The United Kingdom Is Poised Turn Medical Care Back To Medieval Care

As of June 16, 2015 ,the United Kingdom is poised to elect a demonstrably anti-science politician to the most influential medical position in government. In my opinion it would be a disastrous outcome for the people of the Untied Kingdom and give cause for quacks everywhere to rejoice. Tory Member of Parliament (MP) David Tredinnick is attempting to become the chair of the influential Commons Health Select Committee, of which he is currently a voting member. Although I am a resident of the United States, I’m still appalled that a person who openly advocates for magical nonsense could be in such an influential position in a socialized health system, and even worse that he intends to head that same committee. Let’s review some of his publicly available positions on healthcare and take a really hard look at how bad politicizing your healthcare can get.

MP David Tredinnick. Publicity photo via BBC News.

According to a BBC news profile:

David Tredinnick is an old style Conservative MP, being an Eton-educated former Guards officer, who has sat in the Commons since 1987.

However, his ambition for high office was thwarted by his role in one of the sleaze stories which helped to sink the Major government. He accepted £1,000 from an undercover reporter to ask parliamentary questions about a fictitious drug. He was obliged to resign from his role as a PPS and was suspended from the Commons for 20 sitting days. He has not sat on the frontbench since.

[He has] carved himself a niche as the Commons’ most enthusiastic supporter of complementary medicine. He has wearied successive health secretaries with his persistent advocacy of any and all homeopathic remedies. He has also supported their use in prisons and even suggested them as an aid in alleviating the foot and mouth crisis.

He openly espouses alternative healthcare as a replacement for science-based medicine. That’s not unique in itself, but the woo doesn’t stop there. He openly advocates that astrology (yes, you read correctly, astrology), should be an integral part of the healthcare system.

The Telegraph reported in February:

David Tredinnick said ‘consulting the stars would take huge pressure off doctors and predicts astrology will have a role to play in healthcare.’

Bizarrely, Tredinnick, 65, who is chairman of the All-Party Group for Integrated Healthcare, went on to say people who opposed astrology were “racist”.

My personal favorite of all his quotes is an almost Lewis Carroll-esque in its literary nonsense. The Telegraph continues, quoting him:

‘The opposition (to astrology) is based on what I call the SIP formula — superstition, ignorance, and prejudice.

‘It tends to be based on superstition, with scientists reacting emotionally, which is always a great irony.

‘They are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced, which is troubling.’

Superstitious scientists? Ironic, really, since he espousing  primitive superstition as a replacement for medical science. I recommend The Skeptic’s Dictionary for a thorough treatise on astrology. Basically it is pre-scientific superstition that has morphed into a non-scientific idea about planetary motion and gravity affecting everything from current events to personality. It is not just impossible based on what we know about astrophysics, biology, physics and human physiology but it is inaccurate. It doesn’t even correlate with real celestial movement that we can see. More importantly, astrology just doesn’t work. Research has repeatedly shown that astrology is no more accurate than mere chance in predicting human behavior or events.

Many claim astrology is accurate and useful, but humanity is an unreliable judge on its own. Although there are many satisfied customers who believe that their horoscope accurately describes them and that their astrologer has given them good advice, such evidence does not prove astrology so much as it demonstrates the Forer effect and confirmation bias. Bottom line: it is not a basis for medical treatment or diagnosis; it is superstitious medievalism. Mr. Tredinnick is recommending that people use it as a replacement for modern medicine.

Like many true believers in alternative medicine he insists that there is something inherently wrong with the scientific process, since it seems to disprove their convictions. He has defended his advocacy of alternative medicines and said it should not get “bogged down” by the need for evidence.

Scary indeed.

It’s not that I mind his views in particular; people can believe a whole host of crazy ideas and still be a good politician. When you have a politician who serves on the the Science and Technology Select Committee you want someone who actually knows something about science. This individual has direct control over funding for science and technology. This is akin to having an atheist head a Select Committee for Religious Life and Scripture. Tredinnick’s chairmanship of the Health Select Committee would be a recipe for disaster and an embarrassment. You don’t want someone whose views are so obviously disdainful of science deciding who gets scientific funding and who doesn’t or making policy for the health of a nation. He already has a discordant amount of influence in the UK being on the committee. He should not be given more.

Realistically, those of you living in the UK need to sort this out. I am not entirely familiar with your parliament and its procedures, but in the US we would say call and write your senators and representatives showing your displeasure.

It is my understanding that this page is the route for complaints in the UK. Any residents please correct me if I am wrong.

Gov.UK Complaints Procedure.

or this email

A person who publicly and openly says that the scientific method needs to be discarded, simply because demanding proof that something works is inconvenient, shouldn’t be in control of the purse strings for research. In the US a similarly fervent ideologue, Senator Tom Harkin, caused a regulatory nightmare for the FDA that we still can’t dig out of 20 years later. Don’t make our mistake, demand science in your health committee.


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About Stephen Propatier

Stephen Propatier is a board certified acute care nurse practitioner specializing in spine and sports medicine. He is a member of the Society for Science Based Medicine.
This entry was posted in Alternative Medicine, Health, New Age, Pseudoscience and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The United Kingdom Is Poised Turn Medical Care Back To Medieval Care

  1. Mudguts says:

    Thanx Stephen.

    I am under the impression that the USA required political support for a bill back in the late thirties. The political deal apparently fell to (what probably wouldnt have been called) an alternative adherent.

    The discussion was so long ago in my career or may even have been mentioned by James Randi himself when he toured here in the late 70’s.

    Is it still a memory in the US health/skept community. If its well documented, It may even make a good follow up to this..

    (Sorry about dripping out of the oil pulling comments. I felt that it could have been an op for further anecdote adventure (or social hypochondria in Ozlish) by a contributor.

    My question you responded to was directed at that person.. If he denies journal literature, where does he think bad trials are published?)

  2. I have a toe infection but I need not trouble the apothecary. Hand me my telescope and I will cure myself.

  3. This man is a dangerous nutter.”Not get bogged down by the need for evidence.” The only reason people don’t jump off cliffs is the evidence that it may be bad for you.

  4. Torchwood says:

    The return to the old ways of medical treatment (they’ll probably get around to promoting blood-letting sometime soon) is no surprise where the head of the National Church is a Druid.

    • Mudguts says:

      Interesting you should say that Captain Jack; bloodletting is an extremely common practice in acupuncture in Oz over the past ten years. Apparently you can claim on letting the humors out on your private health care as well.

      Whats the state of play in the UK

    • Mudguts says:

      PS.. just in case you wanted to chew it over with your friends in the sciences.. This video is a member of my alma mater (note lab coat) doing a George Washington on an all to willing victim.

      No need to check your Temporal displacement watch.. Its 2015..

  5. Willem van Hoorn says:

    Three petitions going on, search for Tredinnick

  6. deowll Dwight E. Howell says:

    Why the surprise that he called opponents racists? Liberals/progressives do this all the time. Doesn’t matter what the issue is if you disagree with them you are a racists. I used to think raciest were bad but with the new definition I’m more likely to check the person out first because most likely all their being called raciest means is that they are a traditional values person or a libertarian.

    • ScepticalScotty says:

      You may be unfamiliar with the UK; a Tory politician who was a Guards officer in the army and attended Eton will almost certainly NOT be any kind of a liberal progressive. He is likely to be in favour of huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ and keeping the lower orders in thier place. The Tory party is deeply Conservative, which is in fact thier official name “The Conservative Party”.

  7. It is facile to suppose that what is termed “standard” or “mainstream” medicine is scientifically based.

    I agree that it appears to be scientifically based. However, just check the US Department of Justice and check out the massive fines imposed on major drug companies for falsification of research, over the last 10-15 years (Total fines for mis-selling of drugs? >$10 Billion (That’s BILLIONS not millions).

    if you are relying on that research to support your position, you would be better off finding a competent alternative medicine practitioner who bases their clinical approach on robust research, not the sort of research churned out by pharma’s marketing departments

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Just because there are problems in the FDA approval process doesn’t mean that science-based medicine isn’t science-based. It’s often a result of a treatment being effective, but the side effects being undisclosed. That’s definitely a problem. Although many alternative medicine treatments don’t have side effects because they don’t do anything, some do, and those are equally or more undisclosed. Problems at the FDA certainly don’t indicate that astrology, Qi, Reiki, or other alternative medicine practices have any real science to support them. If they did, medical companies and hospitals would figure out a way to monetize them and you’d find a reason to distrust them.

    • Malcom good science finds mistakes so perfection is a false goal. Secondly I would hardly call the research in alternative medicine robust in any way. Thirdly I would point out that alt med pointing out flaws in the pharmaceutical industry is like saying toyota has recalled airbags therefore magic carpets are a better mode of transportation. There is no mechanism to check for falsified research by the supplement industry a multi-billion dollar business that feeds off of alternative medicine. So who is more scary the murderer that is caught or the one who is lurking around unseen?

  8. Nosey Nick says: is probably the easiest and most efficient way to write to your UK MP. They also track which MPs actually respond meaningfully, vs send out impersonal cut+paste replies, vs ignoring you completely.

  9. Swampwitch7 says:

    And I thought OUR healthcare system was getting f***** up.

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