There is a myth in the U.K. that we have a thing called “free speech”. We really love to believe it, too. But in practice, there are some things you are not supposed to tell people about, apparently – and if you try, certain people will try to stop you.
Here is a typical recent example. A certain hypnotherapy ‘e-zine’ (internet magazine) which has links with the medical profession recently offered to publish a piece on the Truth Will Out Campaign, subject to approval. Then, after a bit of discussion, agreed to review my book – you know, the one that destroys the nicotine myth. The book that totally discredits the whole basis of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. This e-zine purports to concern itself primarily with new developments in hypnotherapy. Clearly, a book by a hypnotherapist that destroys the nicotine myth would be news in that context, wouldn’t it?
Now the interesting thing about this was, these people were initially very cordial and open, saying that they were aware of the message of Truth Will Out and generally favourable towards the aims of the campaign. So I sent them a copy of the book. There was a pause, then I got a brief message which apologised for raising my hopes, but there had been a “change of plan”, and that they would not be reviewing my book, “or any other”. Which seems a bit odd for a research publication. They did not say why.
So I asked them. I asked them nicely, but the reply wasn’t very friendly, and it wasn’t very convincing either. I was told that there had been a meeting, at which it was decided that the e-zine “was not a marketing organ and had never carried a book review before”. So I suggested that they could just report on the Truth Will Out Campaign then, which is, after all, aiming to prove to the world that hypnotherapy is the best method for smoking cessation. That should be acceptable enough, since that was what we were talking about originally anyway.
Now, though, they weren’t interested in doing that either – despite the fact that the Truth Will Out Campaign itself is not about marketing, it is about the grim reality that around 5 million people in the world are killed by tobacco every year, an annual mega-disaster that is partly perpetuated by the nicotine myth.
In fact they didn’t even reply. However, in an earlier issue of the E-zine, they did decide, presumably at a different sort of meeting altogether, to report on the crucial issue of the recent antics of a stage hypnotist in the Australian Big Brother House. So for a hypnotherapy research “organ”, they are certainly getting their priorities right there, aren’t they?
Incidentally – in case you were wondering – anyone who finds the Truth Will Out Campaign website acceptable enough would not find anything in the book that should cause them to think again. If anything, the site is more politically forthright – being a campaign – and the book is more entertaining. Being a book. That is not to say that all books are sufficiently entertaining, but they would certainly benefit from having that quality.
So it wasn’t what I’d written about hypnotherapy or compulsive habits that was causing the problem at that meeting in London. No, it was the connections they have with the medical profession, and the fact that important people in that profession wouldn’t take kindly to anyone drawing attention to a book which proves they’ve got it wrong. Especially since it is written by… a hypnotist, of all people!
To quote Harold Shipman: “Doctor Knows Best”
In case you didn’t know, the intellect of doctors is deemed to be of a Higher Order. They cannot be seen to be proven wrong by someone assumed to be of a Lower Order, or the world would come to an end. This fact in itself proves that true, objective Science is not always their top priority, is it? Not if it might cast doubt on the prevailing Order of things. So they find that they cannot engage with the case I’m making on its merits, because they cannot acknowledge my right to speak to them at all. I’m Untouchable, I’m from a Lower Caste knowledge-wise, especially from the point of view of Medical Authority. They cannot possibly countenance learning something from me – that’s unthinkable! So it’s business as usual: “Screw the smokers, we’re sticking with the nicotine myth!”
That’s the truth, and the real problem that those E-zine people in London had with the book is that it proves the case, and publicising that would have real consequences. So instead of reporting on it, they made a cowardly, considered decision to censor the whole thing by omission, thereby playing a part in helping the government to cover up the truth. At your expense, taxpayer. And the cost of… how many more lives?
What if they had another reason?
Some people reading this might think: “What if you’re just missing the obvious? Maybe they didn’t like your book and didn’t want to review it!”
Well firstly, they claimed that they had decided not to review my book simply because they had suddenly ‘realised’ that they don’t do book reviews at all, as an editorial policy. But then they also refused to mention the Truth Will Out Campaign either, which is just censorship. And anyway, they were always free to pan the book if they wanted to, I couldn’t stop them! So to back off in that way clearly indicates a fear of being associated with a direct refutation of the nicotine myth, which would only anger the drug companies, the Department of Health liars and the medical authorities. How cowardly is that, really? These editorial decisions genuinely cost lives – and all to protect the interests of rich and powerful people. It disgusts me. Your “E-zine” is a truly worthless organ. Who cares about stage hypnotists and the Big Brother house? People are suffering and dying in vast numbers, you fools.
Censorship comes in many forms, and for journalists and newspaper editors, the most straightforward mode of censorship is to ignore something totally. All the national newspapers in the UK have been made aware of the Truth Will Out Campaign in one way or another since January 2008. Some of these newspapers have been quoted directly on this site, and stories run by them – often front page stories – are referred to as evidence of what is wrong with the current approvals system for medicines. So they can hardly be uninterested, they are making the same criticisms themselves! They cannot reject the evidence either, as quite a bit of the supporting evidence comes from them. They can’t possibly take up the position that no-one will be interested if NRT is proven to be a bogus medication, when millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is at stake. So why the silence?
In fact, the silence from all these people is deafening: The British Medical Association, The Royal College of Physicians, the drug companies involved, all the doctors, nurses and pharmacists involved in the supply chain, all the people who work for the NHS Smoking Cessation Services. Why is no-one leaping to the defence of NRT, saying “How dare you? This is a fine medication, with a proven track record!”
The answer is simply because they can’t: it isn’t. So their collective silence is both an embarrassed silence and a guilty silence – the only strategy they have left is to pretend the Truth Will Out Campaign does not exist. Or perhaps there might turn out to be some honest and decent souls among them who just can’t bear helping the poison factories exploit smokers to the point of death any longer, who break ranks by admitting openly that they’ve known all this for a while actually, they just didn’t know what to do about it. Comments please!
But what about the “free press” we are supposed to have? Why the silence there?
Sarah Boseley is the Health Editor at The Guardian newspaper, and I wrote to her directly on the 25th July 2008, explaining what the issue was briefly, and asking if she would be interested in looking at the evidence. That’s all. I mean, we’re talking fraud, here, on a massive scale: a government department publishing success rates it knows are utterly misleading, thousands of people dying needlessly, hundreds of millions wasted. I’m telling this journalist I can prove all this, and she doesn’t even want to look at the evidence. No reason given – I mean, can you even imagine any sound reason for that? Censorship in action, folks.
Not long after that, Sarah Boseley co-wrote a front page article in the Guardian exposing the way drug companies spend millions of pounds every year on all-expenses-paid trips to conferences around the world for doctors and other hospital staff, “in what critics say is a massive marketing exercise dressed up as medical education”. To read that, you’d think we were singing from the same hymn-sheet really, wouldn’t you? But no, Sarah didn’t want to know about the nicotine scandal.
I have learned since that Sarah Boseley has sympathy with the journalism of Dr. Ben Goldacre, who is an outspoken rubbisher of alternative medicine generally and very much in the same camp as Edzard Ernst, the Professor Against Complementary Medicine (see below). Ah, I get it. No wonder she didn’t want to talk to me! So the scandal of Nicotine Replacement Poisoning will be very much one of those matters she would be inclined to edit out, rather than edit in, when she is compiling ‘news’. Yeah, o.k. Sarah – long as we understand each other. Of course if I’d known that before I wouldn’t have bothered writing to you in the first place. You probably have hypnotherapists in the same mental bracket as witchdoctors, in your narrow little journalistic mind. Goldacre certainly does, the fool. Fortunately most medical people are not that narrow-minded these days – although they certainly have a very limited idea of what hypnotherapy is capable of achieving, mainly thanks to the publications of men like Ernst and Goldacre. Publication of any kind for such men is effortless, as they are singing the approved tune. They get the opposite of censorship. They are pharmaceutical whores in reality, disguised as Professor and Doctor to create a gloss of ‘credibility’ which fools no-one in the field of alternative medicine, of course. Enjoy your officially-approved, self-important status while you can, boys. You are the ones who are going to look stupid in the long run.
Newspapers have their web-versions too now, and I noticed this story about Edzard Ernst, Exeter University’s Professor Against Complementary Medicine, in the online Times Higher Education (link). He is quoted in this story as saying: “I am not disappointed when a healing study shows no specific healing effect…”
No, Edzard. I bet you’re not. And it’s so easy to arrange them that way, isn’t it, when that’s exactly what you are aiming to ‘prove’.
“…but a strong placebo effect. What would disturb me is if someone said it was rotten science.”
The ‘placebo effect’ also goes by another name: suggestion. It plays a role in all healing procedures, but the real experts with it are the hypnotherapists of course. What Ernst is unwittingly demonstrating in using the term “strong placebo effect” is that suggestion alone can produce an effect that qualifies as “strong” – in other words, hypnotherapy works. Yet elsewhere he claims that his research indicates that for certain key things, including smoking, it doesn’t work. He is completely wrong about that, so I posted a comment to the T.H.E. story to that effect, and also threw in a reference to an article by Robert Verkerk which does accuse Ernst of “rotten science”.
Not long after that, I noticed that my post had been answered by a certain ‘Andy Lewis’, who rips into the Verkerk article, denouncing it scornfully and pointing out that Verkerk is the Director of the Alliance for Natural Health, suggesting a profit motive lies behind his criticism of Ernst’s methods. But who is ‘Andy Lewis’? Follow this link to a very interesting homoeopathy blog, and scroll down to the eighth article, entitled: “Andy Lewis does not want you to read this”
Censorship “in moderation”
So I answered Lewis with another post – but it didn’t appear! Of course, all comments have to be ‘moderated’ (passed) by an editor, you cannot just have people adding stuff to your site without having editorial control, obviously. But that should not be stifling free debate, it should only be to eliminate spam, or offensive material. So I wrote another answer to Lewis’ comment, this time explaining what I think Verkerk meant by the bit Lewis quoted and labelled “incomprehensible”. They did not pass that comment in moderation either, so I wrote a third, quite different answer, and requested that if the editors had a problem with me answering this point, could they please email me and explain?
All three attempts to continue the debate were refused, no reason given. No email. ‘Andy Lewis’ given the last word, no right of reply. That’s not a free press, that’s not free speech. It’s censorship.
Recently another post was blocked in moderation, for no apparent reason. The context was the Champix debate, and all I did was try to provide a link to similar reports of problems, but somebody at the Australian Daily Telegraph didn’t like that apparently. Here’s the page:
I have said elsewhere that I have no professional connection with homoeopathy whatsoever, and know virtually nothing about it. So you may be wondering why the links with homoeopathy sites are cropping up here. It’s simple. There’s a war going on. It is an ideological war, a war of ideas, and it has been going on for almost two centuries but it is really hotting up now. Alternative or complementary medicine is gaining popularity, potentially at the expense of the pharmaceutical giants. So they are doing something about it, and people like Ernst and ‘Andy Lewis’ are playing an active part in that, whether that is actually orchestrated by the drug companies or not. Their attempts to influence public thinking range from mild-mannered to vitriolic, and they seem to have targeted homoeopathy particularly, as if it were representative of ‘alternative’ thinking generally. Which it isn’t, actually – but it is probably regarded by the more aggressive skeptics as the ‘easiest target’.
After all, the skeptics cannot deny the fact that hypnotherapy received official approval from the B.M.A. and their American counterparts half a century ago. They did not do that on a whim, so when the pseudo-scientific scoffers suggest these days that hypnotherapy is “not proven” they are in fact damning their own institutions! And when they denounce herbal remedies and acupuncture, they run the risk of seriously offending the next global superpower. So, like all bullies, they pick on the little guy, which in this case is homoeopathy.
Does homoeopathy work? I haven’t a clue, I’m a hypnotherapist. But I know for sure hypnotherapy is brilliant for smoking cessation, and Ernst says his methods suggest it isn’t at all, so forgive me if I have more time for Robert Verkerk than Edzard Ernst, and naturally wonder what Ernst, the likes of ‘Andy Lewis’ and the editors of the Times Higher Education – who apparently won’t let me answer Lewis in free debate – are really about. I mean these are the guys that are always bleating on about “evidence”, but they’re censoring the evidence, aren’t they? Just like the drug company that deliberately held back information about Prozac, to make it seem effective when it wasn’t really. Seriously, do you trust their “evidence”? They are not credible, are they?
When moderating comments for the Truth Will Out site, I pass all genuine comments whether they agree with my view or not. I have only stopped one supposedly real comment, from ‘mark’, because it seemed pretty fake, but even then I wrote about it and explained why, then directly quoted the main point anyway, word for mis-spelt word. I want genuine debate. They don’t, because they can’t afford it: the evidence of deceit, manipulation, corruption, lies and corpses are piling up in their corner but not in ours. It’s only a matter of time, because the Truth Will Out.
Wherever this campaign encounters censorship or indeed any attempts to protect the drug companies’ interests at the expense of the truth – and thousands of innocent lives – we’ll let you know, of course.