Happy week after Thanksgiving, #sciencebabeshills! I trust everyone had a wonderful holiday, everyone’s family got along perfectly, nobody was nagged about when they’re having children, nobody heard any bullshit about gluten from their aunt who read it “somewhere on the internet,” and nobody had to do something as inane as cook a meal in a separate pot because they were hosting such a strict organic vegan that they couldn’t get the essence of… whatever… on their cookwear or other such stories that I may or may not have heard.
#ScienceDog and I had a great holiday with friends and we’re back home to write a short weekly woo now. Buddy has owned me as his human for two months. He and #ShillCat, i.e. Lexi, are finally getting along. It took work, consulting with experts and seeing a dog trainer. It’s very strange to see Lexi, who literally (correct use of literally) used to piss herself in fear of the dog, now curled up in my lap, purring, and get kisses from the dog. So in that spirit, this weekly woo on the rule of bullshit detection…
“If they can’t describe what it cures and how in one sentence (and they’re selling it), it’s probably bullshit.”
So much bullshit falls under this. A ton of autism miracle cures, chiropractic “medicine,” and one of my personal favorites, essential oils! They cure everything! Headaches, anxiety, athlete’s foot… and maybe even a cure for cats and dogs fighting, of course! Sometimes you can find all of these in one office. Nobody can ever define how it works, and somebody is always selling it (while telling you not to give your money to big pharma, of course).
Essential oils have become hot recently, and not just because they’re sitting on a lamp diffuser. Companies like Young Living and DoTerra are fighting for supremacy of a one billion dollar industry. For all their sales pitches attacking evil Big Pharma for selling their evil chemicals and drugs (which have a huge burden of proof for safety and efficacy), you’d think they’d be a little less transparent about how driven they are to find new sales people for their multi-level marketing sales industry. And make no mistake, they are an unregulated industry. And yes, oils are chemicals.
But they don’t fix a damn thing. Doctors go to four years of medical school plus residency and internship, they give up a social life and invest a ton of money to learn how to prescribe real medicine and help people. They can cure quite a bit and there’s a myriad of published research to back this up. Conversely, what do you need to sell essential oils? It varies by company, but to sell things that “treat” a variety of ailments, it includes spending $500 on a kit and then saying things like this:
Prey on the sick vulnerable with claims that are, at best, a correlation to why you got better, and can show zero explanation for why you are feeling better. And of course you’re making a profit on this. But you don’t do it for a profit, you’re just doing this out of the goodness of your heart. I’m sure.
Do you think this is real medicine? Hint: when was the last time you bought ciproflaxin for a UTI at a party, barefoot, while eating hummus and pita chips with your girlfriends while gossiping about whether bangs are in this season?
But I’m not the only one who thinks that the essential oil bullshit peddlers are, well… bullshit peddlers. Enter the FDA.
When their advertising claimed, with zero reputable studies as backup, that their essential oils could inhibit a laundry list of things, the FDA grabbed my rule of “citation or GTFO.” Their list included “Herpes simplex virus, Influenza, Measles, Neuralgia, Neuritis, Pneumonia, respiratory viruses, rhinitis, shingles, sinusitis and tuberculosis, canker sores, chicken pox, cold sore, colds, flu, fungal infections, MRSA, shingles, warts and viral infections, MNV (non-enveloped murine norovirus), athlete’s foot, candida, canker sores, Ebola virus, intestinal parasites, ringworm, staph infection, and whooping cough.”
Here’s the problem, you get a study like this, that says that clove oil may be “antiviral” and it doesn’t say to what degree, the dosage, if it was tested in humans (it wasn’t, because of course it wasn’t), if it can kill certain viruses or is just adjunctive therapy, and if you don’t ask questions? A woo peddler can and will use a published study like that to say “this is antiviral” and allow a consumer to think that an essential oil, which should be used for nothing more than making your room not smell like you were just smoking something even more herbal, into thinking that it will stop you from bleeding from the eyes.
Which it fucking won’t.
Now, onto the people who sell essential oils and other cures for autism and vaccine alternatives, chiropractors! Earlier this week, I received this email:
Naturally, the email was from a chiropractor at Horicon Family Chiropractic. For the record, I do not own stock in Pfizer and I have never dated a chiropractor.
I don’t date fake doctors.
Let’s be clear, chiropractors are not just a fancy back massage. Some chiros solely adjust your back and so I keep hearing “this chiro helped me with back pain.” Those chiros are few and far between. Horicon adjusts babies.
To quote my friend Penn Jillette, “those baby twisting mother fuckers.”
Allow me to remind the chiropractic field that we also don’t perform colonoscopies until people are fifty. Please, when gluten-free stops being trendy, don’t make infant colon hydro-therapy into a… Thing. Please just stop at this level of moral bankruptcy.
I would say that this is a new trend in chiropractic, but chiropractic itself? It’s only about a hundred years old and the entire premise makes it clear that the field is blatantly bullshit. A magnetic healer adjusted someone’s spine and he allegedly regained his hearing, and thus chiropractic bullshit was born. There are no nerves in the spine that can cause deafness or cause you to regain hearing. Tattoo that backwards on your ass, chiropractically adjust something and stare at the mirror for a while until it sinks in that the profession is founded on a stinking pile.
Ask someone to explain chiropractic in one sentence? You get a lot of Bullshit (at about the 6 minute mark, and it gets really good at about 7:30).
A lot of chiropractors have gotten deep into the woo business of attempting to cure autism, selling homeopathic remedies (and we know my opinions on that), selling alternative vaccines, and telling parents not to vaccinate in general. Well, modern medicine hasn’t answered every question yet. Just because you’re sick doesn’t mean the medical field has failed, it means we haven’t found a treatment for you yet, and as for autism? The “autism miracle cure industry” is not going to cure your child’s autism. All it’s going to do is lighten your wallet, possibly further injure your autistic child, and buy the chiropractor a Porsche.
As phrased here in an interview with several doctors and a few chiros, “Just because some planes crash doesn’t mean you should start using flying carpets.”
I’m an analytical chemist. What do I do? I make new methods for GC analysis of formulations and technical standards of my company’s products. See? One sentence, and what I do every day is fairly complicated. If somebody can’t summarize what they do in one sentence and they’re trying to get you to part with your money, it’s almost definitely bullshit. Don’t give your money to someone for a miracle treatment if science can’t explain it, and worse, if they can’t explain it. The only thing it will treat is their need for more money. Just remember, the carpet will never fly, and no amount of snake oil is going to make the cat and dog get along.
Well, maybe a quick adjustment will help: