Pseudoscientific Therapies: Some Warning Signs
(adapted from the American Arthritis Foundation) *originally printed in Science in Autism Treatment, Spring 1999.
- High "success" rates are claimed.
- Rapid effects are promised.
- The therapy is said to be effective for many symptoms or disorders.
- The "theory" behind the therapy contradicts objective knowledge (and sometimes, common sense).
- The therapy is said to be easy to administer, requiring little training or expertise.
- Other, proven treatments are said to be unnecessary, inferior, or harmful.
- Promoters of the therapy are working outside their area of expertise.
- Promoters benefit financially or otherwise from adoption of the therapy.
- Testimonials, anecdotes, or personal accounts are offered in support of claims about the therapy's effectiveness, but little or no objective evidence is provided.
- Catchy, emotionally appealing slogans are used in marketing the therapy.
- Belief and faith are said to be necessary for the therapy to "work."
- Skepticism and critical evaluation are said to make the therapy's effects evaporate.
- Promoters resist objective evaluation and scrutiny of the therapy by others.
- Negative findings from scientific studies are ignored or dismissed.
- Critics and scientific investigators are often met with hostility, and are accused of persecuting the promoters, being "close-minded," or having some ulterior motive for "debunking" the therapy.