This researcher may have discovered the antidote to health bullshit

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By Julia Belluz and Alvin Chang

Andy Oxman is obsessed with the study of bullshit health claims and how to prevent them from spreading.

For decades, he’s been trying to find ways to get adults to think critically about the latest diet fads, vaccine rumors, or “miracle cures.” But he realized these efforts are often in vain: Adults can be stubborn old dogs — resistant to learning new things and changing their minds.

So Oxman, now the research director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, started to wonder whether the best hope for bullshit prevention lay with children. To put this idea to the test, back in 2000 he visited his then-10-year-old son’s class.

“I told them that some teenagers had discovered that red M&Ms gave them a good feeling in their body and helped them write and draw more quickly,” Oxman said. “But there also were some bad effects: a little pain in their stomach, and they got dizzy if they stood up quickly.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – For decades, he’s been trying to find ways to get adults to think critically about the latest diet fads, vaccine rumors, or “miracle cures.” But he realized these efforts are often in vain: Adults can be stubborn old dogs — resistant to learning new things and changing their minds.

    It’s an urgent problem in some areas where quackery confidently poses as offering expert advice, products, and services, from within an enclosed bubble of ignorance!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40274493

    A Belgian court has given six-month suspended jail terms to the mother and father of a baby boy who died after being fed a diet of vegetable milk.

    They were found guilty of causing the baby’s death unintentionally.

    The baby, Lucas, weighed just 4.3kg (9.5lb) when he died aged seven months, dehydrated and malnourished.

    The parents, from Beveren near Antwerp, ran a health food shop and fed him for four months with milk made from oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa.

    The mother did not produce breast milk and the baby had refused infant formula.

    Lucas died on the way to hospital in Hasselt in June 2014, after a homeopathic doctor had advised the couple to call an ambulance.

    Vegetable milk lacks the nutrients essential for infants in their first year. The parents said they had resorted to it because they believed Lucas was lactose- or gluten-intolerant.

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