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Quackery is alive and well in the United States. There are plenty of web sites promoting unproven medical products, and other sites that help you to tell what's for real and what isn't.

If you're considering the magnets that are widely available today, read this: http://www.katv.com/sos/archive/110598ro.html [Wayback archive] . For more details, see Magnetic Health web search for Magnetic Health.

Learn the Balance Bracelet Benefits web search for Balance Bracelet Benefits.

Read comments about Alternative Migraine Treatment web search for Alternative Migraine Treatment

Here are some other sites reporting on quackery:
Quackwatch - the definitive starting point for this sort of thing.

National Council Against Health Fraud

Healthcare Reality Check - from  Georgia [Wayback machine]

Healthfraud discussion group (with archives back to 1997): http://www.ssr.com/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi/1

Mayo Clinic's Health Oasis newsletter provides a good introductory article on the subject in their article Medical Quackery Alive And Well web search for Medical Quackery Alive And Well (originally published at http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9706/htm/medical.htm [Wayback archive] ). They also have a list of places to report health quackery: http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9706/htm/medi_2sb.htm [Wayback archive] .

To learn how to evaluate health websites, people should visit the Health on the Net Foundation. This is an international body based in Switzerland that promotes the HON Code of Conduct for online health information. Sites that meet their standards may display the HON logo (something folks should look for).

Also, see The Skeptic's Dictionary of Alternative Medicine

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices was featured on BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3022930.stm
OUCH!!!

Sources of Reliable Information

It's all too easy for the promoters of some product to convince a prospective purchaser of the value of what they're offering by citing some study or other. Such studies may well have been conducted at prestigious universities. The promoters might accurately claim "Johns Hopkins University study on pyramid power shows pyramids bring on sense of wellness."

The first thing to understand is that the mere fact that some respected institution performed a particular study offers does not mean that anybody associated with that institution thinks that whatever was being studied has any serious potential value.

Every testable hypothesis is a proper object of study, and personnel at every institution are willing to perform such studies as long as there's somebody willing to provide a grant. So the fact that a study was performed means only that somebody was willing to pa y for it.

The results are what count. Omitting the possibility of bias on the part of the researchers, results can be expressed in a way that lay persons don't necessarily understand. Results can be significant for instance, even if the effect that was observed was minimal. If they "warrant further study", this probably means that the study produced no "significant" results. A person who wants to convince somebody of the value of their product can selectively extract from the results and misleading the prospect.

Abstracts of many medical studies are available online from NIH at no charge. Here's a sample:


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