The harsh, throaty cry of a duck or any similar sound.
Someone who claims to be skilled in a certain area of expertise when in fact, they are not.
Quack remedies or quack cures are medical treatments that you think are unlikely to work because they are not scientific.
One of the reasons I am sharing this blog post as that I have been caught out in the past and even with my science-based radar twitching, I succumbed to fear and pressed go anyway.
When we are hurting, we want someone to take it away…..and fast.
The NHS does an incredible job of helping us get well when the chips are down, particularly in emergency medicine. For various reasons I wasn’t getting to the bottom of my hormone problems so I hit good old GOOGLE.
This is where the promotion of the quack comes into full-force.
On one evening, tucked up in my duvet and in a discussion forum on thyroid and adrenal problems, the same couple of names kept cropping up.
Let’s call them Dr X and Dr Y.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone with my frustration with feeling grim and not getting any answers….
These two doctors were the answer to my problem! I set about trying to book in with one of them.
DR X had been struck off and therefore wasn’t available and the other had a waiting list of over a month (turned out to be false) and so I booked in a month ahead and sat drumming my fingers until my appointment.
The day of my appointment came and I trotted off with a spring in my step ready to have all my questions answered.
I came out of the appointment over £1,000 lighter as I needed lots of tests and supplements.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
My twitchy radar had gone off but I ignored it. This person was going to find the solution for me, my fears were dampened in a very clever way.
Without boring you with all of the details I am more than happy to share that I followed everything to the letter, I felt about 5% better but I put that down to nothing more than placebo.
When I sat down and picked apart my own problems I came up with the following:
- Unresolved unhappiness.
- Too much stress at work.
- Not enough quality sleep.
- My own self-imposed dogmatic views on what I should be eating.
Time taken: 2 hours. Cost: a new notebook and pen.
The problem with social media motivation
If you feel shit. You feel shit.
The problem with interacting on social media is that we are bombarded with positive messages every day.
I have nothing against a bit of positivity (when in balance with a nice dose of Stoicism).
I have nothing against quotes – both funny and positive but their real use is to connect us to a tribe of like-minded people. We interact and share and bond with each other.
They can be full of quackery though……
Or how about:
No no….. if it hurts, it is a sign something is wrong. End of story.
Preying on the vulnerable
A lot of the advice peddled out on the internet is just plain WRONG.
It seems to be successful because it targets the very people whose fear is so big, they will do anything to feel better.
The three categories that appear to be the most successful?
a) Weight loss and fitness.
If you want someone to really help you get results then ask them to put their money where their mouth is. If you are paying for a service and you do the work required and don’t get the results then you shouldn’t be paying.
Fear as a weapon for both sides of the war
Clever internet marketing doesn’t just work to allay our fears, it uses fear as a weapon to move us away from something.
Fake news is just fuelling this problem and can often be traced back to a whole lot of quackery by internet marketing gurus.
I am troubled by:
Quack concern 1 – The health ‘gurus’
There are quite a few people I could chuck on this list but without mentioning names I am going to share advice from 3 of the health websites with the biggest amount of followers:
- Commercial sunscreens increase the likelihood of skin cancer instead of protecting from it. (This person just happens to sell you an expensive natural alternative).
- HIV may not be the cause of AIDS. He spouts a belief that the manifestations of AIDS (including opportunistic infections and death) could result from “psychological stress” brought on by the belief that HIV is harmful.
- Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too. What??? I have an ice cream business, I know all the risks of the unpasturised product. It isn’t safe.
- Microwaves kill food and remove its nutrients. Also, microwaves change the chemical properties of water. Errrrr….. nope.
- Water, when exposed to the words “Hitler” and “Satan” changes its physical properties. WTF?
I could go on but the one that really got me was a particular individual put a nine-year-old child and his mother on his T.V. show and stated that the child possessed 9 out of the 14 traits typically seen in serial killers.
I recently had to stop a friend of mine following advice from one of them, it was both life-threatening and potentially expensive.
Quack concern 2 – Life Coaching
Hold your horses…. before you shout at me….. I am not slamming all life coaches.
I have had some amazing and truly life-changing coaching.
But I have also heard lots of horror stories.
When clients used to come to me with a problem if it was a problem I knew I couldn’t help with I would send them to someone with expertise in that subject.
Recently I heard about a person with deep-rooted mental illness being told they could be helped by a series of sessions by someone with zero training in mental health.
A friend of mine was advised by someone to jack her job in with no financial backup plan just because she didn’t like marketing.
I could go on.
I feel that the rise in people wanting to go into life coaching has been ignited by the likes of the life-coaching gurus Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma.
The problem is that the business is full of people who haven’t got their own shit together never mind helping someone else with theirs.
The best life coaches I have met get RESULTS. They only take on people they know they can help. Many of them also offer your money back if you are not happy.
(Feel free to message me if you want any recommendations!).
Quack concern 3 – Pyramid Marketing Schemes
“How would you like to look better naked, have more energy, have great skin and hair”? (Back to the fear-bashing again).
When I was younger there was a company called Neways – a friend of mine introduced me to it and got me on board her ‘tribe’.
I used the products that were double the price of the high street alternative and noticed no difference. I didn’t even bother to try selling it to someone else. No amount of supportive marketing material would have helped me. They were shit.
Ever since then my ‘quack radar’ has gone off anytime I see someone try and connect with me on social media who have the words Forever Living/Herbal Life/Arbonne anywhere near their name.
Legal multi-level marketing involves being recruited in order to sell a product or service that actually has some inherent value. As a recruit, you can make a profit from the sales of the product or service, so you don’t necessarily have to recruit more salespeople below you.
While you may be encouraged to recruit other salespeople whose sales would give you more profits, you can stick to just selling the product directly to the consumer if you choose.
A pyramid scheme MLM, however, will most likely sell a product with no independent value. This product could take the form of reports of some kind, for example, or mailing lists. In this kind of pyramid scheme, you would be required to recruit new members into the MLM in order to make a profit and keep the MLM alive. Joining the MLM is the only reason anyone would buy the products sold by this pyramid scheme.
The big concern for me is that they often recruit from groups of people who not only don’t have the money to invest in the initial stock required to start but are deep in debt already.
Watch the eye opening documentary – Betting On Zero on Netflix.
It’s not all bad though.
There are some amazing people out there with the right credentials who can help you. I have a book filled with people who are great in many different areas of expertise. I won’t list them all here, I will mention a few who I have interacted with recently.
A few I recommend and why:
Plant Based Pixie
As some of you know I have followed a plant-based diet for a while now and happy to say that it works really well for me.
There are a lot of quack ‘facts’ in the plant-based/vegan world too though and wading through all the information can be confusing.
Enter Pixie…. Pixie is a scientist, nutritionist, and blogger who, like me, likes debunking the B.S. floating around the internet.
One of her most redeeming qualities is that she believes in balance and doesn’t attach any shame to foods. She follows and plant-based/veggie diet and her website is full of mouth-watering recipes.
You can follow her on Instagram @plantbasedpixie
I have talked about CJ before in this post and without wanting to sound like a crazy super fan I wanted to mention him again.
CJ is the master of ‘practice what you preach’. He is one of the most authentic people out there in cyber space and questions every bit of information he takes in.
He hates the ‘get fit quick’ approach and coaches his clients with encouragement, knowledge and a desire to get them to their goal.
I had a coaching call with Nick a few years ago when I wanted to work on a little side business that I was setting up.
He is the brains behind SideHustleNation – a community of hard-working entrepreneurs setting up side hustles to work them towards financial freedom.
A genuine and informative guy with lots of free stuff on his site to get you one step closer to working successfully on your very own side hustle.
Nick also has a brilliant podcast with interesting guests and always shares the things that didn’t work alongside his successes.
He believes in hard-work and hustle and taking ACTION. Sounds about right to me! A non-quack approach to entrepreneurship.
SBM – Science Based Medicine
Science-Based Medicine is dedicated to evaluating medical treatments and products of interest to the public in a scientific light, and promoting the highest standards and traditions of science in health care.
Online information about alternative medicine is overwhelmingly credulous and uncritical, and even mainstream media and some medical schools have bought into the hype and failed to ask the hard questions.
SBM provides a much needed “alternative” perspective — the scientific perspective.
Be warned…..once you go in and start clicking, you may be horrified by some of the alternative quack remedies out there…….
Remember everything is an experiment of 1
No two people are the same – That diet that worked for your best friend may not work as well for you. You get a diagnosis of a serious health problem, your treatment protocol needs to be specific to your own particular set of criteria.
Find your fear and then examine it….. what is REALLY going on? This may require an expert to help you find it. Shop around. Find someone who will help you get the right results for YOU.
Question everything. Ask yourself is this just quackery or is there concrete evidence behind it?