Friday, January 29, 2016
Yet Another Magic Bullet
January must be the month for “magic bullets,” products, services and secret tricks to help you avoid the hard work of staying healthy in a simple, but often not affordable, way. On January 4, I gave examples of magic bullets for physical health in the form of “healthier” foods that are natural, organic or some other special description that has been accepted without proof to be better. On January 8, I discussed the “brain training” industry and their claims to be able to stave off any number of mental problems. What all these have in common is that they present or imply scary problems, like contaminated food or Alzheimer’s disease, and then try to sell a solution that requires less effort or less critical thinking with an unscientific solution.
The topic this time is detox. This website gives a detailed description about how popular promotion of detox programs are not legitimate. The term is a real medical service term “provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances—usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body.” What is popularly promoted is not the same.
What's being promoted today as detox is “little different than eons-old religious rituals of cleansing and purification,” but in the twenty-first century they must use science as justification instead of religion.
No scientific evidence exists to prove that detox treatments have any positive effects on the body's ability to eliminate waste products. They are promoted either by charlatans or by people who do not understand the way the body works. They are another distraction, an empty promise, a magic bullet that only serves to distract people from what needs to be done on a daily basis to stay healthy. The website goes on in more detail but concludes that it is not possible to “undo lifestyle decisions with quick fixes.”
Nothing is scarier than some unknown threat that may be lurking around the corner waiting to pounce when you least expect it. The appeal of all these magic bullet solutions is that they offer to let you in on some secret that relieves you from the fear of the unknown, whether it’s pesticides, dementia or imaginary toxins building up in the body. The snake oil salesmen are more sophisticated than when they drove from town to town in horse-drawn wagons, but their products and methods are pretty much the same. (The result is pretty much the same too, with people falling for the scientific-sounding jargon without a clue about the probable ineffectiveness and the possible danger.)