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Random pseudoscience

I’m putting off studying for my AI test, so here are a couple things you may or may not know (with no emphasis on being recent).

Kevin Trudeau (you know, that Natural Cures book that’s been at the top of charts lately) is a complete crackpot:

He says sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer. Instead (wait for it), sunscreen causes skin cancer.

For those who want to save their $29.95, here are the secrets to health the government is keeping from you, according to Trudeau:

Get an electromagnetic chaos eliminator. Do some “bioenergetic synchronization.” Give yourself some enemas, and then give yourself some more enemas. Wear white, for positive energy. Don’t use a microwave or an electric tumble dryer or fluorescent lights or artificial sweeteners; don’t dry-clean your clothes or use swimming pools or eat pork. Don’t use deodorant (causes cancer) or nonstick cookware (causes cancer) or watch the news (stress alters your body’s pH, which can make you get cancer). Remove the metal fillings from your mouth, and you’re all set!

Lastly, if you have depression, Trudeau writes, stop taking your medication and by all means stop seeing doctors, who can’t be trusted. Rather, go for a long stroll outside every day and “look far away as you walk.”

If that fails, the book advises you to try Scientology.

Trudeau says he has considerable proof of the conspiracy working against the health of the citizens of this nation, but the nation will have to take it on faith. He says there are “government agencies” and “entire industries” that are spending “billions of dollars” to keep people sick so they can continue to make money. He says he has Nobel Prize winners as informants.

“I can’t mention their names,” he says. “There’s a lot of insiders that I know, that are friends of mine, but I can’t mention their names because one of the reasons why I was capable of writing this book was I have so many insiders that give me the information. . . . And this is why everyone in Washington is frightened to death, and that’s why the government is trying to shut me up. Because they know that I know. They know I’ve been in the meetings. You know what it’s like? It’s kind of like I’ve got the black book with everyone’s names. And they know: This guy starts naming names, it’s going to be out of control.”

Next item: remember Erin Brockovich? Female lawyer stands up to greedy corporation that’s been polluting a town, causing grave health problems? Movie starring Julia Roberts? Not so much:

Erin Brockovich (a/k/a Erin Brockovich-Ellis since her 1999 remaraige to actor Eric Ellis) was a ho-hum legal assistant in California until she discovered that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) had leached trace amounts of chromium into the water supply of the town of Hinkley. She was almost instantly elevated to the role of people’s champion and parlayed the trace amounts of chromium into a $333 million dollar settlement on behalf of a number of Hinkley citizens, who, according to her, suffered from a variety of ailments caused by chromium toxicity. This modern account of David versus Goliath was compelling enough to be made into a Julia Roberts film hit, which, in turn, propelled the real-life Erin Brockovich to stardom on the lecture circuit. But a troublesome question lurks in some scientists’ minds. Were the riches and fame a reward for good science or good science fiction?

In 1999. the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) reported that residents living in the vicinity of the Hinkley site were not in danger because (a) the levels of hexavalent chromium detected in the ambient air were below the level of health concern; (b) no one was drinking the contaminated groundwater; and (c) the level of total chromium in the off-site soil was below the level of health concern; and (d)) no chromium was detected in the area’s supply; and (e) urinary chromium levels among residents with drinking water wells located over the plume of contamination were within the normal range [4].

Nobody contests the cause-and-effect link between inhaled chromium-6 and lung cancer. But ingesting trace amounts of chromium-6 is quite a different matter. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. has examined the issue extensively and found no scientific evidence that chromium-6 taken by mouth is carcinogenic [10]. This should not surprise a chemist because it is well established that hydrochloric acid (abundant in the stomach’s digestive juice) converts chromium-6 to the innocuous chromium-3.

Old news, but I only found out about earlier this year.

I wonder if someone will tell me I’m infringing on people’s right to free imagination by pointing out the movie isn’t based on fact.

And finally, a judge just allowed a the parents of a child with cancer to take her off chemotherapy and go with an “alternative” treatment. Specifically, Vitamin C therapy, which does nothing for cancer. Anyone else want to tell me that people not using reason and evidence in their decision making isn’t something I should care about?

Categories: Science, Skepticism
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