Quack Word #20: ‘Iatrogenic’

July 3, 2007 29

Iatrogenesis is not a concept that is confined to quackery, but like most of the words in my Quack Words series it tends to show up more often than not on quack web sites and so can be a good quackometer word. Iatrogenic illness covers the concept of harm having been done by the healer. Harm could come from many quarters including mistakes in diagnosis or treatment, professional negligence, adverse [read more…]

Quack Word #39: ‘Superfood’

February 2, 2007 10

Regular listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Womans‘ Hour will have recently heard nutritionist Suzi Grant extolling the virtues of so-called superfoods. Quackery, I say. But what on earth can be wrong with a superfood? Surely eating foods rich in nutrients has nothing to do with quackery, but is just common sense? I don’t think it is quite that simple, and I would contend that anyone using the word ‘superfood‘ is [read more…]

Quack Word #16: ‘Nutritionist’

November 21, 2006 7

A regular comment to me is to ask “why have I got it in for Nutritionists?” Surely, these are dedicated health professionals who do wonders for peoples’ health by improving their diets and making sure people take the right supplements, if required. Well maybe. The problem is that so many nutritionists are not doing this and often resort to pseudoscience and quackery. This week’s Quack Word blog entry will argue [read more…]

Quack Word #40: ‘Energy’

October 12, 2006 12

Or ‘How to be debunked by a nine year old schoolgirl’ In the special world of the quack, the crank and the pseudo-scientist the word ‘Energy’ holds the highest place in the league tables of misappropriated and abused language. I often get complaints that the quackometer only spots quacks and lets cranks off the hook. That is deliberate on my part – one thing at a time. The crank is [read more…]

Quack Word #3: ‘Doctor’

September 5, 2006 28

UPDATE 12/2/07 Congratulations to Ben Goldacre and the crew at Bad Science for getting Dr Gillian McKeith banned from using the title ‘Dr’. In today’s Guardian she is fully exposed as a Menace to Science. The Advertising Standards Authority have agreed that her use of that cheaply acquired title is thoroughly misleading. One down…************************************************************ Yes, I know. This is surprising quack word, but let me explain. I’m not really writing [read more…]

Quack Word #12: ‘Organic’

August 25, 2006 18

I believe that organic food is a con, is not necessarily more healthy for you, tastes no different, and is damaging to the environment. There, I have got that off my chest, but unfortunately I now feel like I have just admitted to being a child murderer, a racist or even a supporter of George Bush’s foreign policy. Let me explain… The word organic is now synonymous with everything good, [read more…]

Quack Word #37: ‘Holistic’

August 11, 2006 3

As you know, the quackometer works by counting words, or combinations of words, that strongly suggest the web site is full of quackery. I thought I would write about a few of those words and why they are dead give-aways. So, ‘Holistic’ – not in itself necessarily anything to do with medicine, but this word is often used with medicine when quackery is at work. Why is this and what [read more…]