The Success of Unproven Science on the Internet

Google Search Appliance in Datacenter by bdeckmyn is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Google Search Appliance in Datacenter” by bdeckmyn is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Eloise Gordon

Amidst an infectious virus pandemic, there is another one taking hold. More than half of Americans are suffering from “screen fatigue” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research. These results are no surprise to most. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it so that most activities have turned virtual – from school, to work, to even hanging out with friends – and the sudden increase in time spent on electronics has severe negative effects, including sleep deprivation, vision problems, aggression, obesity, aches and pains. 

Many people have attempted to find solutions to these harmful problems but the reality is, some of the solutions people have come up with might just be as harmful as the problems they are trying to solve. One of the most popular solutions to the problems that screens may cause is blue light glasses. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a large increase in sales of blue light glasses. On popular websites such as Amazon and stores such as Target, blue light glasses are often out of stock due to the fact that they are such a popular purchase. Distributors and sellers of blue light glasses claim that the glasses filter out or block the blue light coming from digital device screens and combat some of the physical problems that come from staring at a screen as much as people do during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the biggest problem with blue light glasses is that there is no evidence that they work, or that they are necessary. In fact, several sources including the American Academy of Ophthalmology have come out with positions against the glasses. Currently, there is no evidence proving that the blue light coming from screens is harmful. Many issues that are caused by looking at screens for too long do not come from bluelight. Instead, they come from other sources including Ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays for instance have potential to cause cataracts and eye cancer. The small amount of blue light coming from screens however, has been shown to not have any harmful effects

Luckily, blue light glasses are not the only solution. There are cheaper, more natural and better alternatives. These include practicing the “20-20-20 rule,” looking at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds, using eye drops throughout the day to keep your eyes lubricated, and making sure not to sit too close to your computer.

But, bluelight glasses are not the only product that has gained popularity even though they don’t function well.  Airborne (an immune boosting medication), many types of sunscreen and nose strips (typically used when someone is sick and is struggling to breathe) are all examples of products that do not work to alleviate our minor medical problems but are widely popular. 

Why is it that pseudoscientific and unproven science gains such popularity online? This is the question that has changed so many people’s lives and the products they purchase. So many products gain traction whether they work or not based on internet trends. One person recommending a product turns in to other people recommending products even if they don’t know that it works. Slowing down the spread of product recommendations is hard but there is research that can be done. Throughout the internet, there are several articles about different popular products and the science behind them. While these articles may not do a great job of slowing the spread of dangerous product recommendations, they can be very informative. It is vitally important to be constantly researching products you purchase because you never know if it works.