Bent Spoon Nominations

The nominations for 2019 are:

  • SBS-TV Medicine or Myth?
  • Dr Thierry Beths and Melbourne University
  • Good Price Pharmacy

  • Nominee: SBS-TV Medicine or Myth?

    Nominated by: Gary Bakker
    Date: 12/6/2019

    Every episode of SBS-TV’s Medicine or Myth? television program misinforms the public as to how products and therapies can or should be tested for safety and effectiveness. What is displayed is ‘television’, not ‘science’. In particular, the episode telecast on June 2 included a segment on ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques’ — a process of tapping “with two fingers” (why two?) on putative points along one’s “meridians” to relieve stress. It is referred to as “psychological acupuncture”. I am a clinical psychologist and had a review of this technique — and its cousin procedure, Thought Field Therapy — published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Psychologist in 2013. (“The current status of energy psychology: Extraordinary claims with less than ordinary evidence.”) The review revealed that every “clinical trial” that claimed to support the effectiveness of these “energy psychology” techniques had major methodological flaws, and that every trial that used a meaningful control group found no effect beyond placebo. The panel on Medicine or Myth? was convinced to extol the tapping procedure’s effectiveness by a momentary trial targeting a back pain in one of the presenters, and then an uncontrolled trial among a tiny number of subjects who reported their subjective impressions of success. This may have been good television, but it was abysmal science, and highly irresponsible when people with real psychological issues are likely to be misdirected toward quackery and away from help that we know is effective beyond short-term, shallow placebo effects.

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    Nominee: Dr Thierry Beths and University of Melbourne

    Nominated by: Hugh Ham
    Date: 12/6/2019

    Dr Thierry Beths, Head of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Assistant Professor in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia at the University of Melbourne, and the University itself, for promoting animal acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.

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    Nominee: Good Price Pharmacy

    Nominated by: Geoff Andrews
    Date: 27/6/2019

    The Good Price Pharmacy gives away a magazine called Natural Health Crusader which is in reality an advertising channel for Caruso Natural Health Products. Although the propagation of unproven therapies alone should be enough to win them the award, they also use Pete Evans to push their products, with an interview “How Pete Evans Changed our Lives”. Evans is a supporter of the anti-vaccination movement, which worships at the feet of the discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield. Although the article does not mention vaccination, anyone reading it could come to the conclusion that Evans is a Great Guy and must be right about vaccination too. Ironically, this magazine is placed on the counter of the pharmacy next to a poster hyping their vaccination service for influenza.

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