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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Dont let your health get caught in a web of deceit

Saturday, October 03, 2015
Image credit pippalouWe seem to be a well-educated population; and yet people are still scammed out of their savings, duped into becoming drug mules, and make poor buying decisions. How they could have been so gullible? It’s not quite as surprising when you learn how otherwise smart people are taken in by health “information” on the web. A recently published book explains just how you can be easily duped, and how you can avoid becoming one of their victims.

When you spend your days in a criminal court you get to see the worst and the best of people, and are shown everyone’s perspective of the event being reviewed . In the book ‘Red Flags’ by Wendy Patrick (a lawyer with psychology training) she sees first-hand how juries respond to defendants and their victims, as well as how the victims became caught in the perpetrator’s web.

Patrick explains that we can all fall into the trap where attractiveness, confidence and perceived status forms a potently convincing front ensnaring even an intelligent, well educated person in the perpetrator’s trap. She’s not cynical, but she is realistic about the differences between how people present themselves to the world, and how they really are under the veneer.

How does this relate to health? Well, the internet can actually be a web of deceit if you don’t know how to spot the traps.  It’s shocking when I hear otherwise savvy people enthuse about ‘something they read on the internet’ that sounds dubious to me. A quick review of the site all too often reveals that the person advising them what to do/eat/think has zero qualifications. But because they look plausible and have a fancy website, or run workshops, they’re believable.  As a result people buy the website’s supplements, go on unsafe radical diets, or self-diagnose.

Don’t despair though: We all check in with Dr Google; it’s a fantastic resource, and there are many reputable web sites in the world of cyberspace. But when you’re unwell (physically or psychologically) you can be vulnerable to those fancy shopfront web sites that lack a solid foundation.  Here’s how to avoid being duped:

When you next come across a website with the solution you’re looking for, pause before you reach for your credit card. Click through to locate the qualifications of the person behind it. None listed? Well, it’s possible that this person telling you what you should be doing has no more qualifications than strong opinions. Still happy to entrust your health to them?

Image credit: pippalou via MorgueFile 

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