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Liar: How Pseudoscience Cause Problems

How can some misinformation cause problems?

You cannot go too far on the internet without finding some sort of ad or article on something that promises some sort of benefit by doing or eating some sort of thing.  You might see them on a website as an ad, particularly the ones promising extreme weight loss during a short period of time, or your crazy aunt or grandma or whoever posts an article from some website saying that GMO crops cause children to spontaneously combust or some other shit like that.

While some of these can be amusing to see, there is actually a downside.  People actually are believing everything someone posts without verifying facts.  It’s easier to read an article on popular news sites about “Bullshitexoticplant Cures Cancer!!” or diets that are “doctor approved” and promise fast weight loss, or even things like vaccines causing autism.

The problem with this is that harm CAN come from this.  Buying an ineffective supplement is one thing; the only loss is money.  However, harm CAN come from buying supplements that do not have accurate labels.  I already wrote about supplements here, so I won’t give more details.  With regards to diets, most fad diets that promise weight loss can actually cause harm.  Some cause water loss, which can dehydrate the person eating them.  Others can cause damage to the kidneys if done long-term.  Recently, the gluten-free diet has taken off, but it really only benefits those with Celiac disease, and can actually cause nutrient deficiencies in those without Celiac disease due to not eating nutritious foods, as many foods containing gluten also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.  And my final point with the anti vaccination movement, there is virtually NO evidence showing vaccines cause autism.  Vaccines, for the most part, are safe, and are only dangerous in people with weak immune systems, or contaminations.  The main article that found vaccinations causing autism has been since retracted, as there were large amounts of data manipulation.  As for why autism is diagnosed around the time children receive their vaccinations?  That’s correlation, not causation.  When they get vaccinated is about the time children start to have diagnosable symptoms.  Vaccines are a good way to keep everyone healthy, as they boost herd immunity, which is basically how sick or well everyone in a community is.

Now, as a reminder, this is not medical advice.  I spent the whole post talking about not listening to everything you read online, and this blog is no exception.  In no way should my opinions on things be taken as medical advice.  Ask a real doctor, not some dipshit nutrition student in college.

So what are your takes on this topic?  Any interesting ads promising outrageous things you have seen lately?

By The Nutrition Punk

I am a dietitian living in Portland, Oregon. I write about a variety of nutrition and heath topics, with the goal of improving people's understanding of food and nutrition so they may be empowered against all the misinformation that is out there.

One reply on “Liar: How Pseudoscience Cause Problems”

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