Entries tagged with “Hoax”.

When the maker of some web app or another doesn’t know how to make money out of a popular idea, the go-to concept is of course to somehow shoe-horn advertising into the user experience. Those of you who have a Facebook account will be familiar with the little panel of ads that runs down the side of the page – a little panel that seems to increase in length every time you log on. Personally, I think it’s completely daft way for an advertiser to spend their bucks – I must have ‘seen’ several thousand of those damn things displayed on my Facebook page and I hardly even notice them. Someone has convinced advertisers otherwise, though, or they wouldn’t be paying for them.

If I do notice one, though, it’s usually because it has an overly-high annoying factor. An offering that popped up this morning was a shining example. Ladeez and Gentlemen, I bring to you today…


Ah yes. Your flim-flam detectors just went ping, right. If they didn’t, get off my blog!

Now, I must confess that until this morning I didn’t really have a great deal of insight into tinnitus. Well, not of a scientific kind, anyway. I know what it is, of course, being a professional sound person & all, and I’ve even experienced it myself in my youth when I was much less careful of my hearing, but I’ve never known much about it physiologically. After reading the Tinnitus Miracle™ website, though, one thing of which I was entirely certain is that you need absolutely no knowledge of tinnitus to get the feeling that this site is designed to fleece easily-deceived and desperate folks of their money by convincing them that it has the absolute, failure-proof, 100% guaranteed cure for their affliction.

And, as a prospect for a scam – for a scam it surely is – it makes sense. Tinnitus is a medical condition with all the requirements that make it ripe for the pickings of those who would greedily make money from exploiting others: it’s a poorly understood, highly subjective condition with diffuse symptoms, and it can have dozens of causes. It’s distressing, persistent and can even be painful, but it’s not life-threatening. Best of all for the woo merchants, it’s a sad fact that science-based medicine doesn’t offer much in the way of relief for many sufferers of tinnitus.1

Even though I did go on to spend a little time reading about the condition, you really don’t need a lot in the way actual knowledge to get a strong sense that the Tinnitus Miracle™ ‘phenomenon’2 is decidedly fishy.

Skimming down the MASSIVE landing page starts the alarm bells ringing fast.3 The amazing Tinnitus Miracle™ is an eBook that you can buy for the handy dandy price of $39, and which unequivocally offers to ‘give you the secrets to eliminate virtually all types of Tinnitus within 8 weeks.’ It’s the enterprise of one Thomas Coleman,4 who purports to have suffered from tinnitus for 14 years and to ‘have tried every tinnitus treatment known to science and natural health’, including, but not limited to, ‘herbal remedies, Cellfood Oxygen, tonics, habituation, detox diets, vitamin therapy, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, macrobiotics, reflexology, Chinese Medicine, vegetarianism, the Wai diet, magnetic therapy, the mucus-less diet, the blood type diet, psychiatric treatments and whatnot.’

The outcome is that none of these (not even ‘whatnot’) were effective. Even surgery didn’t help the poor chap, nor did ‘dietary’ advice nor white noise CDs. Eventually we learn that the unflappable Mr Coleman was cured after discovering ‘a simple holistic system [that] opened the door to my new and much brighter Tinnitus free life.’ The site spares no effort to attempt to impress upon us exactly what a MIRACLE this discovery was. There’s the familiar liberal use of exclamation marks, copious underscoring, oodles of hyperbolic claims, excitable slashes of yellow highlighter and then… THE SCIENCE. Well, no, I lied. There’s no science. None. Nada. Nuttin’. What we have is that ol’ reliable science substitute though: testimonials! Everyone KNOWS a testimonial is MUCH better than science. Let me show you how it works:

Tetherd Cow Ahead is the best blog in the universe, bar none. I read it once and it completely cured my cancer! ~ Landon from Illinois

I used to have trouble keeping it up, but thanks to Tetherd Cow Ahead I can now go all night! Tetherd Cow rocks! ~ Raymundo

I purchased the Tetherd Cow Virtual Glass of Water and I’ve never had a computer virus since! Awesome work TCA! ~ Kofi Anan

Now brace yourselves, Acowlytes: those are not real endorsements, and they hold no credibility whatsoever! I just made them up! I know it seems shocking that someone should do such a thing, and I know you wouldn’t, dear friends, but the internet is, alas, not completely populated by good honest folks such as yourselves.

The point is of course that a fistful of internet testimonials is worth about as much as the paper they are printed on. Unfortunately there still exist out there a substantial number of people who seem to think that if something is written down in words, why, it must be true! Or something. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the endorsements could easily be as phoney as the names attached to them.5 What’s more, it seems that such people of limited perspicacity are unable to infer that fifty fake testimonials are no more persuasive than one. I could’ve written dozens above had I been so inclined – it’s not exactly difficult to make that shit up.6

But it’s not until you try to find some more information about Tinnitus Miracle™ that you begin to see the real depth of this racket. Performing a Search™ on the term returns a veritable truckload of spew. Hundreds, maybe thousands of links that duck and dive through the tinnitus world, inevitably making their way back to a site selling Tinnitus Miracle™.

And not even the merest hint of proper science on a single one of them.

Searching for tinnitus+miracle+scam is an even more enlightening experience. Now we see dozens of hits in the vein of this site, returning search abstracts like ‘There is no basis for the tinnitus miracle scam’ and Is Thomas Coleman’s Tinnitus Miracle Book A Scam? My Opinion … – all couched in such a manner as to appear to be a critical appraisal of the product. If you click through, though, they all go on without exception to overwhelmingly promote Tinnitus Miracle™ in some way or another, often with direct links to the main TM™ site. There are pages of these duplicitous offerings – I clicked through a few dozen and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t some kind of endorsement of Tinnitus Miracle.7 In fact, try as I might, I couldn’t find any negative critique of the Tinnitus Miracle at all. Lest you think that might be because the thing actually works, let me add that I also couldn’t find a single site that looked like it was a genuine unsolicited recommendation of the product either. To my eye, these sites all look like part of the Tinnitus Miracle empire – a vast and comprehensive attempt to stake a presence wherever anyone with tinnitus might search for some help. Now, there are two reasons I can think of that negative (or even mildly critical) reviews aren’t returned high-up in the search results. The first is that Coleman’s strategy is simply to super-saturate the SEO so that other links are just pushed way down, and you won’t easily come across adverse criticism, and the second rather more sinister one is that Mr Coleman is actively litigious and has aggressively quashed any unflattering press.8

Another frustration I had was in attempting to find out exactly what might comprise the substance of the Tinnitus Miracle. After reading pages of mind-numbing verbiage, I was concluding that the book offering the wondrous Tinnitus Miracle was probably just a mish-mash of anything and everything that might pertain to tinnitus, with not much ‘miracle’ content at all. This site (another TM™ promotion, despite its efforts to appear to be something else), supposedly penned by one ‘Britni Dorman’ gives some support to that conclusion:

Here are some things you can learn from Tinnitus Miracle:

• Eight food items that are best for you in this condition
• Ten foods you must learn to avoid like the plague since they can worsen your condition
• The name of a powerful herb used in homeopathy that can reverse the condition quickly
• The 100% natural secret vitamin supplement that can impact your condition dramatically in just a few days
• Medications that can worsen the condition
• How you can diagnose your condition with the help of a multi-dimensional approach
• Effective breathing techniques and strategies that allows your body to begin the process of healing

Ah, right. Good foods, bad foods, vitamins, homeopathy and Evil Big Pharma drugs that you can blame. Uh-huh. And some yoga & meditation thrown in for good measure (‘cos it certainly can’t hurt, right?) As miracles go, this is looking about as impressive as producing a coin from behind a kid’s ear.

There’s lots more of the same on this site, which purports to be a tinnitus ‘treatment advice’ hub, but which is revealed by even a cursory exploration to be crammed to the gills with links to the main Tinnitus Miracle site. Perhaps the most hilarious part is the the ‘Pros & Cons’ section. Breathless raving about the pros, but the cons, well:

• Cons – When it comes to the cons, I have to admit that Tinnitus Miracle barely has any.

Mr Coleman may as well have appended his signature to that one.

I did turn up one comment on a tinnitus relief discussion group from someone who seems to know what the book entails. The main thrust of this thread is another tinnitus scam called Quietus,9 but several sufferers ask if anyone has tried the Tinnitus Miracle. Well, someone called MissionCMD has done so, and had this to say:

I have purchased the book and read it twice. I have tried numerous things in it, but there is no ‘miracle’. There are numerous sections in the book that are duplicated (copy and paste) from one chapter to another… not to mention numerous spelling mistakes. Perhaps the ‘e-book only’ option was because the author could not get a publisher to edit? Overall, there were a few good suggestions, but there was no ‘miracle cure’ if that was what you were trying to ask. Essentailly just ways to try to manage the noise. I did a detailed search for almost three hours to try to find a reputable review before I purchased anything, and could find none. I could find many websites that had supposed reviews, however it looked much like the similar advertisement off of the original site. Suprisingly (or not) none of those sites were accepting comments anymore due to spam… hmmm. I did purchase the book anyway. You do have to keep in mind it does state ‘holestic’ in the sub-title. So the book did what it said… mentioned everything under the sun you can try to manage the tinnitus. That means recommendations ranging from therapy sessions, to extreme detoxification, to accupuncture. I personally did not find anything close to a ‘miracle’ though.

And that’s about as succinct a wrap-up as you could ever expect; the Tinnitus Miracle™ eBook appears to be nothing more than a diffuse hodge-podge of vague suggestions and both conventional and speculative treatments offered as options to address an affliction with multiple possible causes and a wide range of diverse symptoms. It seems to me, in fact, that Thomas Coleman is offering the very same solutions in his book that he says he tried in vain to cure his own tinnitus, just re-heated and served with a sprig of parsley.

A miracle, not so much.

I guess some of you are saying at this stage ‘It’s not really selling anything bogus – what’s the harm here?’

Well, this is the kind of scam that irks me for numerous reasons. First and foremost, it’s targeting vulnerable miserable people and offering them a ‘miracle’, when by any reasonable reckoning that’s not what they’re going to get when they fork out their money. ‘Eliminate Your Tinnitus Within 2 Months!’ the site declares, a promise that, as far as my reading indicates, is unlikely to be fulfilled for the majority of tinnitus sufferers. Tinnitus Miracle ‘…gives you the power to Cure Tinnitus permanently’, we hear: weasel language that deftly transfers any failure to deliver a result from the product itself to a responsibility for the sufferer to be capable of harnessing the supposed ‘power’. The site is full of such duplicity.

Another tactic that I find highly questionable is Tinnitus Miracle’s liberal us of scare tactics, another staple of scamdom:


Well, no, for most sufferers that’s unlikely, despite the blood red fright caps. It is completely true that tinnitus can sometimes herald other more serious problems, but one thing is for sure – buying this book is not the way you’d want to handle that particular circumstance. As with most medical problems, if the symptoms persist, the most sensible thing you can do is to promptly see your doctor (and that information I’m providing totally free of charge).


One should only consider surgery for tinnitus if you were diagnosed with a tumor, osclerosis, or fistula . Even so the success of the surgery is 50%, with the inevitable consequence of irreversible deafness.

…which is a piece of negligent generalization bordering on criminality. The success of tinnitus surgery depends entirely on the circumstances of any individual, and the reasons for their problem. To scare all people who may be facing tinnitus surgery with the spectre of the ‘inevitable consequence of irreversible deafness’ is highly irresponsible, and demonstrates clearly that Thomas Coleman cares not one whit about your wellbeing – he just wants your $39.

My reading about tinnitus over these last few days has shown me that for an unfortunate few of those afflicted, the condition is utterly debilitating, and for the greater number it is, at the very least, distressing and uncomfortable. What these people really need to be doing is consulting knowledgable health care providers and getting the best help available. What they don’t need is a whole lot of baloney about the ‘wrong’ food and homeopathy. Even if some of what the Tinnitus Miracle book offers might be helpful (there are indications that meditation, for instance, may be of some benefit to some sufferers, depending on the cause of their tinnitus) it looks like it’s wound up with a lot of crap that’s irrelevant, of arguable efficacy or just plain hogwash.

Aside from that, the marketing campaign for Tinnitus Miracle™ is plainly full of misdirection and flimflam. As a ‘Small Sample Of What You’ll Learn When You Download Your Copy Of The Tinnitus Miracleâ„¢ System Today’, the site reels off dozens of specious claims, lame observations and tips such as these:

• Discover EVERYTHING you need to know about tinnitus, EXACTLY what causes the noise in your head. [Caps are theirs]

No-one knows EXACTLY what causes tinnitus. It can be the result of several different pathologies – physical hearing damage, biochemical interaction, neurological damage or problems, or the effects of other illness. In some cases it has a psychological component. Thomas Coleman is promising to give sufferers something that no doctor on the planet can. Why on earth should anyone believe him?

• What Personality characteristics do tinnitus sufferers share?

Oh, I dunno? The same star signs? A morbid fear of hummus? This is a stupid and irrelevant question, and is so wide in its scope that you could factor just about anything in here.

• The most powerful homeopathic herb (that can quickly reverse most tinnitus conditions) that the Tinnitus and drug industries hope you will never find out!

Of course!! The ‘drug industries’ WANT you to have tinnitus because they are EVIL. Mwahahahaha!

Please. Even the dimmest of the dim can see that this is complete rubbish. If such a ‘homeopathic herb’ even existed, only one altruistic tinnitus sufferer would need to publish its name on the net and the whole world would know. BAM! Take that Evil Big Pharma Mad Scientists. But guess what? No-one has. They obviously all feel so indebted to Thomas Coleman for revealing it to them that they don’t want to see him lose any of the money he would otherwise make on his eBook!

• The cardinal sin of every tinnitus treatment almost every tinnitus sufferer is guilty of, which instead of curing your tinnitus, weakens and destroys your body’s natural ability to defend itself, thus putting your health in serious risk and making your Tinnitus worse in the long run (and more than 92% of tinnitus sufferers are doing it!)

And you thought that masturbation just made you blind!

It’s all smoke & mirrors designed to deflect anyone from asking the question: ‘But what, exactly, am I getting for my $39?’

Which is, by all indications, nothing that’s likely to help you much, and certainly nothing that can compare to the advice that you will get from a good medical practitioner. If you have tinnitus, you have my immense sympathy. Having only experienced it as a fleeting annoyance brought on by my own carelessness, I can only imagine how awful it must be as a chronic condition. I hope that this post has helped you avoid spending money on something that would probably offer you little in the way of relief.

  1. Something that people who advocate ‘alternative medicine’ seem not to understand this situation too well, and you’ll often hear it put forward as a criticism. Science-based medicine never pretends that it has all the answers, because sometimes it doesn’t. There are some things science doesn’t understand very well. That doesn’t make science faulty – it just means that a complex world is not easily understood all at once. It’s a process. And the fact that science doesn’t have an answer to a complex problem doesn’t lead logically to the proposition that ‘alternative’ medicine does. Having no solution to a problem sometimes means, quite harshly unfortunately, that we don’t have a solution to the problem. We simply don’t know everything, and there is no imperative says we should. That’s not an easy thing to tell someone who is in pain, or who has a chronic debilitating condition. Unfortunately, as much as we don’t like that reality, reality really doesn’t care what we like. []
  2. Because that’s the way it’s promoted WIDELY across the interwebs. []
  3. Of course, if you have severe tinnitus, maybe the noise in your head might drown out said alarm bells. Perhaps this is what the makers of the Amazing Tinnitus Miracle are counting on… []
  4. Coleman may or may not be a real person. For the purposes of this post, I will accept that he is, although I did discover a number of things that made me suspect that he may be a fictional concoction. []
  5. I’ve long pondered why this should be so. I mean, I totally understand how you might buy a product that was recommended to you by a close friend. I can even stretch to understanding how you might buy a product endorsed by someone who you don’t know personally, but whose opinion you respect for some reason. But I can’t for the life of me even remotely comprehend why you would trust the opinion of some anonymous (and probably fictitious) name from woop-woop! []
  6. It is vaguely possible that the testimonials are written by actual people, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are genuine. Lots of people are willing to lend their name and photo out for a fiver. And, being extremely generous, even if the people are real, and the testimonials unsolicited, it still doesn’t mean that the information in them is necessarily accurate, nor representative of most tinnitus sufferers. Tinnitus does, in many cases, clear itself up spontaneously. If you have a few thousand people reading your book, it is quite likely that a small few will have spontaneous natural remission of the symptoms, and attribute it in some way to your magical cure. You only need a handful of those kinds of ‘miracles’ to make something look impressive… []
  7. This in itself is an intriguing indictment of the Tinnitus Miracle™ It shows clearly that the people behind it are completely aware that what they are promoting has every indicator of being a scam to those searching for tinnitus relief, and have shaped their marketing strategy accordingly. They are, in essence, predicting that they will be called on their scam, and then flooding possible criticism with noise. []
  8. I’d like to think this is not the case, but I guess we will see if that speculation has any substance if he finds this post. []
  9. Another sure marker for scams of this kind is the appearance of other players on the field. You can bet that where there’s an opportunity to bilk vulenerable people, there’ll be more than one opportunist with his finger in the pie. []

This man is Michael Cohen. Mr Cohen, it seems, has come by an amazing piece of video that ‘might be amongst the best proof we have that we are indeed being visited by aliens coming to us with a message of hope.’ The footage was taken in the Brazilian jungle by British tourists and ‘handed over to US secret agents’, the Brazilian government apparently having some kind of agreement with American spooks to obligingly do that kind of thing. It is unclear who then handed it on to Mr Cohen. We know for certain that the footage is Top Secret because it has a title card that says ‘Top Secret’ on it.

I mean, how much more persuasive could it be?

‘Stop stalling Reverend!’ I hear you cry. ‘Make with the video that shows us the alien Message of Hope! Well, you need to visit the site of that esteemed Australian news voice The Telegraph to see it, because I can’t embed it. Come back here when you’re done (if you don’t need a bit of a lie down first, that is).

Was that a Message of Hope or what?! Thank Xenu that we now know we are not alo… What’s that you say? You missed the alien? Seriously? Maybe you’d better watch it again. I’ve made you a little diagram so that you know where to look:

Was it better that time? Did you see the ‘mesmerising flashing light’ as well?

Mr Cohen proclaims that ‘This is highly compelling footage that will be hard to discredit’. Or it could be plain old pareidolia. I know that sounds far fetched, but hey. Should the footage turn out to be bona fide, however, what I want to know is what the little alien is actually doing here. He doesn’t seem to be delivering any Message of Hope to me. In fact, he seems… a little preoccupied.

Here’s a better resolution closeup. That’s the ‘mesmerising light’ over on the right – it’s gotta be his spaceship, right? So he’s parked it and has wandered a little way away behind a tree, and… well… it’s a bloody LONG WAY from Zeta Reticuli!

Acowlytes! Tell me I’m wrong!

You will remember, Faithful Acowlytes, that some months back I brought you news of the mirth-inducing Trinfinity8, a miraculous new technology that fixes every complaint known to humankind1 by mainlining mathematics straight into your brain. Well, Trinfinity8 seems to have done a superb job at sucking people in since we last examined them. In the following YouTube clip you can see nitwits by the dozen clutching ‘crystal’ hand grips and sitting hypnotized in front of screens of extremely ordinary fractal animations while listening to New Age drones, all the while convincing themselves that they ‘feel energized’.

And the thought strikes me for, oh, the twelve BILLIONTH time today: Why are people so FUCKING STUPID?

For those of you who couldn’t be bothered sitting through the video (and truly, I wouldn’t blame you for a nanosecond) let me synopsize:

• Dr Kathy Forti, inventor of Trinfinity8 (and producer of execrable science fiction web movies) tells us how she noticed the following wonderful results being delivered by her gadget: a renewed sense of energy; a sense of peace; a sense of being connected; dissipation of anxiety. I get all that from a small glass of Ardbeg, and it doesn’t cost me anything like the $8000 you pay for a Trinfinity8 system. These are the kinds of diffuse and meaningless claims made by snake oil peddlers since before recorded history. The ‘inventor’ of Trinfinity8 is not promising you anything more than you’d get from half an hour of meditative relaxation. Which, needless to say, would cost you absolutely nothing.

•A woman who has been hanging onto the plastic crystal handles tell us: ‘I kinda felt a tingling and I kinda almost felt like I was having an out of body experience’. Well, that’s definitive.

•Ms Forti earnestly tells us ‘We’ve used this on people who’ve said “I don’t feel any hope to live anymore” and we’ve said “Well, why don’t you just try this.” (which is a masterful way of implying that there was a result, without actually claiming one).

•A homeopathist named Dr Malcolm Smith tells an amazing story about a guy whose life was empty of all meaning, and then uses the Trinfinity8… and guess what? It turns this guy’s white hair back to its normal colour! And then Dr Smith bursts into tears. What. The. Fuck.

•An optometrist named Dr Jon E. Fitzpatrick tells an amazing story about how the Trinfinity8 cured a patient’s blindness! Well, kinda, sorta, maybe… just don’t press him on the details.

•An acupuncturist named Laurie Schneider tells an amazing story about how the Trinfinity8 fixed the libido of a housebound patient.

•A surgeon named Dr Thom E. Lobe2 tells us that “Trinfinity8 is a new kind of medicine that you’re not going to find in very many medical practices”. And, Dr Lobe, I would suggest that there’s an excellent reason for that.

Dr Lobe claims, as if it’s fact, that “…everything from the air we breath, to the people we’re around, to the food we eat, to the music we listen to actually changed (sic) the expression of our DNA.” Not to be daunted by a point of view shared by exactly NOBODY who knows anything about DNA, he goes on to bury himself even deeper by ‘explaining’ how DNA works. Hand me a fork, someone, I want to plunge it into my brain. This guy is a surgeon? It’s enough to turn me religious and plead that God keeps me from ever going under his knife.3

•A whole lot of people say a whole lot more stupid things about ‘energy’, vibrations, “finding themself (sic) with a capital ‘S'” and so forth. The stupid is so bad that it hurts.

•Kathy Forti says: “I am the first one to be astounded by these hundreds of reports that I get and hear each month of the changes made in someone’s life.” Yeah, I just bet you’re astounded. Astounded by the utter gullibility of people and their capacity to swallow your horseshit. And astounded by how the sale of the $8000 Trinfinity8 machines are filling up your bank account, I bet. You should truly be ashamed of yourself Ms Forti. You are nothing more than a snake-oil seller trading on the insecurities of damaged, ignorant, lonely and insecure people. Sometimes I really wish there was a Hell, because I know there’d be a special place reserved there for morally bankrupt people such as yourself.

Well, all the comments on the YouTube video are falling over themselves to tell us that the Trinfinity8 is the most wonderful thing to come our way since the invention of the Turbo Encabulator, so I thought I’d best redress the balance somewhat.

Ah, of course. Moderated comments. What’s the best way to make sure everybody believes whatever you tell them? Silence anyone who disagrees! A tried and true modus operandi of pseudoscience.

Well, Trinfinity8 is well and truly in my radar. We will not be letting them off that lightly.

  1. This is only mild hyperbole on my part – you should read the claims! []
  2. I really hoped he was a brain surgeon or an ear surgeon, but he isn’t either. He appears to be one of those perplexing very highly qualified people who has no critical thinking capability. []
  3. Dr Lobe reminds me of the painter who did our house. Except the painter knew more about DNA. []

When I’m at home in my normal life, I don’t watch much tv, but living in LA without my family commitments I do end up with the odd spare half hour at the end of my day that needs to be filled with a little mindless distraction. And if mindless distraction is what you’re after, American television excels. For some reason1 my brain is drawn to what used to be known as the Sci Fi Channel, but has recently been idiotically re-branded as SyFy. Judging by what SyFy dishes up, I can only assume this naff baby-speak appellation has been applied as an opening gambit in a profit-inspired move to drift the channel away from science fiction programming into a domain that consists of, well, anything that can be loosely assembled under the heading of ‘Crap’.

It’s a category which is headlined by one of SyFy’s own creations, Fact or Faked. Paranormal Files.2 The premise of the show is this: a bunch of ‘experts’ review a selection of videos sent in each week by viewers, and then pick their favourites to ‘investigate’. The opening credit sequence, weighty with overblown seriousness, introduces us to the members of the intrepid Fact or Faked team:

Ben: Former FBI Agent

Bill: Lead Scientist

Jael: Journalist

Larry: Special Effects Expert

Chi Lan: Photography Expert

Austin: Stunt Expert

Call me shallow, but the very first time I watched the program I took an instant dislike to both Chi Lan and Jael – the former because she’s an opinionated airhead and the latter because I hate her name. Larry is basically an overly-serious nerd, Austin is a gullible prat and Ben looks like he was roped into the whole debacle against his wishes3 and is constantly planning his escape from the show.

But you will have sensed that I have saved my vitriol for Bill, the ‘scientist’. Simply put, Bill is an idiot. He is certainly not a scientist in any meaningful sense of the word.

In an effort of forbearance I will refrain from further description of the dumbness of the show itself, and instead just concentrate on a story that was on last night and one that I think demonstrates the full credentials of this team, who must surely all be card-carrying alumni of Scooby Doo University.

The story in question concerns a phenomenon called the Paulding Light Mystery. A video from YouTube shows a tree-lined hill with a bright light waxing and waning in a dusk sky. A ten second long grab (which Fact or Faked repeats over and over) features a mysteriously appealing visual effect as the light is refracted by atmospheric conditions or possibly some kind of lens aberration.

The Facts: If you go to a certain spot just outside the town of Paulding, Michigan, and look toward the south after dusk, you may see, depending on the weather conditions, a bright light just on the top of the tree line. The light may vary in brightness and duration and even sometimes in colour. It is an unusual phenomenon in the annals of the paranormal, in that the light appears quite reliably, with a frequency that has allowed a bit of a tourist industry to have risen around it. In other words, if you visit Paulding, there’s a pretty good chance that you too can see the light.

The Myth: The Paulding Light is said to be the spirit of a dead railway signalman who was crushed to death while trying to warn an oncoming train about another train stalled on the tracks ahead.

So there you have the setup. Let me try and give you some idea of how the Fact or Faked crew typically proceed when investigating something like the Paulding Light.

Dusk approaches. Jael, Austin and Bill have been assigned to this story. They arrive in their Scooby Doo Mystery Machine with a fully decked-out Paranormal Investigation Kit: gas sensors, Geiger counter, FLIR camera system, walkie talkies and a two-person mini all-terrain vehicle. People are already milling about in anticipation of being on television an appearance of the mysterious light.

To fill in some time the team does a couple of vox pops. First of all they badger some poor old lady into saying that she thinks that, yes, the Light is the spirit of the dead signalman. Her demeanour is less ‘genuine conviction’ than ‘How much are you going to pay me?’ Next, a rotund geeky chap steps up to the camera and says that, in his opinion, the Paulding Light might simply be car headlights. Uh-oh. A sensible person! Quick! Cut away to Austin leaping into the ATV – the Light has appeared!

This is as close as Fact or Faked ever comes to presenting anything like a balanced point of view.

The members of the Fact or Faked team then set about deploying their peculiar notion of what constitutes ‘science’ in an attempt to find an explanation for the phenomenon. In this show, Jael and Austin head off to the place where they assume the Light ‘must be’ and traipse around in the dark with the Geiger counter and the gas detector arriving at the conclusion that the Light isn’t produced by radioactivity or swamp gas. Around now I start throwing things at the television. Of course it isn’t, you pillocks – even the most obtuse of dunderheads could make a quick assessment of that theory and throw it out the window. It is obvious that you’d need a mighty outpouring of gas or nuclear energy to generate something as bright as the video shows – that’s not the kind of thing that goes undetected for 40 years.4


Austin then heads off to a local airport and, with an ultra bright electric torch,5 attempts to duplicate the phenomenon by getting a pilot in a light plane to fly low over the area in question. Well, it does make a bright light in the sky, but it’s plainly not the ground-level geographically fixed light that everyone is seeing. How is it that I don’t need to fly around in a plane to figure out that this is also not a plausible contender?

Then the team (grudgingly it seems to me) get down to the most frequently offered explanation for the Paulding Light – that it’s caused by car headlights from either US Highway 45, or the old Highway 45. They choose a segment of the highway that they have deemed the likely place for car headlights to be the culprit and Austin and Jael use their television credentials to get the cops to block off the road. They then drive back and forwards while communicating with Bill back at Sighting Central. Not a sausage. Bill can’t see them.

Instead of even contemplating that the spot they’ve chosen might actually be the wrong stretch of the road, the team hastily dismisses the car headlight explanation. Then, conveniently, before anyone can raise a finger in objection, the Paulding Light has reappeared. Now, with no explanation that satisfies the Fact or Faked ‘professionals’, it falls to Bill to suggest the next course of action.

I want to pause here for a moment and remind you that Bill is featured as the ‘lead scientist’ of this show. Are you containing that concept in your minds? Right then, lets forge on.

So, what is the best scientific strategy that Bill, lead scientist of Fact or Faked, can come up with at this juncture? I hope you don’t snort whisky out your nose like I did, when you learn that Bill’s suggestion is that they try EVP.6 Yes, that’s right, having ‘thoroughly exhausted all possibilities’, Bill, the scientist, determines that they should attempt to contact the Spirit World to find out more about the restless wraith of the phantom signalman. The next few minutes of the show, with Austin, Jael and Bill wandering around the Ottawa State Forest attempting to coax the spirit of a dead railway worker to leave a message on their audio recorders must rank as one of the most risible things I’ve ever witnessed on television. The Scooby Doo-ers seemed genuinely deflated when their recordings turned up nothing.

Jesus H Christ. What kind of dimwitted, brainless lunacy are these people peddling?

And that was where the show ended. With every single scientific explanation exhausted and without any spirit communications from the Ghostly Signalman to set the record straight, as far as Fact or Faked. Paranormal Files is concerned, the Paulding Light remains a total and unfathomable mystery…

The End.

So utterly unconvinced was I by the team’s findings that I immediately leapt from the couch and did what any sensible modern person would do – I searched for the full YouTube clip of the Paulding Light from which Fact or Faked clipped the brief segment that they used on the show.

I’ve embedded it below for your viewing pleasure. Just listen to the credulous amazement of the onlookers as they gaze upon the perplexing riddle of the Paulding Light! Ponder on why Fact or Faked chose to present to their audience the very small snippet at the head of the clip, rather than a bit at, oh, around about the 1 minute mark. Indeed – listen to someone on the audio track at around 3:15, tell you EXACTLY WHAT THE PAULDING LIGHT IS (as if you need to be told by that point because to any normal rational person it’s as obvious as a pig at a christening).

But heck – view the clip and make up your own mind about what the ‘mysterious’ Paulding Light might be: the spectre of a dismembered signalman? A nuclear explosion? Too much gas? I’m pretty sure you’re not going to come to the same conclusion as the insightful investigators from Fact or Faked.

  1. I think it’s some vestige of a long-dashed hope that someday, somewhere, someone might actually make a decent science fiction movie – you know, one that is actually intelligent… Maybe that’s just too much to hope for. []
  2. It REALLY annoys me that there is no question mark after the ‘Faked’. If it’s not a question and is just a statement, why do we need a tv show, you morons? []
  3. No doubt so the producers could flaunt his FBI credentials… []
  4. These people plainly haven’t got a clue about how nuclear fission works. The amount of radioactivity generated by something that could create a light as bright as the Paulding Light would have contaminated everything within several hundred miles. The lame Ghostbusters-style traipsing-around-in-the-dark-with-a-Geiger counter is nonsense of the highest order. []
  5. Now THIS is impressive – 25 million candlepower, according to Austin. Mind you, since ForF plays loose and fast with the facts everywhere else, I’m not sure we can take his word for it. This of course is one of the problems with a show like this – if there are actually any facts present, they get swamped under the tide of make-believe, rendering everything questionable… []
  6. You may remember that I discussed EVP at length on The Cow some time ago, including my personal experiences with it. []

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.


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. []

Visiting Steorn is like stepping momentarily into another dimension – one with leprechauns and rainbows and pots of gold. As you will recall from yesterday, today was the day when their video showing final proof of their Orbo motor demonstrating overunity was to be posted for all the world to see.

Well, I wearily dragged myself over to their digs for what I expected to be another round of disappointment and I wasn’t disappointed. That is, I was not disappointed to see that they were happy to disappoint me again. Instead of the world-shattering demonstration that was promised, I was greeted with a new-look website, further exhortations to join up with the Steorn Knowledge Development Base (for a fee, surprise surprise), and the above announcement:

(The) Proving Overunity video will be published on Ist Feb.

It strikes me that we’re getting pretty close to April Fool’s Day.