It’s going to be another one of those snippet days. I hate to snipe and run, but I'm in kind of a hurry.
Q is for "Quack"
"Every now and then," writes one of my favorite bloggers, a guy who calls himself Stupid Evil Bastard (hereinafter referred to as "SEB"), "the makers of quack medical products and other woo-woo snake oil nonsense get a well deserved smack down." The product to which SEB has turned his attention is the Q-Ray ionized bracelet, formerly claimed to relieve pain and improve overall health and do all sorts of miraculous things.
The Q-Ray bracelet could be looked upon as part of a genre of "healing" jewelry that has been embraced by everyone from Hollyweirds to professional athletes, as well as numerous members in good standing of the conspicuously enlightened community. I blogged about a vaguely similar product line, the Q-Link products, in October of 2006. The Q-Link products supposedly protect the body from the evils of electronic pollution.
Anyway, the smack down to which SEB refers is the upholding of a September 2006 ruling by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the Q-Ray ionized bracelet is…well… junk jewelry. Not that they put it in exactly those words, but that was the gist of their decision. Actually, I think the word "fraud" was mentioned too, come to think of it. Now the Q-Ray folks will have to forfeit about $16 million plus interest in profits back to consumers.
Could this be the beginning of a trend? Could the Q-Link products be next? Could it be that the Teslar watch (which is another New-Wager favorite, and which also supposedly emits "healing frequencies") – will be next on the FTC s--t list? It could happen.
On the other hand, if I know snake-oil types, the Q-Rayers will end up resurfacing with another product line sooner or later. You just can’t keep a good scammer down – not when hope springs eternal in the consumer breast for quick and easy solutions to troubling problems.
After all, as I’ve said here before and will say again, Kevin Trudeau is still going strong.
(Thanks to regular Whirled visitor HoHaHe for alerting me to SEB’s post.)
At least they’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses
Lately I've received several comments to an older post I wrote about the hustledork moviemercial The Opus, which, despite promises of an autumn 2007 release, has yet to be released. The Opus, as you may recall, was hyped as being the greatest thing since The Secret, and in fact many of the stars of The Secret were slated to be in the "movie." Numerous hype-y promos were put up on YouTube. Apparently the producers are now in the process of paring down the "star" list, and you have to wonder who will make the final cut. Anyway, judging from some of the comments I've received recently, it would appear that there’s a sneaky PR campaign afoot by fans of The Opus's young creator, Douglas Vermeeren. Naturally, I welcome other points of view, but if I didn’t know better I would think these fans were trying to "convert" me to the Cult of Doug. At the very least they are trying to convince me that Doug is not a hustledork. Good luck with that, guys!
I’m feeling so rejected…
And speaking of hustledorks, I think I've been shunned by some of the anti-hustledork folks on Amazon. I've invited two of them to be my "Amazon friends," and so far one has ignored me completely, and the other said that after getting death threats from one of the ’dorks in question, s/he doesn't know whether to trust me or not. These two seem to be part of a group that calls itself "The Anti-Scam Network."
As for whether I can be "trusted"... well, all you have to do is read my blog and see where I stand on Internet scammers in general, and on some of those you accuse of being scammers in particular.
In fact, I’ve written about Amazon shenanigans before – best-selling authors who are reputed Amazon "gamers," mysteriously disappearing critical reviews, and the like. I realize that some folks may have just read my blog superficially and noticed that I’ve mentioned certain names on numerous occasions; perhaps they just assumed my blog is a pro-hustledork forum. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened; after all, just last July a publicist working on behalf of one of those Amazon best-selling authors sent me a copy of the guy’s book so I could write it up on my blog. She did this because she noticed I’d written about him previously. Obviously, she hadn’t read what I’d written.
I suppose I didn't exactly endear myself to the anti-scammers when I wrote this comment on one of the discussion threads:
Anyone who has ever read my blog, "Whirled Musings," knows that I am not a big fan of most New-Wage selfish-help gurus and their products. And I'm always suspicious when I see evidence that critical reviews or remarks about these people and their products have been deleted by Amazon. I am sure there's some funny stuff going on with some of the Amazon "bestselling" authors, many of whom achieve their bestselling status through "working the system" using various strategies. Furthermore, I have no doubt that some positive reviews are "planted" and some negative reviews are unfairly deleted.
On the other hand, when I see some of the same people writing identical negative reviews over and over and over again for each and every book or DVD produced by a particular author -- or, for that matter, when I see these same people posting identical messages on numerous discussion threads -- it makes even legitimate criticism seem less credible. When you do this, you're doing the same thing you accuse the "scammers and spammers" of doing. And you end up looking like you're out to "get" that person, whether or not that is the case.
I'm really not playing devil's advocate here. I just think that there are enough genuinely objectionable things about these people and their products that it's not necessary to write the same criticism over and over.
I should clarify one point: I don't think it's wrong to try to re-post a piece of legitimate criticism if you think it was unfairly deleted. Heck, I think you should try to re-post as many times as it takes if you really think you have something important to add to the discussion. But to copy and paste a single negative review or critical message and put it on every page devoted to that author is just plain wrong. What do you gain from that, except another chance to get your comment deleted?
The New-Wagers might not fight fair, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't. Someone needs to take the high road.
So far my comment has been voted "not helpful" by 3 out of 14 votes. If I’m not careful I just might be voted off the island.
But the thing is, I'm interested in fairness above everything else (well, okay, since we’re being honest here, appearing clever has always been my top priority, but fairness ranks pretty high too). If the "Anti-Scam Network" folks have legitimate criticisms that are being routinely deleted by Amazon, shame on Amazon. I think people should know about this and I'll be glad to write about it. But if these critics are just copying and pasting a bunch of unsubstantiated claims, aren’t they doing some of the same things they condemn?
I can understand the frustration that might drive some folks to copying and pasting. After all, it does seem that legitimate critical reviews and comments have been "deleted by Amazon" – sometimes repeatedly. And perhaps the copying and pasting is just intended as an experiment, a means of trying to get a point across, a way of being heard briefly before being deleted once again. Furthermore, at least one defender of the alleged scammers is copying and pasting his own response to the accusations on numerous forums – and unlike several of the "Anti-Scam" comments, this guy's remarks have NOT been "removed by Amazon."
I’m trying to look at it from all sides, but I’m thinking that perhaps my own dear Rev Ron was right when he suggested to me that it was ludicrous for me to write of taking the "high road" on these issues. Maybe there is no high road here and it's all just too silly even for my consideration.
Still, I do find it kind of interesting, though we should always keep in mind that I am easily amused. I find it particularly interesting that some of the Anti-Scam folks are tagging most of the products they're dissing with the word "hustledork." Hey, Anti-Scammers, I happen to live with the guy who coined the term "hustledork!" That would be the aforementioned Rev Ron. I was in the room with him on the historical moment when he came up with the word back in the mid-1990s. I can almost narrow down the day and time, and I could, if I were less discreet, name the actual person who inspired the term. (No, surprisingly enough, it wasn’t one of the targets of the Anti-Scam folks’ ire.)
In any case, Anti-Scammers, I am interested in what you have to say. I am kind of like the late Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who was reputed to have said, "If you can’t say something good about someone, come sit here by me." I want to hear your stories, and if you want me to publish them, I will, and if you don’t want me to, I won’t. But remember, I’ll keep the forum open for views from the other side(s) as well.
After all, it’s only fair.