Though we spent about nine months of the year focused almost exclusively on COVID, we did find time to debunk pseudoscientific nonsense. Here are the top 10 junk science and bogus health claims we debunked in 2020.
Dr. Mark Hyman, who pushes alternative medicine and nutrition pseudoscience, compares processed food to the Holocaust, fabricates statistics, and takes a swipe at the American Council on Science and Health. That was inadvisable.
We normally butt heads with the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But its recent attack on Joseph Mercola's magical COVID cures deserves praise. CSPI could be a great organization if it focused more on eliminating quack medicine and less on labeling bacon as causing cancer.
DeSmogBlog, a climate activist website that ruthlessly smears scientists, is headed by Brendan DeMelle, an anti-vaxxer who helped RFK, Jr. write an infamous and since-retracted article linking vaccines to autism.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is often consulted by the media as a legitimate voice on scientific issues. On some topics, such as the worthlessness of many dietary supplements and the dangers of raw milk, CSPI is absolutely correct. On other topics, such as sugar substitutes and pesticides, it spreads misinformation.
As is the case every year, 2019 was full of junk science, bogus health claims, misinformation, and outright lies. We debunked scores of them this year, but the following list is what we consider the top 10.
For many years, one's family motto has been “often wrong, never in doubt.” Overconfidence is a cognitive problem, present to lesser and greater degrees in us all. And it grows in the presence of two conditions.
The New York Times ran an Op-Ed about the wellness industry that asked, "Why are so many smart women falling for its harmful, pseudoscientific claims?" Gee, maybe it's because they also read about the benefits of witchcraft in the very same newspaper?
Jeffrey Smith, a yogic flying instructor who leads the Institute for Responsible Technology, an anti-GMO organization, is now encouraging cancer patients to forgo modern medicine in favor of natural remedies from Asia. If patients follow his advice, they will die.
Gwyneth Paltrow has a great career. Not many actors can match her cinematic résumé. So why she feels the need to become America's second-biggest health scam artist -- after Dr. Oz, of course -- is absolutely mind-boggling. Netflix will launch a series of health shows featuring Ms. Paltrow and her bogus claims this autumn. Doesn't she have enough money already?
In the mid-19th century, traveling medicine shows became all the rage. They were basically like small circuses that also peddled phony medicine. Today, we may laugh at how gullible we once were. But charlatans like Dr. Oz are the modern-day equivalent of that traveling con job.
With so much disinformation on the Internet, debunking junk science and bogus health claims could be a full-time job. Indeed, "debunkery" is one of the main reasons why ACSH exists. Narrowing down a full year's worth of nonsense into the 10 worst bogus health stories is quite a challenge. But we never shy down from a challenge. Here are the stinkiest stories from the past 12 months.