Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hope - and profit - springs eternal

This will be the umpteenth time I've emitted exasperation and frustration and disgust about the clouding, muddling and obscuring of matters scientific and medical by fraudulent, devious marketers.  As a rule, if it's something to do with making you lose weight, look younger, be smarter, it's bogus. If it references "the proven science of the glycemic index"  will you ask yourself how an index can be a science, proven or otherwise? Will you ask if all those "clinical trials" really exist or whether the clinic was really an ad agency or if the "study" wasn't just conjecture?  From looking at the billions Americans spend on such things, the answer is no.

The FTC seems at long last to be paying attention to the purveyors of miracle berrys and magic laxative powders whose clinical trials consist of hiring people in white coats to sign off on what are not scientific studies, don't appear in peer reviewed journals and often don't exist at all.  Skin creams "based on the Mediterranean life style,"  hormone drops that produce weight loss only when you eat less than 800 calories a day sell briskly on the false claim that they're FDA approved.  I'm only scratching the surface.

"Simply sprinkle Sensa on, eat all the foods you love and watch the pounds come off, it's that easy." 

 raves a commercial.  The stuff sells for $59 bucks for a months' supply and Sensa has made over $360 million selling it over the past 4 years.  I'm sure it works too if you eat 800 calories of  'all the foods you love' and start running marathons.  Anything will and yet we keep paying for false hope and eating double bacon cheeseburgers. Real or false, it springs eternal.

Of late the FTC has been going after them for false advertizing. Sensa will pay $26.5 million although they claim it's not an admission the stuff is snake oil.  Of course to some political persuasions, such regulation is anathema as the right to bilk the public is divinely sanctioned, as long as the profits are shared by public officials or the people who support their campaigns.  

With all the talk about declining educational standards, the absence of art, music and even physical education in schools, maybe there should be some new emphasis on teaching healthy skepticism, on teaching what science really is and how legitimate research is conducted.

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