Sunday, 25 September 2011

John Benneth's Life-Or-Death Challenge

The fellow pictured below will be familiar to anyone who's ever been brave enough to search YouTube for videos on homeopathy.

John Benneth (for it is he) has recently written on his blog:

"Most interesting in all of this is a challenge issued by Roger Barr, an Australian homeopath, who has suggested that to end the argument, skeptics put homeopathy to the test... on themselves..."

John continues,

"Now, MY suggestion for a remedy to challenge sketpics [sic] to try is one I just put to the test. It’s called fluoricum acidum (fl. ac.) i.e. homeopathic fluoride. It just so happens that I decided to put it to the test, on myself..."

The most impressive result of this non-scientific experiment was that John "caved in to" a bottle of whisky. This is hardly a failing unique among humanity but, happily, John has a more interesting test in mind.

"Chlorine’s a whole [other] subject. When it comes into contact with organic matter... it forms [sic] chloroform, which in homeopathic form is noted for inducing in the prover the desire to kill..."

What would happen, John wonders, if the sceptics were to divide themselves into two groups, and if one of the groups were to take homeopathic chlorine?

"...bring the two groups together in a room, LOCK THE DOOR and RUN!"

There's nothing I can add to that - except: challenge accepted!

"Hello John and Roger,

I would like to accept your challenge.

1. I will bet you £10,000 that a homeopathic proving cannot produce in me the symptoms you claim will appear.

2. Therefore, over the course of seven days, I will take one 30C dose of homeopathic chlorine, once a day, at a time you specify.

3. I live near London. You may appoint any person (or persons) to supervise me as I take each dose (or you may supervise me yourself, if you prefer). If you appoint any such persons, it is your responsibility to make the arrangements for them to visit me, at the specified time of day.

4. After each dose, I will sit in a room with a volunteer for one hour. If, on any of these occassions, I attempt to murder the volunteer in cold blood, you win the bet, and I will pay you £10,000. Furthermore, if I succeed in killing the volunteer, I will pay an additional £10,000 towards the unfortunate victim's funeral expenses. Once I have paid up, you are free to notify the police of my heinous crime, so that they can make arrangements for my immediate arrest, trial and imprisonment.

5. However, if I am able to resist my homicidal impulses, you lose the bet, and you must pay me £10,000.

Do we have a deal?"

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Narconon's Substantiation Rundown (part 2)

The Church of Scientology, masquerading under the pseudonym of
Narconon UK - a dangerous and ineffective drug rehab programme - have made another appearance in the ASA's weekly list of very naughty boys.

My original complaint can be read here. It's worth listing which misleading health claims the cult have been asked to amend or remove:

“Completion of this programme results in greatly reduced, or
eliminated, cravings for drugs. Mental alertness and clarity of thinking improve; while drug induced depression often vanishes”

“Most people
say it is the easiest withdrawal they have experienced”

"[The claim that]
the goal of a new life for former addicts or alcoholics is routinely achieved"

experience has shown that a person receiving a vitamin and mineral therapy will experience a far more comfortable withdrawal from all drugs including opiates

"Cal-Mag [can] restore any vitamin deficiency and relax cramping muscles [and] also helps a person relax during the withdrawal”

“Effective Solutions To Drug Addiction & Alcoholism"

“[The methods have been] tried and tested over 40 years”

“The effectiveness of the Narconon programme is
documented by several formal studies and evaluations”

The graph labelled “Cocaine Washout Curve, Client 1”

The text
that states “... The graph indicates cocaine residues being excreted in the sweat and urine of clients participating in the Narconon New Life Detoxification Programme who have previously to doing the Narconon Programme had a cocaine addiction”

All claims referring to vitamin treatments

This probably isn't the first time Narconon have been asked politely to stop telling porkies. The ASA website lists two previous resolved complaints - both in 2009.
In 2003, Narconon lost an ASA adjudication over their claim to have "salvaged" 250,000 people from drugs:

"In upholding the complaint, the ASA said they were 'concerned that the advertisers had not proved that all those enrolled on the [Narconon] programmes were dependent on drugs at the time of the enrolment or that as many as 250,000 drug users had stopped using those drugs as a direct result of Scientology's intervention'..." (2003 Birmingham Post article)

It's worth noting also that false health claims like "The sauna programme produces spectacular results by removing drug residues and toxins" have been illegal in the UK since 2008.

Scientologists have their own version of the Ten Commandments, the so-called 21 Precepts. Here's a short list of the Precepts these particular Scilons have broken:

  • 6. Set a good example
  • 7. Seek To Live With The Truth
  • 8. Don't Do Anything Illegal
  • 11. Do Not Harm A Person Of Good Will
  • 14. Be Worthy Of Trust
  • 15. Fulfill Your Obligations
  • 17. Be Competent
I've heard that the punishments for recalcitrants in the Scientology movement include incarceration, torture and forced labour. Does anyone have a phone number of the RPF?