Reviews of Dirty Medicine: The Handbook.

 

Perilous Journey The work, circumstances and influences of an activist writer in his own and other people’s words by Dirty Medicine The Handbook on Sunday, 25 September 2011 at 15:47

This biographical article is almost solely about my writing, its context and its continuity. I realised while I was working on it, just how much is missing about the steps in my life that underlie the writing. Only a much deeper look at my life could account for my campaign involvements, my writing work and my personal life over forty years; this article is, however, a start.

 

INTRODUCTION by Rose Shepherd

 

I first met Martin Walker in 2004, when he was in London for a conference on childhood leukaemia. I had come across his seminal Dirty Medicine while researching a piece for the Observer on the threat to health freedom, and approached him. I found him – like much of his prose – wryly funny, a little challenging, something of an enigma.

I have wondered since we met, how he keeps going – flogging himself through project after project, facing down the taunts and provocation of the opposition, endlessly probing, churning up material, never stinting, never claiming ‘writer’s block’, and meanwhile barely subsisting. Why does he do it? I think, because he has to. It is what he is!

This is why he travelled to London to attend the 217 days of the General Medical Council (GMC) ‘fitness to practise’ hearing between 2007 and 2010, which destroyed the career of Dr Andrew Wakefield and Professor John Walker-Smith. Throughout the hearing, the majority of British journalists informed their readers with supreme confidence that the MMR vaccine was perfectly safe. How did they know? Well, they read it in the papers. Andrew Wakefield’s research was, as Wikipedia states, ‘fraudulent’ – QED.

Meanwhile, the only member of the press to attend the drawn-out proceedings was Brian Deer a free lance writer for The Sunday Times and the main complainant against the three doctors. The newspapers were otherwise unrepresented within the hallowed GMC. Nor did journalists apparently feel the need to talk to the parents of the ‘Lancet 12’, children who contracted Inflammatory Bowel Disease and then regressed into autism after being vaccinated and who were the basis of the ill-fated case series review in the medical journal.

None of the parents, bar one — who had thought that she was speaking in defence of Wakefield when called by the prosecution — were called by the prosecution (which they did not support), or by the defence (which lacked confidence in their ability to give testimony in such stressful circumstances). On the prosecution’s part, Walker feels, this was a dereliction; on the part of the defence, probably a mistake.

Martin Walker attended mainly at his own expense, having spent a couple of years gaining the confidence and trust of the embattled protagonists, who saw their struggle as a matter for medical professionals and lawyers, not diehard political activists. He also heard the families’ stories, edited and published their personal accounts in two volumes of Silenced Witnesses,[1] (Walker (ed) 2008, 2009) believing that participants should themselves write about their struggles, and that the parents’ voices must be heard.

The high quality of the parents’ writing, and their commitment to the two Silenced Witnesses books surpassed even Walker’s expectations. With the second volume he also published a DVD of Alan Golding’s hour long film, Selective Hearing,[2] (Golding 2010) in which a blustering Brian Deer is confronted by parents outside the GMC, with banners proclaiming ‘We’re with Wakefield’.

There is something darkly comical about the idea of the cynical, irascible Deer attending the hearing alongside the dogged, idealistic Walker as the hearing played out to its foregone conclusion; The Odd Couple, indeed. While Deer used the platform and power of The Sunday Times to give his version of the proceedings, Walker turned his hand to reporting the daily hearings on the parents’ CryShame web site, reports that are shot through with satirical humour – a device which allowed him to get to the heart of the issues, while entertaining both himself and his readers and escaping the leaden reality of a long three years.

Only later, Walker says, did he come across the works of the acerbic American writer HL Mencken (sample: ‘A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers’), and his accounts of hearings and court cases.[3] (They impressed him greatly, but he was glad that he had not discovered them sooner and been influenced by them. Was the satirical tone a mistake? Some people thought so, but most got the point. Anyway, over the period of the GMC hearing, Walker didn't forsake the more serious writing of eight long essays on MMR and related subjects, referenced, peer-reviewed, and published in Medical Veritas. [4]

After the Wakefield debacle, Walker's projects had piled up, he got back to more sedentary work to finish his commitments. Overthrowing the Temple came first, a book about the hounding of the brilliant, larger-than-life French forensic scientist Loïc Le Ribault, Walker’s homage to a friend.[5] Unhampered by academic constraints, with this very personal work the writer felt he had produced some of his best writing. He had been close to Loïc, appreciating his creativity, humour and scientific understanding, and has brought the late genius to life.

Within weeks of publishing Overthrowing the Temple, Walker also published Dirty Medicine: The Handbook,[6] a distillation of 20 years of painstaking investigation and research. At the same time as he was writing these two books, Walker completed a four-year project editing another, Secret Ties that Bind, which looks through the eyes of 15 epidemiologists, researchers, investigators and writers, at the distortion of information on environmental causes of cancer. One way or another, this disease touches all of our lives, and Secret Ties should be required reading when it is published. [7]

In many aspects, Walker’s career has been thankless, he is unable to call himself 'an award winning writer' as most journalists appear to do today. His books are well regarded by a loyal readership, but are not widely reviewed or well known. He has enemies, of course; he has detractors. Brian Deer – who describes him to camera in Selective Hearing as a ‘drivelling idiot’ – produced a vitriolic piece titled ‘Liar for Hire’, which sometimes reaches the top of Google searches and can be read on his self-aggrandising website. In this he characterises Walker as a ‘sad smearmaster’ a 'parasite', a writer of no consequence, a fantasist, and so on.

Well, he would, wouldn’t he? Or maybe not — Deer is very personal and out of step with Walker's more persistent and organised detractors. Since the publication of Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health care[8] (Walker 1993) the pro-pharmaceutical lobby groups together with the corporate media appear to have adopted a strategy of ignoring Walker’s work, while spreading rumours that, for instance, he is a fascist, and even, equally ludicrously, that he works for pharmaceutical companies.

These tactics are to be expected. What confounds Walker is the way he is being cold-shouldered by some of those he thought on the same side, for whose work he has had considerable respect. In the course of the parents’ campaign in support of Wakefield, Walker approached a campaigner in another field – someone whose work he admired – to ask why he never cited his work or addressed the issues of power growing out of pharmaceutical corporations, ‘We have enough trouble ourselves,’ came the jokey put-down, ‘without reproducing your unproven allegations.’ The implication was that Walker’s work is made up or simply repeated from unreferenced sources.

This idea seems to have gained legs some years ago, and has been on the march ever since. Never mind that the original Dirty Medicine, the new handbook, indeed all of Walker’s books are copiously referenced;[9] the misapprehension – or misrepresentation – persists. Walker rang a writer and campaigner earlier this year to ‘sort out the matter’. In a tense phone conversation he was told that the campaigner and her organisation wanted nothing to do with him – ‘because your work is unreferenced ... we prefer to deal with those who reference their work'.

While he has no problem with perceiving that pro-corporate doctors, scientists, researcher MPs and journalists might be frauds, delusional, self-promoting or on the take, Walker cannot somehow come to terms with the hard truth that there might exist a prima donna tendency among the ‘good guys’, that people are jealous of their fiefdoms, of the campaigning niches they carve out for themselves. And yet, sadly, the health freedom movement, the environmental movement, the anti vivisection movement and the anti-corporate science movement are all shot through with rivalries and disagreements, so it becomes hard to know who your friends are.

Of course, Walker should realise this by now. Way back, after the miners’ strike, working with the Yorkshire miners, while the security services spread a rumour that he had stolen money from the IRA, an ostensibly left-wing group cited him as a ‘thief and splitter’ who had stolen money from the miners. So it went – and so it goes on.

It is touching in a way that Walker, now in his mid sixties, still has the capacity for hurt and disappointment; that he remains keen to share information, to exchange ideas, and will reach out to an author, emailing them or writing to them when he has been impressed by a book. ‘As far as detractors go, I much prefer the rabid onslaught of a Brian Deer to the mealy-mouthed, self-protective competitiveness of the middle-class and NGO-oriented campaigners, who don’t know where the street is and who are now jealously trying to make me invisible. In the course of being involved in a large number of campaigns and writing around twelve books. I have always believed that the best way to mend any problems with my writing was to discuss mistakes with those who felt aggrieved; mistakes can always be rectified. I have adhered to a strict practice throughout my writing life, of showing any draft manuscript, to those I have written about, discussing and changing any of the things they disagreed with. However, those involved in this present 'friendly fire' campaign, have shown not the slightest interest in discussing errors, missing references or any other aspect of my work.    

One of Deer’s jibes against this ‘failed graphic artist’ (that would be the failed artist with 80 posters in the Victorian and Albert Museum) is that the man who ‘calls himself’ Martin J Walker ‘lives penniless abroad’ and beguiles people, befriends them, tries to palm off his self-published books on them, and ask them for money (yes, italics).

Well, sure he’s penniless; all his friends know that. There is something particularly odious about a well healed Murdoch journalist presenting this as a character flaw. But, as Deer also says, 'Walker is 64' and he's entering a reflective period, asking himself where he goes from here and if it has all been worth it. Is his work sustainable? What hope of an agent or publisher, at this time in his life, in a world with no place in the mainstream for writers with such radical perceptions?

As an outsider himself, Walker loves to read the biographies of misfits, of people who live or lived lives of ‘unmitigated disaster’. He is attracted to the likes of Alex Higgins, and Malcolm Lowry, the troubled author of Under the Volcano - characters perhaps better met within the pages of a book than in the real world. He expresses a fondness for such creative figures as Michael Cimino, the director of Heaven’s Gate, one of the biggest box-office bombs in history that broke a studio. He respects people who jump from one creative stream to another and is always pointing out individuals who have taken risks in turning from film star to photographer, from playwright to ceramicist. ‘It is easy to be safe, but difficult to be even slightly mad, a risk taker and be productive.’

Is Walker mad? Not even slightly. Is he broke? Completely. Is he to be pitied? Not remotely! He can look back on a life of principal and comradeship, stretching from the fountainhead of contemporary radicalism in 1968 to the present, on struggles shared and a contemporary rich creative and intellectual life.

 

 



Competing Reviews Friday, 9 September 2011 

by a journalist

 

The back cover of  Dirty Medicine: The Handbook, describes the book as;  'Martin Walker's twenty year follow up to his book, Dirty Medicine: Science, big business and the assault on natural health care. In this new book Walker gives a full and detailed picture of the vested interests, their personalities, organisations and ideas that have shaped the present attack on alternatives in the field of health'.

 

            When the book first appeared in May 2011, it seemed to attracted no attention at all from the corporate media,  partly due perhaps to the fact that those involved in lobbying for pharmaceutical medicine and against natural health care, together with some whom you would expect to be on Walker's side, completely ignored this and all his previous writing. It must also be the case that independent writers and publishers have difficulty in accessing the powerful caravans that bring contemporary books to the marketplace.

 

            Walker had similar but not identical problems with his first edition of Dirty Medicinein 1993, that book entailed a production cost of £20,000. Lobby groups tried to censure the book by threatening retailers and pressurising the Finnish printers into dropping a reprint of the book. At that time, the revelations about the lobby group Campaign Against Health Fraud, (Later to become HealthWatch and even later join up with Sense About Science) were novel and so provoked considerable interest, the revelation coincided with the marketing of AZT considered by many to be a fundamental point of change between science and industry. Consequently, despite the hidden journey of the book to the public, and the strategy of lobbyists, there were just after publication a handful of long and considered reviews; the best and most analytical of these in the Marxist journal Capital & Class (1996), by the respected academic John Abrahams, (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3780/is_199610/ai_n8751139) who wrote; 'Walker's account draws a disturbing picture of how the interests of the food and drug companies and the orthodox medical profession combined with crusaders against 'quackery' can deter and destroy alternative approaches to medicine while simultaneously distracting attention from the toxic effects of food processing chemicals and pharmaceuticals.' Another by the late Christopher Bird in Explore More! called the book, '... A masterpiece of investigative journalism and attentive scholarship, elegantly written. Finally, while The Townsend Letter for Doctors also carried a long review and the books cover on it's cover. 

 

            It is inevitable, however, that lobby organisations, food and pharmaceutical corporation defenders, have less to fear today from books like Dirty Medicine than they did 20 years ago. Cynicism is now deeply rooted in our society, and the pharmaceutical and food corporations have all their players, covert and overt on the pitch with a well thought out structured strategy.

 

            In an attempt to protect both his considerable investment in the books writing and publishing, Walker set up a competition inviting readers to submit reviews of Dirty Medicine: The Handbook, those that appeared without entering the competition were entered by Slingshot Publications. The competition elicited many first-rate contributions that are published on this site.  In all 14 reviews entered or were entered into the competition, ranging in length from a couple of paragraphs to a few thousand words. The reviews were assessed and judged by a long standing British journalist.

 

 

The Results of the Competition

 

All reviewers were impressed by Martin Walker’s meticulous research – although not all appeared wholly aware that the handbook is a distillation of two decades of painstaking authorship, investigation and enquiry, which began in 1993 with Walker’s seminal Dirty Medicine – Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Health Care. The best reviews were by those familiar with the author’s body of work, the complex background to the handbook. Almost all reviewers remarked on Walker’s ‘wry wit’, which leavens a narrative that could otherwise at times be heavy-going. This will have pleased Walker, who has sometimes been penalised for his satirical approach, adopted he say to tell higher truths and top add levity to a dour and often moribund creative area.

 

            Some contributors departed from conventional reviewing, using the book rather as a point of departure for essays of their own. These were, without exception, well written and illuminating, they broadened the discussion, but as reviews they were inevitably off-centre.

 

            As was to be expected, reviews were overwhelmingly positive. This was, after all, a competition, and no thoroughgoing demolition job was ever going to win prizes; not that the 'other side' has paid the slightest attention to Walker's work anyway, perhaps understanding that ignoring him is in itself the most powerfull slight.  But, more significantly, the contributors were people close to, intellectually exercised or very personally affected by, the issues that Walker raises – among them beleaguered CAM practitioners, who can only wonder at the sustained assault on their integrity and their livelihoods. In Walker's writing they find someone speaking out for them and they are naturally and rightly appreciative.

 

             A few of the more balanced reviewers added caveats. William Alderson, in his critique, titled ‘Poisonous Lies and their Antidotes’, remarked on the ‘frequent minor but irritating lapses in editing and proof-reading’, although judging the book an ‘essential resource’. Walker is happy to accept such a criticism, although he draws attention to fact that when you are without institutions and funding, working separately from the 'professional' campaigning organisations of the various 'Watch' groups, writing, editing and publishing to exacting standards is not always possible. There was further constructive criticism in Majella Horan's review, who found the indexing – by chapter, rather than as a whole – frustrating; worse, she said, was the way that so many excellent references were strewn throughout the text and nowhere indexed. Again Walker says that to present work to the exacting standards of, for instance science journals is rarely possible when one is working alone independently and without funding. Although he does anyway wonder whether he would have indexed references.

 

            Sandra Goodman, a former molecular biologist, now editor and co-owner of PH Online (Positive Health) and a victim of the first late 1980s generation of Quackbusters, reflected that, while she might not entirely agree with Walker’s political analysis (‘my left-wing political days are in the distant past’), the handbook had given her deeper insight into why her own work had been sidelined. About this, Walker said that he felt this was a genuine critical observation from Sandra, but he was also quite sure that while groups like the SAS and Science Media Centre had been integrated into the corporate establishment despite apparently previously belonging to Marxist groups, his Marxist background was one of the things feeding criticism of  him from the other side.

 

            For several reviewers the coincidence of the phone-hacking revelations and the scandal surrounding Rupert and James Murdoch, following hot upon the publication of the handbook, was peculiarly timely — an ill wind, indeed, that blows nobody any good.

 

The winner

In the end there was little to choose between three of the entries, by reviewers who have clearly followed Walker’s writings and who clearly understand what we are up against. ButAdam Smith, science and communications officer for the Alliance for Natural Health, (ANC) was ahead of the field. He produced a veritable call to arms, a model of clarity, angry and incision. ‘Buy copies for your friends and family,’ he exhorted, ‘get ’em fired up, and let’s start taking back our rights.’


The runners-up

William Alderson, submitting ‘Poisonous Lies and their Antidotes’, which was published in the political paper  Counter Fire, for which he had written two other articles about the defence of alternative medicine.[1] Declaring an interest Alderson writes that he is mentioned in the handbook for his authorship of Halloween Science a critique of EdzardErst and Simon Singh’s Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial. He is also a founding trustee of the homeopathic defence group H:MCC21. His comprehension of both the book and the general situation shone through his review.

Majella Horan wrote with similar clarity and comprehension. She found the handbook both honest and brave: ‘a practical and timely addition to every CAM researcher’s library’.

Jonathan Lawrence who wrote one of the first reviews which appeared independently on the internet and then in Sandra Goodman's magazine, gave a succinct summary of the handbook and his perceptions as someone working in the field of complementary healthcare. He made the heartening assertion that ‘the sceptic movement… is bound to fail’, and deemed DM: The Handbook ‘our most valuable resource’ in knowing and understanding the opposition. ‘For those of us in complementary medicine who tend to work individually or in small groups and thus tend to be politically weak, this book will be of immense value in defining the threat and suggesting the cure.’

 

Honourable mention

Carol Boyce, a homeopath and film maker was one of those who produced a very interesting, discursive essay, touching on Dirty Medicine: The Handbook, and concluding with a plea to ‘get Martin’s book’, ‘go to Martin’s website… We need to support him.’ If only all natural health care practitioners were so behind him or aware of him!

Patrick Holford's Newsletter carried a medium length review of the book; a review that stares the opposition in the eye. 'Walker’s book does talk about how we need to get organised and fight back against corporate-pharmaceutical control of medicine. Knowing the enemy is a good place to start. Those fighting for the right to practice and sell nutritional, herbal and homeopathic medicine would do well to expose the conflicts of interests of their anti-social denigrators and call a spade a spade. There’s a lot of people in favour of natural medicine, but we need to work together, stand up and fight for our rights. Patrick's contribution contained a Declaration of Conflict of Interest, telling the reader that he was 'a formulator of nutritional supplements that bear my name, and earn royalties on them'.

Greg Crowhurst who often writes about ME and CFS sufferers on his blog, wrote an independent blogreview. Crowhursts review was valuable because it was written with experience, especially of his wife's ME, and placed in a context. ' Incredible how the BMJ's glowing endorsement of '"poor" Simon Wessely, safer in Iraq and Afganistan apparently, than here among the UK ME Community, coincides with my reading  of Martin Walker's new book : "Dirty Medicine The Handbook"'.

Crowhurst's review draws out some of the most important arguments scattered throughout the book. As a number of other reviews did, he draws attention to the opening chapters. And cites this sentence in summing up the story of the book. "On an endless number of fronts,"  Walker states,  "covert warfare has broken out between the people who have other ways of seeing and the increasingly powerful scientific apparatchiks of the post-industrial state."

Sandra Goodman of Positive Health, like Carol Boyce, mixed a critique of the handbook with an element of her own dissertation, sharing her insights and experiences.

Jenny Allan, the lay grandmother of an autistic child, who has kept abreast of Andrew Wakefield's work and many other developments in the battle for survival of CAM, wrote a scrupulous and intelligent précis of Walker’s main arguments.

 

 … And for reviews in brief

John Stone on Age of Autism wrote one of the best short revues, a few years working with Walker on behalf of the parents of vaccine damaged children has obviously given Stone perceptive insights into Walker's style and contemporary anti-corporate politics:

'This is Martin Walker at his best:  an indispensible, witty, idiosyncratic guide to the dirty world of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and an anatomy of how their tentacles reach into every aspect of public and private life in the UK and beyond. His perspective derives from two decades of observation, research, and deep cynicism about the motives of the powerful.' Stone too added an exortation to putative readers with; 'buy the book'.

The British Holistic Medical Association, in a brief reflection, wrote that Dirty Medicine came highly recommended by one of the BHMA trustees, David Balen.  Balen 'was very enthusiastic about it at our last trustees meeting and felt it ‘a must read’ for all practitioners.'

OTTS (UK), one of a couple of the reviewers who wandered on to the Amazon site where the book has been on sale for four months, suggested the book was very informative and listed - 'Names for writing Thank-You-Notes' to. 'Now' he said, he was able, to 'put a face and a name to specifics.’ OTTS's review was encouraging, off the beaten track of the tooing and frooing of lobby groups and their critics it seemed very fresh: 'It is simple, names, events and how they are all connected. 'You wondered what labour and US corporations have in common, or how Lord Sainsbury and the Science Media Centre are connected, or do certain professors and doctors profit from their statements... The data, and it is all documented, reveals a bottomless pit of big corporates, certain educated professionals and certain politicians all enjoying their lifestyles at our expenses; not to leave out media professionals ... What in particular impressed me was the fact of actually it being so few people who are responsible for the sheer gigantic proportions of damage caused and being caused as you read this.'

D&D Another Amazon reviewer, summed up the book in a very literary manner. The handbook was: ‘a frightening overview of the history of the abuse of money and power by the corporate kleptocracy bullying the powerless.'

Marco Mamone one of the most important critics of science and it's relationship to capitalism and the organiser of the bi-annual conference on Science and Democracy held in Naples (http://www.dmi.unipg.it/~mamone/sci-dem/sci&dem.htm) wrote a very succinct review describing the book as 'A very rich book which will be re-read and consulted again and again. The gripping introductory chapter 'A Personal Declaration' (pp. 1-16) should be read by anyone interested in contemporary medicine and its actual practice.'

 

End Notes

[1] http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/opinion/5863-homeopathy-cutting-on-the-bias  — http://www.counterfire.org/images/documents/a_check_without_balance.pdf

 


All Prize Winners

Adam Smith, 1st Prize of 3 books.

William Alderson, Joint 2nd Prize,  2 books.

Majella Horan, Joint 2nd Prize, 2 books.

Jonathan Lawrence, Joint 2nd Prize, 2 books.

Carol Boyce, Joint 3rd Prize, 1 book.

Patrick Holford's, Joint 3rd Prize, 1 book

Greg Crowhurst, Joint 3rd Prize, 1 book

Sandra Goodman, Joint 3rd Prize, 1 book

Jenny Allan, Joint 3rd Prize,1 book

John Stone Joint 3rd Prize, 1 book

OTTS (UK), Joint 3rd Prize,1 book 

 

*     *     *

 

The reviewers cited in this article are: William Alderson: writer of Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial. Jenny Allan : Grandparent of vaccine damaged child. Carol Boyce : Homeopath and film maker. Sandra Goodman : Founder and editor of Positive Health. MajellaHoran : Scientist writing for Jonathan Lawrence: osteopath and lecturer. Adam Smith : Communications officer of the Association of Natural Medicine. Patrick Holford: Nutritionist and writer. Greg Crowhurst: Blogger and blog reviewer, especially on ME. John Stone: Member of Cry Shame and writer for Age of Autism. The British Holistic Medical Association. OTTS (UK): Reviewer on Amazon.

D&D: Reviewer on Amnazon. Marco MamoneCapria: Matghematician and Organiser of the Science and Democracy web site and conference.

 

 


 

An Anti-Homeopathy Campaign? Dirty Medicine: The Handbook (DMTH)

August 13, 2011 by Carol Boyce  

Book Reviews

HpathyEzine, August, 2011

I wrote an article for hpathy in February 2010 titled First They Came For The Homeopaths…. As healers    we have a tendency to believe that it is an innate human quality to want to help others and certainly my own definition of health includes that aspect (altruism, cooperation and the ability to adapt to change). When we witness people, groups or governments behaving in ways that harm others, directly or indirectly, we can’t    help but imagine the constitutional prescription they need. Indeed I’ve had many ‘fun’ times as a teacher analyzing the case of Hitler or GWB and contemplating how history might have been different if they had   had some good constitutional prescribing. As a teacher I suggest that knowing material medica makes us  more tolerant. I ask students faced with difficult people or situations to rise above their immediate    emotional kneejerk and see the deeper picture of the other’s pain.

At this point in our homeopathic history though, we need to recognize the reality of what is going on in       the world and how it affects us and our future.

Which brings me to investigative reporter Martin Walker’s latest book Dirty Medicine: The Handbook (DMTH). It’s the follow up to Martin’s seminal work Dirty Medicine: Science big business and the assault     on natural health care, first published in 1993. In his first book Martin exposed the pharmaceutical industry    as the hydra headed monster it was, more than a decade before most of the CAM community started   waking up.

In the years since that book, a whole new layer has been pasted carefully over the cracks by slick PR companies, practicing the new profession of ‘risk management’. PR companies are paid a high price to package unpalatable facts for public consumption under the banner of “protecting the public.”

Witness the recent EU directives on nutritional supplements and herbal medicines, already gutting the shelves of health stores in the name of protecting the public. Only the pharmaceutical industry will be allowed to manufacture standardized (read synthetic) products. Only they will be able to afford the costly licenses per product to bring them to market. Witness the Food Safety Bill passed last year in the US Congress, with language so vague it allows the widest of interpretations by the FDA’s enforcing officers. That legislation is already being used to target raw food sales and promoting the ‘safety’ of processed food. (Cargill’s recent recall of 39 million pounds of ground turkey contaminated with Salmonella is only one example of the irony of this suggestion.)

This erosion of individual freedom to choose our food (organic, Non-GMO) how we prefer to take care    of health (all CAMs and CAM products) and many other aspects of our lives are being handed over to industry.

You may recognize the ‘protecting the public’ line in the many tentacles of the anti-homeopathy campaign running in the UK and reaching out now to embrace the EU, the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand  and beyond. “Protection of the gullible public from the delusional homeopaths”. These anti-homeopathy campaigners are smart. They use official bodies to give them authority, they are well organized and they plan far ahead. The farce of the UK Parliamentary Science and Technology committee investigation into homeopathy is now being used as the “most recent investigation into whether homeopathy works or not”. The fact that only ONE MP who attended the hearings voted to ratify the report does not deter other  officials from citing it as an example of the “scientific consensus”. (If you want to see the machinations of    the UK government in action, this blog is a good read: www.vonsyhomeopathy.wordpress.com)

Now that bastion of British culture, the publicly funded BBC chose a moment during the recent Murdoch madness, to issue a statement about an ‘independent’ report they had commissioned last year. Professor    Steve Jones concluded that on issues of impartiality it was important on matters of science to present the “consensus” view. He suggested there was no longer any need to present “minority opinions” on a     particular issue in order to “avoid confusing the public” and advocated that this should be written into the BBC guidelines for program makers. In effect he suggested writing directly into the guidelines the NEED     to be PARTIAL about science on matters such as GMO, MMR, organic food, nutritional supplements,   herbal medicine and other CAMs and of course homeopathy – despite it still being (at least for now) an integral part of the NHS.

Why don’t we feel reassured knowing all these factions are busy protecting us!?

Which brings me back to Martin Walker’s book – DMTH. It’s a superb analysis of the situation in the        UK     – it shows just how orchestrated the anti-homeopathy campaign is and who is involved. It goes      right to the heart of government, the media, the educational system. It names the players, the committees,     the organizations, the networks, the back room people and the front men and women who provide a distraction and tie up resources while the bricks are put in the wall.

Many of the names will be new to you. Don’t be fooled into thinking small players like Tracy Brown (Managing Director of Sense About Science) or the Amazing Randi are anything more than a sideshow.

Although Martin focuses on natural medicine in the UK and on homeopathy in particular, the same process    is going on within the European Union and in the US, Canada and now it’s gaining steam in Australia.

The UK anti-homeopathy campaign provides the validity and gravitas to the argument. Shang “proved”     that homeopathy is nothing more than placebo, and since his views were published in The Lancet, they      must be true. The UK parliamentary Science and Technology Committee report is actively being used to persuade other governments to get rid of homeopathy.

Now the Nightingale Collaboration, an offshoot of Sense About Science, is using the Advertising      Standards Authority (ASA) to go after homeopathic websites and the ASA cites the Science and      Technology Committee report as the “most recent investigation into the evidence for homeopathy” and concurs with their conclusion.

This tactic applies equally well to other issues: nutritional supplements, herbal medicines, GM food, organic food and so on. The players may be slightly different, but the process is the same and involves your government, which is now nothing more than a lobbyist for the corporations who got them elected, the   media that is owned by the corporations, the scientific journals controlled by the pharmaceutical industry     and so on.

Do we still live in a democracy? It’s hard to say yes, when you see just how deep the corporations are embedded in the very fabric of our society. There is virtually no independent scientific research anymore. Indeed, what is considered ‘science’ has itself been redefined.

Martin Walker is one of CAMs best investigative journalists. He works tirelessly and mostly unpaid for the things he believes in. On his own expense he attended every session of the General Medical Council’s three year trial of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and edited the Silent Witness series of books – stories written by the parents of children with autism. You can see his work in this area on http://www.cryshame.com.

DMTH is essential reading. Every homeopath and CAM practitioner needs to read it and understand the  truth behind the spin. It will enable you to read between the lines of what is done in your name and wake   you up to proposed changes before they become law. It will enable you to begin to formulate a strategy to protect what you hold dear, at its most fundamental, the freedom to make decisions about how you take   care of your own health and that of your family.

This is not some futuristic possibility, it’s already happening today, right where you are. Without a major     shift in global power structure, this is already on its way to your doorstep courtesy of Codex Alimentarius   and the World Trade Organization.  Resist at all cost.

Get Martin’s book so you are already informed. Go to Martin’s website and check out his other fully referenced works. Many of his smaller publications are free. Make a small donation in return. We need to support him so he can continue his work. In these days of spin, investigative journalists who do their job       as it’s meant to be done are priceless. Facebook it, Twitter it, pass it on.The Website : http://www.slingshotpublications.com



 

 

A Review of Dirty Medicine - The Handbook by Martin J Walker ~ Sandra Goodman in Positive Health

Monday, 22 August 2011 at 18:36


      For those of us involved in complementary healthcare the strident and often vicious campaign against what we do is unsettling and unnerving. Why should an activity which is ostensibly gentle and caring be subjected to such vilification? I can understand how some of our theories and models of reality may seem unlikely or alien to those brought up in a rigidly western paradigm but the response of some of the sceptics    is more akin to religious fundamentalism than objective criticism.In this book Walker reveals the 'skeptic' movement to be a complex web of interconnected interests involving scientists, doctors, journalists, corporations and MPs. Using the tools of PR and spin they maintain a steady opposition to the growing popularity of Complementary medicine. He charts the rise of this phenomenon from the formation of the American NCHF (National Council against Health Fraud) in the mid 80s and similar organisations here including the charity SAS (Sense About Science) who on closer scrutiny appears to be a PR organisation for  big business with a track record supporting GM as well as being pro pharma and anti CAM.Perhaps their major area of success is dominating news output.

 

        The much criticised Shang meta analysis of homeopathic research for example was published in the Lancet with the headline "The End of Homeopathy", whereas previous similar work supporting   homeopathy was given very little airing. This selectiveness was reinforced for me very recently when     listening to a presentation of research regarding a complex homeopathic product which had been tested in vitro, in vivo and been subjected to placebo controlled clinical trials and passed all of these. A doctor in the audience obviously very frustrated and angry wanted to know why this information was not in all the newspapers and television news!Walker starts with a personal story detailing the help he has received from holistic medicine and  continues with the history of the 'skeptic' movement, looking at individuals and organizations that comprise the movement or are involved with them.

 

         He then reviews the controversies of recent history from the notorious Bristol Cancer Help Centre Study, the Bienveniste affair to more recent scandals such as Dr Wakefield and DrMyhill. Finally he looks       at the heroes and heroines who have and are resisting the 'skeptics' and gives pointers as to how to organize against them.

 

        Altogether there is huge amount of detail here and many names, some of whom are familiar to me    and many who aren't. It seems Walker has included those at the centre of the argument against CAM as      well as those who are more peripheral.  Walker writes with a wry humour making the dryness of the      content much more readable.In my view the skeptic movement, although destructive is bound to fail.    Despite the propaganda large numbers of patients are voting with their feet and seeking CAM help rather   than availing themselves of the heavily pharmaceutically influenced free health care system.In order for us to facilitate the process of change from a reductionist world-view to a more holistic one in which more    patients can be helped in this way, we need to be armed with the knowledge of the arguments. Knowing   who the opposition is and what motivates them is an important part of this process. This book can be       one of our most valuable resources in achieving this.

 

 

*     *     *

 

 

The Rupert Murdoch News of the World / News International phone voicemail interception / hacking scandal which has riveted much of the UK, and to some extent the USA, has revealed murky, entangled   webs enveloping politics, print media, broadcasting and which has spread to the police, involving corruption among many previously respected professionals. The sums of money involved, the wining and dining, the political patronage and how social networking sites can overturn super injunctions protecting rich sports people and celebrities have all created a firestorm revealing the public’s insatiable thirst for gossip and the    no-limit means to satisfy it used by journalists and proprietors.

While the majority of hard-working and very modestly paid complementary health practitioners struggle to keep their courses, clinics and themselves solvent, we have discovered how large newspapers including the Times and the Sunday Times have been losing £40million+ per year. As a co-owner of Positive Health PH Online who has had to plunder everything built up over 20+ years – home, savings, even pension to     maintain PH Online – the survival of PH Online after 17 years doesn’t seem that bad. We haven’t earned £40million, let alone lost that amount every year!

 

        The above is mentioned in conjunction with Martin Walker’s latest book Dirty Medicine The   Handbook which I have now finished reading. Talk about scandals, tangled webs, political cronies and corporate funds to destroy – this book is a revelation of the nastiest suspicions that have never occurred        to you. As one of many victims of campaigns by the Establishment, and fully engaged with Natural Health   and Medicine with Positive Health PH Online, I have known and have seen attacks in the newspapers, broadcast media and through the courts against a multitude of individual practitioners, schools and organizations. You too will have witnessed many a documentary against homeopathy, theta healing, nutrition for cancer and observed reputations destroyed. However, until I read this book, I did not know the identity nor power or influence of the many individuals, organizations, website ranged and funded against natural medicine.

 

        Martin Walker, in his latest book has forensically researched, with voluminous footnotes, the      individual Health Corporatists as they are called, with an A to Z of names, with whom they went to school,   of which organizations and political parties they were members, their corporate alliances and the funds of  these organizations. Be prepared for a complete alphabet soup of organization names – you will be amazed  at how many government, health and media names are listed.

Not only are the individuals named – and these go far beyond the most obvious individuals you might suspect, but also organizations, groups and political organizations linked to government. A bit like the     Rupert Murdoch web discussed above, but also with funds and monies paid to whom. Even more sinister  are the attack websites set up to target, harass and ultimately finish off individuals, therapies and professions. We    may have heard the term 'quackwatch', but Walker presents an entire A-Z chapter, annotated with his comments of a myriad of websites with a mission www.badscience.net  http://holfordwatch.info/holford-myths  www.ministryoftruth.me.uk

 

        One of the most serious issues in Martin Walker’s book concerns the frankly alarming situation of Homeopathy: the step-by-step saga of how the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (RLHH) was taken over and engulfed by University College London Hospital (UCLH), and re-named Royal London Hospital for Integrated  Medicine (RLHIM), neatly removing the word homeopathy. And read Martin Walker’s  analysis of how the rational tactics of Dr Peter Fischer, who honestly believed that presenting the medical professional establishment with the evidence regarding the efficacy of homeopathy, would convince the skeptics proved wrong. Other dramatic battles are also discussed, including vaccinations, nutritional supplements, environmentally sensitive individuals, cfs / me. Hear the flip side of everything that has been published in PH Online, but from the other side.

 

        I also sadly discovered in the reading of this book that several stalwart fighters for natural medicine   have since died, including Isla Bourke (Bristol Cancer Help Centre), DrHulda Clarke and Mark Purdy.

I may not agree entirely with Martin Walker’s political analysis; my left-wing political days are in the distant past; I spent much of my professional career as a molecular biology scientist attempting to belong to the organizations Walker describes. Perhaps I now have a greater insight into why my work appears to have    been sidelined. However there is nobody else apart from Martin Walker of whom I am aware who has dug up the intricate dirt and colluding trails which point to why such negative stories are broadcast and printed in newspapers such as the Guardian and on Newsnight. Read it to find out for yourself.

 

http://www.positivehealth.com/article/editorial/editorial-issue-185

http://www.drsgoodman.com/blog-goodman

http://www.positivehealth.com/review/dirty-medicine-the-handbook

 



Organising and Fighting Back

 Monday, 22 August 2011 

 From Chapter 7, Dirty Medicine: The Handbook.

  

The cases of Dr Sarah Myhill in Britain and Meryl Dorey in Australia have many things in common. The objective of the cases from the perspective of those who attacked them are, in Sarah Myhill’s case, to force vaccine and therapeutic hegemony on Britain’s doctors, and in Meryl Dorey’s case to enforce the use of vaccination on Australia’s parents. They have both been the subjects of originally anonymous complaints by Skeptics, and after bogus investigations, they were both ordered to take down or alter parts of their websites.

 

            The censoring of health information about medicine on the Internet is something that corporations have been very concerned about over recent years. Both the complaints against DrMyhill and Meryl Dorey were made by Skeptic fellow travellers, citing material, in DrMyhill’s case, which alluded to vaccination and  the treatment of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), (END NOTE 52)   and on the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) site about the problems and adverse reactions to vaccination.

 

            The Skeptical complainants in both cases, however, manifest a different reaction from the    complaints they had made, in England to the GMC and in Australia first to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). The Australian complainant appeared publicly with the over–aggressive emphasis    used by quackbusters to protect themselves on film and on the Internet. In England, the medical research worker who complained about the content of DrMyhill’s site wanted to remain anonymous — as they     often do. When, however, Stuart Jones’s name entered the public domain, he suddenly became contrite in       a thoroughly English way.

 

            Stuart Jones explained on the BadScience site how he came to make the complaint almost be  accident; presenting himself in the most reasonable of lights: (53) 

 

OK, so I finally bit the bullet and complained (anonymously for reasons that will become clear) to the     GMC about uber–quack, (54) Dr Sarah Myhill, and to my surprise they have decided to launch a Fitness       to Practise investigation.

Her response has been quite interesting so I thought I would share it with the Badscience community.            It will be interesting to see how the GMC proceed as I believe she has been in the same situation on     numerous occasions in the past with similar public campaigns resulting in the GMC dropping charges          for undisclosed reasons.

 

Jones maintained that he had complained anonymously ‘for reasons that will become clear’, but all that  became clear was that Jones wished to shield himself from criticism from DrMyhill, her supporters, her patients and any other concerned citizen. There was a good deal of discussion on the Bad Science site      about whether or not complainants’ anonymity should be respected.

 

            In private the real reasons that Jones struck out for anonymity became clear when he emailed DrMyhill, miserably complaining that he hoped the matter of his identity could be tucked away. In this communication he showed that he was now considerably embarrassed and slightly fearful of being      criticised for behaving like a common informer.

 

            He shouldn’t, of course, have been emailing DrMyhill personally under any circumstances. His        first worry was for that angel of medicine Ben Goldacre. It was important, Jones said, that no one     identified Goldacre with him and his complaint, as this would have been terribly unfair:

 

Sarah, I have just been notified that somebody has posted a message on yahoo answers calling for Ben Goldacre to be struck–off by the GMC for instigating a ‘campaign’ against you. This is really quite     disturbing, especially as the person adding the message appears to want to make it look as though you  yourself posted it. Regardless of any opinion you may have of me, I do hope you share my concerns on     this. Regards, Stuart. (55)

 

Clearly Jones is a man of considerable feeling and sensitivity. His next email to ‘Sarah’ gave a hint that he himself might be concerned that people would think badly of him and others.

 

Dear Sarah, I think this particular conspiracy theory now needs to be laid to rest to save everybody   concerned a lot of time/effort. As my details are now becoming publically available (thanks largely to    GMC’s incompetence) it should be quite clear that I am not working in some kind of witch–hunt        coalition with Badscience members/Ben Goldacre/Simon Wessely in a ‘campaign’ against you. This is     clearly nonsense as I have never had any contact with any of these people and have acted entirely on my     own initiative in bringing this complaint, which in any case can hardly be considered a ‘campaign’. My only   link with Badscience is that I happen to enjoy discussing topical issues from time to time on the forum     there. You have my word that I am not conspiring with any other dr’s/health professionals in making this  complaint and that I am not acting on anyone else’s behalf. I think my reasons for choosing anonymity following submission of the complaint (remember the GMC have my full details so the actual complaint    itself was not anonymous) have become quite clear. You are obviously highly regarded by the various   support groups who have bought into this particular theory, perhaps it would be wise to calm the waters before this particular situation gets out of hand? I think it would also be wise to keep any details we share     by email private. (56)

 

The attacks on Dr Sarah Myhill began in 2001 and since then she has faced the prospect of six GMC      Fitness to Practise Hearings. No complaint ever came from a patient; all came instead from other doctors     or from the GMC itself. During those investigations, her website was extensively examined by the GMC, including the use of a commissioned expert witness report; it was not found wanting. All allegations over        a decade were dropped with no case to answer, and no sanctions were placed on her practice.

 

            On 8 April 2010, Sarah received a letter from Rebecca Townsley, assistant registrar at the GMC, stating that there had been two complaints about her medical practice received by the GMC. The GMC considered that these complaints brought her fitness to practise into question and so instigated an Interim Orders Panel Hearing.

One complaint that was termed the ‘B12 Complaint’ came from a practice of eight GPs, Dr H L Moss      and Partners, who complained about Sarah’s advice that they should prescribe vitamin B12 and magnesium sulphate injections to a patient at their practice who suffered from Batten’s disease.

 

            The ‘Website Complaint’ concerned a complainant, described as a clinical scientist, who considered that DrMyhill’s website represented a risk to public safety. As far as Sarah Myhill was concerned, the complainant was effectively anonymous, although he quickly became known as Stuart Jones.

 

            These complaints were heard at an IOP Hearing held on 29th April 2010. Despite the fact that        the GMC has frequently claimed that it does not control the practice of doctors, a major content of the complaint against DrMyhill was evidently aimed at stopping her from taking various treatment courses.      The complaints against Myhill arise from the belief that her treatments do not conform to National  Guidelines, in the case of the website complaint, and that Sarah Myhill’s recommended treatments in the     case of the B12 were off licence and therefore in some way not generally recommended. Both NeilJinks, GMC assistant registrar in 2006, and the gynaecologist Wendy Savage in her book A Savage Enquiry      (about her own struggle with the GMC, which became a cause célèbre), make the point that the GMC   cannot get involved in treatment modalities, stating that:

 

It is not the place of the GMC to take a position on the correctness or otherwise of generally     recommended or of possible ‘cutting edge’ treatment… One of the most important principles of the    practice of medicine is that of clinical autonomy, which allows a fully trained doctor the responsibility for deciding which mode of treatment is best for his or her patients… Clinical autonomy means that      consultants and GPs are responsible for their own clinical decisions and should not be criticised by their colleagues as long as those decisions are within the ‘broad limits of acceptable medical practice’.

 

To me the most important aspects of criticism of any GMC hearing are to do with procedure. Due      process is to my mind the most important part of law; without due process the law becomes a confusing   area where vested interests compete with each other to serve their own ends. The GMC has made common practice out of processes that the Metropolitan Police at it most corrupt in the 1970s only dreamed about.

One of the first principles of British, European and even world law has always been that the accused is allowed to face their accuser in the court, not simply so that the accuser’s demeanour and physical presence  can be seen by a jury, but also, and most importantly, so that the accused can cross–examine the accuser.

 

            This process has only recently been forfeited in some terrorist trials or those involving informers to whom  harm might later fall. Even then, in such cases, the witness has to arrive at the court and, though their voice might be disguised and though they may sit behind a screen, they are bound to answer questions from the defence that go to the heart of their accusation.

 

            The GMC, in line with organisations like the RSPCA and RSPCC and other lower tribunals, now allow complainants to keep their anonymity. In the 1990s, when the pharmaceutical companies desired to bring their own cases before the GMC against doctors who worked against their interests, the Association    of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) own private investigation agency Medico–Legal Investigations (MLI) worked with the journalists to bring a number of cases before the GMC. (57) It seems to have been  the case that, at that time, the GMC was unprepared to act unethically bringing charges without complainants to the hearings.

A decade and a half later, however, in the case of Dr Andrew Wakefield, the GMC appeared happy to     ditch all pretence of due process. Brian Deer, a journalist for The Sunday Times, ‘uncovered’ the story of     Dr Wakefield’s wrongdoings and then, after consorting with MLI and its appearance in The Sunday Times, sent his ‘evidence’ to the GMC, who caught it and ran with it. The prosecution case never reached further   than Deer’s improbable ‘exposé’. Deer was never asked to give evidence and it seems more than likely that  the GMC felt Deer would have been a poor and perhaps volatile witness, unable to cope under cross–examination.

 

            In the case of DrMyhill, the GMC excelled itself, flying in the face of hundreds of years of jurisprudence. Despite there being two sets of original complainants, the GMC refused to bring any of     them to give evidence or be cross–examined. Just how, a person would be able to prove their innocence without tackling the accuser is beyond reason. However, the GMC seems to sidestep such minor issues.

 

            None of the partners of one complaint including Dr Y, a partner from the practice who had complained against DrMyhill, was brought to any hearings. Neither was Professor Bouloux, the expert  witness who tendered a flawed expert witness report. Of course, in relation to the second set of charges, Stuart Jones was not present for cross–examination. Keen to cross–examine all these parties, the defence  asked to subpoena the practice partner, only to be told that only the GMC could subpoena witnesses.      How does the GMC get away with this?

 

            The website complaint against DrMyhill was perhaps far more complex than either she or her  lawyers understood. For the past 10 years, the FDA especially, but also all the corporate interest    organisations and the UK regulatory agencies have tried hard to bring ‘health freedom’ websites under  control. It’s the same old story: while pharmaceutical companies sell off their produce to agents who sell   them over the Internet with no care about buyers’ medical status or full explanations of adverse reactions, alternative medicine practitioners or campaigners are increasingly coming under attack for explaining their therapies or criticising pharmaceutical medicine.

In DrMyhill’s case, the website complaint from Stuart Jones was based on a personal belief system, which bore little relation to any objective reality. The complainant seemed to believe that NICE guidelines were in some way mandatory, and that doctors who do not abide by them should be investigated for malpractice. This is not the case. (58)

 

            The website complaint brought up the issues of due process, perhaps more than any complaints made in DrMyhill’s case. The GMC seems to have reassured the complaining medical research worker of his anonymity and the lack of need for him to attend the hearing. How, then, was his completely unreferenced complaint to be pursued? He had, for instance, objected to a claim on DrMyhill’s website that women should not always attend for breast screening. And yet, the concept of regular mass breast screening it is now often criticised, as this reference in the Belfast Telegraph makes clear:

 

            The UK’s national breast screening programme is harming almost as many women as it helps and must be urgently re–evaluated, a review in England has

claimed. The benefits of breast screening — early detection of cancer followed by rapid treatment — are finely balanced against the harms of over–diagnosis followed by unnecessary treatment and suffering, the review says.

 

Breast screening has divided the medical establishment for more than 20 years. The central drawback of screening is that in some cases the cancer (or other disease) detected does not need treating, either because it    is a false alarm, because it resolves naturally or because it is very slow growing (so you die of something else)  ...  Critics of screening suggest for every woman saved, as many as 10 undergo unnecessary treatment. (59)

 

In 2009, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a paper on breast screening in Denmark, which     showed that deaths had fallen faster in areas without screening than those with. Researchers were accused      of ‘undermining trust’.

 

            In this account, I can only skate over the worst iniquities of the GMC abuse of process and false charges, but the outcome of the complaint against DrMyhill, heard at the GMC in April 2010, was that she was found guilty without any evidence, in the face of completely manufactured charges, of advising some things on her website that some doctors and most pharmaceutical companies would disagree with. Her practice was restricted for nine months and her advice to patients had to be supervised, but perhaps most importantly, a number of statements and information alluding to vaccination were ordered to be taken    down from her website.

 

            In October 2010, DrMyhill was called before another hearing the outcome of which was that she   was banned from acting as a doctor for a period of six months.

Finally, for the moment at least, on 6th January 2011 the Interim Orders Panel, GMC, made the decision       to lift the suspension of her GMC registration and to restore her licence to practise medicine. The Panel    again placed a small number of procedural conditions on DrMyhill’sregistration, reversing its fitness to   practice order while substituting a whole list of conditions. Supporters of DrMyhill promote this change        as a win  and suggest that the prescribed conditions are largely cosmetic and procedural. DrMyhill herself suggests that this climb–down will enable her ‘to carry out about 95% of her normal work’. However,  reading the new terms and condition of practice, one is struck by just how arrogant and partisan the GMC     is as they continue to protect their backs, principally concerned about being taken to a real court. 

 

 

In the book there is a section about Meryl Doray that you will have to buy the book to read. It   then continues ...

 

 

Fighting Back

 

The objective of the Myhill and Dorey cases from the perspective of those who attacked them, are, in Sarah Myhill’s case, to force therapeutic hegemony on Britain’s doctors, and, in Meryl Dorey’s case, to enforce the use of allopathic pharmaceuticals, specifically vaccines on Australia’s parents. To these ends, they were both   the subjects of originally anonymous complaints by those sympathetic to the Skeptics, and they were both ordered, after a bogus investigation, to take down or alter parts of their websites.

 

            The censuring of health information about medicine on the Internet is something that corporations have been very concerned about and committed to over recent years. This is interesting when one considers that these same people and these same organisations get hysterical about China and other countries interfering with the communications laws and regulations of other countries.

 

            The complaints against DrMyhill and Meryl Dorey were made by Skeptic fellow travellers, citing material, in DrMyhill’s case, that alluded to vaccination and the treatment of ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) (64) and on the Australian Vaccination Network about the problems with adverse reactions to vaccination. This has involved concerted attacks on those who put forward such views. The contemporary vaccine wars have been waged at an escalating rate in Britain since the sixties and industry–protective organisations have worked hard to censor alternative views to mass vaccination and herd immunity.

 

            The Skeptical complainants in both cases, however, manifest a different reaction to the complaints they had made, in England to the GMC and in Australia to the HCCC. The Australian complainant     appeared publicly, with the over–aggressive emphasis used by quackbusters to protect themselves, on film  and on the Internet. Collegiate organisations, and tipped–off regulatory organisations, rounded on Meryl, upping the stakes as days went by, name–calling and using vile threats on Twitters and other email facilities, while using every conceivable form of complaint to regulatory and oversight organisations.

 

            In both cases the complaints were made by men against women; in both cases, the victims have fought back in a collective and exemplary manner. Both victims sought advice from radical academics and campaigners, and placed this advice on a similar parallel to the advice from lawyers. (65)

 

            The way in which both organisations fought back and clearly survived, without massive public   success but with an enhanced reputation amongst those who believe in freedom and democracy, shows      that people are learning clear lessons about resistance. The lessons can be summarised in this way:

 

• Both groups framed their fight–back in political terms, with an emphasis on freedom of speech and        civil  and constitutional rights.

• In varying degrees, each organisation and both of the individuals involved understood from the       beginning that they were being attacked, and that those who were attacking them were out to destroy their work and their published views.

• Both groups immediately publicised a message that answered and rebutted the accusations. There were      no apologies, nor linguistic compromise.

• Both groups published contemporary information telling all their supporters what was going on.

• Both groups developed their websites, rather than curtailed them.

• The British group was immediately supported by patients who demonstrated outside the GMC.

• When Skeptics and their fellow travellers became involved in violent Internet threats against Meryl Dorey,  she and her colleagues went straight to the police, publicised the threats, and demanded they record the incidents.

• Both groups learned very quickly that, on the whole, journalists are a waste of space because their newspapers and other media outlets are deeply tied to corporate interests.

 

In both these cases the whole point of the complaints was to censor the voices of pharmaceutical and  chemical victims. It is very important that we understand the simple message exposed by both these complaints. In the Brave New World of science dictocrats, there is to be only one medical view, the       official view, the pharmaceutical view. Anyone, whether a doctor or a layperson, who expresses any other view is first to be censored and then punished. Parents, for example, will not be allowed access to  information about vaccination that is contrary in any respect to the orthodox view. Only one view is    allowed: ‘four legs good, two legs bad’. Medically, politically and socially, this is totalitarianism engineered    and provoked by powerful governments and corporations.

 

            But perhaps even more frightening in this new world is the fact that it will ultimately not be    intelligent four–legged animals making the decisions, but corporate science groupies, individuals whose  cultural and intellectual acumen often ranks lower than a snake’s belly.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

END NOTES

 

51  (Cont.) is now in the parliamentary record, questioning the remit based on the people who had been invited to give oral submissions to the hearing. She also petitioned her MP and wrote a further two emails   that were circulated to members accusing the Committee of obvious bias. She addressed the homeopathic community asking them to petition their MPs about this bias. However, there was no official statement on   the issue and it proved impossible to get one on the table.

52  There has been a thirty–year campaign by psychiatric interests to prove that there are no environmental factors involved in ME.

53  Bad Science, posted on Thursday April 15th at 2.20.

54  Uber: an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing. He accuses DrMyhill   of being a supreme quack!

55  03 May 2010 10:12 to Sarah Myhill and subject titled: False accusations at Badscience/Ben Goldacre.

56  Mon, May 3, 2010 at 6:04 PM Jones to Myhill.

57  In the mid 1990s they worked with Duncan Campbell, the New Statesman’s journalist who joined the Campaign Against Health Fraud.

58  DrMyhill’s legal brief.

59 Belfast Telegraph on 4 August 2010:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/health/ breast-screening-harms-as-many-as-it-saves-report-14897265.html

60  http://hjhop.blogspot.com/2010/12/meryl-dorey-fucking-microphones-how-do.html

61 http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/12/02/australian-skeptics-jeer-meryl-dorey/

62  An understanding of this organisation gives us a clear indication of what herbalists, homeopaths and nutritionists will be faced with when complaints are brought to the Health Professions Council (HPC), in      the new regulatory system outlined at the beginning of this chapter.

64 (From previous page) Walker, J Martin. SKEWED: Psychiatric hegemony and the manufacture of     mental illness, in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Gulf War Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Slingshot Publications. London 2003.

65  Jayne Bryant and One Click helped organise support for Dr Sarah Myhill, while Brian Martin, the exceptional Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Wollongong, and I both   helped Meryl Dorey, although with nothing she wasn’t capable of organising herself!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dr Sarah Myhill

 

 


 


Dirty Medicine - The Handbook by Martin J Walker

Monday, 8 August 2011

Adam Smith

Science and Communications Officer, ANH-Intl.

 

 

Key Points

 

Long-time activist author, Martin J Walker, follows up his classic 1993 book Dirty Medicine with a revised and updated version, entitled Dirty Medicine: The Handbook.

The new book provides key information on individuals and organisations involved in the attacks on natural healthcare in the UK.

It also covers 'The Antidote' - details of the activists and authors who have been or are involved in the resistance.

ANH-Intl recommends the book unreservedly to all our followers, and to anyone with an interest in the topic. In fact, everyone should read this book!

 

*     *     *

 

"These faux intellectual lobby groups are running one of the greatest scams ever practised, yet they manage to keep their smug self-satisfied cynical demeanor as they destroy people's choice of health care therapies...Treatments and remedies should be as natural as possible...and all treatments should be chosen in cooperation with patients, rather than imposed by doctors or 'scientists'. It is also clear that the long-term development towards a science-based, high-tech, robotic society, has to be questioned and discussed by 'the people', now, in the widest public forums."

Martin J Walker, Dirty Medicine: The Handbook


       We need more books like this. For many reasons, natural healthcare finds itself on the back foot in 2011, and in a big way. Make no mistake: we are in a titanic struggle for the preservation of all healthcare modalities that don't fit the mainstream view. Nowadays, that view amounts to a straitjacket borne of ideology, commerce and a desire for control both of the individual and society by a narrow group of vested interests. Like the Hydra, or maybe more appropriately like the various forms of skin rash that can accompany a single infection, the anti-natural healthcare lobby presents itself in so many forms that it's difficult to keep track - and even more difficult to organise against. This is where Martin Walker's brilliant Dirty Medicine: The Handbook comes in.

 

Dirty Medicine for the 21st century

Back in 1993, a book appeared that traced the battles between orthodox medicine and natural healthcare from a specifically UK perspective. Other authors, including Harris L Coulter, Morris Beale and Eustace Mullins, had done a similar service to US history, but this book was among the first, if not the first, to take such a wide-ranging, historical and forensic approach to the subject in the UK. The book was Dirty Medicine by Martin J Walker. So popular was the book among the 'alternativista', once it went out of print, it became much sought after on the second-hand market.

       Twenty years on, Walker rightly conceded it was time for a major update. In 2011, things have changed and a new approach is needed. In Dirty Medicine: The Handbook, Walker rejects the narrative style of his earlier book in favour of a reference work, containing brief but essential information on the key players arrayed against natural healthcare.

 

A bit of history

 

After explaining how he came to be such a committed activist on behalf of natural healthcare, Walker offers a potted history of the attacks on natural healthcare over the past 20 or so years. Walker's thesis is that science, once a noble pursuit dedicated to the advancement of humankind and its understanding of the world around us, has been subverted by industrial notions of profit, commerce and technology. 'Real' scientists, that is, scientists who are unconnected to vested interests and who pursue the truth in an objective manner, are increasingly rare, while corporate science has stopped being a method to explore the universe and become an ideology - that many now refer to as 'scientism'. Now that science has stopped working to benefit humanity and merely works to enrich industry, says Walker, people are realising that many of its technological goodies do not - despite all the breathless propaganda - make their lives better; in fact, often just the opposite happens. This pits the people against the corporate scientists and, by default, our governments, whose policies, beliefs and even personnel are often indistinguishable from those of the corporations. And so the corporate science Frankenstein employs every trick in the book to persuade the public that its greedy, dishonest and often plain harmful actions are the best thing since comfy chairs...which is where the propagandists, in all their guises, come in. Nowhere is this more true than in medicine.

 

 

Marching toward monopoly

 

It's an attractive theory, and one that works in the context of orthodox medicine's relentless quest for a healthcare monopoly that stretches back to the time of Henry VIII, the apothecaries and the Herbalists' Charter. It's easy to see why Walker defines the threat as coming from a "tripartite construct [made up of] 'the medical establishment', 'the pharmaceutical industry' and a section of 'the scientific community'", which has been working to counteract "the rise of alternative and complementary medicine, the advent of the environmental health movement and the privatisation in part of the [UK National Health Service]". In 2011 in Europe, it's more of a four-way threat with the European Commission (EC) involved; five if one considers Member State regulators separately from the EC; and six if the wider threat from Codex Alimentarius is included.

 

       Luckily, like Mr Walker, we relish a challenge here at ANH-Intl! A broad-based community backlash to what is being thrown at us by governments and corporations could be regarded as nothing other than a natural response; one that hopefully serves to bring us back on course, living at one with ourselves and the natural world around us.

 

 

To whet the appetite

 

The meat of the book for researchers and activists are the chapters giving brief details, histories and juicy tidbits on the spectrum of the anti-natural healthcare operators, from individuals, through organisations, to skeptic websites. Reading these from A to Z is highly worthwhile, and very entertaining, for anyone with even a vague interest in the topic. To quote a few choice entries:

 

       On Lord Dick Taverne, chairman of skeptic charity Sense About Science: "A great friend and colleague of David Sainsbury, who became Minister of Science under New Labour in 1997, he and Taverne were partially responsible for the New Labour victory. After 1997 the two of them designed and put into practice the whole lobby structure intended to defend pharmaceutical corporations and corporate GM [genetically modified] science. In the early 2000s, Taverne set up the Science Media Centre and Sense About Science, with his newfound ex-RCP [Revolutionary Communist Party] colleagues". The role of ex-RCPers is a fascinating thread running through the fabric of the anti-natural healthcare campaign in the UK.

 

       On Simon Singh: "Throughout 2009 and the first part of 2010, the corporate science lobby ran a campaign to change the libel laws headed up by Singh...after Singh wrote a deprecating article in the Guardian about chiropractors....the science lobby...needed to be free of the constraints of libel law so as to be able to attack in the most outrageous manner anyone who had different beliefs from them...Sense About Science...became the organiser of the Keep Libel Laws Out Of Science campaign.". In 2011, we have Professor Edzard Ernst salivating at the prospect of his retirement, when he can be "Outspoken about quackery and charlatans.  I look forward to that.  Hopefully, UK libel law has changed again by then."

 

       The entry on 'Skeptics' reads thus: "Their proliferation followed a classic post-war CIA template of contacting an academic or a scientist in a University or other organisation and then establishing a cell that gathers in believers or followers who are unaware of the overall plan...they...usually present themselves as aggressive male dogmatists who argue blindly in favour of corporate science...leading...Skeptics think curtailing freedom of choice in medicine and supporting corporate denial of iatrogenic [i.e. physician-caused] damage is great fun".

 

 

Time to get busy!

 

After stating the problem, Walker looks to the future while acknowledging the past. His chapter on 'The Antidote' highlights writers and activists both historical and present-day who have dived into the thick of the struggle to maintain our rights to self-determination in healthcare. It's particularly refreshing to find a book list that will enable anyone to gain an historical perspective on the modern situation. Finally, for all the budding activists out there, the chapter on 'Organising and Fighting Back' offers a crash course in getting involved, with Walker's 20-odd years of experience illuminating his advice. It's vital to remember how often resistance actually works, and Walker gives some case studies to show how it's done.

 

       If the struggle to maintain access to natural healthcare methods is to prevail against the seemingly overwhelming forces ranged against us, people have to realise that the issues are universal: they affect everyone, whether patient, practitioner, product distributor or manufacturer, old or young, sick or healthy. The days of sitting on the fence and hoping things will sort themselves out - a very British attitude - are over. As Walker states in the closing paragraphs of this rousing, amusing, vitally important book, "Developing global corporatism is a massive threat to modern democracy...the days of getting by without an interest in politics and the arrangements of power in society have come to an end and unless we fight for what we believe in, in the field of natural medicine especially, we will enter a new era of serfdom in which we will all be enslaved to global corporatism...part of your day should be spent educating, agitating and organising against those who seek to dismantle our beliefs, our cultures and our very identities."

 

       Buy copies for your friends and family, get 'em fired up, and let's start taking back our rights. Our children will thank us. Dirty Medicine: The Handbook by Martin J Walker can be purchased from Slingshot Publications (£15 plus postage and packing, bulk discounts apply).

 

       Martin J Walker's other books and essays can also be obtained from Slingshot Publications.

 

Further reading

 

Eustace Mullins: Murder By Injection_Harris L Coulter: Divided Legacy Vols. I-IV. Omar Garrison: The Dictocrats' Attack on Health Food and Vitamins. _PJ Lisa: Are You A Target For Elimination? and The Great Medical Monopoly Wars. Richard Milton: Forbidden Science: Exposing the Secrets of Suppressed Research and Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment. Rupert Sheldrake: A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation. Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne: Food Is Better Medicine Than Drugs. For many more, books and references, see the chapter entitled 'The Antidote' in Dirty Medicine: The Handbook.

 


 

 

A Review of Dirty Medicine - The Handbook by Martin J Walker ~ Jenny Allan

Sunday, 7 August 2011 

 

As the title ‘Dirty Medicine’ implies, this book exposes the malign influences and practices within the pharmaceutical industries, which produce and market conventional medicines and vaccines. But Martin Walker’s book also demonstrates the way these powerful corporations, are inextricably linked with our food, drink, chemical and agricultural industries, all of which have significant political lobbying power and influence. The huge advertising revenues generated by these industries, also ensures press and media compliance, regarding information released to the public. Walker uses the umbrella term ‘corporate science’ to describe these industries. This is a deliberate contradiction in terms, since these industries are principally about the pursuit and protection of profits and this, more often than not, actually involves the subversion of science.

 

            Walker has meticulously researched his handbook, fearlessly naming and carefully explaining the roles played by corporate sponsored individuals and groups, and how these have evolved into huge global networks, enmeshing us all within a web of corporate and political lies and misinformation. This propaganda is carefully fed to the public through powerful, often unscrupulous press and media outlets, and reinforced, via extensive Internet websites and blogs. These corporate ‘protection rackets’ are coordinated by self proclaimed ‘Skeptics’ and ‘quackbusters’.  Any unfortunate scientist or doctor who unwittingly dares to question the safety of any medicine, or discovers any adverse side effects which might result in a loss of public confidence, thus threatening to dent those big corporation profits, is ruthlessly dealt with; these people operate like hyenas, first targeting then circling their prey, before finally moving in for the kill.

 

            There are numerous examples of such corporate professional and character assassinations in the handbook, including the ongoing vilification of medical research scientist, Dr Andrew Wakefield, whose published 1998 Lancet paper tentatively suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism in children. Dr Wakefield was eventually struck off the medical register after a hugely expensive three year General Medical Council ‘show trial’, instigated by a complaint from the same investigative journalist, whose commissioned Sunday Times articles in 2004, originally accused Dr Wakefield of falsifying his research findings. Dr Wakefield was hounded out of his job and his country, his reputation in tatters, the Lancet paper totally discredited, then finally retracted. Walker laments the fact that Wakefield’s victimisation ‘disguised the effective disappearance of over one and a half thousand children who had suffered appalling damage.’  The suffering continues, as does the official vaccine damage denials.

 

            Corporate harassment is also practised against those persons and groups, attempting to publicly defend doctors and scientists, or who highlight grass roots concerns about medicines and vaccines. Two such persons, whose experiences are included in the book, are Dr Sarah Myhill in the UK, and Meryl Dorey, who set up the Australian Vaccine Network. These persons provide health information on the Internet, facilitating personal informed health choices, including parental choices regarding vaccinations for their children. Both DrMyhill and MsDorey have been subjected to sustained campaigns of spurious complaints and corporate harassment, and both were eventually forced to remove certain information from their websites. DrMyhill has been dragged before the GMC on numerous occasions; these ‘Fitness to Practise’ allegations have mostly come to nothing, but recently the GMC used 5 Interim Orders Panel Hearings to first suspend, then reinstate DrMyhill with practice sanctions. During this protracted process, a new GMC charge was added to the list. Dr. Myhill was accused of assisting at the birth of Rosemary Hogg’s babies, this happy event having occurred during a period of GMC suspension. Rosemary is DrMyhill’s pet pig!! The GMC snoops apparently accessed this information from a spoof article on DrMyhill’s website, but failed to link to the accompanying photographs of the proud mum and her eight piglets. At the time of writing this the ‘Hogg’ GMC charges are still active, pending a planned DrMyhill Fitness to Practice full hearing in November 2011. Walker is particularly scathing about the GMC, which he says ‘has made common practice out of processes that the Metropolitan Police at its most corrupt in the 1970’s only dreamed about.’ ’Nuff said!'

 

            Walker reveals the way the ‘Skeptics’ are presently scheming to achieve the annihilation of all alternative medicines and therapies. Their collective malevolence, even ‘homes in’ on those two highly respected therapies, acupuncture and homeopathy; the latter actually having as devotees, The Queen and several other Royal Family members. Interestingly, Professor Edzard Ernst, listed in the book as ‘the first and so far the only Professor of Complementary Medicine in Britain’, was recently the subject of several newspaper reports, after he branded Prince Charles a ‘snake oil salesman’ at a London conference. The Prince’s legendary and enthusiastic promotion of homeopathic and other alternative medicines had previously been the subject of several vicious attacks by Professor Ernst. Walker’s bio on Professor Ernst occupies a page and a quarter of the book, ending with this homily. ‘What a deceptive thesbian of a man; you would be a fool to believe a word he says.’  Professor Ernst has now been forced to retire early from his Exeter University post. It’s perfectly OK to publicly vilify eminent doctors and scientists, but only fools dare to ‘tangle’ with Royalty, 'Off with his head' should reasonably have been the headlines.

 

            A huge public demand in the UK actually resulted in homeopathy and acupuncture being briefly available on the NHS. Walker’s book reveals how vested interests in conventional medicines systematically succeeded in dismantling free public access to these and other alternative therapies, although the Skeptics are also fiercely determined to eliminate private access to alternative therapies, including the availability of herbal remedies and vitamins sold by health stores and other retail outlets. Some of these po-faced public comments about such off the shelf products are quite ridiculous. Back in the 1950’s I lined up with my brothers and sisters for a daily spoonful of ‘welfare’ cod liver oil, provided free or at minimal cost by a post war UK government, determined to improve the health of the nation’s children. Walker quotes from a rather more recent Thames Action TV interview with a hospital medical professor, who cited a case where he claimed an ‘overdose’ of fish liver oil capsules, had resulted in severe kidney damage, the female patient having swallowed large numbers of the capsules, in the mistaken belief that fish oil contained beauty enhancing properties. The programme failed to mention that overdoses of almost any substance can be harmful, including those easily obtained remedies, aspirin and paracetamol, and that this particular professor was an active member of HealthWatch, one of the anti alternative medicine groups named in this book.  There are many other examples of this kind of targeted misinformation about all kinds of complementary medicines and therapies.

 

            Overall, I found Dirty Medicine: The Handbook, to be very logically researched and presented, with chapters alphabetically naming and detailing the individuals, organisations, ad hoc groups and websites associated with what Walker calls ‘health corporatists’.  Although this book has been written and is titled as a handbook, and is indeed an excellent source of reference material, there is a great deal more to it than a ‘who’s who’ of protagonists.  Walker has also included detailed chapters giving his personal views and a concise history, revealing how our health services and associated medicines and therapies have become hopelessly corrupted by powerful corporate vested interests. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the prose. Walker has an ironic ‘tongue in cheek’ style which often had me chuckling. I also enjoyed the cartoons, strategically placed at the end of several chapters. The penultimate chapter, ‘The antidote’, is all about past and present personal and group resistance against harmful, misleading corporate propaganda. The final chapter ‘Organising and fighting back’ was of particular interest to me as a campaigner against corruption in public services. Thanks Martin Walker. I found this advice particularly helpful.

 

            Whilst Walker was busy compiling and writing this damning treatise, he could not have foreseen that his publication date would ultimately coincide with the sudden escalation of the phone hacking scandal presently engulfing the Murdoch News Corporation press and media empire. This was pure serendipity. For years the Murdoch empire spin doctors and propaganda machines, have been allowed to dictate so much of the information fed to the public. Rupert Murdoch’s son James is presently both chief executive and chairman of News Corporation, (Europe and Asia), and is also a non executive chairman of BSkyB. whilst also being a non executive director of GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of the controversial MMR vaccine, and a large portfolio of other pharmaceuticals, some of which have ultimately proven harmful to patients in the past. The initial unlawful News Corporation phone hacking revelations have now spread to corrupt practices involving the police, and some very senior UK Government politicians and advisers. The ripples emanating from this are still very active as I write this.

 

            It remains to be seen, whether or not the Murdoch scandals will prove to be a ‘watershed’, heralding a new era of better moral standards and integrity within our public and corporate institutions. Walker’s book actually made me feel very guilty, because it is we, members of the public, who are ultimately responsible for the kind of society we inhabit. As long as we buy the newspapers, subscribe to satellite television programmes and use Internet service providers, we are unwittingly adding to the powers of such magnates, whose moral and ethical standards are often questionable.  As for politicians, they exist to serve US, not themselves. We MUST complain, and keep complaining to our MPs about every single abuse of corporate and political power. In just two days a UK ‘Stop Murdoch Campaign’ petition attracted 160,000 signatures and generated 100,000 letters to MPs. It was ‘people power’ NOT political power that curtailed the Murdochs. Walker’s final chapter on ‘fighting back’ advocates both of the above actions and contains lots more excellent advice about active campaigning. As I see it, we no longer have any choice. We now desperately need people power to dominate, not corporate power, and we must somehow make our collective voices heard and heeded in the ‘corridors of power’.

 

            This review has included a couple of events which, like the Murdoch scandals, involve persons or corporations mentioned in the book, but post date Walker’s final publication copy. These events endorse the viewpoints expressed in the book, without in any way detracting from his text. I included them both as ‘grist to the mill’ and a reminder that we all live in a dynamic world. I believe in the power of knowledge, and now feel a little more enthused and empowered after reading this book. You will too.

 

Jenny Allan

July 2011