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There's a Difference PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Reader "Roger" sent us this note:

I got an education this last weekend. I did not realize there was a difference between a "health" expo and a "wellness" expo. My buddy got us a booth to display our line of supplements and power nutrition. As I walked into the event center, I saw a couple of chiropractors. I don't know what you think about them, but they were there teaching people about good posture....okay, no problem.

As soon as I walked in the door to the main exhibit room, I was floored. First thing I saw was "aroma therapy"...doh!! Then there was a guy sitting between two pillars with a crystal dangling between them. He "channels" energy to the crystal because the nearest vortex is about 1000 miles away....double doh!! Of course, the psychics, clairvoyants, and mediums all had booths and were offering readings.... "Doh" doesn't cover it here. The event started at 11. About 10:45, about ¾ of the people in there started to meditate with an eerie chant. There was reiki, feng shui, an oxygen bar, light therapy, angel readings, crystal therapy - with crystals from the Himalayas...

The type of people who came were exactly the type you'd expect. I could look around and see there were people who ran booths who actually believed they were helping people. Then there were the ones who I could tell were exploiting people - they didn't believe this crap any more than I did, but they charged $35 up to $50 for 15-minute readings. The sad thing is, people lined up to give these people their money. I honestly think that our booth was the only legitimate business in the whole expo.

I guarantee that I will remember the difference between a "health" expo and a "wellness" expo.

P.S. I almost put on a turban and charged $10 for readings. That would've been a bargain...haha. My conscience got the best of me, though. I couldn't do it as a reader of SWIFT.

Thank you, Roger. So long as the public remains naive and - so often - just plain dumb, these leeches will profit. George Burns once said it: "In showbusiness, the most important thing is sincerity, and if you can fake that, you've got it made."

George was right.

 

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So which was this?
written by fluffy, May 01, 2009
Was Roger at a "health" expo or a "wellness" expo? Having never been to either kind I'd like to know which sort to avoid.
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written by kaivulagi, May 01, 2009
"our line of supplements and power nutrition"
My kitty curiosity burns- could we have a more detail on the supplements and power nutrition Roger is hawking?
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Pot calling the kettle black?
written by Paul Claessen, May 01, 2009
a. "My buddy got us a booth to display our line of supplements and power nutrition"

b. "there were people who ran booths who actually believed they were helping people"

c. "I honestly think that our booth was the only legitimate business in the whole expo"

c. appears to prove the point made at b. considering a.

Supplements? http://www.quackwatch.org/sear...upplements

Power nutrition? uhm? Spinach?
Or perhaps some products mentioned here:
http://www.quackwatch.org/01Qu...herbs.html

"they charged $35 up to $50 for 15-minute readings"

I'd like to see some prices of those supplements and power nutrition products!
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written by kaivulagi, May 01, 2009
@ Fluffy

maybe 'hellness expo" to avoid confusion.
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Expos are for RV's
written by Realitysage, May 02, 2009
"Was Roger at a "health" expo or a "wellness" expo?"....

Perhaps the red flag is the word expo.
Seems to me that it's probably best to consult a legitimate dietician if you need guidance with nutrition or an actual doctor if unwell.
So you'd like to prevent disease? Every medical professional worth their salt says the key is a balanced diet and exercise. Supplements make for very expensive urine.
But remember, there are no guarantees you won't fall ill or suffer an accident. None of us are immortal or bullet proof.
As much as we'd like Randi to be.....

smilies/wink.gif
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Oh, I dunno...., Lowly rated comment [Show]
Legitimate business
written by Paul Claessen, May 02, 2009
"I honestly think that our booth was the only legitimate business in the whole expo"

Oh, I think at ALL booths, "business" was legitimate!
And probably "business" (I sell, you buy, I make a profit) was the ONLY thing that was legitimate at all booths.

As for people wondering about "Supplements and Power Nutrition" I recommend the article "Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice" by Reynold Spector in this May/June (2009) edition (volume 33, No. 3) of Skeptical Inquirer (which we all are subscribed to, right?).
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written by McDowell, May 02, 2009
Well Roger, "health" or "wellness" expos are pretty much the same thing from my point of view. I also would suggest, as have some others, that you are part of the problem. Nutritional supplements, power bars and vitamins are as big a marketing scam as crystals and Reiki.
Legitimate health practitioners don't offer health advice at "expos". We see people in our offices or at small seminars; we don't set up booths in convention centers.
In the world of sCAM (so called alternative medicine) there is a continuum of woo. Things like homeopathy are clearly nonsense at one end of the scale, whereas herbal therapy is at least plausible, though mostly unproven.
Nutritional supplements would fit at that end..plausible, but unproven, and mostly just a waste of peoples money.
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written by skyhand, May 02, 2009
It sounds like it was a very interesting group. I have never had a chance to see all that woo in one place. It would have been quite an education for me. I'm not surprised that their were chiropractors there. They seem to turn up at any kind of expo. I went to a home expo a month ago and their were 3 chiropractors set up cracking backs.
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written by cullen, May 02, 2009
Re: Pot calling the kettle black

Since we don't know what claims "Roger" makes about his "line of supplements and power nutrition"...
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Re: Pot calling the kettle black
written by Paul Claessen, May 02, 2009
@Cullen: re: "Since we don't know what claims "Roger" makes about his "line of supplements and power nutrition"... "
Your point being?
From his post you can infer that a) he's selling the stuff and b) that he thinks it "works" ("our booth was the only legitimate business").
So it's safe to assume he's NOT setting up his booth in order to teach people that this is unscientific, unproven stuff that most likely doesn't work or isn't needed.
He's peddling it!
I'm not really interested in any further specific claims.
For that matter: we ALSO don't know if the crystal merchants are making any specific claims, or whether the palmists have a disclaimer somewhere stating that their services are "for entertainment only"! In fact, a lot of that stuff doesn't NEED many "claims" on fairs like that: it basically sells itself. You can sell a lot of crystals and magnetic bracelets on such "expo's", without even making a single claim! People make up their own "woo" as they see fit.
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written by BillyJoe, May 02, 2009
"Science and Pseudoscience in Adult Nutrition Research and Practice" by Reynold Spector in this May/June (2009) edition (volume 33, No. 3) of Skeptical Inquirer (which we all are subscribed to, right?)

Yeah, I'll get mine shipped over in about July or thereabouts. smilies/sad.gif
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written by BillyJoe, May 02, 2009
I have to go a long way back to fine an article by Randi in which he has not made a mistake, and often this is a mistake about basics.

I don't know how to correct this. He obviously rarely, if ever, reads the comments to his articles. At least he is not correcting the misinformation he is spreading. So it's a waste of time correcting him here. And the last time I sent him an email all I received back was a rather irrelevant response to a rather irrelevant closing remark I made and which I wish I had left out.

What to do?

BillyJoe
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A negative vote without comment., Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by mazyloron, May 02, 2009
I agree with ya BillyJoe. At least, mostly. I haven't noticed as many errors in Randi's posts, though they are there on occasion (and the other authors make their share as well). And I don't expect perfection of anyone - we're all human, we make mistakes. But it's not unreasonable to expect a certain level of, oh, what's the word...skepticism?

Now, on the other side of it, we did not see the entire e-mail that Randi received. There could have been more in it about what Roger was selling. Or his e-mail address could have contained a domain that indicated the company he worked for, or his signature, and thus Randi could have looked them up that way. We really don't know. I would say, however, that even from the one line of description, "our line of supplements and power nutrition" we can make a pretty good guess as to the sort of things Roger was selling. GNC-type-stuff, I would imagine. That sort of stuff is a mix of: helpful with side effects, useless, and dangerously unhealthy.

But, again, we don't know for certain. However, I would have asked that question of Roger before posting here, or at least asked it in the post.

Also, I do agree that it seems that Randi never reads, or at least never responds to the posts here in any noticeable way. Jeff Wagg seems to, but only on his own posts. I know Randi's a busy man, and we can't expect him to read every comment on every article. But there are a lot raising similar points about his post, and I'm guessing there will not be an update, reply, or future post regarding this.

I don't know what to say to that. I think Randi's a pretty great guy overall. He's done more for skepticism in general than just about anyone else out there...but I also do my best to not fall into any "cult of personality" sort of situation, with anyone. Even someone as Amazing as Randi.
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written by Diverted Chrome, May 02, 2009
Oxygen is such a scam. Who needs it?
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written by Kuroyume, May 03, 2009
Oxygen is such a scam. Who needs it?


Yeah, but would you pay for it? Really? It's not in short supply (except at 10,000+ ft and in a breathable form in water).
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written by bosshog, May 03, 2009
I often suspect that the mania for health and youth is a result of post-Christian modernists having given up Jesus but refusing to give up His promise of immortality. There's a quality of frantic desperation to their activities.
"Cholesterol get thee behind me!"
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written by gebobs, May 03, 2009
I went to the eye medic a few weeks back and since my family has a history of macular degeneration, she wanted me to get a special multivitamin for its prevention. I showed the one she was touting to the pharmacist and they said they don't carry it. Then she said something that really made me kick myself. She said be careful. Our liver has to deal with all these things we put in our body.

I was like, oh, snaaaap! You're right. I tore up the brochure and walked away with $20 still in my pocket.
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written by Bruno, May 03, 2009
Randi has responded to comments on several occasions, only not in the comments section itself but in a subsequent post.
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@ gebobs
written by BillyJoe, May 03, 2009
I wonder if you can see that your decision was far from a sceptical one. For example, what made you decide to take the pharmacists advice above that of the eye medic.

BJ
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Preventable.
written by Sikaranista, May 03, 2009
Perhaps the lesson to be learned here isn't just about the difference between health and wellness. The lesson is also to do your one's due diligence before giving up a weekend and associating oneself or your company with any commitment.
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Billy Joe
written by Griz, May 05, 2009
I've emailed Randi several times and recieved a direct response. Granted, the response is usually something along the lines of "whatever" but he did respond. This was a while back, before these comment sections, before his health problems even, and now he's probably less involved in the day to day than he was before.

Even back then, though, I did not ever get the impression from him that he was all that concerned about the accuracy of the details presented in his rants. In my opinion, it's one of the big failings of this web site and one that's perpetuated frequently by the writers who are taking over for Randi. There seems to be a tendancy to go for the big score against the irrational simply to get the accolades of the choir that's being preached to. That doesn't seem very useful in promoting rationality in the world, but that's just one man's opinion.
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My wife and I fell for this once
written by Griz, May 05, 2009
My wife is a private practice speech therapist and we signed up for a booth in what we thought was going to be a health expo. It was a "wellness" expo, and that's where I learned the hard lesson of the difference. We walked around and looked at the other booths and it was chiropractors and crystals and foot soakers and tarot card readers. Like Roger, we felt like we were the only legitimate health profession represented. We did find one other pediatrician that we were able to commiserate with. The crap salesman from the booth across from us kept coming over to try and sell us whatever brand of crap it was (I don't remember what kind of crap now) and finally I lost patience and told him I thought his product was bullsh*t. That was a mistake, because then he kept coming over to convince us it wasn't.

We had hundreds of people stop at our booth, dozens ask questions about pediatric speech therapy, and not one patient referal resulted from the entire fiasco.

The only bright side was that I had a chance to educate myself on the many kinds of frauds and scams being perpetrated these days. This was the first time, for instance, I came in contact with the spine angle reducing balance chair sitting neck stretching folks, a particularly virulent strain of chiropractor.

Sadly, the event was very well attended, and
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written by Steel Rat, May 09, 2009
If I were Roger, and felt that my "line of supplements and power nutrition" were more legit than anything else being peddled there, I would have turned around and walked out. But as others have pointed out, things peddled as "supplements" are mostly bogus (at least in my experience). Roger surely should have foreseen this response...
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written by BillyJoe, May 09, 2009
Are you saying Roger is bogus? smilies/grin.gif
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written by Steel Rat, May 09, 2009
Are you saying Roger is bogus? smilies/grin.gif


I'm saying he may be full of anti-oxidants smilies/cool.gif
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