Same ol’ same ol’ snake oil

Until science comes up with a solution, we will all keep getting older. And with age, comes health issues. The inevitable consequence of jucies and enzyme drying up, tendons tightening, and muscles loosening.

Like many people my age, I’m getting more and more interested in ‘wellness’ as a concept. If I can hit old age in the best possible shape, it might make my life a lot more pleasant. Right?

Lately, I’ve read a number of articles in reputable places (too reputable to mention or list here) and been disturb to realise how frequently they are actually sales pitches for modern day ‘snake oil’. Fortunately, these articles all seem to follow a similar template and are, therefore, easy to identify.

The template for selling dodgy health products

  1. Instill concern in the mind of the reader by quoting statistics that demonstrate their personal health is at risk. For example, at the start of the article there is a “startling fact” such as “90% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin B12″.
  2. Build credibility for this argument by quoting eminent scientists, particularly Nobel Prize winners. Everyone trusts a Laureate.
  3. Offer a solution that’s unique to a single company or product.
  4. Reinforce credibility by the use of metrics that sound scientific, but are actually quite meaningless. Typically something like: “Our vitamin B12 has a 27% higher metabolic conversion than our competitors”.
  5. Sound like a physician and give very exact, pedantic instructions on dosing, etc. Ignoring the fact that the reader may be a 100lb girl, or a 300lb 50 year old male.

In some instances the author even helpfully lays out each of the above points as an individual paragraph. But, sometimes you have to work a little — not a lot— to put a checkmark on all of the above points. Next time you read a wellness article that appears to be the solution to your problem, run through this checklist. You’ll be amazed! I promise.

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