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Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Pseudoscience fights back

The guys over at Medgaget are guys after my own heart. After commenting on a dubious-sounding device called the emWave Personal Stress Reliever, which, as its makers claim, is Scientifically Validated:

Stress creates incoherence in our heart rhythms. However, when we are in a state of high heart rhythm coherence the nervous system, heart, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and we feel good emotionally. emWave Personal Stress Reliever helps you reduce your emotional stress by displaying your level of heart rhythm coherence in real time. But emWave does more than just display coherence levels. It guides you toward stress relief by training you to shift into a coherent, high performance state.

All that for only $199!

Of course, as Josh pointed out, the manufacturer neglects to provide any–oh– actual scientific papers in peer-reviewed literature to back up that claim). He also discovered that sometimes pseudoscience fights back, and his response to emWave’s public relations flack, who somehow found out his phone number and called him at home, is priceless:

In retrospect, we think it was the “pseudoscience” label that really ruffled emWave’s feathers. When a company stamps the term “scientifically validated” on their product, shouldn’t we just blindly accept that? Who would betray the sacred realm of scientific principles just to hock wares? Don’t ask questions. Don’t inquire. Blind faith got us this far, so just close your mind and enjoy the now stress-free ride. Honestly, to expect a company to back that up with even one legitimate publication is preposterous.

Of course Josh should! After all, we should take all advertising claims on faith, shouldn’t we? Indeed, I would suggest that alties should apply the same level of skepticism to advertisements by pharmaceutical companies that they do to ads for devices such as the emWave.

Josh’s description of his conversation with the emWave P.R. flack reminds me very much of a similar encounter I had with a P.R. flack for Ameriscan after writing to a radio station carrying its ads to point out many inaccuracies in Ameriscan’s claims. Funny how P.R. people for such dubious products fall back on the same sorts of strategies when challenged, regardless of what the specific product is.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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