In the studio pre-broadcast
If you happen to watch BBC1’s The Big Questions on a Sunday morning then you might have spotted me among the guests this morning. I was invited onto the show to debate the question ‘Can prayer cure illness?’ because of my involvement in the ASA complaint against Healing on the Streets in Bath. I was joined in the ‘no’ camp by Kevin Friery of Hampshire Skeptics, and I owe him huge thanks for helping calm my nerves about my first live TV experience. I also think he deserves credit for the comment he made about praying for traffic lights to stay green! Continue reading
I recently held a workshop in my local library for children aged 10 years+ that was marketed as ‘How to be a Ghost Buster’. I taught the attendees how to spot faked ghost photos, misidentified ghost photos, and what a scientific approach to odd activity looked like. I taught them how dodgy human memory is, and we often see meaning where there is none. None of what I told them was personal opinion and was all based on research and studies. I answered their questions as objectively as I could and yet I was still terrified that I might say or do the wrong thing to a potentially vulnerable audience. Continue reading
The complaint I made to the ASA about Healing on the Streets (HOTS) Bath was originally upheld by the ASA with the following:
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
The ASA had told HOTS that they could not state that they believed prayer could cure people, which had been the amendment HOTS suggested they were happy to make at the time. This decision by the ASA was appealed by the HOTS group and I was asked to contribute a statement to the appeal being conducted by an independent person who had not been involved in the original case. Today I received word that an outcome had been reached and the original “outcome” has been upheld but only applies to the leaflet now, and not the website which was decided to fall outside of the remit of the ASA in this case. Continue reading