Drinking water information and resources, contaminants, health effects, treatment methods

 Drinking Water Scams

The con man preps his target carefully, adding appropriate ingredients  of fear, doubt and anxiety, a hefty dose of misinformation, a liter of distortion and a dash of lies.
(Norman E. Murrell of the H2M Group - June, 1989)


Drinking water concerns
Drinking water concerns Introduction
Drinking water concerns Concerns about water safety
Drinking water concerns Children and contaminated water
Drinking water concerns Pregnancy and drinking water contaminants

Drinking water contaminants
Drinking water concerns Introduction
Drinking water concerns Materials dissolved in water
- Inorganic
- Organic
Drinking water concerns Materials suspended in water
- Pathogens
- Asbestos
Drinking water concerns Interview excerpt

Risk factors for contaminants
Drinking water concerns Drinking water sources
Drinking water concerns Municipal providers
Drinking water concerns Private wells
Drinking water concerns Location of home
Drinking water concerns Chlorination and DBPs
Drinking water concerns High risk populations: pregnancy
Drinking water concerns Home age & lead
Drinking water concerns Use Sensory clues to identify contaminants

Drinking water concerns Importance of product certification
Drinking water concerns Things to consider
Drinking water concerns Methods:
Point of Entry (POE)
Point Of Use (POU)
- Boiling
- Distillation
- Reverse Osmosis (RO)
- Filtration
  * Sediment
   * Activated carbon
   * GAC
   * Solid block
   * Pore size
- Bottled water
- Ultraviolet (UV)
- Water softeners
- KDF
- Ion exchange
- Whole House
'Altered' water
Drinking water concerns Comparison of drinking water treatment methods - chart
Drinking water concerns Comparison of long-term costs for water treatment
Drinking water concerns Emergency water treatment

Other water topics
Drinking water concerns Drinking Water Scams
  Alkaline Water
  Other Types
Drinking water concerns Masaru Emoto & Water Crystals
Drinking water concerns Distilled Water & Health
Drinking water concerns Water-Related Quotes
Drinking water concerns Bottled Water
Drinking water concerns Four Steps to determine the best water treatment method for you

Recommendations Recommendations
Recommendations Questions
Recommendations About Me

Recommendations links to drinking water related sites
   
   

Snake Oil, Scam, Con, Flimflam, Swindle

 

 

 

Yes, Virginia, there are still
snake oil salesmen.

 

 



   



Quack, Charlatan, Bunko Artist, Huckster

The Bottom Line:
1) There is absolutely no scientific basis for claims that the structure or energy of water can be treated and altered by any process in a way that can enhance health differently than untreated water.
2) There are no studies published in mainstream scientific or medical journals that conclusively and repeatedly demonstrate enhanced/altered water products improve health any better than untreated water.  Discussions of specific examples: alkaline water, enhanced/altered water, Masaru Emoto's water crystals.
3) Be skeptical of any unsolicited attempt to sell any water treatment product or of any "tests" or "demonstrations" that might be used to convince you of the "need" for a product or that shows how well it works. This is true of enhanced/altered water products and of standard water treatment products.  Always check thoroughly with the Better Business Bureau or perhaps a local science teacher before buying.
4) The placebo effect is quite powerful and can give the illusion that the health claims made by enhanced water developers and marketers are true - even though exactly the same results would be observed in a blinded test against untreated water. placebo effect description another good article
5) One of the most effective strategies used to convince people that a product is effective is to produce dramatic stories from others that describe how the product has benefited them. These testimonials (or anecdotes) may be compelling, but since there is usually no way to validate them or to be certain the product actually caused the claimed results, they can’t be trusted without unbiased, controlled supporting evidence.
An Appeal to Science Educators
Please make time in your curriculums to instruct students on how to evaluate claims made by marketers and the media! 

During most of my education the primary emphasis was to memorize facts rather than learn how to think critically.  It was not until graduate school that the balance shifted toward critical thinking and by extension how to evaluate  various marketing claims made in the name of science.

It has been of far greater value for me to learn how science works and understand how to create and test hypotheses about the natural universe than to learn most of the facts I memorized over the years - only to forget after the test. 

For example, there have been few times in my career (well, none actually) where I have had to produce
Avogadro's number, recite the periodic table, list all the bones in the body, or provide the exact dates of Darwin's voyage or the discovery of penicillin, from memory.   

It is far more important for students to understand the concepts behind the facts.  Facts that are used rarely  can always be looked up - facts that are  used frequently will be memorized anyway.

Provide the tools that enable the next generation of consumers to effectively evaluate marketing claims

Ten ways to recognize and avoid drinking water scams:
(many other types of scams have these same characteristics)

The primary point to remember about any fraudulent person or company is that their objective is to separate you from your money, and they may lie, use trickery or even invent a problem to do so.
(Alabama Cooperative Extension System Also, check out The Red Flags of Quackery
 1) Promises made by the manufacturer or promoter sound too good to be true.  Evaluate all claims with a healthy dose of skepticism and common sense.  Unfortunately, if you do not have some expertise in the subject, it may be difficult to determine if a claim is “too good to be true”. Unless you can accurately evaluate claims, do not purchase the product until you have had time to go through the steps outlined below.

Unfortunately, if you do not have some expertise in the subject, it may be difficult to determine if a claim is “too good to be true”. Unless you can accurately evaluate claims, do not purchase the product until you have had time to go through the steps outlined below.
 2) Product claims that relate to alleged health benefits are vague and ill-defined.  Phrases like "our product: increases energy; hydrates better; is absorbed more quickly; reduces waste buildup; cleanses the liver; removes toxins from the body; reverses aging; grants greater youthfulness; prevents stress; and increases mobility", all sound good - who wouldn't want to pay for products that provide those benefits.

However, theses types of generic benefits are notoriously difficult to measure, and the claims are usually impossible to validate 3.  Ask the sales person exactly what is meant by 'cleanses the liver', and how you will know that your liver is clean.

The placebo effect complicates the exposure of scams immensely.  In some cases a customer's positive belief in and expectation for a product can produce the expected health benefit, and the products can appear to work as advertised even though plain water (if marketed in the same way) would produce exactly the same benefits.

In other instances various circumstances conspire to produce the illusion of the desired health benefit (you feel better and conclude toxins have been removed from your body). These can include spontaneous remission of symptoms (for example, colds and many pains normally get better regardless of the treatment), forgetting about other treatments or behavior changes that might have helped, and simply forgetting the exact severity of symptoms.  This issue is discussed further in #5.

Unfortunately, there are apparently no regulations or oversight processes enforced to prevent companies from making general, unsubstantiated health claims about a product - as long as the claims do not include the treatment or prevention of specific diseases 1.

 3) Theories that explain how the product works are not based on clear, proven, or accepted scientific principles.  Instead the product is based on a "scientific sounding process" that is not recognized by the scientific community, and there are usually no publications in mainstream scientific journals.  An effective, water treatment process based on a valid scientific principle would be well tested and widely reported in peer reviewed science, medical, or engineering journals.

Unfortunately as noted above, if you do not have some expertise in the subject, it may be difficult to determine if a claim is actually based on proven scientific principles or on pseudoscientific nonsense created by the promoter. Unless you really understand the alleged scientific processes described, do not purchase the product until you have had time to go through the steps outlined below.

As of this writing
NO Treatment Methods  that are able to alter the structure of pure water so that it has any additional health benefits over untreated water have been clearly demonstrated or recognized by the scientific community
Scientists are not opposed to studying new theories, quite the contrary.  However to be considered as having some validity, new theories must either fit somewhere in the accepted scientific framework, or if they propose completely new physical or chemical processes, the evidence supporting the new claims must be exceptionally strong 2.
 4) Experimental results that support health benefit claims have not been published in reputable, peer-reviewed literature.  There may be lots of confirming "evidence" provided in the form of citations from obscure "journals" that are impossible to locate or in published books that have had no scientific, peer review - and which are often written by individuals who have a financial stake in the product.

It is difficult to determine the reliability of a journal or results of published research without having some detailed knowledge about how research is conducted, reviewed and published and are comfortable poking around www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed. Another complication besides poor quality ‘evidence’ published in poor quality publications is that occasionally lousy research winds up in normally trustworthy journals (and that can be very difficult to identify). Always look for published papers from multiple, and different researchers to provide evidence supporting health claims for a product.

Again, the best advice I can provide is that if someone is trying to pressure you to purchase a product, and you do not clearly understand how it works or the supporting ‘evidence’ provided, do NOT purchase it without taking the time to research and understand it using unbiased sources – in other words find and use sources other than those trying to sell you the product.
 5) Most of the supporting "evidence" provided to validate claims made for the product consists of testimonials from "satisfied customers".  There is absolutely no way to determine if actual customers wrote the testimonials or  whether positive results experienced by real product users were actually caused by the product.  You can be certain that negative results would not be published in the promotional material.

If you attend an event where a number of people have gathered to listen to a sales pitch for some drinking water related product (alkaline water comes to mind), stories (testimonials) from satisfied customers who have had remarkable experiences using the product will be used exclusively to provide actual ‘evidence’ of effectiveness. Always keep in mind that testimonials, no matter how compelling, are completely uncontrolled, and there is no way to determine if the product actually caused the reported health effects.
 6) Testimonials from celebrities or important-sounding people with degrees are quoted to build another layer of "respectability" and "legitimacy". For example:R__ G__, MD , world renowned researcher and author of the iconic series of books called V__ M__, which have been translated into many languages across the globe, is quoted as saying: '…I have been using (R__ Water) for some time and I find that it does appear to increase my sense of energy and vitality when I take it regularly as an additive to my spring water.

It is often impossible to verify the credentials of these individuals, and expertise in one area does not mean they have the credentials to evaluate claims involving biology, physics and chemistry.  It is also important to remember that celebrities might be paid for their enthusiastic endorsement, and advanced degrees can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.

 7) Really cool, impressive sounding words are used to describe and explain the alleged physical principles behind the product - words like, vitalized, high zeta-potential, zeta-potential-induced clustering, aetheric energy, pi-mag, stabilized nascent oxygen, paramagnetic water, imploding vortex, noble gas infusions, nano energizing frequency, nano resonance technology, di-pole deuterium sulfate, passive counter-phase resonance, hydro plasma, biophotons, stabilized oxygen, plasma-induced electron injection, bovis energy scale, negative vibrational memories, matrix enabled particulization, m-water activation, beotron cell, microcyn, hexagonal scalarwave structured water, platonic solid inversion geometry, electrically engineered eloptic energized stabilized oxygenated water, template induction process, smirnov magnetic resonance effect technology.  The words slither right off the promoter's tongue.

Search on any of these terms on the Internet, though, and you can read some really creative writing - or they may have vanished into cyber-space as the promoters move onto other products.  If you use a search engine's filter to explore only .edu  and .gov sites you will probably find far fewer hits than on .com sites, and the commercial content will be reduced.  The results will include more sites sites that describe product scams or provide a balanced evaluation of the product.  The reason to look at .edu and .gov (and some .org) sites is that normally there is some oversight of content by an organization to ensure accuracy (instead of the potentially random, unedited and unmoderated content of .com sites).

A Google search on – "alkaline water" site:edu – or – homeopathy site:edu – for example, will restrict results mostly to legitimate educational organizations. These sites usually deliver accurate information that is reasonably reliable and generally reflects acknowledged scientific consensus. Unfortunately, there are occasional pages within .edu, .gov, .org domains that still reflect biased, personal, and possibly inaccurate information – I noticed, for example, that public discussion pages within educational (.edu) domains had been created to provide alkaline water marketing materials with a false façade of legitimacy. Filtering sites by .edu, .gov or .org just provides one way to avoid most of the junk and scam marketing sites found on .com domains, but you still must be careful not to believe everything you read.
 8) Product demonstrators may use the results of sham or misleading "tests" and/or fear tactics to create the need for their product.  People want to drink safe water and have the best health possible for themselves and their families.  Scammers take advantage of these goals to promote their products. There are lots of things that a sales person can add to ordinary, safe tap water that will create impressive colors &/or ugly looking precipitates. 

Be very suspicious of any sales person who offers free unsolicited water tests - the test will be designed to make your water look bad and the product look good. If you do accept a test of your drinking water, DO NOT immediately make a purchase based on the results.  Get all the details in writing (both of the water test and the specific product claims) and let the sales person know you plan to do some research - contact the Better Business Bureau, your water department, a local high school or college science teacher, etc. and get a second or third opinion.  Check with NSF International to see if a product is certified to perform as advertised. water treatment, bottled water, supplements.

 9) There is often pressure to purchase a product immediately or a great opportunity will be lost.  If the sales person (or marketing material) tries to pressure you to make an immediate purchase by offering a limited time discount (or other opportunity) or suggests that your health will be jeopardized by waiting a few days while you investigate the claims, you can almost be certain the product will cost more, will be less effective, and will be of inferior quality than products that make similar claims through less aggressive marketing practices. Just say NO (or at least NOT NOW) and invest the time and effort to carefully investigate – it’s your health and money that’s at stake if you purchase on impulse.

A legitimate sales person should understand and hopefully will approve of you doing more research that would validate their claims.  A scammer, however, will not want you to check the product claims.  If you do purchase a product that costs over $25 from a door-to-door sales person and have second thoughts, you have the right cancel an order within three days and receive a full refund.  If the company is legitimate, you can probably negotiate an extension on any special offers. If you can’t negotiate an offer extension and decide to buy a product over $25, use the three days cancellation period to do your research.

 10) In Summary: Buyer Beware!
a) Always assume that any marketing claims for any product are for the benefit of the seller not the consumer, and make an effort to uncover the truth about the claims - particularly for expensive products, if you have a serious health condition and/or if you do not know enough about the product and the claims to evaluate them accurately. .
b) Do not purchase based on a sales person's encouragement to BUY NOW!  Pressure to buy immediately without checking the claims is always a red flag and is often a sign of fraudulent claims.
c) Although there is a tremendous amount of unregulated, misleading and  fraudulent content on the Internet, there are also sites that attempt to provide  a balance and expose the scams.   It can be a challenge to distinguish sites with accurate information from those with misleading, inaccurate content, particularly if you are not extremely familiar with the subject matter. Some ideas:
d)
i. While searching the Internet for information on a product add the words "scam" or "fraud" to a search on the product name, and read the content on those sites.
ii. Check for the product, special processes and claims on .edu. .gov and .org sites (advanced Google search).  At least eliminating most of the commercial sites will help narrow your search. 
iii. Check the company with the Better Business Bureau and local, and if you do not completely understand the subject, locate some knowledgeable, impartial experts.

As noted above, an obvious problem with some of the scam characteristics is that it takes a certain amount of scientific knowledge and time to determine whether product claims and marketing practices meet many of the scam characteristics.  The average consumer will probably not have the background to evaluate product claims on the spot - particularly in the presence of a good sales person who appears to have all the answers and who is often pressing for a quick decision. The best way to avoid falling for a scam is to never purchase immediately despite the pressure or great deals that will go away if you wait. Collect the seller's contact information and all the product details you can then carefully research the company and the claims using the guidelines above.


11Does the government help the consumer identify drinking water scams?  Unfortunately, not much - The regulations (usually not enforced in products that do not pose immediate health risks) and consumer guidelines are discussed below.

The federal government has several departments that regulate advertising claims and the safety of food and drug products sold in the United States.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring safety and effectiveness of drugs, biological products, food additives, and medical devices and with safeguarding the nation's food supply.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy."

The FDA and some states do regulate bottled water quality so it is generally as safe as tap water and the FTC will challenge marketing claims for water treatment devices that are clearly fraudulent or products which make misleading and unsubstantiated health claims that a product is able to cure or prevent a specific disease.

However, the class of products described as Dietary Supplements are very loosely regulated by the FDA and FTC.  As long as a company does not promote a Dietary Supplement as a cure or prevention for a specific disease, marketers are pretty much free to make any general "structure/function" claims they choose without any regulatory consequences or oversight.

The enhanced/altered water products are intriguing because most are not truly  supplements - they are just plain, ordinary water.  Claims are made that the water structure and/or energy have been altered in some way to enhance health, but if nothing is actually added, can these products be considered supplements?

The FTC provides a site that offers basic information on detecting fraudulent product claims. "With so many sources of health information at your fingertips — many of them online — it can be tough to tell fact from fiction, or useful health products and services from those that don’t work or aren’t safe. The FTC has created this website to help you find reliable sources of information on health topics important to you, whether you’re an older consumer or a family member, caregiver, or friend."
Another site, Dietary Supplements, describes supplements and provides some guidelines for consumers.  Perhaps the most telling statement on the page is "There are limitations to FDA oversight of claims in dietary supplement labeling. For example, FDA reviews substantiation for claims as resources permit."
Neither these pages nor the other FDA and FTC pages discussed provide specific information about specific products, so the responsibility to research products remains with the consumer.

Specific information from the FTC website on structure/function claims:
In contrast to health claims, "structure/function" claims, within the broader category of "statements of nutritional support," refer to representations about a dietary supplement’s effect on the structure or function of the body for maintenance of good health and nutrition. Structure/function claims are not subject to FDA pre-authorization. A marketer may make these claims in labeling if it notifies FDA and includes a disclaimer that the claim has not been evaluated by FDA and that the product is not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent disease. DSHEA also requires that structure/function claims in labeling be substantiated and be truthful and not misleading. This requirement is fully consistent with the FTC’s standard that advertising claims be truthful, not misleading and substantiated.
Note: these supplement advertising guidelines have four requirements
1) No health claims are to be made
2) The FDA is notified about marketing claims
3) A disclaimer is added to the label
4) the advertising claims must be truthful, not misleading, and substantiated

It is obvious that most companies that sell altered/enhanced water products adhere strictly to requirement #3 and add disclaimers that the products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It is equally obvious that they completely ignore requirement #4.  Depending on the company and the product, it is also apparent that, in reference to requirement #1, there is a great deal of interpretation as to what constitutes a "health claim".

'Miracle' Health Claims: - Federal Trade Commission
People spend billions of dollars a year on health-related products and treatments that not only are unproven and often useless, but also sometimes are dangerous. The products promise quick cures and easy solutions for a variety of problems, from obesity and arthritis to cancer and AIDS. But the "cures" don't deliver, and people who buy them are cheated out of their money, their time, and even their health. That's why it's important to learn how to evaluate claims for products related to your health. An earlier article.

An overview of Dietary Supplements
From the Food and Drug Administration website under the Q/A section,
  A product sold as a dietary supplement and promoted on its label or in labeling* as a treatment, prevention or cure for a specific disease or condition would be considered an unapproved--and thus illegal--drug. To maintain the product's status as a dietary supplement, the label and labeling must be consistent with the provisions in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.
Q) Do manufacturers or distributors of dietary supplements have to tell FDA or consumers what evidence they have about their product's safety or what evidence they have to back up the claims they are making for them?
A) No, except for rules described above that govern "new dietary ingredients,
there is no provision under any law or regulation that FDA enforces that requires a firm to disclose to FDA or consumers the information they have about the safety or purported benefits of their dietary supplement products. Likewise, there is no prohibition against them making this information available either to FDA or to their customers. It is up to each firm to set its own policy on disclosure of such information.
For more information see Claims That Can Be Made for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements.
Claims that can be used on food and dietary supplement labels fall into three categories: health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims. The responsibility for ensuring the validity of these claims rests with the manufacturer, FDA, or, in the case of advertising, with the Federal Trade Commission. .

So, it is up to each manufacturer/distributor to set its own policy on disclosure of safety and benefits and, since it is "often difficult to know what information is reliable and what is questionable", the consumer is encouraged to contact the manufacturer/distributor about the product they wish to purchase.  It appears that the FDA and FTC have a great deal of trust in the integrity of manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and enhanced/altered water products. 

To those who are more skeptical, it seems more like sending the fox to guard the chicken house.

2Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof
(Carl Sagan, astronomer and author)

In order for experimental results to be widely accepted as valid by the scientific community two conditions must generally be met:
a) the experimental results must be repeatable - consistently and by different research teams (including skeptics) using the published methods.
b) there must be some explanation for the experimental results that makes sense within the current scientific theoretical framework - or the experiments that confirm a new, unknown process must be convincing enough to motivate scientists to discover a theory to explain it.

For any theory that does not fit neatly within the current theoretical framework, there is considerably more skepticism on the part of the scientific community and a requirement to provide even more details of the proposed new theory and the evidence that supports it. 

An experiment that examined the effect of different levels of CO2 on the growth rate of corn would be evaluated very differently by other scientists than a study that claimed, for example, that corn seeds exposed to "enhanced" helium gas later grew twice as tall and used 1/2 of the amount of CO2 as untreated seeds.

The first example would simply be an extension of existing knowledge about how plants use carbon dioxide. The second (hypothetical) example would be completely unexpected.  Helium is believed to be an inert gas that could not possibly cause the reported effect.  There would be no previous experiments or existing theory to explain how helium might be "enhanced" to create the effect.  The study authors would need to provide "Extraordinary Proof" to convince the scientific community that their "Extraordinary Claim" was even worthy of consideration.  Then other scientists would use the published methods to try and duplicate the results and develop a theory to explain how helium could produce the results before the claim would be fully accepted.

Those who develop alternative water products usually make extraordinary claims about the processes used to create their products but do not provide any explanation or proof about how the process might work that stands up to scientific examination.  An excellent example of a real product for which "Extraordinary Claims" are made is Oxygenated Water - claimed to produce better hydration and greater energy than regular, un-oxygenated water.  There is not one shred of scientific evidence to justify that claim - nothing that is known about the digestive and circulatory systems supports the claim that swallowing some oxygen would increase the oxygen levels of the blood.  Proof of the claims is not provided because it can't be - and proof does not need to be provided, since people continue to purchase the product based only on effective marketing practices.


3Those who develop and market alternative water products face another scientific challenge - How do they prove their products are effective? 

Claims like those mentioned above: "increases energy; hydrates better; is absorbed more quickly; reduces waste buildup; removes toxins from the body; reverses aging; grants greater youthfulness; prevents stress; and increases mobility" are typically undefined.  The consumer is expected to believe that these are good properties and purchase the product, but these are meaningless claims without knowing exactly what the claims mean and how they have been validated.

There are two main issues associated with proving that a product is effective:
a) Exact, measurable criteria must be described to assess the effectiveness of a product.
    What measurements are used, for example, to validate a claim that a bottle of clustered
    water hydrated a person better than drinking a glass of tap water or that a person feels more
    energetic?
b) How does one establish whether any effects (positive or negative) that might be noticed after
    using a product were actually caused by that product?  There are many possible reasons
    people experience some effect from a product including the fact it actually works, pure
    chance, and the placebo effect (another good article).

An experimenter's expectations and/or bias can also influence how a study is set up and conducted in addition to how the results are collected and analyzed..

Legitimate scientific experiments are carefully designed to reduce the effect of the placebo effect, chance, and experimenter bias. In experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of a product, that usually means designing a blinded or double blinded study where the subjects do not know whether they are taking the experimental product or the placebo (blinded), or where neither the experimenters nor the subjects know which group is taking the experimental product or placebo (double blind).

The review process for papers that are submitted for publication in mainstream journals are reviewed by other scientists in the field.  Part of the review process ensures that the study was designed and conducted to minimize the placebo effect and experimenter bias..

So far, "research" results mentioned on altered/enhanced water product promotional materials usually do not meet the standards for publication in mainstream medical and scientific journals.  Mostly, though, the developers, manufacturers, and marketers of these products do not bother with science - relying instead on anecdotal evidence - testimonials from others who report benefits from using the product. 

Since people continue to purchase the products in the absence of acceptable scientific proof, and since it is unlikely valid scientific proof could be provided anyway, why bother.


'Miracle' Health Claims: Add a Dose of Skepticism - Federal Trade Commission

How to Evaluate Online Health Information - USDA National Agricultural Library

Water pseudoscience and quackery
- {by far the most comprehensive anti water scam site on the web.  Dr. Stephen Lower, retired chemistry professor, examines water-related scams of all flavors and provides detailed analyses of why dozens of specific products don', and can't, work  as advertised - RJ}
"Magnets and 'catalysts' for softening water, magnetic laundry balls, waters that are "oxygenated", "clustered", 'unclustered' or 'vitalized' (purporting to improve cellular hydration, remove toxins, and repair DNA), high zeta-potential colloids and vortex-treated waters to raise your energy levels, halt or reverse ageing and remove geopathic stress— all of these wonders and more are being aggressively marketed via the Internet, radio infomercials, seminars, and by various purveyors of new-age nonsense. The hucksters who promote these largely worthless products weave a web of pseudoscientific hype guaranteed to dazzle and confuse the large segment of the public whose limited understanding of science makes them especially vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.

The purpose of this site is to examine the credibility of these claims from the standpoint of our present-day understanding of science. The latter, of course, is always evolving and is never complete, but it makes an excellent 'B.S. filter' that is almost always reliable. It is hoped that the information presented here will help consumers make more informed decisions before offering up their credit cards to those in the business of flogging pseudoscience."

Drinking water and water treatment scams - Alabama Cooperative Extension Services (PDF)

Drinking water scams - Alabama Cooperative Extension Services (PowerPoint)
These articles are designed to educate the consumer about the many variations of scams, especially Internet-based scams, dealing with drinking water and water treatment. The articles provide advice on how to recognize potential scams and how to deal with them. They also have links to additional web-based information on specific types of scams, homeopathy and pseudoscience.

Magnetic Water and Fuel Treatment: Myth, Magic, or Mainstream Science? - Magnetic treatment has been claimed to soften water and improve the combustibility of fuels. A literature review reveals that these claims are not well supported by data.

Peddling Snake Oil & Snake Oil: A Guide for Connoisseurs - Actually, real snake oil was prized for its reputed medicinal properties. However, those were modest compared to the claims of later cure-alls sold under the name "snake oil." Here is an attempt to trace the evolution of both the product and its labeling. Clark Stanley



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Copyright © 2005 Randy Johnson. All rights reserved.

Updated November 2013