Leon Einstein

I learnt from a very early age that it’s bad form to kick someone when they’re down. But heck, some rules are made for the breakin’. And yes, I confess, The Reverend really doesn’t like to be called ‘ignorant’ (unless it’s by someone who’s earned the right to do that by being more knowledgeable than I am, in which case I will humbly take my smackdown).

Anyway, in this particular case, the victim is kicking herself (harder than I ever could), so all I need to do is sit back and watch.

Melissa Rogers, (CEO of the woo-powered ShooTag™ you will remember), has evidently been hitting the PR circuit hard, and her daft device is getting coverage from here to Weldon Spring Heights. In doing so she’s left a trail of howlers in her wake, including the risible:

It doesn’t hurt the flea, it doesn’t hurt the pet and it doesn’t hurt the planet.

…which are, come to think of it, probably the only true words she’s spoken about ShooTag™ because it’s pretty likely it doesn’t actually do anything. Still, it’s really nice to know the fleas are OK, even if one does wonder how OK they’ll be when they run out of a food source and die horribly of hunger. But enough of insect empathy – the thing that really caused me to choke on my cheese fries was the following priceless, almost frameable quote from the comments in the Pet News section of ZooToo.com (in full, just so you know I’m not lifting it out of context):

Melissa Rogers:

I would say that any pet that is not scratching or chewing at fleas is a happy pet! Shootag only adds a frequency to the already expended energy field of the pet. Take a look at Geoffrey West’s work and the science E=M 3/4.


Ms Rogers’ comments throughout the ZooToo site are so numerous and filled with exhortations to ‘go-shootag.com-and-buy’ that they verge on spam. Pretty much every statement she makes is farcical, but that particular one takes the cake. For a start, she’s pulled Einstein’s famous mass/energy equivalence formula totally out of her ass, getting one of the most legendary equations in history (and simplest to remember, I might add) completely wrong. Even if it was right, it means absolutely nothing in this context, and one must speculate it’s the only scientific equation she (half) knows*. How she thinks it sounds even a fraction of the way to being impressive simply beggars belief.

In addition, she gushes about ‘energy fields’ – a staple of smoke-and-mirrors pseudoscience – making some kind of fatuous claim in regard to a pet’s ‘already expended energy field’ (what the crap does that mean?) and, worst of all in my book, completely misrepresents scientist Geoffrey West from the Santa Fe Institute, who is doing some extraordinary, clever, cutting-edge biological thinking, and who would NEVER endorse a preposterous trinket like ShooTag™. This is, no doubt, from where she gets the idea of ‘fractals’ that she mentioned in her previous comment on The Cow – West, a former particle physicist, has advanced some very interesting science that deals with mathematical scaling laws in biology, particularly in metabolic behaviour as related to organism size and lifespan. With a colleague, he hypothesises that these scaling laws are related to the hydrodynamics of living systems, which in turn are delegated by networks that assume fractal structures. Rogers has probably picked up on the vibe that West is a bit of a maverick and his ideas are challenging to mainstream science.† But this does not make him a kook – he is still a scientist of some reputation, and follows proper scientific protocol.

It’s a depressing experience trudging around the ShooTag™ PR trail in the footsteps of Ms Rogers & co. Credulous tv shows looking for filler give her product a favourable airing; trade shows spruik her wares without so much as a critical blink of the eye; the press repeats the ShooTag™ promotional propaganda verbatim. No wonder these kinds of flim-flam scammers do so well – they’re selling stuff to people who have no brains to think for themselves!

And nowhere, nowhere, is there any serious, informed discussion of the outrageous claims made about ShooTag™. Ms Rogers says in several of her comments that the science behind ShooTag™ ‘will be revealed’ in due course, but I have no doubt that she and her cohorts will be long gone with their cash before that day ever comes.


‘Creates and invisible force field!!!’


As if to taunt me, this morning’s email spam contained something I’ve not seen before: an ad for a ‘pest control system’ that works on the same principles as ShooTag™ (ie, magic posing as science):

Simply plug in a single Crappex unit and it immediately turns the wiring in your home into a giant digital pest repeller creating an invisible digital force field. Chase mice, rats and roaches from your home by interfering with their nervous systems.

Here, the manufacturers are using ‘digital’ as their magic word, and asking us to believe that their ‘invisible digital force field’ is as holy-water-to-a-vampire for mice, rats and cockroaches (ie, things we consider ‘pests’) but, by inference, somehow discriminates in favour of cute little kitties and puppies. HOW??? WHY!!!???

Even hungry zombies would reject the brains of people stupid enough to buy these things.


*It’s depressing beyond belief that no-one in the comments section of this site even takes her to task on this vapid nonsense. On the contrary, many of the contributors seem entirely prepared to take her at face value, happily digesting her ‘green’ solutions claptrap and raising a ‘you go girl!’ fist in agreement.

†The Santa Fe Institute and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, both of which West calls home, are known for their encouragement of challenging thinking.

‡Another ‘Detection of Hokum Rule of Thumb’ must surely be: ‘Watch for terrible spelling and bad copy proofing’.