Effect Measure

The TV ad that DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!

Unlike Orac at Respectful Insolence, I’m not particularly obsessed with what he calls “woo”: medical quackery and fraud. He has every reason to go bullshit over it, since it is potentially very dangerous stuff. But I have a limited supply of outrage and quackery just doesn’t set me off. Usually. So I am surprised at how bullshit I get every time I see this piece of shit advert for something called the Kinoki footpad detoxification system. I want to scream when it comes on television. I mean really SCREAM. Mrs. R. has to restrain me from yelling at the TV. This ad pushes all my buttons. It pushes buttons I didn’t even know I had. It pushes buttons I don’t want to have and no one should have.

Now Wired has noticed it (hat tip Boingboing), calling it The Biggest Medical Scam Since Alex Chiu’s Immortality Device. Since I’m not a quackery aficionado I don’t know about Alex Chiu’s live long and prosper technology, but I am an environmental epidemiologist and I know something about chemical toxins in general and some of them I know quite a lot about, as in being an expert knowing a lot about them. Like asbestos. Asbestiform fibers are minerals, variously composed calcium and magnesium silicates. When you breathe them they can cause a fatal scarring of the lungs (asbestosis) or one of a number of kinds of cancer. Because they are mineral fibers, they don’t move around much once they get lodged wherever they get to. In particular, they won’t leach out onto a foot pad over night. Nor, unfortunately, will your cellulite. Or lead. Or parasites. Mucous?!?! Holy Mother Fuck (I will grant it is pretty effective at removing that green stuff from your wallet).

Whenever I see this garbage on TV the only thing I can think is, someone isn’t doing their job. I don’t know who that bastard is, but he or she should be fired. You watch it. I can’t:

Wow. All I can say is Wow.

Comments

  1. #1 shelly
    January 24, 2008

    Is the world getting stupider? This commercial infuriated me too and i’m not an epidemiologist,just an engineer with a good background in science… after reading your blog, i don’t feel so alone. thanks.

  2. #2 caia
    January 24, 2008

    I saw that recently and was like… dude.

    I also wondered what the heck that black crap they show is. Wanna bet they have some kind of something that reacts to body heat in the footpads, in declining amounts? Which could be proven by starting at the bottom of the box, but then one would have to actually buy this crap.

    Doesn’t this violate truth in advertising laws?

  3. #3 coracle
    January 24, 2008

    Looks like the same thing: Champneys Detox Pads – Office Experiment!.

    Rather amusing.

  4. #4 caia
    January 24, 2008

    Thanks, coracle! It makes sense that it’d be moisture and not body heat, because body heat would turn them brown almost immediately, and that wouldn’t be. *cough* credible.

  5. #5 Warren
    January 24, 2008

    The image of the tree sucking nutrients through its leaves and excreting toxins through its roots is so perfidious that only the terminally intoxicated could possibly fall for the rest of the pitch.

  6. #6 Shannon
    January 24, 2008

    This ad frosts my cookies as well. The person(s)who are supposed to be watching this stuff have either been paid off, are gullible, or, they no longer exist. My guess is the last one. One more example of ineptitude and budget cuts. The list is endless, falling bridges, nose-diving economies, brain injured soldiers, unfunded mandates, global warming. We are all going to Hell in a hand-basket. You know where that term comes from? Chinese workers were lowered into the mines in hand-baskets during the end of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. When the mines failed they were dropped instead of lowered so the owners wouldn’t have to pay them. They were sacrificed for the almighty dollar. I think the stunt is being repeated. And, I know the people who dropped us over the precipice.

  7. #7 Stuart Coleman
    January 24, 2008

    I actually wrote about this add a little while ago on my own blog, fortunately I only see TV ads at home, at school all my TV has them cut right out.

  8. #8 neil
    January 24, 2008

    Do you know what a keyboard spew moment is?

    I had one when I first saw that add on late night television.

    What a load of hogwash.

    Whenever I see “Paid Programming” for a late night time slot on my TV menu, I avoid it like a dose of bat guanno.

  9. #9 Tink
    January 24, 2008

    Revere, I truly empathize with you for the strong emotions this commercial evokes in you. If this product is so potentially harmful, isn’t there something that can be done to pull the ads?

  10. #10 revere
    January 24, 2008

    Tink: I don’t know about it being dangerous (because it doesn’t do anything, not even plausibly prevent people from doing something) but it sure is fraudulent.

  11. #11 Scarper
    January 24, 2008

    “Tink: I don’t know about it being dangerous (because it doesn’t do anything, not even plausibly prevent people from doing something) but it sure is fraudulent.”

    That is a foolish assumption. Just because a product isn’t efficacious doesn’t mean it is harmless. While you are probably right, it is also possible that the pads have chemicals which may be harmful. Even vinegar can cause skin ulcers if used long enough in high enough concentrations.

    Once you stop using evidence based medicine and science anything can happen.

  12. #12 Beth
    January 24, 2008

    I love how it says “FDA Registered.”

  13. #13 revere
    January 24, 2008

    Scarper: I doubt there is anything on that pad but detergent (if that). Yes, it’s possible there is something on the pads but highly doubtful. Compared to a lot of consumer products it’s probably pretty safe. As for EBM, most of what we do in medicine wouldn’t wash. Even with EBM anything can happen. Ask Pfizer.

  14. #14 gilmoreaz
    January 24, 2008

    I think the Packers used it to beat New York. . . Oh they didn’t, did they. . .

    Bears fan

  15. #15 Margaret
    January 24, 2008

    1:24 “Beware of cheap imitations! Now [...] only $19.99! But wait! Call now, and we’ll double your offer!”

    I detect a self-unaware irony here.

  16. #16 revere
    January 24, 2008

    gilmore: I hate the Bears because I’m a Packer fan. But that’s real football. None of this pussy AFC pantythose stuff.

  17. #17 marquer
    January 24, 2008

    When I walk around the house in socks, I occasionally
    step in spilled water when transiting wet areas such
    as the kitchen or garage.

    I’ve noticed that my socks then tend to turn dark
    colors, which I had attributed to the wet fabric
    picking up more detritus.

    But no! They’re detoxifying me!

    And from the way they smell afterward, those must
    be some quite potent toxins.

    The other thing which this scam brought to mind was
    Joanna Lumley’s chainsmoking character in the classic
    Britcom series Absolutely Fabulous, who at one point in
    one episode was plastered all over her body with dozens
    of nicotine patches in an attempt to quit.

    One of the other characters peeled back the corner of
    a patch and found a horrible brown tar underneath, and
    announced, “My God! She’s recharging them!”

  18. #18 gilmoreaz
    January 24, 2008

    Revere: “I hate the Bears because I’m a Packer fan. But that’s real football. None of this pussy AFC pantythose stuff.

    +1

    I would have loved for Farve to get the ring, but alas no, my upbringing wouldn’t allow such heresy

    Hope he plays one more

  19. #19 Joe
    January 25, 2008

    Skepticism is fine, but these pads definitely could be useful. After all, they have IONS! Ions, I say!

    What sort of an amazing world are we living in where, without a prescription, even the most humble of us can get IONS?!

  20. #20 Kay
    January 25, 2008

    I’m sure these pads are a scam, but it occured to me that they might contain something similar to DMSO. If large chemicals can permeate the skin with DMSO use, then couldn’t they be released from the skin in a similar fashion? Is there the awful possibility that these pads contain DMSO?

  21. #21 revere
    January 25, 2008

    Kay: They could contain anything, I suppose, although I doubt it is DMSO. Why go to the expense since it doesn’t matter if they do anything or not. But even so, there are very few things I can think of for which this would be effective and certainly not the examples they give, which are simply preposterous.

  22. #22 Dave Briggs
    January 25, 2008

    I love how it says “FDA Registered.”

    Posted by: Beth | January 24, 2008 9:12 PM

    Maybe if you send the FDA a registered letter but forget to put a stamp on it or drop it in the mailbox you get to say FDA registered, in perpetuity? LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  23. #23 tendrel
    January 25, 2008

    I looked em up a little after seeing the advert and thinking that I must be losing my mind. It had to be a joke, right? no, sadly not. They infuriate me too, but then it makes me crazy that people would buy it, or into it. argh. anyhow, it doesn’t really surprise me. And now I don’t feel so alone. =) thanks!

  24. #24 Rapid Heartbeat
    January 25, 2008

    You are missing the real fraud in this. It’s the part where it says “Free for life you only pay the shipping and handling” that is $12.95 charged to your bank account or credit card for LIFE.
    Also, what is that Planters logo doing in the beginning of the ad? Are they somehow connected to this?

  25. #25 Rapid Heartbeat
    January 25, 2008

    Sorry, $12.95 per month for life for the shipping and handling.

  26. #26 revere
    January 25, 2008

    Rapid: I think every time you want a shipment it’s $12.95 S&H, not $12.95 a month (unless you order it every month. But if you order it at all, you should Apply Directly to Forehead to get the toxins out of there.

  27. #27 neil
    January 25, 2008

    Revere,

    Tell me you are NOT slamming my favorite product! I apply it directly to my forehead daily.

    I put some on my keyboard and “apply directly to the forehead.”

  28. #28 jen_m
    January 25, 2008

    I see those ads during my morning news. What I wonder is why they don’t have to run the “results not typical” language that diet programs have to, to get around false-advertising claims, or the “not tested by the FDA for efficacy” boilerplate required for supplement ads.

    I thought that HeadOn was a topical salicylate like Ben-Gay, or a heat rub, like Tiger Balm. But no! It’s homeopathic. So you’re rubbing your forehead with – nothing. Great.

  29. #29 Kimberly
    January 27, 2008

    Revere,
    Thank you for this. I thought I was the only person out there who got so agitated by this ad. For me, the most infuriating part is that because of the sorry state of science education in this country, people actually believe such absolute nonsense.

  30. #30 Mike
    January 28, 2008

    Reminds me of advice to watch infomercials for the entertainment value ONLY. Like the special electric heater (can’t recall the name) that is guaranteed to reduce your heating bills. Of course it will! But better check your rising electric bill.

  31. #31 Olymom
    January 28, 2008

    Ah, Revere, clearly you have no appreciation of a business opportunity. Myself, I am thinking of marketing an emulsion of Gambian pit viper, imported from the lush, pristine jungles of western Africa that will be guaranteed to be 100% natural and evoke 100% natural neurological responses. . . Snake oil? Oh, no! An emulsion of Gambian pit viper! A completely different thing!

  32. #32 glock
    January 29, 2008

    You guys gotta lighten up…This ad caused me some serious harm. I laughed my ass off when I when I saw it, now what the hell am I supposed to sit on??

  33. #33 David
    February 13, 2008

    You are all a bunch of retards…of COURSE the pads work…did you actually WATCH the ad? The commercial had EVERYTHING it should have to be considered reliable:

    – A south-east Asian name
    – Traditional south-east Asian attire
    – a graph with moving arrows
    – big words
    – a “nature” theme

    What do all of you people have against south-east Asia huh? How can you say “no” to moving arrows? GAWD.