Tag: scams

Ten products you can skip –as seen on TV

Ten products you can skip –as seen on TV

Cable news, even when its reporting is sound, is rife with advertising of products you never heard of. And for good reason, advertising is relatively cheap on cable news and anyone can flood the news with “wonderful new products” that probably aren’t that great.

Prevagen does not improve your memory, as explained in this Harvard Health blog. . You have probably seen Prevagen ads everywhere. Targeted particularly at seniors who may experience normal word finding difficulties, the claims may mention “studies,” but not “doctors,” because no doctor recommends. It. Allegedly extracted from jellyfish (apoaequorin) actual studies have shown no significant effect, although by rearranging their data (called p-hacking) Quincy Biosciences has claimed it does. The FDA does not agree as explained in this Science Based Medicine article. The Global Council on Brain Health concludes that  “there is no convincing evidence to recommend daily dietary supplements for brain health in healthy older adults.”

The ASPCA does not help your local animal shelter. Despite their tear-jerking ads, the ASPCA is a New York City organization, and is not an umbrella organization for your local SPCA. Give to your local animal shelter instead. Further the ASPCA has been criticized for euthanizing pets rather than saving them.

Zerowater is a water filtering pitcher which takes about six minutes to filter a quart of water. Consumer Reports rated it Very Good and the competing Britta filter Excellent. It takes only about 1:15 to filter a quart of water. However, the Zerowater seems to removes 98% more contaminants. Unless your tap water has an unpleasant taste or smell, these may not  be that valuable.

Mr Clean Magic Eraser.  These products look like a good idea and have positive reviews, although it is not clear how they improve on a damp paper towel and some SoftScrub.  According to reviews at The Spruce, “Because the eraser works by scrubbing at the surface with tiny but extremely hard threads, you should not use on highly glossy or satin finishes….it is not appropriate for paneling or wood finished surfaces. It will strip away the surface and create damage and the sponge does begin to break down after [several] uses.

Tac Shaver by Bell and Howell. The reviews of this shaver are mixed, but according to this review apparently it didn’t last long and the beard trimmer didn’t do much. The Bell and Howell company you may remember from years back essentially got out of the technology business in the 2000’s and is now just a name owned by Westview Capital Partners.

COQ10 with Turmeric – If you are taking statins, a COQ10 supplement won’t do much of anything more. And turmeric is mostly good in curries.

Flex Seal is one of those As Seen on TV pitches you probably are skeptical of. You should be. It works for some things, but has a cumulative review of 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Yoshi Copper Grill MatIt “sort of works” but can’t be placed over an open flame. You could use it on a gas grill with covered burners, though.

Spin Power – is a multi-outlet charging station for your cordless devices. It does not include any spot for phones that can be charged by induction. It has mixed reviews on Amazon as you might expect from anything from ASOTV.

WATCHMAN – is an implant from Boston Scientific for stroke prevention. It is FDA approved and in wide use, But it was criticized in a handful of studies cited by Dr David Becker from Chestnut Hill Temple Cardiology and by Dr John Mandrola of Baptist Medical Associates of Louisville. If you are a candidate for this implant, discuss these objection with your cardiologist. The product has been generally  successful.

Spurtles – I never heard the word outside of the commercials from Lucinda’s Kitchen. They seem to be a set of wooden kitchen utensils made of acacia wood. Lucinda claims these exactly fit pans and jars and are more useful than what you have now. (I seriously doubt that.) You must hand wash them rather than tossing them in the dishwasher. This review calls them low-quality, not durable and having delayed delivery.

Wilton Continuing Ed promotes scams

Wilton Continuing Ed promotes scams

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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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!