The Atlantic

Vitamins and the Failure of Free-Market Health

The booming dietary-supplement industry is plagued by outlandish claims, undermining credible science, and seeding confusion.
Source: Matt Rourk / AP

A few days ago I found a browser tab open, and I don’t know how it got there. It was a journalistic-looking page that has since been taken down. At the top was what appeared to be a screenshot of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper interviewing astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, overlaid with “BREAKING NEWS,” and a quote presumably attributed to Hawking “We can now access 100 percent of the brain.”

The article that followed was dated April 6, 2017. It began with a shocking revelation: “Stephen Hawking credits his ability to function and maintain focus on such a high level to a certain set of ‘smart drugs’ that enhance cognitive brain function and neural connectivity while strengthening the prefrontal cortex and boosting memory recall.” The URL was socialaffluent.com.

“In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Hawking said that his brain is sharper than ever, more clear and focused, and he credits a large part to using Synagen IQ,” it read. “Hawking went on to add, ‘The brain is like a muscle, you got to work it out and use supplements just like body builders use, but for your brain, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to enhance my mental capabilities.’”

Hawking, of course, did not say this to Cooper. That’s evident in the bizarre syntax and the fact that Hawking is not one for redundant clauses (“but for your brain”). I even found a blog with the same text that substituted Wolf Blitzer for Anderson Cooper. The whole thing is fiction. Except for the product itself.

You can currently buy Synagen IQ on Amazon at $67.76 for 30 pills of the “natural brain enhancer

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