The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

Moving the goalposts (Part Three)

Not the GCC this time, but OfQuack.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Andy Lewis at the Quackometer for spotting this one.

Way back in February, just two weeks after they opened their register, OfQuack announced that they had been “overwhelmed by both enquiries and applications”.

Well, have they?

As of today, they only have 409 quacks registered: 369 massage therapists, 38 nutritionists, and just 2 aromatherapists. 36 of these are also registered as aromatherapists. Doesn’t sound overwhelming, does it.

If they continue at this rate, by the end of the year, they will have 521 on their register.

Well, that’s still something, isn’t it?

Not really. On 10 December 2008, they announced that their target was to register 10,000 quacks by the end of 2009. Just in case they can’t do the sums, my projection will give them just 5% of this target at the end of this year.

But there’s no point in looking at that announcement to check. Although still dated 10-12-2008, a few of the words have been changed. Like the 10,000 into 4,000. Like the addition of a new target for being financially self-sustainable:

To achieve a self-sustaining financial position by the end of the financial year 2010/2011 (ie second year or operation)

But OfQuack were operating throughout most of 2008. Even taking their start as the (somewhat delayed) opening of their register on 19 February 2009, they are now claiming they might not break even until their third year of operation. How can they survive? Andy Lewis took a good look at their finances in March: Will the Government Bail Out Ofquack?. In a remarkable bit of clairvoyance, his prediction has come true (Andy, Randi’s million dollars awaits you!). After a Freedom of Information request by Andy:

it would appear that the Department of Health has agreed to give the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council a further £409,300 for the year 2009/2010 and is looking at an additional £127,750 for the following year. This money would appear to be conditional on Ofquack “making good progress against their Business Plan.”

Read Andy’s full account in his blog post Government bails out Ofquack as it rewrites old press release.

So why did they go back and alter a previous press relase, without even changing the release date? Why not just announce that they have had to revise their business plan? Were they trying to hide their failings? Did they think no one would notice? This is sounds like the BCA and their ‘plethora’ of evidence for chiropratic: they underestimated the intelligence, investigative ability and tenacity of bloggers. You’d have thought that an organisation dedicated to openness, would have done it with more integrity and, well, openness.

And there’s more.

The letter from the DoH to OfQuack that Andy obtained is interesting. As I said, OfQuack opened its register on 19 January and announced their ‘overwhelming’ response on 11 February. However, the DoH letter to OfQuack, telling them they would be subsidised for another couple of years, with over £400,000 of taxpayer’s money, (with the possibility of another £100,000) is astonishingly dated 12 February! This was just two weeks after they opened their register.

So, OfQuack must have known well before then that there were in dire financial trouble, yet delayed their Orwellian re-writing of history until now and even now, are still telling us they think they’ll have 4,000 quacks registered by the end of the year.

Andy? Can I borrow your crystal ball?

4 Responses to Moving the goalposts (Part Three)

  • Orwellian indead

    1984:

    Or again, The Times of the nineteenth of December had published the official forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. Today's issue contained a statement of the actual output, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston's job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones…..

    But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry of Plenty's forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at one-hundred-and-forty-five million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than one-hundred-and-forty-five millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.

  • More power to the bloggers and nice article Zeno!

  • Thanks, Chris!

    I have a whole load of other OfQuack posts waiting to be published sometime soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


2 − = zero

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>