North Carolina Tells Blogger That Providing Dietary Advice Is Illegal, Blogger Tells NC To Read The 1st Amendment

from the lawsuit-on dept

A guy named Steve Cooksey developed Type II diabetes a few years back, and in response ended up embracing a paleolithic diet and exercise regime (something that's increasingly popular these days). It seemed to work quite well for him, and he ended up setting up a website called Diabetes-Warrior.net in which he wrote about that and related issues. As more people got interested in the site and what he was saying, he also started answering questions and providing advice on the site (a la Dear Abby) as well as setting up a (fee-based) "coaching" service to help those interested in a similar diet/exercise regime.

The State of North Carolina decided all of this was illegal. Apparently providing any advice to others about dieting, without a license, puts you in some hot water.

It turns out that, like nearly every other state, North Carolina has a law that regulates the practice of "dietics/nutrition." There are a set of rules, which require getting a license before you can provide any sort of dietary advice. Like many such operations it appears the regulatory regime here is much more about limiting the supply of professionals to keep pricing artificially high, rather than any real health or safety mission.

Now, it's good to stop people from outright lying about their credentials, and there may even be some gray areas where someone is actively implying professional expertise that they don't have. But can you actually ban amateurs from sharing their opinions on diets at all?

It appears that Cooksey, along with the Institute for Justice are about to test that question, filing a lawsuit claiming that the attempt to prevent him from providing advice was a violation of his First Amendment rights.
But the First Amendment does not allow the government to ban people from sharing ordinary advice about diet, or scrub the Internet—from blogs to Facebook to Twitter—of speech the government does not like. North Carolina can no more force Steve to become a licensed dietitian than it could require Dear Abby to become a licensed psychologist.
IJ also made a short animated video about the case:

This seems like an important question that could impact a number of different "regulated" industries as well. I recognize the idea that protecting the public from fraudulent or scammy advisers is what may appear to be a laudable goal, but it's wide open to abuse in which ideas that the government doesn't like are censored for not coming from a "licensed" practitioner.


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    identicon
    Scote, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    He was caught **consulting**

    I'm wary of the over regulation of free speech, but there are a number of fields you are not allowed to practice without a license, such as law, medicine and dietetics.

    The blogger in question didn't just blog about his own experience but also offered individual medical diet **consulting** specifically for patients with diabetes. Should that kind of medical consulting for patients with specific medical conditions be unregulated?

     

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      DCX2, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:28pm

      Re: He was caught **consulting**

      If he says explicitly "I'm no professional, take my advice with a grain of salt, but this worked for me" then I have no problem with him doing that. However, if he impersonated a credentialed professional (or even simply "forgot" to mention that he is not a professional), then I do have a problem with it.

      You shouldn't need a license to give anyone advice, although it does get trickier once they start getting paid to give advice. However, consumers should be wary of anyone non-professional who is giving advice. And it should be immediately obvious to every reader what the author's credentials are.

       

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:29pm

      Re: He was caught **consulting**

      It damned well better be legal.

      Mom: Eat your vegetables.
      Kid: Screw that! Get me some ice cream or I'm calling the cops for giving me dietary advice without a license.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

      Re: He was caught **consulting**

      Yes, that kind of medical consulting SHOULD be Unregulated. Let Darwin handle the controls if needed.

       

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        Scote, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

        "Yes, that kind of medical consulting SHOULD be Unregulated. Let Darwin handle the controls if needed."


        Enjoy that Libertarian advice in your own suggested future when you crash your car and the ambulance (if you have cash on hand for an ambulance) takes you to an unregulated Homeopathic ER.

        The thing about society is that it allows us to rise above the cruelty of constant trials of individual survival of the fittest tests. Regulating critical fields allows us to survive as a society rather than as individuals in an unregulated, everyone for themselves, Ayn Randian anarchy.

         

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          :Lobo Santo (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          "Regulating critical fields allows regulatory capture rather than competition in an overregulated corrupt oligarchy"

          FTFY

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

            Re: He was caught **consulting**

            ""Regulating critical fields allows regulatory capture rather than competition in an overregulated corrupt oligarchy""


            Note what is missing from your post? Any actual rebuttal to the scenario I suggested. You can rant about regulatory capture all you want, but you haven't shown how unregulated medical practice is objectively better or safer. Instead, we need only go back to the reason why the FDA was created, to control the rampant, unregulated sale of dangerous and ineffective medicines. Going back to that time would be stupid, but it would a boon to the unscrupulous individuals corporations who would reap huge profits from it, and who's actions you would support.

             

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              :Lobo Santo (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:59pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              Working. Don't have time to play with you right now.

               

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              Greevar (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 3:34pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              So, you are willing to trade essential liberty for the illusion of safety? It is a reactionary measure to respond to harm, not prevent it. It is merely the hope of those that enact such legislation that it will serve as a deterrent against malevolence. You are not protected, only granted a tool to seek reparations should you be violated by one of these providers.

              So it stands to reason that the only people that need this license want to use it to raise the barrier to entry for such a profession, which would inhibit the growth of competitors in the field. Anybody that would honestly honor the requirements of such a license would be those who would never violate it in the first place, thus they wouldn't need it in the first place. Seriously, if you need a such a rule to exist in order to ensure that nobody causes any harm, then maybe the people that will honor such requirements only through licensing aren't really fit to hold the license in the first place? To put it more simply, if they have to be made to "promise" to be good, then they probably shouldn't be placed in a situation where they could do harm in the first place.

              Let people choose whom they want as a provider, but give them the tools to make an informed decision. Create a rating system that allows providers to be reviewed and people can do their own research on whom will be their best choice for a provider. "Licensed" does not necessarily equate to trustworthy or highly skilled. Plenty of licensed professionals have lied or otherwise violated their patients due to greed or incompetence.

               

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              dwg (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 4:22pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              BWAAHAAHAAA!!! You said "FDA" as if its existence helped your argument.

              http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-42844396/fda-corruption-letter-authenticated-law yers-start-your-engines/

              ...just for example. As if one were even needed.

               

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              Robert Freetard, May 29th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              that was probably because your scenario was so entirely silly and so implausible that it was better to ignore your silliness and get to the point.

              You make yourself look like one of the "if we let gays marry then men and horses are next!!!1! crowd.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 11:51am

                Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

                "if we let gays marry then men and horses are next!!!1!"

                Well, its true, isn't it?




                :D

                 

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              DC, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:04pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              Your Scenario was (Assuming USA) an ambulance (if you have cash -- ooo, scary) takes you to (with not consultation -- ooo, scary) an unregulated homeopathic treatment center for your emergency treatment.

              Either / Or fallacy. You lose badly. Let's examine this reasonably.

              First of all, none of that exists in the US. Ambulances take you to a regulated hospital.

              There is regulation of health care, and the general tone of comments here are not saying there should be none, so please stop playing that card, you don't have that card.

              I think the general point is that I should have choice. If I am unconscious or incoherent, then medical personnel should check quickly check for things like allergy bracelets, and generally apply their expertise.

              If I am conscious, and I have an opinion, then I shouldn't forced to undergo treatment against that opinion.

              If I want to seek out an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a hairdresser, a homeopath, a witchdoctor, a friend, or a stranger with similar experiences, the government should not stop me.

              I don't claim that my insurance should pay for it.

              I do want the government to protect me from other people (like you) within reason. I don't want the government to protect me from myself.

               

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          DCX2, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          IMO, the regulation should be "the ambulance will only take you to hospitals which have XYZ Certification". This lets the crazies practice their homeopathy unregulated, while protecting the public at large from such foolishness.

           

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            Scote, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            ""the ambulance will only take you to hospitals which have XYZ Certification""

            That would still be "regulatory capture" by the definitions of the Libertarians and Ayn Randians. To them there should be no regulation of ambulances at all. Instead you would have try to call using your cell phone--if you could get through because the government shouldn't be regulate anything, including radio frequencies--and try to negotiate with an ambulance to pick you up and take you to the Hospital of your choice, only there isn't a choice because there is only one hospital, because there are no anti-monopoly laws under true libertarian/Ayn Randianism.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              You're the only one bringing up political affiliations in a conversation that has nothing at all to do with politics,. You mad bro?

               

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                DC, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

                Yeah -- He's rocking the either / or fallacy hard.

                Paid / amateur, or something in between?

                 

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              Chris Rhodes (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              To them there should be no regulation of ambulances at all.
              There doesn't need to be. I can sign a contract with a local ambulance company on my own and tell them where my preferred healthcare destination is without government "help".
              if you could get through because the government shouldn't be regulate anything, including radio frequencies
              Radio frequencies, being a scarce resource, should be privately owned. You don't need any more "regulation" of radio frequencies than your average, everyday property right. We don't need a giant, centralized, bloated, federal commission to draft rules about who can and can't trample my flower bed, after all.
              there is only one hospital, because there are no anti-monopoly laws
              Monopolies are created by government interference. Fact. Your solution to stopping monopoly creation is to make the entity that creates them in the first place even bigger. This is especially funny because we see today the very result of the enormous amount of regulations that ignorant people like you lobby for: healthcare monopolies and high prices.

              But hey, at least you can tell all those people without health insurance that you had their best interests at heart when you went to bat for Big Pharma and the health insurance companies against the "evil" libertarians.

               

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          Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          Ok, so it seems like you are passionate on this subject...

          Question: taking into consideration the following disclaimer that is posted on his site under a tab found on the heading of every page labelled "disclaimer", do you still have a problem with what he is doing while being unlicensed?

          1) I am not a doctor, dietitian nor nutritionist. I have ZERO medical training and NO formal nutritional training. However, I am a diabetic who follows his own “diabetic diet” (backed by scientific research) and has normal Blood Glucose while taking -0- drugs and -0- insulin.

          2) Personal advice will not be given on this site. This site is ONLY intended for educational purposes ONLY. Providing people with the information on a “real” diabetes diet is my goal. Creating other Diabetes Warriors…is my desire!

          3) Please consult your physician regarding any health guidelines seen in this site. IF YOUR doctor does NOT support information provided on this site, I urge you to find a “low carb friendly” doctor as soon as possible.

           

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            Scote, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:38pm

            Re: He was caught **consulting**

            Yeah, just look at that not-disclamier

            2) Personal advice will not be given on this site. This site is ONLY intended for educational purposes ONLY. Providing people with the information on a “real” diabetes diet is my goal. Creating other Diabetes Warriors…is my desire!

            3) Please consult your physician regarding any health guidelines seen in this site. IF YOUR doctor does NOT support information provided on this site, I urge you to find a “low carb friendly” doctor as soon as possible.


            I believe the "no personal advice given" is new--and that he was caught doing personal consulting.

            Now look at the rest, he is claiming that he is right and others are wrong, that his diet is "real" and that even though he is not a doctor you should only listen to your doctor if he agrees with him.

            That "disclaimer" does more to prove that we do need regulation than the other way around.

             

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              Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 3:50pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              Ok, so even if part 2 or parts 2 and 3 are new, he clearly states he is not a doctor, dietician, nor nutritionist...

              I think that makes it pretty clear that he is providing an opinion, not medical advice.

              Also, the disclaimer has been pretty much the same, although it used to be a little shorter. Here it is from 8/21/10

              1) I am not a doctor, dietitian nor nutritionist. I have ZERO medical training and NO formal nutritional training.

              2) Personal advice will not be given on this site. This site is ONLY intended for educational purposes ONLY.

              3) Please consult your physician regarding any health guidelines seen in this site. IF YOUR doctor does NOT support information provided on this site, I urge you to find a “low carb friendly” doctor as soon as possible.


              http://web.archive.org/web/20100821223605/http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/disclaimer/


              I don't think people should be impersonating doctors or other licensed individuals, and in most cases I think such activities should be illegal. In this case I don't think that's what's happening, and it seems like the guy has been pretty upfront with admitting he has no training, but this is what he's come up with from his own research and anecdotal evidence. In my opinion, curtailing this man's freedom of speech is wrong, and I don't think you've made the case that he should be held to some sort of regulatory standard. What am I missing that makes you feel that he is attempting to defraud people into thinking he has credentials that he does not possess?

               

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              Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 6:09pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              That "disclaimer" does more to prove that we do need regulation than the other way around.

              So.. Regulation, meant to protect the public from people pretending to be professionals, should be enforced on someone who clearly states they are NOT a professional, and thus are not trying to trick anyone into anything, and that proves the need for regulation? I'm sorry, you just told me that you're an idiot.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 8:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

                did you even read it??? he tells you he IS NOT a doctor or trained in ANYTHING, but if YOUR doctor doesn't AGREE with him, find another doctor, that screams he is a quack and does need to be regulated and maybe even shut down, and your an idiot for reading it and then agreeing with the quack

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

                  And pray tell, exactly what in his disclaimer compels one to follow his advice explicitly? You do realize that dude man can give his opinions (that's what his recommendation about getting a new doctor is), right? Or do opinions truly frighten you that much?

                   

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              DC, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:28pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              Yeah ... you really are a shit, aren't you.

              Seems like his advice would generally help control blood sugar. Imagine that.

              What's wrong with "If you disagree with your doctor, get another doctor"? People get hopelessly lost in medical systems that don't ever independently figure out their health issues. All the time.

              Trust your Doctor and shut up? Seriously?

              For most of us ... personal opinion is protected speech. That includes personal advice, even if it is called consulting.

              Why do we have to "catch" anyone doing personal consulting ... "advice"?

              He is not claiming any credentials or certifications.

              So people are providing private advice based on their own experience and research, that should be illegal? So when my girlfriend says I have a headache, and I say take two aspirin, I should be thrown in jail?

              Scote says "go to hell" to the first amendment. It's official.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

              Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

              Just look at CNBC's Mad Money. Jim Cramer gives direct, personal advice on investing but b/c his show has a disclaimer on it that says the show is for 'entertainment purposes only', he is not liable for any loses incurred from following his advice. He is licensed and an accredited professional but he gets it wrong all the time.

               

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          John Fenderson (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          Enjoy that Libertarian advice in your own suggested future when you crash your car and the ambulance (if you have cash on hand for an ambulance) takes you to an unregulated Homeopathic ER.


          It's hard to see how you get from allowing people to state their opinions on medical matters to ambulances taking you to unlicensed hospitals. Those two things are a universe apart.

           

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            The Groove Tiger (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            Now now, don't be so hard on the guy. This is just all a big misunderstanding. He's basically saying that if we let someone tell others people what to eat without a license, then an Tahitian witch doctor will come to your house and cut your penis off while you sleep.

            I don't see anything far fetched about that.

             

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            Scote, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            "It's hard to see how you get from allowing people to state their opinions on medical matters to ambulances taking you to unlicensed hospitals. Those two things are a universe apart."


            Nothing to do with me, that lack of distinction comes from the sweeping statement from "Lobo Santo". This is not a slippery slope argument on my part but rather the broad ant-regulatory brush wielded by Lobo Santo, which throws the baby out with the bath water, as Libertarians and Ayn Randians are so wont to do:

            "Regulating critical fields allows regulatory capture rather than competition in an overregulated corrupt oligarchy"


            Lobo Santo's sweeping derision of regulation has no boundries, so the regulation of medical consulting to that of ambulances and hospitals all fall under the same broad dismissal. If you believe in nuance, as I do, take it up with "Lobo Santo".

             

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            Kit Kellison, May 31st, 2012 @ 12:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            Agreed. It's that lame slippery slope (logical fallacy). If it doesn't pass the Baloney Test, don't listen: http://www.xenu.net/archive/baloney_detection.html

             

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          G Thompson (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          Homoeopathy is an absolute Scam to the nth degree and the only thing that should ever be regulated about it is that so called homoeopathic practitioners need to state that homoeopathy is not a science, cures less than the Placebo effect does, and is absolutely bogus and full of practising fraudsters.

          If you lot actually have ER's that have the title of "Homoeopathic" on their credentials, then trying to control advice about dietary requirements is the least of your problems

           

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            DC, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            "You lot" meaning USAians ... most of us don't credit homeopathy, and I'm pretty sure we don't have ERs for it.

            Homeopathy was just a cheap trope for Scote to throw out to discredit non-hyper regulated health + everything else care.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

            I, for one, support Homeopathy and their rights. I think they should also be able to marry and not be discriminated against. I can't believe you could be so cold and unfeeling as to call them a scam. Shame on you. It's not a scam, I know some gay people who are very much...well, gay. And proud. So there!

             

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      SabreCat, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

      Re: He was caught **consulting**

      There's an assumption running through a lot of these comments that regulated/licensed nutrition advice doesn't harm people, or that the license prevents harm somehow.

      But if you do any kind of reading about the diet Cooksey is advocating, it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the standard-issue nutrition advice coming from the certified nutritionists of the world does hurt people. In fact, it's the force behind the rise of Type II diabetes within the last 30-50 years.

       

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        Scote, May 29th, 2012 @ 4:19pm

        Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

        And it is your right to say so, and his. We do need freedom of speech so we can have opposing views. The core issue is whether or not it should be legal to regulate medical **consultants** and practitioners for purposes of public safety. Given the history of the FDA's creation, I'd say it is a no brainier that we must.

         

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          dwg (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 4:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          That's the FDA that okayed Vioxx, right? The same one that fast-tracks Big Pharma's pets? Citing "the history of the FDA's creation" over and over is the worst way to make this case. There was, and still is, a problem that the FDA was intended to solve. It didn't solve it. So, now, that didn't work--stop pretending that the problem should lead to more solutions like the bad one and come up with something better.

           

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          DC, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: He was caught **consulting**

          I speak only for myself.

          For me, it is a no brainer that we should certify people who may work on me when I am not fully conscious.

          I also think it is a no brainer to require formal claims for medicines, treatments, and pratitioners to be fully documented. I even support official approval, though I don't support illegality of un-approved treatments with consent of the treated.

          What I don't support is regulation of casual advice. That would be consultation in your parlance. In your quote, I think you have the quote marks reversed. It should be "medical" consultants. They are advisors, based on personal experience and research, no different than my best friend who got GERD before I did and helped me mitigate it. In no way any sane person would claim are these people "pratictioners".

          What I don't support is suppression of my personal freedom.

          Are you wanting to regulate everything that might be unhealthy in some amount? Sugar? Fat? Salt?

          You love that either / or fallacy, don't you?

           

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      Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 8:15pm

      Re: He was caught **consulting**

      About lawyers: I don't think having a law degree and passing the bar exam should be required to practice law. The law is something everyone is supposed to obey, therefore everyone should be able understand it (barring exceptions like people with psychological disabilities). When the government makes it illegal to practice law unless you have some formation or education, the government admits that regular people can't understand the law (and thus, they shouldn't be expected to obey it).

      So if you are suggesting that giving diet advice should be regulated because the job of practicing law is already regulated, your argument is unconvincing to me and I argue that the job of lawyer shouldn't be regulated in the first place.

      Regulating the practice of medicine I don't have much of a problem with, although again, one has to look at what we mean by "practicing medicine". I don't think medical advice should be illegal, as long as the person giving it is not pretending to have credentials they don't have. My grandmother and some of my friends always advise me what to do when I get the flu and they are not doctors, so should they go to jail for illegally practicing medicine?
      You might tell me that the flu isn't a big deal, but if I get cancer and my grandmother gives me advice based on her own father's fight against cancer, should she now go to jail? I still think not and more importantly, I think I would be absolutely stupid to trust the advice of somebody who has no medical education on serious health issues like cancer. It's common sense that you should get a doctor's opinion on serious medical issues and that other people can't provide reliable advice.
      What about parents who teach sexual health to their children, such as how to protect against aids and the consequences of the disease? What about parents who tell their children about the dangers of drugs? Are they practicing medicine illegally?
      How about people who make medical decisions for themselves (such as choosing which treatment to use) when their doctor disagrees with their decision and recommend another course of action? Are they practicing medicine illegally?
      How about the man who's wife asks him his opinion on what treatment she should use (because she wants the support of a close relative)? How about parents who make medical decisions for their children?
      In all the examples I listed, nobody will tell me these people should be prosecuted. So what exactly makes it so dangerous to open a website and give strangers your opinion on medical issues?

      You can go against your doctor's advice and refuse treatment for yourself. You can refuse the treatment that doctors recommend for your child and choose another treatment. You can advise family members and friends on how to deal with their own (serious) medical problems. You can unplug a relative in a coma from life support even when doctors predict a fair chance of recovery...
      But the moment random people start opening blogs and telling the world what they think on health matters, then the apocalypse is upon us and the human race is going to go extinct?

      And maybe, just maybe, we will always have idiots who trust anybody with an opinion EXCEPT the official experts. But these people are already doing exactly that, except instead of trusting completely random persons, they trust bogus doctors, like chiropractors, osteopaths, and other alternate medicine practitioners. And often, these people and their relatives lose their lives because of their misplaced trust.
      So those who might risk their lives by listening to nobodies without any license once we allow anyone to give advice on medical issues are already risking their lives at the hands of fake doctors with a license in an imaginary medical field.

      I think what should be forbidden is faking your credentials, distributing prescription drugs and performing surgery. Simply giving your opinion to people should NEVER be banned - they should know better than to trust your knowledge, and if they do trust your knowledge, they should be aware of the risks; any reasonable person would be.

      Now for the second paragraph of your message: you are raising up a completely new issue. What was being discussed is whether he (and anyone else) should be allowed to simply advise people online. If he's been examining people, that's a completely new topic.

       

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    DCX2, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

    The problem isn't the license

    I actually like the idea of a license or certification. It's good and it helps separate the meat from the pink slime.

    The problem is in requiring people to have the license before dispensing advice. At most, I would recommend a warning label, similar to "these statements have not been certified by the FDA".

    This would allow Mr. Cooksey to continue dispensing his advice, while simultaneously fulfilling the laudable public health goal of preventing the spread of misinformation. If you choose to believe an unlicensed dietician, that's your fault, just like if you go to WebMD and attempt to self-diagnose your flu when you have something more severe.

     

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      joseph, May 30th, 2012 @ 10:06am

      Re: The problem isn't the license

      The problem with the state is the fee based consulting. To charge for the service, he would have needed a license. That is what invited the problem in the first place, this story is actually pretty old (why techdirt picked it up so late, I don't know).

       

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    anon, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    Dieting

    As long as the person giving there experience is not trying to come across as a doctor or trained person i see no problem with posting alternative solutions to medical problems. But anywhere I have got free advise I have always been advised in comments to visit a doctor just to be on the safe side. i.e when i had a cyst on my ball bag i went to the doctor in case it was something more than a cyst but eventually used tea tree oil which got rid of the cyst in two days.

    As long as people are sensible with the advise they are given and not stupid i am sure they will find much safer ways than taking antibiotics for everything.


    But we will always have people that will not listen, people that will cut there hand off because someone has made them believe if they don't they will die. Thats just stupidity and these type of people need psychological help and should not be on the Internet

     

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    Pjerky (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    That is an awesome video. I would love to see this kind of thing created to fight more government action and legislation. Like for SOPA and PIPA and CISPA. Also for thinks like the MegaUpload case. That would be awesome.

     

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    Another AC, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

    OMG, dietics is just so freakin' evil! Thank God we have Pirate Mike to ferret out every last dietics-is-so-freakin'-evil story for us. Without his OCD ass whining about dietics every second of every day, I might forget how freakin' evil it all is. TechDirt does a service to humankind.


    ... sorry, couldn't resist!

     

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    fairusefriendly (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

    who clicked thru to the NC side just to see where you ended up

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Wait...we still have a First Amendment?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Ignoring the fact that dinosaurs were extinct long before we came around, I'm with Steve on ths one. The part about charging money for advice is probably more of a gray area. But trying to shut down the blog is going too far.

     

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    fb39ca4, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:02pm

    NC should be going after tabloid magazines then.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    This just in

    IANAL found to be illegal.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:14pm

      Re: This just in

      "IANAL found to be illegal."

      It is if you set up a legal consulting business on the web and try to get away with it by merely saying "IANAL".

      How about a surgeon, with a big diploma with a little disclaimer at the bottom, IANAS. Would that be ok?

      The FTC has said that what the big print says the little print can't take away--a principle they don't enforce often enough. So if you say, "Don't do what your doctor says, follow my medical consulting advice" and then add "Consult your doctor, INAAMD" I'd say you are still on the hook.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 9:33pm

        Re: Re: This just in

        That's a very gray area, and very much dependant on what jurisdiction you are in.

        Also it depends on whether you have qualifications to back up your advice or not. Just because you don't practice law doesn't mean you cannot give legal advice if you hold a law degree.

        Just because you don't hold a law degree (or practice for those that do hold a degree) doesn't mean you cannot perform actions such as conveyancing, wills, etc. Admittedly not in the USA though in other countries (UK, EU, CAN, AU, ) this is quite ok.

        It all boils down to liability, CYA and ethical responsibilities. If you are ethical and upfront in all your dealings and are doing them in the best interest of the clients (and the courts), have specific qualifications (that don't necessarily require degrees.. diplomas or certificates are fine) then you are covered in most parts of the world.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:17pm

    Really guys, he is not just giving dieting advice for diabetic people on a good faith basis with a "still, go see a doctor", he is SELLING dieting councelling to diabetic people based.

    Even if his advice doesn't necessarily causes harm to other people, someone else doing the same could. It's also dangerous for someone like him: if his diet doesn't work for someone and end up worsening their condition, there will be no free speech allegation to protect him from a lawsuit.

    People's body and metabolism are different and the diet that worked for him could send another dieabetic to the hospital in a couple of hours.

    It's not a matter of free-speech, is a matter of public health.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 6:12pm

      Re:

      His disclaimer says otherwise, but we'll let you continue to believe he's pretending to be a doc.

       

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      DC, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:17am

      Re:

      People, really ... this is not the only diabetic resource available. Aside from 1 million internet sites, you can talk to your doctor.

      "he is SELLING dieting councelling [sic] to diabetic people based"

      So? You have not shown that the "selling" (your pejorative) is not on a good faith basis. If people are buying and no one is dieing -- seems like it may be working, but I am not diabetic, so who am I to say.

      He's not claiming any licenses or certifications.

      You are free to ignore the entire site. He is not your doctor.

      Ignore the site!

      Talk to your physician.

      Please do not make conversations on the internet illegal.

      Just a guess -- but you are an activist in NC on this issue, and I am just a joe who likes my free speech.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:55am

        Re: Re:

        Forcing someone who is giving health advice to people to have some kind of credentials is super reasonable, and I think you underestimate the sense of desperation that many diabetics feel. Fish in a barrel is a tried and true way of making fraudulent money. Regulation makes perfect sense.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 5:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I disagree as a diabetic I found a solution to my problem.
          I live diabetes free this year, after a long time with the condition and all thanks to a simple study.

          http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/diet-reverses-type-2-diabetes

          What I did was simple, I weighted myself at night and in the morning and the amount of weight loss was what I used as my metabolic rate I ate below that for 2 months and lost 44 lb and my diabetes is gone says my doctor.

          Why didn't I paid for the advice of that dude there selling it?
          Because I am aware of the horror stories about paying for advice like that, although it probably works because all you have to do is control your food intake and it doesn't matter what you eat but how much and for the timing according to another study that I can't find right now but it is probably on medicalexpress or PLOS.org comparing rats that eat anytime and rats that ate only at 8 hours intervals and showing their dissect livers showing that the 8 hours interval rats had less fat in them.

          But those horror stories are the thing that keep me away from those things, those horror stories are why I have a "let it die" attitude, I will die before I pay for any such "advice" if I can't find a honest study "let it die" because there is nothing we know about for sure that can cure this, I am willing to experiment a lot and if I chose a course I can't really complain about that course even if most people disagree or feel distressed by it, even if it kills me that is my choice, so I don't see that guy as something bad at all, he is greedy in a way, but he is nowhere near a dishonest bastard trying to rip off others with something he has knowledge it doesn't work at all, he may be scientifically ignorant of why things work but I didn't see trying to hide that from anyone, that is not a problem, so people have all the information they need to make a informed decision and if they decide to experiment with that advice I see no wrong here, let them, if people die they should also be the ones responsible for their own fates.

          Like if you turn blue(Argyria) from taking too much silver, you have nobody but yourself to blame and have to learn to live with the consequences of your choices.

          This is not a legal matter the guy is not deceiving anyone he is experimenting and discovering how things work, the day that he tries to deceive someone right there and then the state should act.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      Really then that someone should be punished for deceiving others, not the guy trying to experiment with life.

      People fallowing his advice and paying for it should also have no recourse as long as he didn't deceive anyone or made grand claims who cares is between those 2 parties, one found something that worked for him and it is trying to sell what he learned from that experience, this is not a problem and should be encouraged more, the experimenting side not the selling.

      Now people trying to sell starch pills as a cure for cancer should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law because they know for a fact that starch will never cure cancer so they are deliberate and maliciously trying to deceive others to make a buck.

      Horror stories of experiments going wrong will be cautionary tales for society and have their functions, it will always remind people why some ways a better than others at doing things, experimentation even if it is going to go wrong should be allowed if it is not a threat to anyone and the risks are very low and they are in this case, the chances of somebody dying of bulimia here are almost zero to none, the chances of people having adverse effects is also low even more so if they pay for that advice and still go to the doctor, his advice is in no way a substitute for professional supervision.

      patientslikeme.com is a gold mine of data, because people there experiment, they all are aware of the risks, they all know things could go badly wrong, for some people there is just nothing to lose anymore and experimentation to see what works or not is a good thing.

      People who take this kind of advice should also have a network like patientslikeme where they all discuss what worked and what did not, the problems they encountered and so forth.

      With that you don't need licenses, dishonest people can't survive in the light, dumb things will fail and be shown and cautionary tales be created, social norms will be created and most importantly new ways of dealing with problems can be found that way.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      Caveat emptor.

      If you're dumb/crazy/desperate/whatever to pay for advice from some guy on the internet without checking his qualifications, it's on you, not him. I didn't see anything where he said, "Do this and ye shall be cured, guaranteed!"

       

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    matt, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:18pm

    1st amendment

    Well I'm sure that ended this dispute pretty quickly. I think local governments as well as nationally they sometimes forget what can and can't be done.

     

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    AC Cobra, May 29th, 2012 @ 3:52pm

    Big Agribusiness

    I wonder how much the big calorie conglomerates have spent lobbying for laws making more expensive to give dietary advice.

    ConAgroSantoMonte: "We will be happy to have one of our board certified, industry approved dietitians give you advice".

    ConAgroSantoMonte dietician: "you need to eat lots of factory farmed meat, dairy and high fructose corn syrup. Our shareholders demand it!"

     

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    Diablo 3 Fan, May 29th, 2012 @ 4:12pm

    Good and Bad

    I think it should be legal for people to give advice, but, it should be clear that they are layment and NOT certified.

    There definitely needs to be a standard, but lets face it... there are certified mechanics that you can take your car to and there's the guy down the street who has no certification but can rebuild you engine in his spare time, with his eyes shut... while watching a football game... and STILL charge less than the certified tech.

    As long as it's obvious that you are not pretending to be something you are not (certified, a doctor,etc), I don't have a problem with it.

     

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    Infowars, May 29th, 2012 @ 5:13pm

    Free Speech!?

    WE don't need no stinking free speech. Just drink your fluorides and keep waiting for you .gov checks to show up.. Nothing to see here, move along or we will taser you..

    Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave!

    Good ole USSA..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 6:04pm

    Michelle Obama tells the people of this country what and how to eat. Show me her degree/license that allows her to do that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      Yeah, is she charging for it and teling people to do dangerous things?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      And what's her information source? That's right, licensed and certified professionals.

      She didn't do the work herself and portray it as the Obama solution.

       

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        Chris Rhodes (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

        Re: Re:

        And if the government-approved cartel of practitioners is wrong (or corrupt), you're essentially making it illegal to give advice that's correct.

        No thanks, I'll support free speech over statist fucktards and their drive to crush opinions that aren't sanctioned by bureaucrats and the lobbyists that got them elected.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 6:43pm

    Has any one ever been misdiagnosed by a licensed physician?

    I have. One more than one occasion.

    Having a license to practice anything doesn't make you smart or trustworthy or professional.

    As with everything in life it's always buyer beware!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 8:48pm

    he does need to be shut down, 0 drugs, 0 insulin, not all diabetics need drugs or insulin, a false claim on his part, or an outright lie?

    and telling you if your doctor doesn't agree with him, go get a new doctor?? screams quack

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 8:50pm

    In the last 30 years dieticians have stated eggs are good, bad, good, bad for you. Coffee is bad, good, bad, good for you. Drinking is bad, good, in moderation good, only if it is red wine good, and finally sometimes bad for you. Chocolate-same story. Even being moderately overweight has repeatedly been shown to be healthier than being skinny..at least last year it was. I seriously do not know how this guy can do any worse and if you think some government backed license makes anyone better at it then you are too young naive and I really wish you would refrain from voting or having kids.

     

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    molecule (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

    I think you mean diet / exercise regimen:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/regimen

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:32pm

    I'm going to try to tread lightly here. Please forgive me if I get off topic slightly.

    My grandfather had leukemia a few years back. He was taken in by a gentleman who swore that although he was no doctor or dietician, he had the perfect cure. He encouraged my grandfather and others to turn to a diet of nothing but blended vegetables, mostly carrots. My grandfather lost an incredible amount of weight very quickly, which is unsurprising. He also died well within the predicted life expectancy for his condition, with most of that time spent severely underweight (and demented from the cancer spreading to his brain, which likely has little to do with the diet, and more to do with bad luck).

    The worst part, though, was that my grandfather avoied more painful treatments like chemo until it was beyond too late (it might have been anyway, but we'll never know). He was convince this diet would save him.

    People can be irrational with fear when they are sick. Like all people buried in fear, they can be easily manipulated. It's very easy to say one's conclusions are based on science, when what one means is that a couple of people personally tried it and maybe one clinical trial was inconclusive (if that). I believe anyone should be able to give out advice, but those disclaimers had better be in pretty big font, and I really do look askance at people who peddle that advice for money when what they have to back them up is nothing more than personal belief. At least homeopathy is honest in saying it's unproven.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 12:52am

    What if the regulation--I know this is a super crazy idea, what with your extreme confirmation bias--has not a goddamned thing to do with inflating prices of experts. What if it has to do with protecting consumers from fraud. Particularly the weight loss industry is chalk full of claims that are straight up false, and while the states can't regulate everything because the federal government allows certain types of products, making sure that people are getting health advice from someone with appropriate credentials seems like a great idea.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      You don't need regulation and licensing to prevent fraud, you just need laws against fraud.

      If he says "I have license ABC!" and he doesn't, that's fraud.
      If he says "I have degree XYZ!" and he doesn't, that's fraud.

      If he says "Hey, this worked for me and you could try it too by doing these steps . . ." who is he defrauding, and how? Can you even articulate where the fraud is?

       

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    ChrisH (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 5:44am

    That it was a fee-based site is probably what allowed him to be considered as practicing as a nutritionist without a license.

    I'm not sure Cooksey or the Institute for Justice would have standing to sue and the case might be dismissed on those grounds.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    What licenses and/or certifications are intended to do is assure the public that the licensee/certified person has a basic level of training typically defined/approved by experts in their field and passed some sort of minimum standards test to demonstrate their competence.

    Does this make them high quality, infallible professionals? Nope, there are clearly variations in quality among professionals in all fields.

    It's a minimum standard threshold, below which the person has no business giving advice or practicing as a professional _____.

    I think that if he had just portrayed his findings as his experience and not as advice, he'd be ok.

    Since we're such a litigious society, I wonder what kind of liability Cooksey has if his advice did, in fact, harm someone. Would he be held to the same standards as a licensed professional? And if not, is that a consequence we're willing to live with?

     

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      ChrisH (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 10:00am

      Re:

      It's a minimum standard threshold, below which the person has no business giving advice or practicing as a professional

      One question then is can they be allowed to practice as an amateur? I'd say that if they were very explicit in disclosing the fact that they are not a professional then should be allowed.

      I'm not sure if the liability should be higher, lower of the same for non-professionals. Are there statutory limits on malpractice liability? If he's making money, then I think there's an obvious implied warranty there and that's a risk that he will have to assume.

       

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    Wayne, May 30th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    The test should be simple: if he is making money on the web site through ads or any other mechanism, then he is a practitioner and needs to be licensed.

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

      Re:

      The test should be simple: if he is making money on the web site through ads or any other mechanism, then he is a practitioner and needs to pay his bribe to the state so as to be be let into the government-created cartel.
      FTFY

       

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      ChrisH (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:15pm

      Re:

      Any personal blog could potentially make money from ads so this test would cover too many people, anyone who says anything which overlaps with a licensed field. The test should be whether or not the site requires money from visitors in order to view the contents.

       

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

    So let's say I want to tell people that whole grains are evil and that they shouldn't eat them (they are, and you shouldn't, by the way).

    First, I apparently would need to be licensed by the state. But how do I get that license? By taking a test, where they judge me on my agreement with mainstream nutritional thought that whole grains are good? By getting a degree from an accredited institution that only gets accredited by teaching that whole grains are good? (Thanks, corn lobby!)

    Without standards for issuance, a license is just a bribe to the state for the privilege to join the cartel, but with the standards, it's merely a method for bureaucrats and their lobbyists to suppress any speech that goes against mainstream opinion or their agenda.

    Either way you look at it, the license is garbage.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 1:18pm

      Re:

      yeah...that's how science and knowledge works especially in the Western world.

      You don't just get to say something is good or bad and have it carry any weight...you must provide evidence, enough evidence to convince your peers that what you say is, at the very least, backed by evidence (if not entirely provable).

      I feel like we're going through the enlightenment again, only this time the opposite way...have we really gone so far backwards...what's next, bring back the monarchy...I need someone whose authority rests on birthrights to arbitrarily make decisions for me.

       

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    Rebecca Foxworth, May 30th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    Equal treatment...

    Are they going after all the people without cosmetology licenses making "how to" hair and makeup videos and posting them on You Tube? What about the unlicensed people writing diet and exercise books instead of blogs?
    Fair is fair.
    And this...isn't.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2012 @ 6:12am

      Re: Equal treatment...

      Can't go after all the people doing xxxx...just not possible.

      Not every state licenses cosmetologists, but NC does have a license of Cosmetic Arts which would probably cover that. Interesting web site: http://www.nccosmeticarts.com

      My guess is that unless you're calling attention to yourself marketing some sort of whole body sulfuric acid soak for purifying the skin or your customers/advice seekers are making complaints about how your service/advice is actually hurting them, and not helping them as you have marketed it, then you'd probably not be contacted by the NC Board of Cosmetic Arts Examiners.

      Unlicensed people writing books doling out medical advice, I agree, should be treated the same. There are two issues that I can think of that complicate the matter.

      One is jurisdiction...professional licensing, in this country at least, is done at the state or local level, so one would need to figure out which agency has jurisdiction;

      The second issue is scope of practice - again, because of the nature of licensing in this country, scopes of practice within professions vary widely across states, so what may be within a professionals scope of practice in one state may not be in another state (e.g., in some states, Nurse Practitioners can practice independently, in others they need to have a collaborative relationship with a doctor, and in others they need to have some level of supervision by a doctor).

      Related to the scope of practice issues is, of course, what constitutes professional advice vs non-professional advice - as was brought up earlier in the thread, when my mom gives me advice on how to take care of my baby vs when the pediatrician gives me advice on how to take care of my baby.

      I've told my friends that I enjoy cycling, it makes me feel good in general and keeps me in shape, and that they should consider cycling too...have I just give professional advice?

       

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        ChrisH (profile), May 31st, 2012 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: Equal treatment...

        Can't go after all the people doing xxxx...just not possible.

        That never seems to stop them from making xxxx illegal :)

        The point about jurisdiction reminds me of something I was going to add earlier. Does the blog owner reside in NC? If not, I would tell them to go pound sand, which he may have already done, based on the article's title. He is under no obligation to abide by the laws of another state.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

    i'm sue my grandma

     

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    Tony Federico, May 31st, 2012 @ 7:11am

    Steve Cooksey and the 1st Amendment

    I interviewed Steve for a Paleo diet publication (Paleo Magazine) and he is a genuine guy who is really passionate about helping people. I'm glad to see that his story is getting coverage in many different outlets, not just paleo blogs and websites! http://www.fitnessinanevolutionarydirection.com/2012/05/is-blogging-protected-by-first.html

     

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    bmorejoe, Aug 19th, 2012 @ 6:28am

    hmmm...

    Apparently only white guys get diabetes - or maybe only white guys can be cavemen? And T. Rex survived the KT extinction event. These assertions make me wonder about Institute for Justice.

    On the substance, agree with those who argue for regulated but not licensed advice with clear disclaimers. The public should have protection, licensed practitioners, not.

     

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    tom, Nov 4th, 2012 @ 10:09am

    health opinion

    It was really good information. I was reading some health advice. It was really good medical advices.

     

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    Rodney, Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 7:26pm

    As an Anti-RD......

    I went to the accredited college to become a RD. So this is such a joke. They brainwash you and force you to teach exactly what the government tells you to teach people. Dairy is good for you? Are you freaking kidding me??? I, as a student, had to call the teacher's BS in class when she downed coconut oil because it is 98% saturated fat. I guess her as a RD SHOULD have known about MCT and the lengths of the fat chains. The dietitian job is a scam and a way to keep the public brainwashed into thinking dairy is good for them....but has nothing to do with dairy farmers getting government funds. They would NEVER do such a thing....would they?

     

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    Kandi Klover, Mar 28th, 2014 @ 6:14pm

    The american government is just a desperate immature pathetic white trash blowhard of a joke tbirdworld shithole country. They cant even do anything about his blog. Why don't you fat fucks go pay your debt lazy fucking niggers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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