wooTAG–uh, I mean shooTAG–Pest Control Device

I recently received a tip about a pest control product for pets (and people) that has woo written all over it. Anaglyph over at Tetherd Cow has written about the shooTAG pest repellant device, and has posted a follow-up response to a comment from the company CEO. I have little to add to his comments.

The product promotional materials are entertaining to read if you like science fiction. They freely refer to mysterious “bioenergetic fields,” “resonances,” and, of course, “quantum physics.” They offer testimonials and fanciful pseudoscientific explanations for how the product, which seems from the description to amount to a little strip of magnetic tape like the one on the back of your credit card,  somehow interacts with mysterious energies from the pet and the earth to repel pests. What they don’t offer is anything resembling a plausible scientific rational or actual research evidence to suggest any of their claims are true.

Some examples:

shoo!TAG™ represents a paradigm shift in the pest management industry. shoo!TAG™ utilizes Nature’s energetic principles in combination with physics, quantum physics and advanced computer software technology. The key to shoo!TAG™ is the three dimensional electromagnetic field embedded in the magnetic strip.

shoo!TAG™ utilizes the power of the bio-energetic field which surrounds all living things to create a frequency barrier which repels targeted pests for up to four months.

shoo!TAG™‘s magnetic strip is encoded with beneficial frequencies and resonances and an electromagnetic charge bearing a polarized energy signature, which when introduced into the bio-energetic field of the wearer produces results. ”

As always, one must be suspicious of “paradigms shift” language, which basically says, “We’ve found something that contradicts all the know laws of established science and we know it works because we think it works.” Likewise, non-physicists claiming to explain unlikely mysteries by referring to quantum physics is a big red flag. Quantum phenomenon are weird, but they seem only to apply at the atomic level, not the macroscopic level of dogs and fleas, and the mathematics required to truly understand them, as opposed to the metaphors of popularized explanations, is beyond most of us. That makes it easy to refer to a mysterious process as due to “quantum physics,” but it’s just a bit of vacuous pseudoscientific gibberish designed to obscure the lack of a real mechanism of action.

The company web site also makes pretty strong claims of efficacy, which I would think would interest the federal government since such claims have to be backed up by actual scientific evidence or they constitute fraudulent advertising. Sadly, the government rarely has time to investigate and control such small-time mountebanks, and they usually just switch labels and IP addresses and continue selling their quackery.

The only part of the company materials that goes beyond entertaining nonsense to outright irresponsible BS is the frequent claims that if the product doesn’t seem to be working, one should blame not the product but the “toxic” medical treatments the pet may have previously received, such as steroid medication, vaccines, and validated pest control products. Apparently these have not only their know side effects but mysteriously perturb the undetectable energy fields of our pest I such a way as to render the quantum mechanical mechanism of the wooTag–uh, I mean shooTAG– ineffective.

” Please keep in mind that if an animal has recently had a surgery, vaccinations, steroid medication, or you have been using heavy poison products on them it will take longer for your animal to detox and strengthen its energy field. It is important to note that, because the tags work with your pet’s energy field, it is important that they are as healthy as possible. We have found that animals that are on or have recently taken steroid drugs, that have recently had surgery, or are old do not respond well to our products.”

Once again we see a company marketing unproven, and unlikely nonsense through fear and misinformation and rationalizing their own failure by trying to shift the blame to the animals, the owners, or the medical therapies previously given. Truly irresponsible, shameless profiteering at the expense of pet owner’s fears. The people who promote such should be, but apparently cannot be, ashamed.

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7 Responses to wooTAG–uh, I mean shooTAG–Pest Control Device

  1. anaglyph says:

    Since I wrote those two pieces I’ve had further contact with the ShooTAG people in various manifestations. Interesting things have happened: the reference to the mysterious and non-existant ‘Quantum Agriculture Journal’ on the ShooTAG ‘Science’ page has been removed, as have references to the questionable ‘Professor’ William Nelson. A link to a completely baffling ‘paper’ has been taken down too (I wish I’d snapped the page – it was so convoluted and meaningless as to be entirely laughable).

    ShooTAG has also released a product meant for humans – something that could plainly be dangerous. For instance, if you trusted it to keep away mosquitoes in a malaria zone, you would be in grave risk of catching the disease.

    I’ve questioned the ShooTAG makers about this but they seem strangely oblivious. I have acquired some ShooTAGs of my own and I can tell you that they appear to be nothing more than plastic cards with some kind of magnetic strip. I’m in the process of getting a card-reader to see if I can determine what’s actually on the strip (I suspect it will turn out to be nothing at all).

    The most despicable thing about these people is that they must know what they’re selling is complete rubbish, but they don’t care. In doing this, they are showing the highest level of disregard to animals by inflicting them with human superstition to the detriment of their own health.

  2. Rita says:

    “paradigm shift”………(reaches for gun)………

  3. skeptvet says:

    God work plugging away at this , Anaglyph. I myself submitted complaints to EPA and FTC, but I doubt there will be any followup.

  4. anaglyph says:

    Bit of a followup – Melissa Rogers now says they are intending to ship ‘people’ tags to Africa to fight malaria, as per comments on this post:

    http://thedish.sitstay.com/2010/04/09/shootag-not-here-yet/#comment-1542

    They have now crossed the line from being kooks to being truly dangerous.

  5. skeptvet says:

    Yes, I had read somewhere else about that as well. It’s right up there with prescribing homeopathy to prevent malaria. A fine answer to the ubiquitous question about such nonsense therapies, “What’s the harm?”

  6. anaglyph says:

    Another update for you. The Dish by Darcie is a blog run by a woman associated with a pet products website. Darcie did a good test of the ShooTags and wrote her (overwhelmingly negative) review here:

    http://bit.ly/cYJoE7

    She’s also been aggressively hammered by commenters who are obviously affiliated with ShooTag.

  7. Sean says:

    I just saw a stand for WooTags at a local council’s dog day out yesterday. I’m very concerned that these are being sold at numerous outlets across Australia. Paralysis tick season is about to start here – I’d hate to think of the number of dogs who suffer or die because their misguided owners try to use a “natural” therapy to ward off these pests.

    As a rabid dog lover, this is the one piece of woo which is making me seriously consider some activism in the local arena. The more I think about it, the more angry I get.

    Sean

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