Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bad Argument: Appeal to Unverified Authority

One of the frequent mistakes committed by "defenders" of opportunities is "Appeal to unverified authority", where they simply cited an expert / authority, without checking that expert's credentials.

"Appeal to unverified authority" is a variant of "Appeal to Authority" and its relative, "Appeal to Inappropriate authority".

[ Read why experts can fail, and often do ]

Here's a perfect example:

We were discussing Stemtech on Behindmlm. Stemtech sells nutritional supplements that they claim will make your body produce more stem cells, thus improve your health. I checked major medical websites and medical research websites such as Mayo Clinic, and there is NOTHING, virtually NO research, much less any PROOF, that any sort of nutritional supplements can stimulate the human body into making more stem cells.

But that's not the problem. As you can see, this "Sharma" guy just claimed that Dr. Somersall is a doctor, and he has good insights about StemTech products (and everybody else knows nothing).

So who's this Dr. Somersall any way? Let's do some fact-checking.

Checking a Press Release shows that Dr. Allan C. Somersall (M.D. and Ph.D) was appointed to StemTech's scientific advisory board on October 5th, 2012.

Dr. Somersall does have an interesting resume, holding both a M.D. and a Ph.D in chemistry. However, his only practice seem to be a skin care clinic in Ontario Canada

The aforementioned PR also mentioned that "during more than 30 years of practicing family medicine with specialization in ophthalmology and dermatology..."  Which confirms that Dr. Somersall is a general practitioner, with some emphasis on eyes and skin.

UPDATE 23-OCT-2012 Strangely, Ontario list of doctors shows Dr. Somersall having NO specialties at all, not even for dermatology.

So what does he know about stem cells? Good question. Dr. Somersall has long written about nutritional supplements, including glyconutrients, and Amazon lists multiple books written by him dating back many years, mostly about healthy living through nutritional supplements, with titles such as:
Breakthrough in Cell Defense (promotes Gsh / glutathione)
Healing Power of 8 Sugars (promotes glyconutrients)
Enzyme Diet Solution (self-explanatory)
Fresh Air for life (why you need air filtration systems)
Where did he get the knowledge about sugars, cell defense, and such? There's no mention of this any where.  Though several of these books were co-authored with another doctor.

Dr. Somersall has no documented research in PubMed, where EVERY medically related research is listed (the PR says he had written several peer-reviewed papers, but they're not in PubMed)

For comparison, there are THREE PubMed results for StemEnhance research, a StemTech product, apparently conducted by real scientists. One of them seem to prove that StemEnhance doesn't do harm in mice, and the other seem to show some improvement in mice heart.

Can we say that Dr. Somersall is an expert in stem cells? Not by his resume, his education, or his research.

Thus, citing Dr. Somersall as an expert to promote Stemtech products would seem to be an... odd choice.

Basically, Stemtech named an advertising doctor with NO technical expertise in stem cell research, to their "technical advisory board". 

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  1. Knowing chemistry implies NO expertise in stem cells. You're simply barking up the wrong tree.

    And how does a chiropractor taking away your pain contributes to explaining Dr. Somersall's lack of stem cell expertise?

    If you argue, at least make RELEVANT points, not a "stream of consciousness" rant.

  2. Hummmmm, interesting opinions. Here is a reality check. I am a regular Grandma...79 to be exact. I started on StemCell nutrition produced by Stemtech 5 years ago. I am glad I did. If you wish to view my rejuvenation, you are welcome to visit my story on YouTube. Five years ago, I made the decision to add Christian Drapeau's discovery and resulting product to my diet. I am glad I did. While I know it is good to have skeptic's watching out for us, I have to admit, I am glad I never read your opinion. You might have convinced me not to try it. That would have been my loss. I wonder how many people have decided not to try this product based on your personal opinion. I feel sorry for all those people. That would have been a tragic disservice. By taking this nutrition faithfully every day, I have slowly rejuvenated and my life is enriched beyond belief. And yes, as a result of my success in health, I am now a distributor so I can share with others. That is not a bad thing. It is the right thing to do. I do have to add, I have no research publication on PubMed as I am not a researcher nor a scientist ... just an ordinary Grandma nor have I even been reviewed by the Mayo wise, I don’t qualify. And really, I am okay with that. I just have my story...and it is an awesome one at that. Fran Hyberger. (

  3. Nothing you wrote contradicts what I wrote. Your "product" is promoted by someone who's not qualify to endorse it.

    It'd be a shame for people not to look into things closely, such as a company that hires such "experts" for endorsement, if it really works as well as you claim to.

    Clearly, either the company's incompetent in hiring experts... or you're mistaken.

    Neither of which is good for the prospective buyer.

  4. Might be a good idea to at least get one fact right. At no time has Stemtech said that their product increases the number of stemcells in your body. What it does claim is that the product RELEASES more stemcells from your bone marrow into your bloodstream.

    1. Where did I claim that Stemtech "increase number of stemcells"? Search for "increase" show that it only appeared in your comment here.

    2. Kasey, before Stemtech I was also a major MLM skeptic but I have found the Stemtech community to have a big heart with a passion for science and people. My wife had major positive changes by the release of her own adult stem cells, she changed before my eyes, I could not argue with the results. The power behind Stemenhance is that it supports a significant increase in the release of your body's own stemcells, it does not "make your body produce more stemcells" as you believe that Stemtech claim. The science is in for this natural compound as developed by Stemtech and it does what is claims. I met Dr Allan Summersal on two occations and a nicer, passionate guy, you will be hard pressed to find anywhere. If you think it doesn't work tell the horses and the dogs who have been helped from their suffering. Just because it is sold through an MLM network do not think the science is bad. You can find the science here.

    3. The fact that you kept on bringing up Dr. Summersal who's NOT an acknowledged expert on stem cells (any papers on Pubmed? Nope) tells me your evaluation for what constitutes a valid authority is out of whack, which is what this entire blog post is about: appeal to INAPPROPRIATE authority. Thanks for proving my point and providing a perfect example of such.

  5. Hey Kasey. From whom does Dr. Somersall need an endorsement, acknowledgement or certification to be deemed an expert? Who certified those at the Mayo Clinic as experts? And, who certified those, who certified those at the Mayo Clinic? How far do you want to go with this "expert" so-called validation? Who do you want to anoint as the "appropriate authority" in this matter? Anyone who has studied a subject, produced a finding and it's consistently proven in real life and experience in my book is an "expert'. They don't need the approval from another man or woman for me to believe what is borne out in my experience. Heck, my auto mechanic who gets my car running, regardless of what the problem was, is an expert to me. Which scientific institution or body does he need an endorsement from for me to consider him an expert? Anybody can claim to be a skeptic without proof. Since you purportedly are so science-based, what scientific proof do you have that Dr. Somerall and Stemtech can't be trusted? I would believe people who have experienced results for themselves over any institutional authority and their theories which would proclaim something doesn't work because they didn't certify it.

    1. You wrote: Anyone who has studied a subject, produced a finding and it's consistently proven in real life and experience in my book is an "expert'.

      Nope. Dictionary defines "expert" as "a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area."

      Dr. Sommersall is hardly "comprehensive" or "authoritative" in "stem cells".

      And I think you read the sentence wrong. I never wrote they can't be trusted. I said there is NO REASON to trust them. Dr. Sommersall has no record of conducted ANY research in the area of stem cells, has written no scholarly papers.

      WHY should we consider Dr. Sommersall to be an expert? What is he "authoritative" in? What "comprehensive knowledge" does he possess?

      What is the point of your rant after all? What points have you supplied that supports your claim?

  6. Ajua! Ignorance my favorite sin....combined with big ego...perfect.