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A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.
"My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help."If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that's some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don't see why we should be standing in their way."
“some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability”
I’ve developed several Google custom searches to make it easier to pick though the data and identify practitioners making misleading and potentially dangerous claims. These custom searches are like having a version of Google that limits itself to the websites of specific groups of alternative practitioners. They're not perfect - you'll get false positives as well as false negatives. But they do work very well.
Here are Google search engines limited only to websites belonging to members of:
You might find, for instance, that there are still some British Chiropractic Association members claiming to treat colic. Or you might find that some CNHC members are claiming they can treat ear infections by sticking a candle in your ear. Or maybe you’ll find a homeopath that is telling people that magic sugar pills can help with eczema.
Google's custom search system is far from perfect. It randomly seems to drop results, then pops them back in again. Text that is clearly found on many sites can't be found. But I expect this to improve over time as the indexing improves.
Despite these problems, if you're making misleading claims it’s now far more probable that you'll get caught. Fingers crossed that whoever finds them hasn't got FishBarrel installed.
I’ve been looking through some of the complaints that have gone in via FishBarrel. While I can’t see the background information that people have entered, I can see what was highlighted.
A few of the complaints seem to include really large chunks of highlighted text, which is going to reduce the effectiveness of the complaint and may even mean it gets initially rejected.
Here is an example of some text that was highlighted recently:
Aromatherapy combines massage with the use of therapeutic essential oils which are found naturally in plants. Tricia Swensson The essential oils are applied to the skin and are absorbed into the blood stream which can have a therapeutic effect on the body systems. Aromatherapy massage can help to reduce stress and tension, relieve muscular pain, improve circulation and encourage the removal of toxins from the body. Aromatherapy may help with a wide range of treatments such as: Insomnia Menstruation problems Respiratory conditions Digestive disorders The use of plant extracts for health have been documented for thousands of years, the ancient Egyptians used essential oils for health and beauty and also during embalming. Aromatherapy as we know it was revived when a French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand during an accident; he placed his hand in a bowl which he believed contained water but in fact contained lavender oil he was amazed at how quickly the wound healed leaving no scarring. It is Gattefosse who first coined the phrase `aromatherapie’.
Much of this information is true. The complaint would be far stronger if the specific misleading claims were highlighted individually. Even if there are two sentences with misleading claims next to each other, it’s worth separating them out by highlighting them individually. Here’s how I’d deal with the above text:
#1 Aromatherapy massage can help to reduce stress and tension, relieve muscular pain, improve circulation and encourage the removal of toxins from the body.
#2 Aromatherapy may help with a wide range of treatments such as: Insomnia Menstruation problems Respiratory conditions Digestive disorders
(Note: If the header of your complaint states you’re listing misleading claims, you probably wouldn’t need to enter any background info about the above.)
#3 French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand during an accident; he placed his hand in a bowl which he believed contained water but in fact contained lavender oil he was amazed at how quickly the wound healed leaving no scarring.
For #3's background info, I’d add: “The above text misleadingly implies that aromatherapy is an effective treatment for burns.”
This way it’s clear what you’re complaining about and you’re not asking the ASA to do all of the work for you.
There is one exception I can think of where you might highlight a lot of text and that where the practitioner just lists a large number of diseases that their therapy treats. In this case, highlight the full list.
“I saw this product in Boots saying it relieves the symptoms of the menopause. I think this isn't right and I want to complain about it.”
"Homeopathy, magnetic therapy, reflexology, dong quai, ginsing, evening primrose oil and vitamin E have not been demonstrated to be clinically significant compared with placebo."
"Magnetic therapy: no benefit"
"In RCTs, neither homeopathic remedies, magnet therapy, nor foot reflexology out-performed placebo in relieving menopausal symptoms."
|Simon Perry||08 February 2011|
|Dr Michael A Ward||09 February 2011|
|Danny Strickland||10 February 2011|
|Dr Tom Williamson||11 February 2011|
|Richard Stelling||12 February 2011|
|Johnnie Shannon||13 February 2011|
|Chris Sexton||14 February 2011|
|Ian Scott||15 February 2011|
|Chris Richardson||16 February 2011|
|Mike Conradi||17 February 2011|
|Dr Martin Poulter||18 February 2011|
|Steve Page||19 February 2011|
|Dr Stephen Southward||20 February 2011|
|Mandeep Smith||21 February 2011|
|Dr Stuart Nicholl||22 February 2011|
|Steve Haigh||23 February 2011|
|Simon Stanford||24 February 2011|
|Richard Tomsett||25 February 2011|
|Marianne Baker||26 February 2011|
|Jo Hockey||27 February 2011|
|Rhys Morgan||28 February 2011|
|Dale Williams||01 March 2011|
|Jon Pearson||02 March 2011|
|Giles Wendes||03 March 2011|
|Conor Pendergrast||04 March 2011|
|Steve leigh||05 March 2011|
|Dr Wendy Cousins||06 March 2011|
|Alan Henness||07 March 2011|
|Mike Hall||08 March 2011|
|Nicola Woolhouse||09 March 2011|
|Gordon Wilson||10 March 2011|
|Darren Starck||11 March 2011|
|Martijn ter Borg||12 March 2011|
|Darren Griffin||13 March 2011|
|Rebecca O'Neill||14 March 2011|
|Paul Buckland-White||15 March 2011|
|B Corcoran||16 March 2011|
|Dan-Raoul Miranda||17 March 2011|
|Michael Marshall||18 March 2011|
|Ralf Neugebauer||19 March 2011|
|Jo Brodie||20 March 2011|
|L Pedley||21 March 2011|
|Ashley Frieze||22 March 2011|
|Sharon Smiles||23 March 2011|
|James Thomas||24 March 2011|
|Wesley perry||25 March 2011|
|Simon Danaher||26 March 2011|
|Doogie Brodie||27 March 2011|
|Sah Winstone||28 March 2011|
|Dr Cara Laney||29 March 2011|
|Stew Wilson||30 March 2011|
|Kash Farooq||31 March 2011|
|Sid Rodrigues||01 April 2011|
|David Hughes||02 April 2011|
|Peter Harrison||03 April 2011|
|Trish Hann||04 April 2011|
|Patrick Redmond||05 April 2011|
|Adam Timberley||06 April 2011|
|Paul Berry||07 April 2011|
|caroline panico||08 April 2011|
|James Lipscombe||09 April 2011|
|Emma Smith||10 April 2011|
|Tulpesh Patel||11 April 2011|
|RobertPettifer||12 April 2011|
|Tim Reid||13 April 2011|
|Jane Symons||14 April 2011|
|Alexandra Beuchert||15 April 2011|
|Tom Marinan||16 April 2011|
|Kevin Rose||17 April 2011|
|Prof Stephen Curry||18 April 2011|
|Hannah Haines||19 April 2011|
|Andy Stoker||20 April 2011|
|David Noble||21 April 2011|
|Sven Rudloff||22 April 2011|
|Dr J J Grattage||23 April 2011|
|Olivia Vinden||24 April 2011|
|Tony Mansfield||25 April 2011|
|Julia Matheson||26 April 2011|
|Bethan Jade McIlroy||27 April 2011|
|Michelle Goodger||28 April 2011|
|Dan Sutton||29 April 2011|
|Sandra hoare||30 April 2011|
|steven lindsay||01 May 2011|
|Dawn Mason||02 May 2011|
|Leo Donnelly||03 May 2011|
|James Cole||04 May 2011|
|Sean Ellis||05 May 2011|
|Stephen Griffin||06 May 2011|
|Elaine Pickering||07 May 2011|
|Alastair Grant||08 May 2011|
|Kevin Lowis||09 May 2011|
|Dominic Brown||10 May 2011|
|Jo Thornely||11 May 2011|
|Julie Williams||12 May 2011|
|Ms Jane Robinson||13 May 2011|
|Alan Wellstead||14 May 2011|
|Karelle Menochet||15 May 2011|
|Jere Koskela||16 May 2011|
|stephen hughes||17 May 2011|
|Audrey Johnson||18 May 2011|
|Jamie Woolley||19 May 2011|
|Dr Richard Morley||20 May 2011|
|Vikki Hurst||21 May 2011|
|Donald MacCormick||22 May 2011|
|Matthew Hardy||23 May 2011|
|Alan Bird||24 May 2011|
|Ben Harris||25 May 2011|
|Tim Bennett||26 May 2011|
Simon campaigns against pseudo-science. Amongst other projects, his current focus is to encourage more people to get active campaigning against dangerous medical misinformation.
He also runs Leicester Skeptics in the Pub, and likes to refer to himself in the third person when writing his profile.