Revelation TV & Felicity Corbin Wheeler

In a previous blog post, I wrote about Revelation TV promoting Felicity Corbin Wheeler and her views on diet and health. I made reference to her lack of scientific background and my concern that she was advocating the use of unproven therapies and treatments for the prevention and treatment of cancer. I emailed the channel to express my concerns but, undeterred, they have broadcast two more programmes featuring the reverend doctor once again giving her a platform to tell viewers how cancer can be cured by diet. More of that later. First of all, a little more about Corbin Wheeler.

A section of her website is titled ‘Scientific Research’. Purveyors of woo are always keen to legitimise their claims by using science but by so doing, they highlight their ignorance. Trying to validate the use of laetrile for cancer treatment Corbin Wheeler’s website contains the extraordinary statement,

In the mid 1950’s, the American biochemist called Ernst Krebs, known to all medical students for the “Krebs Cycle”, took up the research in Nevada. He was studying the absence of cancer in certain non-industrialised peoples. There are tribes on earth now such as the Hunzas, who do not have cancer. When these people start to eat a western diet, high in animal protein, they succumb like the rest of us.

The Krebs Cycle is, of course, named after Nobel Prize winning biochemist Sir Hans Krebs. Ernst Krebs was a quack. Hopefully no medical students would make such an elementary mistake.

Back to Revelation TV. The programmes were hosted by presenter Howard Conder who is quite happy to tell viewers about his lack of science education. He sets the background by declaring that the programme will look at ‘both sides’. The ‘other side’ turns out to be reading from a print-out of the CancerResearch UK website. Next we have the staple of ‘alternative’ therapies – YouTube videos. A succession of naturopaths and chiropractors give their views about cancer and diabetes being lifestyle choices. Both programmes ramble through an assortment of quack therapies but fortunately Revelation TV has provided a handy downloadable summary rather oddly called Gary Tunsky on Cells with header.(pdf) In this document Corbin Wheeler sets out the steps we need to take to prevent and treat cancer, complete with scientific explanations. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • All disease originates at the molecular and cellular level, not at the organ or system level as we’re led to believe by Western medicine. This is a meaningless statement but the use of the term ‘Western medicine’ sets the scene for what’s to come.
  • We need photon light and electromagnetic energy, and our cells need photon light and electromagnetic energy. Photon light? ‘Photon’ is a sciencey word – that’s why it’s there.
  • The DNA helix coils act as transmitters and receivers of cellular information in the form of electromagnetic pulse energy sent to neighbouring and distant cells, similar to a radio antenna that receives and transmits frequency messages. Absolute gibberish!
  • A healthy body functions best when it’s slightly alkaline. To measure the body’s pH you’d have to put it through a blender first. That’s not recommended. There follows a lengthy explanation of how we must have an alkaline body achievable by eating alkaline foods. This nonsense has been thoroughly debunked by Quackwatch.
  • Over 90% of western population is dehydrated through over-consumption of acidic and dehydrating foods and beverages ….. . Over 90% of people have kidneys that don’t function?
  • It’s my conclusion based on years of research that cancer and AIDS are nothing more or less than a cellular disturbance of the electromagnetic balance. This is stupidity beyond words.

So Corbin Wheeler has the answer to virtually all our health problems. It is of course, eating raw foods, a vegan diet, juicing, colonic irrigation and an alkaline diet. Scientists, oncologists, and doctors are prevented by their ignorance and the influence of the drug companies from treating us in the appropriate manner.

Howard Conder said the programmes would be looking at both sides. He obviously visited the CancerResearch UK website. He must have missed the pages which show that:

(Source: CancerResearch UK)

These results haven’t been achieved by quack diets. They’ve been achieved by hardworking, dedicated scientists using evidence based medicine to relieve suffering.

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The Popularity of Homeopathy

I came across Anarchic Teapot’s blog post on homeopathy a few days ago. Titled “At least the title’s not misleading – Impossible Cure”, it’s well worth a read. It deals with the claims of a proponent of homeopathy that almost everything under the sun, including autism, can be treated by this particular form of quackery. I don’t need to spend any time examining the claims on the site – Anarchic Teapot does a thorough job of eviscerating the content of the website and the claims made by its author. (For those interested the site can be viewed here.)

I stumbled on the website some while ago after googling ‘homeopathy and autism’ and like Mr Teapot, was appalled by views expressed. Much of the content is devoted to promoting a book, ‘Impossible Cure’. The website features a preview of Chapter 1, Homeopathy Revealed. Part of this deals with the’popularity’ of homeopathy and contains the statement,

…….. in England, 42 percent of physicans refer patients to homeopaths

Really? Almost half of the doctors in England refer patients to homeopaths? That doesn’t fit with my, albeit limited, experience. I sought out the source of this statistic and found it in a paper published in the British Medical Journal. The authors were R Wharton and G Lewith. George Lewith’s Wikipedia entry says he ‘is a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Southampton, where he leads the Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit. He is a prominent advocate of complementary medicine in the UK.’ He was involved with the now defunct Prince of Wales’ Foundation for Integrated Medicine and is now vice chair of the inappropriately named College of Medicine.

The full text of the BMJ paper can be viewed here (pdf). The ‘research’ consisted of sending a postal questionnaire to 200 general practitioners in Avon of whom 145 responded. The questionnaire was made up of twelve questions, one of which asked about referral patterns. 68 GPs (42%) of the sample reported referring patients to homeopaths.These results were published in the BMJ in 1986 and this is the source of the much vaunted claim that nearly half of the doctors in England refer patients to homeopaths. The report itself reads like a poor piece of GCSE coursework and I’m staggered that it ever reached the pages of the British Medical Journal. I can summarise it quite easily,

Over a quarter of a century ago, a shoddy piece of research found that a few GPs in a small part of England  sent a handful of patients for treatment by homeopaths.

Such is their desperation, this bogus statistic appears regularly on the websites of homeopaths. It has been used by Dana Ullman and Nancy Malik. Knowing the weakness of their position, they crave respectability and resort to Argumentum ad populum.

The reality is of course that homeopathy in the UK is in rapid decline. According to the British Homeopathic Association, in 2011 400 GPs used homeopathy in their everyday practice. That’s 400 out of 41 000, or 0.98%.

0.98% is a long way short of 42%