Friday, May 12, 2017
How Much Consumer Protection is Needed?
We would need a lot less consumer protection if consumers themselves spent more time thinking and researching and less time looking for easy answers and magical products. Slowing down to think and research relates to the dimension of critical thinking, which promotes suspicion of those easy answers that are so tempting when discipline fails us.
Here is an example of the importance of those practices. An Australian company is offering for $165 a product called a Geoclense Harmonizer. (You can order a configuration that plugs into electrical outlets in the US.) The name itself sounds healthy and friendly, but what does it do? “The Geoclense is a negative charge resonance field generator designed to balance positive charge resonance otherwise known as noxious, unhealthy energy created by all forms of EMR, RF, Wi/Fi, Earth Radiation and Bioplasmic Radiation to a healthier negative charge resonance.” That certainly sounds scientific.
The advertising goes on to list twenty-five individual types of "noxious energy" that you will be protected against. Under the Bioplasmic or Human-generated energy category they include “Negative Psychic impressions/Psychic attacks.” Under the General category, they include: “Baby Monitors, Bluetooth Devices and Noxious Resonance from Mould and Fungus.” You are also protected against stress from seismic faults and drinking water. All you have to do is plug it into the wall.
Looking at this list, it’s hard to understand what dangers come from all these sources of supposed radiation. Many tests have confirmed the safety of cell phones, so why would we fear Bluetooth devices or baby monitors? Should people really worry about the negative psychic impressions floating around the house? How does plugging a solid block of green plastic resin into the wall protect you from seismic faults, fungus, poor quality drinking water or any kind of radiation? The website never explains how it works.
The rest of the website uses testimonials and junk scientific “studies” to confirm the effectiveness. We hear how people felt so much better after plugging it in and see through Kirlian photography how their aura is stronger.
A real scientific study from an Australian consumer review organization tells a different story. The power of the Harmonizer is “based on the principles of 'orgonomy', which…was pioneered by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian psychoanalyst who died while serving time for refusing to obey an injunction against selling quack medical devices.” The review team tested the Harmonizer against seven of the company’s claims using simple tools such as a compass to detect the reported effect on the earth’s magnetic field. In all cases except one it failed to show any effect at all. Where it did live up to the company’s claim was the fact that “it uses absolutely no power. Hardly surprising for an inert lump of plastic, but it does beg the question as to why you need to plug it in at all.”
This product and others like it try to capitalize on public misperceptions like the fear of power lines that was popularized in the 1980s but has long since been debunked. Even without the benefit of the above review, it takes a minimum of critical thinking, research and common sense to come to the right conclusion about such products. We really don’t need the degree of consumer protection that Washington is always trying to enact and re-fund. We just need a populace with better scientific understanding and a willingness to spend a little time to think it through. Each $165 saved is an extra $165 toward paying off that mortgage or saving for retirement.