A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Making misleading health claims online just got a little more problematic

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.


Anonymous said...

There isn't such an animal as the general osteopathic association? Do you mean the British Osteopathic Association or the General Osteopathic Council?

Anonymous said...

united chiropractic association?

Simon said...


Thanks, fixed the text. I can't find a list of URLs for the United Chiropractic Association members. If you know of where I might find them please let me know.

ResCogitans said...

can a pharmacist legally refuse to sell quackery without repercussions from their employer?
if so, perhaps this is another way to attack this problem - informing the boots pharmacists that sell them. even if only a few do, it would generate publicity.

BTW where do you stand on echinacia sold for the relief of symptons of colds and flu? it seems to be in every pharmacy i've ever been in.

Anonymous said...

Your listing of alt med groups is incomplete. Is there a reason the United Chiropractic Association is not included or are these people classed as reformist now?

Simon said...

United Chiropractic don't list their members' web sites on their site. Unless you can find it that is.