Viewpoint: Profiteers exploiting complexity of cutting edge science like stem cells

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Editor’s note: Timothy Caulfield is Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta and author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture And Science Clash.

Quantum physics is now used to explain and market a host of ridiculous ideas and products. This is done not because it actually explains anything related to the relevant ideas and products, but because it sounds so darn sciencey. Invoking quantum physics – which, in the world of real science, is used to describe the nature and interaction of energy and particles at the smallest scale – gives pseudoscience the feel of legitimate science.

It is a tactic that is used by more than just nutty celebrity profiteers. Health-care providers, including physicians and, most often, alternative providers often turn to sciencey-sounding terminology to paint a veneer of scientific legitimacy over unproven or completely bogus practices.

In a 2015 study I did with my colleagues Christen Rachul and Ivona Percec, it was found that the phrase “stem cells” is often exploited to sell cosmetic and anti-aging products, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the claims.

Being scientifically literate can help. Critical-thinking skills are becoming increasingly important and should be taught early and flexed often. In addition, we need a strong regulatory response to the truly misleading sciencey noise.

It is no surprise that the language of science is being used (and abused) to market nonsense. But don’t get fooled by this rhetorical sleight of hand. Be skeptical. Think critically. And look for the real science.

Read full, original post: In 2018 we need less nonsense and more science

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