Scientifically Proven

THE CONTRARIAN   The claim ‘Scientifically Proven’ is a good sign of a scam. The claim ‘Unconditional money back guarantee” is usually a sign of a scam.  If you see both together, it is almost sure to be a scam.

Engineers are scientists, and I am here to tell you that ‘scientifically proven’ is impossible most of the time. Science is not a closed book, we are making new discoveries all the time, and each new discovery shows that something we thought was scientifically ‘proven’, is wrong, especially in what is called the ‘soft sciences’, but even in such hard science fields as physics.  Too much of what passes for science is found looking at an isolated effect rather than a whole spectrum, sort of like looking through the wrong end of a telescope and seeing what looks like a picket fence half a mile away, then looking at the big picture and seeing the picket fence is really the teeth of a wolf about to devour you!

Too much is based on fractured logic, as in roses are red; roses have thorns, therefore everything red has thorns.

Too much is based on extrapolation.  A typical test for toxicity of say a new medicine is to feed increasing quantities to a flock of rats, then dignifying the dose that kills half of them by calling it ‘LD50’ (lethal dose 50% of the time).  Divide that by 1000, and that gives you the promoted, ‘scientifically proven’ safe dose.  Guinea pigs are a thousand times more susceptible to dioxin than rats.  If we are a thousand times more susceptible to the poison being studied than rats, the ‘safe dose’ is not safe at all, 50% of us will die!  On the other hand, if a quart of alcohol will kill most men, then by this method a safe dose is a quart divided by a thousand, say about a teaspoonful.  So a ‘scientifically proven’ safe dose of wine would be a teaspoonful, while our dietitians claim a glass of wine a day is ‘scientifically proven’ to be good for you.

In other words, ‘scientifically proven’ is an advertising term, and means nothing.  Similarly, no guarantee can be ‘Unconditional’ – there are always conditions, such as you have to prove you actually purchased the item.  Just advertising terms.

It seems there are many more scams being tried now that the internet has made it so easy to contact so many people, but they have always been with us, in flyers, magazines, on the back of comic books (Have muscles like Tarzan by using this new gizmo 15 minutes a day!) Some 60 years ago one of our neighbours was impressed by an ad in the Free Press Prairie Farmer.  “New Breakthrough Fly Killer”, the ad proclaimed.  Scientifically Proven! Unconditionally guaranteed!  So he sent in his $9.95, and waited patiently for his new scientific breakthrough Fly Killer, maybe even inspired by Martians!

He breathlessly uncovered it when it finally arrived, to find that it contained a block of wood, and a small wooden hammer, along with the instructions “place fly on block, hit with hammer”. What could he say; it actually does kill flies as claimed!  Scammed!

Unfortunately the art of the scam has entered too much of our daily lives including our governments, our politicians and political causes. Save yourselves some trouble, and maybe even $9.95 for a block of wood, by looking at every extravagant claim with great suspicion.

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