The two sisters sat in the airport lounge, waiting for their flight to Kerala. It was delayed. They were keen to get going. Their mother had died the day before and they were going to settle her affairs. “She had a good life. She lived to 97,” explained one of the sisters. “You know what her secret was? Coconuts.”

In the courts: Hypnotism link to daughter's death

A call was made in the High Court in London yesterday for a fresh investigation into whether there was any possible connection between a woman being hypnotised on stage and her death hours later.

Crunch weekend for new quitters

...and the pounds 50m quitting trade. Ian Burrell on help for 1 January 's ex-smokers

Patients want touchy-feely treatments

issatisfaction with hi-tech nursing and fears about toxic drugs are prompting increasing numbers of patients to demand the "touchy- feely" treatments of complementary medicine.

City: New men and the feel good factor. Mmmm...

You've come a long way, baby, when it comes to using designer toiletries. But it's not just the smells that maketh the man, says Peter Baker. Which is why the enlightened male is waking up to the feelgood factor of aromatherapy products.

Update: Health: Complementary medicine urged

The Government is being urged to encourage complementary medicine in the NHS after a survey found that barriers remain to its usage.

Letter: Holistic health goes way beyond the confines of Neal's Yard

HOW sad that Aminatta Forna's response to the publication of a forward-looking King's Fund study on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) was a sneering attack on all things alternative ("Is therapy making fools of women?, Real Life, 2 November). It is true that alternative medicine attracts a preponderance of middle-class women. But it is also true that, as Dr Ursula Sharma points out in the only full study of the subject: "Stereotypes abound as regards the typical user of non-orthodox medicine

Letter: Hypnotised by Diana's spirit

Sir: So, people who pick up discarded rubbish in public parks are now being imprisoned or fined. That's the last time I do my civic duty lest that crisp packet or cellophane wrapper has been left as a mark of respect for Diana.

Letter: A thousand voices don't equal the truth

By setting up Aunt Sallies (sociologists of science who deny science any link to reality), Lewis Wolpert is guaranteed a sympathetic hearing. But his dogmatism reminds me of religious believers attacking sociologists of religion. I particularly dislike his unscientific dismissal of alternative medicine as part of some New Age anti-scientific lurch to the irrational. So, for the record: yes, there are a lot of ex-hippies within alternative medicine who would rather follow a guru than read a scientific textbook (and, yes, public ignorance of science is a dangerous thing). But there are also people like myself who try to think and act rationally, who do not believe in flying saucers or bhagwans, and who take seriously the growing body of scientific evidence for alternative medicine. That evidence is being produced by a large number of doctors, medical scientists, pharmacologists, and even physicists, for whom scientific reality is a sine qua non of worthwhile work. But their efforts are as often as not blocked by the easy prejudice of other doctors and scientists, very few of whom have read any of the published evidence but all of whom recite the mantra "it doesn't work".

Is there anybody out there with Di?

One of the best jokes in the movie Men in Black is that the heroes of the film find out what's really going on from the supermarket tabloids. All the bizarre "Alien abducted my husband and returned him after 30 years" stories are, the film campily tells us, actually true. Having been on another planet myself recently where I had been involved in long, drunken arguments about the existence of aliens, I returned to the equally unbelievable Di-Dodi-psychic chopper story. Here at The Independent we are not preoccupied with such things, well, not officially anyway. That Diana has visited a psychic is further evidence of her mental imbalance seems to be the general consensus among my colleagues. Psychics are dismissed as feeding off ignorance, as doing harm, as frauds. Diana has finally gone mad but at least she has had the grace to do it in the midst of the silly season where her eccentricities fit neatly between crop circles and Elvis sightings.

THEATRE: Anna Weiss; Traverse

Edinburgh Festival: Fringe

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: A relativist load of old nonsense

I have for some time been appalled by the claims of some sociologists of science about the nature of science. The Strong Programme of the sociology of science insists that science is little more than a social construct, another set of myths, little different from any other beliefs. It was thus with enormous pleasure and relief that this extreme relativist view of science has come under both scrutiny and attack in the science journal Nature.

MEDICINE: People at risk from acupuncture

People who use acupuncture to cure health problems could be putting their lives at risk, experts warned yesterday .

Football: Bates explains the Gullit effect

FA CUP FINAL COUNTDOWN; Glenn Moore finds Chelsea's chairman delighted with his manager's first year

Doctors ill-equipped to treat ME

Doctors ill-equipped to treat ME

Quit smoking? I could do it with my eyes shut...

When Glenda Cooper went to a hypnotherapist to end her affair with Nick O'Teen, she found will-power playing a surprisingly important role; He was enthusiastic, and assured me that I'd never want to smoke again. Wildly keen on the idea of an addiction-free life, l got off the phone and immediately lit up
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?