Saturday, 30 November 2013

'Misleading' advertising and snake oil.

When I use facebook, there are often 'suggested posts' or other advertisements that I have requested be hidden because they are 'misleading.'   They ask for your reasons with a few options given.
Here's what it says:

Advert Hidden
We'll try not to show you this advert again.
Why did you hide it?

In 'other' you can say what you want, even that the advertisement is lies, but that could be a risky thing to do. I always call them 'misleading.'
A lot of them are lies though - big, fat, whopping lies.    

The biggest offenders are the advertisements for  'natural' medicines.  There is almost never the slightest evidence that they work.

In olden times, 'snake oil salesmen' used to travel town to town selling their remedies for all manner of ills.  We see them in Westerns now and then.

And there were general merchants as well. The picture opposite is an actual wagon of a travelling merchant in Australia. (Stockmen's Hall of Fame, Longreach.)   Dava Singh would have had medicines for Dropsy and for Rheumatism and for 'Women's Troubles.' With little education, the people of the times would have put some faith in the 'snake oil.'

Today?  I do not understand that so many of us are just as willing to believe in outrageous claims today.

Pretend remedies are not the only products that use lies in their ads. Cosmetics and beautifiers can be worse, but outrageous claims are expected with these, no matter what lies they are. Cleaning products are also bad - things that you only have to spray on and forget?  Well, spray as much as you want, but that it will all be sparkling clean afterwards?  I don't believe it.

Look at these - are they misleading?  Or are they out and out lies?

from Facebook ‘suggested posts.’
‘One clever trick reduces fat four times faster than diet or exercise’
‘Dr. O reveals $5 wrinkle trick that’s making Botox  doctors furious’  
‘lose four KGs instantly with a cleanse.’
‘miracle fruit burns fat’

from facebook ads on the side:
‘Four foods to eat before bed for weight loss’
‘learn four tricks to never store carbs as fat’
‘follow this simple diet trick to burn off  your unwanted belly fat without any intense diet’
‘learn how to treat aches and pains with chili.’
‘Desperate mum discovers $4 secret that has Botox doctors furious.’
‘one tip to remove wrinkles’
‘Dieticians are marvelling at this 3 week fat-blasting technique.’
‘End Rheumatoid Arthritis. 100% guaranteed.’

 All nonsense.  Snake Oil promises.
End Rheumatoid Arthritis. 100% guaranteed?   This would be fantastic if true.  If true, there would be millions grateful.  If true, the inventor would be in line for a Nobel prize -  he would have done a wonderful thing for humanity. But as far as I know, the only 100% guaranteed cure for rheumatoid arthritis is death. Sorry about that.

Truth in Advertising Legislation:

Most countries have laws stating that companies are prohibited from deliberately misleading advertising.  And most countries don't seem to care about enforcing them.  When they do, it is usually only to tell the advertiser to stop doing it.

When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.  The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses.  The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health or their pocketbooks – claims about food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, and tobacco and on conduct related to high-tech products and the Internet, such as the dissemination of spyware.  The FTC also monitors and writes reports about ad industry practices regarding marketing of food, violent movies, music, and electronic games to children.

 It was not so easy finding the applicable provisions for Australia, just some vague summaries, and if you want to, you can try wading through the Trade Practices Act 1974, and hoping to make sense of it.  Whatever, it appears quite ineffective.  

Self-regulation maybe?  Everyone knows that self regulation only works when there is a body closely watching, and with a big stick.  Something about a fox in charge of the chicken coop?

See top left?  Pills.  One wonders what for and just how effective.
As effective as wild krill oil maybe?

One of the interesting 'misleading' products is a nasal spray that supposedly helps someone lose weight.  This time, a scientist pointed out that there was not the slightest evidence that it had any effect at all.  That was years ago.  The court case is ongoing as far as I know, and the product is still being marketed. 

You can be a sheep if you choose.
But look after your lambs.

A particular gripe of mine is that parents are dosing their children with these 'natural' products that are not necessarily harmless. If they choose to do it to themselves, that's their right, but, for instance, a concoction of fish oil that is supposed to raise the child's intelligence?  Don't take risks. It does not raise the child's intelligence.  All it does is expose the parent's lack of intelligence.

Pharmacies have a lot to answer for.  Their reputation for ethics has been very much eroded these past several years as they stock more and more snake oil remedies.  These days their pretend remedies take up as much space as things that can be expected to work - at least a little.

 Truth in advertising?   Baaahhh!    Humbug!


Maybe facebook read this blog-post. The option of 'misleading' is no longer available for anyone wishing to 'hide' particular ads.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The wonderful, wonderful Book Depository - Free Delivery

I am very pleased to discover that my books are now available from The Book Depository.  This means that you can order a paperback, and instead of paying around $17 for 'Not a Man,' (the first of my  books and the most popular)  plus around $12 for freight,  then you can buy from The Book Depository and pay just $18.87.  That is a BIG difference.

Note: if you find the one marked 'Unavailable,' keep looking. The book you want has blue under the part that says 'The Story of Shuki Bolkiah,'  not brown.  The other is the original edition published by a firm no longer operating.


And the Penwinnard Books:

 These range from around $13 to $17.  Each is a self-contained story.

This part copied from The Book Depository site:

Christmas FAQs

    • What is the last date I can place my order for Christmas delivery?

      The last ordering dates are:

      Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Eastern & Central Europe
      Thursday 5 December

      USA & Western Europe (Incl. Ireland)
      Tuesday 10 December

      Monday 16 December

      Rest of the World
      Monday 2 December

      Last order dates are recommendations and delivery by Christmas is not guaranteed. Please order as early as possible to ensure gifts arrive in time for Christmas!

      When will my order arrive?

      After dispatch:

      UK: 3 to 5 working days
      Australia: 10 working days
      US and Canada: 7 to 14 working days
      South America: 10-15 working days
      Rest of world: 7 to 10 working days

PS:  If you're not comfortable with online purchasing, they are all now available at Angus & Robertson,  (you'll have to order at the shop)  and some seem to be available at Collins Bookshops and maybe other chains. 
Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A new release by Tom Winton

Catch the brand new release by an author who has made a real name for himself.
A Second Chance in Paradise,  by Tom Winton

Long Island salesman Sonny Raines has had it. He’s sick and tired of living in a world where wrong always wins over right. Then, on his thirty-ninth birthday, when he loses his job and comes home to the most devastating shock of his life, that’s it. He’s dropping out.
With nothing left to lose, and little in his pocket, Sonny chucks it all and drives his aging van fifteen-hundred miles to the lower reaches of the Florida Keys. All he wants is to get over his recent losses and simplify his hectic life, and that’s exactly what he thinks he’s doing when he settles on a paradisiacal speck of an island known as Wrecker’s Key. While surrounded by the warm aquamarine waters of two tropical oceans, he not only falls in love with the key but also establishes a close bond with the free-spirited locals who call it home.
But all isn’t blue skies, swaying palms, and coconut oil on Wrecker’s Key. There’s trouble wafting in the warm breezes that caress the island. Although Sonny certainly isn’t looking for romance, he finds himself falling for his next door neighbor. Ex-model Julie Albright just may be the kindest, most beautiful woman to ever grace his eyes, but there’s a snag. She has a small physical flaw that, no matter how hard he tries, Sonny can’t overlook. And his feelings are no secret to Julie. She can read them, and they weigh as heavy on her heart as they do on his. Then things get even worse. One night, under the cover of darkness, danger drifts up the deep, silent currents from the lower keys—serious danger—life and death danger. And Sonny Raines finds himself right in the middle of it.


 An excerpt:

“As soon as I stepped outside I broke into a trot. Passing all the rest of the trailers first then heading up the same narrow road I followed Julie home on the night before, all I could do was think about how she must be reacting right then. I envisioned her staying in her bed alone, thinking. I could see quiet tears making their way down her cheeks. We may have only known each other for twenty-four hours but the mutual attraction we felt – both mental and physical, was undeniable. And it was deep. I knew for sure she really liked me, but there was a lot I didn’t know about Julie Alright.

I had no idea she hadn’t had a semblance of interest in any man since her modeling days ended sixteen years earlier in New York City. Nor did I know that back then she was engaged to Mark Richardson, a very promising young attorney. Mark was about to become the youngest partner ever at Dalrymple, Stockton and Stockton, one of New York’s most prestigious law firms. Julie and Mark had been dating for two years, and they had a big wedding planned for that fall. The ceremony was to be held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by a reception at the Waldorf Astoria. Money was no problem for Mark’s parents and they insisted on buying the grandest wedding available. His father, J. Walter Richardson of Scarsdale and Palm Beach, just happened to be the sole heir of the “American Grains” breakfast cereal fortune.

At that time Julie was one of the big up-and-comers in the modeling world. As a matter of fact, she was just about to cross the threshold to cover-girl fame. But it never happened. One June morning, when she was on her way to the biggest shoot of her career, her sunny future eclipsed totally, and in an instant.

Sitting in the back seat of a Checker cab, she was headed uptown to the world-renowned Clairidge Studios where she was to pose for an upcoming cover of Vogue Magazine. The sun was beginning to shine, but Madison Avenue was still slick from a late morning rain. Julie, who was sitting behind the driver, cranked down the window and held her left hand out in the breeze, drying her freshly applied nail polish. Then, just as the cab was crossing the intersection at 44th street, another cab, heading east, didn’t bother to stop for the red light. The driver of the at fault cab, one Eloi Hernandez, was so toasted on coke he didn’t even notice the light had turned red. Thoughts of stopping never entered his hopped-up mind until after he’d sped into the intersection – and slammed broadside into Julie’s cab. The impact to the driver’s door was so forceful that her driver’s neck snapped so far sideways it literally cracked. The two vehicles then skidded, smacking sideways into each other, crushing four of Julie’s fingers in the process.The driver of Julie’s cab, a Greek immigrant from Astoria Queens, whose name she never learned, was dead by the time the ambulances reached the scene. Julie was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital where a team of three plastic surgeons performed micro-surgery in an attempt to re-attach her fingers. Her middle and index fingers were salvaged and the nerves regenerated in due time, but her pinky and ring finger were so badly mashed there was no possible way of saving them. Eloi Hernandez did a short stint on Riker’s Island; the Greek was buried out in Queens by his family; and Julie’s potential international fame never materialized. On top of all that, when Mark Richardson found out Julie had lost two fingers, he decided that just maybe he wasn’t ready for marriage after all. After knotting the loose ends of her life together the best Julie could, she returned to Ft. Lauderdale with lost dreams and a broken heart.”


About the author

Tom Winton has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 Author in Literary Fiction. It has been said that he is a man who writes with his pen dipped in his soul.

Mr. Winton's debut novel, Beyond Nostalgia, has been likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. Praised as "A 20th century Gone with the Wind," Beyond Nostalgia is a four-time Amazon Bestseller.

His second novel The Last American Martyr has been on six bestseller lists at the same time. His third book, Four Days with Hemingway's Ghost, has been a repeat bestseller as well.

Where you can buy Tom's books:




Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Cholesterol debate, and the way doctors push drugs.

There has been a recent programme on ABC Australia - 'Catalyst.'  They provide evidence that Statins to reduce cholesterol are grossly over-prescribed, and will make no difference in almost every case.  It then looks at the rewards for doctors when they prescribe drugs, and just how the drug research is funded - mostly by drug companies.

One assertion - that many drug trials start by giving every participant the drug, and then dropping each person who shows side-effects.  The 'trial' then proceeds without those people. This initial phase is not taken into account when the results of the trial are made known. Obviously, the result will considerably underestimate the frequency of side-effects.  This practice is fraud.

The above is well worth watching. They say it much better than I do, and you're more likely to believe them.

STOP PRESS:  noted 12th November.

Naturally, there was a  lot of hostility after this programme aired. Some of it is well founded.  The 'experts' used turned out to have a financial interest in opposing the conventional line.
See this episode of Mediawatch for more.

Who can we trust when so much money is involved?

All the same, it is fairly obvious that Statins are over-prescribed.  It is not the only drug that is routinely prescribed on dubious grounds.

HRT is still strongly pushed in spite of the evidence against, Ritalin for active and naughty children, of course, and asthma medication. I've never been an asthmatic, never had an asthmatic attack, and yet three times a doctor has pushed onto me oral steroids - a strong drug with potentially dangerous side-effects. 
The first time was when I was still coughing a week after a nasty attack of flu. I didn't fill the prescription, I just got better.
I can't remember what the second time was about, but the third time was because I was doing a Fine Arts course and was over-exposed to oil-based paint. By the final year of the course, I was coughing far too much. Instead of listening to what I knew was the cause, the doctor reached into his drawer for his free sample of steroids which would do me until I had the prescription filled. I refused, and though it took some years, once I was no longer constantly exposed to fumes, I stopped coughing.
So three times, doctors have wanted me to start on steroid medication. 
What if I'd listened to that first doctor?  Then for the last thirty years, I would have been regularly taking a powerful drug. Would I be as healthy?  I really don’t think so. 
Health advice is apt to change every five years. What is deemed 'normal' once, is no longer deemed 'normal' once a drug has been developed for it. 
So be sceptical, do not be persuaded into the cocktail of drugs that doctors thrust on any elderly person, and use your own common sense to stay as healthy as your body allows.
And incidentally, some of the 'surveys?' There was one recently - that a person is healthier if they have at least one half-hour of activity in a day.  Well, guess what.  If you are not engaging in at least a half hour of activity in a day, then you are already at least bedridden and probably dead.  The ones who do these surveys quite often appear to get the cause and effect mixed up.
This web-page is by M. A. McRae, author of the Shuki series and the Penwinnard Stories.
And below is the usual ad.