ShooTag


One of my favourite places on teh intertubes is the massive US Patent Database. You really could, if you were so inclined, spend an entire rainy afternoon traipsing down its digital corridors and uncovering all manner of bizarre, and sometimes clever ideas. Along with hundreds of thousands of approved patents, you can also find in these dim dark recesses, an enormous slush pile of hopeful patent applications – the wannabees and the has-beens of the entrepreneurial universe.

It has to be said, though, that whoever is in charge of the USPTO doesn’t make the traipsing easy. If you’re looking for something in particular the system seems to do its very best to evade any kind of sensible search procedure. If it was my job to sort it out, I’d approach the people who do the database programming for, oh, Amazon, for instance, and get them to look into a better system for the filing, archiving and retrieving of patents and applications. Because the USPTO sure needs one.

On the other hand, maybe the impenetrable and unfriendly process suits aspiring entrepreneurs quite well, if, let’s say, a punter like myself is in search of a… certain item of interest. It’s quite possible that secretive inventor types hope that the labyrinthine process will cause potential patent sleuths to give up before they can steal any precious ideas, or, as is my particular intention today, before they can bring them out of the musty digital recesses of patent database anonymity and into the bright light of rational public scrutiny.1

The item of interest I have in mind is this one: US Patent Application #20100243745 for an APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR REPELLING AN UNDESIRED SPECIES FROM A SUBJECT SPECIES. Its inventors are listed as: Heiney; Kathryn M.; (Wimberley, TX) ; Dubounet; Desire; (Budapest, HU); Rogers Melissa M.; (Austin, TX). The document was published on September 30, 2010.

Yes, that’s right. You have surely recognized it as the patent application for ShooTag.2 And just in case I need to draw a line under the name, the patent application for ShooTag is jointly owned by Melissa Rogers, Kathy Heiney, and Desiré Dubounet, aka ‘Professor’ William Nelson.

As you will recall, I have previously demonstrated indisputable links between Nelson and ShooTag, in my post ShooTag; Waterloo, despite Melissa Rogers’ & Kathy Heiney’s apparent efforts to erase any associations between themselves and Nelson and his crackpot notions.3

To recap, William Nelson was indicted in 1996 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on nine counts of felony fraud charges in relation to various ‘bioenergetic’ healing devices sold through his companies (these machines go variously under the names ‘QXCI’, ‘SCIO’, ‘EPFX’ and others, but they are all basically similar flavours of the same woo. They are implicated in the deaths of several people and the prolonged illnesses of many more). To evade prosecution, Nelson abandoned his home in the USA to take up residence in Budapest, Hungary, where he currently resides in the persona of Desiré Dubounet, and is still actively promoting his/her odd beliefs and his dangerous ‘medical’ machines.4

The reason that Heiney & Rogers and their company, Energetic Solutions, don’t want any public association with him/her is, to most observers, pretty obvious I think. Nelson/Dubounet is a wanted criminal and an out-and-out fruitcake, and Energetic Solutions finds him/her and his flaky ideas a liability to the sales of its product.5

Now I will emphasize strongly, as I have done before, that merely associating with a criminal does not make a person themselves a criminal. It is not William Nelson’s crimes that concern us here. We can, however, legitimately ask whether there is any link between Nelson/Dubounet’s pseudoscientific beliefs – beliefs that underpin her machines and the practices which have been found fraudulent by the FDA and the law – and the supposed basis for the working mechanism of ShooTag.

With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ShooTag patent application.

The first thing that probably doesn’t have to be said is that there is an encyclopaedic volume of utter crap in this document. It leaps, like a frog on LSD, from one crazy lilypad of gibberish to another. It is, in fact, a version of the ‘science’ that was originally expounded on the ShooTag website, and which has been subsequently removed (presumably because it made no sense to anyone who knew anything about science).

And we see immediately some of the trademark ideas of William Nelson: ‘cyclic voltammetry‘ and ‘trivector signatures‘. Nelson/Dubounet has expounded upon these ideas all over the web, and the ‘trivector’ concept is focal in the machines he sells. The patent application offers up a flow chart of how the inventors propose that ShooTag would work:

Already we are in pixie land. ‘Determine’ the trivector signature for the species concerned? Now how, exactly, should one go about doing that? Well, Fig. 4 throws some light on that question:

Aha! A network connection to a ‘trivector database‘. Now, I wonder where someone might find such a database? Plugging the term ‘william nelson trivector database‘ into a search engine returns hundreds of results related to Nelson’s QXCI/SCIO/EPFX machines just like this one:


What is the EPFX (Electro Physiological Feedback Xrroid) Quantum Biofeedback Device ?

It is the most accurate and sensitive technology of its kind for identifying stress reactions to over 10,000 trivector voltametric algorithmic signatures stored in it’s6 database, such as those taken from nutritional items, emotional imponderable formulas, allersodes, toxins and more.

And elsewhere, on William Nelson’s very own ‘Imune’ website:

•Every substance has its own unique trivector (voltammetric) field signature, and it seems that when a substance with a voltammetric field signature is introduced to the body, it can provoke a change in the field of the body.

•This voltammetric field has a virtual photon effect, which also influences the body and changes its electrical readings. Thus, the trivector signature of an organism will change when the trivector of a stimulus is introduced electrically via device. With this, Nelson realizes an innovation in electrophysiological reactivity (EPR) testing.

• A system is developed for recording thousands of 3-Dimensional trivector “shapes” of individual substances, such as organs, toxins, allergens, nutrients, and others

I think we can very reasonably infer that the ‘trivector database’ specified in the ShooTag patent application is the very same ‘trivector database’ referred to in connection with Nelson/Dubounet’s fraudulent machines. How that database is determined is impossible to know. We can be quite certain there is no published science that explains what these ‘trivector substance signatures’ are. In my opinion, the patent should be refused on that basis alone; even nonsensical homeopathy ‘treatments’ are at least available for public perusal.

My assessment is that the QXCI/EPFX/SCSI/ShooTag ‘trivector database’ is nothing more than a big heap of spurious numbers that have no real meaning whatsoever. Of course, I can be proved entirely wrong about that with the offering up of some properly presented scientific evidence. I have no fear, however, that any such evidence will ever come my way.

The patent application goes rambling on over four dense pages of ‘explanation’, often repeating much of the same daft silliness in different wording. It comes from the school of ‘If-you-don’t-have-facts-throw-in-lots-of-baffling-sounding-terms’ thesis writing. The whole lot could be simply summed up in one brief paragraph:

‘We have a card with a magnetic strip upon which is encoded some numbers. Via some completely unspecified mechanism, some of those numbers refer to insects, and some of those numbers refer to pets. Via some other completely unspecified mechanism, the numbers working together cause the insects to avoid the pets.’ 7

That’s it.

Of course, the ShooTaggers know full well that they’d never have even the remotest chance of getting a patent if they said it like that, hence the mind-numbing verbage and circumlocutious gobbledygook. One hopes that the patent examiners are so used to seeing this kind of thing that the red pen comes out well before the end of the first paragraph.

Elsewhere on the patent application, we find other enlightening information. To set the scene: you will remember that a little while back we comprehensively decoded the ShooTag data and exposed the silly magical thinking inherent in the information encoded on the card. Not long after that, ShooTag added a question to the FAQ on their site in an obvious (if risible) attempt to deflect this exposure:8

How do I know if my tag is still working?

This is a fun one. We encode shoo!TAG® tags with a frequency embedded in the magstripe located on the back of the tag. Customers can take their shoo!TAG® to any retailer that carries a magstripe (credit card) reader and swipe it through. The type of tag (i.e. fly, mosquito, tick) will show up when scanned. If there is no name, then the shoo!TAG® tag has lost its efficacy.

Yeah, that really is a fun one because we’ve caught you with your trousers down again. Let me quote you from your very own patent application (and it’s said not once, but three times, in different places):

…the trivector data stored on the three tracks is not readable by a conventional credit card reader.

Indeed. That statement tallies perfectly with my own experience: swiping a brand new ‘Tick’ card in a conventional card reader at my local shopping centre merely resulted in a ‘Card Read Error’. Maybe the ShooTaggers will want to amend that FAQ again, to erase this little untruth as well. Of course, this circumstance suits them down to the ground – if any ShooTag card is swiped, it will always come up as non-functioning (as it always literally is, I might point out). This is a ruse quite plainly intended to persuade unsuspecting customers to buy another one. Make no mistake, these people never miss a trick when money is involved.

So, what are we to make of this attempt by Energetic Solutions to obtain a patent? It’s not like they need it for any particular legitimate reason. The patent process exists in order to invest the intellectual property rights ownership of an invention with legal protection, so that someone else can’t take a good idea and just steal it. But here’s the thing – how do you protect an ‘invention’ that has no rational basis for doing what is claimed? ShooTag says their invention uses ‘trivector frequencies’ to achieve its stated purpose, so even if they had a proper patent, there would be nothing at all to stop me from creating a similar pet tag that uses a different method of operation to repel fleas, such as, oh, ‘overmodulated photonic recursion’ or something. When you just make shit up, holding a patent for it has no meaning.

But.

If your aim is to try and get authentic sounding endorsement for a product that can’t get any legitimacy via the path of factual evidence, then holding a patent is certainly a good PR tool. In other words, if you haven’t got any science to back up your claims, hoodwinking an official body into giving you an official seal of approval will undoubtedly buy you some mileage.9

I think most people trust that an organization such as the US Patent Office scrutinizes a document like the ShooTag application and files it where it belongs – under ‘N’ for ‘Nonsense’. Sadly, that trust would be misplaced. The USPTO rubber stamps some pretty stupid stuff. Take Patent #5,603,915Process for manufacturing homeopathic medicines’. Its inventors are listed as Carmel Kiely and a certain William Nelson. This ‘invention’ basically calls for the application of an electric current to a homeopathic medicine solution to ‘increase its efficacy’. Its rationale goes on for seven pages of ridiculous garbage.

And folks, the US Patent Office saw fit to award it a patent in 1997.

This enables William Nelson to boast, as he does whenever given the opportunity, about the many patents he holds. For people who don’t know better, it will undoubtedly sound impressive. This, I propose, is the sole reason that Energetic Solutions desires their patent for ShooTag. Not to protect its ‘clever technology’, but simply so they can use it as another advertisement. It’s exactly the same ploy that they’ve used with the ‘scientific experiment‘ that they tout on their website.

When you don’t have actual facts on your side, all you’ve got to play with is smoke and mirrors, and man, do these people know ALL the tricks.

Still, if they do get their patent approved, we will have something to look forward to. Melissa Rogers promised us that:

When we go from patent pending to full patent protection, then all of our sceince (all three applications) will be disclosed.

Well, Ms Rogers, such is my confidence of that ever happening that I’m applying for a patent to cover the event:

  1. I want to point out that there is absolutely nothing illegal about doing this – US Patent Applications are publicly available to anyone who wants to see them. []
  2. ShooTag is also now being promoted as ‘ShooBug‘. New name, same old woo. []
  3. Nelson is nowhere mentioned on the ShooTag site at the time of this writing, although he featured very prominently on their ‘Science’ page when ShooTag first came to my attention. In addition, Google links to Heiney and Rogers’ attendance at one of Nelson’s QXCI conferences in Budapest have been rendered invalid and are only retrievable via Google’s cache. []
  4. Where he claims, in the manner of so many charlatans of medical pseudoscience, to have fled because of persecution by ‘Big Pharma’. The reasoning presumably goes that his wonderful machines have solved all the medical problems known to humankind and if the word got out, the pharmaceutical companies would go bust, and they won’t let that happen by hook or by crook. Of course, when it comes down to concrete results, Nelson’s machines don’t deliver. They are at their most ‘effective’ on those maladies that have vague symptoms and subjective outcomes – just like all pseudoscientific medicine. The deaths attributed to these dangerous gadgets are mostly the result of critically ill people being hoodwinked into using them rather than seeking proper medical care. And, folks, in some cases you get so sick that you will die, no matter what anyone does. Modern medicine can’t cure everything, but it has a damn better chance than a silly box fuelled by ‘trivector frequencies’. []
  5. It’s probable that Heiney and Rogers aren’t able to determine that Nelson’s ideas are flaky, but I think that they, or perhaps their PR people, are keenly aware that a cross-dressing woo-spouting mad ‘scientist’ does tend to come across as a complete lunatic to most people. One has to assume that originally, in their addled ‘quantum-fractal-Schumann-Wave-bioenergetic-magnetic’ enthusiasm, Heiney and Rogers were all for Nelson’s mad ideas, but somewhere along the line they realised that maybe it was better that they just gave him his cut of the profits and kept him in the closet. []
  6. Ah yes, unsurprisingly, these sites are a tour de force of bad grammar, spelling and punctuation. []
  7. You can make it even shorter, in fact: ‘It’s a magic card that keeps bugs away.’ []
  8. Presumably their thought process was that people would search for ShooTag, find our deconstruction of the data, and then be mollified by the pat explanation in the FAQ. Nice try, folks. []
  9. It strikes me also that these people are prepared to put in a huge amount of time, effort, and, one assumes, money to try and establish their patent. Is it not a telling indication of how they view their product that they aren’t prepared to put the same kind of commitment into proper scientific trials? And wouldn’t you think you’d do the scientific investigation first? All legitimate product development happens that way round… []

Dear friends. This morning I’m angry. I’m also sad and a little depressed, but mostly angry.

Yesterday1, Cow reader Battman, in a comment on the post Shoo Us the Science (Project)!, pointed me to an article on CNBC headlined:

Energetic Solutions Corporation Donates $30,000 of shoo!TAG Product to Family Legacy’s Camp LIFE in Zambia, Africa. Donation will help to prevent mosquito bites among children, staff and volunteers at Camp LIFE.

Yes, you read that correctly. Right now, in the 21st Century, some little kids risk illness and death because badly-educated ignorant people believe that stupid plastic trinkets with magnetic strips are somehow going to help protect them from contracting a life-threatening disease.2 It’s bad enough that the peddlers of this ridiculous magical thinking are imposing their hocus-pocus on pets, but when it comes to the lives of kids, they have, in my book, crossed a line into criminality.

Before we go on, though, let’s get some perspective. $30,000 is an impressively generous amount if we’re talking about actual money, but what does Energetic Solutions’ donation mean in real terms? ‘People’ ShooTags are selling for something like $30 or so on Amazon at the moment. That means that $30k buys around a thousand of the things. Doing a quick search tells me that you can get blank swipe cards for about 5c apiece (probably less if you have bulk orders). Let’s be magnanimous and add another 5c per card for printing and packaging. The truth of the matter is, then, that the boastful ‘$30,000 worth of ShooTag product’ has a cost value of something like $100 to Energetic Solutions (in other words, the retail cost of 3 ShooTags). Wow, I bet they feel really good inside about that big sacrifice.3

From the CNBC report:

“When we saw Family Legacy’s dedication to the children of Zambia, we knew there was an opportunity for shoo!TAG to deliver a unique level of support,” said Carter McCrary, CEO of Energetic Solutions Corporation.

In the light of what we can assume about the true value of the tags, I think we can confidently re-interpret Mr McCrary’s statement to actually mean: “…we saw this as a unique opportunity to once again hoodwink people by deceiving them. By throwing around some big numbers we’ve made ourselves appear like really swell caring-and-sharing folks.”

He goes on:

“Our hope is that shoo!TAG will assist in providing relief from mosquitos and contribute to the prevention of disease among Camp LIFE participants this summer.”

No, Mr McCrary. Your hope is that publicity stunts like this one will help make you rich. Energetic Solutions doesn’t give a flying fuck about the children of Zambia, in the same way that you don’t give a flying fuck about people’s pets.

If you did – if you were really, sincerely concerned – you’d take the time to do some proper science on your product, instead of making unsubstantiated claims supported by nothing but lies and duplicitous sleight-of-hand. Because you seem completely determined not to make proper scientific investigations of your tags, any rational person must conclude that you are afraid of what such investigations would reveal.4 This, in turn, demonstrates your utter indifference to the wellbeing of African children.

___________________________________________________________________________

A big thanks to King Willy for the suggestion for this post’s image. Photography by Queen Willy.

  1. World Malaria Day, coincidentally. []
  2. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the staff and the volunteers at Camp LIFE themselves. Christian proselytizing also ranks high on my list of crimes against humanity. I figure that if God really wants people to be ruining the cultures and communities of poor third world countries, then the least He can do is protect his flag-wavers against mosquitoes. []
  3. It’s actually worse than that in fact – the tags being sent to Zambia are part ShooTag’s ‘shoocycle’ program, which entails ‘spent’ cards being ‘refurbished’ and sent off to charity. Thus, these cards probably cost them nothing at all, since they’ve already been paid for by some poor gullible sod. []
  4. Or, I guess, that you haven’t a clue what a proper scientific investigation is. []





I’ve been asked by a couple of people if I could make a summary page for all the TCA links in the Shoo!TAG (also ‘ShooBug’) saga, so without further ado, in chronological order…

•And So Ad Infinitum… April 1, 2009: In which I discover ShooTag for the first time and completely fail to make a single joke about April Fool’s Day.

•WooTagâ„¢ April 14, 2009: In which Melissa Rogers from ShooTag takes me to task for not being ‘disaplined’ in quantum physics, calls me ignorant and uses terms like ‘fractal’, ‘crystals’ and ‘energy fields’, and promises that the world will get to see the ‘sceince’1 behind ‘all three’ ShooTag applications when they go from patent pending to full patent protection (yeah, like that’s ever going to happen).2

•EXTRA: World’s Zombies Starving! April 17, 2009: In which Melissa Rogers uses her superior knowledge of quantum physics to rewrite Einstein’s famous mass/energy equivalence formula, but somehow fails to be nominated for a Nobel Prize.

•EMF – It’s Not What You Think! August 29, 2009: In which Kathy Heiney and Melissa Rogers ‘explain’ the workings of Shoo!TAG in their own baffling words. Don’t worry if you are more confused after you listen to them – everybody is.

•How Science Works December 7, 2009: In which we examine how the scientific process works and why ShooTag is not related to it in any way.

•Shoo Polish? April 16, 2010: In which we learn that the ShooTag sisters started out by attempting to sell ‘homeopathic stress relieving creams’. Which, all things considered, comes as no surprise.

•Kookaburra or, perhaps… Galah? April 17, 2010: In which someone involved with ShooTag (even though he pretends not to be) attempts to pass himself off as an Australian to our substantial amusement. When we expose his shabby ruse, he turns nasty and calls me names.

•Another Science Experiment May 3, 2010: In which we learn a simple trick for making visible the encoded magnetic data on a credit card. We apply it to a ShooTag in an effort to see just what’s on that sucker.

•Shoo!TAG Unplugged May 19, 2010: In which we reveal, thanks to our intrepid readers, that the ShooTags are encoded with a handful of numbers and the words ‘tick’ and ‘flea’, thus illuminating the simplistic magical thinking of the ShooTag creators.3

•Shoo!TAG: Waterloo May 24, 2010: In which we disclose the full bona fides of the ShooTag creators, including the basis of their pseudoscientific beliefs and their links with the criminally indicted fraudster ‘Professor’ William Nelson.

•Shoo!TAG: Bitchfight June 27, 2010: In which we learn that The Finnish Olympic Team is allegedly endorsing ShooTag, and that the European rollout faces competition from a nemesis, Tic-Clip.

•Advertising Charity Begins at Home November 27, 2010: In which we find that ShooTag is being shipped to Haiti to help control malaria. As if Haiti doesn’t already have enough of a problem.

•Tell Aura I Love Her February 25, 2011: In which we encounter astounding scientific proof of Shoo!TAG’s amazing effects. If you consider pretty rainbow coloured auras as science, that is.

•Shoo Us the Science (Project) February 28, 2011: In which Energetic Solutions, the creators of ShooTag, show the world how much they know about science. Which isn’t very much, needless to say. Oh, and they tell some more lies and make some more exaggerations.

•Shoo!TAG: Crime Against Humanity April 26, 2011: In which Energetic Solutions shows how truly stupid and dangerous they are by boasting about shipping $30,000 worth of Shoo product to Zambia to ‘help fight malaria’

•Shoo!TAG: Patently Absurd June 7, 2011: In which we examine the ShooTag patent application and notice that Professor William Nelson/Desiré Dubounet still has a finger in the Shoo pie.

•Science Schmience September 9, 2011: In which we notice that amazing scientific evidence in support of Shoo!TAG has mysteriously vanished from their website, only to be replaced by more grandiose claims with much flimsier credibility. If that’s even possible.

•Misty Watercolour Memories… September 10, 2011: In which we investigate the way in which the people behind Shoo!TAG doggedly rewrite history to cover up their mistakes, their lies and their general lack of science acumen. With pictorial examples!

•Shoo!TAG Pants Down October 19, 2011: In which the Shoo!TAG claims of endorsements from Texas State University mysteriously disappear from their site, and I publish an open letter to Melissa Rogers.

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And, as added extra value, here are a few other links of relevance on other sites:

•ShooTag review and testing on dog complete May 2, 2010: Darcie, from The Dish, videotapes a test of the ‘tick’ Shoo!TAG on her dog Oliver. Even though Darcie followed the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, the results are less than impressive. Ticks are plainly not affected by the Shootag.

•Decoding magnetic strips May 17, 2010: Dewi Morgan’s detailed record of how he analysed the data on the Shootags.

•shoo!Tag testing human mosquito complete May 24, 2010: Darcie, from The Dish, tests the ‘human’ mosquito tag and videos the results. Again, the tag fails to have any effect.

•Shoo!TAG Entry at RationalWiki

•Small piece of plastic magnetic strip achieves what entire planet can’t! Great review of ShooTag at Amazon.

  1. Maybe ‘sceince’ is something different to ‘science’? That would explain an awful lot. []
  2. There are no records for a US patent application for anything that resembles ShooTag. I propose that a patent has never been submitted. []
  3. Truly, using the same logic, if you hung a bit of cardboard around your pet’s neck with the words ‘Go away fleas!’ written on it, you’d see exactly the same results as you would with a ShooTag. []

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