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Old 05-18-2019, 06:06 AM   #1
hazel
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One born every minute!


I saw this advertisement which looked interesting at first sight: a water softener marketed as "making huge savings to your energy bills". When I was younger, water softeners were marketed as being good for your hair and skin, but of course no one was interested in energy conservation in those days. Admittedly the savings they promised were way OTT but I can believe that allowing your heating elements to become insulated with a thick layer of calcium carbonate is a generally bad idea.

So, dubious but not crazy until you got to the last paragraph, where I found this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecocamel
By using 4 powerful magnets, in a configuration which was developed in a laboratory, it causes the compounds which form the scale to be molecularly restructured...This gauss power is what changes the characteristics of the water and prevents limescale...With "energised" water, plants grow faster, live longer and are more productive.
I have two chemistry degrees so I can tell you that magnets affect nothing except ferromagnetic metals like iron, or metals with electric currents running through them. They certainly can't remove or "restructure" insoluble salts like calcium carbonate, let alone "energise" water.

What are people thinking of?
 
Old 05-18-2019, 07:07 AM   #2
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Agree - scammers will stop at nothing to make money. It's sad really.
 
Old 05-18-2019, 07:47 AM   #3
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A complete scam, although I wonder if *some* of the people selling this kind of stuff believe in it.

At a trade show, I once overheard someone talking about a “biofeedback” device she was demonstrating. She was throwing around sciency sounding words to sound convincing, but it took no more than a few words into her pitch to see she had no idea what she was saying. Yet I think she actually believed what she was saying, because she wanted to believe.

That she and I were in the same place was because it was an organic (as in gardening, not as in chemistry) trade show and conference that I go to for the handful of vendors that sell good vegetable seed, the vendors that understand the differences between what they sell and the majority of trash seed that’s on the market, even at these trade shows. This show an interesting meeting place of down-to-earth and head-in-the-clouds people, although I don’t know how the few solid ones put up with all the nonsense around them. They must be more tolerant than I am.

TKS
 
Old 05-18-2019, 08:00 AM   #4
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Did you notice "a configuration that was developed in a laboratory"? Why should where it was developed be significant? But developing something in a laboratory sounds more trustworthy than developing it in a factory. People trust science even if they don't know anything about it. "Molecularly restructured" sounds good too -- or would if I didn't know that it's gobbledygook.
 
Old 05-18-2019, 10:51 AM   #5
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Con artists peddling pseudoscience is not much different to the way in which some actual scientists trade on their irrelevant qualifications to get work published in fields where they have no expertise. One sees a lot of that in linguistics, such as the biologist who conned Romance Studies into publishing a phoney solution of the Voynich Manuscript. Then there were Carl Sagan's embarrassing books on biology and psychology…
 
Old 05-18-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
hazel
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...not to mention Dawkins pontificating on theology!
 
Old 05-19-2019, 02:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Con artists peddling pseudoscience is not much different to the way in which some actual scientists trade on their irrelevant qualifications to get work published in fields where they have no expertise. One sees a lot of that in linguistics, such as the biologist who conned Romance Studies into publishing a phoney solution of the Voynich Manuscript. Then there were Carl Sagan's embarrassing books on biology and psychology…
Which "embarrassing" books might those be? and specifically, what did you find embarrassing?
 
Old 05-19-2019, 02:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
...not to mention Dawkins pontificating on theology!
While I don't describe myself as "militant" as Dawkins does, his conflicts started with the all too common stance of many religions as anti Evolution. I find some of his arguments groundless but I consider his "pontificating" to bring issues at least worthy of debate that were suppressed for 2000 years. I don't see any value in conflating him with con men.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 06:07 AM   #9
hazel
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If Dawkins would stick to opposing "intelligent design", young earth creationism and the like (as Carl Sagan and Steven Gould did), I would have no quarrel with him. These are issues that affect our understanding of science, so scientists naturally feel the need to debate them.

It is also perfectly reasonable for someone who happens to be a scientist by profession to also be an atheist and to say so. What annoys me about Dawkins is that he has a quite childish understanding of basic theology (never having studied it) but uses his reputation as a scientist to push theological pronouncements that merely show his ignorance. This plays right into the hands of the creationist brigade, whose arguments actually require scientists to be like that. If Dawkins did not exist, someone in America would have had to invent him!

And if anyone is conflating scientists with con-men, it is David, not me.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 06:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
Did you notice "a configuration that was developed in a laboratory"? Why should where it was developed be significant? But developing something in a laboratory sounds more trustworthy than developing it in a factory. People trust science even if they don't know anything about it."Molecularly restructured" sounds good too -- or would if I didn't know that it's gobbledygook.
I did notice that, and other things. "Powerful magnets" sounds more convincing than something like "we carefully optimized the magnets", even if that would have also happened in their laboratory. "gauss power" was another one that made me laugh ("I heard that word in science class once.")

That's what both the scammers and the earnest know-nothings play on. Things that sound like science and tech are attention grabbing, and people who sound like they know how to use science and tech to those without the education and experience in it are at least worth consideration.

The scammers I've seen who are really good at it are mesmerizing in person, talented at finding and exploiting peoples' weak spots, whose own magnetism is used to separate people from their money, or worse, to dedicate their time and loyalty to them.

TKS
 
Old 05-19-2019, 09:25 AM   #11
hazel
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One phrase that always used to amuse me was "hydrolysed silk". Back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of cosmetics contained hydrolysed silk "for a silky smooth finish". People thought that because they apparently contained some form of silk (they didn't know what "hydrolysed" meant of course), the claims about making your skin feel silky were more likely to be true.

Actually hydrolysed just means broken down into more fundamental components by water, although pure water seldom does the trick; you need strong acids or alkalis. Silk is a protein, so if you hydrolyse it, you get a mix of the 20 amino acids that make up all proteins. If you hydrolyse fingernail clippings, you get precisely the same mixture. But "contains hydrolysed fingernail clippings" doesn't quite have the same ring.

I'm sure those products did contain hydrolysed silk. The point is that it was included purely to validate the advertising campaign and not because anyone in the company thought it would do customers any good.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 09:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet View Post
Which "embarrassing" books might those be? and specifically, what did you find embarrassing?
How about Broca's Brain and Sagan's "birth experience" idea? The neurologist Richard Restak called it "embarrassingly naive"

Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet View Post
While I don't describe myself as "militant" as Dawkins does, his conflicts started with the all too common stance of many religions as anti Evolution.
"Many religions"? Who is opposing evolution other than a minority of Protestant Christians?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
And if anyone is conflating scientists with con-men, it is David, not me.
It's not me, either. My quarrel is with scientism, not science. Dawkins held a chair "for the Public Understanding of Science". Why do we need to pay a professorial salary to some-one for telling us that science is a Good Thing? Why has no-one endowed a chair for the public understanding of history, or anthropology? When people make a cult of science and turn it into a substitute for religion, then it's natural that (1) some scientists will use their status to get their personal opinions taken seriously and (2) some people will use scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo to sell worthless products. Both are con-artists.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 10:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
It's not me, either. My quarrel is with scientism, not science.
Or scientology, one of MY pet pieves, a religion dressed up as science.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 11:10 AM   #14
jsbjsb001
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Originally Posted by ehartman View Post
Or scientology, one of MY pet pieves, a religion dressed up as science.
It's hard to believe people honestly believe that there's any truth at all to "scientology", what a load of bullsh*t ("scientology" that is), and people still fall for it.

"Science" my ass it is.
 
Old 05-19-2019, 12:17 PM   #15
enorbet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
One phrase that always used to amuse me was "hydrolysed silk". Back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of cosmetics contained hydrolysed silk "for a silky smooth finish". People thought that because they apparently contained some form of silk (they didn't know what "hydrolysed" meant of course), the claims about making your skin feel silky were more likely to be true.

Actually hydrolysed just means broken down into more fundamental components by water, although pure water seldom does the trick; you need strong acids or alkalis. Silk is a protein, so if you hydrolyse it, you get a mix of the 20 amino acids that make up all proteins. If you hydrolyse fingernail clippings, you get precisely the same mixture. But "contains hydrolysed fingernail clippings" doesn't quite have the same ring.

I'm sure those products did contain hydrolysed silk. The point is that it was included purely to validate the advertising campaign and not because anyone in the company thought it would do customers any good.
That's spot on and quite funny actually. Did you ever see the Anthony Hopkins film "Proof" about a Mathematical genius suffering from dementia and his two very different daughters.? The two completely polarized sisters have this hilarious talk about hair products that has me grinning just recalling it. If you haven't seen it it's a fascinating study of prodigies as well as the gender bias that still exists to some extent to this day, even among those who really should know better.
 
  


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