Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#1490: George Cox

Aromatherapy is utter pseudoscience and really, well, not far away from being as silly as angel therapy and approximately as well grounded in evidence, reality and science. George Cox is an aromatherapist who seems to have, accordingly, taken it upon himself to combat evidence, reality and science, and in particular the FDA, who appears to be a bit nitpicky about such things. First of all, Cox is being persecuted since he is not allowed to make false claims about the remedies he sells: “If my granddaughter ran into my office right now and I saw her nose was running and I said, ‘Honey, you’re getting a cold. Go ask Grandma to make you some chicken soup. It’ll make you feel better,’ I am in violation of the law. I have diagnosed, prescribed (yes, chicken soup has become a pharmaceutical), treated and developed a prognosis. I am thereby practicing medicine without a license. The FDA is not going to break down the door and arrest Grandma and me. But they could,” says Cox, which is false on so many scores, but serves to create the kind of atmosphere Cox wants to convey in his writings.

And then we’re off: You know that “science was wrong before,” right? Therefore Cox is just like Galileo. Indeed, medicine changes its conclusions as new evidence comes in, unlike aromatherapy, which of course means that aromatherapy is more akin to a religious dogma and not sensitive to evidence or new facts, but that is not the conclusion Cox wishes to draw. Moreover, “there are small clinical studies that prove it and we have tons of anecdotal evidence.” Of course, small clinical studies ‘prove’ exactly nothing – and that’s not the point of such studies; instead, they provide preliminary data to establish the viability of conducting larger, more rigorous clinical studies. As for “tons of anecdotal evidence …

One wonders what evidence he thinks he has for the Ion Infrared Detox Units and Far Infrared Belts he is selling.

Diagnosis: Your standard, inhofy mix of quackery, crackpottery and persecution complex. Probably a relatively minor figure, but the victims of his efforts are still victims.


  1. I saw aromatherapy candles for pets at a dog show... seriously.

  2. I get just as much "Relaxation and Rejuvenation" from a $5 Red Velvet Cake Scented candle from a gift shop in town as any "Aromatherapy candle" being hawked elsewhere.
    Yes, scent is a strong memory trigger as well, it helps you remember things you like.

  3. I'd get plenty from a red velvet cake, let's just skip the candle!