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1.) Homeopathy– It was quackery in 1790 and it is quackery today. Homeopathy bases itself off the doctrine, Like cures Like, which is to say the agent that caused the malady is also the same thing that will cure it. This means that insomnia can be cured with caffeine, and that spider bites can be cured with spider venom, and the flu can be cured with influenza virus. Makes sense, right? Not a bit? Yeah, it’s moronic. But it goes farther. Homeopathy follows the premise of potentisation by dilution and succussion (watering the solution down and shaking it) and by doing this, it is believed that the less of the active ingredient there is, the more potent is the solution. They then use a made up notion of “water memory” to explain why this is: that water can “remember” what’s been diluted in it, and transfer the effects of that ingredient to the user. Therefore, homeopaths dilute their “medicine” down so far, that there is not likely to be even a single molecule left of the curing agent. The standard homeopathic drug is diluted to a scale of 30C which in lay terms is diluted by a factor of 10^60. You’d have to a sphere with the diameter of 131 light years to find even 1 molecule of the remedy. The popular cold remedy Oscillococcinum is diluted to 200C. In order to get even 1 molecule of that remedy, you would need to consume a volume 10^320 times the size of the observable universe. That’s right, that tincture you’re using for seasonal allergies is nothing more than water (or a sugar pill, if it’s in tablet form). Not only is this idiotic, but it’s dangerous, and here’s why: Homeopathy claims to be able to cure all varieties of health problems, from acne (diluted pus and dead skin cells?) to asthma. People can die, or end up causing themselves more harm by believing in homeopathic medicine, and putting off, or denying real medical treatment.

2.) Organic is healthier– A lot of people these days are moving away from conventional produce for fear of pesticides, GMO’s, preservatives, and other fear-driven marketing lies. The claims people make regarding which foods are healthier and which cause cancer are almost entirely unfounded. Generally the people campaigning against “non-natural” ingredients or processes, are unknowledgeable in the extremely complex world of agriculture, food technology, and human chemistry. The health craze as of late is the naturalistic fallacy in full swing. Natural is not always better for you. In fact, there are more things in nature that want to kill you, than there are that keep you alive, and you are just not that significant to be so arrogant as to think earth’s flora and fauna were put there as a gift for you. What is natural anyway? What a debatable definition. Organic produce still uses pesticides in the growing process, just organic pesticide, which often is much more harmful than its synthetic counterpart. For example, the commonly used natural pesticide (and organic farming approved) Rotenone, is 25 times more harmful in exposure than the synthetic Glyphosate, aka Round-Up. And let us not forget that we’ve been genetically modifying food since the dawn of agriculture. Yet, no anti-GMO proponent can explain to me how selecting and isolating a single gene sequence that codes for a specific trait out of one thing and carefully injecting it into a precise location of another thing which lacks that trait is more dangerous than cross-breeding an entire genetic code between two species with sometimes unknown or unaccounted for outcomes.

3.) Chiropractic– This one is so easy to be duped by. Chiropractors have become so mainstream, they are thought of as real medical specialists. They wear the cloak of a medical professional, while practicing their special brand of quackery. A “doctor of chiropractic” did not earn that title from a medical school. They have really very minimal medical training. To become a chiropractor, one needs to complete a two year course at a chiropractic vocational school, learning all about the underlying premise of chiropractic: subluxation. At a chiropractic clinician’s office, brochures on the subject seem very convincing that subluxation is really a common affliction that causes all sorts of degrees of pain and illness you never even knew you were at risk for. Unfortunately, the way it’s used in chiropractic, subluxation is not substantiated by medical science. There is really no evidence for it at all. Now, to be clear, that’s not to say spinal manipulation can’t be used for pain management, much in the way a massage can. I used to see a chiropractor for back and hip pain (before I even really knew that it wasn’t a legitimate practice), and I only stopped because it became unaffordable for the very temporary relief I was getting from it. Fortunately, my chiropractor was not so far off the deep end that he claimed he could increase my lung function, or lower my blood sugars. He did not offer acupuncture, or vitamin injections, or any other service that may have raised a red flag to the skeptical, nor did he advocate chiropractic use in infants (a very dangerous and unnecessary practice indeed). He actually gave me very sound advice for core-strengthening exercises to do which would counteract my frequent hunched-over posture from coughing, and to help my joint stiffness and weakness. However, looking back, I do feel mislead by all the x-rays, strength tests, and literature given to me that made me believe I was being treated by a real doctor.

4.) Detox– This is an illegitimate term when not being used as an actual medical procedure. In a hospital, detox is done for people who have OD’d on drugs, alcohol or some other household poison. The way it’s used in modern health circles (where it’s often called a cleanse or a flush), is as though a certain product or diet can rid your body of “toxins” accumulated from the environment. The reason I put “toxins” in quotation marks is simple. It’s made up. Eating from fast food restaurants, breathing polluted air, handling synthetic materials, or exposure to positive ions from electronics does not, in any significant manner, build up toxins that negatively affect your overall level of health-at least there’s no evidence to believe that it does. Sellers of these products use the scary term of toxin, the same way 14th century witch doctors used “miasms” to explain the cause of the Black Death. We’ve known since the mid 1800’s that the underlying cause of non-genetic disease is germs. Foot baths (or pads) that turn the water black are trick of chemistry, herbal cleanse kits base themselves on premises that go against how we know the gastrointestinal system works, and don’t pass scientific rigor. Diets that deprive the body of optimal human nutrition often result in violent illness and a period of catharsis-symptoms they will claim are just the result of “toxins” leaving the body. Chelation therapy is dangerous when not done in a hospital setting by trained M.D.s for legitimate medical reasons. And coffee enemas? Let’s not even go there.

5.) Energy Healing– Where would New Age cranks be without the obvious misuse of the word ‘energy’? All known forms of energy in the universe are measurable. All of them. If healing vibes were real, they could be detected, described scientifically, measured, and fit into models of prediction that would show how this type of energy interacts with matter under various different circumstances. However, since that can’t be done with Reiki, Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch or any of the large assortment of other forms of esoteric medicine, proponents of these techniques suggest that the scientific method be abandoned, simply because “there’s more to life than evidence.” In academic studies of types of energy healing, researchers have found that the effects of energy healing to be equivalent to no more than a placebo. In fact, less than ten years ago, Emily Rosa became the youngest person ever to have a paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association at the age of 9 for her blinded trial of Therapeutic Touch healers to detect Emily’s biofield (aura) when her hand was randomly placed over one of their hands through an opaque board. The 21 practitioners scored correctly a little less than 50% of the time. That’s no better than chance. Since then, this type of study has been repeated with similar results, leading scientists to conclude that the energy fields the practitioners were claiming to manipulate are little more than imaginary, and the testimonials of patients who believe it to have worked are much more likely to be due to the personal attention and relaxing atmosphere provided by the healers.

 

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathic_dilutions

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/01/organic_vs_conventional_produce_for_kids_you_don_t_need_to_fear_pesticides.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_touch