It’s always fun to look through the Wilton Continuing Ed catalog (Wilton, CT) and see if there might be some classes worth taking. The first entry is one that might be helpful for the gullible: Avoiding Scams. Of course you have to pay $15 for consumer information that should be free. Or $25 for non-residents.
- Well, right at the top of the list, about 4 entries down from the scam class is one on Digital Astrology. This is a double scam, because they are just going to teach where on the web you can find astrology information. No mention of the fact that astrology is a set of prescientific superstitions with no scientific backing whatever. Or as Phil Plait says in his Bad Astronomy column, “pure bunkum.”
- But there is more hooey, to come, starting with “Ancient Grains Meet Modern Palates,” a class on old grains from which most of our current useful grains were developed. But selling these grains is mainly a marketing technique (are you listening, Whole Foods?): they have no special nutritional value.
- The next scam is the Fire Cider Infusion Workshop. If you haven’t heard about Fire Cider, it is apple cider vinegar with garlic, horseradish, cayenne pepper and honey added. Apparently this is suppose to treat colds, but there is absolutely no evidence that it does anything at all. This workshops teaches you how to mix these ingredients and sends you home with a quart of spiced vinegar for $55. You can also buy some on Amazon for about $25, but again, there is no evidence it does anything. We wrote about the underlying apple cider vinegar scam a couple of years ago, It doesn’t work, either. And, if that isn’t enough, you can read “I used to be a Holistic Nutritionist.”
- You can’t get through these sorts of catalogs without finding Benefits of Essential Oils, today’s most popular scam. We wrote about these oils in our old Examiner column:
The idea of essential oils simply means the extraction of scented components from plants, and has been criticized on Quackwatch as having no real value. These scented oils, which are not inexpensive, may make your house smell nice, and may even help you relax, but they are regulated by the FDA as cosmetics and have no established medical uses, for the most part.
All of these essential oils are made by doTerra, a multi-level marketing company (anyone can become a dealer) a company that has been severely criticized for both their claims and their marketing in Science Based Medicine. Specifically, they imply a number of health benefits for these oils, but do not offer any evidence nor cite any clinical studies. Prices for these oils range from $20 to over $90 for 15 ml!
- And, right under that is a class in Chakradance. Never heard of it? Well, apparently chakras are 7 “energy centers” within your body, and Chakradance is a “holistic, healing and well-being practice.” Apparently, you should “allow Chakradance, through its intimate guided meditation and varying vibrational tones of its carefully composed music, to provoke spontaneous movement, images, and healing as each of your energy chakras are rebalanced.” If you see all those pseudo-science buzzwords in a single sentence, your scam meter should already be pinned! It’s difficult to imagine anyone taking this hokum seriously.
If that’s not enough, the same instructor also teaches similar hokum under the label of Tai Chi.
- And, to round out the scam catalog, we can’t help but note they are offering a class in Mindfulness Medtation. “Mindfulness” is the buzzword of last year, and it is difficult to avoid. However, a look at the article in Science-Based Medicine suggests it has little scientific basis, and Newsweek suggested last year that Mindfulness is a meaningless word with shoddy science behind it. Bingo! The scam meter pins again!