Wow. David Colquhoun is published in the Herald.

Perhaps there really is a “tsunami of change” occurring. This is brilliant.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Quack cracks

One has to wonder about the sincerity of naturopaths and other alternative therapists who want to get rid of “quacks” through the establishment of a national register (“Register to hit shonks”,, June 14).

In NSW, a code of conduct for unregistered practitioners was introduced in August last year. It says they “must not make claims to cure certain serious illnesses”, including cancer; and that they must display the code and information about how to contact the Health Care Complaints Commission.

In my recent visits to places of practice, I have not seen the code displayed. I have also been told that a $12,000 course of homeopathy can cure my cancer.

Given the lack of adherence to this legislation, I can’t help but wonder if a new register is simply a stunt to distract us from the fact that many alternative “therapies” are as useful as a placebo. By definition, complementary and alternative remedies are unproven. Alternative medicine that is proven to work is called medicine.

Dr Rachael Dunlop, vice-president, Australian Skeptics, Petersham

It appears Australia is about to repeat Britain’s mistakes about regulation of alternative medicine. It should be self-evident that it makes no sense to set educational standards in a subject without having decided whether that subject is nonsense. If it is, what does “educational standards” mean?
Your article cites naturopathy, which subscribes to a form of pre-19th-century vitalism. I fail to understand what it means to be properly qualified in ideas that the educated world left behind 200 years ago.

David Colquhoun, research professor of pharmacology, University College London

Chris Logan (Letters, June 15) tells us it was the failure of homeopathy devotees to accept expert advice that resulted in the death of their daughter. On the contrary, Thomas Sam is a highly expert homeopath – he is a BSc, bachelor of homeopathic medicine and surgery, has a master’s in public health and was a senior lecturer in medical science at the Sydney College of Homeopathic Medicine.

The problem is that “expertise” in the pseudo-science that is homeopathy is of no value to a sick child, hence Sam’s conviction.

Matthew Collaery, Wanniassa (ACT)

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