Saturday May 12, 2007
So normally you just wouldn’t bother with the New Age stuff. The people are pretty friendly and harmless, and they tend not to make too many scientific claims. But Tony Blair stepped over some pretty significant lines.
In 2002 he refused to say whether his son Leo had received the MMR vaccine. From survey data, this was the fact the public remembered best about the vaccine, and it was this move that drove the story away from the specialist health journalists, and into the rabid hands of the generalists.
From that day on, we got our advice on complex immunological and epidemiological issues from political diarists and lifestyle columnists. It’s testament to the poor quality of popular rhetoric on the subject that public perception of the vaccine only recently improved, and not in response to the mass of data showing it to be safe (which has been systematically ignored by all corners of the media), but rather when it was shown that Dr Andrew Wakefield had received hundreds of thousands of pounds for work done for lawyers making a case for MMR’s dangerousness.
We don’t know whether baby Leo eventually received the MMR jab. But what is more interesting is what the Blairs may have done instead. You might remember Carole Caplin, the intuitive people person and life coach who was taken in by convicted fraudster Peter Foster. He did the Blairs’ property deals, of course, and he also says that they took Leo to a New Age healer, Jack Temple, who offered crystal dowsing, homoeopathy, herbalism, and neolithic circle healing in his back garden.
Apparently, says Foster, the prime minister agreed to this bloke waving a crystal pendulum over his son to protect him (and therefore his classmates, of course) from measles, mumps and rubella. And Foster also reckoned that Tony let Cherie give Temple some of his own hair and nail clippings. Temple, who died in 2004, preserved these cuttings in jars of alcohol and said that he only needed to swing his pendulum over the jar to know if the owner was healthy or ill.
Using this crystal dowsing pendulum, Temple claimed he could harness energy from heavenly bodies, and offered remedies with names like Volcanic Memory, Rancid Butter, Monkey Sticks, Banana Stem and my own personal favourite Sphincter, perhaps for courage. Temple was one well-connected cookie. Jerry Hall endorses him. The Duchess of York wrote the introduction to his book.
How likely does all of this sound? It’s just so unrelenting. Cherie Blair was a regular visitor to Carole’s mum, Sylvia Caplin, a spiritual guru. “There was a particularly active period in the summer when Sylvia was channelling for Cherie over two or three times a week, with almost daily contact between them,” the Mail reported. “There were times when Cherie’s faxes ran to 10 pages.”
Sylvia was viciously anti-MMR, as are most alternative therapists. “It has definitely caused autism,” she told the Telegraph. “All the denials that come from the old school of medicine are open to question because logic and common sense must tell you that there’s some toxic substance in it.” One source even claimed that Cherie Blair and Carole Caplin encouraged the prime minister to have Sylvia “douse and consult The Light, believed by Sylvia to be a higher being or God, by use of her pendulum” to decide if it was safe to go to war in Iraq.
And of course the Times described the Blairs’ holiday in Temazcal, Mexico, where they rubbed fruits and mud over each other’s bodies inside a large pyramid on the south end of the beach, and then screamed whilst going through a new age rebirthing ritual. Then they made a wish for world peace.
In my mind, weapons of mass destruction which can be mobilised in 45 minutes are from the same category as creationism and Light Beings. And people who perform New Age peace rituals before initiating death/war situations remind me of those house guests who get outrageously drunk on wine, after extra portions of pudding, and then eat seeds with seaweed juice for breakfast the next morning. Washed down with a sanctimonious speech on alternative lifestyles.
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