I don’t know about you, but when I read things like the above snippet from the Austin Business Journal,1 my blood boils. There is a tendency, when it comes to silly pseudoscientific beliefs, for people to say ‘Well, OK, but what’s the harm?‘ I probably don’t even need to elaborate on what the harm is for a nation of poverty-stricken desperate people who face the very real possibility of death from mosquito-borne diseases.

In case it’s not obvious, let me simplify what is going on here: ShooTag is, in the name of ‘charity’,2 sending bits of plastic that cost nothing and do nothing, to a country in dire need of real help. In addition, they are almost certainly displacing effectual disease-control methods by foisting their useless garbage on uneducated people whose lives depend on proper scientific medicine. The only thing for which we can be thankful is that they sent so few of the damn things. I mean, seriously – a hundred of each? What would that be in actual manufacturing cost? Say (generously) ten cents per tag… wow, 20 bucks. It gives a new definition to the word ‘cheap’. The ShooTaggers are, in fact, doing less than the average school kid who sent some pocket money to the Haiti Red Cross appeal. You really have to question their motives with such a flimsy gesture.

I note in passing that Mission Life International, the company distributing the ShooTags, is an organisation that appears to specialize in providing aid through the proselytisation of chiropractic, another flavour of pseudoscience that we haven’t, as yet, touched on here at The Cow. It’s unlikely that they’d have much discrimination when it comes to spotting flying pigs, then.

It is impossible to know how much damage these people and their superstitious beliefs cause in places like Haiti, but it makes me sad and angry to think that there is not some better control over these irrational intrusions into places that are in serious peril.3

(Read the comprehensive Tetherd Cow Ahead investigations into ShooTag here.)

  1. Notice how uncritically the ABJ just spouts the guff about the ShooTag ’emitting an electromagnetic frequency’ (and the rest of ShooTag’s completely unsubstantiated pseudoscience). It does nothing of the sort, of course, but this is how pieces of unfettered stupidity get lent ersatz credibility. Shame on you Christopher Calnan. Do some research before you spout such rubbish! []
  2. …and a little bit of advertising doesn’t go astray… []
  3. I wonder if these people even know how dangerous malaria is. The line from the ABJ ‘helping Haitian refugees in a big way by ridding them of small pests’ has a flip jocular quality about it that makes it seem like the insect problems in Haiti are some kind of vague nuisance. Do the ShooTag people even have the faintest idea about the magnitude of this disease, which claims something like a quarter of a billion people every year? []