My first QED, and Naturopathic Diaries wins an Ockham Award

ockham-award-best-blog-2016

I attended my first QED this past weekend in Manchester, England. Question, Explore, Discover is an annual science and skepticism conference, and this year’s QED was the largest in its six-year history. I had a great time and highly recommend that readers attend next year.

I gave a talk on the main stage titled The Right Detox: how to detox an entire belief system in five easy steps. I described how I fell into and then out of being a naturopathic “doctor.” (I hope to be able to link to a video of it in the future.)

Here are some reactions and live tweets from the audience:

Thank you, everyone! It felt so great to have such positive feedback.


Later that evening, I was touched to be given an Ockham Award for Best Blog, hosted by The Skeptic magazine. Thank you to Caroline Watt, who presented the award.

Other Ockham winners were The Good Thinking Society for Best Campaign; Dr. Suzi Gage’s Say Why to Drugs for Best Podcast; and Crispian Jago, who was awarded the Editor’s Choice Ockham. Congratulations!

This was a day that I will never forget.


Writing about my time as a naturopathic doctor has brought difficult moments. I lost friends and gained enemies. I have been accused of defamation by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and its surrogates.

There were times when I wanted to quit. I had several existential crises. I argued with myself that slipping into obscurity may be a better choice, where I could forget my past life as a quack doctor.

My experience at QED reminded me why “Big Naturopathy” needs to be challenged. Patients deserve to know the dangers associated with getting medical care from under-trained practitioners steeped in pseudoscience. Lawmakers need to know that “ND” does not convey medical competency. Rather, it indicates that a person using that title is unequivocally “Not a Doctor.” Allowing naturopaths to become licensed and self-regulated endangers the public good.

I lost my former community after I came out as a whistle-blower, but I’ve gained an international support system of skeptics, scientists, physicians, and friends. I am standing on the shoulders of skeptical giants.

Thank you! And, an extra big thank you to the organizers of QED for putting together such a memorable weekend!

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  • Alablaster

    If not a video, could we have a transcript of your speech? Bravo Britt!! I am a huge fan, and spread the word any way I can. Thanks!

    • http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      Sure–I am really hoping the video gets put up. But if not, I can convert the speech into a blog post. =)

      • Alablaster

        Thank you!

  • http://justthevax.blogspot.com/ Science Mom

    Congratulations Britt, well-earned. You do sceptics and consumers a great service by exposing the sham that naturopathy is and the cost to you isn’t unnoticed.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I have been accused of defamation by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and its surrogates.

    Ha. Wear that badge proudly, Britt!

  • oneleft1

    Keep up the good work. Science rules.

  • https://www.hempista.com/cannabis-spa Hempista

    Congrats Britt!

    Question: On the tweet that shows a slide “Test for food allergies” — surely these food allergy tests that you were giving were the fake natiropath IgG tests and not the real IgE skin tests that we authentic food allergy patients get in a board certified allergist office, right? Was the audience clear on when you were discussing food allergies that it was the fake kind that naturopaths diagnose? Because of all of the allergy faking that goes on, sometimes I have seen that science and skeptic folk who are not familiar with anaphylaxis or authentic IgE Type 1 hypersensitivity may think all food allergies are fake. This, as you know, creates an extremely dangerous environment for those of us with anaphylaxis.

    • http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      For the context of my talk, it didn’t matter. IgE food allergies do not cause schizophrenia.

      • http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

        This is a good point to remember if/when I am discussing food allergies in a skeptic crowd, though.

        • https://www.hempista.com/cannabis-spa Hempista

          Ah…it’s wonderful your award! I am so happy for you and the things you do here are TRULY GOOD and HELPFUL for medical patients with severe problems.

  • Katatonic

    Congratulations and please don’t “slip into obscurity.” We desperately need your voice because you’ve been on *both* sides of the issue of ND medical competency. Thank you for your work and keep it up!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    According to rumors I’ve heard***, the main concern that was expressed about giving Britt and this blog the award is that she doesn’t post frequently enough, and that it would be better if she posted stuff more often.
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    ***Technically, it wasn’t actually “rumors I’ve heard” but more of “something I made up and believe to be true.”

    • http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com Britt Hermes

      I hear ya loud and clear! I am making a strong effort to post on a regular basis. The last semester was brutal for me. I am adjusting to a new writing rotation with Forbes and Science 2.0. Thanks for your support (and your patience.)

      • Marcel

        The first 4 years at university are brutal for almost everyone. Given the impact of your posts, posting here once a month would be more than enough. If you can reasonably handle more, so much the better. My concern is that with your course load on top of writing for Forbes and Science 2.0 (congratulations on those assignments, BTW), you could easily burn out and your writing would suffer.

      • Banrion

        I check in more often than there are posts, but I KEEP checking because what you write is worth the wait.

  • Radcen

    It can be incredibly difficult to make clear the distinctions between our current understanding of science and pseudoscience, as the latter talks the talk and sounds ‘so close,’ and those distinctions may hinge on points that require more expertise than an average listener has. Kudos for putting your unique combination of expertise to work in this way!! Wish you all the best!!

  • Alablaster

    I would be interested in your comments regarding Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. I like her platform in general until she gets to the part about including naturopathic practitioners as part of her single payer medical plan. She want them paid the same as other MDs. That is a huge waste or a potential governments money. That alone disqualifies her as a viable candidate. It is too late for her in this election, but we need to work towards a better medical platform for future candidates.