Supplement Information

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 14:15:33 -0700 (PDT)

While I am intrigued by the possibilities of many new drugs for
enhancement of the human experience, I still take none, because I
am distressed by the complete lack of real information about them
available to me, and I wonder what might be done to fix that.

I have spent hours scouring web pages, magazines, in search of
some morsel of fact; but I find only speculation and anecdotes.
I really /want/ there to be something real in them, but I cannot
bet my life and my health on anything I've seen so far. Is it
so hard to do a few simple controlled experiments? Is there some
law that "information" can't have actual numbers in it, but has to
be written like ad copy? Don't these writers know that by writing
anecdote after anecdote, implication after implication, that they
are undermining their own credibility? A single table full of
real numbers is worth more than 1000 pages of glowing endorsements
and bullshit hype like "natural", "safe", "well-known", "increased
vitality", "antitoxins", "dramatic effects".

I'm not even looking for fancy university-funded doctor-performed
research, just some basic honesty. Informal experiments among
friends--but with placebo controls, measured effects, and complete,
honest disclosure of results and methods sufficient to allow any
reader to compute statistical significance and judge its value.

Let's take some simple "smart drug", for example. How hard would
it be to find a dozen people, give them some simple cognitive skill
tests, then give half the drug and half a placebo, give the tests
again, and print all the numbers? We could do it in a few hours
at a party, and repeat the ones that showed promise to get better
sample size. The fact that numbers like these are never printed
makes me suspicious of the whole supplement industry.

[P.S. In an earlier thread here, I accused alternative medical
practitioners and supplement sellers of being generally charlatans,
which I still do. In particular, though, I was asked to go look at
the actual labels of supplement bottles to verify that they had no
specific health claims. I did, and they don't. They do, however,
still contain reams of meaningless ad copy, and the magazines and
books on the next shelf over have actual health claims, and have
lots of supplement ads, so I am no less of the opinion that these
people are generally charlatans. I would honestly like to think
otherwise, but I have no evidence to base that belief on.]

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC