ASA states you dont have to be a skeptic to be a scientist

February 2, 2011

Some skeptics have a very highbrowed view of a “scientist” and “scientific research” and did not like the fact Neals Yard would call these ladies scientists. Edzard Ernst calls them FAME for Female, Middle Class, Educated (cant remember the A) and they use Complementary Medicine. Whoever  made this complaint will not be happy about this ASA Adjudication.

Neal?s Yard (Natural Remedies) Ltd 1 Neal’s Yard London  WC2H 9DP
Date: 2 February 2011 Complaint Ref: 138635; Ad:

imageA catalogue ad, for health and beauty products, featured four women in white coats standing in a garden holding different products. Text stated "MEET OUR GREEN SCIENTISTS Susan Curtis NATURAL HEALTH DIRECTOR Our resident expert on all areas medicinal, and respected author, Susan has been part of the NYR family since 1983. Dr Dharmini Dhushyanthan HEAD OF FORMULATIONS With a doctorate in Natural Preservatives in Toiletries, Dharmini has pioneered many of our award-winning formulations. Dr Pauline Hili RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Pauline has helped to transform the world of organic cosmetics and toiletries during her 20 years with NYR. Dragana Vilinac HEAD HERBALIST An expert in Western Herbal and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dragana oversees our herbal medicinal formulations & tinctures …".


The complainant challenged whether the women in the ad were qualified enough to be considered scientists.

CAP Code (Edition 12) 3.13.7

Neal’s Yard (Natural Remedies) Ltd (NYR) said the term "scientist" was legitimately used in numerous ways and applied to many and varied disciplines. They said the term used to be narrowly applied to somebody that framed and tested hypotheses, but it was now used more widely, stating that the British Science Association had encouraged a discussion of the term and acknowledged a more inclusive description of what a scientist was.

NYR said they developed and sold products that were often referred to as alternative or natural therapies, and had customers who understood and wanted to know more about such therapies. Because of that, they had a shared culture with their customers, and believed they were likely to understand the use of the term scientist in a wider context. They said they had also noted that science was beginning to be viewed more widely, such as the emergence of "green science", defined by Carnegie Mellon University as "the application of eco-friendly thinking to scientific disciplines" and "a holistic approach to sustainability science".

However they said that even if the narrowest definition of scientist was applied they were satisfied that the four women would be qualified and experienced enough to be considered scientists. They said the women were all well qualified with considerable expertise in their fields. They provided biographies for all four women, which showed that Dr Dhushyanthan and Dr Hili had PhDs in traditional scientific disciplines while Ms Curtis and Ms Vilinac had undertaken study in Homeopathy and Medical Herbalism respectively. NYR said those two women had qualified in their fields before degrees were possible, and now those courses were available as BSc degrees at UK universities. They said that as well as their academic study, the women were published authors with extensive knowledge and expertise in their fields, which had led to them being requested by international agencies to participate in activities that were unquestionably science based, and said that meant both could be correctly described as scientists.


Not upheld

The ASA noted that there was no qualification process to become a scientist in the same way there was for professions like medicine or law, and that there was no universal definition of what constituted a scientist. We also understood that science was continually evolving, and that "green" and holistic approaches to science were becoming more common. We considered that because the ad was in a catalogue for natural remedies, readers were likely to be familiar with alternative or less traditional approaches to science, and therefore to the idea of a "green scientist". We noted that the evidence showed that the four women in the ad were experts in their respective fields, and that they all had significant experience in "green" science. We therefore considered it was acceptable for the ad to refer to the women as scientists, and concluded the ad was not misleading.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast

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8 Responses to ASA states you dont have to be a skeptic to be a scientist

  1. Richard Lanigan on February 13, 2011 at 22:36

    Simon Perry may be considering a debate after all, below is what he has written on his blog and my response you have to scroll down the comments.

    Simon Perry responded to a question
    Happy to have the debate, but experience tells that quacks quite often make things up or misquote them in order to convince an audience. For this reason, it makes sense to hold the debate online so references can be checked.

    The only difference is that it makes it more difficult to bullshit because the other person can check facts.

    I suggest (i) Lanigan picks a specific motion to debate, (ii) we both write up to 1000 words arguing our points, (iii) we both have a 1000 word response.

    This is my response
    Simon I have written thousands of words of stuff for you and the sceptics to check and so far no one has ever accused me of “making stuff up”. Another thousand is not going to help you understand. Below is what I would talk about and any studies I might quote from I will provide in advance.

    I propose the topic for debate is; “A spine free of spinal dysfunction is a prerequisite for heath and wellbeing”.
    I would explain spinal joint motion the role of mechano recetors and their relationship with the Central Nervous System. I would bring an anatomical model of an ear and explain why a chiropractic adjustment could help otis media.
    Anyone who would like to check for themselves how forceful a cervical adjustment is, I will check their spine and if I find a subluxation correct it. Those present can ask the recipient to turn his head. The audience should be able to observe whether there is any change in the range off motion of the cervical spine. Then I will explain why this motion is important and how it might have an effect on brain function( Cerebral Hibernation Hypothesis.
    The beauty of this now I am not on the register i can do this, check a spine and correct any subluxations I find. No need to conduct the GCCs orthopaedic exams and privacy shit. I am a very very good cervical adjuster however I will have to practice my egg technique.

  2. Richard Lanigan on February 11, 2011 at 19:47

    Simon Perry never got back to me.

    Andy Lewis was just having a go at that TV doc Phil Hammond about homeopathy on Twitter and I challenged him to a debate. He said they might ask a chiropractor to debate. So I said I was more skilled than a registered chiropractor and thats why he was scared to debate with me. I kept on and on and told him to bring Ernst and blue wode and all the boys along.

    I even offered to demonstrate my egg technique?

  3. Fedup on February 11, 2011 at 16:28

    You will never get blue wode etc sitting in front of you during a debate. We know about chiropractic how it works why it works, put a skeptic in a room without the internet and I’m pretty sure they would be lost.

  4. Fedup on February 10, 2011 at 17:37

    Have a read of this, if you can’t be bothered with all of it just check out the discussion.

    We all know skeptics don’t beleiive anything unless it’s been proved with research but this shows how unreliable some research, that they blindly follow, actually is.

  5. Skepticbarista on February 3, 2011 at 19:31

    Not my complaint & I’m sure Neals Yard are happy with the result, but they would do well to make a few website changes before 1 March – or the smiles may not last too long!

    The ASA’s rules on what can be said for unproven remedies are far clearer, I suggest they start with their Homeopathy page, followed by the Natural Remedy Kits and Supplements.

    It’s going to be a very interesting few months …… and I suspect, when challenged, many will quietly remove their claims rather than put up a determined defence.

  6. Richard Lanigan on February 3, 2011 at 13:40

    Simon Perry has not invited me as yet.

    He asked on twitter for someone to speak on parenting, I have offered my services, because I dont wish the Skeptics in the Pup to remain ignorant, thinking all chiropractors conform to a chiropractic model Blue Wode, Andy Lewis, and Zeno have scraped off a few toilet seats.

    The advantage I have is I am GOOOOD and I am more than aware of how little the skeptics know and understand about chiropractic. Going infront of a baying mob of skeptics cant be worse than a baying mob of BCA members, the Miami mafia, Irish Priests, GCC Council, Surrey County Council, or Shinners when I said my grand father would not mind England playing in Croke Park. Despite all of this my mother still loved me on her dying day and I am sure I can win a few of them over to the dark side.

  7. Alanbinns on February 3, 2011 at 13:05

    History is peppered with gentleman amateurs who created whole branches of science and brought the human race and its understanding of the world into the century that we live in….. but today you need a blue peter badge and a piece of paper on the wall!!

    Patrick Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS then is not a scientist. Pity nobody told that to NASA when they consulted him as to where to land the the Apollo lunar module in 1969; should have been reserved for real scientists!

  8. Fedup on February 3, 2011 at 10:50

    Hi Richard, if you do attend skeptics in the pub leicester, I will be there to support you!!


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