Health Select Committee – Dorries And Tredinnick

June 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm (Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Evidence, government, Homeopathy, Politics) (, )

I was surprised to see that Nadine Dorries and David Tredinnick were members of the newly-formed Select Committee on Health. So surprised, I half-wondered at first if the announcement was some kind of spoof. Sadly, it appears that Dorries and Tredinnick really are on the Health Select Committee.

This blog lists some of the new members of Commons Select Committees. While I am pleased to note that Philip Davies will again be part of the committee for Culture, Media and Sport (this committee will now also cover the Olympics and is the Select Committee for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport), as he has made clear his support for reform of England’s libel laws, the appointments of Dorries and Tredinnick fill me with doom. Here’s why…

Nadine Dorries MP

Nadine DorriesNadine Dorries has been responsible for the uncritical promotion of misinformation (that happened to fit her agenda), for example this hoax: ‘hand of hope’. Then there’s the removal of the comment facility on her blog, detailed here. Dorries decided to close blog comments (claiming she didn’t have time for them, despite still finding time to blog).

I wrote about Nadine Dorries on drugs last year and used comments made by Dorries on Twitter as the basis of my post. Her responses to comments made by others (using evidence to back up their points) were illogical in the extreme, as I detail in the blog post linked to above.

Dorries is driven by ideology to the extent that she ignores evidence that does not suit her and uncritically promotes any evidence that does suit – whether this information is at all reliable or not. God only knows what she made of the news today that the human foetus feels no pain before 24 weeks, according to a major review of scientific evidence published today. The Guardian reminds us that:

Efforts in the Commons to reduce abortion limits to 22 or 20 weeks were defeated in 2008. The reports will hamper campaigners’ efforts for an early return to the topic, despite David Cameron having suggested before the election that that might happen.

Dorries, now a member of the Health Select Committee, is one of those campaigners. How she will deal with the evidence that has been reported by researchers (research that was instigated by the previous Health Select Committee) is uncertain. If she ignores the evidence, one might ask whether she is suited to membership of the Select Committee. (Although some were asking answering that question before the sad news of her appointment was announced.)

David Tredinnick MP

David Tredinnick MPDavid Tredinnick seems to be a rather different kettle of fish to Dorries, but is also led by his beliefs to the extent that he ignores evidence that does not suit her and uncritically promotes any evidence that does suit – whether this information is at all reliable or not.

Tredinnick is a fan of homeopathy and other alternative inert treatments. In the post I have linked to, there are quotes from Tredinnick to the effect that “homeopathy does not fit normal methods of assessment” (a point refuted a thousand times – notably by Ben Goldacre in the Guardian) and that skeptics have trouble accepting the value of acupuncture because they don’t believe in the non-existant meridians Tredinnick has such faith in.

That acupuncture is generally no more effective than sham acupuncture might also have something to do with skepticism toward acupuncture. In this paper, the authors found that the analgesic effect of acupuncture was small, could not be distinguished from bias, and was unrelated to the types of sham treatment used as control. You can (a) use ‘real’ acupuncture and place needles in acupuncture points, (b) use a sham acupuncture that places needles in points unrelated to meridians, or (c) use a sham procedure that does not insert needles anywhere. One will work roughly as well as another. (Or to put it another way, are equally ineffective.)

Tredinnick was also responsible for some bizarre comments in Parliament regarding alternative medicine and perceived attacks on alternative medicine by scientists. I’ll repeat the most remarkable claim here:

The opposition 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 too, which is troubling.

Not content with referring to skeptical scientists, en masse, as emotional and ignorant, David Tredinnick also saw fit to refer to them as racially prejudiced.

More

The Twenty First Floor have also blogged on the odd and worrying appointments of Tredinnick and Dorries. And, because not all articles in the mainstream media are bad (however much I criticise the MSM), here is an article from Adam Rutherford in the Guardian on the appointment of Tredinnick to the Parliametary Select Committee.

Further Reading

Dorries on the Bad Science blog; Hawk Handsaw, PJ, Martin Robbins from Lay Science, Ben Goldacre and JQH have all blogged about Dorries and you can see their efforts here, on www.badscienceblogs.net.

Various posts from badscienceblogs on Tredinnick; some blogposts I’ve written that refer to David Tredinnick; The Quackometer Blog on Tredinnick; Gimpyblog on Tredinnick.

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12 Comments

  1. Cybertiger said,

    More widdle from the great wobbling automaton …. wibble, wobble. wibble and more twoddle …

  2. JQH said,

    Interesting stuff. I see cybermog’s done a drive by already.

    Since a Dana Ullman drive by is like having next door’s dog shit on your lawn, is a Mark Struthers drive-by like having next-doors cat piss on your front room carpet?

  3. Oliver Dowding said,

    No surprise you are upset. I don’t know Dorries and are not responding to all those comments.

    I am pleased that David Tredinnick is on the committee. Of course, Ben Goldacre refuted the point about assessment. But it doesn’t matter whether he’s refuted it once or a “thousand times”, because she simply wrong. We’re going to always disagree on this. I listen to him earlier this week on the typically one-sided “science” programme on BBC radio 4. He and the others were like a load of schoolboys naturally away and childishly dismissing things.

    Leaving aside personalities, it will be good to see a better range of opinions and we have on the last committee. Hopefully they’ll take a more representative selection of people to offer opinions, rather than what was very one sided under the previous administration.

  4. jdc325 said,

    Of course, Ben Goldacre refuted the point about assessment. But it doesn’t matter whether he’s refuted it once or a “thousand times”, because she simply wrong. We’re going to always disagree on this.

    You aren’t disagreeing with me Oliver – you’re disagreeing with reality. Individualised homeopathy can be tested using RCTs (and in fact already has been).

  5. davidp said,

    I don’t know your system well enough to be sure, but it sounds like the Conservative party actually chose David Tredinnick to be on the Health Select Committee. If so, why? Also why did anyone vote for a set of loons who would do such a thing ?

    If Nadine Dorries didn’t even attend one between Nov 2009 and March 2010 (the ‘session – see the minutes linked by 21st floor’) why did she want to be ‘on’ the committee, and why did anyone agree ?

    While I’m exclaiming about the U.K.’s political system, how could any of the multiple MP’s who defrauded the public of ten thousand plus pounds get pre-selected, let alone elected ?

  6. davidp said,

    I see Dorries was on the Science and Technology Committee and is now on the Health Select Committee, so it’s a move (or a re-organisation of committees?) but the questions still mostly stand.

  7. dt said,

    “Since a Dana Ullman drive by is like having next door’s dog shit on your lawn, is a Mark Struthers drive-by like having next-doors cat piss on your front room carpet?”

    Cyberpussy Struthers is not like nextdoor’s cat. He was a feral animal, but has been thoroughly domesticated to residence within this blog. Like all cats, he favours regularly dropping dead mice in our laps to show us how much we are loved by him, but he also pisses in our trainers from time to time – something we must tolerate as part of the natural behaviour in elderly, demented felines.

  8. Margaret said,

    A member of my family is a Heart Surgeon and I can assure you Dorries does not know what she is talking about most of the time. She certainly has NOT got the nursing qualifications she would like us to believe.
    I shudder that she is on ANY committee let alone health. In fact I cringe that she is an MP
    Her blog used to read like someone writing a novel. The more you read her past blogs the more you become concerned that she is in Politics !

  9. Cybertiger said,

    Margaret twittered,

    “A member of my family is a Heart Surgeon and I can assure you Dorries does not know what she is talking about most of the time. ”

    Eh?

    You’re talking about my MP there – and I’m glad she knows what’s she’s talking about at least some of the time. As it happens I’m a Prison Doctor and my great uncle was a GP in South Africa, so I really do know what Dorries is talking about.

  10. Cybertiger said,

    PS. I’m glad jdc523 and dt are on holiday at last. May the Lord be praised!

  11. The Year In Nonsense. And Stuff. « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    [...] ended for me with the depressing and surprising news that Nadine Dorries and David Tredinnick had somehow become members of the newly-formed Select Committee on Health. Why anyone would want [...]

  12. Homeopathy-Supporting Hunt as Health Secretary: Cabinet Reshuffle Shows Cameron’s Choices As Bad As Ever « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    [...] 2010, I wrote of my surprise on discovering that Nadine Dorries and David Tredinnick had been appointed to the Select Committee on Health. Cameron seems to have gone one better with [...]

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