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Sample the Skeptic's Dictionary

supplements: vitamins, minerals, herbs, & "natural" products

note: Several large studies have shown the futility of taking vitamin and mineral supplements on a daily basis as a hedge against some unspecified adverse health effects. Many people, however, consider daily supplements to be part of a healthy lifestyle. Some people may be overdoing it on some of the supplements, doing themselves harm instead of good. (For more on the potential harm supplements might do, see my comments here.) Should everybody avoid supplements of any kind, then? Of course not. Some people have vitamin or mineral deficiencies and supplementation is necessary for them to maintain good health.

Below you will find links to articles about persons or practices relating to vitamins, minerals, or herbs. You'll also find excerpts from various items on these topics that I've blogged about. As a bonus, I mention people who make a living selling supplements at inflated prices and encouraging others to do the same with the promise that by doing so you will be on your way to riches beyond your imagination, eternal youth, increased spirituality, or something of the sort.

There are too many companies and products involved in this kind of chicanery to list them all by name. The following links should help you decide whether a particular outfit or product is trustworthy. Before joining an MLM, many of which sell vitamins and minerals along with massive doses of hope, do yourself a favor and click here.

Cancer Patients: Cancer patients who are thinking of trying an untested alternative therapy, please read the American Cancer Society's page on Herbs, Vitamins, and Minerals, and Dr. Stephen Barrett's A Special Message for Cancer Patients Seeking "Alternative" Treatments. My research has led me to conclude that many of the claims about herbs, spices, or supplements "preventing cancer" or "boosting the immune system" need to be taken with a grain of salt. Nothing prevents cancer, but many things may lower the risk of cancer. You can lower your risk of cancer substantially by not smoking, not being obese, not abusing alcohol, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. No herb or supplement will significantly stimulate T-cell growth or make T-cells more aggressive in their attack on cancer cells, but many nutrients are essential to a healthy immune system. Phytochemicals and antioxidants are necessary but not sufficient to ensure a healthy immune system. If you include many fruits and vegetables of various colors in your diet, you are probably helping your immune system as much as you need to. >>more

sample Mysteries and Science (for kids 9 and up)


In a nutshell: Monsters are freaks of nature or scary creatures in stories that are ugly and mean.

The word 'monster' comes from the Latin monstrum, which means two-headed snakesomething like a freak of nature.So, technically, something like a two-headed snake would be a monster. Two-headed snakes happen when there is an incomplete splitting of the egg.

Animals are made up of cells, which are like chemical factories. One of the most important strings of chemicals in cells is the one that copies itself to make more cells. These chemical strings are called chromosomes. Chromosomes come in pairs, one from the mother and one from the father. Each chromosome has several genes. The genes help make different kinds of cells in an animal's body. Sometimes when genes are copied the chemicals get mixed up. Sometimes the chemicals get mixed up when an egg splits to make twins. That's what happens when a two-headed snake is made.>>more

a blast from the past

Book Review

Charlatan by Pope Brock

The only complaint I have about Pope Brock's fabulous and depressing book,Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, is the implication in the title that the age of flimflam has passed. Flimflam will end when human weakness ends. Human nature drives us to magical thinking, making us vulnerable to becoming either charlatans or their victims or both. You don't have to enter the revival tent to find masses of people adoring charlatans. You don't have to go to third world countries to find people who believe in magical potions that promise everything from restoring vitality, hair, or eyesight to curing everything from constipation to cancer....>>more


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The Skeptic's Dictionary


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