nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Supplement Scam. It Has To Be This Bad Before Gov't Can Act

It amazes me that people get so bent out of shape about medicines that have undergone an extensive approval process, but are accepting of alternative therapy scams.

From the Federal Trade Commission website (Aug 16), in re Central Coast Nutraceuticals, Inc,
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. district court has ordered the marketers of acai berry supplements, “colon cleansers,” and other products to temporarily halt an Internet sales scheme that allegedly scammed consumers out of $30 million or more in 2009 alone through deceptive advertising and unfair billing practices. The FTC will seek a permanent prohibition. Since 2007, victimized consumers have flooded law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau with more than 2,800 complaints about the company.
I see one of these legal actions about every week.  But the crimes go on....  There's a video on the FTC website from this company that is classic for deceptive techniques.  Imagine yourself not knowing about the above allegations; would you be influenced by it?

Go here to view the commercial:

Most of these naturopathy companies are smart enough to fly under the radar, so they continue to market nonsense to gullible consumers...often at great expense.

They stay under the radar through "weasel" words:  our product "may", "could", "in some cases", "according to testimonials," etc., that always fall short of claiming a definitive verifiable effect that could be tested.

As I've said here before, first ask yourself if what someone advertises sounds "too good to be true."  If it does, then it usually is.  Then just apply some common sense:  does it sound plausible that there's an invisible force that surrounds all our being and determines our health?  Any claims for unproven mechanisms of action should be viewed as fraud until proven otherwise.

To make it easier, I'm going to list physicist Robert L. Park's Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, in abbreviated form.  For a complete explanation go here.  Everyone who's exposed to claims of miracle cures and "new" alternative therapy breakthroughs should know these signs:
1. The discoverer [or company] pitches the claim directly to the media.
2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

I would add that the "real" cure is only available from the one who's proposing it.  Everybody else lacks the key ingredient or technique.  And it costs a lot, preying on our delusion that what costs more is more valuable.

Doc D

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