Abuse of privilege

Simon Singh finds Charles Windsor less than reasonable on the subject of alternative “medicine.”

The heir to the throne will not accept that treatments such as homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic therapy do not work in the vast majority of cases, according to Simon Singh.

Speaking at the Hay Festival in Kerala, India, Singh said that hundreds of scientific studies had concluded that alternative medicine is ineffective.

Yet despite this, the Prince of Wales continues to believe the therapies can help patients because of his ideological commitment to the natural world, Singh said.

‘He only wants scientific evidence if it backs up his view of the natural treatment of health conditions,’ he said.

‘We presented evidence that disputes the value of alternative medicine and despite this he hasn’t changed his mind,’ he told the festival, which is sponsored by The Daily Telegraph.

This is because he is ‘ideologically fixated’ about the benefits of nature, he claimed. ‘It’s a shame, because he’s so influential.’

Exactly so, and he abuses his (unearned, inherited) influence to persuade credulous people to use bogus medical “treatments.” It’s an outrage, and he should be wracked with shame.


  1. Sithrazer says

    I’ve been to a chiropractor for back pain (spine was doing a weird sideways curve). I know it’s not some mystical cure-all, but I can’t help but think that there are instances where chiropractic treatment is appropriate (namely, spinal care). I’ve seen studies debunking it for general medical care, but does anyone know of any studies focusing on spinal care?

  2. Omar Puhleez says

    In the light of the above, can I be so bold as to suggest a new version of the Brit national anthem?

    God save our gracious Queen,
    Long may she be around,
    God save the Crown.
    We pray with one accord
    Grant us this gift dear Lord
    Don’t take her off the board
    Don’t take our Queen.

    We sing this prayer because
    We would be left with Chos
    And he’s a (bit of a) dill.
    But should he e’er gain the throne
    Don’t take him there alone
    Just take his mobile phone,
    God save the Crown!

  3. Brenda says

    Philip and I would like to apologise. It appeares Charles was inadvertantly dropped as a sprog. Seems inevitable that the homeopathy was less than successful. The grandson seems almost sane though. Ta Ta…

  4. sithrazer says

    I had to look that term up, never heard physical therapy termed that way before. It wasn’t a debilitating issue…at least not at that point, it was a frequent annoyance. I can’t imagine any amount of strength training and stretches would have done it any good. My pelvis tipped one way and my shoulders the other way by about an inch.

    Given my experience with the physical therapists my Aunt has had to deal with, I’m not real sure I’d be comfortable with going to see one.

  5. roger says

    Royalty and “alternative medicine” have this in common: both have no evidence to support them but are unconditionallly accepted by some people. It’s not surprising that Charlesbelieves strongly in both. There actually used to be an “alternative therapy”- the King’s Touch as a cure for scrofula- which rested on belief in the royal connexion with god.

  6. says

    As if it’s not embarrassing enough to have a royal family in the first place, Charles Windsor has been doing his level best for decades to make us even more of a laughing stock. His irrational fascination with alternative medicine is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Recently, we found out that he’s also had effective power of veto over some proposed new laws! He has no special status. He’s not a member of the government. He wasn’t elected. He’s a subject of the queen like the rest of us. But somehow he gets to veto laws if he doesn’t like them. Because MPs just decided to do offer him those opportunities. Perhaps they all want OBEs and knighthoods.

    Windsor somehow manages to be hugely influential, despite the fact that virtually everyone seems to agree that he’s a joke. He’s dangerous.

  7. says

    I had to look that term up, never heard physical therapy termed that way before

    I don’t know whether physiotherapists as we have them in the UK are exactly the same things as physical therapists in places like the US.

    I can’t imagine any amount of strength training and stretches would have done it any good. My pelvis tipped one way and my shoulders the other way by about an inch.

    Why can’t you imagine that? It’s the sort of thing I’d seek proper medical advice about rather than guessing.

    Physios in the UK deal with that kind of problem all the time and not only with stretches. They also do massage, give advice about posture, lifestyle etc. and no doubt a whole bunch of other stuff. It’s all tried, tested, approved and insured. They’re medical professionals. By contrast, chiropractic treatment can be dangerous, its efficacy is in serious doubt and as you say, many practitioners promise things they definitely can’t do. For instance, here in the UK, some chiropractors have disgracefully claimed that they can treat autism in children by manipulating the skull. I’m not sure I can give the benefit of the doubt to a profession where claims like this are still pretty widespread.

    Physio training is perfectly transparent and accredited. Chiropractic training seems a lot less clear.

    Perhaps physiotherapists and physical therapists are different things, but I’d advise anyone to go to a physio rather than a chiropractor every time.

  8. says

    I’m voting for a better prince next time.

    Good idea. Do you want the one who dresses up as a nazi or the one who describes fellow soldiers as “rag heads” and “pakis”?

  9. Ray Moscow says

    @latsot: Don’t we have any Tudors left? Now, those folks knew how to run a country and deal with heretics. (OK, that option would not be so good for the Irish.)

    It is kind of hard for me as a newish Brit to get my head around the extent of hereditary political power that endures here. (Not that the USA, with its Bush legacy and its not-so-hidden-anymore plutocracy, is any better.)

  10. says

    Don’t we have any Tudors left?

    No, I think we ran out of them in 1603 (if I remember rightly) when Elizabeth I died. Since there was no heir we did what we always do in these situations and simply imported a royal from somewhere else. In this case – conveniently – from Scotland.

    We don’t even have the (dubious at best) excuse that our royals are members of an ancient family that has ruled Britain for hundreds of years. We frequently run out of royals and just send off for new ones by mail order. We seem to have been perfectly happy to accept any bugger as king or queen providing they had their own crown and corgis.

  11. Sithrazer says

    They may not be quite the same, but the search redirected me to ‘physical therapy’, so I don’t know.

    It’s been over 10 years, and I was in highschool at the time, so I don’t recall where his credentials came from, but he did have some form of medical degree and (at least not in my presence) wasn’t prone to making wild claims. Most physical therapists, in my experience, seem to have nursing degrees and/or personal trainer instruction…not a lot of ‘professional medical advice’ credibility. Especially with all the other woo I do hear them espousing to my aunt.

    I know, it’s anecdotal and personal experience that, in all likelihood, is not indicative of ‘normal’. Which is why I wondered if anyone knew of a study that looked into non-mystical claims of chiropracty.

    It wasn’t a muscle problem or trauma related. I wasn’t on the football team, but I could keep up with the varsity team in the weight room. The chiropractor was covered by insurance, physical therapy (at least in this instance) was not. I’ve had back issues that were caused by straining or pulling something, and that’s always been a ‘painkillers and stretching’ routine (physicians recommendation).

    …my inner asshole wants to point out ‘guessing’ and the fact that what doctors do is called ‘practice’. It is safe to ignore this line, however.

  12. Roger says

    ” For instance, here in the UK, some chiropractors have disgracefully claimed that they can treat autism in children by manipulating the skull.”

    I don’t think they do that any more, Latsot.
    When the British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for describing chiropracters as quacks he cited chiropracters’ claims on websistes and publicity to be able to treat autism, cancer and other ailments. Chiropracters withdrew these claims because they did not have even anecdotal evidence to support them and concentrated entirely on whether- as they claimed- the term quack implied they were lying when they made these claims or- as Singh claimed- they were merely ignorant and deluded.

  13. says

    “I don’t think they do that any more, Latsot.”

    I think you’re right, for the most part. Simon’s work on this was brilliant.

    I’m willing to bet we could still find some chiropractors claiming improbable things, however.

    And I’m not willing to accept that a chiropractor is a better option for any complaint at all than is a properly trained medical professional.

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