The internet wars

The conference is of course a great way to network and share ideas with fellow practitioners. To enable members to have an even better opportunity for networking and sharing ideas, at this year’s annual conference there will be four Open Discussion sessions. The seating arrangement in the open discussion sessions will be around tables: cabaret style. For each session there will be a series of prompt questions for those sitting around each table to discuss.

Ian Appleyard: BAcC Policy and Research Manager

Ian Appleyard: BAcC Policy and Research ManagerThe BAcC faces challenges in promoting the profession of acupuncture and enhancing our identity as the representative voice for traditional acupuncture. The themes of two of the Open Discussion sessions seek to address some of these challenges: internet wars and integrated projects.

Today I wish to explain a bit more about the internet wars: the inspiration for this topic and what I hope we will be able to achieve.

I took on the role of research and policy manager in April 2021. The first thing in my in-tray was the annual reaccreditation with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Many of you will be aware the PSA wanted us to ensure members’ advertising was in line with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines. For a long time, I believe, many of us have felt that the ASA guidance was overly restrictive. The BAcC new guidelines on advertising are no longer tightly bound to the ASA approved list of conditions. This is because the methods the ASA use to evaluate the evidence are not very scientific. PSA have accepted our argument that the ASA guidance has limitations. In short, so long as we set about what we do in a professional and scientifically sound way there is a lot more we can do online to promote the benefits of acupuncture.

I also feel that sceptic organisations are good at collaborating globally and reinforcing the arguments they want to make. These can be summarised as: there is no evidence acupuncture works, acupuncture is a placebo, and the effects are short term. Actually, certainly for chronic pain, the evidence is on our side. But we do need to be better at promoting this evidence to show acupuncture works, it’s not placebo, and the effects are not short term. This cannot be done by one individual or even one organisation. We need to collaborate as much as possible with other organisations both in the UK and abroad. We need to think about our messaging.

This session is designed to give space for us to discuss how to get our messages across. How can communicate sometimes complex arguments about research? Some sceptics are professors at prestigious institutions, how can we deal with this apparent imbalance in ‘authority’. What do we need to do to ensure that we people will take heed of what we say? What should we avoid doing? What language should we use? What questions have people put to us which we found difficult to answer? We work together to develop good responses to these questions. How should we use social media channels and our websites?

Whilst the open discussion sessions are designed to be egalitarian, we will invite individuals with specific knowledge to join in the discussions. At the Internet Wars discussion will be joined by Charlie Buck, Lara McClure and Sandro Graco from Evidence Based Acupuncture, Lianne Aquilina (BAcC Board member) and Dr Aram Akopyan (Communications Director, ETCMA) and Caroline Hedges (Communications Manager, BAcC).

If you are interested in this topic and would like to propose a specific question to be discussed, please send your question to

ARRC Symposium and The BAcC Annual Conference

Ian Appleyard
BAcC Policy and Research Manager
3 August 2022