Tag Archives: ASA

Stop backing ASA faulty judgements, alternative medicine bodies urged

WDDTY is apparently hell-bent on encouraging a mass suicide mission among quacks. The editors consistently urge quacks and charlatans to openly defy the Advertising Standards Authority:

Alternative health practitioners are being urged to lobby their associations to stop recognising the judgements of the Advertising Standards Association (ASA), which has consistently ruled against practitioners’ advertisements and websites.

Why has the ASA consistently ruled against these people? There are two reasons:

  1. Misleading claims are endemic among quacks.
  2. Complaints are usually made by well-informed people, so few complaints fail.

The editors of WDDTY never let any opportunity pass for fallacious reasoning, so they choose to imply that rulings against misleading adverts are a problem, rather than the misleading adverts themselves:

Some practitioners have retired or gone out of business following an ASA ruling, believing it to be a government body, because they have been unable to state that their therapy has helped specific conditions.

No, they have not gone out of business because they believe anything about the ASA. They have in fact three options:

  1. Stop making false claims.
  2. Continue making false claims and take the consequences.
  3. Shut up shop.

So they have gone out of business because they believe they cannot legally continue to advertise fraudulent products and services. And in this, they are absolutely correct.

Lobby group Freedom4Health says the ASA is a limited company with no government sanctions or legal powers.

Lobby group Freedom4Health is this: wrong. The ASA is a voluntary regulator for the advertising industry, but it has relationships with statutory regulators and its codes are underpinned by consumer protection legislation. It has powers to regulate advertising output, and (rather more importantly) it is recognised as the arbiter of truth in advertising. In other words, an advertiser who wilfully ignores ASA adjudications and is then brought up in front of Trading Standards, can be in very deep trouble indeed.

“Unfortunately it’s being given validity by some practitioners’ associations and bodies who are recognising the rulings and are telling members to abide by them—although others support their members in challenging ASA decisions,” said director Martin Weightman.

Consider that statement for a moment. Apparently it is a huge problem that trade associations for quacks require their members to defer to an independent arbiter to ensure that their advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful.

Well, yes: it is a huge problem in as much as the quackery industry evidently needs such a rule. How are you supposed to trust someone who has to be told by their regulator that they must withdraw misleading advertisements?

Of course most forms of quackery are unregulated, the purported “regulators” are merely trade bodies. Any quack who falls out with their regulator can continue to practice right up until the moment that Trading Standards shut them down.

Freedom4Health is now urging therapists to lobby their associations so that the truth about the ASA can be passed on to their practitioner members.

I have some bad news for you. They already tell their members the truth. The ASA is an independent arbiter of truth in advertising, and it is unethical and often illegal to continue to use an advertisement that has been adjudicated as misleading.

“Nobody wants to see dangerous or misleading advertising, but the ASA is ill-equipped to properly assess claims of efficacy of alternative and complementary therapies, and so finds against them each and every time,” said Mr Weightman.

What Mr. Weightman means is that the ASA are, in fact, extremely well-equipped to properly assess claims of efficacy of quackery. That’s why the quacks generally lose. They believe their nostrums work, but they don’t.

That is, after all, why they are alternative.

To avoid distress and even the closure of businesses, Mr Weightman wants the associations to explain to members that ASA rulings have no legal sanction and aren’t backed by the government.

To avoid distress and even the closure of businesses, Mr. Weightman wants the ASA to magically disappear. He’d be better advised to encourage his fellow quackery apologists to stop lying to people. And if their business cannot survive without dishonesty, I venture to suggest that the ASA is not the problem.

Further reading: