The random thoughts of a sceptical activist.
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!
Mooted nearly a year ago, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have today announced that their digital remit is to be extended to cover:
Advertisers’ own marketing communications on their own websites and;
Marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under their control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Starting on 1 March 2011, this landmark agreement means that claims made on a seller’s website will be subject to the ASA’s Committee of Advertising Practice Code (the CAP Code), just like adverts in newspapers, magazines, and paid-for online advertising.
When the British Chiropractic Association published its ‘plethora‘ of 29 references they thought supported chiropractic for childhood conditions, it took just 24 hours for it to be utterly demolished by scientists and skeptics. Only 18 of these were relevant to chiropractic and childhood conditions.
Shortly after that, Fiona Godlee, Editor on the BMJ, commenting on an article by Prof Edzard Ernst, said:
But in response to our recent editorial by Evan Harris (doi:10.1136/bmj.b2254), the vice president of the BCA, Richard Brown, has now presented the evidence (doi:10.1136/bmj.b2782). He writes, “There is in fact substantial evidence for the BCA to have made claims that chiropractic can help various childhood conditions” and lists 18 references. Readers can decide for themselves whether or not they are convinced. Edzard Ernst is not (doi:10.1136/bmj.b2766). His demolition of the 18 references is, to my mind, complete.
This, presumably, was the best evidence the BCA could muster and it was left in tatters by those more knowledgeable about science and robust trials.
It’s only taken 433 days to get this far.
On Saturday, I received three batches of letters from the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), sent Recorded Delivery.
These letters are the formal notices that a complaint against a chiropractor has been considered by the Investigating Committee, that they have decided that there is a case to answer and that the complaint will go before their Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).
The letters consist of the formal notice, the Notice of Allegation and some of the website pages that contained the claims I complained of and where they were using the title ‘Dr’. The Notices of Allegation are all very similar to this redacted one; straight and to the point. (There’s lots to be said about the documents and I’ll cover that in a separate blog post.)
I have so far received these formal notices for 93 chiropractors.
There will be far more to follow.
In The beginning of the end? Part two, I mentioned there was going to be more on sciatica.
I have already described how the GCC have dealt with chiropractors making claims about sciatica, even though the GCC admits that:
…there is no high or moderate positive evidence from randomised controlled trials that would support an advertised claim regarding sciatica using manual therapy. In the light of this, the Investigating Committee concluded that it could be inappropriate for you to make such an advertised claim.
Despite this damning statement, the chiropractors I’ve been told about so far have all been let off for making claims about sciatica.
However, it appears that there is more to this than first meets the eye.
Last time, I said I’d have more to say on the letters I’ve received so far.
I said that seven of the 36 were dismissed because the chiropractors mentioned on the websites were no longer at that clinic and therefore — by the GCC’s reckoning anyway — were no longer responsible for claims made. My arithmetic was faulty; there were eight, leaving 35 others. I’ve corrected the previous blog post.
This post deals with why the Investigating Committee (IC) decided there was no case to answer in most of these 35.
The first decisions of the GCC’s Investigating Committee (IC) on my complaints fell with a thud onto my doormat a few days ago.
I received copies of 43 letters sent to 43 of the chiropractors I complained about. All
It’s not just the evidence for chiropractic that’s a bit shaky these days.
For a long time, there has been an uneasy truce between the different chiropractic factions in the UK, all believing different things and each with different rituals.
It seems that they all came together when statutory regulation was first mooted and the carrot of respectability that that offered overcame those fundamental differences — temporarily at least.
Since the GCC was set up, the trade bodies representing the different factions (‘straights’, ‘mixers’, etc) appear to have been reluctant bedfellows, and there seems to have been various fallings out and lots of jostling for position and power.
But they trundled along and put a brave face on things for the sake of the profe$$ion.
After the BCA’s misconceived attack on Simon Singh, sceptical eyes were focused on chiropractic and the claims made by its followers. After being disgusted by the claims we saw being made by a large number of chiropractors on their websites, Simon Perry and I independently poked the GCC with a somewhat sharp stick.
What a hornet’s nest we stirred up, with the GCC eventually acknowledging that chiropractic had to be based on proper evidence and not on wishful thinking.
It’s been a while since I blogged about the progress of my complaints to the GCC and it’s time for an update.
In fact, it’s been a full 12 months — to the day — since I submitted my complaints. How time flies.
I’m sure no one is interested in all the minutiae of this, so here’s a brief summary:
Meantime, the GCC:
But they have barely started to even consider the first of my complaints.
So, what’s taken all this time, what are the 290 envelopes all about and when will it all be over and done with?
Following on from Skeptic Barista‘s tenacious questioning of the GCC over the lack of evidence for the chiropractic subluxation, and my obituary of it, the GCC have announced that it is no more than ‘an historical concept’