
Homeopaths claim this doesn’t matter as the water has a “memory” of the dissolved curative substance.
Scientifically this makes no sense whatsoever. Nevertheless homeopathic treatments have been clinically tested to see if they are effective. When tested under rigorous double blind conditions the results show homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recently released a report on homeopathy. After reviewing over 200 research papers that it considered worthy of inclusion (many studies of homeopathy are of such poor quality that their conclusions are unreliable) the NHMRC concluded:
“The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.” Read the rest of this entry »
6 September, 2018
Here are reposts from two recent pieces by Dr Ken Harvey: Both examine Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA).
The first is a letter written to Melbourne’s Age newspaper.
The second, published on Dr Harvey’s own website is about Detox Foot Pads and more than adequately demonstrates the contention, made in the first piece, that the TGA is not really interested in consumer protection.
– – – – – –
Letter to The Age 5/9/18 Spotlight on regulators
Your editorial (4/9) says the government should have a more rigorous process to protect consumers from ineffective treatments and products. There are government regulators that are meant to do this job but they are weak and ineffective. Read the rest of this entry »
3 April, 2018
It was a glorious, sunny day in Airey’s Inlet for the annual Skepticamp where we were privy to a range of fascinating talks to hone our critical thinking skills. For a $5 donation we were treated to a delicious, healthy lunch and many of us also took the opportunity to socialise over dinner at the nearby pub afterwards.
First up was Geelong Skeptics Society Co-founder and Speech Pathologist Zola Lawry who spoke about the importance of being skeptical about “Facilitated Communication”. Questions have been raised over who is actually communicating. Could it be the well-meaning facilitator rather than the severely disabled client? Zola presented the claims and the evidence for such cases as Anne McDonald of “Annie’s Coming Out” fame and her facilitator Rosemary Crossley. Read the rest of this entry »
18 January, 2018
1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on intelligence tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread. Read the rest of this entry »
10 December, 2017
This is a re-blog of an article which was first posted on this site in April 2012. Like most of our “Skeptics Guides” it was based on a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet. The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded in .pdf form by clicking the “useful info” link here or at the top of the page.
When naturalists started examining the Earth in the 18th century for evidence of its age, they were to a large extent seeking to confirm the suggestion of the Bible that the Earth was several thousand years old; but the closer they looked, the less certain they were that this was the correct answer.
Geologists examined the rocks across Britain, and noted that the same sequence of rocks occurred in different places, suggesting that the rocks had a common source. They also noticed that different levels of rocks contained different groups of fossils, including fossils of animals different from those of today, and not mentioned in the Bible. Yet the fossils were in similar orders in different locations. Rocks were also classified according to how they were made, and by the order in which they’d been created. In the first case, rocks were classified as sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic. Sedimentary rocks are rocks created by grains of mud or sand laid down over the years on lake or sea floors, and compressed into rock by the weight of material lying above them. Igneous rocks are rocks of volcanic origin. Some are from lava which has cooled solid on the surface of the Earth (such as basalt), while others have cooled while still inside the Earth (such as granite), and emerged after they’d solidified. Metamorphic rocks are rocks (usually sedimentary) which have been altered by heat or pressure (such as limestone being converted to marble). Read the rest of this entry »
5 October, 2017
This is a repost of an article which first appeared here in November 2011.
There are links to two “Pyramids” classroom activities at the end; a motivational and interactive practical exercise and a crossword.
By Peter Barrett (Canberra Skeptics)
Think of Egypt and you think of pyramids. These impressive objects have fascinated people for centuries; they were even tourist destinations for the ancient Greeks and Romans. What amazes people today is their massive size combined with the precision of their construction. There are people today who believe that this size and precision is evidence that the ancient Egyptians couldn’t have built the pyramids unaided, and that they instead were assisted by aliens or people from Atlantis. Read the rest of this entry »