Dr. Joe Schwarcz on demystifying quackery

Over the years, I have written a lot about internet scams and pseudoscience. This happens mainly because of the frustration I experience seeing gullible people being taken advantage of by criminals who work across international borders to avoid the long arm of the law.

The scams offer the promise of vast wealth (lottery, wealthy person dying in a foreign country, stock that is about to increase in price, ...etc), cures to otherwise incurable ailments (cancer, arthritis, ...etc.), or tackling of intractable problems (overwight, penis or breast size, ...etc.) and many others.

Here are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Joe Schwarcz director of McGill's University office of Science and Society that highlight many of these issues. 

  • People seek simple answers to complex problems.
  • Some claim there are conspiracy theories and coverup by the establishment (scientists).
  • Infomercials have a lot of power over the average TV watcher.
  • Movies and TV programs about ghosts and talking to the dead cause the public to believe in psychics and such.
  • Quack medicine hurts more than physically: it hurts the mind by making it not think scientifically nor logically.
  • The vast majority of people lack the capacity or willingness to engage in critical thinking.
  • US Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a frightening example of ant science, because her belief in creationism dismisses the fossil record, carbon dating and many other scientific methods.
  • US right wing opponents of global warming cherry pick scientific evidence to convince the gullible.
  • The cure to all this is education at an early level, with the evidence on the process of reaching conclusions, not the conclusions themselves. Scientific method and peer review should be emphasized.

Certainly good points ...

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Comments

Agreed Totally

Though Khalid Baheyeldin I don't much agree with Dr. Joe Schwarcz all the way but a few point do pass the logic and make more sense then others.

"
# People seek simple answers to complex problems.
# Some claim there are conspiracy theories and coverup by the establishment (scientists).
# Infomercials have a lot of power over the average TV watcher."

Internet scams are there only cause people are desperate and they are seeking shortcuts. These shortcuts could be for wealth, fame, healths and what not.

I am a full time blogger and I spend most of the time on the internet posting on my own websites or reading and visiting other websites and come across number of people who have been scammed for one reason or the other.

I wonder when they'll start thinking straight and stop finding the shortcuts and start working.

Anyways Nice and Interesting Post. Wish could see a podcast on this.

John.