Thursday, June 10, 2010

VooDoo Science The Road from Foolishness To Fraud By: Robert Park

VooDoo Science is a book by Robert Park whose goal is to distingush real science from fake science by using the scientific method. The book's main purpose is to debunk pseudoscience or fraud. Pseudoscience is described as a theory that is reported or said to be believed, but has little to no scientific evidence. The books talks about inventions made by people and the claims that their inventions are effective and works efficiently and productively. As in any other book about pseudoscience, Park talks about why people believe these claims.

The claims that these inventors make allow the consumers to spend useless and massive amounts of money for satisfaction that can never be guaranteed. The reason people believe these claims is because we seek and search for things or cures to illnesses that seem so real, but it is actually superficial. An example of a product that promoted health and the elimination of pain is the Qray bracelet which was said to cure arthritis. Customers spent massive amounts of money and were never given the satisfaction to experiencing less pain. The company was eventually sued for fraud and had to pay customers their money back. Those who believed the product worked may have had some psychological problems and in all actuality, their problems were never fixed. The most interesting part of the book was the cold fusion experiment by scientists Pons and Fleischmann who are real scientists that promoted something which was later proved false and then attempted to hide the truth. This goes to show the extent scientists will go to sell or promote a product that simply does not work. The American society is so cruel that the inventors or CEO's are willing to do whatever and at any cost to make money.

My favorite part of the book is titled " Placebos have side effects", I found this part of the book interesting because people are used in actual testings of medicines and sometimes only given a placebo which makes them believe they are cured, or symptoms may have went away from simply taking a pill and recording the effect of it. The FDA was created to test unsafe products and to also stop unsafe products from being sold. Lawson, author of Scientific Perspectives On Pseudoscience and the Paranormal also describes the effect of placebo drugs and how they are sometimes illusory to people. I find it very odd that people who are given the actual drug and those who are given a placebo sometimes feel the same symptoms. The author suggests claims that may prove to be a form of pseudoscience such as scientists promoting products to consumers rather than other scientists,no true scientific evidence used to back up a claim and minimal to no work used in the invention of the product.

In my honest opinion I believe people want to believe they have encountered changes and therefore report false changes. I always see adds about clinical trials but I never find myself wanting to participate in one because I dont know how my body may respond to the drug and also testing a certain sample to represent the population isnt always good either, people have different effects from different drugs and those who make the drugs sometimes forget that. I liked this part of the book because it proves my point that all drugs arent good for you and there are different and sometimes deadly side effects, but im quite sure your rights are waived as a participant so there may be little to no legal action taken. I feel the overall theme of the book is to be smart when trying new products, dont believe everything you hear or see and use common sense, if it seems to good to be true than it probably is.
Sources: Park,R.2000.VooDooScience.oxford university press inc. NEW YORK,NY
lawson,T.2007. Scientific Perspective On Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Library of Congress. Saddle River, New Jersey

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