Monday, November 5, 2018

British Columbia (Canada) Chiropractic Org Crack Down on Spurious Claims by Members, How About US?

You will often find that chiropractors claim to be able to treat everything from ADHD and Alzheimers to diabetes, infertility, all the way to Down's syndrome, and they are all over websites, blogs, and social media postings. There is absolutely ZERO evidence chiropractic can treat those afflictions. It seems one professional organization is finally doing something about these unsupported claims... and it's a chiropractic organization.

College of Chiropractors of British Columbia (Canada) has warned all members from making efficacy claims in its latest policy clarification, mandated any claims to be removed ASAP, and the deadline passed three days ago (on 01-NOV-2018).

What is also interesting is BC Chiropractors are NOT allowed to give public opinions about vaccination (for or against) as chiropractors are NOT trained in infectious diseases. Yet it didn't stop some chiropractors, including two BC College of Chiropractors board members, from taking an antivax stance on social media. Both promptly deleted their antivax post after being reminded of the college policy. And one vice-chair has resigned after posting a video claiming a smoothie is more effective than a flu shot at preventing flu.

So where are such regulations or policies in the US?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

MLM Genre Analysis: CBD products have HUGE risks not understood by participants

Some of the more recent MLMs have latched onto CBD, or cannabidiol as their next big thing, and several companies have started selling products based on CBD oil for topical and other uses. However, what those people failed to consider is CBD is NOT legal in all 50 states. That's right, holding CBD oil in certain states can get you arrested for drug possession, which can RUIN YOUR LIFE!

Fact: DEA considers CBD oil as a schedule I controlled substance, with ONE exception


DEA considers CBD oil "marijuana extract" and remains on schedule I (same as cocaine and heroin). DEA has allowed a specific formulation, containing less than 0.1% THC, and approved by the FDA, to be reclassified Schedule V. This happened in October 2018.

This is often misquoted by CBD advocates as "DEA legalized CBD" when nothing of the sort took place.

With that said, DEA has bigger fish to fry, like the opioid epidemic. But it's illegal. And if your state law enforcement wants to bust you, it can, as a man in Indiana found out. He was arrested for possessing CBD oil and prosecutors chose not to charge him because the state legislature made CBD legal AFTER his arrest.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Scam Psychology: Engaging Antivaxxers: What I learned from them vs. Scheme Denialists

Recently, I engaged a couple antivaxxers on Twitter. It was a learning experience. One just wants to talk about his conspiracy theory (There is no reason for the government to care about your health!)   (Uh, what about taxes?)  while the other ONLY want to talk about the harm done by vaccines and ignore all the good it did (Let's talk about how many children the original Salk vaccine harmed...)

Let's be absolutely clear here: Yes, the original Salk vaccine did sicken 200 children and killed 10, but it also saved about 15000 (or even 20000) children from paralysis THAT YEAR ALONE!  Go ahead, Google that yourself. A vaccine that saved 98.6+% of the children (210/15000) from a crippling disease such as polio was a success, NOT a failure!

But the anti-vaxxers only want to talk about the children that were harmed, not the 14000+ children saved that year from paralysis. They are NOT interested in seeing the whole picture.

I am not going to provide a blow-by-blow of my encounter. I'll just say that as predicted, they engaged in multiple goal-post shifting (trying to shift the topic), citing bogus experts (Mercola), claiming conspiracy theory and Galileo gambit (Wakefield and Sears), outright refuting facts ("measles is not dangerous"), name-calling ("Where are the honest provaxers?") then concluded with pigeon chess mixed with conspiracy theory ("You are stifling dissent, but you can't suppress the truth forever! ")

And this is the virtually identical pattern to the financial denialists I've engaged before. Except they want to somehow prove their pyramid or Ponzi schemes are legitimate money-making enterprises. Which pretty much proves that more than a few scammers are "financial denialists".


Sunday, July 22, 2018

How to Combat Falsehoods: It's NOT a matter of opinion or being neutral!

As a skeptic, it is often troubling to see the amount of bogosity available in public, much less the Internet, where anyone with some free time can offer advice, and many people just eat them up, with absolutely zero due diligence about the veracity of the information received. It doesn't help when social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on help (inadvertently) spread the misinformation.

Recently, a post on Slate documented how the subreddit /r/askHistorians struggle to control the deliberate misinformation campaign by Holocaust deniers, and how social media, afraid of lawsuits, basically left them to say ANYTHING they wanted. Fortunately, that subreddit has a crew of volunteer moderators that use the banhammer when it was called for.

And what they found about Holocaust deniers applies to ALL sorts of deniers, such as antivaxxers, pyramid scheme and ponzi scheme proponents, and so on. You should go read the article yourself, as I will only be discussing their findings.  Deniers generally use these tactics:

1) Cite bogus experts who are proven to have ignored facts that did not fit their narrative, or experts who had nothing to do with their field, but merely sympathetic to their field.

Holocaust deniers cite David Irving and Fred Leuchter

Antivaxxers cite Andrew Wakefield, Bob Sears, and Mercola.

Scam proponents cite their own leader(s) or uplines

2) Cite minor mistakes in citings and frame it as "Just Asking Questions"

Otherwise known as "JAQing off", this technique requires a lot of effort to dispell since there are an infinite amount of details they can focus on while sounding earnest, usually by leaving out the context of the question.

Holocaust deniers deny fundamental facts about the Holocaust, such as the number of deaths, whether Nazis have a campaign of extermination, and so on.

Antivaxxers are well known to deny that vaccines work at all, whether vaccines have eradicated most infectious diseases, and even deny that some infectious diseases are deadly.

Scam proponents are well known to deny their scheme is a scam, often even AFTER the scam had been shut down by authorities. They will often deny pyramid scheme by obfuscating-conflating it with "pyramid organization".

Attempting to engage them by doing the research does not appease them, but instead, waste a TON of time. They are NOT interested in the facts. Their questions, seemingly innocent, casts doubt on the facts: "if they didn't get this 100% right, what else did they get wrong?"

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Anatomy of a Scam: How "Verification Code" Scam Works

If you post anything for sale on Craigslist, you can be unwittingly enlisted by a scammer to be an accomplice, even if you don't accept the offer.

The scam usually goes like this.

A) You list something for sale on Craigslist. It doesn't matter for what.

B) You get a text reply, that goes roughly like this:

X: I want to buy (insert product name). Is it still available?

YOU: Yes it is.

X: I sent you a verification code from (X). Prove to me you are real by sending me the code.

(X) can be Google, Yahoo, Craigslist, Microsoft, etc.

C) A few moments later, you get a text message from a "short code" (4-6 digits only, not a phone number), it may or may not be in English.  It does contain a code.

At this point, you should cut contact with the scammer. 

The scammer is registering a new account on (X). However, instead of entering their own phone number for verification, they entered YOUR phone number instead. Thus, (X) is verifying that the request came from you. (Not the scammer)

If you give scammer the code, you have linked YOUR phone number to scammer's account. You also enabled them to get an account they shouldn't be able to otherwise.

This has various consequences when the scammer's account is eventually banned for scamming. Usually, it means you will be unable to register for any new accounts. using that phone number. In the worst case, police may track you down instead. And you will have a hard time explaining why is your phone number used to register a scam account.

The effect of this differs by service.

On Craigslist, the scammer can now post ads for 90 days without further verification.

On Google, this can enable them to obtain a Google Voice number (for phone calls and text) and Gmail address. 

For Yahoo and other email services, this allows their registration to go through.

So don't fall for this scam within a scam. 

ref: https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-a-craigslist-secret-code


Friday, June 8, 2018

Scam Spotting: Anatomy of a "free" premium headphones offer

Ever seen those offers: we're giving away (insert item) as a promotion, all you need to do is pay shipping and handling?

Let's dissect one and see how it really works.

Recently, someone brought this to reddit.com/r/scams attention. In the interest of NOT giving them any link juice, all names will be redacted, but you can easily figure it out.  Here's a screenshot of the top of their giveaway page.


They claim to be giving away all sorts of headsets and headphones for FREE. The catch is you'll need to pay about $13USD per item for shipping and handling.


However, are these headphones REALLY worth as much as they say? The answer is no. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Let's take that first headphone for example. They said "save $80", implying MSRP is $80.

Well, let's do a bit of digging via Google image search, and we got a $3 headset:


Oh, myyyyy. It's the EXACT SAME headset. For $2.99 with free shipping.  These headphones are NOT worth $80. They're not even worth $8. It's worth $3.00

Now you see why they are charging $13. For every order, they pocket $10, while making people believe they are getting something for cheap.

Let's pick another item, just to make a point.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bad Propaganda: Meghan Markle and Homeopathy, really?

A tweet from Alberta Association of Naturopathic Doctors just came across my tweetstream:


Uh, even that statement is wrong on many levels.

  • It's Sussex, not Essex
  • She's a duchess, not a princess. 
But third, did no one ask the circumstances of this picture? Turns out, this is a "gifting suite", circa 2012.