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The epidemic of bogus health claims online 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

The “epidemic of bogus health claims online” is basically what inspired me to start PainScience.com back in the early 2000s. It was already clear that there was an epidemic getting started back then. This overview of the problem today is surprisingly skeptically literate for a mainstream media source (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation):

When it comes to human health, there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer for preventing the spread of bogus claims, and there’s evidence some attempts to counter false information can backfire, as Facebook is learning as it tries to crack down on hoaxes and fake news. Health professionals told CBC they’re frustrated by the role of social media. It’s not only used to spread false information, but it also allows like-minded people to reinforce each other’s unsubstantiated beliefs.

Critical thinking is a specialized skill set, as alien to most people and even most healthcare professionals as cosmology or economics. Medical skepticism is an even more rarified sub-speciality, packed with specific and technical knowledge, colourful history, and classic mistakes that all beginners make. So it’s rare and truly refreshing to see an article like this on a website like CBC.ca. Great work from writer Bethany Lindsay — clearly not a beginner.

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