Published June 2020 on YouTube

359: Justin Ramsdell | How to Detect and Disarm Pseudoscience

1. Introduction

Dr. Justin explains why pseudoscience is bad for society and how to spot it. Pseudoscience has no basis in the scientific method and focuses on finding evidence to confirm claims rather than following standard procedures for gathering evidence.+

2. Coping with Pseudoscience

Stress and Pseudoscience:Justin explains how stressed brains don't make great decisions and why people may believe in pseudoscience during times of crisis. He also reminds listeners not to drink bleach or use disinfectant as a cure for COVID-19.+
Mental Gymnastics:Justin explains how the lack of a clear finish line during the pandemic is increasing stress levels and causing people to do mental gymnastics to convince themselves and others that there is a solution. Jordan adds that some people are using the idea of a finish line to justify irresponsible behavior.+
Coping with Pseudoscience:Justin explains how pseudoscience plays on people's cognitive biases and preconceived notions, providing just enough information for individuals to create their own explanations. Jordan adds that people will do almost anything to get over feeling useless or lost, which can lead to believing in pseudoscience.+

3. Science Echo Chambers

Alternative Science Echo Chambers:Justin and Jordan discuss how people are turning to alternative science and echo chambers for medical advice during the pandemic, leading to dangerous decisions and misinformation.+
Doctor's Ethical Boundaries:Jordan and Justin discuss the importance of doctors staying within their ethical boundaries and not trespassing into areas they are not knowledgeable about. They also provide insights on how to protect oneself from being misled by pseudoscientists.+

4. Science and Truth

Science and Mistakes:Justin explains how mistakes are a part of the scientific process and how science evolves over time with new technology and instruments. The conversation touches on how pseudoscientific cures try to poke holes in real science by pointing out mistakes, but that's just how science works.+
Science and Objectivity:Justin and Jordan discuss the importance of science in discovering objective truth and the role of cognitive biases in shaping our perspectives. They use the example of Star Wars to illustrate how our starting point can influence our perception of objective information.+
Science vs Pseudoscience:Justin explains the difference between bad science and pseudoscience, highlighting that bad science is just flawed science while pseudoscience is not concerned with objective truth. Jordan and Justin also discuss the importance of challenging and defending scientific work.+

5. Testing Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience Testing:Justin explains how purveyors of pseudoscience refuse to submit their work to testing or claim their claims are beyond the reach of science. If they do conduct research, it's designed to give them the results they want that cannot be replicated by others.+
Testing Pseudoscience:Justin and Jordan discuss the importance of testing in debunking pseudoscience, using examples such as Scared Straight Programs and D.A.R.E. programs. They also touch on the prevalence of conspiracy theories surrounding pseudoscience and the implausibility of keeping such secrets from the public.+

6. The Gravity of Conspiracy

Justin explains why conspiracy theories are so appealing to people, as they allow individuals to shift blame away from themselves. He also discusses how humans have a tendency to avoid complexity and prefer simple explanations, even if they are not entirely true.+

7. Sponsors

Jordan's guest Justin shares insights on the importance of creating a website for your business and how to get started with HostGator.+

8. Website Ownership

Jordan emphasizes the importance of owning your own domain and setting up a website as soon as possible. A website offers longevity and can lead to opportunities and lead generation while you sleep. Don't let someone else snap up your domain and miss out on potential traffic.+

9. Sponsors

Jordan and Peter discuss two essential elements of website building: hosting and design. They introduce HostGator, a hosting platform that offers expert tech support and a 45-day money-back guarantee. They also recommend DesignCrowd, a website that connects clients with designers from around the world.+

10. Design Ideas

Jordan and Peter discuss how to get design inspiration by bouncing ideas off of a large group of designers and using their designs for stationery, t-shirts, and even unlabeled bathtub hooch.+

11. Sponsors

Peter shares a special deal for listeners to get up to $150 off their design project by going to or entering promo code JORDAN when posting a project.+

12. Cancer Cure Conspiracy

The Cure for Cancer:Jordan and Justin discuss the conspiracy theories surrounding the medical industry and the idea that a cure for cancer is being hidden. They debunk these theories and explain the financial incentives behind pharmaceutical research. They also touch on the appeal of pseudoscientific remedies and the lack of evidence to support them.+
Pseudoscientific Health Treatments:Justin and Jordan discuss the conspiracy theories surrounding pharmaceutical companies and their alleged suppression of natural remedies. They also address the panacea fallacy and how it's used to sell pseudoscientific health treatments.+

13. Pseudoscientific Panaceas

Pseudoscientific Products:Justin and Jordan discuss how pseudoscientists market their products as panaceas, claiming to cure a wide range of problems. They explain how these products only address symptoms and are created for profit, leading to misleading marketing tactics.+
The Panacea Myth:Justin and Jordan discuss the fallacy of the panacea myth, the idea that one product or system can solve all of your problems. They explore how people lie to themselves and how vague claims in self-help books can be unhelpful. They also emphasize the importance of seeking objective feedback and actionable advice.+

14. Vague Pseudoscience

Vague Jargon:Justin and Jordan discuss how vague jargon in pseudoscientific cures can fool listeners into believing in their effectiveness. They emphasize the importance of clarity and defining terms in scientific communication.+
Pseudoscience Jargon:Jordan and Justin discuss the use of jargon and vagueness in pseudoscience, and how it facilitates people lying to themselves. They also talk about the plot holes in pseudoscientific explanations and how they can be misleading.+

15. Reflexology Plot Hole

Reflexology Plot Hole:Jordan and Justin discuss the plot hole in reflexology and how the specific parts of the foot are not linked to specific organs. They challenge the mechanism of action and explain how the explanations are simple and vague, providing clarity for people without providing complexity.+
Ancient Wisdom:Jordan and Justin discuss the appeal of ancient wisdom and how it's often used to sell pseudoscientific products, particularly those related to male vitality. They also touch on the importance of scientific progress and how our understanding of the universe has changed over time.+
Emotional Appeals:Justin and Jordan discuss how pseudoscientists and marketers use emotional appeals and narratives to sell their products and ideas, despite lacking evidence to support their claims. They emphasize the power of storytelling and lifestyle porn in convincing people to buy into these schemes, even when the majority of participants end up losing money.+

16. Sponsors

Justin discusses the benefits of therapy and Jordan shares his experience with online therapy through Better Help.+

17. Online Therapy Benefits

Peter shares the benefits of doing therapy online, especially during the pandemic when going to a therapist's office is not possible. He mentions that it's a perfect time to prioritize mental health and take advantage of online therapy services.+

18. Sponsors

Jordan and Peter discuss the benefits of Better Help counseling services, including their wide range of counselors and secure platform. They also share a discount code for listeners to receive 10% off their first month.+

19. MLM Scams & Prophet-like Champions

MLM Scams Exposed:Jordan and Justin discuss the dirty tactics of MLM companies and how they skew their statistics to make it seem like people are making money, when in reality, they're not. They also touch on the emotional appeals politicians use when they want to avoid facts.+
Addiction Treatment Data:Justin and Jordan discuss the lack of data in addiction treatment literature and how real science doesn't have to be approachable or appealing, but weight loss and makeup ads do. They also touch on how some expensive rehab programs grift people and don't have any efficacy.+
Prophet-like Champions:Jordan and Justin discuss the rise of prophet-like champions in the age of the internet and social media, who claim to have exclusive knowledge or secrets to success in areas such as making money online or mindfulness. They highlight the danger of veneration of individuals and the importance of recognizing the role of teams and organizations in achieving success.+

20. Debunking Pseudoscience

Debunking Pseudoscience:Justin and Jordan discuss how to spot and debunk pseudoscience, particularly in advertisements. They emphasize that one missing pillar doesn't necessarily make something pseudoscientific, but when they pile up, it's time to be skeptical. They also provide a worksheet with more information on how to identify pseudoscience.+
Reading Science News:Justin explains how to read and understand science news by looking for plot holes and understanding the process of how research is published and reported on. He suggests honing your skills by reading newspaper articles about science and looking for the variables that explain the connection between different aspects of scientific literature.+
Pseudoscience and Advertising:Jordan discusses the tricks used in advertising and how pseudoscience can be used to deceive people. He also questions why people are so willing to believe in these false claims.+

21. Protecting Yourself

Justin and Jordan discuss ways to protect yourself from lies and pseudoscience. They emphasize the importance of being objective about your own life and treating yourself like an experiment to gather objective data. They also share a fake commercial for a pseudoscientific product to illustrate how easily people can be deceived.+

22. Sponsors

Omar Zenhom introduces Herbal Opera, a revolutionary dietary supplement that has been used by the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest for centuries. Dr. Meylin Groves discovered this miracle plant and brought it to her laboratory. Herbal Opera is now being produced in the United States and can help nearly everything that life throws at you.+

23. Fake Ads Dissected

Dissecting Fake Ads:Justin and Jordan break down a fake ad for Herbal Opera and discuss the use of jargon in advertising. They highlight how advertisers use made-up terms or vague language to make their products sound more scientific or appealing to consumers.+
Misleading Health Ads:Justin and Jordan discuss the dangers of misleading health ads that use jargon and vague terms to convince people to buy products. They also touch on the potential harm of conspiracy theories in the age of social media.+

24. Targeted Advertising

Targeted Advertising:Justin explains how companies like Facebook use various data points to create a profile of individuals who would be interested in a particular product. They then use this information to target vulnerable individuals with advertisements for that product. Jordan and Justin discuss the effectiveness of this type of advertising and how it compares to traditional infomercials.+
Dissecting Advertisements:Justin Ramsdell joins the show to discuss the emotional appeal, ancient wisdom, and pseudoscience used in advertisements. He explains how advertisers use testimonials and implied emotional appeals to convince consumers to buy their products. The hosts also discuss the dangers of targeted ads that prey on people's insecurities.+

25. Outro

Jordan shares tips on networking and emphasizes the importance of building relationships before you need them. He also promotes his free Six-Minute Networking course, which teaches how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits.+