Why I Hate Bad Science and Health ScamsBy Adam Sinicki
The world is simpler than we want to believe, and many of us make up excuses and strange explanations for the things we don't understand or like. For instance working out - no one wants to believe that the best way to work out is to just make yourself hurt every day for months, just like no one wants to believe that when they're ill they're going to need surgery or unpleasant medications - and so they start to over complicate things and look for other answers. Answers like homeopathy, artery chelation, vibration pads, energy bracelets and iridology.
> People don't want to believe scientific medical advice because it's dry and unglamorous and because it normally means they need to work hard and do a lot of training/change their diet/go through unpleasant side effects. That's why there are so many scam artists and other people out there ready to take advantage of people's desperation - and this is something that really pisses me off. And it especially pisses me off when it's involving medical problems and illnesses and when it puts people's minds at risk.
In short if ever something is described as an 'alternate remedy' then you should recognize that this probably means it's not really going to work. A sweeping statement I know, and there are exceptions that prove the rule, but think about it this way - if it's an 'alternative remedy' that means it's been rejected by modern medicine and that in turn means that it probably isn't supported by evidence. And that means it doesn't work.
Some people in the US are very cynical of their health care system because it's private meaning it's ultimately a business. However what you need to remember is that even if they are trying to make money, they're still trying to cure you. If they were only interested in making money then why wouldn't they sell the alternative remedies as well? And what do you think those alternative practitioners are in it for? Love? Those pots of herbs don't come cheap...
Bear in mind too that in the UK where health care is not privatised, they still don't recommend the use of alternative medications. They have nothing to gain from 'selling drugs' so they must work. Of course doctors aren't always right and you shouldn't trust anyone all of the time, and the same goes for working out - there's no single way to work out that's the 'right way' - the best thing you can do is to do the research yourself, to learn about the way your body works, and to draw your own conclusions. But just be scientific about it - be logical and not emotional.
The scientific method is something that basically translates directly as 'objectivity'. Science has no ulterior motives, and the way it works is to constantly try to disprove every theory in order to build new ones. If a study isn't 'scientific' then what that means is that it's subjective, AKA biased and so not valuable.
Alternative remedies and health scams are the antithesis of this website, and if you have ever been tempted by something that sounds too good to be true, then it's time to stop and to wake up to the reality. For that reason, just to make sure that you don't fall for this nonsense and that you respect the scientific method, here are a couple of examples of complete scam-artistry...
HomeopathyHomeopathy has a big following, but it actually infuriates me that it's even allowed to carry on being sold. Homeopathy basically is based around the theory that a treatment should cause the same symptoms as the condition it's trying to cure. So in other words, if you wanted to cure yourself of a cold, then a homeopathic remedy would be one that caused your nose to run and caused you to sneeze. The only problem with this is that it's arbitrary - someone just made that idea up. Of course when people started administering these cures it was then found that the patients ended up getting more ill and often died.
So instead of admitting defeat, homeopaths decided to dilute their ingredients with water, sugar and alcohol to such a degree that the medication barely included any of that substance. In some cases this is done to such an extent that actually none of the original substance is left in the mixture at al. So in other words you're paying tonnes of money just to get a pot of water and sugar. Still think your doctor is the one trying to rip you off?
Of course there are absolutely no studies that demonstrate that homeopathic remedies work - and there are plenty of ones that demonstrate it doesn't. Promoters of homeopathy claim that even though the original active agent often isn't included in the product, the 'lifeforce' of the substance has been transferred to the water. Of course there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that such a lifeforce exists - and it certainly doesn't exist in bits of herb. This isn't Star Wars people!
What makes me furious is that people sell homeopathy to help people get into better shape - thus ensuring they never do; but also to help people recover from cancer. People will choose to take homeopathic remedies rather than using chemotherapy because homeopathic remedies have no side effects, and because they have become jaded by listening to their doctors. The fact of the matter is that yes, chemotherapy can cause a lot of negative health effects and is very bad for your body, but it also fights cancer. Homeopathy meanwhile is water and sugar, and if you opt to use it instead of listening to your doctor you will probably die - which is what happened to Steve Jobs who refused to use anything but alternative remedies until it was too late. I personally think homeopathy should be completely banned. And that homeopaths should be skinned and burned...
Magnetic BraceletsMagnetic bracelets are a completely different money making scheme that are just as much of a scam though perhaps less dangerous. These are the bracelets you see golfers and athletes wear, and the claim is that they have a 'magnetic frequency' that 'resonates' with the magnetic frequency of our own vibrating cells in order to trigger 'homeostasis'.
These 'bio magnets' however are sold based on complete gibberish. Homeostasis is a scientific term that describes an organism maintaining a particular single state - and has nothing to do with our cells. Meanwhile there is no such thing as an 'electromagnetic energy balance' and our cells don't vibrate. Simple as.
Even if magnets could affect our cells, the fact of the matter is that the magnets used in that jewellery aren't strong enough to penetrate through our skin anyway so they would have no way of working. At the same time the magnets are all different, and there is no explanation as to how they even know what our 'magnetic frequency' is meant to be. It's just complete nonsense and countless studies have shown this fact resulting in multiple lawsuits and eventually forcing the company that make them to admit they don't work by stating 'not enough evidence to show support for the effectiveness of magnetic therapy'. Yet they continue to make millions by feeding off people's desperation thanks in part to celebrity endorsements. Don't be that sap - just go to the gym and feel smug when someone tells you they just bought a bracelet for a grand because they want washboard abs...
And the Rest...
IridologyThis is the practice of looking at the iris in order to predict health problems and issues. The belief here is that certain quadrants of our eye represent various organs and parts of our body, and changes in these areas can indicate problems.
Lies, lies, lies. There is no evidence to suggest a link between our eyes and our kidneys, and even if there was the fact that different iridologists use charts that say different things ensures that they're all talking nonsense. Most damning of all though is the fact that our retinal patterns are genetically determined - they're 'phenotypical' and that means that they don't change throughout our lifetimes. All iridologists do is steel your money.
Artery Chelation TherapyArtery chelation therapy is a real medical technique used to treat overdoses of heavy metals such as mercury. This works by essentially using tiny magnets to hoover up the blood vessels and remove those metals before they do any damage.
Unfortunately alternative therapies spotted another opportunity to make money from people who don't know better and started claiming that a range of health condition including things like autism, diabetes and obesity could be caused by heavy metals in your blood. As a result they then started offering the treatment for a large amount of money in order to treat these issues, but the problem is that it also removes the iron from the blood as well as other important minerals like calcium. As a result it's actually highly dangerous and has caused several deaths.
Despite this the process is still advertised and it still makes a lot of money - regardless of the damage it causes to the people who use it.
Energy HealingEnergy healing is the process of holding your hands over someone's damaged limb and then transmitting your 'good Qi' into the area to heal it. There are many forms of energy healing from 'faith healing' to 'reiki' and they have been indisputably proven not to work. Some of these people even claim they can transmit their healing energies over miles by just thinking about the person who was ill. Of course if that was true then everyone would do energy healing and no one would ever die of any illnesses. These people are the lowest of the low, willing to feed off people's hopes and even their beliefs in order to make money - often at the cost of their lives.
The problem is that we are too lenient as a society on alternative viewpoints - which is a necessary symptom of objectivity. Well I'm going to come out and say that I don't respect any system that would make money by spouting lies and false promises and often resulting in people's deaths. Whether the alternative practitioners genuinely believe what they say or not, they shouldn't be allowed to advertise it as a cure and to sell it as such as it's simply false advertising and dangerous false advertising at that. Rant over...