An Open Letter from Simon Singh to David Tredinnick MP

Simon Singh responds to David Tredinnick MP’s announcement that he is reporting the Good Thinking Society to the Charity Commission:

Dear David Tredinnick MP,

I was literally in the middle of writing you a Christmas card (honestly, it’s true), when I learned that on 20 December, in a session about evidence-based medicine in Parliament, you announced: “I have reported the so-called Good Thinking Society to the Charity Commission for the abuse of its charitable status.”

I await details of your complaint and am happy to respond to the Charity Commission if necessary.

My original card was prompted by two other recent statements made by you in Parliament. On 22 November, you suggested that it was an “absolutescandal” that Good Thinking had charitable status.

Then on 8 December, I was concerned that you promoted the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the treatment of cancer: “There is a very long list of types of cancer that can be treated using traditional Chinese herbal medicine: cervical cancer, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, HIV, colon cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. The list goes on.”

In the Christmas card, I was going to suggest that we meet to discuss the evidence for and against Traditional Chinese Medicine, as I think your interpretation of the evidence is far too positive, and possibly dangerous if it influences patients towards acupuncture and herbal medicine. I was also going to suggest that we meet so that we can discuss any concerns that you might have about Good Thinking, and so I can explain our work, which ranges from trying to improve the accuracy of advertising in the osteopathy and chiropractic professions to promoting mathematics in schools.

As you know, Good Thinking has written to you in the past, when we offered to test your surprising claims that astrology has something to offer healthcare professionals. Although the Three Wise Men were successful in following a star to Bethlehem, I suggest that it is unwise to encourage doctors to consult a horoscope before removing a gall bladder.

When we wrote to you in 2015, you said that you were too busy to engage with Good Thinking. It was as if Good Thinking was the last thing on your mind. You seemed to reject Good Thinking, and I suspect that you want to continue to close your mind to the merits of Good Thinking.

Now that your schedule offers you enough free time to report Good Thinking to the Charity Commission, I will take the opportunity to remind you that the offer of a meeting is still open. I think it would be a good use of your time to find out what we do and why we do it, and then your criticisms in Parliament might be better informed and could be taken more seriously.

You may no longer be on our Christmas card list, but I still wish you a merry Christmas and here’s to an evidence-based 2017.

Simon Singh
Founder of Good Thinking.

Although we have not heard anything from David Tredinnick MP, the Charity Commission has contacted Good Thinking and it has also communicated its conclusion to the publication Civil Society. The Charity Commission stated: “Having carefully considered concerns raised with us about the Good Thinking Society, we concluded that there was no breach of charity law or non-compliance with our guidance by the charity.”