Eat this and never suffer from heart disease—the numbers in our small study are conclusive. Drink that and prevent cancer—we know what your doctor won’t tell you. Take this supplement and feel younger—it’s a Hollywood secret. Use this scientifically proven face cream and your wrinkles will vanish in days. Believe and manifest the reality you want to live. Control your body on a cellular level and live like a king…
The lure of pseudo science is seductive. Newsfeeds on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are filled with new “discoveries” and “ancient remedies” that sound like magic, because they are magic—in the sense that your money magically disappears. Add the anti-aging creams in women’s magazines with long lists of ingredients that fall into the either the “exotic all-natural” or the “clinical/medical” categories to the paper thin TV reports on new breakthroughs and the pseudo science mix in the media, and you have a lot of unsubstantiated claims and outright lies.
Why am I blogging about this? It’s fascinating! It reveals our obsessions with youth, beauty, and health. It demonstrates how tailoring a pitch with just the right amount of “science” will sell the otherwise impossible lie.
I came home last night and felt drawn to a homemade poster revealing the great secret about SIN—that it is connected to an amino acid in tears. The poster looked like a cut & paste homework project with images sourced from the back pages of women’s health magazines with handwritten black marker explanations about this scientific revelation. It was leaning against a wall in the Union Square station, across from the young man with a typewriter offering poetry written on the spot and a couple of lonely Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I couldn’t help myself. My brain started spinning stories about the way a few “science-y” words or references to ancient wisdom transform a boring report on a study too limited to be significant or a thesis too silly to be taken seriously into something that gets normal people to jump and possibly pull out their credit cards.
The seductive nature of pseudo science is great fiction fodder. It’s MAGIC!