Monday, January 18, 2010

Pseudoscience 101: Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) is a goldmine for anyone that wants to create a drug and call it a vitamin, mineral, or other harmlessly looking pill, powder, or liquid.

Misinformation is a hallmark of pseudoscience. The success of hokum is directly proportional to the inflation of your claims. DSHEA basically lets you say just about anything about a supplement. Of course, there are rules. You can't say specific things on the label. You might not even say specific things on your web site. But you can get thousands of your followers to say things about your supplements and what they can do. We have a word for that: Antidotal. There is also another word you might use if it is all a scam: Lies.

The key to all of this is the basis of your claims. Basically you don't need any claims. Just have a good brand name, an ingredient list, and maybe a recommended dosage. There is no reason to say what the ingredients do, that is done on Oprah.

I mentioned branding and that's important. Words like health, cleansing, energy, slimming, and other non-scientific loosey goosey words are perfect. For example: Energy Blend! Great label. Contents could be seaweed or why not a scientific name and a little history of its 'traditional' uses back in ancient times before the scientific method.

I have to cut this article short. I'm going to buy a grinder, some empty capsules, and some seaweed for sushi rolls at the local asian supermarket.