Amazon’s role in promoting woo

I’ve said this before, I know, but I am very unhappy with the way Amazon uncritically promotes woo.

There has been some progress, in that eBay is now less infested with MMS and HCG diet products, but it’s hard to reconcile any form of consumer protection with Amazon’s Kevin Trudeau store – they are actually still selling the book for which Trudeau is currently serving jail time for fraud.

Today I saw another example. Matt Traverso is an American crank and alkaloon.  His claims on diabetes are, as Jo Brodie notes,  misleading and unsubstantiated. Not that you could tell from Amazon’s blurb for the book. Of course it’s credulous: it comes direct from the publisher, who is hardly going to admit that the book is a crock.But that’s no excuse. Any retailer who uncritically repeats bogus alternative health claims, is taking a part in advertising health fraud, and should be robustly challenged.

In an ideal world, Amazon would not stock this tripe. Jim Humble’s quackmungous “Master Mineral Solution” would not be on sale there, and neither would “Dr”. Hector Remero’s “Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century” (as far as I can discern, Remero is at least partly responsible for reintroducing the fraudulent Rife machine into currency).

Realistically, Amazon are never going to withdraw products just because they are dangerous nonsense.

Two possibilities spring immediately to mind:

First, we can go the ASA route. Amazon’s pages are advertisements, point of sale material, and they are clearly covered by the Code of Advertising Practice.

Second, we can lobby Amazon to flag alternative medical claims with a prominent banner.

Can you think of other ideas?

A Dullman story

You have probably guessed that I don’t hold much of a brief for tireless homeopathy shill Dana Ullman.

I recently critiqued his tirade in the Huffington Post which claims that Wikipedia is dysfunctional in its coverage of homeopathy. One of my criticisms was that he cited the 1997 paper by Klaus Linde and colleagues and not the 1999 re-analysis by the same team. This is important because the 1999 paper finds that study quality has a material affect on outcome, with poor quality studies being likely to produce positive outcomes and higher quality studies producing less positive outcomes. It explicitly notes that their 1997 conclusion is unsound in the light of this.

I naturally assumed that Dullman did this because he ignores blog posts, tweets and other commentary from skeptics. That’s a reasonable assumption: it’s taken him a long time to amend his mendacious claims about the “Swiss report” even though his claims for it have been refuted in print.

Apparently I was giving him way too much credit. Last night, Edzard Ernst related an anecdote to me: Ullman had cited the 1997 Linde paper, and Ernst challenged him face to face. As they were talking, Klaus Linde himself walked by, and Ernst called him over. Linde explained to Ullman why he should not cite the 1997 paper’s conclusions.

So actually Dullman is using an unsound conclusion despite having been told, in person, by the lead author, that he should not do so.

HuffPo really need to drop this man.

Google wins the internet, owns antivaxers

Today was the centenary of the birth of Jonas Salk, a real-life hero who developed the first killed polio vaccine and gave it to the world free of patent rights.

Google celebrated this with a Doodle:


And the best bit is, there is no Comments section. The legion of the deranged, deluded and dysfunctional don’t get to spread their fantastical nonsense and try to shout down all comers, as is their usual wont. I hope Google write a pithy response to them when they email in, as I am absolutely certain they will.

Antivaxers: you have been owned. Suck it up.

Proud member of the reality-based community

Site last updated October 31, 2014 @ 12:37 pm