Table 1. Co-opted tokens of scientific legitimacy.
Accreditations and
Asserting certification of products or practices by international standards
organizations or claiming training certification
Boards and advisersConvening scientific or medical advisory boards featuring prominent
business leaders and academic faculty members
Clinical study
Registering trials whose apparent purpose is solely to attract patients
willing to pay to participate in them
Ethics reviewUsing the imprimatur of “ethics review” to convey a sense of legitimacy to
their products or procedures
LocationRenting of laboratory or business space within a legitimate scientific or
government institution
MembershipJoining established academic or professional societies to suggest legitimacy
by association
Outcome registriesPublication of open-ended voluntary monitoring data sets rather than
undertaking controlled clinical trials
PatentingSuggesting that patent applications or grants indicate clinical utility
rather than initiation of an application process or recognition of
novelty and inventiveness
PublicationPublishing research and commentary in journals with limited anonymous
peer review
RationalesCiting preclinical and other research findings to justify clinical application
without sufficient efficacy testing in humans
Self-regulationForming organizations to self-regulate in ways that support premature
Technical languageUsing scientific-sounding words that imply academic rigor
Testimonials and
Providing expert opinions or celebrity comments on unsupported clinical
uses or standing of the provider