Snake Oil

By Enda Crowley on October 25th, 2013

pH balanced

Re: Would you spend $3000 on ‘alkaline water’?

SIR —  Jesus! Someone thought of this already and got a $2M grant from the NIH to study the efficacy of baking soda (amongst other things) in treating cancer. That’s a lot of baking soda. Maybe this guy is completely legitimate and he’s trying to quantify a method to demonstrate rigorously whether or not “personal remedies” are bunk.
— Richard George

SIRS — I just wanted to say I liked the article.  I have watched a lot of these claims and I have to say you summed it up pretty good!  I wanted to suggest a book to read that goes along with your point about better hydration.  This guy has an amazing story and is an overall good read.
— Adam Lougee

SIR — Thank you so much for publishing this article. Alkaline water has taken my group of friends by storm, and being the only one out of them to have a degree in science I have told and explained to them why this was not some sort of miracle cure. Your article is concise and well written and explains in terms that most anyone can understand why it’s all snake oil.
— Erick Olteanu

SIR — After reading the last part where you talk about the quote from Carlos Caridad, about the psychological process of the what the machine really does, I find myself in agreement with the purchase of this machine itself. But only by those who are foolish enough to buy it in the first place. They may or may not be doing this for the real health of people and are just in it for the money, but if it really can sway people to change the way they view what they should and shouldn’t eat, then I say let them get rich of this scheme.
— Steven Lougheed

SIR — They use electrolysis presumably so that they can say that they don’t add any chemicals to the water.  However, you can’t simply add OH- ions to water and take out the H+ ions.  If you did, then you would end up with water that has a negative charge.  Some compensating positive ions must be getting into the alkaline water, presumably coming from stuff already dissolved in the tap water, or from the electrodes, or from the walls of the electrolysis chamber.  Basically they’re just adding a chemical base (opposite of an acid) in a very complicated and uncontrolled (and expensive) way.
— Jeffrey LePage


Re: Why I worry about teens on tumblr

SIRS — Are there no legal consequences to Tumblr/Yahoo for the posting of “child porn?” It’s not exactly an obscure porn website operating out of Russia or Nigeria.

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