To help you with various quack busting activities, here is a list of the skeptical activism resources I’ve come across.
Let me know if anything else should be added to the list.
Note: the government-based agencies listed below are UK based (for sending complaints) – however, the research resources are applicable anywhere.
The Alt-Med Encyclopaedia
The tag line sums this website up perfectly:
“What alternative health practitioners might not tell you”
The website is maintained by @blue_wode.
It is fast becoming the first port of call for references and links to useful articles and posts about everything alt-med, from Applied Kinesiology to Magnetic Therapy. (Plus many you will not have even heard of!)
An excellent resource.
Checking Medical Efficacy
Need to check if, say, a spray based on coconut oil can really treat head lice? Visit the excellent National electronic Library for Medicines.
For my example I picked the keyword “coconut” randomly to see if anything came up. It did!
[coconut oil based product] cannot be recommended at this time, due to the lack of adequate evidence relating to its safety and efficacy for head lice treatment.
Homeopathy Papers Debunked
If you blog about homeopathy, at some point Nancy Malik will do a drive-by spamming and post links to papers proving that homeopathy works. Apparently, you’ve made it as a blogger if this happens. 😉
You know that the papers will be crap, but can’t be bothered to read and refute them. Well you don’t have to any more.
And here is an even bigger post by @xtaldave. He has specifically looked at the papers that Nancy Malik cites in her Google Knol page.
Urban Myths Debunked
If you receive an email such as “Drinking cold water after meals will lead to cancer” or “Red Bull causes brain tumours”, go straight to this website.
Snopes does not deal exclusively with medical myths, but it is well worth checking out.
[Thanks to Roy Grubb for reminding me about this website]
Capturing and Finding Information
Thanks to @JoBrodie for this. A similar project to what I’m doing with this blog post – lots of useful links to resources.
Also, there is a great list of tools at this website – from creating PDFs from web pages, to using FreezePage to record a page before someone takes it down or changes it!
Complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority
Note: from March 1st 2011, the ASA can now look at claims and adverts on websites.
You can post your complaint on-line at the ASA website, or email it to email@example.com.
For hundreds of examples of ASA complaints, check out the Sceptical Letter Writer blog. @ScepticLetters is practically a professional at ASA complaints. Note, however, that your complaint does not need to be as formal as these examples.
Your complaint can contain very little extra information. Just a list of the claims that you believe are misleading will do. You don’t have to provide any references, etc. It is up to the ASA to decide if the claims are breaking any rules.
Complaining to Trading Standards
Complaints need to go to the appropriate region, so go to the Consumer Direct Contact Us form, select a region and start your complaint.
Complaining to the MHRA
This is the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
If people want to report suspected dodgy medicines, their first port of call is the MHRA Central Enquiry Point who can put them through to the relevant expert.