Pseudoscience: As Seen on TV

QVC, the TV shopping network, recently announced it would start carrying the Good For You Girls skin products, a brand that markets its products as natural and gluten-free. Though these buzzwords sound good, the science doesn’t support these superficial claims.

The front page of the Good For You Girls website says their products are “Gluten-Free.” Obviously, this is a ridiculous claim because skin products are applied topically on the body and gluten sensitivity occurs in the small intestine through ingestion. In other words, the only reason you’d need gluten-free skin products is if you eat them—a problem that points to a bigger issue than gluten sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the companies marketing products like this aren’t interested in science. They’re intentionally targeting emotions to drive sales. In this regard, Good for You Girls isn’t alone— many companies throw science under the bus to use popular marketing buzzwords.

Unfortunately, the gluten-free example is more the rule than exception when it comes to pseudo-scientific marketing trickery. Just look at the Good for You Girls website again. It proclaims the company’s vague, but somehow miraculous mixture of “the finest natural ingredients,”  that’s implied to be better than the difficult to pronounce (and, for them, therefore, dangerous) “chemicals.”

This appeals to the “natural” fallacy, which holds that what is “natural” is always better than the artificial or man-made. Though it sounds nice, it glosses over some inconvenient truths. Arsenic and strychnine are both natural. Oil is natural. And the latest fashions are nowhere near as natural as growing your own cotton and spinning thread to make your own clothes. In contrast, your smartphone is unnatural. Domesticated animals, like your pets, are unnatural. Some “unnatural” things are, in fact, good.

With that in mind, keep an eye out—the pseudoscience and bad arguments are everywhere out there. Buzzwords don’t tell the whole story.