The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

Credit where credit’s due

I’m insulted. I’m miffed. My good name…

How could anyone possibly think that I would complain to the Advertising Standards Authority about misleading claims for AltMed?

Someone objected to claims being made by the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) in one of their leaflets.

It wasn’t me!

However, the CSTA seemed to be convinced I was the complainant!

Although the ASA’s adjudication won’t be published until just after midnight tonight, the CSTA sent out an email last week — I presume to all their 500-odd members — warning them of the impending disastrous decision.

Their email came to light yesterday evening and can be seen as an HTML page here (cached).

In it they say:

Alan Henness – who has a blog in the name of Zeno claims in his blog to be the author of the complaint. You can see his comments and deduce what sort of person he must be from his blog: skepticbarista.wordpress.com/category/craniosacral/

Oh dear. Fact checking fail: right blog, wrong owner. So easy to check, really. If skepticbarista.wordpress.com was my blog why would I have a link to the Zeno chap’s blog in my Blogroll? Or a quick search using their favourite search engine would have discovered the real Zeno’s Blog. But they say they knew I had ‘a blog in the name of Zeno’! I’m confused.

However, they continue:

The complaint was upheld by the ASA (see ASA Verdict). Henness states in his blog that it is his intention to report individual CSTA members’ websites to Trading Standards once the ASA release their verdict. (It is not sure at what point the ASA will give their verdict to Henness – the verdict will be publicised on 8th September).

And we’ll find out shortly what ‘evidence’ the CSTA presented to support their claims, their tactics in trying to persuade the ASA and just why the ASA upheld Skeptic Barista’s complaint. Note that one of the people involved in defending the CSTA was their solicitor (and osteopath) Paul Grant.

But, faced with this disastrous (for them) adjudication, the CSTA are advising action on a par with the Great Chiropractic Website Takedown of ’09.

The irrepressible Skeptic Barista gives full details in his blog post:

CranioSacral: Possible Emergency – The skeptics are coming!

And there’ll be a full exposé of the ASA’s adjudication just after midnight, respecting the ASA’s embargo.

Oh! And they got some very simple points about the BCA’s libel action against Simon Singh wrong:

Henness is, allegedly, one of the three bloggers who made a concerted attack on British Chiropractic Association members following the BCA’s initially successful libel action against Simon Singh (overturned on appeal).

I’m obviously miffed that I’m only ‘allegedly’ one of the three bloggers, but I’m not sure what they mean by a ‘concerted’ attack. A moment’s look through my blog would have told them all they needed to know, but, then again, they didn’t seem to realise that Zeno’s blog was, well, Zeno’s blog…

And no, there was no ‘initially successful libel action’ that was ‘overturned on appeal’. Why oh why doesn’t everyone read Jack of Kent’s blog? It’s not a secret, you know, and it’s easy to get basic facts correct.

Setting the record straight

So, let’s put the record straight right now: Skeptic Barista must shoulder the blame take the credit for all this!

But what about the misinformation about me and my good name in the CSTA’s email?

I felt compelled to contact them.

Fortunately, their email provided helpful details about the author, sender and recipient, and, wanting to ensure that everyone involved in that email was notified about my concerns for accuracy, I copied it to everyone identified in that email. Only three email addresses were given, but it only took a few moments to track down email addresses for the remaining two names and details of their business (only very slightly hampered by the now somewhat unhelpful CSTA website).

Anyway, I sent the following in the early hours of this morning:

Dear Mr Ferrett

I believe you recently sent an email in your capacity as Vice-chair of the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA), referring to an Advertising Standards Authority adjudication due to be published on 08 September 2010.

That email made several references to me, Alan Henness.

I would like to bring the following to your attention:

  1. My blog is http://www.zenosblog.com.
  2. I have not submitted any complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding any advertising material published by the CSTA.
  3. I have not claimed to be the author of any such complaint.
  4. I have not claimed that it is my intention to report individual CSTA members’ websites to Trading Standards once the ASA release their verdict.

The email stated that you will be issuing a press release on this matter. I would be grateful if you would send me a copy of that press release and any other communication that refers to me so I can verify that it does not contain any similar erroneous information about me.

I may contact you again to discuss other matters concerned with the content of this email.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email before 17:00 hours on Tuesday 07 September 2010.

Yours

Alan Henness

cc:

Paul Grant, BSG Solicitors LLP

Roger James, Littlehampton Natural Health Centre

Vivien Ray, Joyful Health

Sama Fabian, Aurolab Yoga Project

I received a reply 29 minutes after my deadline this afternoon:

Dear Alan Henness,

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry for the error and will be sending out an erratum tomorrow to recipients of the original newsletter stating that the reference to you is completely wrong, that the blog referred to is not yours and that the actions 2, 3 & 4 referred to in your email were not yours.

Yours,

Mij Ferrett

At least they now know who to give proper credit to.

Alan Henness – who has a blog in the name of Zeno  claims in his blog to be the author of the complaint. You can see his comments and deduce what sort of person he must be from his blog: skepticbarista.wordpress.com/category/craniosacral/

3 Responses to Credit where credit’s due

  • Are you sure all 500 members are odd? ;)

  • Glad they say fit to issue an apology. I still can’t understand how they could make such a basic error! Hope they copy you on the correction as verification that they have sent it.

    Howerver have to admit to finding the whole thing highly amusing.
    Could hardly believe it when I first saw the email/post & then the understandable confusion on Twitter!

    So enjoyable in fact that I would like to propose a #BlameZeno day on Twitter where everybody can dump the blame on you ….. I suspect the government will need somebody to blame for science spending cuts …. #BlameZeno !

  • They seem pretty odd to me.

    “Let me rub your head and you will feel better.” Well of course I will, but no one needs a course to tell them that. It is obvious however that it will do nothing for any underlying medical condition such as an infection or any other of the myriad of serious medical problems that affect peoples lives.

    I will cheerfully pay minimum wage rates for a head rub any time:-)

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