Yesterday saw the release of a much needed review into the transparency of our Therapeutic Goods Administration. It was needed for many reasons. One deeply concerning issue is the sheer volume of “alternative” ineffective concoctions making grandiose claims without public awareness that there’s no scientific evidence to back these claims.
Products adorning the shelves of all pharmacies claiming to “boost immunity”, “ward off fatigue”, “improve sleep” and so on, do not, under current legislation have to prove they are effective. They must more or less comply to a list of relatively risk free ingredients and the sponsors must merely “self certify” that there is evidence that they work. With these trivialities out of the way, Dr. Hokus and Professor Pokus are free to scoop as much money from a gullible public as they wish.
On the positive side one must “opt in” to the notion that Essence of Moonbeam will improve cognition and memory. We are not obligated by medical legislation to buy these products simply because we’ve walked into a public pharmacy – usually in pursuit of pharmaceuticals. There’s no charismatic charlatan shoving colourful books at our children indicating in comic format that a dose of Liquid Liveliness or a particular ritual meditation will see a cadaverous little Johnny up and springing about with his friends. It isn’t compulsory that children be followed to the dispensary by someone arguing that medications are really drugs and we all know what happens to Drug Users! Warning that the “pharmacist is a friend of The Underworld Gangsters”.
No volunteers are proselytising that natural preparations are the path to true health salvation. The way to live a long and happy life. Certainly there’s nobody leading our children aside and telling them if they don’t spend up big on snake oil horrific things will happen to them. They aren’t fed exciting stories about the poor child on antibiotics for chronic bronchitis who followed a friends advice and switched to Himalayan bark mold and now enjoys robust health. Our children wouldn’t have to endure stories about a poor wandering Herb Gatherer who, 2,000 years ago discovered the secret to all our health woes and died a terrible death for our stupidity in pursuing rational treatments or for seeking evidence. He stood up against the horror of science and reason and for that died. But came alive again and went to a Magic Garden filled with healthy herbs.
Or that “He” now still watches over everyone paying close attention to exactly what we do or do not take to care for our vital essence, chakra vitality and quanto-kinetic energy vibrations. If we use the unproven remedies, children aren’t told that we go to the Magic Garden forever and ever. Or that if we use the evidence based medications the wicked pusher doctor – trained in the evil of medicine – prescribed for us we go to the Never Ending Nightmare of sickness and suffering. They wouldn’t be told it’s “for our own good” and that the CEO of Big Placebo and the dead wandering Herb Gatherer loves each and every one of us. In fact they have always loved us – even before we were born.
They aren’t told that the CEO, the Herb Gatherer and a Magic Chakra are actually a Trinity of one, but also individual and separate beings at the same time. Or told the Chakra came to earth to make a mummy for the Herb Gatherer on the instructions of the CEO. The Herb Gatherers daddy, Harry the Homeopath isn’t his real daddy then, but that’s okay because the Magic Chakra is also the CEO of Big Placebo and can make any decision.
Imagine the absurdity of our children being told by these volunteers in the pharmacy that to merely exercise a choice over product selection – indeed even think about doing that – was actually committing a special sort of bad stupidity. A stupidity called “sin” that must be undone by going and performing a series of pilates postures under a full moon whilst a strangely dressed reiki practitioner slaps dead fish upon people chanting incomprehensibly. Until that’s done the dead Herb Gatherer and the boss of Big Placebo are deeply saddened by their “wicked” thoughts and the fact they will go to the Never Ending Nightmare. But a few postures later and the odd welt smelling of dead fish and the Magic Chakra within them is all fixed and they’re back in line for The Magic Garden.
If we politely stress that whilst we respect the “natural” approach, but that we have our own views on supplements we aren’t told that “the will of Big Placebo will not be thwarted”. If perchance such a bizarre scenario unfolded time and again as we visited the pharmacy effecting our children’s peace of mind and indoctrinating them in lifestyle ideas we as parents find dangerously unacceptable and demonstrably false, we would be confident a complaint would lead to a proper review of events.
In this modern age of reason it’s unthinkable that the federal health minister would accept this conduct is acceptable and insist present guidelines are enough to dismiss our concerns. Or argue that it is compulsory after all and guidelines stress that volunteers for Big Placebo can’t persuade children about the Magic Garden. It says so in the guidelines! It’s all about “values” for healthy herbs – and who would be against a healthy herb garden?
It’s incomprehensible that another “self certification” from Dr. Hokus and Professor Pokus claiming that no, none of that is true, would be acceptable. The mind would boggle if they argued that in fact they had been “under concerted attack”, without actually offering any reason as to why anyone would attack them in this way – other than this is what happened to the Herb Gatherer who warned his followers would suffer the same fate.
That is of course, unless this entire sorry charade is not about bogus medicinal products but religious education. If Doctor Hokus is Evonne Paddison, Professor Pokus is Bishop Stephen Hale and the federal health minister is actually federal education minister, Peter Garrett.
And so it has come to pass. The well documented proselytising of ACCESS Ministries is of no moment to Peter Garrett. A mere Self Certification of adhering to guidelines is all Paddison was required to offer. There need be no evidence that proselytising is not occurring as a promise of effectiveness and perceived low risk seems to suffice. No wonder Evonne Paddison was so confident a mere three days earlier at the ACCESS Rally.
Paddison’s speech here:
Or direct download.
The Age reports today Christian group cleared of urging students to convert, by Jewel Topsfield and Dan Harrison;
A FEDERAL investigation into the Christian group that provides religious education in Victorian schools has found no evidence that its chaplains tried to convert students in breach of government guidelines.
The federal and Victorian governments ordered inquiries after a recording emerged of Access Ministries’ chief executive Evonne Paddison telling a 2008 conference: ”We need to go and make disciples.”
The remarks appeared to breach guidelines that ban chaplains and volunteers who teach special religious instruction in Victorian government schools from proselytising.
But federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said the investigation found there had been no breach of the guidelines and no further action would be taken. He said he had received an explanation for the comments made by Dr Paddison and was satisfied the group was not trying to convert students.
The TGA review states under Recommendation 7: [That] The TGA implement mechanisms to educate and inform the public that listed medicines are not evaluated for effectiveness by the TGA prior to market.
I would venture to suggest that this is exactly what should apply to the evangelistic lessons provided by ACCESS volunteers. False promises and grand claims adorn what is ineffective hokus pokus and is quite likely to interact with reality producing a nasty side effect. This monopoly has never been evaluated for effectiveness prior to being marketed to impressionable children. Any “evidence” is provided on a self certification basis by Evonne Paddison. It has all the credibility of a Facebook profile.
But just what risk does this deception and manipulation of children as “disciples” carry with it?