Aug. 3, 2021 – In the opening of his book, The New Alchemists, author and UBC professor Bernie Garrett compares the rise of deceptive heath care practices and misinformation to the cons perpetrated by Renaissance alchemists, who swindled desperate people with promises of immortality and claims they could turn metal into gold.
“Everybody wants to be healthy,” said Garrett. “Everybody has been taken in by some sort of health scam at one point in their life — a product to improve their skin, or lose weight. It’s a normal human desire to try and improve our lives.”
But when lives are at stake — or when a global pandemic hits — the outcomes of believing in pseudo-science, deception, scams and misinformation, can be more serious.
“It’s not just a question about losing money, some of these things can be detrimental and prevent people from getting effective treatment,” said Garrett, who cites several well-known cases that have had tragic outcomes, such as the death of a toddler in Alberta whose parents used natural remedies, rather than seek medical treatment for their seriously ill child.
Garret started writing the book in 2018 after noticing an increase in deceptive health care practices fuelled by the internet. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, with its plethora of misinformation and fraudulent tests, cures, immune-boosting agents, anti-vaccination rhetoric, and fake cures, from bleach to sunlight. Vancouver Sun reports. | READ MORE