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Exploiting the gullible

19 May 2020

One part of me says it's really bad to exploit the gullible.

However, another voice, deep in the darkest recesses of my mind, says "if you're that stupid you get what you deserve".

Sadly, although I would never seek to exploit those who are ignorant, feeble of mind or just plain stupid, there are plenty of people out there (especially on the internet) who do just this -- and very successfully it would seem.

We've seen many scams come and go whilst emptying the wallets of the poorly educated and overly trusting. Schemes and products that make outrageous promises -- promises that more often than not defy the laws of physics and challenge the very concept of commonsense. Sadly, during the past few months of crisis, the number of such scams has surged and increasing numbers of "the great unwashed" are being taken to the cleaners and/or made to look very silly.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, surely it's time for schools to start teaching "healthy skepticism" as a life-skill that everyone should be equipped with as they enter "the real world(tm)".

Here's the latest scam that simply beggars belief...

I am talking about Kailo, a simple patch that promises to eliminate pain anywhere on your body.

I started seeing ads for this product on YouTube shortly after the lockdown began and it immediately rang alarm bells.

The prolific use of buzzwords such as "nano" and claims that it was some kind of clever "antenna" that blocked pain pathways were the first clues that we're dealing with just another scam.

I figured it was probably just another bunch of scammers trying to fleece those poor unfortunates who are not only gullible but also unwell, suffering from chronic or acute pain. Yeah, medical scams are the best because once you reach a certain level of desperation you'll throw money at anyone and everyone who promises you a cure.

What I was not prepared to discover is that some hugely gullible people had thrown almost NZ$3 million at these scammers by way of the crowdfunding site Indegogo.

WTF?

That's a whole new level of stupid.

Three million dollars?

For a piece of plastic with some kind of sintered metalic coating arranged in a pattern that is solely aesthetic, certainly not anaesthetic.

Anyone with the smallest understanding of how the body's nervous system works would immediately spot this as fakery and anyone who understands that "nano capacitors" can do absolutely nothing to relieve pain would also kick this crap to the curb. In fact, I see no indication that this thing even has nanocapacitors in it. It's nothing more than a sheet of plastic with a shiny metal patern on one side and some sticky on the other.

So how come there are all those glowing endorsements for the product? How can it be that there are so many people claiming that it works?

I'd say there are two simple explanations:

The first is that a good number of those singing the praises of this product may well have been paid (either by cash or other inducement) to do so. Actors just say what they're told to say and who doesn't want to be an actor... right?

The second explanation is that of the placebo effect. Pain signals are received by the brain which then decides what to do with them. In a normally functioning person, the pain signals are interpreted as discomfort (sometimes extreme) that serves the purpose of protecting the body from further harm. ie: you wouldn't attempt to run on a broken ankle because the pain would stop you.

However, the mind is a rather interesting thing. The placebo effect has proven on many occasions to trick the mind into re-interpreting those pain signals differently, perhaps even totally ignoring them. When that happens, it appears that the placebo has had a genuine clinical effect. However, placebo is far more likely to be effective when the actual pain is simply imaginary in the first place.

So should we say that that the Kailo isn't really fake... if the placebo effect it creates really does reduce or eliminate pain?

Yes, of course it's fake -- because it makes totally unsubstantiated claims (nano capacitors, interupted pain pathways, antennas, etc) as to the method by which it works. Thats scammy.

If Kailo had said "this product may reduce pain by use of the placebo effect" then they'd be fine - that'd be a true description of what you're buying.

And the price!!!

US$100 per patch!

As I said, this scam sets new levels of scamminess and highights greatly increased levels of stupidity amongst the ranks of the general public.

Once again however, it could be argued that in order to produce a placebo effect, anything you buy should make wildly optimistic claims, use lots of techno-buzzwords/phrases and cost a lot of money. The level of placebo effect is almost certainly linked to the perception of value and complexity and in that respect, this should be one powerful placebo device.

However, I'd still like to see the people operating this scam locked up for a very long time because they're preying on people who are clearly so desperate for a relief from their pain that they've lost the ability to think rationally and logically. That ought to be a crime.

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