Monday, July 12, 2010

'The Fish Oil For Memory Pseudoscience Soap Opera' - Goldacre in The Guardian, 2010-07-10

Ben Goldacre writes in "Fish Oil Salesmen Find EU in the Way" (2010-07-10):

"[regarding the European Food and Safety Authority's page Nutrition and Health Claims] the first thing I typed in was fish oil [...which is] a long-running pseudoscience soap opera [...and fish oil is] the bestselling food supplement in the UK, in a global $55bn (£37bn) market [...anyhoo] pharmaceuticals company Vifor Pharma wants to claim that Eye Q fish oil capsules improve working memory in children, and so sent in references to six studies [...well] two of the six studies were conducted in children with developmental co-ordination disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [so don't count...and] three of the six studies did not look at working memory [so don't count etc....] this does not feel like compelling evidence [...and] I don't think this is a regulator being unfair. What is unfair is taking these [manufacturer] claims at face value [...] many of us enjoy pretending to ourselves that pills have proven medical effects, even though we kind of know the claims aren't for real [...] you'll never stop companies making these claims. You'll never stop people enjoying their claims. This game is at least 200 years old. The best solution I can see is an EU-mandated bullshit box, where people can say what they want about their product, consumers can join in, but the game is clearly labelled."

Note: reminds me of the spurious referencing that NDs do academically.  NDs simply ignore findings that refute their claims.  E.g., NDs ignore the fact that their essential vitalism and supernaturalism are hugely science-ejected for several decades and a few centuries [respectively, minimally].
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