Consumer Health Digest #13-02

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 10, 2013

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Groups respond to school massacre. Spurred by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, several prominent medical groups that regard gun violence as a public health problem have issued statements and a new organization has formed to counter the National Rifle Association's ability to block remedial legislation.

CAP issues "Do's and Don'ts" for weight loss ads. The United Kingdom's Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes that are implemented by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). CAP's recent advice for diet claims includes:

It would be useful if the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued trade regulation rules banning deceptive claims and held advertising media jointly responsible for the financial damage done by misleading ads that violate the rules.

Nasty e-mails to Dr. Barrett posted. Quackwatch has posted a selection of hateful messages received by Dr. Stephen Barrett during the past two years. Most senders appear to feel deeply offended that their beliefs were challenged. Many falsely assert that his views are determined by financial considerations and/or controlled by outside entities such as drug companies or organized medicine. Most of the critics appear to be incapable of considering that his Internet activities reflect genuine beliefs and are done as a public service. A recent article in Skeptical Inquirer notes that profound feelings of insult to a deeply held belief ranks among the most powerful and pervasive failures of human reasoning.

Bob Steiner, prominent skeptic, has died. Robert A. Steiner, a prominent magician and quackery opponent, has died at the age of 78. A Certified Public Accountant, he also served as a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), president of the Society of American Magicians, and board member of the National Council against Health Fraud. His most significant actions included the unmasking of psychics and faith healers. The CSI Web site has posted an article about his activities.

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This page was revised on January 13, 2013.