I just moved into a new apartment about a month ago. Of course, Im still getting mail for person-who-used-to-live-here. Most of it is junk-mail (‘JOIN AT&T U-VERSE!!!’), but in the 4 weeks Ive been here, there have been 3 magazines… 3 thick, glossy, SEED-quality (construction, not content) magazines… from ‘Life Extension: The ULTIMATE Source For New Health And Medical Findings From Around The World.’

If you havent heard of this magazine, dont worry– its not an all-medical version of SEED or Discover, its a +100 page advertisement for dietary supplements disguised as a magazine.

Its got all the cliche ‘this is scientific!’ pics– A woman standing on a bathroom scale in an examining room. A male in a lab coat who is very concerned about a red-food-coloring-water compound in a glass test-tube. A woman in full BSL-3 regalia ‘working’… without goggles or face shield on.

Articles are alternatively titled:
1. “SCIENTISTS DISCOVER _____!!!”, where you are supposed to buy their supplement for ____, ‘scientists’ say so.
2. “SCIENTISTS PERSECUTE ____ THERAPY!”, where they state quite plainly that you cannot trust scientists who say ___ doesnt work, so you should take this ___ supplement anyway. Scientists dont want you to be healthy.


Anyway, I was particularly amazed to read an article where they were pushing their ‘get skinny quick’ supplements (emphasis original):

If we travel back to the early 1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS resulted in near-certain death within a year or two. The development of single-agent antiviral drugs provided HIV-infected individuals with only a brief reprieve. It was not until the implementation of multi-modal drug “cocktails” that HIV became a manageable disease.

The successful use of “multi-modal” therapy is by no means limited to HIV treatment. Cardiologists often prescribe multiple drugs (including prescription fish oil and niacin) that function via a wide range of mechanisms to restore the health of those stricken with severe heart disease.

… In this article, we introduce a novel multi-modal nutritional strategy to remove excess body fat stores, especially in the abdominal region. Peer-reviewed scientific studies substantiate impressive results using the individual components of this program. This multi-modal approach is an important first step that overweight and obese individuals should initiate to achieve maximal weight loss.

Yeah, so, you know how HIV patients have to take lots of drugs? THATS why you have to buy green tea supplements and African tree nut extracts and kidney bean supplements to ‘lose that stubborn belly fat!’ See, if you just take the green tea or just the kidney bean crap, it wont work. Youve got to take these ‘powerful drugs’ ALL at once, just like an AIDS patient!

Thats the ticket!

Oh hey and look! A couple pages after this really scientific article, there just happens to be an ad for the nut extract ($78), and they just happen to also sell green tea supplements ($28) and that kidney bean crap ($19). Oooh, and also a topical gel to help you get rid of BELLY FLAB ($48 for 6 ounces)! And dont forget the mail-order blood tests!

AND all these prices can be cut in half if you join their membership club, at $75 a year!

I think there is an important difference between scientists and woo-peddlers to note here– See, Im just in HIV-1 research for the money, hot chicks, and fame. Organizations like LEF illustrate just how little woo-peddlers care about money, and how they go into woo-peddling from a love of science and a desire to make peoples lives better.



  1. #1 Bob O'H
    May 22, 2009

    Hot chicks? Wouldn’t it be easier to buy a microwave?

    Money and fame you can get in palaeontology, apparently.

  2. #2 Sili
    May 22, 2009

    At least you have something for Arnie to play with – then he might leave your copy or Seed alone.

  3. #3 ERV
    May 22, 2009

    *sigh* Of all the editions Arnie could have eaten, he had to go for the one with Venter on the cover. 🙁

  4. #4 BaldApe
    May 22, 2009

    Well you know that when scientists say something you agree with, then it’s all scientifical and everything. If they say something you don’t like, well that’s just their opinion.

    I’ve also found that phrases like “studies show…” and “scientists have found…” are commonly followed by falsehoods, or at least oversimplifications and misunderstandings.

  5. #5 Raimund
    May 22, 2009

    We have a rag like that called Mosaics here in Edmonton too. It goes one step further, however and is simply a collection of one or two page ads where woo peddlers write a so-called article on whatever they’re peddling and an add for them on the same page. A friend of mine likes to pick them up to read the woo to me to elicit reactions. We get stares, so at least there’s entertainment value in it.

  6. #6 Joe
    May 22, 2009

    Thought I was reading Orac for a minute there…

  7. #7 SLC
    May 22, 2009

    See, Im just in HIV-1 research for the money, hot chicks, and fame.

    Hot chicks? Is Ms. ERV trying to tell us something?

  8. #8 Sili
    May 22, 2009


    “I, the Lord, your Dog, am a jealous Dog.”

    Oh, and congrats on moving, by the way.

  9. #9 SVN
    May 22, 2009

    I’m in research for hot chicks too! I doubt the money will flow, I shall be forever poor.

  10. #10 The Curmudgeon
    May 22, 2009

    Scientists have found that blogging increases the libido. The effect is most pronounced with creationist bloggers, which is attributed to a test of their faith. But if you by a three-months’ supply of Lust-Not™ from us, we can guarantee you hours of undisturbed online happiness.

  11. #11 Optimus Primate
    May 22, 2009

    See, Im just in HIV-1 research for the money, hot chicks, and fame.

    Exactly the reasons I went into consumer electronics journalism!

  12. #12 Paul Lundgren
    May 22, 2009

    If you want to spend money on a guaranteed weight-loss program, buy a really expensive bicycle like I did. I will personally attest you won’t leave it sitting in the garage like a Huffy.

  13. #13 SLC
    May 22, 2009

    Re Paul Lundgren

    Real men ride on tubulers.

  14. #14 sarah
    May 22, 2009

    Did some one say hot chicks? Is there such a thing as a research groupie?

  15. #15 Buffy
    May 22, 2009

    Oh FFS. I detest when BS peddlers simultaneously denounce and exploit science to sell their wares. Then there’s the “Big Pharma” only wants your money, while we’re working solely because we want you to be healthy–for $75 an ounce.

  16. #16 Fitz
    May 22, 2009

    “a novel multi-modal nutritional strategy to remove excess body fat stores”

    Let me guess: does it involve eating less AND moving more?

  17. #17 Jon Voisey
    May 22, 2009

    Why do you hate fat people?

  18. #18 minimalist
    May 22, 2009

    They sweat too much.

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    May 22, 2009

    Well, the fact that HIV is a rapidly evolving quasi-species necessitates the drug cocktails, from what I understand. That combined with this very important info leads inexorably to the conclusion that FAT IS FUCKING EVOLVING. WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE.

  20. #20 Invisible Dragon
    May 23, 2009

    That name brings back some unpleasant memories. I used to work for a contract manufacturer who did work – the damn supplements – for about two years for Life Extension. A bigger group of fuckwits you’d be hard pressed to find (except possibly my former employer). Back then they were marking up over 400% on the finished cost of their crap; it’s probably more like 500% now. And it won’t do you any more good than the cheap stuff at Walmart or even BigLots.

  21. #21 Pony
    May 23, 2009

    Beware the Adipose…

  22. #22 Sili
    May 23, 2009

    Why do you hate fat people?

    I suffer an irrational fear of being eaten.

  23. #23 Azkyroth
    May 23, 2009

    Obesity is like AIDS.

    Well, both are acquired conditions for which normal human biological functions are the usual vector; are serious public health issues; carry a significant social stigma; and lead to other serious health problems over time.

    Stopped clocks, and all that. Somehow I doubt that’s what they meant, though.

  24. #24 Tyler DiPietro
    May 23, 2009


  25. #25 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 23, 2009

    It shouldn’t be surprising that they seem similar to fans of woo. It is similar to how many alternative medicine practitioners see all forms of cancer as one disease all treatable by the same things. If you have a world view that thinks in broad analogies, symbolism, and sympathetic magic then all diseases seem similar. For that matter, it isn’t that different from say acupuncture being able to solve everything.

    Of course, in this case, there’s the monetary incentive also.

  26. #26 Christophe Thill
    May 25, 2009

    Are they implying that they have discovered the obesity virus ?

  27. #27 KemaTheAtheist
    May 26, 2009

    If people spent the time to work out rather then try all these crazy “diets” that keep popping up everywhere, they’d be skinny by now… either that or don’t let yourself get so fat in the first place.

    I have contempt for people that don’t take care of themselves… smokers, obese people, drug users… I do feel sorry for obese kids, because that’s not all their fault because they don’t know any better. Still….

    Starting rant in 3… 2… 1…

    Obesity, with the exception of rare medical conditions, is mainly caused simply by complete lack of awareness of oneself and/or self-control. At some point those people should have looked in the mirror and been like “I’m getting fat, I should start working out and eating a little less.”

    I realized I was getting fat when I gained about 20 lbs over the course of about 1 1/2 years. How do people not realize it at 25, 50, or 100 lbs? How does everything that comes with weight problems not scare them shitless into taking care of themselves?

    My fiance and I have, over the last 6 months or so, lost around 50 lbs between the two of us by doing simple things like eating better meals by getting reduced fat or fat free foods, using splenda instead of sugar, drinking diet instead of regular, etc. And *GASP* going for a walk or a run 2-3 times a week.

    I guess it makes sense though… if you’re too stupid to help yourself and/or recognize that you’re getting fat, then you’re not smart enough to realize that those magazines are complete tosh. Who could ask for a better target market?

    How hard is it to put down the fork and get off the couch?

    Okay… rant over.

  28. #28 Stephen Wells
    May 28, 2009

    I started putting on a little weight. Then my wife started rubbing my belly and cooing “Baby!” and “When’s it due?” Then I started losing weight. Surprising how that works.

  29. Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding layout. “Make the most of your regrets… . To regret deeply is to live afresh.” by Henry David Thoreau.

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