University of Toronto Health Fair Brings Everyone but Actual Health Providers

March 24, 2010

Quackery abounds. First on March 7 the Centre for Inquiry's Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism reports on the harsh critique of homeopathy offered by the British Parliament - " Time to Call Time on Homeopathy ."  Within a couple of weeks, coverage by me and my friend Michael Payton of the Total Health show in Toronto was published in the National Post - " If It Talks Like a Quack ".

So when I got an alert from one of our volunteers about yet another quackery convention under the euphemism of the Health and Wellness symposium I wasn't thrilled, but it was at my alma mater, the University of Toronto, so I thought it was my duty to check it out.  Pam Walls, Derek Pert and I rushed over.  And this is what we found:

Do you see angels?  They do.
Do you see angels? They do.

The exhibitors included reps from a group organizing a series on "Lectures on How to Read Signs" which includes exposes on dreams, angels and symbols.  I gave them my birthday and time was told that I have 3 angels presiding over my birth apparently as some sort of divine midwives.  Celine of UCM Publishing assured me my angels were "good ones."  "Are there any bad ones," I asked.  "Not really."

Adam Awad, VP of Student Affairs at the University of Toronto, proudly oversees the student government sponsored quackery fair
Adam Awad, VP of Student Affairs at the University of Toronto, proudly oversees the student government sponsored quackery fair

I then strolled over to the student union table.  Apparently the University of Toronto student government had organized the "Health" fair. Adam Awad , the VP of Student Affairs, explained that it was sponsored but not funded by the student union, although he had to admit that he was spending his work day, as a student tuition paid employee, supervising the event.  He also defended the day as giving free time to any health or wellness organization that wanted in, physicians included.

So I asked him how the event was organized.  Well actually, he responded, the student government outsourced the day to Campus Zen , and they chose who to invite.  That invitation list included pyshics, reiki practitioners, massage therapists and reflexologists (the latter seem to be a niche market of the former), and homeopaths.  But no dentists or physicians.  As Mr. Awad explained, they can be found in clinics.  Of course, so can the aforementioned quackery, but they were also here, on my campus, presided over by a VP of the student union.

Awad had one ace up his sleeve. Not to worry he assured me, the keynote presentation was being given by a Dr. Bryce Wylde, a legitimate doctor.  His credentials :

1. HD = homeopathic "doctor"
2. NRD = registered nutrition consultant
3. DHMHS = This one took me a while to find since Wylde seems to be one of three people that has this accredition.  It actually is a "Diploma in Homeopathic Medical Health Sciences", as awarded by the incredibly prestigious Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine

I'll leave it to my dear reader to decide if these qualifications bump Dr. Wylde up to legitimate doctor status.

As one of CFI's volunteers who participated in the day, Derek Pert, put it: "what amazes me is the perceived respectability of any outfit that comes up with its own system."  Good point.  These internally regulated organizations like the "College of Homeopathic Medicine" hijack the language and infrastructure of legitimate science to appear more valid than they in fact are, and we need to do everything we can to point that out.

Finally, there was also a psychic there, but only briefly.  She had no business so she packed it up and left.  Too bad she didn't see that coming.  The student government could have made better use of her empty table.