The saga of alternative medicine coverage in the Science Museum, London: an update!
My colleague (well, ex-colleague now he’s gone and emigrated!) Alex Davenport wrote a post for my blog describing an exhibit up in the Art and Science of Medicine section of the Science Museum that he’d taken issue with.
For good reason; it was full of advertising for alt med practitioners, a complete lack of scientific examination of beliefs and traditions of alt med types they’d chosen to present – but simply reiterating the beliefs and often presenting them ambiguously in a way that could easily be misinterpreted as promotion or at least uncertainty about their efficacy.
Simon Singh had resigned from the museum’s board of trustees partly due to this exhibit – fighting a lawsuit brought by the British Chiropractic Association at the time; it’s difficult to defend your stance of calling out baseless alt med claims as ‘bogus’ when the Science Museum is giving them time and you’re apparently supporting that!!
As a result of Alex’s post, the museum issued a response.
Then, Alex and I wrote a reply on the Guardian website and David Colquhoun published his own material on the exhibit. I wrote one quick update and a longer one going over the ‘Living Medical Traditions‘ exhibit in a bit more detail, with links to photos of some of the displays.
Amazingly, after all this, the Museum invited us (myself, Alex, Simon Singh and David Colquhoun) to a meeting with their Director and a couple of his colleagues to discuss some possible changes.
This was all very encouraging, as Alex summarised in this post. The director sent some proposed corrections to the three of us, we mused on it, added our points and got back to them, but as far as I was aware there were no further developments.
Some happy news?
So today, I got a comment on the original Wooseum post and the person who had informed David of the exhibit sent him an email.
John said: Its all been removed ! Hopefully in a skip.
From David’s blog:
“Visited Science museum yesterday , wonderful news – all offensive material gone, and different ok stuff there”.
So, if this is true, excellent! However, I wonder if this is a temporary change and the rest will return when they’ve made some minor amendments?
Time will tell. For now, we celebrate!
13/5/11 So DC visited the exhibit and apparently it is true!
5/7/11 Rhys checked things out on 3/7/11 and it is indeed the same, but apparently some proposed changes have been made and subsequently rejected on the grounds that they don’t go far enough. This is really positive so let’s hope for a real update meriting celebration in the near future!