Quack Miranda Warning

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

This “Quack Miranda Warning” is on every just about every woo-meister’s website. I see dozens of patients every day, and I never Mirandize them, so whats the deal?

There are three ways to look at this: the truthful way, the sinister way, and the bat-shit insane way.

  1. Truth: Anyone who wants to sell you something that’s a load of crap must use this statement to cover themselves legally.
  2. Sinister: Variation of above–someone wants to sell you something that you are supposed to believe is medically useful, but at the same time they tell you in fine print that it is not medically useful. When it doesn’t work, they don’t get sued. I wonder why anyone would buy something with that disclaimer attatched to it? When I treat someone for a medical problem, I pretty much say that I intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent a disease. Why would I say otherwise? It would be a lie. Also, who would go to see a doctor that told you that they didn’t intend to diagnose or treat disease. The whole thing is bizarre.
  3. Bat-shit insane: The FDA and Big Pharma are in cahoots with the AMA to keep you from learning all the simple ways to treat diseases. They want your money, and they’ll do anything they can to get it from you, including suppressing the knowledge than anyone can learn to heal cancer.

I can’t really help the people who believe #3, but people who are willing to suspend their paranoia should read #’s 1 and 2 a few times. Unless you’re being arrested, no one should be reading you your rights. The Quack Miranda Statement is the red flag that should send you running.

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38 Comments

  1. I came to this site from your scienceblogs site, where this thread has a recent (July 10) post ranting about everything wrong with this argument.
    The major difference between the rambling warning at the end of drug commercials, the “black box warning” and the quack miranda warning is simple. The warnings on effective drugs are listing possible side effects of taking an effective drug to treat an illness. These drugs also clearly state that they are an effective treatment.
    The wooscriptions all have the miranda warning to warn that they have no scientifically provable effect in treating any illness.
    There appears to be a major difference, and to attempt to conflate the two is fundamentally dishonest.

    Reply
  2. Rob Del Monte

     /  November 14, 2010

    I’m not saying that this isn’t the disclaimer that con artists would use, but i think medicine doesn’t have to be about disease. Afaik, ‘heal’ is related to an old word ‘hael’: ‘to make whole’, and arguably there could be a branch of medicine devoted to healing in the first instance irrespective of disease – you don’t take it to prevent anything, you just take it to boost your health to enjoy the feeling of being healthy. That is when i’d see a doctor who isn’t interested in diagnosing, preventing,

    Reply
    • “you don’t take it to prevent anything, you just take it to boost your health to enjoy the feeling of being healthy”

      Hmmm. To be fair, there *are* substances that do this, they are usually referred to as “controlled substances”.

      Seriously, being perfectly healthy but taking unproven stuff to feel even better? More than 100% fit? Want to explain how we can travel faster than light as well?

      I feel a rhyme coming on:

      Healthier than healthy,
      Whiter than white;
      You must be so naive
      To swallow that shite.

      Reply
  3. Rob Del Monte

     /  November 14, 2010

    Sorry, my mobile ‘phone cut off the end of my message when it lost connection. Cont.: or treating. However, the types of advice i expect would be to like cycle to work and pick the autumn/fall berries on the way home – things without labels. Therefore, this does sound like the hallmark of a scammer, but not because the medicament’s apathologic, but because the types of medicines are likely to not be industrially processed medicinal substances (medicaments), with industrial regulation; and without labels.

    Reply
  4. Lawrence

     /  April 28, 2011

    This statement may be on every quack website but is on every legitamate website and label as well. Take vitamin C for example. Everyone knows that it can help treat & cure diseases. Vitamin C has been used for centuries to cure disease by eating various foods that are high in it. Even doctors tell you it is good to take when you are sick because it helps your body fight off the disease. So the fact that this statement is required to be on even the most obviously beneficial vitamins pretty much means that the FDA requires a companies to lie to the public and that they have failed in their one duty to encouraging truth in health. Once I realized this, it totally discredits everything the FDA says.

    Sure if something is not approved by a big organization whose existance is supposed to safeguard health it makes it easier for the little con artest to step in at every opportunity, but that doesn’t mean that the big con artests arn’t doing the same thing.

    Reply
  5. Linda R

     /  May 3, 2011

    This is an uninformed and deliberately misleading post!!! Of course supplements and websites include this statement, because it is REQUIRED by law! See http://www.fda.gov: “This statement or ‘disclaimer’ is required by law (DSHEA)…. these claims; they are not approved by FDA…. The disclaimer must also state that this product is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease,” because only a drug can legally make such a claim.

    Reply
  6. orange

     /  December 28, 2011

    Dear super hero of health justice,

    I believe in your science and tests. Woomeister scam artists take advantage-yuck. Science is absolute truth-not. Proved as fact today dismissed as not true tomorrow.

    I am a woomeister, I am the 1%. Let’s talk woo. When I was learning to be a woomeister I thought the training too wooey. Over time, I learned to appreciate the woo, and began to understand that woo may be something more than we can explain right now, and just because we do not understand the science yet, doesn’t mean we should discard or disrespect the woo.

    Who would test Ma Haung Tang (Ma Huang, Gui Zhi, Xing Ren, Gan Cao) and let us know if it was effective coughing, wheezing, common cold and body aches? Ma Huang is effective enough to be banned (misuse). Salbutomal could be abused or cause serious adverse effects. Why is it not banned and just regulated?

    Reply
  7. “This statement may be on every quack website but is on every legitamate website and label as well. Take vitamin C for example. Everyone knows that it can help treat & cure diseases. Vitamin C has been used for centuries to cure disease by eating various foods that are high in it. Even doctors tell you it is good to take when you are sick because it helps your body fight off the disease. So the fact that this statement is required to be on even the most obviously beneficial vitamins pretty much means that the FDA requires a companies to lie to the public and that they have failed in their one duty to encouraging truth in health. Once I realized this, it totally discredits everything the FDA says.”

    Physicians rarely actually prescribe vitamin C….a balanced diet which includes vitc in usual sources from food is advisable. If for some reason a person does not follow such dietary guidelines, it would be reasonable to supplement vit C….but this idea that vit C is some form of effective to “cure diseases” is without evidence…sure there is a hint of high dose vitC research about say the common cold, but it aint all that compelling of data…eat a normal diet, you do not need vitamin C supplementation. Just because a doctor may suggest it during a cold, in most cases it is because they dont want to tell them there isnt shit to treat a cold really….

    So the argument that vit C is an “obviously beneficial vitamin” not a science based claim largely…a basic normal diet is all one needs, there is no data that compels routine use of vitC as such. If there is, then please enlighten me and my physician colleagues that I work with, because we almost NEVER prescribe vit C…and the reason is a void of evidence to compel it as such…thus the labeling.

    Big straw man argument….fallacious.

    Reply
    • “Vitamin C has been used for centuries to cure disease”

      Balderdash. It wasn’t even known to exist until comparatively recently. The only thing taking Vitamin C will cure is scurvy, which is Vitamin C deficiency. It’s needed for the proper functioning of our bodies, certainly, but it is not a medicine.

      As for taking it when you’re sick: permit me to be dubious about that claim. Excess Vitamin C is excreted from the body fairly quickly and, in fact, there appears to be no good foundation for taking extra Vitamin C when you’re poorly, in spite of the continuing belief that it relieves/protects against colds. Incidentally, the doctors I know all stopped prescribing Vitamin C for colds over 10 years ago, when its ineffectiveness as a remedy was established.

      So, sorry to disappoint you, but yes: it is appropriate that Vitamin C should carry a warning. It is not a medicine. It is a (unnecessary) supplement to a normal diet and therefore the QMW is quite in order.

      Reply
  8. Robert Downey

     /  January 19, 2012

    Square me away please.
    I have read copius amounts of articles pertaining to the use of ascorbic acid as a useful tool in the treatment of arteriosclerosis. Please don’t roll your eyes yet, its about to get worse. I have read articles about research by one Dr. Linus Pauling which have led me to find a patent granted for a method of treatment of this disease. Is this for real? I am not a skeptic by nature unfortunatly. As a result I desire to believe that such things could be possible. What I see in practice by the Medical Community at large would seem to negate this. Are you aware of any such treatment within the mainstream (Real Medicine) which supports or contradicts this? Regards, and many thanks for your Blog and for being candid, Bob Downey

    Reply
  9. Vicki

     /  January 25, 2012

    I’m not a doctor, but since PalMD hasn’t answered this: the patent office generally doesn’t put a lot of energy into figuring out whether things work. The criteria are supposed to be that an invention is original and nonobvious [1]. If an invention is bviously nonsense, a patent may be turned down. However, something can easily be patented and turn out later not to work (as in this case). Or something can be patented and turn out not to be something anyone wants (there’s a nineteenth-century patent for a combination rifle and plow. Original, yes. Something people wanted? No.

    One exception: the U.S. Patent Office will not issue a patent for any form of perpetual motion machine.

    It would be nice if Dr. Pauling had been correct on this. But if he had, it would be in use. We’re not talking about an obscure country doctor, or someone without formal credentials working in their garage. Linus Pauling won two Nobel Prizes (one for chemistry, and a Peace Prize).

    [1] At best; software patents in particular may not pass the “nonobvious” part.

    Reply
  10. I would summarize the Quack Miranda Warning by looking at the meme [citation needed]. You’ve seen this on Wikipedia.

    The funny thing about “used for centuries” is just how much altmed is new. Kinda like how alties use “Western medicine” as a snarl word, but never for reflexology or homeopathy.

    Reply
  11. Dracon

     /  June 25, 2013

    As an herbalist, I am required by law to use this stupid disclaimer on my natural products regardless of the fact that they actually work without harmful chemicals and toxic additives because the FDA sucks and wants money.

    Reply
  12. Dave M.

     /  February 7, 2014

    Lets think logically here, the statement where you say the “truth” is that anyone who wants to sell you crap that doesn’t work will put this label on is simply ludicrous. ANYTHING that isn’t FDA approved and is a supplement must carry that label to prevent idiots from suing the company when for example, St. John’s wart didn’t “cure” their mental illness or someone taking milk thistle ends up with a liver problem still. There are plenty of supplements and herbs that truly are great medical tools but since the white coats don’t get money off of prescribing them, they somehow get shunned. For the writer of this to simply dismiss any product that has this label is scary and ignorant of how the FDA works and the fact that drug companies would tear the natural industry apart if they even dreamed of claiming a product could really help “cure” you. May I point out that almost every prescription drug is made to fix symptoms, not actually fix your body. Its big pharma and the FDA that have these claims being slapped on supplements, sure, tons of stuff out there is total BS but their are plenty of products with this label that are irreplaceable and extremely useful.

    Reply
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