Archive for October 24th, 2009

Keepin’ it unreal – again

October 24, 2009

Or: Homeopathic levels of accuracy

Observant readers may have spotted the new Dr Aust Twitter feed down at the bottom of the sidebar on the  blog.

Yes, that’s right – you can now follow Dr Aust on twitter, though I can’t really think why you would want to.

I had resisted signing up on Twitter until just a few days ago. I might bore you with the detailed reasons some other time, but the main one was that, as an Olympic-class procrastinator, I reckoned the last thing I needed was yet another way to procrastinate.

But – I now retract that statement. And Thank Goodness I signed up to Twitter this week.

Because late on Friday afternoon, at about 5 pm, Twitter gave me the best laugh I have had in a couple of months.

This was when several sceptical Tweets directed me to a truly marvellous example of Alternative, not to say Parallel, not to say Quantum Alternative Parallel Reality (“Quap Reality” for short). At which point, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair.

And it takes a lot to do that late on a Friday afternoon.

The cause was this article, from the notorious Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, or JACM, entitled:

CAM, Free Speech, and the British Legal System:
Overstepping the Mark?

The author of this bravura piece of Unreality (could it be a spoof?) is homeopathic quantum intellectual supreme, Dr Lionel Milgrom.

Or to give him his full title from the paper, which I suspect he would insist on,  since he typically lists all the letters:

Lionel R. Milgrom, Ph.D., M.A.R.H., M.R.Hom., F.R.S.C.

Now, I had occasionally suspected hitherto that Lionel Milgrom had untapped comic talent. But he has outdone himself this time.

Only the first page of the opus is free access, but that is more than enough:

Abstract:

The British Chiropractic Association recently won a libel case against the science writer and CAM ‘skeptic’ Dr Simon Singh

(Italics mine)

As Private Eye like to say – “shurely shome mistake”?

There really can’t be that many people following the BCA v Singh case in even a casual way who don’t know that it is still ongoing.

There is, after all, hardly a lack of coverage, at least online.

While Milgrom’s article clearly went to press before the latest hearing in the case last week – the article has no “accepted on” date, but there is a reference in it that says “accessed Aug 24th 2009” – surely no-one was under the illusion that Sir David Eady had actually heard the full libel action?

Well, apparently some people were. It gets better:

“The judge agreed with this argument [i.e. that the use of the word “bogus” implied the BCA had knowingly lied about the evidence concerning chiropractic for various childhood ailments] awarding the BCA substantial damages.

Truly bizarre. It was this sentence that had me speechless with laughter.

The first bit is OK – Eady did, in the main, accept the BCA’s pleaded meaning (this is the ruling that has just been sent back on appeal).

But “substantial damages”? Errr – NOT. Damages get awarded when the case is, like, finished.

(“Substantial Damages” , by the way, is a phrase usually used by successful libel complainants in their victorious press statements to imply that their opponents had been comprehensively slapped with the wet kipper, not to mention taken to the cleaners financially)

How very, VERY odd.

The remainder of Milgrom’s article, which sadly is behind a paywall, is a hoot too, but I will leave that for another time.

What I want to concentrate on now is the Sheer Unreality of it.

Unreality….

Unless….

Unless…

Unless there is some OTHER Quantum Alternative Parallel Reality, to which Milgrom perhaps has privileged access as a “Quantum Homeopath”, where what Milgrom says is actually true.

Of course!

How could I not have known?

Indeed, perhaps this “QUAP Reality” is where all the Alt.Reality folk hang out.

Once you have made that Leap into the Unreal, IT ALL BEGINS TO MAKE SENSE AT LAST.

In this Alternative Reality, of course the BCA won.

Indeed, this new Quantum Alternative Parallel Universe, or QUAP-iverse, seems to be especially favourable for Libel verdicts.

Remember how we saw at the start of this year, in “Keeping It Unreal”, that dropping a libel suit and getting landed with hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs was actually a huge VICTORY for noted Alternative Reality Figure Dr Matthias Rath?

Clearly, in the same (Un) Reality Rath seems to inhabit, the BCA have already won large damages, just as Milgrom states.

And then, of course, all the other seemingly daft stuff falls into place too.

– Diluting a substance makes it MORE powerful.
– Mystical laying on of hands beams out healing power.
– Illness is all in the Mind.
– Pushing on your arm can diagnose your allergies.
– Massaging your feet can magically rejuvenate your kidneys.
– Flushing your rear end with a load of warm water can magically “detox” your liver.
– Sticking you in a “Sweat lodge” and cooking you until you are dangerously dehydrated and hallucinating can be a “healing experience”

– and so on.

So – Silly Me.

There I was thinking these folk were all away with the fairies, when really they were simply privileged to be able to access a QUAP-iverse where all this stuff is really true.

——————————————————-

Or: I was right the first time.

They really ARE Away With The Fairies.

Tinfoil Hats And All.

In this rather party-pooping view, which Alt.Reality folk like to call “Scientism” – though I prefer “Reality” – the normal rules of physics and chemistry apply, homeopathic remedies are water, BCA v. Singh is still ongoing, all the daft “therapies”  I mentioned just now are a bunch of **!*, and Dr Milgrom has clearly not been checking his facts carefully enough.

And nor,  it would seem, has anyone else at the JACM.

(Chief Editor, if you didn’t know: Dr Kim “Dr Q-link” Jobst, FRCP).

Of course, Milgrom is on the JACM Editorial Board (you can see the full membership here), so one is curious whether such extended “Opinion Pieces” – the JACM actually calls the section in which the Milgrom piece features “Paradigms”, whatever they mean by that  – even get read by anyone apart from the author, if that author is a journal editor.

As to whether this apparent carelessness with facts is representative of other bits of Dr Milgrom’s oeuvre, or indeed of other content in the JACM

– you might well wonder about that.

But – on the advice of my lawyers – I couldn’t possibly comment.