There is a big
people who do
not know the
wish it were
|By Bryce Buchanan|
If you listed all the things people passionately want it would likely include: reversing the aging process to stay young and healthy forever, maintaining youthful sexual attractiveness and performance, losing fat and getting in shape without effort, curing currently incurable diseases, knowing the future, and communicating with dead relatives or other powerful entities in the “other world.” There’s no evidence any of these desirable things are now possible, but that’s not likely to stop a salesman. If there is a market, there is a seller. And there is a big market among people who do not know the difference between “I wish it were true” and “It is true.” For them the emotion of “I wish...” completely overpowers the critical thought of “It is....” Fraudulent products can be appealing to those who have never learned to evaluate claims and those who skip evaluation and act on their emotions.
Last April, radio talk show host, Dr. Dean Edell, reported on a dangerous health fad, the Kombucha mushroom (not actually a mushroom, but a fungus you grow in a bowl of water). Two deaths had been attributed to eating the fungus. Edell listed the many health benefits claimed by the promoters, saying there is no evidence to support any of these benefits. The next day he reported he had received numerous calls asking where one could get Kombucha. Edell also told how years before his television program documented a “psychic surgeon” using chicken guts and blood to fake operations. After the show, many people called to ask how they could find the surgeon for treatment.
If a sucker is born every minute, then conversely, con-artists are born to take advantage of them. Hucksters offer miracle cures, wondrous fat reducing products, the fountain-of-youth, and intervention with Powerful Forces in the sky on your behalf. Their unspoken motto: “If you wish it were true, we have a product for you.”
Oregonians For Rationality can act like a consumer protection agency by exposing fraud (see the James Randi story) and educating consumers. Our March 8 speaker, Joe Schnabel, will discuss the growth of non-scientific health care in Oregon. This is especially important because consumers of fraudulent medical care can lose more than just their money.
While on the subject, here’s a health tip you should remember: Always take your vitamins in alphabetical order. It hasn’t been proven necessary, but why take chances?
On another subject, Bill Capron and I recently received a call from a Portland resident about a haunted house. Oregonians For Rationality is not listed in the yellow pages under Ghost Busters - yet, somehow he tracked us down as an organization that investigates paranormal phenomena. He had a detailed story about two ghosts that live with him. I haven’t decided yet whether to pursue the story or the ghosts.
Finally, let me give my predictions for 1996. At the end of the year you can pull out this issue and judge for yourself the extent of my psychic powers:
1. Major earthquakes will cause many deaths. Floods too ...and hurricanes;
2. some very famous people will die, including movie stars;
3. I foresee increasing partisan political bickering throughout the year, culminating around the first of November;
4. I foresee religious wars in many countries;
5. bad weather will destroy a portion of the citrus crop;
6. several celebrity couples will file for divorce; and
7. Princess Di will be in the news.
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