Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed

In which Dr Aust spots that Prince Charles’ favourite GP is in a state of high dudgeon over people being mean about magic medicine. You know – being mean by asking about evidence, and other awkward stuff.

Dr Aust occasionally checks the website of the GPs’ magazine Pulse. This is partly because alerts to it appear on my email and in my Twitter feed.

It is also because the Pulse website has blogs on it; the three I read are by Prof Edzard Ernst, by that excellent blogger (and an on-line acquaintance of mine) the Jobbing Doctor, and by the rather exasperated and often very funny Phil Peverley.

It is a bit of a faff to read the articles at Pulse online because you have to register, but it is free to do so, and once you have, you get an interesting perspective on what is going on in what a lot of doctors I know call “GP-land”.

Including with respect to “complementary”  medicine.

The thing that caught my eye there recently was a distinctly splenetic article (as one splenetic middle-aged gentleman talking about another) written by Prince Charles’ favourite GP, Dr Michael Dixon OBE.

Dr Michael Dixon of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health

Dr Dixon is the medical director of the Prince of Wales’ Foundation for Integrated Health, probably the most influential lobby group promoting CAM in the UK.

In the article, Dr Dixon is evidently rather annoyed.

You can tell this from the very beginning, where he describes Edzard Ernst as

“A leading member of science’s militant tendency”

Dr Dixon also referes to his opponents – which seems to be anyone who thinks that CAM should live up to the same standards of evidence as the rest of medicine – as

“the new fundamentalists”

In fact, the whole paragraph that contains this phrase is worth quoting.

“The new fundamentalists rarely, if ever, think about the patient. That is not surprising. Most are not doctors. Even Professor Ernst hasn’t faced a real live patient for at least seventeen years. Those were the days when you could still, just, get away with ‘doctor knows best’. Seems he is still living that dream.”

The last bit of this is particularly smile-inducing – at least if you are a conoisseur of irony.

After all, who is it that is demanding the right to use hocus-pocus on the patients, and not explain exactly what is in the remedies?

Is it Professor Ernst?

Or is it Dr Dixon?

As one respondent puts it (read the article and then comments to find out who):

“It is the very essence of old fashioned paternalistic medicine to pretend that it’s a good idea to deceive the patient for the sake of eliciting a placebo reaction.”

While another commenter characterizes Dr Dixon’s extended harrumph (rather accurately in my view) as an “embarrassing diatribe”.

In fact, the main reason for mentioning Dr Dixon’s article is to draw your attention to the excellence of many of the comments that follow it, and which are well worth a read.

The commenters, as the phrase is, “take Dixon’s ass to school“.

Though I suspect his evident blind spots will mean he will not learn very much.


PS   For anyone interested in what the medical ethicists think of homeopathy, and the ethical issues involved, the answer can be found here.

ADDED: And via Twitter, and courtesy of the splendidly eagle-eyed “Blue Wode”,  here are two other informative articles about Dr Dixon from Majikthyse and The Quackometer.


7 Responses to “Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed”

  1. Mojo Says:

    The International Journal of Oncology paper that Dixon mentions (and which seems to have succeeded last year’s Montagnier paper as “the paper that homoeopaths are citing this year”) has been discussed here and here.

  2. draust Says:

    Hi Mojo.

    Thanks for the links. I was going to add them, and a little bit about the epically dire Int J Oncol study, this evening, but you’ve saved me the trouble! I think I actually helped prod Orac into covering the paper by emailing about it, though doubtless I was one of many.

    The only real mystery about the paper is how anyone from the MD Anderson Cancer Center could have been involved, even at intercontinental remove, in such a technically inept piece of work.

    As you say, it is curious (but quite characteristic) the way all the homeopaths seize upon one crappy paper du jour and cite it in a:

    “Huh! Look at this! So there!”

    – way. The Alt.Reality Hive Mind at work, I guess.

  3. Neuroskeptic Says:

    To be fair, the first paragraph is dead right: “It does get tedious. Invective after diatribe after vilification. If it’s not me they are attacking then it is anyone else who dares to disagree with their diktats.” Just not in the way he thinks it is.

  4. draust Says:

    Spot on, Neuro.

    Incidentally, if you visit the thread now you will see that GP homeopath (and acupuncturist) Andrew Sikorski is banging on in the comments thread, trotting out the usual tired old (and repeatedly refuted) arguments. Sikorski also tends to haunt the BMJ comments threads, where his tone of late has been getting ever more desperate (check out his comments here, for instance). I have the distinct impression it is only a matter of time before Dr Sikorski falls foul of Godwin’s Law, if he hasn’t done so already.

  5. Buckinghamgate: the new “College of Medicine” arising from the ashes of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health Says:

    […] can read more about Michael Dixon at Dr Aust’s blog (Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed), and, from the USA, Steven Novella’s analysis in Dr. Michael Dixon – “A Pyromaniac In a […]

  6. Dr Michael Dixon of the “College of Medicine” seems to admit that alternative medicine is a placebo Says:

    […] Straw Men”. And, from Majikthyse, Michael Dixon caught red-handed!, and Dr Aust’s Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed.  The list is almost […]


    […] revealing comments on Dr Dixon can be found here and here and […]

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