Friday, 12 March 2010

QMUL sells quackery: The Correspondence

Edit (Mar 13): Just got a very nice reply from Charlotte. Says she was busy last week, but would like to meet in person to discuss this at some point. I'll try to arrange a meeting for sometime next week and report back here.

I wrote about this at the weekend. QMUL  sells homeopathy, and actively advertises it in the reception of the gym. I don't think they should, and would like to find out why they do.
So, on Monday, I sent the email below to Charlotte Kendrick, the manager of QMotion, who I was advised by Simon Levey was probably the person to contact about this. In retrospect, I regret the tone of the email. It is both unnecessarily confrontational and overbearingly condescending (as well as quite officious). I haven't yet had a reply, but I'm not altogether surprised. I've also sent the following message today, requesting a reply in slightly more temperate language:

Today's message:
Dear Charlotte,

I'd like to apologise for the tone of my last email: it was unnecessarily confrontational, especially as I have no idea how much involvement you personally had with the decision to allow homeopaths to use university facilities. However, this is an important issue that I feel quite strongly about, and I would appreciate a reply. If you're not the person I should be contacting about this, please let me know who is, and I'll start bothering them instead.

Monday's (heat of the moment) message. Note the particularly cringe-y "I don't mean to be patronising" - it's almost completely impossible to either say or write those words without a. being patronising and b. sounding like a dick. (even if I did genuinely mean them).
Dear Charlotte,

I am a member of the QMotion gym, and a PhD student in the maths department at Queen Mary University. I was somewhat surprised, and frankly quite disappointed, when I noticed the other day that QMotion allows a homeopath to use their treatment rooms once a week, and actively advertises homeopathy as a 'safe and gentle form of complimentary (sic) medicine' which 'can be used to treat most diseases'. Homeopathy is an anti-scientific and ineffective medicine, which has been shown time and time again to perform no better than a placebo in randomised controlled trials (I'm more than willing to provide citations for this if you need them). I don't think that QMotion should be encouraging its use and I was told that you were probably the person to contact about this.

I suggest that the relationship between QMotion and Surrey Homeopathy for Health be ended as soon as possible, and if this is not to be done, would at least like an explanation as to why you (or whoever is in charge of these decisions) consider it appropriate to continue to associate the name of the Student Union (and by extension the University) with a treatment which has absolutely no credible theory to support it and no evidence whatever for its efficacy.


PS - I don't mean to be patronising, but in my experience many people simply aren't aware of quite how ridiculous the rationale behind homeopathy is. In case you're one of those people, here's a good explanation (written by Matt Parker, who also works in the maths department)

PPS - I have already written about this on my blog ( and will probably post some/all of any reply you send me there. Hope you don't have a problem with this.

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