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.
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is a new book by neurologist and science communicator, Dr. Steven Novella. It is both an easy read and a great reference.
It was discovered that Ali Watkins, the newspaper's national security reporter, slept with a source who was an aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That source has now been arrested as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information. A breakdown in journalistic ethics, to say the least.
Dr. Oz is what would happen if Alex Jones and Mother Jones had a baby. And perhaps short of murdering somebody on live TV, there is literally nothing Dr. Oz won't say or do for money.
Dr. Oz is a fraud who ought to be fired from Columbia University and have his medical license revoked. Instead, he's headed to the White House.