Kaci Hickox at her home in MaineSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Every day seems to turn up opportunities to abuse science in new and perverse ways, especially when it comes to health. You open a newspaper or news site, and you read about a health claim making the rounds: a diet that will give you the energy of a teenager, an exercise routine that will elongate your legs, a policy that will protect Americans from scary viruses…

In the interest of the correcting the record, we rounded up the most egregious abuses of health science in 2014…

1) We can stop Ebola by cutting off West Africa and locking up health workers

The Ebola epidemic was the biggest health story of the year and arguably one of the most important global news stories. But almost as soon as the virus turned up on American soil — in a Liberian man who has since died — dubious claims about travel restrictions started to go around. In particular, there were politicians who argued that travel bans and quarantines were needed to protect Americans from Ebola…

Governors in a number of states, including, New York and New Jersey, called for 21-day quarantines of health workers…

The trouble with trying to muzzle the virus through travel bans and quarantines is — as every single public health researcher and official noted — we have seen time and again that they don’t work. That’s why science-minded men and women were monolithically opposed to these measures.

Luckily, the great travel ban and quarantine caper coincided with a mid-term election in November and then quickly disappeared as soon as the ballots were cast.

4) Gwyneth Paltrow: water has feelings and you can add length to your legs

Gwyneth Paltrow is also not exactly known for doling out evidence-based wisdom. But she brought her ignominiously bad science to a new level in a May 2014 edition of her newsletter goop:

I am fascinated by the growing science behind the energy of consciousness and its effects on matter. I have long had Dr. Emoto’s coffee table book on how negativity changes the structure of water, how the molecules behave differently depending on the words or music being expressed around it.

In the newsletter, a supposed health guru named Habib Sadeghi also wrote:

Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto performed some of the most fascinating experiments on the effect that words have on energy in the 1990’s…In his experiments, Emoto poured pure water into vials labeled with negative phrases like “I hate you” or “fear.” After 24 hours, the water was frozen, and no longer crystallized under the microscope: It yielded gray, misshapen clumps instead of beautiful lace-like crystals. In contrast, Emoto placed labels that said things like “I Love You,” or “Peace” on vials of polluted water, and after 24 hours, they produced gleaming, perfectly hexagonal crystals.

You don’t need me to explain why this is total crap. It’s flat out ridiculous, and one of the worst assaults on science from a public figure who should know better.

RTFA for more details about each of these – and several more.

Dr.Oz, Congress, vaccines causing promiscuity, gluten, e-cigarettes are characteristic of Americans believing crap, inventing crap to believe, believing crap that crap sellers produce to get people most of all to buy their crap – and on and on.

  1. The Don says:

    I have to disagree with some of the article …
    I was rather caught by the “ugly and beautiful” water crystals photographed in the 90’s… did he make it up?… was it all a hoax?
    OK, the “water has feelings” is a gross exaggeration of the scientific claim, but there are real results to be seen.

    The e-Cigarettes produce water vapour (with nicotine and flavouring). The “we dont know the long term effects will be” could also be applied to GMO foods…. which I am against, but not on scientific grounds.
    Here in the EU, the tobacco industry heavily promoted FUD and regulation of the E-cig market, all whilst silently performing years long studies. Ostensibly, this was done to make the market harder to engage in for the newcomers.

    Being scientifically minded, I have to agree with most of the article though.

    Bear in mind, although I clam to be scientifically minded, I do love looking into things like the Fleischmann/Pons experiment, overunity experiments, and conspiracy theories and…. 🙂

    • Wrigsted the Dane says:

      Ok, how do you get water vapor when heating a liquid which is a 90% mixture of propylene glycol and glycerin + 10% flavors and nicotine? Why do people think that vapor is automatically water? You only water vapor when you heat water, fools.
      And no, I have nothing against e-cigs, use them myself, but I read this stupid shit all the time even from people who use e-cigarettes.

      • Tim says:

        You are correct about the water vapor — In this usage, anyways. When things are burned, water vapor is produced… If something is ‘burning’ in your e-cigs then you are doing it wrongly, people.

        I’m brand new to e-cigs myself but have been on that steep learning curve this past week (own coils, cotton wicks, glycerine mix/dilution). Naturally, it did not take long to notice the politics of the devices; The desire to tax and regulate as more and more revenue from tobacco is lost.

        But currently, there is no justification for taxation of the e-cigs or nicotine because when the patents ran out on nicotine patches then all of a sudden it is not nicotine, per say, that is ‘addictive’ — This allows the patches to be sold over the counter but the prices for the amounts of nicotine available are still greatly inflated and the method of delivery not satisfying to a life-long wet snuff user.

        Currently, there is no tax on nicotine and the e-juice price is the same from 36mg/ml down to 0mg/ml. Harm would have to be shown from the devices themselves for taxation to seem to be justifiable.

        ^^ That makes me nervous about some things which possibly could be intentionally adulterated to cause harm (such as that 99.5% pure on the Humco glycerin — is the rest really just water as it is a UPC and listed as ‘anhydrous’??). There have been concernes raised about microscopic silica from the stock wicks as well as particles of metal (presumably from the fine threads of the devices in questionable quality metals). I have been wary of propylene glycol as I did not understand why it should be included in the ‘snuss’ products instead of glycerine but conflation has occured with confusing propylene glycol with diethylene glycol — Many people were poisoned back in 2007 when batches of the former were cheapened up with the latter by prudent Chinese manufacturers.

        I can see what will happen — glycerine will be futher restricted, glassware and glassware working tools (such as the mini butane torches) will be restricted, … , ‘Kanthal’ heating wire will be restricted. A totalitarian technocracy is terrified of *dual use* items.

        It used to be that the true test of any tool was it’s greatest ‘utility’ or finding uses of it for which it was not otherwise intended. <– Could that 'really' be why everything from Malwart is crap now, even when it makes them no extra moola to make it so??

  2. ECA says:

    Something to note.
    The human body is very interesting.
    It can DO or DO without certain things, for a TIME..
    Putting to much of anything into it is not good.
    General EATING is supposed to supply our bodies with the Little things that Accumulate and help us, and you wouldnt believe how long the list of materials are in our bodies.
    Iron, copper, Calcium, Amino acids(23 of them)..
    But certain FACTS do exist..
    1. we still dont know how 1/2 of our systems work..or how to FIX them.
    2. we dont know HOW our system absorbs materials..
    3. Loss of Some materials over a period of time is detrimental. Lack of Vitamins..ANY of them..Lack of Amino Acids, lack of IRON, Copper, Zink..
    4. WE need animal FATS, in our systems. those are the building blocks, they have more in them then most MEAT..
    5. Bacteria, is interesting, FOSTER the good. defend from the bad. DONT KILL the system to get rid of a cold. it just means the Whole system needs to start from scratch.
    6. over processing food? takes what we NEED out of our food..

  3. Ah_Yea says:

    Gwyneth Paltrow said it so it must be true.

  4. Tim says:

    how the molecules behave differently depending on the words or music being expressed around it.

    Oh damn…

    Non-Newtonian fluid on speaker:

    It rather reminds me of an old episode of Gumby where Goo changes shape and busts apart due to a dissonant racket…

    All Broken Up (1968):

  5. McCullough says:

    Just a crazy thought, but as to the mistrust of science generated by the contradictory statements of the gubment and the CDC during the Ebola “scare”..you can lay that at the feet of the “scientists” and gubment themselves.

    To blindly believe anything that spews forth from the leadership in this country, is dangerously naive.

  6. mo says:

    In order for water to be affected by the I hate you vial wouldn’t it need to be able to speak english to know what I hate you means?

    Or when it was spoken did he really hate water? Hydrophobia may explain all of this

  7. spsffan says:

    Whoops! “vaccines causing promiscuity” how did I miss that!

    But it depends on what you mean by “causing”. The birth control pill caused a whole lot of promiscuity as far as that goes. Heck, it spurred (pardon the expression) the sexual revolution.

    And well, Gwyneth Paltrow, what do you expect? She’s a Pisces :).

  8. NewFormatSux says:

    The top of this list should include ‘if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor’ ‘Premiums will not go up, not a single dime’ ‘The health care plan reduces the deficit’

    • Phydeau says:

      Still drinking that Fox Obamacare koolaid, I see. 🙂

      • Phydeau says:

        The modern “conservative”: Knee-jerk opposition to everything Obama does, even if it’s a warmed-over rehash of a Heritage Foundation health care proposal. 🙄

      • McCullough says:

        Did Obama promise these things or not? To be clear, this was not a minor mistake, those of us caught up in the Obamacare scam are not amused. And you don’t even WANT to know how it has affected me personally. So what’s your point Phydeau?

        • Phydeau says:

          By all rational measurements, Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) has been a success. People signing up for it, paying their premiums, number of uninsured people going down, health care costs increasing slower or going down. But nothing is 100% successful, and if you have been negatively affected by it, that’s too bad. It happens.

          • Phydeau says:

            Whoops, I used that word unfamiliar to Fox wingnuts… “rational”. 😉

          • Phydeau says:

            pedrito, you’re so cute, especially when you’re ranting’n’raving. Go ahead, tell us how Obamacare is like The Holocaust! No, like mass murder across the United States!!!! OMG OMG!

          • Phydeau says:

            Thanks for your unique contributions, pedrito. 🙂

          • McCullough says:

            Well bogus claims are the theme of this post, so well done.

            “Health care costs increasing slower or going down”, Har, what kind of bullshit doublespeak is that anyway?

          • Tim says:

            ^^ Zing!!!!

          • NewFormatSux says:

            More koolaid.
            If you are hurt by it, you are in the minority. Everyone else is doing great. Celebrate!

          • NewFormatSux says:

            Yes more companies are coming in, because ObamaCare provides for bailouts the next two years if you don’t make money. So they can afford to take a chance and come in with low premiums and small networks. It is the existing plans that get affected with higher increases or reductions in coverage. Hence the ‘you like your doctor you keep your doctor’ claim is bogus.

            The basic plan is that companies will steadily see their health care plans taxes until they stop offering coverage. Meanwhile the exchanges will force people into smaller and smaller coverage networks, especially with IPAB encouraging cost cuts.

            According to the ACA, IPAB cannot be repealed by Congress except for a certain 30 day window in 2017, and its decisions cannot be overturned by Congress. Seems they knew these death panels will be unpopular.

          • Phydeau says:

            Yes, it’s complicated. We’ll see what happens. ACA is handicapped by right wingers who refuse to believe anything good can come out of government, and who will sabotage it any way they can. Because if government ever can help the people, their tiny little heads will explode. 😉

          • Tim says:

            Google is not your friend, Phydeau — I just ride it for free like the cheap surveillance whore it is so I can then bragg to my *real friends* that “Google fucks retards for free…”

          • Phydeau says:

            Yes Tim, for “conservatives” who need their reality in black&white, google is not their friend. Too many bothersome shades of gray…

        • NewFormatSux says:

          He is right. Health care inflation has been coming down for about 10 years now. Health insurance costs have not gone up, they have gone down. You may think they have gone up because of your personal situation, but consider how many like you just stop paying. Their health insurance cost is now zero!
          Hard to beat a hundred percent reduction.

        • NewFormatSux says:

          Also, a 2.2 billion dollar cost for HealthCare.gov.
          Can we get Mark Perkel to give us an evaluation of this invoice?

  9. Jim Jones says:

    Obamacare koolaid is extra strength mass poison.

    Fox is just trying to warn the dumb ass public not to drink it!

  10. Cap'n Kangaroo says:

    It only took approx 15 comments to digress into an “Obama is the root cause of Everything.” On a topic not even remotely political.

  11. Supreme Ultrahuman says:

    I believe we should all eat scrambled eggs for breakfast because space is cold.

    • Kerpow says:

      You must be an egg farmer. I call conspiracy!

    • Tim says:

      Last I recall (and that was a long, long time ago so I’m probably blowing that out my spinchter-enveloped void), all of space averaged out was about 4 kelvin – not that cold, yet.

  12. NewFormatSux says:

    Those Harvard liberals who championed ObamaCare don’t seem so happy about it when they find out they are the ones paying for it.


    • Phydeau says:

      Yeah, Harvard had a cushy health plan, now they’re facing reality like everyone else.

      Until the Republicans in Congress with their cushy free healthcare start paying for it themselves, spare me your outrage. 🙄

      • NewFormatSux says:

        They were going to, sponsored by Sen Grassley of Idaho. Then Pres Obama illegally changed it so members of Congress can put themselves and their staff on an exempt list.

    • Phydeau says:

      And BTW, liberals in general have championed single-payer health insurance, cutting out the fat insurance company middlemen, like every other civilized country. Obamacare is the invention of the right-wing Heritage Foundation in the 90s, implemented first as RomneyCare in MA. If you weren’t a right-wing idiot you’d know this and could avoid embarrassing yourself.

      • NewFormatSux says:

        You keep telling yourself that. RomneyCare wasn’t as bad because liberals had already jacked up the prices in Massachusetts.

        Somehow the predictions of right-wingers at the Heritage Club and elsewhere keep coming true, and liberals start whining about single payer is better.


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