The Covid-19 Pandemic is the latest illness to be the subject of hoaxes, urban myths, and snake-oil salesmen. Many are easy to spot due to their ridiculous nature, such as the idea of drinking Bleach to combat Coronavirus (Just to be clear, you would cause huge internal damage and possible death if you did that), but some are less easy to spot as they've been cleverly constructed to play on your fears, emotions and preconceptions.
Here are somer found to be doing the rounds on social media:
Drinking water every 15 minutes.
The idea being that you would 'wash' the virus into the stomach where the stomach acid would kill it. This is typical of the pseudo-science of such stories. But the reality is that viruses do not move through the body that way. 0/10
Taking a hot bath.
Taking a hot bath will not change your core body temperature which remains between 36.5oC and 37oC. However, extreme cleanliness does help reduce the spread. 1/10
Drinking Bleach to help kill the infection.
NO, NO, NO! This is the most dangerous and ridiculous idea we've yet read. Bleach, in any of its forms or strengths, has no medicinal qualities whatsoever. Contact with the human body is extremely dangerous. 0/10
The use of colloidal silver was promoted on US televangelist Jim Bakker's show.
Religious interventions aside, there is no scientific basis for this at all. Likely to have caused the placebo effect in those that took it. 0/10
This is another classic myth technique or, if we're being charitable, misunderstanding of science. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that the body needs to keep in working order, but it cannot stop you becoming infected by the Covid-19 virus if you come into contact with it. sorry. 1/10
Lots of posts that recommend eating garlic to prevent infection are being shared on Facebook, and again, these have no basis in reality. Sure there will be some pseudoscience around it, and anecdotal 'evidence' of people claiming it works but again, this is not true. It may, however, protect against vampires. 0/10
This appeared on Reddit and was picked up by The Metro but it is unclear why anyone would think that snorting cocaine would cure Coronavirus. Perhaps it was spread by dealers to up sales during lockdown. who knows? But it has no effect on viruses. 0/10
In addition to these urban myths and mistakes, there are a number of Snake Oil Salesmen, touting 'miracle cures'. These are designed specifically to part you from your hard earned cash. They are often difficult to spot but there are usually clues to look out for:
This tweet is a good example of how they manipulate the reader to draw them in. Firstly they will make big claims about how their super-food, supplement or technique can destroy Cancer, the bigger the claim the more traction it gets surprisingly. This will often be backed up by phrases like 'scientifically proven' to give weight and authenticity to the claim. Of course, this is either a lie, or a massive bending of the truth, so massive as to make it meaningless. They will mix in some actual facts often burying the 'con' between two real facts giving a falsehood an authenticity it doesn't really deserve. They will also allude to a huge conspiracy by the mainstream media who, so the story always goes, haven't talked about their magic-pills so, therefore must be suppressing them, as if these two things are auto-exclusive.
And, of course the other favoured villain in every health-conspiracy story is 'Big Pharma' who, through popular culture and internet conspiracy theorists, are invariably portrayed as evil capitalists who always have the cure for everything, but are 'secretly' keeping it to themselves so they can sell you their drugs. This is so ingrained in popular culture, that the mere mention of it guarantees you customers, it short-circuits your brain by making you angry that you are being 'conned' by evil-doers unseen, whilst, at the same time, portraying the snake-oil salesman as the 'hero' of the piece
And, do not think these miracle cures are real if the person promoting them appears altruistic. Often just getting you to watch a 5 minute video on youtube will earn them money. That will be why they appear to waste time at the beginning of the video 'waffling' as they are attempting to hold your attention for more adverts.
The phrase 'blind you with science' could have been invented for these charlatans as they will hijack other scientific studies to 'prove' their own idea. They will always pepper their talk with scientific words and phrases that sound plausible on first hearing but fail to stand up to anything less than a rudimentary analysis. They'll invariably have some incredible back-story of how they had some terrible illness (usually cancer) and by applying their technique or taking their supplement, that they miraculously cured themselves of it. These stories are designed to play on your emotions, fears and create a 'mythology' around their product. All conceived to make money, nothing more. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.