How to Inoculate your Self from Pseudoscience

Like me, I am certain you are constantly bombarded with information and claims about various products, treatments, and lifestyles that promise to improve our health, appearance, and wellbeing and enable you to live your hash-tag-best-life! Am I right?

However, how much of this ‘information’ is based on scientific evidence?

Not that much, instead much is based on pseudoscience, aka – a set of beliefs or practices that are presented as scientific, but are not based on evidence or sound scientific methods. Or as I like to call it pseudobabble.

So how do you inoculate yourself?

The good news is it isn’t that hard to do. Here are my starters for ten…

Look for evidence-based information

The most reliable way to determine whether a claim is based on pseudoscience or science is to look for evidence-based information. This means looking for studies that have been conducted using rigorous scientific methods, such as controlled experiments and randomized controlled trials. These studies also need peer review – meaning other experts read it and criticize the socks off it.

Be cautious of anecdotal evidence

Anecdotal evidence, such as personal testimonials, is not a reliable source of information. People’s experiences can be influenced by many factors, including their beliefs and expectations, and may not reflect the reality of what is happening. As we are social creatures, we have a tendency to OVER rate anecdotal evidence. You probably notice savvy companies using it, Okay I use it to in testimonials because they work. However I am not selling you psuedoscience, I promise in the name of both my late grandmothers.

Check the credentials of the person/organisation making the claim

The credentials of the person making a claim are important because they indicate their level of expertise and knowledge in a particular field. It is best to look for information from sources that have a background in science, medicine, or a related field. So if Kim Kardashian or Gwenyth Paltrows try to sell you product ‘based on science’ for your vagina, run for the hills.

Be wary of extreme claims

Extreme claims that promise quick and dramatic results should be approached with skepticism. In most cases, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Consider the sources of funding for research

It is important to consider the sources of funding for the research that supports a particular claim. Research that is funded by companies that stand to profit from the results should be approached with caution. This one can be tricky and isn’t always that easy to find. But in general look to those peer reviewed publication rather than research publish by the same people selling you something. Forgive me for getting repetitive but if Gwyneth or Kim publish research your vagina health, see above (aka run for hills).

A final warning is that we all tend to think that we are more ratonal and less likely to be influenced that we really are. We all biased, and these biased tend to have us support or believe information that supports our existing beliefs or indeed might meet a need we desperately want – such as looking all shinny like a Kardashian.

Yours as Ever

Dr Rachel

The Evidence-Based Coach

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