Why so many people fall for scams

Posted 05 August 2018

Why are there so many suckers? A neuropsychologist explains

The Conversation

Stacey Wood – Professor of Psychology, Scripps College

If you have a mailbox, you probably get junk mail. If you have an email account, you probably get spam. If you have a phone, you probably get robocalls.

Unwanted messages and solicitations bombard us on a regular basis. Most of us hit ignore or delete or toss junk mail in the trash knowing that these messages and solicitations are most likely so-called mass-market scams. Others aren’t so lucky.

Scams cost individuals, organizations and governments trillions of dollars each year in estimated losses, and many victims endure depression and ill health. There is no other crime, in fact, that affects so many people from almost all ages, backgrounds and geographical locations.

But why do people fall prey to these scams? My colleagues and I set out Read the rest

Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) podcast

Posted  21 May 2018

A podcast in Afrikaans of a discussion featured on the program, Uit ‘n ander hoek, on 20 May 2018.

“Goedgelowige mense word maklik deur kwaksalwers uitgebuit wat nuttelose en selfs gevaarlike middels ten duurste aan hulle verkoop. Jean Oosthuizen gesels met die wetenskapjoernalis, George Claassen, en die redakteur van, dr. Harris Steinmann, oor kwaksalwery en pseudo-wetenskap.”

“People with good intentions are easily exploited by scam artists who sell the costly and even dangerous products to them. Jean Oosthuizen talks with science journalist George Claassen, and the editor of, dr. Harris Steinman, about scams and pseudo science”.

To listen to the podcast

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Reviv – vitamin intravenous (IV) drips – a wellness ‘Drip Bar’

Posted 01 December 2015

REVIV, an international company which has opened its doors in Sandton, offers intravenous ‘treatment’ for a range of ‘conditions’. For example, “HYDROMAX rebalances your body with fluids fortified with electrolytes and antioxidants to maximize athletic performance”, “MEGABOOST restores your body with minerals, different anti-oxidants, electrolytes to bring your body back into equilibrium, maximizing your productivity, leaving you feeling healthy and refreshed”, “ULTRAVIV recovery infusion delivers anti-nausea medication, pain reliever, vitamin B-12 and an energy booster, this IV is best for those recovering from illness, hangovers or jet lag“. (underlining added) The infusion “ROYAL FLUSH” combines ULTRAVIV and MEGABOOST.

Is there any basis to these claims or is this pseudoscience at its worst? Even if the substances in these drips are 100% available in the blood, this does not necessarily mean that they will be more effectively used by the body than if … Read the rest

You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth.

Posted 22 December 2014

From the Guardian  5 December 2014

So how do you get healthy?
There’s no such thing as ‘detoxing’. In medical terms, it’s a nonsense. Diet and exercise is the only way to get healthy. But which of the latest fad regimes can really make a difference? We look at the facts.

Best to continue reading on the Guardian’s page, but if not accessible, continue below.

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Answering Our Critics

Posted 25 September 2013

[quote]Some people don’t like what we have to say on Science-Based Medicine. Some attack specific points while others attack our whole approach. Every mention of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) elicits protests in the Comments section from “true believer” users and practitioners of CAM. Every mention of a treatment that has been disproven or has not been properly tested elicits testimonials from people who claim to have experienced miraculous benefits from that treatment.[/quote]

This article, by Harriet Hall, and posted to Science-Based Medicine, beautifully responds to the numerous criticisms leveled at CAMCheck. As she explains: “Our critics keep bringing up the same old memes, and it occurred to me that rather than try to answer them each time, it might be useful to list those criticisms and answer them here.” (This is part one. Part two continues here.)

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South African quackery, from October 1887!

Posted 02 September 2013

This article from the South African Medical Journal, published in October 1887, shows that quackery is not a recent event in South Africa!

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Solal Technologies actively promotes pseudoscience … and here’s how

Posted 24 July 2013

This article is posted on

Kevin Charleston explains why he stands by the comments a popular vitamin company is suing him for.  Solal Technologies instituted a legal complaint against him for defamation: Solal objected to him calling them “a company that actively promotes pseudoscience”. They also complained about images used in the article – an image which he had no hand in selecting to accompany the article published on the Quackdown website (and also published on CamCheck).

Read further:’s-how

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More sex = a longer life? Really???

The local South African magazine Health Intelligence Edition 12 proclaims on its cover: "Passion promotes health – sex for a longer life".


(Note: The highlighting box has been added.) On page 20 the article has the title: "Sex, so necessary for positive health: sex is a buzzword that defies trendsetting and social mores, staying top of mind and tip of tongue" and is written by Kirsten Alexander.  It is seemingly supported by 12 "scientific references" .

The Solal Technologies website Health Intelligence includes the following "product information": "Health Intelligence goes further and deeper [than other health magazines], because our focus falls squarely on the facts. Health Intelligence offers breakthrough science, enabling you to better protect your health. Thoroughly researched and using only the latest, peer-reviewed studies by leading international and local experts, Health Intelligence articles are not only credible, they are revolutionary, all the while offering life-enhancing Read the rest

Spotting fake cures for HIV

"The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) regularly receives queries from people living with HIV questioning whether a particular product cures or treats HIV. Often the enquirer will be anxious about the high cost of the treatment. We also often receive emails and calls from the peddlers of these products, who clearly do not understand what the TAC does."

This super article on the Quackdown! website examines some of these trends.

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Reading between the Lines – How the growth of denialism undermines public health 

Espousing unproved myths and legends is widespread during the festive season, but some groups hold views contrary to the available evidence throughout the year. This phenomenon, known as denialism, is becoming more elaborate and widespread, and poses a danger to public health.

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