On 9 October, Sense about Science, a charitable trust based in London that works with 3000 young UK-based researchers, published a pamphlet detailing how its irked members had telephoned numerous companies to ask how their products actually worked. Some of the answers are simply amusing, but others - for example, herbal products that claim to clear the body of 100 parasite species - shocked those making the calls.Read the full report here [pdf]. In one of the funnier (sadder?) exchanges, a company rep for a parasite-removing potion sends one of the skeptics a link to a Wikipedia page listing both real and fictitious parasites.
"The saddest part is that a lot of people who buy these things are desperately ill, perhaps with cancer or multiple sclerosis," says pamphlet author Frank Swain. Yet the firms "seemed completely unprepared for anyone to take issue with their products," says co-author Alice Tuff.
Oct 16, 2007
young scientists bring the skepticism