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How effective is the Advertising Standards Authority?

I should start this post with two big caveats:

  1. My purpose is not to criticise the ASA, which in my experience is efficient and rigorous. If there are limitations, they may well stem from circumstances, which I hope to explore here.
  2. This isn’t a particularly scientific analysis. It is not a prospective study, just a look at a large number of complaints and what happened to them.

The dataset comprises 74 complaints I have made to the ASA about misleading health-related claims, between July 2014 and January 2019. All but two related to advertisers’ own websites; one was a magazine ad, and another involved a paid-for ad by a chiropractic clinic on a local newspaper website. Here is how they were distributed (in no particular order): Continue reading

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The Bell Tolls for Quack Charities?

So after nearly five years of effort, I am rewarded with a response from the Charity Commission regarding charities which make misleading claims about the treatment of ill health. Is it what I wanted? The answer is “partly”, but it depends on how the Commission applies its new guidance. Continue reading

BBC misses the point on anti-vax

An article on the BBC News site today reports on a minor celebrity who is making a stir with a stance against vaccination. The celebrity is so minor that the author readily admits that we might not have heard of her. Nevertheless, make-up and tattoo guru Kat Von D says that her forthcoming child will not be vaccinated. Continue reading

Going Undercover – Homeopathy

I don’t blog very often, but when I do……

Here in Salisbury we have a homeopathy college. I’ve mentioned it before, as it hires premises from St Thomas’s church, which sees no problem with telling lies about how the body works. I noticed that the college was running an open day, to recruit more students. The event was today, so I booked in. Continue reading

The General Medical Council: nice bedside manner with quacks

I have for some time been critical of the GMC’s acquiescence over doctors who practise quackery, but I’m concerned now at how it seems to be getting into bed with them. I just came across an `oncologist and professor of Chinese medicine‘ and phoned the GMC for advice as to whether they would regulate such a person – who is not apparently registered to practise in the UK. It was an odd conversation, which I have followed up with this email to the GMC: Continue reading

Nonsense Education

For many years I have strongly supported the Advertising Standards Authority. It is staffed by excellent people who know the difference between real medicine and quackery, and between evidence and opinion. When necessary they are not slow to call in expert help, and their decisions are usually robust and evidence-based. Continue reading

A Funny Idea of Ethics – from the clergy

The oldest church here in Salisbury is St Thomas’. The C of E is of course a major landowner, a tradition followed  here, with the church owning the adjacent St Thomas’ House just across the square. I knew that the prestigious (!) Salisbury Homeopathy College ran its events there, and recently learned about a course entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Homeopathy”, conducted by one Mike Andrews who has written a book of the same title. Continue reading

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