Mike Adams: Fighting Strawmen for $10,000

I had heard of Health Danger Mike Adams’ challenge a while back and thought nothing off it (just another Big Pharma conspiracy theorist). Mike is one of those people who gets celebrity status amongst some people – without them really knowing what he’s about. He promotes Health, which in itself is great – but they don’t notice where he gets all crazy and deluded – and that’s where the problems begin. Sort of like when the Shorty Awards (A twitter-based award) came about and as a result of losing, started blaming “Big Pharma” and the votes being rigged, despite an investigating finding that a large component of his votes were from Twitter User Accounts specifically set up to vote. – Orac covers this one awesomely.

Not the First Time

And yet, surprisingly (or not) while looking up information about this very post I stumbled upon Mike Adams’ “challenge” regarding vaccines. Yes, he’s a Vaccination Nut too. Thankfully, A Drunken Madman looks at Health Dangers’ challenge and explains why it’s a bullshit campaign to make it look like he’s a “ranger”.

The James Randi Educational Foundation

Now, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has a standing offer of $1,000,000 to anyone who can PROVE any of a number of paranormal claims. e.g. ghosts, physic abilities, homeopathy, etc.

The tests administered are there to prove an objective claims, and are agreed to by both parties. The rules are pretty simple. Prove the claim. That’s it.

Of the challenge, the JREF has this to say:

The Foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims. It both supports and conducts original research into such claims.

At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the “applicant” becomes a “claimant.”

Notice the language used; the formal, reasoned nature of the challenge. It doesn’t harp on. It’s succinct.

NaturalNews’ Mike Adams

And here we have Mike “Health Ranger” Adams and his obnoxious, self-righteous “challenge“. Either he is too stupid to understand medicines, willfully ignorant and refuses to learn, or he has specifically set out to create a false challenge to protect his money.

On behalf of the natural health community and all the free citizens of our world who have had their health freedoms stolen from them by a corrupt, dishonest and utterly criminal pharmaceutical industry, I hereby challenge the drug companies to produce a single medicated person who can beat me in a contest of strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination and adaptability.

I’m offering $10,000 to any drug company that can produce a single person taking eight “health enhancing” pharmaceuticals (see below) who can beat me in the competition described here. If they beat me, I write them a $10,000 check out of my own personal bank account. On the other hand, if I win, they have to donate $10,000 to the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center, where I will direct the funds to be spent on providing nutritional supplements for low-income expectant mothers.

The drug companies, you see, claim that the more drugs you take, the healthier you become! Cardiovascular drugs, they say, improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Antidepressant drugs improve the health of your brain, and blood thinning drugs improve the flow of blood through your veins, they insist. So shouldn’t a person taking five, six, or even eight drugs be healthier than a person who takes no such drugs?

According to the messages broadcast in Big Pharma’s television ads, I should be the least healthy person alive today because I take no drugs whatsoever: No prescription drugs, no over-the-counter drugs and no recreational drugs. If you believe Big Pharma’s position that drugs make you healthier, then it should be a very simple matter for Big Pharma to come up with somebody who has better cardiovascular health than myself, right?

Think about it: There are over 300 million people in America. More than half of them take prescription drugs. That’s over 150 million people from which Big Pharma can choose in order to beat one guy (me) in a contest of physical health.

And yet, as you’re about to find out, there is no person on these medications who exhibits excellent physical health. They simply don’t exist. And why? Because drugs make you sicker, not healthier, and the more pharmaceuticals you take, the sicker you get! http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html

Before he has even got to the details of his “Challenge”, it is clear he is making a convoluted series of Straw Man arguments. However, it’s in the “Rules”, that we see the most irresponsible, and ignorant thing that he demands from its participants – that the challengers be multiple given drugs, regardless of whether they are appropriate or not for them – and not just for a short period, but at least a year.

My challenge is extended to any pharmaceutical company with more than $250 million in annual sales. Subjects selected for the competition must be taking the following pharmaceuticals (and must have been taking them for one full year in order for the “health effects” to fully kick in):

• COX-2 inhibitor (anti-inflammatory)
• Blood thinner drug (like Coumadin)
• Blood pressure drug (like Toprol)
• Statin drug (anti-cholesterol)
• SSRI drug (antidepressant)
• Sleep drug (like Ambien)
• Hypertension drug (like Norvasc)
• Antibiotic (like Amoxicillin)

Furthermore, subjects cannot be taking any nutritional supplements or eating superfoods, since these are precisely the things that conventional medicine insists have no health benefits whatsoever in the human body. So I’ll be taking all the nutritional supplements, and the drug company participant will be taking all the medications.

Participants will have to sign a full disclosure relieving me of any responsibility for their own death, since the level of physical exertion in this competition may very well be enough to cause a medicated person to die of a heart attack or stroke. (After all, these drugs kill 100,000 people a year, and most of those people aren’t even exerting themselves…)

Furthermore, given the overwhelming advantage of allowing the drug companies to select any person from among 150 million drug-taking American consumers, I’m giving myself the relatively minor advantage of choosing the five events of the competition, which will be revealed when the challenge begins.

To prove they are serious in this challenge, any participating pharmaceutical company must deposit $10,000 with the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center, which will keep their deposit if they lose the competition. If they win, the Consumer Wellness Center will return their deposit, and I will personally write them a check for an additional $10,000.

Challenge participants can be of any age over 18. Yes, at the age of 38, I will gladly compete with challengers half my age, as long as they are on the required medications.

If any participants have the gumption to show up, this event will be filmed and broadcast on NaturalNews.com, YouTube, Google Video and other online video outlets. Further details of the participation requirements and legal contract are available by contacting NaturalNews through our feedback form: http://www.naturalnews.com/feedback…

There are quite a few other details to this, such as travel arrangements, who pays for the blood tests, video broadcast rights, and so on, so if any drug company seriously wants to step up to this challenge, contact us for full legal details. – http://www.naturalnews.com/023476_health_drug_drugs.html

Do you like the part where he slips in that wants his challengers to be taking a Sleeping Drug? Or where rather than escrow, he opts to have the money deposited in to the coffers of the “Consumer Wellness Center”, of which he is the Executive Officer and founder?

And aside from the obvious Naturalistic Fallacy, It’s is blatantly clear to those with an informed, basic knowledge of medicine that he has no good understanding of what medicines are, or how they should be used.

The only thing to do is to ensure others’ have the capacity to see through bullshit like Adams’ through reason and logic.

An arduous task.

Playlist: Alternatives to Medicine

I try to save all the interesting videos I come across in to a Playlist of some sort, and videos that concern alternatives to medicines (AtMs) are no different.

The Playlist looks at a number of pseudo-scientific alternatives to medicine, and includes videos explaining some of the ways we come to believe they can work.

There are a couple of interviews on select AtMs, including the BBC Test of Homeopathy that would have netted then one million dollars US from the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) had they succeeded.

Richard Dawkins’ second episode from “The Enemies of Reason” entitled “The Irrational Health Service” features as the first on the list.

It’s a list that is open to change as videos come and go – if you have suggestions, let me know!

The Government is Lying about Vaccines again! .. or not.

A commenter on this mother-based website’s article noted that she didn’t care for information that comes from the Government, or from any of its arms.

It seems she won’t accept the data, not on the basis on the accuracy of the data – she doesn’t care if it’s right or wrong. Apparently, it’s automatically wrong BECAUSE it’s from the government:

Reduced symptoms & Increased Mortality Rate vs Reduced Mortality Rate: A hard choice, apparently

What I’d be interested in is just where she, and others like her are getting their “facts” from?

The concept is quite odd, given that Governments are generally the only one in a position to gather the rich data sets – and it’s often quite easy for someone to say “Government” and disassociate the idea of a collective from the vast number of people that work towards the running on a country – many of which would need to be implicated in such a conspiracy.

Most, if not all private institutions don’t have the capacity to gather statistical information as rich as the government can – so, on what reliable, statistically significant DATA is she acting upon? I suggest none.

It’s cynicism.

I suppose, like all conspiracy theorists – there are only two options available when they refuse to believe that others are correct. Either everyone is wrong, or everyone is lying. It’s often too far fetched for them to believe that they themselves could EVER be wrong – and it’s that kind of willful ignorance that gets people infected, and killed.

So, kudos to the parents who vaccinate! – It’s sensible, rational, and responsible.

Name that Fallacy: The “Dr. Oz” Edition!

First of all, it’s apparent from asking friends of mine, not many know who Dr. Oz is — So if you want to know – Google him. 😀

That being said, Steven Novella from the SGU Podcast (and of course the Neurologica Blog) was invited on to his show recently. And what WAS the video being from that show on YouTube was removed due to Copyright Violations.

And so, I will post what I completed as my draft when I WAS going to play “Name that Fallacy!”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6kn-JJ2HiU

00:00-00:15 – Fallacy of Presupposition

The Introduction comprises of rhetoric that includes “Why your doctor is afraid about Alternative Health!”. This is a Fallacy of presupposition as it is not proven, or agreed to that Doctors are afraid of “Alternative Health”.

Additionally, Dr. Oz asks Dr. Novella a question, which he answers. Right after Dr. Oz answers, the introduction cuts to a scene where two women are nodding. To me, they appear much more surprised than what I would expect given Dr. Oz’s statement – So, what I am suggesting that the clip was not an actual reaction to Dr. Oz’s disagreement, but to a different statement all together.

02:27 – False Attribution

“You’ve Shown You’re not Afraid..” – The audience’s opinion – the public in general – is irrelevant; The General Public is not qualified, nor an authority on Alternative Medicine, or Medicine.

02:28 – Appeal to Antiquity

“Time honoured Traditions of Alternative Medicine” – Asserting that Alternative Health is correct because it was long held to be true.

02:37 – Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Gender

In practice rather than rhetoric, the very fact that Dr. Novella is juxtaposed against a FEMALE Cardiologist who uses Alternative-Medicine will appeal to the emotion to some women. Dr. Novella will be portrayed as oppressive – As is a common notion in this segment. I’m giving it the name of “Appeal to Gender”.

03:55 – Fallacy of Composition / Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well / False Analogy

Dr. Guarneri stated that “And certainly, I don’t think today we could call Nutrition, Alternative Medicine; or Exercise, Alternative Medicine”. By phrasing her argument in this way, Dr. Guarneri invites the audience to commit a circumstantial Ad Hominem on anyone who considers Nutrition or Exercise Alternative Medicine. However, this is largely irrelevant — because it is a false analogy.

Neither Nutrition or Exercise are considered Alternative Medicine. However, two of the other modalities she mentioned are – Acupuncture, and Prayer.

So, what does Dr. Oz say: “Well, that was a pretty compelling argument”.

Seriously?! – That wasn’t an argument at all, Dr. Oz. Dr. Guarneri made a statement about her job, said she suggested Alternative Therapies to her patients, and implied Dr. Novella thought that Nutrition and Exercise was Alternative Medicine.

If anything, I should be adding a Fallacy of Composition to her list, as it is fairly evident that she believes that because most of the advice she passes to her patients is, hopefully, is good & evidence-based advice, that ALL advice she gives is good & evidence-based advice – Actually, I will.

04:52 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Pragmatic Wishful Thinking

Dr. Oz makes it clear why he uses Alternative Medicine:

“it gives folks, my patients, me – a customized tool, that I can use, that benefits me.”

It is crystal that Dr. Oz uses Alternative Medicines on the basis that he, and his patients BELIEVE they gain something from a “customized tool”, not that they ARE gaining efficacious results from doing so.

07:13 – Straw Man

Dr. Oz responds to Dr. Novella with “I totally disagree  – that these have not been studied, and some evidence found to support them”.

This was not the position of Dr. Novella.

Dr. Novella make it clear that his opinion was with the evidence, and that the evidence demonstrated through research (studies, trials, etc) that many oral Alternative Medicines do not work for the ailments they are commonly suggested use.

07:30 – Red Herring / Appeal to Emotion via Appeal to Motive.

Dr. Oz changes the topic from evidence of Oral Alternative Medicines towards what he considers to be the “bigger” problem Doctors have with Alternative Medicine. The way Dr. Oz frames the statement implies that doctors feel they do not have complete control over their patients healthcare and therefore is this is their motive for being against Alternative Medicine.

10:28 Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Dr. Guarneri concludes via Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc that because her patients used Acupuncture and reported feeling better that acupuncture needles were causal in her patients’ relief.

10:40 – Ad Hominem via Poisoning The Well

Dr. Guarneri completes her statement that Poisons the Well “That’s the Hippocratic Oath”. Again, anyone opposing her viewpoint is implied to not agree with this statement where this is not necessarily the case.

10:42 – Oz Just being an Ass.

I found it unnecessary for Dr. Oz to pass the commentary on to Dr. Novella, only to AGAIN interrupt his response.

11: – Strawman

Dr. Oz (never got to finish due to removal of video)

11:45 – False Attribution

Chinese Medicine (never got to finish due to removal of video)

12:00 – Strawman

“Can’t Possibly Work” (never got to finish due to removal of video, though from memory Steve Novella gives an awesome fallacy-smackdown to Dr. Oz, making the point that he DID NOT SAY that alternative medicines CAN’T POSSIBLY WORK, and continued pointing out that he said he had carefully reviewed the evidence.)

14:10 Ad Hominem

Dismissive (never got to finish due to removal of video)

 

References:

Home

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

 

Vaccinations, The Flu, and You.

Winter is on it’s way, and with it the encouragement for the public to get Flu Vaccinations. Many higher-risk public-sector workplaces are offering the service free to their staff, such as Public Transport Services and Hospitals.

Importantly, everyone should have a clear understanding of Herd Immunity. I found as video that demonstrated it well, although the introduction is a bit boring as it has more to do with the USA rather than Australia. The video can be found here at a previous post.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches recently experienced the effects of a reduction in Vaccination rates (The Manly Daily), which I wrote about at the time. It’s a topic that needs to be frequently covered, as anti-vaccination propaganda that gets passed around eventually finds someone who will take it as fact.

It’s worth nothing that some anti-vaccination websites promote “natural” immunisation methods .. such as simply allowing your children to get sick; sometimes herd immunity or germ theory was rejected all together, usually both, and more often than not they dismiss any documentation without reading it. Anti-science rhetoric is common.

Let’s look at some of the common themes of Anti-Vaccination Groups:

Ingredient Misinformation

Ingredients are generally the first “line of attack” for Anti-Vax proponents. The information they give ABOUT their claims is generally factually incorrect and is often recited verbatim without any fact-checking performed. It is because these concepts are so ingrained it is often difficult to demonstrate through evidence that their knowledge is incorrect.

Anti-Freeze – FALSE!

The “antifreeze” error comes from a misunderstanding of the ethylene chemical compounds – all that is ethylene is not antifreeze.

Formaldehyde – TRUE!

Vaccines utilize formaldehyde that is identical to the substance found naturally in our bodies as a metabolic byproduct of methanol. It is commonly excreted in our urine as waste or converted into formalin.

Formaldehyde in our bodies = H2CO (natural)
Formaldehyde in vaccines = H2CO (synthetic)

Formaldehyde has other uses and is changed to be used in conjunction with other synthetic chemical compounds. These compounds, solutions, gasses, or resins can be, and often are, toxic.

Formaldehyde in embalming fluid = H2CO+CH3OH+CH3CH2OH+solvents
Formaldehyde in plywood = H2CO+NH2CONH2+CH3OH+HCOOH+H2O

Thimerosal – Depends! (On which Vaccine)

Thimerosal is a preservative that is used in the manufacturing process of some vaccines and other medicines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could otherwise cause illness or injury.

Most anti-vaxers will claim that the amount of mercury that used to be in vaccine exceeded EPA exposure guidelines. However, Thimerosal metabolises into ethylmercury, not methylmercury. The guidelines are specifically for methylmercury, as ethylmercury has a half-life of only a few days to about a week, thus is not considered dangerous enough to regulate. You will literally get more exposure to mercury from a 6oz tin of Tuna.

In addition, Thimerosal has not be used in the MMR vaccine since 2002 and was removed due to political pressure as part of a recommendation, not a regulation. Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, resulting in exposure levels lower than anytime in the past, autism rates have not declined, suggesting that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.

Baby Foetuses – False!

This was simply scare-campaigning and not true in the slightest.

Aluminium – True!

Vaccines contain aluminum in a salt form. Anti-vaxers claim this is toxic, and some will cite that 4ppm will cause blood to coagulate. However, individuals are not exposed to such amounts of aluminum in a single vaccination visit. Below are the vaccines containing aluminum, with the corresponding parts per million (ppm) for an infant (~251 mL of blood in the body) and an 80lb. child (~4000 mL of blood); note the two numbers for DTaP represent extreme ranges of aluminum content.:

ppm (w/v) = (weight in grams of sample/volume of sample in mL) * 106
Vaccine ppm in infant ppm in child age received (in months)
DTaP (170mcg) .677 .043 2, 4, 6, w/ final ~4-6 yrs
DTaP(625mcg) 2.490 .156
Hep A .996 .063 12 w/ final ~6 mo. later
Hep B .996 .063 birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+
HiB .896 .056 2, 4
HPV .896 .056 11 or 12 yrs., then 2, 6 mo.
Pediatrix 3.386 .213 2, 4, 6 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and Hep B)
Pentacel 1.315 .083 2, 4, 6, 15-18 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and HiB)
Pneumococcus .498 .031 2, 4, 6, 12-15

Safety and Effectiveness

Measles, United States 1950-2001

After false claims about ingredients, the argument often falls towards Safety and Effectiveness. Essentially stemming from a lack of knowledge in statistics – specifically, gathering, analysis, and interpretation.

Statistically, the information from numerous data-sets demonstrates that vaccines are, in fact, effective in reducing the incidence rate of infection.

Improved socioeconomic conditions have undoubtedly had an indirect impact on disease. Better nutrition, the development of antibiotics and other treatments have increased survival rates among the sick; less crowded living conditions have reduced disease transmission; and lower birth rates have decreased the number of susceptible household contacts — all factors accounted for.

The only suspected issues Vaccines occur if a child has a rare, hereditary, mitochondrial disorder that pre-disposes them to a reaction – and even for this, the supporting information is not currently conclusive, nor strong. There is a test available that checks for this disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Interestingly, the published speculation about a link between Vaccines and Autism was made specifically about the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine; this information was lated investigated and found to have been manufactured by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues.

The Paper was initially published in the respected medical journal The Lancet but later retracted after an investigation found Dr. Wakefield had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.

On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield was found guilty of professional misconduct and should be erased from the Medical Register in the U.K. (meaning that his license to practice medicine in the U.K. has been revoked).

And again, to date, no rigorous, controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines are injected into the bloodstream  – False!

This claim stems from a lack of knowledge about anatomy, specifically – the lymphatic system. Vaccines are either injected subcutaneously, injected intramuscularly, given by mouth, or squirted up the nose.

Since subcutaneous and intramuscular vaccines are injected directly into the body, and antigens and other components are taken into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system (in order to spur antibody production through hyperstimulation of the Th2/humoral response) without passing through our ordinary immune defences.

At this point, no vaccines are recommended for injection into your bloodstream via the intravenous method. The CDC Pinkbook includes a Vaccine Administration section (Appendix D Page 5), which demonstrates the correct route of administration for each vaccine.

Conspiracy Theories

By the time Anti-Vax proponents get to this stage they have already exhausted their Ingredient & Efficacy arguments; arguments that are subsequently used  time and time again, despite being proven to be false. Usually, it is clear by this point that they have these beliefs because they have been personally affected by some infection, serious disease, or death and are looking for Agency. (Something/someone to blame).

Generally, it starts with the allegation that “Big Pharma” is poisoning your children, or you. The “evidence” cited is often not evidence at all, rather it is rife with innuendo and references to “consumerism”, or “corporate america”.  The claim involves everyone from manufacturers, governments, regulators, and health professionals.

Most challenges are met with ad hominem attacks of “You’re a Big Pharma Shill”, or claims you’re part cover-up of the information.

Ironic, given the names of some of these “informed choice” advocates. One, calling themselves the “Australian Vaccination Network” or AVN was ordered by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission to clearly identify themselves as Anti-Vaccination based on the information that the AVN was:

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

I am willing to make it clear that there are justified concerns with Big Pharma. However, the allegation of a deliberate attack on the public isn’t supported by anything; most importantly, the statistics. It is purely a tactic – a Red Herring – something to take the argument towards how “terrible and greedy” pharmaceutical companies are, as if that was enough to proven that vaccines were dangerous.

Regardless of the conspiracies, the statistics demonstrate vaccinations work.

Additionally, Anna Kata in the Department of Anthropology of McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario released a paper, A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet set out to examine and analyze antivaccination websites. In which she analysed information contained in Eight-Antivaccination sites, selected through Google searches that were used to identify the highest-ranked anti-vaccine sites using typical search strategies.

Her paper can be found here: http://resources.cpha.ca/CCIAP/data/1700e.pdf

 

More Links:

Wakefield Supports Vaccines

“My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.”

– Andrew Wakefield, Twenty Twenty Television

I found the quote to be quite a far way away from what is preached by the no-vaccination lobby group like the Australian Vaccination Network (Anti-Vaccination Network), who still refuses to place this health warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC):

More on the Australian Vaccination Network Warning:

http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/Publications/Media-Releases/PUBLIC-WARNING-/default.aspx

PUBLIC WARNING ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK (AVN)

26 July 2010

by the Health Care Complaints Commission under section 94A of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 

The Health Care Complaints Commission has investigated two complaints about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a non-profit organisation registered in New South Wales that provides information about vaccination. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination.

The Commission’s investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website http://www.avn.org.au.

The Commission’s investigation established that the AVN website:

 

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:

 

  • The AVN’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
  • The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
  • The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.

The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.

Further Information

For further information, contact Mr Kim Swan, the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7483 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

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!

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.