Saturday, January 5, 2013

How do you actually get success?

There's ten tons of books on success, in both business and self-help sections of the bookstore.

A lot of people define success as financially secure, having a decent income without working too hard, blah blah blah. Other people define success differently. You can even have different types of success in different areas, like personal, family, business, professional, etc.

But how do you actually become successful? How do you ACHIEVE success?

The honest truth is... it's hard work *and* luck.

The problem is most people refuse to accept this two-variable answer. They refuse to accept "luck" as a possible answer to their success. They prefer to believe it is their own hard work.

That can be quite dangerous.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Another Magical Ingredient in Nutritional Supplements

Seems like every other day there's something that's supposedly good for you found, and the nutritional supplement industry marketing machine goes into motion pushing this "latest and greatest discovery ever". One such ingredient pushed was "resveratrol".

Resveratrol is a certain naturally occurring chemical that's contained in grape skin and skin of some other fruits. It was suspected as one of the reasons why the French seem to have low instances of heart disease despite their high-fat diet compared to the Americans. However, the link has yet to be definitely established. That of course, did not prevent any of the nutritional supplement companies from claiming this is good for you.

Wine contain such minute amount of resveratrol that it's almost not worth mentioning. You need to drink liters of it to get a decent dose.

There have been study of this ingredient for various symptoms and diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and more. Most are inconclusive, showing slight positive results but without definite relation between the ingredient and improvement.

In other words, there is no PROVEN benefit, merely suspected benefit, from taking resveratrol.

Marketing, on the other hand, had blown this ingredient out of proportion since 2006.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Is Organo Gold Healthier Coffee, or Just Brewing Trouble?

Editor's note: You should also read a different take on this same subject: "What They Don't Want You To Know about Fortified Coffee"

A recent trend in 2012 is startup of several Coffee-related MLMs. One of which is Organo Gold, which is coffee infused with extract from Lingzhi, i.e. "reishi mushroom", or the Latin name "Gandorama Lucidem".

But is it a real business, or mainly an illusion? For that, let us first study the item in question... Is Reishi mushroom good for you, and how much do you need to take for gaining that effect?

First question first... Does Reishi do anything? Here's the text:

Reishi is currently regulated in the United States as a dietary supplement. It is also included in the 2,000 Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China as an agent approved for the treatment of dizziness, insomnia, palpitations, shortness of breath, cough, and asthma. At this time, high quality clinical trials supporting the use of reishi mushroom are lacking. More proven therapies are recommended at this time.

Well, I guess it wouldn't really hurt you, but it's not going to suddenly cure your diabetes or heart disease and such. And I sincerely hope that none of Organo Gold's sellers are bull**** artists, as that may get them AND the company in trouble. However, some people have clearly gotten the wrong message, as there are documented cases where people who drank the coffee have stopped taking meds.

Maria Luisa Gonzalez said she's been feeling much better. The 64-year-old spent more than $100 for two boxes of Organo Gold. She also stopped taking her doctor-prescribed medication.

That is a VERY VERY bad idea.

How much are you supposed to take? From link above:

Adults (over 18 years old)
2-6 grams per day of reishi as raw fungus or an equivalent dosage of concentrated extract has been taken with meals. In clinical trials studying cancer, chronic hepatitis B, coronary heart disease, or diabetes, doses of 600-1,800 milligrams have been taken three times daily. For high blood pressure, Linzhi extract (reishi) has been used in doses of 55 milligrams a day for four weeks. For pain management inherpes zoster, 36-72 grams of dry weight per day for up to 10 days have been studied. Other doses used are 500-1,125 milligrams per day for the treatment of proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) or 100 grams of reishi boiled in 600 milliliters water per dose for poisoning.

In the KRGV query, one pharmacist came up with 1200 mg as recommended daily dose.

Now how much do you get per cup of coffee from Organo Gold?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WTF?! Oregano oil used as antibiotic?!

According to NY Times, some chicken farms, in attempt to up-market their chicken, claims that spices such as oregano and cinnamon instead of antibiotics work just as good.

O RLY? (all apologies to John White, the original photographer)

While it's understandable that chicken farms want to go antibiotic free as a lot of people are nervous about abundance of antibiotics in everyday foods, and overuse of antibiotics may lead to "supergerms" that requires  new drugs to treat, there are several questions one needs to raise here:

  • Does antibiotic use in chicken lead to supergerm for chickens?
  • Does supergerm for chickens, if they exist, harm humans? 
  • Can humans who eat chickens that had been fed antibiotics be harmed?
  • Can humans who eat chickens that may have been infected by supergerm be harmed?
  • Do people demand antibiotic free chicken? 
  • Does oregano oil (with a dash of cinnamon) actually work as well as antibiotic for chicken? 

Let's look at this one question at a time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Appeal to Emotion Used to Mask Bad Argument

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings
English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are certain "trigger words" that elicits certain strong emotions from most of us, and many are culture and religion specific.

In the Western cultures, words pedophile and rape are such trigger words, as are "The Holy Bible", Church, Marriage, Jesus, and so on. In the Islamic culture, any mention of Prophet (Blessed is His name) Mohammed and (there is but one God) Allah, and the Quoran (Koran) are trigger words. There are bazillion other examples. Similar examples exist for virtually every culture in the world.

Humans learn by analogy and metaphors. We can say things like "He's as annoying as scratching fingernails on a chalkboard", and people understand the reference (if they have seen a blackboard / chalkboard before) even though we're comparing something as intangible as personality to something tangible as a specific noise.

When trigger words are used in an analogy, the trigger words often end up overwhelming the analogy, and thus, the point the speaker was trying to make. When the analogy breaks down due to use of emotional "trigger words", problem starts.

This can be done by accident... or by deliberate action.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Are Nutritional Supplements Helpful, or Placebo?

It's a big question... are nutritional supplements for real, or just big placebo? 

Seems every person who sell the supplement swear by them, often with fanciful words such as "fountain of youth".  Here's one example:

Yes, this guy's talking about a nutritional supplement... something that had to do with hydrolyzed collagen and "custom matrix of special fruits rich in anti-oxidants". 

The reality? Contains tiny amounts of super-fruits in a custom blend of juices. Here's the ingredient list off one of their own sales sites:

Note that 60 ml serving (which is like 2 sips), but there is NO EXPLANATION HOW MUCH OF EACH juice. Which may be a violation of Federal Supplement Labeling laws.  However,  what you need to know is the labeling law requires you to list the stuff by "decreasing weight". In other words, the most plentiful ingredients in this product are apple juice, grape juice, and strawberry juice

Those you can find cheaply in any supermarket. 

So how much are you pay for all the other stuff? And how much are you getting? No idea. 

Ever heard of the term "pixie-dusting"? 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Abuse of Power for MLM

MLM is often compared to cult because its members are like mad recruiters, corralling any one they can get their hands on to either buy their stuff, or worse, join their biz/cult. Family and friends would be most of the people who have to put up with this, and it's annoying enough. However, there are people who then crosses the line: they take MLM to their DAY-JOB, or worse, they are in a position of power, and they try to recruit their subordinates and/or employees.

Regular MLMs that sell stuff are not that offensive in this regard, because if people say they're not interested, well, they're not. And you just know that if you sell "True Romance", don't market it to guys, and if you sell "Man Cave" stuff, don't sell to girls. But recruiting-based schemes and/or outright pyramid schemes? Anybody is fair game, whether they're interested or not. In fact, the more ignorant and desperate they are, the better.

Taking MLM to work is already wrong. Using workplace authority for personal gain is almost criminal and certainly unethical.

That doesn't stop the recruiters, of course. They rationalize it as "non-work activity", and co-workers as "potential recruits".