Osteopathy Infomercial In The Guardian

Yesterday’s Guardian carried a puff-piece for osteopathy which was so obviously a free advert for Ben Katz the “London Osteopath” that it prompted me to write to the Life & Style editor at lifeandstyle.editor@guardianunlimited.co.uk to complain. Here is the text of my email:

I write with concern about Bim Adewunmi’s piece on osteopathy at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jun/13/health-and-wellbeing . It contains unevidenced assertions as to how osteopathy can supposedly help asthma and pneumonia. A single study is referred to once but no reference or link is given so it is not possible to assess its quality. Indeed the only link given is to ‘the London Osteopath’ Ben Katz’s website and therein lies another concern, this piece was clearly written by Katz as descriptions of treatments given are told in the first person and the by-line is “As told to Bim Adewunmi”.

This alleged article is clearly nothing more than an infomercial for Mr. Katz. Your columnist Ben Goldacre has written on the practice of those with something to sell getting journalists to write puff-pieces about their product or service because in a supposed news story, claims can be made which would not be allowed in a paid for advert. It is a pity you did not run this nonsense past him before publishing.

Yours sincerely
John Hawcock
[Address & phone number given]

If I get any response I’ll blog it.

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13 Responses to “Osteopathy Infomercial In The Guardian”

  1. Dear Guardian, Osteopathy is not an effective treatment for asthma or pneumonia | Josephine Jones Says:

    [...] asthma and pneumonia. Although I know other people have complained about this (see here and here), I was genuinely appalledĀ  and felt I should put in complaints of my own. (Though I must also [...]

  2. J Fairfoul Says:

    Unfortunate that the embedded ad banner on this page when I viewed it was for Cambridge Osteopaths!

    • jaycueaitch Says:

      Unfortunately, I have no control over what ads are linked to my posts. What I get for blogging on a free site I suppose.

  3. josephinejones Says:

    JQH – I had a similar comment on my blog about osteopathy ads. My response:

    If any ads for osteopaths appear alongside this blog, I suggest you check them for misleading and unsubstantiated claims and report them to the ASA!

  4. jaycueaitch Says:

    Still not had a reply, or even an acknowledgement of my complaint. Since Tim Lusher is being a dick about the issue elsewhere on the internet and claiming that the article is not billed as being about asthma even though the subheading refers to osteopathy having an impact on asthma I have now forwarded my complaint to the Reader’s Editor.

  5. josephinejones Says:

    Regarding Tim Lusher ‘being a dick… elsewhere on the internet’, see his comment under the Martin Robbins follow- up here http://lay.si/80 & subsequent criticisms.

    This morning, I posted the following comment on the Guardian site regarding a Twitter exchange between Tim Lusher and myself late last night:

    “Since Tim Lusher had replied to me on Twitter on Wednesday night, I decided that perhaps if I tweeted him, I might get an answer about why he hasn’t responded to criticisms of his comment above. So I sent him the following messages:

    “@timlusher People are wondering why you are not responding to their comments on @mjrobbins osteo/asthma piece…”

    “http://lay.si/80 @timlusher People have been very critical of your comment & are wondering why you haven’t responded..?”

    He replied:

    “@DrDaddyDolphin We publish about 4000 articles a day on the Guardian website This was one tiny 260-word column. I have commented.”

    I did not believe this had answered my question so I replied:

    “.@timlusher The article prompted several complaints & PCC involvement. You commented, people were unhappy with the comment. Your response..?”

    To which he responded:

    “@DrDaddyDolphin I object to your bullying, self-righteous melisramatic tone, so I don’t intend to respond further. Get perspective.””

  6. Guardian not speaking to me due to PCC Protocol. PCC contact away until 27th June. Offending article still online. | Josephine Jones Says:

    [...] my latest complaint to the Guardian Readers’ Editor yesterday (regarding the way complaints about this had been handled), I have been told that because I had complained to the PCC, all [...]

  7. The Guardian are finally set to resolve my complaint | Josephine Jones Says:

    [...] long to get a considered response from the Guardian, especially taking into account the number of complaints and the fact that at least one of those has gone to the PCC. This delay, coupled with Tim [...]

  8. josephinejones Says:

    Here’s the latest…

    A clarification to the offending article was published yesterday together with a link to Martin’s follow up piece. Since the clarification mentioned only asthma but not pneumonia, I’ve emailed reader@guardian.co.uk again & am awaiting further developments.

    I’m assuming JQH and the other complainants still haven’t heard anything from the Guardian?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/jun/13/health-and-wellbeing

  9. Anonymous Says:

    To our fellow Osteopathic bretheren, CONGRATULATIONS:
    *On our 2nd unanswered decade of being on Quackwatch.com
    *To being so devoid of role models, that we’re fawning over the MD doctor treating the highest profile couple in the world, then blasting her the minute we can.
    *The most visible/memorable Osteopath, by the way, is the Hydroxycut guy that has been sued just like the rest of the company that hired him due to lies about a “different type of medicine.”
    *To managing to underwhelm everyone so much with the AOA still in full-retirement mode that attendance at OMED was even lower than last year (did you walk around at lunch on Monday wondering where everyone else was?)

    Patients: There is too much anger and resentment going on for an Osteopath to treat you well, so seek help elsewhere.

    Future Medical Students: RUN AWAY! You’ll be on a sinking ship where everyone in power makes sure you know they hate you. The cover charge to enter this club is many times what the MDs pay and you get little from them in return.

    Current DO students: By the first year you’ve already spent more on your medical education than an MD spends in 3, so you’re stuck; might as well make the most of it:

    *Buy MedStudy Board Study Materials and get notes from your upper classmen for the rest. They test all students off of material they wouldn’t see until 2 years out of residency to keep the scores low and everyone in Family Medicine; this evens the playing field a bit.
    *If you don’t have upper classmen in residency yet, they shouldn’t have your tuition check.
    *The COMLEX computer exams have been ‘documented’ and are in “yearbooks” so get together the $1000 or so with your classmates and ask around whom to buy them from. Sorry NBOME, you forced our hand on this one.
    *All 27 PE exam cases have also been ‘documented’ down to the very last detail as well, so ask around for those too. If they aren’t going to make this test fair, you’ll need to.
    *COMLEX 3 is no different from the rest of them, so study USMLE 3 stuff to be a better doctor, but pull your flashcards back out of your short coat for the rest.
    *They know that the lawsuits are coming, so organize and make sure you have your documentation ready.

  10. A Fourth Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    [...] rags by publishing a blatant advertorial for osteopathy, claiming it could treat asthma I complained about it as did others but Tim Lusher completely missed the point and got rather stroppy about criticism. [...]

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