Tag Archives: alternative medicine

3 types of people who are ruining social media – and what you can do about them

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Social media plays an increasingly important role in many people’s lives around the world. It’s not just a great way to stay connected with people you already know, it’s also a terrific way to make new connections with people who share your interests. For some people in isolated areas or with rare hobbies, it is the only way to connect with others.

Unfortunately, there are many people who use social media as an opportunity to abuse or scam others.

I admit it was a little difficult deciding how many troublesome types I wanted to list; I settled on 3 since these 3 broad categories include a lot of sub-types. These 3 groups are by no means mutually exclusive, so you may have the misfortune of running into that rare specimen who is all 3. In no particular order, here they are:

The Multi-level marketer

Practically everyone is familiar with the multi-level marketer(MLM) AKA network marketer, and their spiel about financial independence, being on a permanent vacation, and making money from home, among other things. What makes them so annoying is that this is all they ever talk about and they are always looking to recruit you, so you can recruit everyone you know, so they can recruit everyone they know, and so on. And of course you make money from everyone you recruit as well as everyone they recruit. Sounds like a pyramid scheme, right? That’s because it is!

Almost everything the network marketer tells you is a lie. Don’t believe anything they say in their promotional videos or postings about how they have money coming out of their ears, their eyes and their, never mind. Studies show that over 90% of the people who get recruited by these pyramid schemes lose money.

What really makes network marketers a pain on social media is their nasty habit of infiltrating a wide variety of groups, clubs and chats for the sole purpose of trying to recruit others. All too often, and depending on how successful their infiltration is, they can have a poisonous effect on the group, resulting in division and conflict.

Besides this, MLMbots that deal in supplements frequently make dubious and at times dangerous health claims for their products. Here’s an example of an MLMbot pushing some juice product that according to them has miraculous healing powers:

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What to do about them: I always block any multi-level marketer who follows me. If someone I follow becomes a multi-level marketer, I quickly unfollow and block.

People who are fed up with MLM spreading like wildfire and burning their friends and family on social media are increasingly taking a stand against it. The extreme sleaziness, dishonesty and cult-like nature of MLM pushers has inspired a growing and vibrant anti-MLM movement on the Internet.

As part of its tireless anti-MLM campaign, Timeless Vie has recently launched an MLM-free logo for businesses and groups to use to declare themselves MLM-free. This means a zero tolerance policy when it comes to MLM in their group or business. Try pushing MLM as a member of their group and you get the boot.

Besides Timeless Vie, there’s Ethan Vanderbuilt, another crusader against scams in general and MLM in particular. Be sure to follow him on social media and subscribe to his newsletter. Other anti-MLM sites to check out include MLM Syndrome, which is devoted to exploring MLM psychological conditioning, and also Lazy Man and Money, a consumer advocacy site which also frequently exposes MLM. Also check out The Not Quite Fairy-Tales of Elle Beau blog, for insights from an ex-MLM-bot turned MLM critic.

Understand that trying to convince an MLMbot that they are involved in a scam is pointless. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Educate yourself and spread the word!

The Bully

It’s difficult to overstate how big of a problem cyber-bullying is. It is a plague on social media to the extent that some people who have been victims of bullying have canceled their social media accounts. We’ve all either been on the receiving end of it or know someone who has. Cyber-bullying can take many forms: insults, threatening messages, defamatory smears or even attempts at ruining a person’s reputation. The 2 biggest motivations for bullying are the bully simply gets their kicks from putting people down, and the other is to get someone they disagree with to shut up.

Many bullies think their insulting remarks are the height of comedy. Some may even claim to be “comedians”. Sadly, there are online forums where this vile behavior is encouraged. All-too-common misogynistic bullies revel in making insulting remarks about a woman’s intelligence or looks. Some women-haters even go as far as to make constant rape or death threats against their intended targets. It’s a similar situation with racist bullies and bullies that target religious minorities and people with special needs.

In the political and media arena, it’s not uncommon for bullying tactics to be used against political opponents. If an activist, politician, or political operative has a large enough social media following, it’s relatively easy to inspire their followers to harass an opponent to silence them. If the harassment is persistent enough, this tactic can unfortunately be very effective. Even well-respected scientists have been cowed into silence by this ploy.

When called out for their behavior, it can be nauseating watching a serial harasser and their defenders claim their execrable actions are protected by the First Amendment. However, the First Amendment doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to hurt others or destroy reputations. Whether or not the bullying you’re experiencing is a prosecutable offense can vary by country and jurisdiction. If you are being victimized, know your rights.

The best way to deal with bullies and harassers is to block and report. Do not interact with bullies, or attempt to get an apology, since this will only encourage them. Use anti-virus/malware software in case the bully turns to hacking, and be extra careful with passwords. Call the police about stalking, death threats or rape threats, consult lawyers about defamation.

For more information about how to deal with this, visit the National Bullying Prevention Center, and Stand for the Silent. For more information on sexual harassment: Sexual Harassment on the Internet.

Get involved and know your rights!

The Faker

It’s hardly a startling revelation that a very large number of people, probably a majority, tell white lies about themselves online and off. Most of the time this is probably harmless, but at least a few people take lying about themselves to such an incredible level of deceit that their entire online persona and reputation is built on nothing but lies. This, my friends, is the creature known as the Faker.

There is a significant amount of overlap between the multi-level marketer and the Faker. Just about all the multi-level marketers you encounter online are essentially Fakers, pretending they’re making a ton of money, pretending the products they are pushing are unique, top-of-the-line products, and perhaps most importantly, pretending to be your friend.

But not all fakers online are promoting pyramid schemes; indeed, some aren’t even interested in money, so this deserved it’s own category.

There’s a bewildering number of sub-categories of Fakers crawling around social media these days, it would be difficult to do justice to this subject. So I decided to narrow it down to two sub-types, due to the number encounters I’ve had with them over the years. These two sub-types are fake athletes and disease fakers.

For obvious reasons, the fake athletes I am most familiar with are fake runners. Every now and then while reading a running site or on social media, a story pops up about a runner who has been exposed as a fake, or someone a lot of people are suspicious about.

What these fake runners who fake their way to marathon or ultra-running glory all seem to have in common is this extreme desire to become famous. They are so desperate to turn their name into a valuable brand they will invent stories out of whole cloth about incredible distances they’ve run day after day, while providing scant evidence for their athletic feats. It’s no surprise that they will often buy followers on social media to make themselves look a lot more famous than they really are.

Astonishingly, some of these con-artists often manage to not just attract a cult following, they also become sponsored, and will sometimes run for a charity. Skeptics who ask questions are routinely demonized by the Faker and his rabid followers.

A little detective work and the fake runner is exposed; like a pin pricking a big balloon, he is quickly deflated. All but a tiny number of his followers abandon him and the sponsors run as far away from him as possible. Instead of fame, all the fake runner has achieved is a permanently damaged reputation before fading away into oblivion.

If you suspect a headline generating runner of being faker, a great place to report this is Let’s Run. The Let’s Run community has exposed a bunch of fake runners over the years. Marathon Investigation is another good site for reporting cheats.

Of all the things a person can do to get attention, faking disease is arguably the lowest. Keep in mind that not all disease fakers are in it for the money, some just want the attention.

Disease fakers have a method of infiltrating groups either related to the disease they are pretending to have or something entirely different. They will tell one lie after another in their game of emotional manipulation to make you pity them. Unless these people made big news and attracted a lot of donations, it can be difficult to expose their con. If the more skeptically-minded start asking questions, they may start to claim they are very close to death.

If you suspect anyone of faking a disease, be on the look out for any inconsistencies. If one catastrophic event happens one right after the other, be very suspicious. If they have trouble answering simple questions, they are very likely a faker. Just ignore and block them. It’s not a good idea to try to publicly expose them unless they are asking for money.

These fakers poison social media by making everyone who has dealt with them a lot more cynical and apprehensive. Add bullies and the multi-level marketing zombies to the mix, and social media looks like a very depressing place where you can’t trust anyone. However, by being very selective of who you follow, and knowing how to effectively deal with negative or dishonest people on social media, it can still be a valuable resource.

Have you dealt with these types of people before? What type of people do you consider to be the most troublesome on social media, and how do you deal with them?

Related article:

MLM and Social Media

 

There is no magic in joggling

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There are so many misconceptions surrounding joggling and the “Wild Juggling” blog, that it would be difficult to cover them all in one post. Now I would love to discuss the misconceptions about what joggling can do for your sex life. However, a more common yet disturbing misconception is how some people peddling quackery see me as some kind of natural ally, and have suggested through email that we guest blog on each other’s blogs. The truth of the matter is that I am no friend of quackery or as it is often called today, “alternative medicine”. There is nothing “alternative” I do that allows me to joggle for many miles every day. What falls under the label of “alternative medicine” is almost always unproven and therefore simply quackery. Sometimes the label “complementary” is used, or the hybridized “integrative”.

These labels are simply marketing terms for therapies based on prescientific ideas that have been justifiably disgarded by modern science. What do I mean exactly? I mean things like homeopathy, reiki, chiropractic, “energy” healing, acupuncture, and most supplements. To make the long story short, for homeopathy to work beyond its placebo effects, it would require overturning most of what we currently know about about physics and chemistry. That’s because one of the central tenets of homeopathy is that the more you dilute a medicine, the more powerful its effects. Another central tenet is “like cures like”, which means a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in a healthy person will cure the same disease in a sick person. And don’t forget that substance has to be diluted many times over until none of the substance is left to increase its potency.

Example: If X causes allergies in healthy people, giving X to a person with severe allergies should cure their allergies. Sounds ridiculous, right? If you don’t believe me, visit the Wikipedia article on homeopathy or read about it on some homeopathy site. Nothing I said about how it is supposed to work is an exaggeration.

Reiki, a form of “energy” healing, is similarly nonsensical. Dr Steven Novella does a good job of exposing Reiki for the quackery that it is:

Reiki is therefore a form of vitalism – the pre-scientific belief that some spiritual energy animates the living, and is what separates living things from non-living things. The notion of vitalism was always an intellectual place-holder, responsible for whatever aspects of biology were not currently understood. But as science progressed, eventually we figured out all of the basic functions of life and there was simply nothing left for the vital force to do. It therefore faded from scientific thinking. We can add to that the fact that no one has been able to provide positive evidence for the existence of a vital force – it remains entirely unknown to science.

Acupuncture, and the theories that underpin Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine are similarly based on discredited prescientific ideas(like vitalism described above), and have virtually no scientific evidence proving their efficacy. This is why mainstream medical doctors generally do not approve of their use, not because of some “big pharma” conspiracy or “closed mindedness”.

Unfortunately, many alternative(quack) practitioners love to muddy the waters, to confuse people about what “alternative” really means, and also engage in bait-and-switch tactics to get people to accept their bizarre, discredited ideas. They often do this by mislabeling practices that are fully endorsed by scientific medicine as “alternative”, like exercise or dietary changes. Funny thing is, just about all doctors recommend exercise to their patients if they are not already doing so due to its numerous proven health benefits. Alternative practitioners did not invent exercise, so this is not an example of alternative medicine getting vindicated. Mainstream doctors also recommend their patients eat more fruits and vegetables, and have been doing so for a very long time, so there is nothing “alternative” about dietary change either, except for diets mostly based on pseudo-science.

Physicians regularly prescribe supplements or nutritional therapies to their patients, so this isn’t necessarily “alternative”. Admittedly, many nutritional therapies/supplements are something of a gray area between scientific and alternative medicine; it is unwise in most cases to ingest megadoses of nutrients on a daily basis, since getting a lot more than what you need isn’t necessarily better. A lot of megadose vitamin therapies are based on pseudo-science, and are potentially dangerous unless prescribed by a doctor.

Herbs, which can be thought of as “natural drugs” are an interesting case in that they also sort of inhabit a grey zone. Some doctors may occasionally prescribe or recommend them for non-serious conditions like coughs, or upset stomachs in the form of teas, but beyond this most are unproven or at best the results from studies are inconsistent. That said, many medical scientists study plants to help them discover new drugs, because of the many powerful pharmacological substances in plants(a fairly high percentage of pharmaceutical drugs are based on plant chemicals).

In pharmaceutical drugs, these chemicals tend to be more powerful and more reliable due to their isolation and the controlled conditions in which they are manufactured; in herbs, they are often a lot less potent due to the presence of other natural chemicals that negate their effects and plants will vary greatly over how much of the active chemical they produce. So many people will swear that an unproven herbal supplement they take works, but this is almost certainly due to the placebo effect. When it comes to alternative medicine in general, the only benefit anyone experiences is the placebo effect.

Some alternative practitioners may point to Yoga as a form of “alternative” medicine that works. The reality is that Yoga, divorced from its spiritual underpinnings is really just a form of exercise, and as already noted exercise has been proven to be an effective health booster. Meditation is a form of relaxation and may help train the mind to focus better, so it is similarly not “alternative”. Chiropractic has as its backbone many pseudo-scientific ideas about the spine, but some of the better chiropracters may mix in some of the latest physical therapy techniques, rendering this form of alternative therapy something of a mixed bag.

So no, there is nothing “alternative” that I am doing that allows me to joggle, though I often experiment with things that are at least scientifically plausible or from the grey area between scientific and alternative medicine. I frequently post about how certain foods, nutrients, or dietary approaches may boost athletic performance, aid recovery, or prevent disease, but this is just nutrition or falls into the category of “home remedy”. Optimal sports nutrition is not “alternative”, and I cite published scientific studies whenever possible to show if something works or not.

I am not in tune with any “supernatural” forces. There is no reiki, energy healing, homeopathy, chakras, traditional Chinese medicine, vitalism, or even caffeine in my approach to joggling and fitness. It is just one of the many glorious end products of eating a healthy plant-based diet, getting enough sleep, and a ton of practice. The mind-set I have is one of scientific skepticism, not of being in tune with some kind of “spirit-force” or whatever they are calling it these days.

I will simply not use or recommend something if there is no evidence to support it and/or if it is scientifically implausible. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be able to joggle at all if I wasted my time doing things that are based on nonsense or pseudo-science. So skepticism prevents me from wasting my time doing useless things, besides things that are potentially harmful. Ultimately, as someone once said, skeptics are the garbagemen of bad ideas, and no where is skepticism needed more than in health and fitness.

For more info on quackery and alternative medicine visit:

Science-Based Medicine

Quackwatch