February 15, 2017
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Proponents of fake treatments have in many ways been allowed to push their quackery and nonsense without that much government regulation. This has made them bold and encouraged them to more and more batshit pseudoscientific claims about the alleged health benefits of their treatments. However, because the consumer protection is so weak, the justice system has had to find other ways to tackle the problem. Thus, prosecuting quacks has typically involved cases where there have been fatalities or illegal transportation, tax violations or false and misleading advertisement. However, this is rare. Most of the time, snake oil salespeople have been allowed to roam free.
However, this might be changing in some parts of the world. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has started to crack down on alternative medicine practitioners who create enormously misleading advertisements for their services. Recently, a chiropractor was charged with multiple counts of false or misleading advertisements and also for using testimonials in health advertisement. He was convicted and must now pay a hefty fine of around 23 000 USD. Although this is just a single case, it is a stunning victory for scientific skepticism and consumer protection efforts. There will hopefully be more such cases. Who knows, maybe other countries will learn from the Australian experience?
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