Response: SurvivingCancerNaturally.com

This morning I was looking for false claims of cancer cures and subsequently came across the blog “Surviving Cancer Naturally”  and was quite annoyed at the cynical reasons against Cancer Fund-raising.

She asked what People thought.  I replied, but as yet, I’m not aware of it being published. Despite Spam apparently getting the Green Light.

–*–

You seem cynical rather than informed.

“All this money seems to go to pharmaceutical funded research labs to find new drugs to try out on us, which cost lots of money and all they are good for is making the pharmaceutical companies richer in the long run.”

Have you actually seen the financial records for Cancer Fundraising? The information is freely available, and shows where the money goes — and it’s not to private “pharmaceutical funded labs”. Continue reading →

Please, Sir! I want some more?

IMG_0525.JPG

Lucky with his nose scratching anxiety!

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After being hit by a car..

Lucky is one of our cats.

Lucky used to meow whenever he wanted food, but now he has learned he can just tap me a couple of times and it does the same thing.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF5fbuPU3GA 

 

This morning – like every morning, he tapped me on my arm to let me know he was hungry, but this time, I decided to get some footage of it.

Homeopathy By Dummies

 

Earlier this morning, Guy Chapman made reference to a website called “FitnessGoop”. They have a Homeopath named Sonya McLeod, whose profile states her as “Classical Homeopathic Practitioner & Health Journalist (Expert)”.

Now, I’m not quite sure when being a “Classical Homeopathic Practitioner & Health Journalist” began to be summerized as an “Expert” – But, Apparently the “Bad-Mannered” people at FitnessGoop think having no medical degree, let alone one in nutrition, made you an “Expert”.

FitnessGoop: Aptly named.

It’s really no surprise that she writes articles over at NaturalNews, either. But, you know you’re in good hands – She has something way better than a Medical Degree! Continue reading →

FishBarrel Australia

Earlier this week Xibis, owned by Simon Perry of the “Adventures in non-sense” blog released a Browser Plug-in for Chrome that makes reporting pseudo-scientific “therapeutic” products to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority exceptionally easy.

“All development was done with the support and collaboration of my web software development company Xibis. The team have helped enormously with the technical development and have provided the server infrastructure. Xibis are specialists in building these sorts of web based productivity systems.” writes Simon.

The release was quickly picked up by The Lay Scientist and published by The Guardian: FishBarrel: New browser plugin lets you bust quacks in seconds.

For everyday consumers and the general public, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does not require you to list out the particular legislation that an advertisement or website breaches (unless you are involved in the industry) — But, they say it helps.

Simon writes about FishBarrel: “FishBarrel also tracks all text complained about in a central database. When you turn on FishBarrel, any text complained about by other users is automatically highlighted.”

This will of course prevent you from submitting duplicate complaints to the TGA or ACCC – Awesome!

Effective, AND efficient! I love productivity!

Tonight, I mentioned some names over Twitter to see if we here in Australia could get the same thing going, knowing full well this would ultimately render Report a Rort virtually obsolete.

To my surprise, Simon responded within minutes offering to “hook it in” to FishBarrel to complain to the relevant regulatory bodies — making FishBarrel an Internationally Effective tool in combating Pseudo-science medical claims!

At this stage, only Xibis knows when this will happen – but I’m very excited about it!

Update: Simon has noted he is also incorporating American Regulators, the FTC and FDA and may pursue adding compatibility with New Zealand’s regulatory bodies too!

Mary Staggs Detox

A while back I came across Mary Staggs Detox (http://www.marystaggsdetox.com.au/). The website is a repository of “alternative” treatments for sale, and even offers a business opportunity! Wow-wee!

The page lists, for example, a “Professional” Foot Spa for sale at more than AUD$3,000. A bit steep, considering. But, lucky for those looking to invest, you can make that money back by simply buying Mary Staggs’ Detox Flyers (Box of 100). It’s always convenient to have propaganda available to buy at the same place you buy your “crock-of-shit” equipment.

 

Mary Staggs Detox Flyer

Mary Staggs Detox Flyer

 

 

Wow. Really? You should use this even if you’re healthy? Apparently so.

Complies with the definition of Medical Device? I think so!

(1) A medical device is:

(a) any instrument, apparatus, appliance, material or other article (whether used alone or in combination, and including the software necessary for its proper application) intended, by the person under whose name it is or is to be supplied, to be used for human beings for the purpose of one or more of the following:

(i) diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease;
(ii) diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or handicap;
(iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process;

Breaches 4(1)(b) of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code? Check!

contain correct and balanced statements only and claims which the sponsor has already verified.

Breaches 4(2)(a) of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code? Check!

must not arouse unrealistic or unwarranted expectations of product effectiveness.

Breaches 4(2)(c) of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code? Check!

mislead, or be likely to mislead, directly or by implication or through emphasis, comparisons, contrasts or omissions;

Breaches 4(2)(d) of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code? Check!

abuse the trust or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers or contain language which could bring about fear or distress;

Breaches 42DL(1)(g) of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989? Check!

(1) A person must not publish or broadcast an advertisement about therapeutic goods:

(g) that are not entered in the Register; or

And, last but not least —

Beaches 4(1)(a) of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code? Check!

must comply with Australian law.

 

An obviously Australian Website, I thought I’d find out who’s running the show over there:

And a ABN look-up states the owner operates from NSW:

Mary Stagg Detox ABN Look Up

Mary Stagg Detox ABN Look Up

 

Lucky for us, she has a LinkedIn Profile here, but no connections. Boo. I was hoping to see who else she was connected to.

Mary Staggs - Jacqueline Lenko LinkedIn Profile

Mary Staggs - Jacqueline Lenko LinkedIn Profile

I was actually quite surprised as to just how many websites her name came up with in connection with the selling of these Detox Spas, “Hopi” ear candles, and other such paraphernalia.

Subsequently, it seems that http://www.alternetdetox.com.au/ is Jacqueline’s “main” website from which she sells her products.

Alternet Detox has their own ARTG Listed Ear-Candles, “Alternet Health & Detox – 270960 – Applicator, ear, single use”. A bit silly, considering other places – Like Canada – have effectively made Ear Candles ILLEGAL, and for good reason. See: http://www.earcandlesareillegal.net/

Alternet Health & Detox - 270960 - Applicator, ear, single use

Alternet Health & Detox - 270960 - Applicator, ear, single use

AlternetDetox writes about the History of Ear Candles, where it specifically states that Antibiotics and Syringing of the ears were a replacement for Ear Candling after it was “forgotten for many years”; the implication being that ear candles are the equivalent of conventional medicine by ancient “tribes”:

Alternet Detox's History of Ear Candling

As per Section 28 of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989:

LISTED THERAPEUTIC GOODS
9 Indications
In relation to listed goods, the sponsor must have and shall retain, while the goods remain listed, evidence necessary to substantiate and support the accuracy of the indications in relation to the listed goods and, upon the request of the Director, Chemicals & Non Prescription Drug Branch, or Director, Conformity Assessment Branch, Therapeutic Goods Administration, shall produce such evidence to the Director.

I wouldn’t mind seeing what evidence they have to substantiate the use of Ear Candles, but it’s interesting that AlternetDetox leaves all the indications up the practitioners themselves; they include a disclaimer that makes is clear they are “not intended” for anything – To diagnose, cure, treat, prevent, mitigate ANY health condition. .. But, of course, they’re all too happy to sell them on a “Detox” and Health website.

AlternetDetox Disclaimer

I’ll be following up on their Foot Spa, amongst other things through http://reportarort.wordpress.com at a later time.

Therapeutic Merry-Go-Round

Last week the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) knocked back my submission to them about the EKEN PowerBand. (See: http://reportarort.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/submitted-eken-powerband/)

“Thank you for your continued interest in this matter.

We did refer the matter to the TGA (as I advised you previously). The power bands have been assessed by the TGA not to be therapeutic goods. Unless products such as these make claims for therapeutic use, they are not considered by the Complaints Resolution Panel to be within its jurisdiction. For this reason, this complaint will be referred to the ACCC. I will ask the ACCC to keep you informed.”

Having had waited a week with no response so far, I looked in to why PowerBalance was a different story.

It was, and wasn’t.

The TGA said the same thing to Robert Smallwood, who claimed to have submitted a complaint to them about PowerBalance: “Not a therapeutic device”.

Robert wrote to the TGA as part of their Transparency Review: http://www.tga.gov.au/pdf/consult/tga-transparency-review-submission-1012-robert-smallwood.pdf

Robert makes a point that is well-known, especially to those selling bogus products: The TGA fails to enforce its findings against everyone, including “complimentary” and “alternative” practitioners.

I suspect it may be the lack of information on EKEN’s website; PowerBalance were quite specific in their website, but EKEN hides behind the ignorance of its’ customers – preferring to allow them to guess what they do and how they work, rather than to explicitly explain the mechanism.

Subsequently, Dr. Ken Harvey was able to compel the TGA to investigate the claims by PowerBalance, and as a result the complaint was found generally found to be justified.

It was those same justified complaints by Ken Harvey that formed the basis for my own complaint to the TGA about EKEN’s PowerBand. Same claims of Flexibility, Endurance, Balance, and Strength – all bullshit.

So, it’s intriguing to know why the TGA followed through against PowerBalance, but is seemingly trying to keep away from prosecuting EKEN for their therapeutic claims.

So, since I’m waiting for a response from the ACCC, I might take a look at Phiten Australia till then.

 

By the way — PlaceboBand. Cheaper, and does what it says.
You can go here to buy one for only $2.00 + P&H

 

SkepticBros PlaceboBand

SkepticBros PlaceboBand

An Autism-Spectrum Quotient Questionnarie

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Located at Wired the article uses a Psychometric test published by Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues back in 2001.

I figured it was going to be interesting to see what my result was after answering the 50 questions.

Quite honestly, it was a bit of a surprise that my Autism-Spectrum Quotient wasn’t higher, even just slightly — even more surprising was that I scored higher than my girlfriend (<3)!

During the initial trials of the questionnaire, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Men tended to score slightly higher (about 17) than women (about 15).

The authors caution that the questionnaire it is not intended to be diagnostic. Anyone who obtains a high score and is suffering some distress should seek professional medical advice before jumping to any conclusions; after all — many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.

Of the adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders who took the test, 80% of them scored 32 or more. In comparison, only 2% of the control group score as high, or higher.

If you’re wondering, further research indicated that the questionnaire could be used for screening in clinical practice. Scores less than 26 indicating that a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome can effectively be ruled out.

Continue reading →

Fall on your sword with honour, Merck!

April 10th is the birthday of the creator of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann; and in celebration of it Homeopaths have decided now is the time to promote awareness of Homeopathy!

A campaign was launched today called the “Worldwide Homeopathy Awareness Week” (Twitter #WHAW). However, in Australia this will be in May.

Quite honestly, I’ve enjoyed this – and it’s only the first day!
With the massive success of the 1023 Campaign, this awareness week provides logic and reason another platform on which to make a stand and a difference.

It offers amateur skeptics like myself an opportunity to learn more about the pseudo-science we may be trying to tackle locally — or globally.

Which brings me to Merck, an undeniable “Big Pharma” entity, it is a chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in 1668 with global revenues totalling around EUR 9.3 billion in 2010 (via Merck Australia) Continue reading →

SKEPTICISM as an Acrostic Sentence

This morning while at work I pondered what being skeptical was about for me; What was the aim? How do we use it? And how can I communicate this succinctly?

A Skeptic (capital “S”) is merely someone who starts off with doubts of a claim and, rather dismissing it, engages in logic and reason to make decisions about the veracity of a claim.

This “skeptical” mindset or doubt may be applied to a subject in particular, or indeed, everything.

Essentially, Skeptical Activism is about encouraging others to engage in skeptical thinking through awareness of pseudo-scientific claims and products and the invitation to understand why people sometimes have mistaken beliefs.

So what is the aim?, more importantly, can I describe this in an Acrostic Sentence?

Skeptics Kill Extraordinary Postulations Through Investigating Claims Impartially, Scientifically, & Moderately.

Yes;
Yes I can.

What’s the problem, TGA?

Earlier this week I submitted a complaint about the EKEN PowerBand, a product that is reported to give its users increased Endurance, Balance, Strength, and Flexibility.

To my surprise, I got a reply from the TGACRP that essentially meant that they had no control over them – because the product was not on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Oddly enough, they were able to take action against PowerBalance late last year.
So, I responded with some clarification of what was in my complaint (as it appeared the referenced legislation was not investigated sufficiently).

Thank you for your response.

I refer to your E-Mail response to my complaint about the EKEN PowerBand, and the finding that because the product is not on the ARTG it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the CRP.

I refer back to the legislation specified within the complaint, Section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act that prohibits the publications of advertisements for therapeutic goods that are not included in the register.

Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 – Sect 42DL
(1) A person must not publish or broadcast an advertisement about therapeutic goods:
(g) that are not entered in the Register; or

Therefore, according to the Therapeutic Goods Act, does indeed fall within the jurisdiction of the TGACRP.

If you feel I am incorrect in my interpretation of the 42DL(1)(g), please advise on what grounds the TGACRP acknowledged the legitimacy of the complaint about PowerBalance (a similar product in design, claimed mechanism, and claimed benefit) for my reference.

For clear precedence of this legislation in practice, I refer to the recent findings of the TGACRP:
http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=13&special=complaint_single&complaintID=1650

32. Section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act prohibits the publication of advertisements for therapeutic goods that are not included in the Register. The advertiser acknowledged that the wrist band product is not included in the Register and the Panel was of the view that the product was promoted for therapeutic use. The advertisements therefore breached section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act and the Panel found this aspect of the complaint justified.

Please advise me on the outcome of any further inquiry you may make.

Sincerely,

Bayani Mills

So, hopefully this time we’ll make some headway on having this product removed.

I eagerly await.