Pseudoscience in health marketing
“How can we identify pseudoscience in health marketing?”
People become sick from time to time. And when people become sick with an unknown illness, they often become desperate for anything that sounds like a cure. And as such, malignant individuals will try to take advantage of people’s confusion and lack of knowledge. So to save your health, time, and money, here are some warning signs for pseudoscience in health marketing
- Claims of being “natural”
Many pseudoscientific health products try to justify their existence with the claim of being “natural”. (Senapathy, Kavin 2017) Supposedly, being composed of natural ingredients means that this product is safe and healthy for use and works better than the “artificial” industrial alternatives. However, just because something is natural or comes from a plant does not mean that it has any useful qualities. Uranium and parasitic fungi are natural but don’t offer anything good for us
- Claims of being based on “ancient knowledge”
Since pseudoscience marketers are often unable to explain their products using modern scientific theories, they will often retort that their material is based on “ancient” or “forgotten” knowledge/wisdom (Ernst, Edzard 2013). However, previous generation’s knowledge of the natural and social world was often flawed (see geocentric universe, flat earth, and racial “science”) and are not a substitute for the fruits of current empirical endeavors.
- Claims of being “untestable”
Testability of a hypothesis is one of the most important aspects of the scientific method. (Thompson, Bruce 1997) If something can not be tested, then it can not be accepted as a scientific phenomenon and must be avoided until such procedures are possible
- Claims of being a wide ranging cure
Since pseudoscience plays on the fears of ordinary people, vendors will often make bold claims about the healing powers of their product. However, such claims are usually unfounded, and if one logically thinks about it, if these items were so useful wouldn’t they be selling like hot cakes? For more info, look up “too good to be true” (Gauch, Hugh G. 2003)
- Claims of conspiracy
When pressed to explain their lack of widespread success, alternative health marketers will often retort that there is a “conspiracy” to keep them down. These are usually a desperate attempt to rationalize their product’s niche nature, and never based on reality. (Gauch, Hugh G. 2003)
Ernst, Edzard. “Thirteen Follies and Fallacies about Alternative Medicine.” EMBO Reports 14.12 (2013): 1025-026. Web.
Gauch, Hugh G. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521017084. LCCN 2002022271.
Senapathy, Kavin. “Your Logical Fallacy Is Appeal To Nature: These 5 Natural Toxins In Food Have Caused Real Harm.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 30 Apr. 2017. Web. 22 June 2017.
Thompson, Bruce. “Appeal to Mystery.” Ad Hominem – Abusive. Palomar College, 08 Nov. 1997. Web. 22 June 2017.