Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top Ten Quackronyms

If you haven't figured it out, a Quackronym is an acronym for something related to Quackery of some sort.
Let's start at my number 10.

10. EVP - Electronic Voice Phenomena
This is something you see on those Ghost Hunter shows, where they claim the noise or interference picked up by their recording device comes from a paranormal source. The people who believe in this nonsense could learn a lesson or two from Scooby Doo.

9. EHF - Extraordinary Human Function
Skepdic says: "An extraordinary human function would be something like the ability to read messages with one's ears, forehead, fingers or some other part of the anatomy besides the eyes. There have even been accounts of reading by sitting on the message. The latter was popular in China in the late 1970's, when the study of EHF became a major research topic at Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences."
There's a little something called evidence, perhaps these folk should learn what it is.

8. ET - Extra Terrestrial
The reason ET's are so far down this list, is because there is a high probability that some form of life exists somewhere else in the universe. People who think aliens visit earth and that people get abducted by aliens are still crazy though. There is almost no chance that any alien life is close enough to visit earth. If however some alien race were visiting earth, I do not believe for one second they would be at all interested in abducting some of our least sane members of society.

7. DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone
DHEA is a naturally occurring steroid produced in the adrenal gland. In fact DHEA is very abundant in the human body. However it has been marketed as a "miracle drug" by quack and quack alike, as a cure for everything ranging from auto-immune disorders to weight loss. Quackwatch has a good article on it.

6. NDE - Near Death Experience
Near Death Experiences are often touted as evidence for life after death. I have a few things to say to people who accept this as evidence: Oxygen deprivation, brain damage and hallucination. Here's a link for more information.

5. OBE - Out of Body Experience
I was tempted to combine this into a single category with NDE's, but they are also related to another piece of quackery that doesn't make a nice acronym: Astral Projection. Here's a link to a Michael Shermer video on the 'God Helmet' and Out of Body Experiences. Here's a link to another video about the same helmet. What is abundantly clear from the realistic explanations of these last 2 Quackronyms is that the Human Brain is highly susceptible to manipulation and hallucination. Anyone who has taken some kind of hallucinogen knows this.

4. ESP - Extra Sensory Perception
Believers in ESP are probably either really gullible or Alien-abductee type crazy. No credible evidence has ever been produced for such phenomena, nor any mechanism suggested. Penn and Teller did an episode of 'Bullshit!' that featured an ESP class at a home-based Psychic School. It's good for a laugh.

3. MLM - Multi Level Marketing
Multi Level Marketing just makes me sad. Most of the people that get sucked into it are victims of a scam, plain and simple. They were most likely recruited by other people who  are most likely also victims of the same scam. The simple fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of people who try MLM do not make any money. They're not supposed to, it's simply a disguised pyramid scheme, the products they sell are only secondary to the recruitment. When you pay to sign up, the people higher up the pyramid make money.

2. YEC - Young Earth Creationism
I wanted to include Intelligent Design (ID) as another category, but then I would have had to remove one of my other list items, or make it a top 11, which just isn't cool (unless you're Spinal Tap). The reason Young Earth Creationism is so high up on this list (or low down if you prefer it that way) is because to be a YECer you literally have to deny just about all of the findings of science from the last 200 years. Creationists are Quacks of the highest calibre.

1. CAM - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
This blight upon humanity is at the number one spot for a very good reason. With the potential exception of DHEA, none of the other list members have the potential to do any physical harm beyond affecting the intelligence and sanity of the believer. Alternative medicine can cause serious harm, and in some cases result in death, as believers will of avoid getting real life-saving treatments for diseases. What really makes me furious though is that some parents make the choice on behalf of their children, like this Sydney couple who only gave their baby daughter homeopathic remedies and she died from septicaemia and malnutrition.


  1. Nice list. It's surprising how many life lessons can be learned from Scooby Doo.

  2. I think CAM has something to do with this

    Dylan Strachan