Watch out, Caplin’s about

July 31st, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, celebs, homeopathy, nutritionists, religion | 3 Comments »

Watch out, Caplin’s about

Ben Goldacre
Thursday July 31, 2003
The Guardian

Talk bad science

· Browsing through the August edition of Marie Claire, looking for preposterous cosmetics ads I hasten to add (stand by for next week), what could be more delightful for the noble bad-science spotter than to come across a photo story about Cherie Blair, also featuring her great friend and aide, New Ager Carole Caplin. Cherie seems much more relaxed around Caplin, Marie Claire reports, and “a homeopathic tincture stands on the table”. “Miss Caplin is back, looming over her to touch up her lipstick,” the journalist writes. Run, Cherie, run!

· It’s possible you don’t know just how bad science Caplin’s world is. Here is a brief tour. When Cherie was suffering with swollen ankles, Caplin introduced her to “Jack Temple, Homeopathic Dowser Healer”, as his website says. Here is Jack on cramp: “For years many people have suffered with cramp. By dowsing, I discovered that this is due to the fact that the body is not absorbing the element ‘scandium’ which is linked to and controls the absorption of magnesium phosphate.” And on general health complaints: “Based on my expertise in dowsing _ I noted that many of my patients were suffering from severe deficiencies of carbon in their systems. The ease in which people these days suffer hairline fractures and broken bones is glaringly apparent to the eyes that are trained to see.”

· Being a devout Catholic, Cherie might want to bear in mind the Vatican’s “Christian Reflection on the New Age” document released a few months ago. At the time, Cardinal Poupard said you’d be better off believing in “encounters with aliens” than New Age “weak thinking”. And the Vatican should know: they’ve got a committee of scientists retained to make certain that miracles are inexplicable by modern science before they make you a saint.

· Caplin also once worked for the 5,000-strong cult Exegesis, who were accused of brainwashing, and who recruited people by saying that its therapy methods could solve personal problems. David Mellor, then a Home Office minister, condemned the organisation as “puerile, dangerous and profoundly wrong” and it was investigated by the police (although no charges were ever brought). Its leader was a Rolls Royce driving businessman, the son of a meat salesman from Essex who changed his name from Robert Fuller to Robert D’Aubigny.

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3 Responses

  1. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 29, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Jack Temple again here, this time protecting Leo Blair from MMR:

    Cherie ‘took Leo to pendulum healer in place of MMR jab’
    By Tom Leonard, Media Editor
    (Filed: 13/03/2004)

    Cherie Blair did not allow her youngest child, Leo, to have the controversial MMR vaccine and instead asked a New Age healer to wave a “magic” pendulum over him, it was alleged yesterday.

    Peter Foster, the convicted fraudster, claims that Jack Temple, a former market gardener with no medical qualifications, was also asked by Mrs Blair to swing his crystal pendulum over a lock of the Prime Minister’s hair and some of his finger-nail clippings.

    Foster, who was at the heart of the “Cheriegate” affair, also alleges that Mrs Blair and Carole Caplin, her friend and lifestyle adviser, urged Tony Blair to consult a “higher being” called The Light to find out if it was safe to go to war in Iraq.

    These claims – among others – are the latest to be made by the Australian conman, a former boyfriend of Miss Caplin and the man who advised Mrs Blair on the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

    Foster, 44, who has been waging a campaign to embarrass the Blairs and his ex-girlfriend since a deal with a tabloid newspaper to publish his life story fell through, also revealed more details about Mr Blair’s “intimate relationship” with Miss Caplin and the extent of his own contact with Mrs Blair.

    His latest broadside, e-mailed to newspapers from his home on the Gold Coast in Queensland, failed to elicit a response from either Miss Caplin or Downing Street.

    Although outlandish, the medical claims cannot be automatically discounted as Mrs Blair did indeed receive treatment from Mr Temple, a self-styled “homoeopathic dowser healer”, at his healing centre in West Byfleet, Surrey.

    Mr Temple, who also boasted of having the Duchess of York and Jerry Hall, the former model, among his clients, was introduced to the Prime Minister’s wife by Miss Caplin, whose mother was a close friend of the healer. He treated Mrs Blair’s swollen ankles by swinging his pendulum over her and with strawberry leaves grown inside the electromagnetic field of a neolithic-style stone circle in his garden.

    Unfortunately, Mr Temple died last month – his coffin was carried out of his bungalow by four shaven-headed monks in ochre robes and buried within his stone circle – so he was unable to confirm or deny treating Leo.

    There has been a continuing row over the Blairs’ refusal to say whether Leo was given the MMR vaccine, despite their public endorsement of it.

    Miss Caplin, who wrote a newspaper article last weekend defending critics of the vaccine, refused to comment on Foster’s claims yesterday. However, insiders insist that she has repeatedly claimed that Leo has not been vaccinated with the combined jab.

    According to Foster, the Prime Minister “allowed” his wife to take Leo to Mr Temple, who offered an idiosyncratic New Age blend of crystal dowsing, energy-enhancing neolithic circles, oriental medicine, Hebrew teaching, homoeopathy and herbalism.

    Mr Blair had agreed, he said, to Mr Temple waving a pendulum over Leo to protect him from mumps, measles and rubella.

    Foster also called on the Prime Minister to admit that he allowed his wife to give Mr Temple some of his own hair and nail clippings.

    Mr Temple stored such cuttings in jars of alcohol preservative and claimed that he needed only to swing his pendulum over the jar to know if their owner was healthy or ill.

    Foster also claimed that Mrs Blair and Miss Caplin encouraged the Prime Minister to have the latter’s mother, Sylvia, “douse and consult The Light, believed by Sylvia to be a higher being or God, by use of her pendulum” to determine if it was safe to go to war in Iraq.

    The Government has attempted to drown out Foster’s steady trickle of embarrassing allegations under a barrage of contempt for the man making them.

    A Downing Street spokesman toed the same line yesterday. He said: “We are focused on more important things. We are not going to dignify the accusations with a response.”

    Mrs Caplin and her daughter have both dined regularly at No 10 and joined the Blairs on holiday. Sylvia Caplin told the Telegraph last year that she opposed the MMR vaccine. “It has definitely caused autism,” she said.

  2. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 29, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    We move on to what is potentially a very political subject: the MMR vaccine. The Blairs publicly endorsed it, then caused a minor furore by refusing to say whether their baby, Leo, had been inoculated. Sylvia [Caplin] doesn’t hesitate: “I’m against it,” she says. “I’m appalled at so much being given to little children. The thing about these drugs is the toxic substance they put the vaccines in – for a tiny child, the MMR is a ridiculous thing to do.

    “It has definitely caused autism. 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. Do you not think that’s going to have an effect on a tiny child? Would you allow it? No – too much, too soon, in the wrong formula.”

    If a mother is determined to let her baby have the MMR, she advises single vaccines, well spaced. She also thinks that the manufacturers should think about making a quarter-strength formula but, fundamentally, believes that all vaccinations are bad – tetanus, diphtheria and the rest. Whew. I think we can see why the Blairs have never told us about Leo. If they had given him the MMR vaccine, Auntie Sylvia might have gone ballistic. If they haven’t, which seems more likely, the headlines would be haunting them to this day.

  3. james said,

    January 30, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    Ha! Penta water 🙂

    This would be alot funnier if it wasn’t so serious