Classic scam rejected on ‘Shark Tank’

March 2, 2012

Having worked in reality television, I can’t watch reality television. But fortunately, Skepchick drew my attention to this clip from the show Shark Tank, where Mark Cuban called out a deliberate scammer.

The scammer, Ryan Naylor, attempted to get investors for his Power-Balance-like “applied kinesiology” wrist bands.How do we know he’s a deliberate scam artist and not just a naive fool? Well because he demonstrates the product on one of the sharks using an infamous applied kinesiology trick that requires deliberate deception.

The Australian Skeptics demonstrated and exposed these tactics years ago by showing exactly how its done:

I’m glad all the sharks rejected this fraudulent product but I’m especially proud of Mark Cuban for calling it out as a scam on network television immediately. Well done. This is a great example of applied skepticism in the media.

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Psychic Sally exposed as a fraud

October 12, 2011

BUSTED!

Back in the 80’s, James Randi exposed “faith healer” Peter Popoff as a charlatan on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It seemed that Popoff was being fed information about his audience by his wife through an earpiece. When Randi and company found the right frequency, they managed to record Popoff’s wife feeding her husband everything he needed to know to appear as though “God” was directing him to the specific person he was to “heal.”

The earpiece has been a common tactic for those pseudo-psychic mentalists who are just too lazy to cold read and just want to have everything they need to know spoon-fed to them. Now  one such lazy “psychic” is Psychic Sally Morgan, who is clearly spotted in HER OWN VIDEO removing a hidden earpiece at the end of her act.

Of course, coward that she is, she’s actually threatening her accusers with legal action. I for one hope she does. It will be very entertaining listening to her try to prove her magic powers in court…which of course she would have to do in a defamation suit because, among other requirements, defamation cases demand that the defendants’ accusations are actually false. She’d also have to prove the defendants knowingly lied. Good luck with that, Sally. It doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that her threats of legal action are empty and that, if carried out, would only end in embarrassing defeat for her.

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Insane Troll Logic 6.13.11

June 13, 2011

Uh oh! It seems I’ve pissed off the Shakespeare Deniers, the least ridiculous form of denialism of them all. I considered putting out an all Shakespeare Denialism edition of my Insane Troll Logic series two weeks ago but so many trolls showed up all of a sudden on my one and only piece referencing that particular form of woo that it’s better I just link to that entry so those who are interested can read through the full comments section themselves and enjoy them in all their glory.

But this entry in the series will just focus on my most recent comment from commenter Smith on my ever-unpopular troll-attracting piece on Quantum Jumping:

It is mind boggling how pathetic you haters sound out there. The guy is NOT (i repeat for you morons out there, NOT) trying to rip anyone off, he states himself that this method is not a scientific breakthrough, and that he looks upon it himself as a placebo effect in itself.

This is a form of meditation that COULD work but only if you allow your brain to really focus. Admittedly, it is unfair to label this as tapping into alternate realities, because while those may exist, we will need more than placebo effects to tap into them. However, this does nothing to rip the people off. It is not the guy’s fault if some people are stupid enough to buy the cd and not believe in the stuff they are doing. It is the person behind the meditation that has the power to focus.

Now, i am not going to attempt to pretend that alternate realities is the foundation of this meditation (every product has a silver lining of bullshit), but in a way, it could be useful if you let it relax your mind. What most people need is relaxation and the motivation these days. If you go look at most successful people, you will find their childhoods filled with the fighting of evil forces that try to pin down their hopes and eradicate their self motivation, but they push it back.

This is not meant for laughter, those of you who stupidly criticize this product truly have no significant value of self worth, you are people who demand spoon feeding, people who wait for something to do the work for them. It will not kill you if you tried to meditate and used your brain to achieve success rather than come online and bitch about placebo effects when you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

But for the morons out there, the placebo effect is a powerful one indeed, and if scientists told you that a device had been invented and it would tap into alternate realities, and they strapped it onto your head, you would never realize it was made of plastic. If you truly believe in something, there is a way to make it happen.

Anyone who labels this a scam or a piece of undignified crap, needs a reality check. Your poor judgement’s often reflect your own flaws, and weaknesses. You make excuses like (some people bought this crap). But it is not money that is the issue, as we all know, we can get this stuff for free if we need it. You just refuse to believe flat out in self meditation. The joke is on the poor bastards who come here and try to sound smart in any significant way.

This is nothing new, every product you buy (including the laptop you used to write down your bullshit), has some lie to it. But in the world of quantum physics, you have no lie or truth, because as of today, nothing has been proven completely. Either use it for benefits, or stop humiliating yourselves.

It’s mind-blowing how many people will so passionately defend an unambiguous scam, especially one that you claim the scam artist freely admits is a scam. That’s what attributing results to the placebo effect means. It’s a subtle way of avoiding responsibility to actually deliver promised results using a term that most laypeople don’t understand. And nowhere on at least the main page of his website does he mention the placebo effect. What he DOES do on the first page is reference at least a dozen of the greatest scientific minds in history and try to suggest their findings somehow validate his pseudo-scientific claims when they most certainly do not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.

“This is a form of meditation that COULD work but only if you allow your brain to really focus.”
Again, no it can’t. He’s not saying this is all in your head as you imagine a fictional conversation with a fictional alternate version of yourself. He’s literally claiming “thought transference” with a literal version of yourself from a literal alternate dimension.

Bert’s website goes on to say:
“Quantum Theory suggests that our physical reality is nothing but a very elaborate mirage. A super-hologram of information and energy. A Matrix.”
Quantum Theory says no such thing and The Matrix is a FICTIONAL movie. I’ve seen Keanu Reeves in person. He can’t really dodge bullets. That was just a movie.

“It is not the guy’s fault if some people are stupid enough to buy the cd and not believe in the stuff they are doing. ”
Actually, it is his fault for charging people for a service he knows he can’t possibly provide and deliberately deceiving people by exploiting scientific ignorance. This is a criminal offense known as fraud. I have no problem with people meditating to lower their blood pressure or just to relax; meditation is free. What Burt is selling is not simple meditation but a pseudo-scientific scam.

“you are people who demand spoon feeding, people who wait for something to do the work for them.”
No, we’re people who demand companies comply with fair business practices and don’t cheat their customers. I fail to see how any thinking person could interpret that as unreasonable.

“It will not kill you if you tried to meditate and used your brain to achieve success rather than come online and bitch about placebo effects when you don’t know what the hell you are talking about. ”
Fortunately, our criminal system doesn’t demand that victims actually die before justice and appropriate remedies can be served. Not so fortunate, however, for guys like Bernard Madoff and Burt.

“If you truly believe in something, there is a way to make it happen.”
This is called delusion. It’s not a good thing.

“Anyone who labels this a scam or a piece of undignified crap, needs a reality check. ”
Oh, do tell.

“But it is not money that is the issue, as we all know, we can get this stuff for free if we need it. ”
Oh, well as long as Burt’s only stealing a little money for his bullshit services, that’s okay. You must have attended one hell of a good law school.

“You just refuse to believe flat out in self meditation. ”
Um, no. I’m actually a fan of meditation. What I’m much less of a fan of is assholes who exploit scientific ignorance to scam the public and those who shamelessly defend them.

“This is nothing new, every product you buy (including the laptop you used to write down your bullshit), has some lie to it.”
This is called the tu quoque fallacy. Just because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t make it okay. I also categorically reject your false equivalence between what might be tiny lies and big honking nonsense piled on top of a foundation of total bullshit that contributes to the overall scientific ignorance of the public.

“But in the world of quantum physics, you have no lie or truth, because as of today, nothing has been proven completely.”
Quantum physics–you keep using those words; I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

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‘Faith Healer’ Peter Popoff caught on camera…again

June 10, 2011

Many years ago, James Randi exposed the disturbing truth about Peter Popoff on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, that Popoff was the worst kind of fraud, one who preys on desperate people’s most sacred beliefs while giving them false hope of miracle cures to their often uncurable diseases:

After being exposed, Popoff disappeared for a while, only to return years later peddling the same old sham faith healing.

But now agents from the Center For Inquiry have infiltrated Popoff’s show with recording equipment that captured Popoff shamelessly up to his old disgusting tricks as well as them giving out tracts exposing Popoff’s trickery to audience members on their way out:

 

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.23.11

May 23, 2011
kristin.eonline.com - HBO Post-Emmys Party, Pa...

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1. Actor Paul Giamatti identifies himself as an atheist – Yup, in keeping with centuries of Jewish tradition, Mr. Giamatti doesn’t believe in any gods. He even goes further than many other celebrity atheists in that he’s not afraid to even use the label “atheist.”

2. Australian distributor of Power Balance bracelets goes out of business

The Australian distributor of the controversial Power Balance wristbands will be placed into receivership today, with the owner of the business saying that sales have “evaporated” since the business provided undertakings to the ACCC to stop claiming the wristbands could improve balance, strength and flexibility.

Power Balance Australia owner Tom O’Dowd has exclusively told SmartCompany that while he had been “naive” in thinking that the business would not by [sic] subject to laws surrounding the regulation of health products, the ACCC’s aggressive stance against the products effectively killed off any survival hopes.

3. 60 Minutes reports on Lance Armstrong scandal – Last week, I defended a piece by 60 Minutes about the cult group calling themselves Sovereign Citizens, but this week, I’m taking issue with one of their stories. Now I haven’t been following the investigation into possible use of performance-enhancing drugs among professional bicyclists, nor the particular accusations against Lance Armstrong. But it seems to me, at least as it was presented on 60 Minutes, that the real story here is an abuse of government power. From what I could tell, the entire investigation has turned into a witch hunt based not on any empirical evidence, but on nothing more than hearsay.

Now maybe Armstrong cheated and maybe he didn’t. I have no clue, nor any commitment to either conclusion. Certainly, as with any professional athlete, there is a clear motivation to cheat…at least as long as one  can keep it a secret, as exposure would almost certainly destroy one’s career. But if federal officials couldn’t even nab Al Capone for anything other than tax evasion, why is it that they can potentially bring down Lance Armstrong without anything other than the testimonies and conspiracy theories of people who may have a grudge against him?

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Power Balance bracelets debunked on CBS

May 16, 2011

Steven Novella and Project Alpha alumni/mentalist Banachek expose these bracelets for the shameless scams that they are.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Power Balance bracelets debunked on CBS, posted with vodpod
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Derren Brown exposes the faith healers by inventing his own

April 28, 2011