We all want to be healthy and make informed decisions when it comes to our well-being. That’s why we turn to influencers, scientists, and experts for advice. However, not all of them are trustworthy. Some individuals claim to be anti-pseudoscience, but in reality, they’re pseudoscientific charlatans themselves!
These individuals can cause genuine harm to humans by spreading misinformation, relying on personal biases, and taking away convenient and health solutions from people. Here are 7 signs to recognize a pseudoscientific charlatan masquerading as an anti-pseudoscience influencer:
- They rely on personal biases to contextualize science they agree with but remain silent or demonize science that goes against their ideology.
For example, an influencer who claims that certain vaccines are harmful to children but ignores scientific evidence showing that vaccines save lives.
- They are happy to take away convenient and health solutions from people.
For instance, a scientist who promotes a restrictive and unhealthy diet, despite evidence showing that balanced, tasty and varied diets with convenient foods are key to good health. They create problems and fears and not solutions.
- They spread bad information.
A classic example is a scientist named Andrew Wakefield who published a now-discredited paper in 1998 linking measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. The study was later found to be fraudulent and led to a decline in vaccination rates. Other scientists should be skeptical towards those scientists who generate such poor science.
- They care more about their career advancement, recognition and gaining revenue rather than helping human beings with tangible solutions.
For instance, an influencer who promotes a useless and expensive supplement or unsustainable diet instead of promoting scientifically proven and affordable solutions. Overpriced salt and electrolyte supplements sold to naive consumers are an example.
- They parrot anything mainstream without even extensively reading the science if it fits their bias.
For instance, an expert who claims that a particular product is safe and effective or dangerous and ineffective, simply because it's trendy, without doing any research. This is very obvious from many researchers, scientists and intellects demonizing erythritol, wrongfully, simply after reading headlines based on poor science.
- They use flashy headlines, anecdotes, and testimonials to persuade people instead of providing scientific evidence.
For instance, an influencer who claims that a product cured their disease without any scientific evidence to support the claim. Anecdotes can be a good starting point for developing a scientific hypothesis but it can't be used as a generalization for the public.
- They dismiss scientific consensus and peer-reviewed studies as a conspiracy or fraud.
For instance, a scientist who claims that climate change is a hoax, despite the overwhelming evidence showing that it's real and caused by human activity. On the flip side, you'll have charlatans who may be activists that may be exaggerating a certain claim or statistics. A lot of times science and truth relies heavily on nuance rather than dawning the mask of absolute certainty and polarization. Sadly, nuance doesn't radicalize or sell as much.
Pseudoscientific charlatans cause real harm by spreading misinformation and taking away convenient and healthy solutions from people. That’s why it's important to recognize them and call them out when we see them.
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