Little Black Book of Junk Science

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The American Council on Science and Health has published a guide to many of the various kinds of junk science that often makes the news: The Little Black Book of Junk Science!

The book was written by the ACSH's Dr. Alex Berezow, who contributed two of the examples that we covered as part of our Examples of Junk Science series that primarily focused on pseudoscience in finance, economics and social sciences.

The Little Black Book of Junk Science however focuses more on where junk science is to be found in the fields of nutrition, biology, medicine and chemistry, which are the fields where the ACSH's staff has expertise. Here's a quick sampling what we thought were some of the book's more fun-related content:

Vaginal steaming

Endorsed by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, vaginal steaming claims if a woman sits over steaming water made with certain herbs, it will balance her hormones and help her uterus. A review declared it "sorcery for your vagina."

Toilets

The reason your toilet doesn't work is because our government passed a law restricting flushes to 1.6 gallons each. Junk science claims that this is necessary to conserve water, even though water is not a scarce resource in most of the United States. It's also recycled efficiently in our sewage systems.

Genetic ancestry

Genetic ancestry tests use a small dash of science and a heaping scoop of speculation. Though your DNA contains information about your biogeographic ancestry, some commercial genetic ancestry tests may be little more than horoscopes. If you want to predict whether you will like cilantro or not, they are fine.

Earthing

Earthing is the belief that running around barefoot somehow connects you to Earth's energy, which will improve your health. The exact opposite is true. We invented shoes because it protects our feet from injury and infection. Tell the neighborhood hippies to put their sandals back on.

Colon cleansing (Colon hydrotherapy)

Liquids go in your mouth, not in your butt. Unless you're constipated, there is no reason to give yourself an enema. Your body naturally detoxifies itself.

You can get the book in one of two ways. You can download a PDF version of the book for free or you can buy a physical copy from Amazon. Of the two, we'd recommend the physical copy, just so you can leave it sitting out where that special someone you know who can use this kind of information will see it!