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Psychics "for entertainment only"





Bikerman
Here in the UK, psychics have to be VERY careful when making claims. In 2008 the 'Consumer Protection' law was amended to include psychics, mediums and other practitioners of the paranormal. They are now effectively covered by consumer law and cannot make unsubstantiated claims. In essence this means that most such people have to display a notice which says that what they do is 'for entertainment only'.
Of course the fortune tellers and psychics did not like this one little bit. They organised marches and protests against the new legislation, but happily to no avail.
So, if you live in the UK and are tempted to visit a spiritualist, psychic, medium, fortune teller or any other such practitioner, don't forget that you are protected by the law. If they claim that they can talk to your recently deceased relative, or they can tell what your future holds, then make sure they have a disclaimer which says that it is for entertainment purposes only. If not you should notify local trading standards officials, who can close them down.
dan751
//For the sake of respecting Bikerman's wishes and mutual agreement, I have posted here in the context that all psychics phonies.

WOW That's a very heavy action from UK government. But you know something, I certainly DO NOT blame them for implementing said law. AND to be quite honest, to a degree, I'm actually happy they did.
It perfectly understandable where "psychics" who get caught up in world media, popularity and wealth are upset by this. It's why I don't blame them for getting upset over this amendment. They can't keep doing what they were doing and get away with it. Silvia Browne is a prime example of a con artist if I ever did see one.

I really do hope that these globally popular and wealthy individuals claiming to be psychic DO get closed down.
Consumer Protection FTW! Twisted Evil

@Bikerman:
Is this okay?
Bikerman
Err...when I post in a thread about psychics that I don't believe in them, then I am asked to cease and desist (which I have done). Is there some special right that believers have to post their beliefs that doesn't apply to sceptics?

To be quite clear (though I think it should be clear from the OP) I don't believe that there are any 'real' psychics, and therefore there is no distinction to be made between 'genuine' psychics and sham psychics. Neither does the law admit of any such distinction. Anyone claiming to be psychic is covered by the legislation and since I know for sure that none of them can substantiate the claim (being familiar with the literature on this matter) then it applies to all.
dan751
My apologies. I'll fix the comment to abide. Along with moving some of the information of my comment to the other thread. Smile
I do see where that is unfair. I didn't notice/think of.
deanhills
Quite interesting that genuine psychics rarely offer their services for financial reward. You have basically got to seek them out and they'd probably only see you by way of referral.

Having said that, I find this a luxury piece of legislation a total waste of tax payers' money. If they can legislate against psychics who are not real psychics, can they then legislate against pastors who are not real pastors? And who gets to decide who is real and who is not real? Isn't this blatant discrimination in disguise?
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
can they then legislate against pastors who are not real pastors?

^.^
It would be fun to see a notice on the church door saying 'for entertainment purposes only'...

In fact... it would be even more fun to print off some stickers of one's own and surreptitiously post them.
Illegal and possibly a little immoral... but fun.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
I find this a luxury piece of legislation a total waste of tax payers' money.

As a British taxpayer I'm quite happy to have contributed my cash to the creation/enforcement of this legislation.
Enough money is wasted elsewhere so I doubt the costs involved have made much of a difference to our budget deficit.

Until any studies are published to provide evidence of this alleged ability, it must surely be sensible to force 'practitioners' to use the entertainment disclaimer.
I suspect many vulnerable people have been given false hope by con-artists over the years, and if the law helps only a few to avoid this in future, it has my support.
Certainly for as long as these abilities remain unproven.
Bikerman
Needless to say I am in complete agreement. It always struck me as an anomaly that commercial psychics were excluded from the trades descriptions & consumer protection acts. It was a result of the 1951 'Fraudulent Mediums' act which put the onus on the person bringing the charge to prove dishonesty. The 2008 change got rid of that and harmonised consumer protection legislation across the piece.
watersoul
Bikerman wrote:
1951 'Fraudulent Mediums' act

That made me chuckle, I wonder what happened for the government to pass it into law, perhaps there was a rise in 1950's con artists or a particular high profile case which upset many people.

I'm always puzzled by the amount of alleged mediums/psychic/clairvoyants in the world but the lack of any test evidence to back it up. I would have assumed that something passionately defended and promoted by so many people would be easy to demonstrate in controlled tests.

*edit*
Quote:

(2) For the purposes of considering the application, the court may require the person named in the application to provide evidence as to the accuracy of any factual claim made as part of a commercial practice of that person if, taking into account the legitimate interests of that person and any other party to the proceedings, it appears appropriate in the circumstances.(3) If, having been required under subsection (2) to provide evidence as to the accuracy of a factual claim, a person—

(a)fails to provide such evidence, or
(b)provides evidence as to the accuracy of the factual claim that the court considers inadequate, the court may consider that the factual claim is inaccurate.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Yep, seems fair to me, the supposed psychics still have their chance to prove things in court if they wish. Haven't seen any cases mentioned anywhere in the last three years though.
I would imagine there are not many (if any) prosecutions for this, but if I genuinely believed I was psychic and believed in my 'product' I would probably not use the 'entertainment' disclaimer - unless I was unable to prove it in court, of course.
Bikerman
Oh it is pretty easy to test and there have been literally thousands of such tests. Occasionally one sees a 'positive' but inevitably it cannot be replicated by other labs and is nearly always refuted quickly during peer review.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7354089.stm
watersoul
Bikerman wrote:
Oh it is pretty easy to test and there have been literally thousands of such tests. Occasionally one sees a 'positive' but inevitably it cannot be replicated by other labs and is nearly always refuted quickly during peer review.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7354089.stm


Ah, it is the lack of results to support the claims which is puzzling while there are so many people who insist it is fact.
Not one person able to prove it under test conditions, anywhere? ...yet it is apparently so convincing Rolling Eyes
loremar
"No approved psychic claims" would have been a better notice since their service is meant for commercial purpose and not for entertainment in contrast to magicians with fancy gestures and props and sexy dancing assistants and audiences applauding for every performance.
Bikerman
I'm note sure what you mean. 'No approved' implies there is some body which CAN approve psychic claims. There is no such body that I am aware of. There may well be some 'psychics' who don't do it for commercial reasons - I have no reason to doubt Dan's girlfriend who says she does. In such cases the law would not apply unless there was some exchange of goods/services involved.

I think it is generally understood that magicians are entertainers. I don't know anyone who is convinced that Paul Daniels or David Copperfield is really a wizard.....
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
Enough money is wasted elsewhere so I doubt the costs involved have made much of a difference to our budget deficit.
Thing is, all the costs do add up, as there seems to be plenty of this kind of legislation floating around. One also has to add in the legal costs of prosecuting, the hearings, etc. And tomorrow they're probably going to introduce legislation not to discriminate against religion, i.e. they would have to add a little clause here or there. Etc etc ....

Anyway, fortunately I don't live in the UK.
Bikerman
Ridiculous. The law was already in place. It applied to just about everything EXCEPT mediums and psycho-charlatans. The simple fact is that the charlatans are now classified for what they are and are treated exactly the same as anyone else trying to sell you something.
watersoul
deanhills wrote:
One also has to add in the legal costs of prosecuting, the hearings, etc.

Worth the minimal tax costs to me, and certainly if it discourages any charlatans from peddling their lies for profit from emotionally vulnerable people.

deanhills wrote:
Anyway, fortunately I don't live in the UK.

Ah yes, I forgot, you live in the democratic and secular harmony of the Middle East.
I guess I should probably be jealous of all the tolerance and fine examples of human rights law to be found in that part of the world Rolling Eyes
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
Ah yes, I forgot, you live in the democratic and secular harmony of the Middle East.
I guess I should probably be jealous of all the tolerance and fine examples of human rights law to be found in that part of the world Rolling Eyes
Exactly! Except, because I'm an expat I'm treated differently. I'm not subject to all of the laws here. The UAE taxes are built into the fees that are charged for services. I like it that way. No tax forms to fill in, no tax legislation to tinker with. Right now all of that legislation is making the UK much less free than where I am in the UAE. Children can't sing Xmas carols at school. Teachers have to watch what they teach and probably study all the different laws just in case they say the wrong thing. They're legislating so hard on "freedom" that they are legislating freedom out the door.
watersoul
Health laws in the UAE do not recognise psychic or faith healing.
Quote:
The Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms) and the Ministry of Health are warning the public against Mohammad Ali Akbari, a psychic healer from Iran, brought in by Nili Health and Wellness Centre, an alternative medicine centre.

[...]

"[Dohms] does not allow a licence for psychic healing for the time being [because] what he's talking about cannot be proven. What is the evidence that your hands have the power?" he asked.

"If the clinic advertises him in the newspapers, we will close the clinic," he added.

He said the public should not put their faith in "magicians" who claim to improve their health through intangible ways, adding that four other psychic healers have applied for a licence, but were rejected.


Getting back on topic, I'd suggest that the UAE is not really any more tolerant of this stuff than the UK, and rightly so.
Bikerman
Quote:
Right now all of that legislation is making the UK much less free than where I am in the UAE. Children can't sing Xmas carols at school. Teachers have to watch what they teach and probably study all the different laws just in case they say the wrong thing. They're legislating so hard on "freedom" that they are legislating freedom out the door.
What an offensive pile of crap that is.
I suggest you go out onto the street and try criticising Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and see how long you last.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/uae-end-trial-activists-charged-insulting-officials-2011-07-17

Of course children can and do sing carols at Christmas. Of course teachers watch what they teach - that is called being professional, and no, they don't 'study different laws' because the ones that matter haven't much changed in recent years.

It isn't the first time you've spouted this type of nonsense from a position of profound ignorance and no doubt it won't be the last. The notion that the UK is 'much less free' that the UAE is a sick joke and only a religious zealot could suggest it. It also indicates ignorance of the law you live under - where witchcraft is a criminal offense.
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=/data/theuae/2011/July/theuae_July429.xml&section=theuae
watersoul
@Bikerman, couldn't really have put it better myself.
I thought I'd leave that bit for you to address as it had strayed a little from your OP, and of course the fact that your own career is in teaching.

Hopefully now, anyone searching to drag up an old Daily Mail (or similar) story about Nativity plays or something being dropped in a mostly non-white school at an inner city estate somewhere, will consider starting a new thread instead of going off topic.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Quote:
Right now all of that legislation is making the UK much less free than where I am in the UAE. Children can't sing Xmas carols at school. Teachers have to watch what they teach and probably study all the different laws just in case they say the wrong thing. They're legislating so hard on "freedom" that they are legislating freedom out the door.
What an offensive pile of crap that is.
I suggest you go out onto the street and try criticising Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and see how long you last.
I wouldn't dare do that. As I'm a guest in this country. And I respect the differences here. The outcome to me is also much more positive in terms of people who seem to be respectful in general of their differences. This country has been really good to me.

And yes, take things that I say to their extreme, you've always been good with that Bikerman.

@Watersoul The topic has to do with the legislation of psychics. To me it is over the top. If you can get legislation like this, what's to stop with legislation against MacDonalds for producing harmful food. Or consumption of alcohol as making people harmful for society, i.e. some people are dangerous when they drink alcohol. Add that to the legislation of ban on smoking, etc. etc. The more you legislate the less freedom you have and also the less tolerance people have of their differences.
Bikerman
You really don't listen, or read.
The new Act isn't concerned with psychics. There is NOW no special law regarding psychics. THERE WAS a special law - the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 - and it has been repealed so normal consumer legislation now applies to psychics just like it applies to plumbers, mechanics and any other person offering goods or services for sale.
So you are whining about something you don't understand and which doesn't exist.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
You really don't listen, or read.
The new Act isn't concerned with psychics.
This is what you wrote in your OP Bikerman:
Bikerman wrote:
Here in the UK, psychics have to be VERY careful when making claims. In 2008 the 'Consumer Protection' law was amended to include psychics, mediums and other practitioners of the paranormal. They are now effectively covered by consumer law and cannot make unsubstantiated claims. In essence this means that most such people have to display a notice which says that what they do is 'for entertainment only'.
Of course the fortune tellers and psychics did not like this one little bit. They organised marches and protests against the new legislation, but happily to no avail.
So, if you live in the UK and are tempted to visit a spiritualist, psychic, medium, fortune teller or any other such practitioner, don't forget that you are protected by the law. If they claim that they can talk to your recently deceased relative, or they can tell what your future holds, then make sure they have a disclaimer which says that it is for entertainment purposes only. If not you should notify local trading standards officials, who can close them down.

Does it mean that you have changed your mind? From your OP to what you are now saying below?

Bikerman wrote:
There is NOW no special law regarding psychics. THERE WAS a special law - the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 - and it has been repealed so normal consumer legislation now applies to psychics just like it applies to plumbers, mechanics and any other person offering goods or services for sale.

Bikerman wrote:
So you are whining about something you don't understand and which doesn't exist.
I took you at your word, as per your OP. If you think I don't understand what you wrote, then you'd better explain to me what you meant. As your OP had the appearance of saying that psychics who are in the business of psychic sessions for a fee are covered by the Consumer Protection Act.
watersoul
Lol, I certainly understand the point made regarding psychics (etc) now falling under general consumer protection law, instead of the previous dedicated legislation for mediums - of course though, I'll leave it to Bikerman to address the bits you seem unable to understand from his posts - or even appear to be picking at just to make a pointless argument.
Bikerman
There's no real need for me to add much - as you say, what I wrote was fairly easy to grasp.

I'll give a quick summary, but it shouldn't be necessary for anyone who actually read the postings:

Previously : Consumer legislation applied to most goods and services in the UK, but NOT to psychics. This was because there was a specific piece of legislation called the '1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act'. This made it necessary to prove fraud before one could take action against a medium/psychic/spiritualist.

Now : this 1951 law was repealed in 2008. This means that the consumer protection legislation, by default, now applies to psychics, just like it applies to anyone selling goods and/or services to the public. This means that if a psychic makes claims : about contacting the dead, or about having privileged knowledge about you, or about whatever - then they have to be able to back it up with evidence. Since no psychic can do that, it means that unless they carry a disclaimer saying they are entertainers then they can be prosecuted for unlawful trading by making unwarranted claims. This law applies generally to people selling goods/services and NOW it applies to psychics as well.

Got it?
watersoul
And just to repeat for the benefit of anyone who thinks this legislation is perhaps draconian:

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008
Quote:

(2) For the purposes of considering the application, the court may require the person named in the application to provide evidence as to the accuracy of any factual claim made as part of a commercial practice of that person if, taking into account the legitimate interests of that person and any other party to the proceedings, it appears appropriate in the circumstances.(3) If, having been required under subsection (2) to provide evidence as to the accuracy of a factual claim, a person—

(a)fails to provide such evidence, or
(b)provides evidence as to the accuracy of the factual claim that the court considers inadequate, the court may consider that the factual claim is inaccurate.

The law, as above, STILL allows the opportunity for a person who claims to be psychic to prove it in court if they choose to ignore the 'entertainment purposes' disclaimer.
They will only be found guilty if they are unable to prove that their paid service is as advertised, ie, it cannot be tested as factual.

As I said previously, if I were adamant that my service was accurate as marketed then I would not use the 'entertainment' disclaimer.
I would instead fight this injustice and have my day/s in court to prove the phenomenon, using myself as a test case if you like.

...again, it's puzzling that no-one has ever done this for as long as the laws have been in existence, especially when one considers how passionate some advocates of psychic powers often are.
SonLight
The terminology that so-called "psychics" are apparently required to use, "For entertainment only", seems heavy-handed and singles them out from other questionable products and services. Generally some sort of "There is no evidence" statement is required in other situations. I see that as an indication that psychics' claims are not treated like other unproven claims, but are now singled out for greater marginalization.

Apparently psychics were unfairly excluded from a requirement to show evidence or post a disclaimer in the past. If they were required to state that their service has no evidence of benefit that would be equal treatment. If I choose to purchase a nutritional supplement not validated by any scientific studies, it normally does not say the product is "for placebo use only" or something comparable. Instead it is more likely to say, "there is no evidence that this product will benefit your health."
Bikerman
SonLight wrote:
The terminology that so-called "psychics" are apparently required to use, "For entertainment only", seems heavy-handed and singles them out from other questionable products and services. Generally some sort of "There is no evidence" statement is required in other situations. I see that as an indication that psychics' claims are not treated like other unproven claims, but are now singled out for greater marginalization.
Not really. The suggestion about 'entertainment only' actually came from the British Psychics Association site. I see no reason why they could not simply post 'No evidence' instead. They are not required by law to use a specific terminology.
watersoul
Bikerman wrote:
I see no reason why they could not simply post 'No evidence' instead. They are not required by law to use a specific terminology.

I agree.
It would certainly be difficult (if not impossible) for the Crown to prosecute successfully if a 'practitioner' stated clearly in all printed text/website that there is no evidence their service works.
jmi256
Thanks to the US Constitution (specifically the 1st Amendment), we in the US are protected against the concept of “forced speech” (sometime also called “compulsory speech”). However, this is often challenged by the government, and there are numerous court cases involving the concept. I’m not sure if the UK has similar protection from overzealous government intrusion, but this would seem like a likely candidate for a challenge.
Here’s some information and examples if anyone is interested. Like most 1st Amendment issues it is intended to protect speech and rights that are not all that attractive or “liked” by everyone, but what’s the point of having freedom of speech if it only applies to speech that is seen as attractive.

Some girls engaged in some “sexting” and were forced to attend an “educational program” as punishment. This was seen as being subjected to “forced speech” and was struck down:
http://www.jlc.org/files/briefs/miller_opinion.pdf


More specific to the example in the OP concerning advertising; there are several examples of “forced speech”, in the form of compulsory advertising here:
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.com/speech/advertising/topic.aspx?topic=compelled
Bikerman
No, I think you have misunderstood the situation. If it WERE forced speech then I would be very much against it. It isn't.
There is NO special requirement on any psychic/medium at all, other than the normal provisions of the consumer protection acts which apply generally. They (consumer acts) do not say what a business must 'speak', rather they constrain what it can CLAIM. It is up to the business to make sure that they do not make claims for which there is no evidence. That is not really an issue of forced speech - more an issue of simple business ethics.

I very much agree that, if free speech is to mean anything then it has to include things which one might find objectionable, or worse, but there has never been freedom to lie with impunity in any society I can think of...
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
No, I think you have misunderstood the situation. If it WERE forced speech then I would be very much against it. It isn't.
There is NO special requirement on any psychic/medium at all, other than the normal provisions of the consumer protection acts which apply generally. They (consumer acts) do not say what a business must 'speak', rather they constrain what it can CLAIM. It is up to the business to make sure that they do not make claims for which there is no evidence. That is not really an issue of forced speech - more an issue of simple business ethics.

I very much agree that, if free speech is to mean anything then it has to include things which one might find objectionable, or worse, but there has never been freedom to lie with impunity in any society I can think of...

Don’t you think forcing them to say something along the lines of “For entertainment only” in their advertisements and signage (at first read it seems to call for this) is forced speech? If the restriction is that they can’t say things along the lines of “call us to speak to the dead” unless they can show that they can, it is fine and makes sense. But forcing them to append “For entertainment only” in a blanket fashion would seem like overreaching. At least in my opinion it would seem to be, which is why I say it would make a good basis to challenge the law.

There was a similar case in the US (Baltimore I believe) where Planned Parenthood was successful in getting a law passed that forced Christian counseling centers, which do not refer for nor perform abortions, to add messaging to their advertisements and signage (including websites) that stated the services they did not offer (abortion, referrals for abortions, etc). Planned Parenthood makes hundreds of millions (if not over a billion) each year performing abortions, and the Christian counseling centers, which advocated parenting and adoption, were seen as eating into Planned Parenthood’s profits on abortion. The Christian centers already listed what services they did offer (material support, counseling services, post-abortion support/counseling, options counseling, etc), but the new regulation forced them to list what they didn’t offer. Of course this seems intrusive (when you go to a restaurant only items served are on the menu, not a listing of what is not served), and the regulation was eventually struck down as unconstitutional. However, Planned Parenthood recently enticed a local council woman here in NYC (she used to work for Planned Parenthood) to offer a similar measure. The regulation was passed by the city council, and even when Mayor Bloomberg signed the it into law, he said something along the lines of “I know this is probably unconstitutional, but I’m signing it anyways” (not a direct quote)*. Last I heard there was an injunction issued against enforcement of the regulation here in NYC while it was appealed. I see a lot of similarities from a legal perspective in the regulations in Baltimore/NYC and the UK, and if there is similar protection in the UK I would think a challenge to the law under similar reasoning would be successful.



*I’m at work and can’t really spend a lot of time finding sources, but if requested I will do so.

EDIT: Looks like I was pretty close. The quote is "I know it’s unconstitutional, but I’m going to sign it anyway."
Source = http://www.lifenews.com/2011/06/14/nyc-law-attacking-pregnancy-centers-faces-court-hearing/
Bikerman
Can I suggest that you read the thread again more carefully. There is no such 'force' at work.
My OP probably overstated it - I said that in essence MOST were now posting 'for entertainment only'. That is perhaps overstating the case (I don't actually know how most of them have responded). So if that misled you then I can see why.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
Can I suggest that you read the thread again more carefully. There is no such 'force' at work.
My OP probably overstated it - I said that in essence MOST were now posting 'for entertainment only'. That is perhaps overstating the case (I don't actually know how most of them have responded). So if that misled you then I can see why.


It was your OP that was causing my issue/confusion. I read “In essence this means that most such people have to display a notice which says that what they do is 'for entertainment only'.” and assumed it to mean forced speech. But if it is somehow voluntary to add that piece (or something similar) when making general advertisements, I don’t see an issue (nor do I see the point of the new regulation quite honestly). An ad similar to the below could theoretically be used, and the “for entertainment only” bit (or whatever language called for) could be omitted entirely.

Psychic Bob

Offering:
• Spiritual counseling
• Tarot card readings
• Handwriting analysis
• Palm reading
• Advice in love, money and family
• Etc, etc, etc
Call 1-800-xxx-xxxx



I would think even the ads below would fly without the verbiage:


http://worldrenownpsychic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/World-Psychic-ad1.jpg
Mod - removed the image temporarily because it was offsetting the page for some browsers.
Bikerman

















Bikerman
Oh at least 2 of those would be challenged.
As an example:
'World Renowned Psychic' makes several claims about what it can help with. If that appeared here then I (or someone like minded) would challenge it and ask for the evidence for those claims about health benefits. Local trading standards officers would probably decide there was no such evidence and require the removal of the ad.

'Psychic Bob' would be OK because it makes no specific claims. The two 'psychic readers' would probably be OK for similar reasons. The others would be on dodgy ground.

The reason it is 'new' is that up until 2008 these people could place the sort of ad you list with impunity because of the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums act. That act enables prosecution, but the Crown would have to show that the practitioner was fraudulent. It was designed for spiritualists who use well known tricks to fool clients.
Since that was abolished then normal consumer law applies - which places the onus on the practitioner to demonstrate the claims, not on the Crown to show they are false.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
Oh at least 2 of those would be challenged.
As an example:
'World Renowned Psychic' makes several claims about what it can help with. If that appeared here then I (or someone like minded) would challenge it and ask for the evidence for those claims about health benefits. Local trading standards officers would probably decide there was no such evidence and require the removal of the ad.

'Psychic Bob' would be OK because it makes no specific claims. The two 'psychic readers' would probably be OK for similar reasons. The others would be on dodgy ground.

The reason it is 'new' is that up until 2008 these people could place the sort of ad you list with impunity because of the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums act. That act enables prosecution, but the Crown would have to show that the practitioner was fraudulent. It was designed for spiritualists who use well known tricks to fool clients.
Since that was abolished then normal consumer law applies - which places the onus on the practitioner to demonstrate the claims, not on the Crown to show they are false.


Again, I’m speaking from a US perspective, but I would have no doubt all of them could be challenged. In the US anyone can sue anyone for whatever reason comes into their mind, but just because they are sued doesn’t mean it isn’t a frivolous lawsuit. So whether they are challenged or not is irrelevant.

In addition to the Constitutional protection against “forced speech” that protects individuals and businesses, the US civil system also has the concept of “damages.” While governments may sue businesses and individuals on the behalf of consumers, it usually does so because there has been damages suffered on the part of the consumer (a drug company releases a new drug that harms instead of helps thousands of people; a software company engages in anti-competitive practices that harm competitors; etc). But most consumer complaints and challenges would be initiated at the consumer level, and the consumer would sue for the damages he incurred (this is usually the case when the government gets involved as well, but as usual getting the government involve complicates matters a bit). So for example if someone bought a device for $100 and it was supposed to do something but didn’t work, the consumer could sue and most likely receive $100 in damages (assuming the business didn’t simply refund the money). There is the potential that the consumer receive more if there are additional damages (example: device was supposed to do something, but ended up destroying something else, in which case the value of the item destroyed could be considered damages), and some laws/acts provide for punitive damages, usually for activities that may have smaller or nonexistent monetary damages associated with them, but are considered so bad that the offender needs to be “punished” or the offended “rewarded.” I can think of two acts off the top of my head.

Back to the subject at hand, the idea that some person would simply see a sign, and inform the authorities that the ad is either incorrect, makes unsubstantiated claims, or whatever they wanted to complain about, and the authorities would then make an assessment and possibly remove the ad, besides be a little Gestapo-ish, isn’t really a concern unless there are damages involved. In fact, using the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs complaint form (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/html/contact/contact_form.shtml) as an example, you can clearly see it asks for the amount of damages when filing a complaint. However, I don’t see having “world renowned” on an ad as cause for damages, but I guess if someone would concoct a long-tail hypothetical it could be. Plus it would be easy for the advertiser to defend against. I would imagine a testimonial from someone in/from another country, or maybe even a simple article in a faraway publication would provide suitable defense. As far as “health benefits” claims being challenged, exactly what benefit is claimed? I don’t see any claim that would not be easily defended, but maybe you’re seeing something I’m not. Exactly what is being claimed?

If there is a baseless claim and there is a “victim” that could claim damages based on that claim, that’s one thing (for example if a doctor says he can cure baldness for $25,000 but only provides a stinky ointment to put on your head, there is probably room for action there), but simply disagreeing with what someone says and using the full force of the government to either force their speech or remove their freedom of speech simply because you don’t like what they say isn’t something that I, or most people I would assume, would support. But like I said previously, I’m speaking from a US perspective where we are protected from intrusive government involvement primarily via the Constitution, so the experience in the UK is most likely much different.
watersoul
This happened shortly after the new laws came into effect.

http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2008/130-08
The Office of Fair Trading wrote:
A Dutch-based company has been stopped from publishing misleading 'psychic' advertisements in the UK, following action by the OFT.

Sky Connection BV, a Dutch company, placed advertisements in a number of national newspapers and magazines claiming that 'experts' at an organisation named as the 'Institute of Wellbeing' were launching a major appeal to identify individuals born between 1932 and 1969. The adverts claimed that the experts believed that many people born between these dates could enjoy 'unbelievable good fortune' in the coming weeks.

Consumers were asked to contact the experts by completing and returning a coupon to receive a free 'forecast' detailing a number of predictions. At least 30,000 consumers responded to the advertisements and were then sent a number of highly misleading follow-up mailings offering various 'psychic' products.

At least 6,700 orders were placed for the advertised products and services, which cost between £20 and £40. The products offered included a 'personal positive wave harmoniser' which it was claimed was designed to alleviate bad luck associated with negative waves in the consumer's home, and 'personal lottery numbers to play'. The mailings were personalised to give the impression that each recipient was known to the sender but were in fact otherwise identical mass mailings.

The OFT approached Sky Connection BV contending numerous breaches of consumer protection law and requesting substantiation of the claims. Having provided no evidence to substantiate the existence of the so called 'Institute of Wellbeing' or any of the other claims, Sky Connection BV, its UK parent company Priority Mail Ltd, and their common director Mr Gerard du Passage each gave undertakings to the OFT, under the Enterprise Act 2002, that they would stop publishing the offending advertisements and no longer engage in unfair commercial practices.

If the undertakings are breached, the OFT can seek a court injunction in the UK and refer Sky Connection BV to its Dutch counterparts requesting action under the EU Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation.

The OFT will be writing to all consumers who ordered products from Sky Connection BV advising them about its action and offering advice about bogus psychic mailings more generally.

Mike Haley, OFT Director of Consumer Protection, said:

'These advertisements made highly misleading claims promising consumers luck, happiness and money if they bought the products offered. The OFT will continue to take action against marketers who seek to exploit vulnerable and superstitious consumers.'

The OFT estimates that 170,000 UK consumers fall victim to deceptive psychic mailings every year collectively losing an estimated £40 million annually. Consumers who are unsure whether an offer is genuine should contact Consumer Direct for clear, practical advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit the Consumer Direct website.


Thats quite a few vulnerable/gullible folk who could have lost their money from a simple cheap mailshot. I wonder how many would not have been duped if the literature had disclaimers at the bottom, such as the following which I found in a quick google search...

http://www.psychicslancashire.co.uk/
Quote:
I am a genune psychic medium but by law this is for entertainment purposes only


http://www.yourpsychicdestiny.com/available_psychic_readers.html
Quote:
Calls cost £1.53/min and are recorded. Aged 18+ and for entertainment only


http://www.spiritualnature.co.uk/clairvoyance.htm
Quote:
Please Note Under UK Law All Psychic Readings must be classed as entertainment purposes only


http://www.psychicsuffolk.co.uk/
Quote:
By law psychic readings have to be for entertainment purposes only and do not represent legal, financial, medical or other specialist advice.


http://www.bluewolfpsychic.co.uk/
Quote:
By law we have to state that all our services are for entertainment purposes only. We cannot be held responsible for beliefs held and outcomes resulting from these.
Bikerman
Well, firstly we have a different approach in Europe generally. We require anyone advertising goods and services to have some evidential basis for claims made. Different countries enforce this in different ways but the idea that the 'market' will enforce it (ie leave it to people to sue) is, I think, mistaken. One common characteristic of many who are scammed by dodgy advertising is their lack of education - particularly in critical thinking. This correlates to a lack of financial clout. Very vulnerable/naive people rarely earn large salaries (note that I don't say never, just rarely). So the people most vulnerable to scam advert claims are also often the people who cannot afford to do anything about it.
Taking any sort of civil action is expensive. It is easy for a company to simply force you out of any such action by outspending you.
Finally, leaving this up to individuals will mean that the 'bad guy' is always one step ahead. He can simply keep a couple of steps ahead of the impending civil actions and move on when the number is inconvenient. By the time the business is shut-down it might have fleeced thousands of people.

It is also true, IMHO, that avoiding dishonest advertising is a general public good. It is good for genuine traders - they avoid competition from companies who are dishonest, and it is obviously good for the consumer - they can be fairly sure that they are not victim of a complete scam.
For those, and other, reasons we have a body called 'trading standards' which is responsible for making sure that companies and individuals who advertise goods and services behave according to the law.
Trading standards can shut a business down pretty quickly. There is one national 'institute' which deals with things like national consumer legislation, but the individual trading standards departments are local, and controlled by local government. They can, were necessary, refer upwards to the Office of Fair Trading - a national body with extensive powers - but that normally happens only in 'bigger' cases.

The system seems to work pretty well, although I'm aware that many Americans might find it 'big government' and therefore suspect.

If trading standards DO close a business down then there is no issue of damages - that would have to be a matter for civil law actions.

PS - it isn't a case of disagreeing with what people say. I presume you would object to someone who claimed to sell petrol by the gallon but had pumps which only dispensed 1/2 gallon? Same principle - fraud.
jmi256
Bikerman wrote:
Well, firstly we have a different approach in Europe generally.

Agreed. That’s why I made sure to say I was coming at it from a US perspective.



Bikerman wrote:
We require anyone advertising goods and services to have some evidential basis for claims made. Different countries enforce this in different ways but the idea that the 'market' will enforce it (ie leave it to people to sue) is, I think, mistaken.

Agreed (the part about the differences, not the mistaken approach). In the US the idea of a free market and personal freedom are pretty entrenched. We really don’t like Big Brother making our decisions for us, whether he claims to benevolent or not.




Bikerman wrote:
One common characteristic of many who are scammed by dodgy advertising is their lack of education - particularly in critical thinking. This correlates to a lack of financial clout. Very vulnerable/naive people rarely earn large salaries (note that I don't say never, just rarely). So the people most vulnerable to scam advert claims are also often the people who cannot afford to do anything about it.

I would agree mostly, except that well-off people are also scammed. I’m sure you’ve heard of Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme that involved millionaires and billionaires? The somewhat unifying themes I see in these people are a combination of greed (the promise of riches, whatever that means to them), laziness (getting something for nothing or no real work), stupidity (a fool and his money are soon parted, one way or another), apathy (not doing their own due diligence to see if their financial dealings are on the up and up but instead assuming “someone else” is doing it) and dishonesty (many of them are willing to engage in dodgy practices to make a quick buck, which is one of the reasons the famous 411/Nigerian Scam is still so effective).




Bikerman wrote:
Taking any sort of civil action is expensive. It is easy for a company to simply force you out of any such action by outspending you.

Not here in the US. I can walk just a few blocks from where I am and file a motion in small claims court for almost nothing (I believe the processing fee is $25, which can be claimed as part of damages/court fees if successful). I believe the fee is waived in some cases (financial distress, etc) as well. In fact, the larger costs are usually incurred by those being sued since once they are served they are forced to answer, regardless of how baseless or frivolous the claims are. There are a number of lawyers and what could be called “professional litigants” who make a living filing frivolous lawsuits and then wearing the defendants down until they settle.




Bikerman wrote:
Finally, leaving this up to individuals will mean that the 'bad guy' is always one step ahead. He can simply keep a couple of steps ahead of the impending civil actions and move on when the number is inconvenient. By the time the business is shut-down it might have fleeced thousands of people.
It is also true, IMHO, that avoiding dishonest advertising is a general public good. It is good for genuine traders - they avoid competition from companies who are dishonest, and it is obviously good for the consumer - they can be fairly sure that they are not victim of a complete scam.

We’re not talking about strictly dishonest advertising here or criminality. That would fall under an entirely different area of law, and I think it would be unfair to entangle honest advertisers with criminals.



Bikerman wrote:
For those, and other, reasons we have a body called 'trading standards' which is responsible for making sure that companies and individuals who advertise goods and services behave according to the law.
Trading standards can shut a business down pretty quickly. There is one national 'institute' which deals with things like national consumer legislation, but the individual trading standards departments are local, and controlled by local government.
The system seems to work pretty well, although I'm aware that many Americans might find it 'big government' and therefore suspect.

If trading standards DO close a business down then there is no issue of damages - that would have to be a matter for civil law actions.

Interesting. That’s something I didn’t know. Thanks for the clarification. While it seems beneficial at first glance, I guess I would fall under the population who would see this as “Big Government” and would be willing to sacrifice risk for freedom.
Bikerman
Quote:
We’re not talking about strictly dishonest advertising here or criminality. That would fall under an entirely different area of law, and I think it would be unfair to entangle honest advertisers with criminals.

Err...yes we ARE talking about dishonest advertising. Checkout the examples provided by Watersoul.
You seem to be saying that because someone might be deluded enough to believe their own claims that this makes it honest advertising. No it doesn't.
If someone is deluded enough to believe that a half-gallon measure is in fact a full gallon, they could honestly sell you a 'gallon' of petrol could they? I think not.
It matters not whether the person THINKS their services are efficacious. What matters is whether they ARE. That is determined by testing claims and psychic claims fail.

I can also take a small claims action for a few quid (actually 75 quid - I did it a couple of years ago). That doesn't solve the problem because it takes a while and by that time thousands of people have been similarly fleeced and the person has moved on to a new scam.
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
Thats quite a few vulnerable/gullible folk who could have lost their money from a simple cheap mailshot. I wonder how many would not have been duped if the literature had disclaimers at the bottom, such as the following which I found in a quick google search...
It would be interesting to do an investigation into all the other mailshots to "vulnerable/gullible folk", that were not about psychic matters, but still got them to part with their money. How many services do those people buy that they don't really need, because they have been duped by an advertisement? So perhaps if psychics are persecuted then maybe quite a few other industries should be tackled too, where do you draw the line? The whole principle of "vulnerable/gullible folk" rests on some people being weak in the face of advertising. So perhaps to really protect them, wouldn't it just be better to ban all advertising period?
Bikerman
Once again you miss the point.
The same law applies to all. If adverts make claims, they must be able to substantiate them. If they cannot then they can be judged to infringe consumer law and be banned.
Psychics are not being 'persecuted' - they are being treated exactly the same as everyone else, for the first time in 60 years.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
How many services do those people buy that they don't really need, because they have been duped by an advertisement? So perhaps if psychics are persecuted then maybe quite a few other industries should be tackled too, where do you draw the line?


They are. That is the entire point of this thread. False advertising has been a point of legislation for decades, even centuries in some cases... the point is that in 2008, psychics have been held to the same standards as every other advertiser; i.e. they must be truthful.

It is not that psychics are being targeted, it's that they are no longer being given special protection.

There was a line drawn at psychics... that line has been removed.
That's the whole of the matter.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
deanhills wrote:
How many services do those people buy that they don't really need, because they have been duped by an advertisement? So perhaps if psychics are persecuted then maybe quite a few other industries should be tackled too, where do you draw the line?


They are. That is the entire point of this thread. False advertising has been a point of legislation for decades, even centuries in some cases... the point is that in 2008, psychics have been held to the same standards as every other advertiser; i.e. they must be truthful.

It is not that psychics are being targeted, it's that they are no longer being given special protection.

There was a line drawn at psychics... that line has been removed.
That's the whole of the matter.
I was not talking about false advertising. I was talking about advertising period. If you have a fool that buys into anything, then he will buy into all advertising. So some say that psychic is bad, but all the other stuff that he buys and doesn't need, wasting thousands of dollars are OK? You can't legislate common sense. As when you start doing that, where do you draw the line?
Bikerman
You 'draw the line' exactly where it IS drawn. It is not permitted to make false or misleading claims in adverts. The fact that some cowboys do it anyway is not a good reason for abandoning the law. Using that logic you may as well abandon the speed limit because nearly everyone breaks it at some point.

First you claim that psychics are being persecuted, now ... well I don't know WHAT you are saying..you appear to be suggesting that any attempt to legislate against false adverts is a waste of time. I think that is completely wrong. Legislation means that all companies who wish to trade for more than a few weeks do not break the advertising codes. Certainly some fly-by-night companies do, but they are either shut-down or have to do a runner before that happens.
Afaceinthematrix
It's hard for me to explain why (because I am having trouble coming up with a rational reason for my position), but I disagree with this legislation. I guess if you view psychism as a business (which, to most psychics, is a business), then you are protecting the consumer from false advertisement. However, if you look at it as a religion, then you are not protecting religious freedom. This would be similar to making churches put up signs that say "For entertainment purposes only". I guess the main difference is that you can prove a psychic wrong i.e. what will the weather be tomorrow? Then see if they're correct whereas religion deals with events in the past in which we have no proof either way for.

But I feel that if you are going to a psychic then there is one of two things happening:

1) You're going there to get your future told and so the consumer is being religious and so this is taking away their religious freedom to feel that they're visiting a real psychic.

2) You're going there for entertainment purposes and so you know it is fake.
Bikerman
I really cannot follow this.
First lets be clear. What we are talking about is general legislation that has been around for decades - consumer protection law. The only change in 2008 was that it now applies to psychics whereas before it didn't. There is no 'new' legislation applying specifically to psychics.
Now what you are essentially calling for is an exemption from general law for psychics. The grounds seem to be that it is quasi-religious. In other words you are asking for the very thing I spend time arguing against - special 'respect' for irrationality - something that does not apply to any other type of belief or system.

I think that is not just wrong, but dangerous.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
You 'draw the line' exactly where it IS drawn. It is not permitted to make false or misleading claims in adverts. The fact that some cowboys do it anyway is not a good reason for abandoning the law. Using that logic you may as well abandon the speed limit because nearly everyone breaks it at some point.

First you claim that psychics are being persecuted, now ... well I don't know WHAT you are saying..you appear to be suggesting that any attempt to legislate against false adverts is a waste of time. I think that is completely wrong. Legislation means that all companies who wish to trade for more than a few weeks do not break the advertising codes. Certainly some fly-by-night companies do, but they are either shut-down or have to do a runner before that happens.
No, you still did not get the point. I was not talking about false advertising. I would also not be able to compare psychic advertisements with soap. The one has to do with stuff you can't see and have to have faith in, the other can be proven to be false. My point is that if people are ignorant about psychic advertisements, they will be ignorant about regular advertising as well. Matrix had a very good point about freedom of religion. Added to this it also has to do with not being able to legislate common sense. That has to come through proper education. You can't protect people from their own ignorance. And they really have to be VERY ignorant to believe an advertisement of a psychic that says he/she will communicate with the person's deceased parents or something along those lines. I do believe that there are psychics who have hypersensitivity and may be able to tune in, but more likely if they are advertising it, they probably can't, and that obviously is common sense.

Also, people usually seek out psychics, not the other way round. So who is to say that they don't get what they had hoped they would, and then decide to interpret the ad as false. Which would be quite easy to do in absence of any proof. How are the psychics protected, and what about their rights? And where does this end? As religion would fall into the same category as well.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
No, you still did not get the point. I was not talking about false advertising. I would also not be able to compare psychic advertisements with soap. The one has to do with stuff you can't see and have to have faith in, the other can be proven to be false.
Not so. The psychic adverts make testable claims:
'Will increase your earnings'
''
'Can help give up smoking'
'Effective against cancer'
The adverts in this very thread claim to be able to help with all sorts of medical conditions. They CAN be tested, HAVE BEEN tested and are FALSE.
Quote:
My point is that if people are ignorant about psychic advertisements, they will be ignorant about regular advertising as well. Matrix had a very good point about freedom of religion. Added to this it also has to do with not being able to legislate common sense. That has to come through proper education.
This is NOT AT ALL what you were saying. This is a complete change. You were talking about the poor psychics being 'persecuted'. Now you have changed your tune again and are saying that people need educating to protect them against psychics claims. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Quote:
You can't protect people from their own ignorance. And they really have to be VERY ignorant to believe an advertisement of a psychic that says he/she will communicate with the person's deceased parents or something along those lines. I do believe that there are psychics who have hypersensitivity and may be able to tune in, but more likely if they are advertising it, they probably can't, and that obviously is common sense.
LOL...This is CLASSIC.
So if a psychic advertises their supposed abilities one would have to be very ignorant to believe them. But some of them do have these abilities. So it is 'common sense' to assume that anyone advertising these abilities doesn't have them.
That is the most idiotic paragraph I have read in many months.
For anyone who can't see the idiocy (and I sincerely hope that there are few), here's a helpful little exercise. I'll repeat the paragraph, but substitute something else for psychic - it works with anything so I'll use 'plumber' off the top of my head:

You can't protect people from their own ignorance. And they really have to be VERY ignorant to believe an advertisement of a plumber that says he/she will fix your leaky pipes or something along those lines. I do believe that there are plumbers who have training and may be able to do their job, but more likely if they are advertising it, they probably can't, and that obviously is common sense.


If someone made this up you would think it was too far fetched....
Quote:
Also, people usually seek out psychics, not the other way round. So who is to say that they don't get what they had hoped they would, and then decide to interpret the ad as false. Which would be quite easy to do in absence of any proof. How are the psychics protected, and what about their rights? And where does this end? As religion would fall into the same category as well.

a) If people seek out psychics then why do psychics advertise? If they don't there is no issue.
b) People seek out plumbers as well. If the plumber can't fix their pipes then are you going to leap to the plumber's defence if the consumer decides to sue them for their money back?
c) If the psychic makes claims 'in the absence of proof' then they are misleading people. THAT IS THE POINT.
loremar
I think the disclaimer is unnecessary. There are so many bogus advertisements but it didn't say "For Entertainment Only". But that is probably because they are paying the TV network.

Anyway, in my Country, you can see a lot of friendly kiddie shows where a prelude says "The program may be inappropriate to children and may contain sexual contents. Parental Guidance is Necessary". Then the entire episode would display "Parental Guidance" at the corner of the screen. Now that is something stupid. But there's really nothing to be bothered those are only nothing but two words. The same goes with Psychic shows.
Afaceinthematrix
Bikerman wrote:
I really cannot follow this.
First lets be clear. What we are talking about is general legislation that has been around for decades - consumer protection law. The only change in 2008 was that it now applies to psychics whereas before it didn't. There is no 'new' legislation applying specifically to psychics.
Now what you are essentially calling for is an exemption from general law for psychics. The grounds seem to be that it is quasi-religious. In other words you are asking for the very thing I spend time arguing against - special 'respect' for irrationality - something that does not apply to any other type of belief or system.

I think that is not just wrong, but dangerous.


I am not giving special privileges to religion (at least I'm not trying to). I'm really trying to protect consumers in another way.

Maybe it's partly that I don't see psychicism as false advertisement. I sell tools. If I'm trying to sell an air compressor and I tell someone that the SCFM is 5.1 at 90 PSI when I know perfectly well that it's only 3.2 then that is blatant false advertisement. Someone can easily prove that it's only 3.2 and so it will not power my customer's particular air tool.

However, it is a little more complicated for psychics because we actually don't know if anything they're saying is true. We can all accurately predict the future. Both you and I will die someday. The sun will run out of hydrogen. I just made two predictions that will, without reasonable doubt, come true. So if I'm doing that in my predictions, how can you ever really prove I'm not a real psychic? You can try asking me very specific questions such as what will the weather be like tomorrow on Main St. in London. But I've seen those "professional" psychics who will beat around the bush and say stuff such as they cannot see that particular thing yet make another prediction. So how do you really prove that they're fake? It seems obvious to people like you and me. We don't believe in real psychics. Yet I think it is impossible to prove.

The point I was making in my previous post was dealing with the religion of the consumer. I believe people should be able to practice whatever religion they want as long as it doesn't affect other people. So if you're going to a psychic (for anything other than entertainment) then you're being religious. So to take away the feeling to those people that their psychic is real is taking away their right to have what they feel is a religious experience. I think that is hurting a very small percentage of consumers. And seriously, who in the hell goes to a psychic for a real prediction these days? Let those people who do get their religious experience.
Bikerman
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I am not giving special privileges to religion (at least I'm not trying to). I'm really trying to protect consumers in another way.

Maybe it's partly that I don't see psychicism as false advertisement. I sell tools. If I'm trying to sell an air compressor and I tell someone that the SCFM is 5.1 at 90 PSI when I know perfectly well that it's only 3.2 then that is blatant false advertisement. Someone can easily prove that it's only 3.2 and so it will not power my customer's particular air tool.

However, it is a little more complicated for psychics because we actually don't know if anything they're saying is true. We can all accurately predict the future. Both you and I will die someday. The sun will run out of hydrogen. I just made two predictions that will, without reasonable doubt, come true. So if I'm doing that in my predictions, how can you ever really prove I'm not a real psychic? You can try asking me very specific questions such as what will the weather be like tomorrow on Main St. in London. But I've seen those "professional" psychics who will beat around the bush and say stuff such as they cannot see that particular thing yet make another prediction. So how do you really prove that they're fake? It seems obvious to people like you and me. We don't believe in real psychics. Yet I think it is impossible to prove.
That is the whole point. Why should I HAVE TO prove a claim is fake. It is up to the person making the claim to provide evidence. That is exactly why the old law was repealed - it required the state to prove a claim wrong. Consumer law is different and much more simple - if you make a claim it must be substantiated, otherwise you can't make it.
Simple, direct, fair.
Quote:
The point I was making in my previous post was dealing with the religion of the consumer. I believe people should be able to practice whatever religion they want as long as it doesn't affect other people. So if you're going to a psychic (for anything other than entertainment) then you're being religious. So to take away the feeling to those people that their psychic is real is taking away their right to have what they feel is a religious experience. I think that is hurting a very small percentage of consumers. And seriously, who in the hell goes to a psychic for a real prediction these days? Let those people who do get their religious experience.
All of which is completely irrelevant to advertising. Anybody is free to practice whatever religion they like, within the usual laws of the country. Advertising that religion is a different thing. Consumer law applies to claims made. You surely don't think it is correct for psychics to be able to place adverts that claim they can cure cancer?
Or maybe you think that people should be 'free' to make that sort of claim.
And you are VERY wrong about the number of people who take this stuff seriously.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5017910.stm
watersoul
Bikerman wrote:
Anybody is free to practice whatever religion they like, within the usual laws of the country. Advertising that religion is a different thing.

The Spiritualists' National Union in the UK has been the 'official' body overseeing the religious side for many years now, and seemingly without any great urge to shout about religious persecution.

Note the carefully worded 'official' literature they suggest to give out though...
Quote:
No fixed charge is made for healing, but if you wish to contribute to the work of the Church, donations may be placed in the box usually provided near the door. A small charge may be made for tea and biscuits that provides an opportunity for all to chat and to get to know one another. It gives you the chance to discuss any aspects of the Church or Spiritualism which you may wish to know more about.

...their religious freedom is still quite safe under the law, but their opportunity to formally market their services in a commercial way is controlled under the same rules which apply to any product or service - it must do what it says on the tin or you cannot charge for it without the risk of a court being involved where questioned.
Bikerman
Precisely
Just to add:
If psychics want to be treated as a religion then that is open to them but they have to pass a series of tests. Why is that? Because they get special treatment under the law - paying zero tax for example - something I personally find deplorable.
Note, however, that more 'traditional' religions are still bound by law. If the Church of England bought a series of full-page adverts in the Times claiming to be able to 'increase happiness' or cure disease or any one of a number of claims made routinely by psychics then they would be treated in exactly the same way as anyone else. This is absolutely fair and reasonable. The basic principle is 'don't tell lies in adverts'.
People complain that adverts are misleading. That is true, but one thing you CAN say about adverts - at least here in the UK - is that they will NOT contain factual claims known to be false. Neither will they contain specific factual claims which are unproven. Thus we don't allow adverts for products which claim to be able to cure disease, increase life, or make one irresistible to women, unless there is a factual basis for the claim. That doesn't mean that humour - specifically irony - is ruled out. People are NOT stupid and where it is obvious that an advert is ironic (or at least indulging in hyperbole for comic effect) then they will normally be OK. Hence we get Lynx adverts where one squirt of the deodorant turns Mr Average into a babe magnet with women swooning at his feet.
Psychic claims are not of that sort. They are meant seriously and are seriously misleading. They don't deserve special treatment and now, thankfully, they don't get it.
Ankhanu
It's like the little hushed caveats in the RedBull commercials after they say it give you wings... any reasonable person would recognize this as metaphor, but they still have to spell out that it will not actually give you new flapping appendages.
You can say whatever lies you like in an advert, as long as you qualify them as being false Razz
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