The best way to avoid being fooled by illegitimate organization and pseudo-masters is to stay away from them; however, quackery is not sold with a warning label. Moreover, the dividing line between what is quackery and what is not is by no means sharp. Pseudo-masters who use ineffective techniques may also use some effective ones. The power of pseudo-masters lies in the promise, not the product. Always be skeptical of things that do not seem right. When a pseudo-master proposes something that opposes nature, common belief, or scientific thought, then the proposal is probably bogus. Here are ten strategies to avoid being fooled by pseudo-masters:
- Remember that pseudo-masters do not always look outlandish. Pseudo-masters often use scientific terms and quote (or misquote) from scientific references. Some actually have reputable scientific training but have gone astray.
- Ignore any "master" who says that most diseases are caused by faulty nutrition or can be remedied by taking his or her supplements. Although some diseases are related to diet, most are not. Moreover, in most cases where diet actually is a factor in a person's health problem, the solution is not to take vitamins but to alter the diet.
- Be wary of anecdotes and testimonials. If someone claims to have been helped by a pseudo-master, ask yourself and possibly your doctor whether there might be another explanation. Most single episodes of disease or injury heal with the passage of time, and even the most chronic ailments have symptom-free periods. Also, some testimonials are complete fabrications.
- Do not fall for paranoid accusations. Pseudo-masters often claim that the medical profession, drug companies, and the government are conspiring to suppress their ideas, although no evidence to support such a theory is ever presented. It also flies in the face of logic to believe that large numbers of people would oppose the something that might someday help themselves or their loved ones
- Forget about "secret techniques. Pseudo-masters probably keep their methods secret to prevent others from demonstrating that they do not work. When it comes to the human body, there are no secrets anymore.
- Be wary of herbal remedies. Herbs are promoted primarily through literature based on hearsay, folklore, and tradition. Medical science has shown that most herbs do not deserve good reputations, and most that do have been replaced by synthetic compounds that are more effective. Many herbs contain hundreds or even thousands of chemicals that have not been completely cataloged. While some may turn out to be useful, others could well prove toxic. With safe and effective treatments available, treatment with herbs rarely makes sense
- Physical wrecks. As people age, they wrinkle, move slower, develop illnesses, etc. However, they do not get fat and become physical wrecks. When a "master" is a fat slug, it is because he or she always was one or he or she chose to be to be one. As long as there is no underlying medical problem that causes it, people do not get obese as they age. Masters of the martial arts will always be exemplary examples of people who are their age. Pseudo-masters always speak of what they used to do and be rather than on what they are and what they can presently doAs masters age, they will not be as quick, may not be as strong or flexible, may not be able to jump as high, and may not have as much endurance as they did while younger, but they will still be able to perform the same techniques as they did at a younger age. Pseudo-masters use age as an excuse for their lack of ability. Age is not a disease; it is merely the progression of life.
- Be skeptical of any product claimed to be effective against a wide range of unrelated diseases. There is no such thing as a panacea or "cure-all."
- Ignore appeals to your vanity. One of a pseudo-master's most powerful appeals is the suggestion to "think for yourself" instead of following the collective wisdom of the community. A similar appeal is the idea that although something has not been proven to work for other people, it still might work for you.