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UK Fuss PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

My friend Mike Hutchinson, in the UK, sent me to this site to see that the UK Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] have announced a decision against an advertisement shown on TV that touted the miraculous powers of gems, and offered expensive rings and pendants that would grant these boons to the buyer. Said the announcer in these ads:

With their mysterious and amazing powers, gems have a great influence on the mind, body and soul of a human who wears them. They can help in controlling your anger, reducing your stress, increasing your confidence and it also enhances your decision making abilities. To grow further in life and to achieve what you have always wished for, it is extremely essential that your fate favors you. For good fortune, and for a favorable effect of all the planets on your fate, Global Sky Shop presents a special product, Global Zodiac Rings and Pendents [sic].

As authentication for these claimed benefits, they offered astrologer Sir Bejaan Daruwala, who declared:

The greatest benefit is your attitude, your perspective. You should be positive. You should be confident. In today's tough times, you should be mentally strong and balanced and positive. And the greatest benefit of the gems is they can make you, they can make you very positive. They can make you quite self-confident and brave.  Look at my hands? Tell me, do they tremble? They don't.  Sometimes you hear some people, even nowadays, they talk about evil eye. They ask me to save them from evil eyes. Well, whether you believe it or not, people have such notions in their minds.  But with the help of these gems we can be protected from evil eyes. There are many traders or businessmen who are not too stable. They are very finicky; they fail to stick to one thing or one direction. They are always indecisive about their plans. They may achieve stability by choosing to wear Global Sky Shop's Emerald stone. If such people wear this Opal stone, their power to attract people towards them might increase a hundred times. There is nothing much to say now if these gems help you then you should buy them ... Coral stone is red in color. By wearing the Coral stone, one may experience extra power.

How astrologer Sir Bejaan Daruwala got to be knighted, is a burning question I'll just have to wonder over...

The presenter went on to explain that Global Sky Shops Zodiac gems are "made in five metals" - an impossibility - but used the provisional word "may" some 13 times in his dialogue, along with a few uses of "might" and "probably," thus dimming any notion that a guarantee was being provided. Also heard several times was the likely-true statement, "results may vary." Astrologer Bejaan went on at length extolling the magical powers of the gems, even dropping in the fact that they'd been placed under a pyramid, which - as we know - will further strengthen their magic.

The ASA decided to dampen the operation.

They noted that the ads said that Global Zodiac Rings and Pendants would control anger, reduce stress, increase confidence and enhance decision-making abilities, bring success, good fortune and happiness in the wearers personal and professional life, protect from evil eyes, form a protective shield all around the wearer and not let negative energies affect the wearer, increase the wearers power to attract others, improve finances, become more intellectual, and become better at organizing, and they questioned whether the expensive trinkets - £90.95 [US$140] - had, as claimed, electrification effects, power, and energy, just because they'd been placed under a pyramid. They also questioned whether the celebrities shown in the ad actually wore the items.

In response, the promoters explained that the ad was intended for broadcast on Asian channels only - as if only Asians would be naïve enough to accept such nonsense - and said they believed most viewers would regard it merely as entertainment.  In fact, a caption stating "These products are for entertainment purposes only" was repeated several times during the broadcast.  Promoters explained that the products were "presented as an aid to positive thinking and in that context the statements were not intended to be taken literally." Duh.

The Advertising Standards Authority, in its wisdom, found that the ads for Global Zodiac Rings and Pendants were misleading, were unsupported by evidence, were designed to attract vulnerable viewers, claimed a power to influence the future, and exploited the superstitious. So there! And what was their decision?

First, remember that such nonsense as homeopathy, spiritualism, and "intelligent design" are very popular UK delusions, and they are widely and freely advertised without any substantiation. In fact, they have been conclusively shown to be farcical. Bearing that in mind, consider what decision the ASA reached:

We concluded that the ad must not be shown again in its present form and that the product should not be advertised without adequate substantiation for the claims made for it.

Oops! My mind just boggled again...

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written by BillyJoe, November 28, 2008
"Bejaan Daruwala" gets no hits on google, but "Bejan Daruwala" does. However, I cannot discover why this astrologer got a knighthood. Maybe if he was a homeopath :rolleyes:

(I giving Randi one last chance to respond to comments to his articles before I lead a boycott against them smilies/cheesy.gif )
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written by latsot, November 28, 2008
Not that it matters much, but I can find no evidence that Bejan Daruwala (oddly, the ASA seems to have spelled his name incorrectly) has been knighted. It's quite possible that he doesn't use the title, but this would be surprising: he's not otherwise shy about promoting himself. In addition, I can't find him on the various lists of knights or honorary knights I've looked at, although I've no idea whether these are complete.

It looks as though this might be an error by the ASA or a lie by Darwala or Global Zodiac Rings and Pendents.

I have no particular respect for the honours system, but I can't help but feel slightly relieved that this individual doesn't seem to have been knighted.
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written by BillyJoe, November 28, 2008
Okay, I'm going out on a limb:

The name is spelled incorrectly in the article
Bejan Daruwala is not a knight.
Bejan Daruwala does not claim to be a knight.

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written by uhhu, November 29, 2008
It is not Sir but Shri.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shri
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written by Eccles, November 29, 2008
Regarding the closing comments on the ASA's decision. I think you're being a little unfair on the ASA, although I appreciate that you may not be familiar with them over on that side of the pond.
The ASA is only there to adjudicate on the the advert, not to comment on the effectiveness (or not) of the products. They are a non-statutory body and so they don't have any power to take direct legal action or to fine so this is about as far as they can go. However if the company persist in making such claims, one course of action would be to refer it to the Office of Fair Trading who can take legal action.
Personally I'd like the ASA to be given some bite to go with their bark, but it is what it is at the moment.
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written by Fontwell, November 29, 2008
First, remember that such nonsense as homeopathy, spiritualism, and "intelligent design" are very popular UK delusions, and they are widely and freely advertised without any substantiation.


Yes and no! As pointed out in Ben Goldacre's UK-centric Bad Science book, their best trick is to get glowing testimonials, celebrity endorsements, press release based write-ups etc. and then place a very mild advert on the same page next to all this journalistic hype. The ASA can only comment on the actual advert. The articles probably come under the jurisdiction of the Press Complains Commission but if they started to censor newspapers based on untrue content there wouldn't be any newspapers left.

Having said all that, there still are plenty of woo adverts here.
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written by BillyJoe, November 29, 2008
uhhu,

It is not Sir but Shri.

Or "Sri" apparently.
Thanks for clearing that up.
Randi really should read the comments to his articles.
Errors in them are becoming annoyingly frequent.

I wonder if Jeff might lean upon his shoulder.
I know I could email Randi, but that's not really the point.
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written by latsot, November 29, 2008
I'm not sure Randi is criticising the ASA's actions so much as he's wishing there was a body that could properly deal with madness like this. It's regrettable that no agency seems to have the power to shut these firms down in a decisive fashion.
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Alone?
written by dimmer, November 29, 2008
Am I alone in finding the claim of "become more intellectual" hysterical?
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written by Mercifull, November 30, 2008
To those complaining about so called errors Randi has been making recently take note that the ASA is supposed to be a reputable source and refers to him directly as Sir Bejaan Daruwala.
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written by BillyJoe, December 01, 2008
...and Randi uncritically accepted that what they said was true.

We didn't accept it uncritically. We checked it out.
And I thought Randi was supposed to be the teacher.

...and it's not only that he makes simple easily checkable errors, but he also fails to correct them when they are pointed out.

Of course, if you don't bother to read responses to your articles, it would be pretty difficult to correct the errors when they're pointed out, wouldn't it?

BJ
(Now I'm counting on Randi not readig this smilies/cheesy.gif)
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written by BillyJoe, December 01, 2008
...oops, sorry, that should be "reading" smilies/cheesy.gif smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by Mercifull, December 01, 2008
Perhaps Randi should have researched it on a more accurate source such as Wikipedia? :rollseyes:

The article is not about this mans knighthood, or lack thereof, and Randi only mentions it as a passing one liner comment. The mistake is justified by taking information DIRECTLY from the ASA and as there isn't an easily accessable register of people knighted it is a reasonable error to make. I would have done it myself.

I am sure Randi will update the article as soon as the error is brought to his attention.
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written by BillyJoe, December 01, 2008
Perhaps Randi should have researched it on a more accurate source such as Wikipedia? :rollseyes:

No. I searched the internet and could find no other reference to this person being a knight, including his own website as well as a short biography somewhere. Someone else then discovered what must have been the obvious error (Sri not Sir ?typo) in Wikipedia.

The article is not about this mans knighthood, or lack thereof, and Randi only mentions it as a passing one liner comment.

That doesn't make it any less accurate. In fact one liners need to be accurate because of the fact that they are one liners.

The mistake is justified by taking information DIRECTLY from the ASA and as there isn't an easily accessable register of people knighted it is a reasonable error to make.

Not for a sceptic it's not justified. You must ALWAYS question your sources - especially the usually reputable ones.

I would have done it myself.

So much the worse for you. Instead of trying to justify Randi's error, you should be learning a valuable lesson here.

I am sure Randi will update the article as soon as the error is brought to his attention.

But why isn't he here checking it out. That is the point.

regards,
BillyJoe
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"why isn't he here checking it out"
written by Mercifull, December 01, 2008
Because he probably has a lot more important things to actually do. It might not even have been Randi that actually posted the article he may have dictated it to someone who then uploaded it.
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written by BillyJoe, December 01, 2008
Because he probably has a lot more important things to actually do.

More important things to do than correct information that he has supplied that is false?

It might not even have been Randi that actually posted the article he may have dictated it to someone who then uploaded it.

How is that even relevant?
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written by ofet, December 02, 2008
It hardly matters if he is a Knight or not since one to the highest titles here in the UK must be Prince as in our future king ,Chuck The Hippy, who endorses stuff like this .
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written by BillyJoe, December 02, 2008
Well, a knighthood is conferred, and presumably therefore earned. The other is an hereditary title and not earned. Any old whackjob like Charles could have that title.
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power of gems
written by Trish, December 02, 2008
There is one way gems have power - when we give it to them. Diamonds are not rare, but are expensive because a few companies control their distribution and create an appearance of scarcity.
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Yeah, randi needs to be doing more
written by Bill Henry, December 02, 2008
Like worrying about stuff like this. Sir vs Sri vs Shri. I suspect he realizes that his many pedantic readers will take care of these nitpicky details.
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written by BillyJoe, December 02, 2008
Well, it's not like he accidentally wrote "Sir" instead of "Sri" and we nitpickity corrected it. He made a point about it being "Sir" and asked how someone like this person could possibly recieve a knighthood.
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