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Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode

TEDCRED 30+

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Anecdata and evidence: Does skepticism necessarily lead to this, "EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration"?

We've had glancing discussions about skepticism in the past and levels of scientific proof needed before making claims, and it has seemed to me that for a certain segment of the population, a thing cannot work unless science can definitively prove it. (Leaving aside issues of faked results, which, frankly moves the belief in scientific evidence into the realm of faith for a huge swath of evidence.)

But now we have this:

"EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

"Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8897662/EU-bans-claim-that-water-can-prevent-dehydration.html

Over the top? Acceptable? Are there certain things, for you personally, for which "evidence-based" is a ludicrous standard?

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    Nov 21 2011: Sounds like more rhetoric from the Ministry of Truth aka advertisers.

    Personally, I automatically assume they are trying to sell me something and so I always disregard their subtleties.
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    Nov 20 2011: the key of the story is "EU officials concluded". what else do you expect from EU officials? there is no law in the EU saying pi equals four, but it is only accidental. there could be.
  • Dec 15 2011: The scientific opinion from the European Food and Safety Authority can be read here http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1982.pdf

    You might want to balance what the telegraph new paper has written, with what has been written in the Guardian Blog.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2011/nov/18/1?newsfeed=true
    Quote "Daft hysteria over the EU's ruling on water and dehydration. The EU has not said that water isn't healthy, and it's ruling on the vexatious claim that bottled water can prevent dehydration is perfectly sensible"
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    Nov 21 2011: At any level, science is making "claims." The practical goal, in this case, is to find a "common sense," but there's never going to be just one... there will be "camps" or different "common sense" groups, predictably arguing with each other. Realistically... most products should maybe contain the handful of slogans by the competing camps? "Drinking water is healthy" vs. "Drinking water does not guarantee hydration" Or "Bananas should be straight" vs. "what the..?!!!"
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    Nov 21 2011: QUOTE: "Are there certain things, for you personally, for which "evidence-based" is a ludicrous standard?"

    Yes.

    [And those EU guys have it just right; we all know water does not prevent dehydration - absorbing water does. And even that will need to be verified.]
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      Nov 21 2011: Well, I suppose if there were bottled water producers that were claiming that just holding a bottle of water would do it, then, sure. I found it particularly amusing as the very definition of "dehydration" (and hydration, obviously) involve, well, that stuff you can't make the claim about.

      If water doesn't, exactly what do they think does?
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        Nov 21 2011: QUOTE: "Well, I suppose if there were bottled water producers that were claiming that just holding a bottle of water would do it, then, sure."

        Exactly! Just imagine all those poor people running marathons and thinking a bottle or two of water in their jersey pockets will keep them hydrated. Runners would be dropping like flies!

        How could anyone think water would have anything to do with hydration?

        Thank goodness for the regulators. They keep us all safe.

        ---

        Hydration: coined in French from Greek "hudōr" meaning "water."