Pseudo debunking, trickery, product promos

Leifer

Senior Member
It IS a fair question.....Is a health product a scam, or not ?
(does it work as promoted ?)

I've often searched Google...for example: an alternative health product, but also adding the word "scam" in the search field.
Increasingly, I've come across hits (many youtube) that seem to ask that very question.

But many of these hits are actually promoting the product, or are attempting to "remove the scam from it" by preemptively bring it up in the title, then simply denying the scam aspect in about a few sentences (or not it all).
This sales pitch is plainly aimed at the "on-the-fence" crowd, who may be searching the net about the possible doubts of a said product, and may think they have found a fair review of a product.
I am feeling...this is a deception.

My example typed into google was something like this... "skin cream" "scam". (I forget the orig)
Found on the first return page was....

"Is South Beach LifeCell Anti Aging Skin Cream Scam?"

"Revitol Scar Cream Review - A Scam Or Real Deal?"

and the idea is often found in beginning entrepreneurs...she addresses it more than most (below).....(and funny....the most genuine, she really seems to believe it.)
"Ultimate Reset SCAM !!! Is it worth it"

Other results also appeared...people saying the products do nothing, especially long term.....and/or included the word "scam" either in the body of text, or in the replies.
The results saying certain products were fantastic were a mix of obvious sales sites, or possibly legit user posts. The product may work.....but these positive singular testimonials were minimal for such a wide range search, and only believable if looked hard at (and for) the sources.

This result below, seems to be a user-generated post (who sells the product) with a positive description of a product (note the title below, never mentioned on the linked page), but backfired if you read the responses.
Here is the google result....first page...

scam_google_1.jpg
http://www.reviewopedia.com/derm-exclusive-reviews


In brief, the (above) reply titles (responses) were, in order so far, over months:
Are there other instances of "pseudo debunking" ?
Is this a correct description ?




 
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JRBids

Senior Member
I usually try adding "review" when I want to know what people think about a product. or pro and con.
 

Steve Funk

Active Member
One variation I have seen, when googling reviews for a product called Sleep MD, is one more websites claiming that it is the second best product on the market, then extolling the one they are trying to sell.
 

Leifer

Senior Member
Currently, if you are Google searching for a heavily marketed "health product or supplement", and you include the word "scam" in the search, the list of results will indeed be mostly pseudo-reviews (or filtered for just positive reviews).....and will in-fact be promotions of the searched product, describing how well it works, or how it's NOT a scam, and a link where to purchase it..
"______ , is it a scam or legit ?"

The mere idea that the promoters of a product "know" that many people will use the word "scam" in their search, is a sign that even the "causally cautious customer" may be on-the-fence about the claimed abilities of supplements or miracle touted cures.....and that the product may have little-otherwise real proof of it's claimed benefits.

This seems to be a preemptive defense of said-product, which often has little (if any) scientific research to say otherwise (for or against).
One clever clue might be.....why would a product feel the need to create "scam or legit ?" PR category ?
It's almost as if the marketers know that the product has suspicious benefits, so they then flood the top Google search results with "seemingly objective" reviews of it.
Marketers of supplement products are rightfully aware that potential buyers do use Google before buying and trying.
The below term is not limited to just "supplements", but all sorts of questionable products, including money-making schemes.

Search for "scam or legit".......
(careful clicking on the results, there's a lot of "shady sites" (phishing, virus, etc)

https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q="scam or legit"
scam_or_legit.jpg
 
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skephu

Senior Member
Are there other instances of "pseudo debunking" ?
On a larger scale, pseudo-debunking is done by industry shills like Steven Milloy. He writes "debunking" articles about research that may hurt various corporate interests, e.g. the tobacco industry or the fossil fuel industry; he labels such research as "junk science".
 

Jazzy

Closed Account
On a larger scale, pseudo-debunking is done by industry shills like Steven Milloy. He writes "debunking" articles about research that may hurt various corporate interests, e.g. the tobacco industry or the fossil fuel industry; he labels such research as "junk science".
I was going to respond with "I've never heard of that", when I recall compiling a list of "sceptic" books, each with a "top of the list" review off the Web. To my horror, I discovered that ALL EVOLUTION (Dawkins at al.) proponents benefited from a "top-of-the-list" panning by Creationist freak-dom. All hail, the Web. Conspiracies exist, all right...
 

skephu

Senior Member
I could also mention Anthony Watts (wattsupwiththat.com) who publishes articles "debunking" climate science. He often uses the words "debunking", "debunked", etc.
Sometimes it's really hard to distinguish this type of pseudo-debunking from real debunking. Many skeptics fall victim to pseudo-debunking articles.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member
The internet seems to have the ability to dilute/destroy any clarity we thought we could achieve or had achieved.
 

huwp

Member
The internet seems to have the ability to dilute/destroy any clarity we thought we could achieve or had achieved.
Because the internet has basically no barriers to entry, anyone can publish any message; and anyone can make sure their message gets attention by sheer volume alone, completely independent of truth, sincerity, rationality, evidence etc etc.

Crazies and scammers have always existed, but before the internet, publishing and distributing a message involved financial cost, which at least filtered out the most casually insincere. The current implementation of the scientific method with it's emphasis on published research is of course not perfect, and there are many flawed journals out there, but the requirement to convince an editor and reviewers to greenlight publication filters out a great deal of dross. But the internet is truly the tower of babel.
 
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