How con artists get the better of you

Posted 26 February 2016

This article, titled Mind games: How con artists get the better of you, was published in the New Scientist magazine on 20 January 2016. Subtitled, What drives cheats and fraudsters to lie at the expense of others – and why do people fall for their stories?, it is written by Maria Konnikova. This piece was adapted from her new book, The Confidence Game: Why we fall for it… every time.

She makes a number of salient points which apply to many of those featured in CamCheck.

A few extracts:

The snake oil salesman – the peddler of false cures to the masses – is at least several centuries old. In the late 19th century, an actual seller of “snake oil”, Clark Stanley, plied his trade through dramatic demonstrations with rattlesnakes, promising an end to everything from headaches to paralysis. The public flocked to Read the rest

Diatomaceous Earth

Posted 18 February 2016

I have been asked a reader about the therapeutic benefits of Diatomaceous Earth. It is promoted by a few sites as being of therapeutic benefit, e.g., as an “internal cleanser”, “removing toxic metals” and being a detoxifying agent. Some sites (e.g. http://diatomaceous.org) make even more ludicrous claims such as “boosts the healing of fractures”, “slow the degenerative process of ligaments” and “improve your overall health and well being”.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) (“Unbiased, Scientific Clinical Information on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies”) makes NO mention of therapeutic benefit.

PubMed (“comprises more than 25 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books”) was searched for information. Only ONE single study has evaluated this substance for therapeutic benefit: a single study (1998) demonstrated a cholesterol lowering effect in a small group of … Read the rest

Vaginal ‘detox pearls’: the latest in our toxic obsession with disinfection

Posted 11 February 2016

“One of the most popular disinfectant cleaning products sold today was commonly employed as a post-coital douche in the 1920s. Yes, that’s right. The brave women of yesteryear were routinely douching with Lysol to get rid of unwanted odours and also as a form of birth control.”

“In the intervening years, women have learned that we don’t need Lysol to safeguard our dainty feminine allure. We now know that our vaginas are, for the most part, self-sufficient and self-cleaning, naturally able to regulate pH levels with a spate of healthy bacteria and microorganisms.”

[quote]First it was Gwyneth Paltrow advising us to steam our vaginas; now it’s ‘detox pearls’, little sachets of aromatic herbs inserted into the vagina, that are intended to ‘detox’ a woman’s womb. I am not kidding you with this shit.[/quote]

Read the full article by Madeleine Somerville, published in The Read the rest

Homemark Aragan Eyelash Growth Enhancer – not actually!

Posted 10 February 2016

Homemark has advertised on television and on their website, that Aragan Secret Eyelash Growth Enhancer, can among other, “Increase[s] the length of your lashes and gives you noticeably thicker lashes within only 4-8 weeks of use”. [Our emphasis]

Homemark’s independent expert, Ms Janine Wilson of Botanichem CC, claimed that these claims were true and therefore the claims made for the product, to be valid. The study she evaluated claimed eyelash growth was roughly 1,1 mm for Homemark’s product and 0,9 mm for the competing product after one month. No proof was supplied that the ‘competing product’ can result in eyelash growth. Importantly, eyelashes normally grow  approximately 4,5 mm per a month!  As the ASA noted: “From this perspective, it is worth pointing out that the respondent’s product appears to have added 0,2mm of growth after a month’s worth of use. The Directorate is not Read the rest

Why We All Fall for Con Artists

Posted 08 February 2016

Matthew Hutson (Science of Us – New York Times) interviews science writer, Maria Konnikova about her book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It … Every Time, published by Viking.  In the interview, she makes the following pertinent points:

[quote]The more we want something to be true, the more skeptical we have to be.[/quote]

Asked if certain types of people are more skilled or motivated in conning, she replied:

[quote]In my book I talk about the dark triad of traits: psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism. Any of those can predispose someone to being a con artist. In order to be a con artist you have to take advantage of other people’s belief in you, and psychopaths don’t really have a conscience, so it’s much easier for them to take that step. Narcissism, you have to have an overinflated sense of self in order to… Read the rest

Pill maker -CNT Labs – under fire over its Banting claims

Posted 4 February 2016

From TimesLive

Aarti J Narsee | 04 February, 2016

A pharmaceutical company manufacturing “Banting friendly” supplements and products was found to be dishonest and asked to withdraw its claims.

Three complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority of SA against Banting Support Range products.

The advertising watchdog agreed with the complainants and ordered CNT Labs – a division of California Pharmaceuticals, which supplies stores including Clicks and Dischem – to withdraw its “approved Banting friendly” claim immediately.

The complaints, which focused on a Facebook advertisement, claimed the advert was “misleading” and “dishonest”.

Read the rest

Five Questions To Ask When Considering Health Supplements

Posted 02 February 2016

This article written by Katie Worth, Tow Journalism Fellow, is published in FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism School Fellowships

[quote]Given this framework, there is little to guarantee that any vitamin, mineral, probiotic, sports supplement, herbal treatment, or other dietary supplement is safe, effective, or even contains what’s on its label. [/quote] [quote]While there are no guarantees, there are steps consumers can take to improve the chances that their supplements contain what they claim to, in the labeled quantities, and that they may indeed have a health benefit. Here are five questions a consumer may want to ask when considering supplements:[/quote]
Read the rest

Pink Bikini, Shorts on The Beach Dietary Supplements by Lucy’s Weight Loss System: Recall – Undeclared Drug Ingredient

Posted 01 February 2016

Although this USA Food Drug Administration (FDA) recall is USA specific, it reminds us that adulteration of supplements with undeclared drugs is always a risk. These products were tainted with Sibutramine, Phenolphthalein, and/or Diclofenac.

Read the rest