In the Matter of Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc., File No. 1423132
There is no question that the FTC needs to monitor claims made by commercial entities to ensure that fraud is not being committed on the public and that unsafe practices by unscrupulous vendors are not negatively affecting individuals who have paid for a product. But it is not clear why the FTC has gone after Professor Aaron Seitz in this case of a video game which has been proven in standard science control groups to be beneficial for a variety of visual and attentional skills. Admittedly, the company did not conduct a double-blind random-assignment experiment to validate efficacy. But that is a high-bar for any product that otherwise has no negative consequences. Most products on the market (outside of the jurisdiction of the FDA) fail to provide such evidence of efficacy, and yet the FTC has chosen to single out Dr. Seitz for a severe fine. Because Dr. Seitz has no financial resources other than his own personal assets, this is an extremely severe burden and sends a clear message to the entire research community that any such research-based products should not be advertised and marketed unless they have achieved the double-blind random-assignment level. What is puzzling about the FTC penalizing Dr. Seitz is that so many other products on the market similarly fail the double-blind random-assigment level, including one marketed today on the NY Times web site: http://my.happify.com/o/lp32/?fl=1&tmp=&trid=&srid=HRX4AZRF65&c1=RON&c2=.... I would hope that the FTC would pursue the most egregious cases of false claims rather than the cases like Dr. Seitz's whose claims are based on proven group-level research designs whose results appear in reputable scientific journals. I would also hope that the FTC would reduce the fines levied on Dr. Seitz personally and instead focus on cases where corporate resources are available to penalize unsubstantiated claims.