social media & pseudoscience

I quite enjoy Facebook – it’s an enjoyable way to catch up with what friends & family are up to, & I follow a number of good science pages (which provide some nice topics for blogging, from time to time).

But FB can also cause considerable aggravation, through its habit of running ‘targeted’ advertising on one’s page & now, it seems, ‘suggesting’ pages. I mean, I’m very sure I never ‘liked’ this one! Yet it crops up on my feed. Apparently we need to be Earthed ie directly connected with the Earth & its electrical field, in order to avoid the nasty side effects of electromagnetic radiation. It’s as simple as walking barefoot on the grass (I always thought it was a simple pleasure to do that; who’da thunk it was healing as well) – but (as I rather expected) you can buy products to help Earth yourself while inside.

The cynic in me wonders how on earth (no pun intended) those believing in this stuff manage to use the internet to access all this information…

Proponents claim that ‘Earthing’ will 

reduce pain and inflammation, think blood and improve blood pressure and flow, improve sleep, reduce stress, increases energy, relieves muscle tension and headaches, lessons [sic] hormonal and menstrual symptoms, dramatically speed healing, reduce or eliminate jet lag, protect the body against potentially harmful electromagnetic fields (EMF’s), accelerates recovery from intense athletic activity.

Won’t their ‘grounding’ block them from the Earth’s magnetic field? Not to mention the effects of being bathed in EM rays while walking outside on the grass. Oh, wait…

And then there’s the spam ads about 55-year-old women looking 27 by using a couple of simple tricks & leaving ‘botox doctors furious’ (oh really?). And ads about green coffee bean extract being the latest weight-loss trick (something that Orac has addressed here, noting, for example, that the ‘evidence’ in support comes from a trial – funded by a company that makes & markets the extract – with just 16 participants & poor statistical treatment of its results).

But the one that spurred me to begin writing this post was an image posted by a FB friend of mine: one which purports to be of a 12-week-old human foetus. (I would have liked to make a comment to the contrary on the page where my friend found it, but couldn’t. Funny how some sites block comments.) I suspect I will shortly be ‘unfriended’, for I added a comment (which was later deleted) to my friend’s post to the effect that the picture was definitely not of a 12-week-old foetus. A foetus of that age is about 30mm long (head-to-rump length) & looks like this.

No surprises that the original image is being circulated by groups opposed to abortion, with a caption that begins

This is what we all looked like at 12 weeks in the womb. 

Not sure how telling falsehoods helps strengthen one’s argument.

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