Respectful Insolence

Sometimes, woo makes the news.

Does anyone remember “Professor” Bill Nelson, the cross-dressing “inventor” who created a most amazing woo machine? I’ve written about it three times before:

  1. Your Friday Dose of Woo: Miraculous quest for the quantum
  2. Your Friday Dose of Woo: Serious woo from Down Under
  3. The SCIO, Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface, and Bill Nelson: Better late than never–or maybe not

This guy sells his device for $20,000 a pop and claims he sells 40 machines a month.

Now, check out this Marketplace episode, Miracle Makers or Money Takers? Watch the whole thing.

It never ceases to amaze me that people fall for this stuff. Here we have flamboyantly sociopathic cross-dressing scammer who’s on the lam having his minions sell this expensive piece of junk in Canada. For some reason, Health Canada licensed it for “reduction of stress.” Why, I don’t know, but it was the foot in the door for Nelson to market his device as a cure for cancer, autism, heart disease–pretty much anything you want. Truly, it is the woo for all seasons, and there’s one born every minute.

Best of all, the show did some tests, and the test results show that the “interface” was only delivering pulses of around 5 mV, and the engineer who did the test said that this couldn’t possibly have any healing effect on the body. One wonders what cost so many thousands of dollars to produce such an instrument. That engineer must be one of those nasty close-minded reductionist scientists who just don’t understand Bill Nelson’s genius. After all, the “scientific studies” he sent to the reporter were nothing more than collections of testimonials.

If you are interested in quackery, watch the video. Apparently nothing is too ridiculous that scammers won’t do it and someone somewhere won’t fall for it. People like Joy, who commented after the video:

This device works on a quantum level. It is beyond people’s understanding at this time. Anybody who deals with energy work like Reiki realizes that this really works. It does not cure but rather prepares the body to heal itself. If you are not ready and willing to heal yourself it does not work.

Isn’t that what so many quacks say? If you don’t get better, it’s your fault because you don’t believe enough.

Comments

  1. #1 Interrobang
    February 7, 2009

    Is it really relevant to mention twice that the guy cross-dresses? (Or even once?) It seems like you’re trying to use “cross-dressing” as some kind of pejorative, and it’s really not. Is a con artist in a suit somehow more respectable than a con artist in a skirt?

  2. #2 LostMarbles
    February 7, 2009

    I’ll second Interrobang’s complaint about using “cross-dressing” as an insult especially when flanked by the words “sociopathic” and “scammer”. It has nothing to do with him being a crazy quack aside from playing on some peoples equivocation of cross-dressing and fruity/insane/not normal.

  3. #3 Prudence
    February 7, 2009

    Re: the cross-dressing thing, I think it’s completely relevant to mention it. After all, it’s 100% true and completely inescapable. And I’m probably an insensitive git, however, I have two very close relatives who are post-op trans and they would have a field day with this crackpot.

  4. #4 Jonah
    February 7, 2009

    Your mentioning cross-dressing is exactly what scientists criticise wooists for doing – bringing in irrelevant data to make your argument appear stronger.

    I am strongly anti-woo, but this is not the first time I have noticed an anti-woo person doing something mildly hypocritical (another example is scientists arguing that a perfect study is more or less impossible and therefore evidence from flawed studies can be permitted at a pinch, but saying the exact opposite when a wooist tries the same reasoning). If you want to say that talking about cross-dressing demonstrates sociopathy and makes your point stronger, okay, but then you have to let wooists do it also.

    You cannot let double standards even *appear* to apply if you are trying to win people over from woo.

  5. #5 DLC
    February 7, 2009

    Oh please. anybody buying this seriously needs their gullibility checked. Oh, and where’s the cops ?
    People selling these things are committing fraud, plain and simple. I did get a laugh at the crossdressing loon though.

  6. #6 N
    February 7, 2009

    I thought the video was difficult to watch, but reading some comments on the CBC website was even more painful.

    “It is so sad that so much of the population is so brainwashed by old science and the old way of doing things. It is sad that we are told that we must take drugs and have invasive surgeries as our only hope of curing and healing disease – THAT is what is killing us.” (Marion)

    It makes me wonder whether this kind of thinking is gaining significant ground (Big Pharma conspiracies, antivax, homeopathy, etc). Or is it just a very vocal minority of weirdos? Are there any reliable stats about people using alternative medicine?

  7. #7 the skeptical satirist
    February 8, 2009

    The real question is: Why do I continue to be shocked at the gullibility of the public? When will I ever learn? (Or is that two questions?) (And a third one.) At the very least, let’s hope Sylvia Browne sues Bill Nelson for plagiarizing her look.

  8. #8 AZ
    February 9, 2009

    I actually saw this on television! I have also unfortunately met some people who have bought this product. It was about 2 or 3 years ago. They were charging $40-$100 depending on the depth of information for this strange shock-reading-treatment.
    Very Sad.

  9. #9 Tracy W
    February 9, 2009

    This device works on a quantum level. It is beyond people’s understanding at this time. Anybody who deals with energy work like Reiki realizes that this really works.

    Of course, anybody who deals with energy work as it is used in conventional medicine realises that energy can be incredibly dangerous. For example, the energy from radioactive materials can cause cancer, people having MRI scans have to remove all metal from their clothing, excessive heat can kill, etc. If we have no understanding of how this device works, then for all we know it could be as dangerous as the uranium rays that Marie and Pierre Curie investigated.

    For some reason though, this possibility never seems to worry the advocates of energy work in areas outside conventional medicine. “An unknown source of energy that’s never been studied in a physics lab and we don’t have the foggiest idea of how it works, what unexpected interactions it may have, and what long-term effects it may have? Well that sounds like an excellent idea, I’ll sign myself up for ten sessions!”

  10. #10 Melody
    March 18, 2009

    Oh, gosh. I’ll bet this is what the director of special services at my old high school was talking about once. I thought at first in the discussion, when she was trying to explain the device she was talking about, I thought she was talking about something like a TENS unit like the company my mom works at makes. But then she turned around to this other person and started talking about autistic kids and hyperactivity, and I was thinking, “???”

    Ah, California. Maybe it is as woo-tastic as I have been hearing it is, even if I haven’t seen much of it myself first-hand (thank goodness). My parents have always been open to the ideas of things like the “natural cures” and all that, but they look to where the evidence is and when it doesn’t hold up it doesn’t hold up, and when I told them what homeopathy was boy did my dad say “wow” a lot!

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