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.
“ 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.