Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Consumer Wins Bent Spoon Again


Consumer Wins Bent Spoon Again

Consumer magazine has won its second Bent Spoon Award from the NZ Skeptics for continuing to promote homeopathic products as a viable alternative to evidence-based medical treatments.

In its September 11 2011 review of anti-snoring products, Consumer consulted a medical herbalist who was quoted as saying that "all homeopathic remedies may work wonders for one person and do nothing for another" and that "homeopathy is best prescribed on an individual basis, after extensive consultation".

Homeopathy is known to exploit the well-recognised placebo effect where the body heals itself in many cases. Any "wonders" worked can be attributed to that effect, as homeopathic solutions are made up solely of water - a fact not known by 94% of New Zealanders purchasing such products.

"Yet again Consumer has failed to point out that there are no active ingredients in a standard homeopathic product," says Skeptics media spokesperson Vicki Hyde. "Surely this should raise consumer protection alarm bells, akin to someone buying a microwave and receiving a cardboard box which they´re told will heat food via the cosmic power of the universe if you think hard enough..."

Consumer did note that another expert had pointed out that "the efficacy of homeopathic remedies had not been demonstrated convincingly in evidence-based medicine." This caveat was not adequate as far as the NZ Skeptics were concerned, particularly as the homeopathic products had a prominent place at the head of the list.

"We´ve seen the homeopathic industry use selective quotes as part of their marketing and advertising strategy to get unwitting customers to pay $10 for a teaspoon of water. No doubt Consumer´s inclusion of homeopathic products will be used to boost business, despite the admission by the NZ Homeopathic Council that homeopathic products have no active ingredients. Disturbingly, Consumer´s expert doesn´t seem to be aware of this admission, stating that `extra´ active ingredients could help."

A number of people had raised concerns about Consumer´s willingness to feature such dubious products, with one nominator saying that the article had "destroyed Consumer NZ's reputation as a organisation New Zealanders can trust".

Consumer last won the Bent Spoon in 1992 for a similarly lacklustre examination of non-evidence-based health products.

"We´d hoped they´d learned something by now as our country´s main consumer advocate. What´s next - endorsing rubber bracelets as power-boosters for our athletes? Approving the sale of specially trapped sunlight in bottles to treat the blues? They should leave such shonky stuff to the tabloid press."

In addition to the Bent Spoon, the NZ Skeptics´ Bravo Awards praise a number of attempts to encourage critical thinking over the past year.

* Margo White, for her health columns in the New Zealand Listener

"It´s great to see informed writing on health issues, based on research and evidence, rather than the large amount of low-grade items we usually get based on press releases and thinly disguised advertorial material," says Hyde.

A number of White´s columns were nominated for a Bravo, such as the item "Lies, Lies and Eyes" which reported research indicating there is no evidence for the claims by proponents of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to be able to tell if a person is lying or not simply by looking at the direction in which they glance.

NZ Listener, July 28, 2012
http://www.listener.co.nz/lifestyle/health/walking-good-for-the-brain/

* Whanganui District Health Board member Clive Solomon, for supporting evidence-based medicine as the core focus for hospital care

In July, Wanganui Hosital announced plans to provide support for a range of natural therapy services, including Maori healing, Christian prayer, massage, reiki and meditation, with the health director involved stating that it would be New Zealand´s "first-ever multi-model, natural therapy hospital service".

In response, Solomon was reported in the Wanganui Chronicle (July 14, 2012) saying:

"Best practice, evidence-based medicine is the foundation of the scientific practice of medicine. Other modalities might have their place [but] in other areas [and] under different governance." http://www.wanganuichronicle.co.nz/news/clash-over-natural-therapy/147 7312/

"It´s rare for public figures to come out against these "soft" services," says Hyde. "It´s easier to ignore the ethical and evidential issues associated with claims that these kinds of practices actually help to treat illness or disability beyond exploiting the well-recognised placebo effect."

The NZ Skeptics are concerned that calling activities like prayer or Reiki "therapy" can provide an unwarranted credibility regarding actual efficacy, particularly when endorsed by a hospital.

"Prayer is a religious activity, not a medical one; Reiki is a lucrative commercial activity for Reiki `Masters´ who claim to train clients to heal at a distance by waving their hands around and manipulating `universal life energies´."

The awards will be psychically conferred at the NZ Skeptics Conference, being held in Dunedin August 31-Sep 2. Information on the conference can be found on the NZ Skeptics website (http://skeptics.org.nz).


CONFERENCE
Dunedin: presentations in Archway 3, Otago University Friday August 31-Sunday September 2 More info, including programme: http://skeptics.org.nz/SK:SKEPCONFERENCE

Conference is open to the public.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

KiwiBailed: KiwiBuild Head Officially Resigns

The head of Kiwibuild, Stephen Barclay has officially resigned from the role. In a statement issued on his behalf, it was announced that he would step down from today [Friday].

Housing Minister Phil Twyford's office said he would not be commenting on Mr Barclay's resignation as it was an employment matter. Last month, Mr Twyford confirmed that Mr Barclay had not been at work for a number of weeks. More>>

 

Welfare Stats: Rise In Hardship Numbers Shows Income Inadequacy

The latest Ministry of Social Development quarterly report show that a record number of people have received hardship assistance from work and income, with an additional 40,000 hardship payments made between September and December 2018, compared to the previous quarter of the same year... More>>

ALSO:

DHBs "Prepared": Junior Doctors Strike Again

The needs of acute patients will be met during tomorrow's junior doctor strike, a DHB spokesperson says... Almost 3000 junior doctors are expected to walk off the job, which will affect all DHBs apart from West Coast District Health Board. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On MBIE’s Social Media Scam

Given the ambit of MBIE’s work, almost any form of social activity could qualify as being part of MBIE’s brief, so the privacy threats posed by this training programme are extensive. The current oversight safeguards seem threadbare to non-existent. More>>

ALSO:

JusTrade: New Campaign For A 21th Century Trade Agenda

‘Critique is no longer enough. If anything is to really change, we need to step away from the existing framework and take a first-principles approach to rethinking what will work for the 21st century.’ More>>

Earlier:

Gordon Campbell: Thompson + Clark Are The Tip Of The Iceberg

How can we tell where and how any lines are being drawn? Oversight is not exactly robust. If it were, Thompson + Clark would have been out of contention for state security work ten years ago. More>>

Trainers: Taratahi Institute of Agriculture In Interim Liquidation

Taratahi employ 250 staff and this year has provided education to over 2500 students. Taratahi owns and manages 8 farms throughout the country. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA Report: Complaints About Deputy Commissioner Wallace Haumaha

The Authority has found that DC Haumaha acted improperly by approaching staff and others to provide information to support him to refute the allegations about his 2016 conduct, or solicited other staff to do so on his behalf... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels