Consumer products

Thanks to Kickstarter, those who promote silly hats got a pile of free money

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A hat that claims to shield your head from electromagnetic fields has become a successfully funded project on Kickstarter this past week. The people behind the campaign (whomever they are) took advantage of people’s ignorance and gullibility (and possibly paranoia) about the supposed harmful effects of electromagnetic fields. These beanies are basically just a fancy version…

Odom’s condition shines light on dangers of poorly-regulated supplements

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As the media attempts to make sense of former pro basketball player Lamar Odom’s bizarre situation that resulted in him lying in a hospital near death, a report comes out in the NEJM showing that dietary supplements cause serious adverse affects that send people to the emergency room at an alarming rate. Odom spent three days in a Nevada…

Exposed “healer” Popoff is back to take your money

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We are again pleased to bring you news of brilliant skeptical activism from UK’s Good Thinking Society as they expose former fraud televangelist Peter Popoff. He’s back to his old tricks “healing” people. But also, he has what appears to be a lucrative fund-raising plan that demands money from patrons in exchange for gimmicks and…

FTC cracks down on vision “improvement” phone app

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It’s a shame that this company has such a great name and a snappy name for the product. However, it doesn’t work. You probably can’t improve your vision with an app and it’s not about “neuroplasticity” which is a sciencey word used here in order to impress consumers. FTC Charges Marketers of ‘Vision Improvement’ App With…

Monkey News: Karl Pilkington is bananas

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It’s sometimes said that eating a lot of of bananas at once could be dangerous – it has even been suggest that eating more than six in one sitting could kill you. Can this be true? Source: Can eating more than six bananas at once kill you? – BBC News No. And yay BBC News…

More evidence that dietary supplements can be a “raw deal”

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News smidgen: Federal prosecutors say that one dietary supplement wholesaler in New Jersey spent four years selling products diluted with products like maltodextrin or rice flour, increasing profits but defrauding customers. The company’s owner now must forfeit $1 million in profits and has been sentenced to 40 months in prison and one year of supervised…

Sunburn is all natural. Is sunscreen?

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Jessica Alba’s Honest Company has been sued by a customer who claims the company is making false claims in its marketing and labeling. The lawsuit alleges the Honest Company falsely says its products are “natural.” It further says that Honest’s sunscreen isn’t “effective.” Source: Jessica Alba’s Honest Company sued for alleged false labeling The Honest…

Recovery water healing claim sounds like snake oil

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NFL player makes claim regarding the healing properties of fancy, “sciencey” nano-bubble water. Russell Wilson Says Recovery Water Healed His Head Injury from NFC Title Game  At one point in the story, Rodrick mentions a moment where Wilson claimed Reliant Recovery Water—a sports recovery drink in which he is a personal investor—helped him recover from…

Should sky lanterns be banned?

Floating orange balls of light, preparing for take off.

Chinese lanterns, also called sky lanterns, are small balloons made of paper that fly because of heated air from a small fire underneath. These devices are a prime source of “UFO” sightings since they move with the winds aloft and can accelerate unexpectedly but also remain seemingly stationary for a bit, confusing the witness. They…

Asparagus watergate

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News Driblet: Has Whole Foods become “a bizarre religious cult”? Whole Foods tried to sell Los Angelenos actual asparagus in a bottle of water—for $6 Source: Asparagus water: This week’s overpriced yuppie Whole Foods diet trend garbage – Salon.com Yuck. The product has been removed. Tip: Bob M.

Kevin Trudeau must pay back millions of dollars

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A tentative plan was announced to provide refunds for hundreds of thousands of people who bought Kevin Trudeau’s silly diet book. Source: Judge may order refunds for buyers of Trudeau weight-loss book – Chicago Tribune The plan greenlighted by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman calls for the Federal Trade Commission to send several rounds of checks to…

Procera AVH memory-enhancing supplement BUSTED for deceptive claims

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If it sounds to good to be true… yada yada yada. Yay for the FTC but something tells me these settlement amounts are not quite high enough to act as deterrents for companies pushing useless supplements. The marketers of a dietary supplement called Procera AVH will relinquish $1.4 million under settlements resolving Federal Trade Commission…

New study from tainted author with conflicting interests on GMOs

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Back in September of 2012, French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said that they did a study that showed rats fed on a diet containing a Roundup-resistant maize variety or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet. The study…

Wi-fi marketing claim in China aimed at people who fear radiation

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An obvious case of devious advertising can misinform consumers in a big way. Two Chinese tech firms have clashed over a new wireless router with a special setting for pregnant women. Source: ‘Pregnancy wi-fi’ router causes controversy in China Qihoo 360 unveiled the device, an upgrade to an existing product, which has three settings it…

Etsy will be turned into a newt

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In the fall of 2012, Ebay took a stand against the sale of paranormal products. Though some people still tried to sell ghosts and “haunted” objects. Now, Etsy, the online marketplace for handcrafted goods has offended their community of supernatural vendors by shutting down accounts that sell spells and hexes. Witches are furious at Etsy for banning…

How do chickens with eight legs cross the road? Litigiously.

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KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) has said enough to the parade of crazy rumors about their food and have sought legal satisfaction from Chinese companies that promote hoaxes that damage their finger-lickin’ good reputation. KFC sues Chinese companies for online rumors about its food Restaurant operator KFC said Monday it filed a lawsuit against three companies…

Support free speech in the public interest: Anti-SLAPP act proposed

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It’s a shame that outspoken bloggers have to have lawyers at their disposal because of threats to take down pieces critical of some charlatan. This week, there is a new push to support anti-SLAPP lawsuits. Lawsplainer: The Proposed Federal Anti-SLAPP Act: What It Would Do, Why It’s Important | Popehat Last week, two members of…

Neuro-tech patents increase

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Companies are taking out a huge amount of patents related to reading brainwaves, according to analysis, with a range of different applications. Source: Patents for technology to read people’s minds hugely increasing / The Independent Fewer than 400 neuro-technology related patents were filed between 2000-2009. But in 2010 alone that reached 800, and last year…

Panera changing ingredients to be more “healthy”

Let me have one of the cranberry-orange scones.

Panera is the latest company to declare they are going to make their food sound healthier. While they portray it terms of simplicity and customer demands, really, it’s a marketing gimmick and may end up disappointing the consumer. Panera CEO says ‘no’ to unacceptable ingredients – Fortune The restaurant chain is doing away with or reformulating…

FTC slashes weight loss scam scheme

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The FTC charged the group Sale Slash for violating the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act. They used spam emails and banner ads to fake news sites that were designed to look like a genuine endorsement. It was also alleged that they used unauthorized celebrity endorsements, such as Oprah Winfrey, and made false claims to…

Yet another illegal stimulant in dietary supplements

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Dietary supplements contain potentially harmful substances. Gee, I’m starting to sound like a broken record, just repeating the same thing… FDA warns about another illegal stimulant in supplements | Reuters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning companies to stop selling dietary supplements that include a stimulant known as DMBA, the latest in a…

Have your say to the FDA on homeopathic products!

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The US FDA will hold a public hearing on homeopathic products. What does this mean? It means the agency is considering adjusting the current enforcement policies to reflect changes in the homeopathic product marketplace over the last approximately 25 years. That sounds like a PLAN and a great opportunity! Homeopathic Product Regulation: Evaluating FDA’s Regulatory…