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View Article  Complementary or complimentary?
Leading doctors today are calling for NHS funding to be withdrawn from unproven complementary medicine. This is the Guardian article about it, and here is how the snake-oil salesmen responded.

And from that description, you can guess where I stand on the matter: I'm right behind the doctors. Of course I don't believe everything that Big Pharma says, and nor do I think that all complementary medicine is fraudulent. But let's be rational, especially when spending public money. In the words of Professor Baum: "If the NHS is spending good money on placebos at the cost of not providing effective medicines, then it does matter."

Look at the comment from Dr Peter Fisher of the Royal Homeopathic Hospital: "The weight of the evidence does suggest that homeopathy is effective". Er, actually it doesn't. The weight of the evidence suggests it is no more or less effective than a placebo.

Look at his argument here. Dr Fisher argues that "There have been four studies completed which show homeopathy does work for hayfever, asthma and perennial rhinitis" and that "this study [one showing homeopathy to be ineffective against asthma] is contradictory". Which makes it sound like this clinical trial is outweighed by evidence from other similar trials. But read carefully what he has to say about one of the trials which supported homeopathy: "The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital recently carried out a survey of treatments on asthmatic patients. It followed up 24 adults and 25 children with asthma and found that 71% of the adults and 80% of the children experienced improvements in their symptoms following homeopathic treatment".

Sorry Dr Fisher but there is a world of difference between a controlled, double-blind clinical trial - where neither the patient nor the practitioner knows if the patient is receiving a placebo or the real treatment - and this sort of study. It's simply not useful. For example, the patients know they have been to the homeopathist and received some 'medicine'. So it's not even blind let alone double-blind. There's no control group of people who did not receive any treatment. And clearly - since an asthma attack is often brought on by stress - asthma is likely to be hugely susceptible to the placebo effect. If the patients are calmer, because they know they've had some 'medicine', then that fact alone would help with their asthma.

And I'll tell you something else. The mere fact that they went to the homeopathist for treatment suggests that they are gullible. Which could significantly increase the placebo effect, eh?
View Article  Government = Farce?
This is getting ridiculous now. One minute Charles Clarke is the great white hope, the next he's out of a job. Prescott being caught with his trousers down is strictly "a personal matter"; the next week he's been stripped of a large chunk of his responsibilities.

So: a difficult week, a knee-jerk reaction to scornful press coverage, or barely-contained bedlam - which is it, Tony?

Tony of course is a regular reader of this blog, so I'll let you know what he has to say for himself.

Let me take a minute to make a prediction. I think Tony's plan is to hold on until very close to the next election; this I think would benefit Labour because his successor - presumably Gordon Brown - wouldn't have had time to screw up yet. So, the thinking goes, the electorate would doubtless give Labour 'one last chance' of another term in office.

I used to, but I no longer think it's going to happen that way. There are too many things going on, too much brouhaha and sleaze(tm). Too much speculation about the handover of power. Tony's going to be pushed before he falls. And it's going to cost Labour dearly.
View Article  Canalways Cavalcade 2006: Oh Dear
Every year, on May Day Bank Holiday, we have the equivalent of a village fete in Little Venice. Boats come from far and wide and moor up in the pool, the large-ish triangle of water at the heart of Little Venice, where the Regents Canal and the Grand Union Canal meet. We have marquees and market stalls, a beer tent, a band, a boat-handling competition, an illuminated boat parade, and parties that go on till the wee hours.

Er. Well normally we do. To be fair, most of that was there, but a series of cock-ups meant there was no beer tent. And for some reason they let the Scientologists have a pitch! As they do on Tottenham Court Road, they were offering free "stress tests", and then trying to brainwash the simple and vulnerable to join their ridiculous cult. Every single boater I spoke to found this really offensive. Sure, we had the Christian Boaters Fellowship as usual, but they're not as culty and at least they're boaters!

But even more offensive?

No beer.


[Note: since I wrote this, I've heard that I was far from being the only person to formally complain about the Scientologists. Apparently, they won't be back. AMM, 24th May 2006]
View Article  Why I'm protective of my personal info
Moore finds it amusing - and occasionally embarrassing - that I am very punctilious about guarding my  personal information. I always read the privacy policy on a web site. I'm registered on both the Mailing and Telephone Preference Services. And  whenever I give my name and address or similar details, I always check that I've opted out of the mailing list. I get really stroppy with companies that break the rules.

This isn't just about junk mail though. There's always the Big Brother question. I don't want umpteen companies sharing what they know about me. And nor do I want the government knowing everything I do. Not that I'm a criminal or a terrorist - far too chicken - just that I'm not a consumer or a suspect or a statistic; I'm a private citizen.

Here's a cautionary tale:

Q. What could a boarding pass tell an identity fraudster about you? A. Way too much

Chilling. It doesn't take a creepy and all-powerful government to do this, just a bit of mild incompetence and someone who knows how to use the information available. So I'm keeping my details to myself, as much as possible.

My lovely readers are always welcome to email me at though - thank Invisible Superman for mail filters.

(Actually, I must find out who invented mail filters and thank them)


PS Oh and yes, I am against ID cards. I don't really mind having to prove who I am sometimes, using my passport or driving licence or something. Strictly in circumstances where it might matter, like when applying for a mortgage. But I don't see the need to spend several hundred pounds each (and rising) on a card that would be no defence against either 9/11 or 7/7-style attacks, and whose biometric technology is immature. Blunkett and Clarke can get stuffed.
View Article  Hello and welcome
Hi, I'm Poppa - aka Alan Moore. I'm 38 and I live in central London on a canal boat with my wonderful fiancée, Moore Flannery (yes, Moore Moore - we've heard it). I work for Telmar Communications near Baker Street, working on media research data and techniques, and providing technical assistance and advice to our broadcast clients. Moore is a civil servant at the Home Office.

We both love boating, red wine, smelly cheese, old-fashioned caffs and pubs, and good malt whisky. We've both lived in the Far East, and we're both struggling to give up smoking before the wedding. She likes David Bowie, I like chillout, and we both adore Hank Wangford and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.