Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why do we have to criticise fraud, scams and misinformation

It matters whether an explanation is true or not, because bad information has serious consequences:

People who believe in health fraud scams may die or they may fall into business scams, which means they will lose money.

This is some of the enormous consequence that people are to trusting of the internet. The web is rife with bogus pages and fraud, scams and misinformation, even content from typically reliable, authoritative sources can't always be trusted. Fraud isn’t always easy to recognize and spot.

Here come some of the good reason to distinguish between good science and bad science:

First Quack cures rob us of money, they are in the business (usually in order to make money or for ego gratification and power) of selling false hope to gullible people who may be genuinely suffering. Often providers require payment of large sums of money up front, before treatment is begun.

Secund patients aren't actually always happy. We hear the interesting stories, while stories without any effect aren't interesting enough to be told about. One may ask why? It might be because of pride, once a person has endorsed or defended a cure, or invested time and money in it, they may be reluctant to admit their error to oneself and to others.

Third people seems to be happy if the cure has a placebo-effect.

Medicines or treatments, known to have no effect on a disease, can still affect a person's perception of their illness. People report reduced pain, increased well-being, improvement and even total alleviation of symptoms. For some, the presence of a caring practitioner and the dispensation of medicine are curative in itself. A part of the placebo effect seems to be that a small improvement that is considered as an effect of the cure.

Placebo-effect could be reached much more inexpensive by eating a little bit of sugar. This one and much, much more have been reported as "placebo" effects in the scientific literature. In fact, there is hardly any human characteristic or problem that has not been shown to be affected by placebos in one research or other. We really want to believe that we are choosing wright.

Forth, the alternative or complementary health care provider can't describe why the cure works.

Fifth, they can't describe how many earlier patients with the same disease have been cured this way and what their results were.

Sixth, they can't describe side-effects. A side-effect is any effect other than an intended primary effect. It may or may not be expected, but it may even be harmful to your health.

Seventh, the alternative or complementary therapy might not always be covered by insurance, so it's on your own risk.

Eight, the highest price of health fraud, is that quacks can steal health away or even take lives. Quacks may lure the seriously and often desperately ill, such as people suffering from cancer, into buying a bogus cure. When people try quack remedies instead of getting effective medical help, their illnesses progress, sometimes beyond the treatable stage. A Norwegian investigation shows that the use of alternative medicine seems to predict shorter survival in cancer. This effect appears predominantly in patients with good performance status.

So we have lots of reason to be criticising fraud, scams and misinformation.

And reasons seem to be more and more weightier since misinformation and health fraud on the internet is increasing.

Further reading:

New England Journal of Medicine: Study Finds Placebo Effect Is Fake

See who links to your web site.