So I got an inquiry over at Kindle Wizards asking me to submit a quote for a couple of ebooks, with the implied promise of several more to come. Usually, I’d jump at the chance and try to get the gig. Only one problem: they were expressing fraudulent claims, selling bunk products to fix imaginary problems “proven” by pseudoscience. That’s right, folks, I got approached by the purveyors of “Proton Patch,” another bullshit product designed to protect you from electromagnetic radiation (which it can’t) in order to prevent the dangerous health effects that electromagnetism causes (which it doesn’t). To be fair, there are some studies which have proposed the possibility of such a link, but none yet which have established it with a high degree of confidence, despite a LOT of looking. It should be a hint that the headlines about the subject ruling out a link have titles such as “Study: There’s no link between cellphones and cancer,” while headlines announcing a link go by titles such as “Sheryl Crow Suspects Her Cell Phone Caused Her Benign Brain Tumor.”
The effects, if they exist, are going to be very subtle and complicated, and will take a long time to suss out. So far, the weight of the evidence is against any significant danger. So far. Therefore, when someone comes out with a product designed to protect you against it, then distributes literature and launches websites scaring you into buying it, that makes said person a scumbag.
So, I got an inquiry:
We have produced two eBooks (‘A Subtle Addiction’ & ‘The Answer’) and have them on web sites for people to buy on-line. They are complete with videos and pictures. We are seeking a quote to convert these to make them suitable for Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other internet book sales opportunities. The links to the books are www.stopemr.com and www.emrdeadly.com.
As much as I appreciate the opportunity to work on an ongoing book series, I will not do so when the effect (and possibly intention) of the series is to sabotage critical thinking skills and make the public more vulnerable to pseudoscience, use this vulnerability to frighten them, then exploit this fear to sell products.
There is legitimate ongoing research into EM radiation and its effects on the body. If there is danger, it will be found, and by spreading misinformation you are *impeding* the effort. (If you have good intentions and have been misled yourselves, I strongly recommend www.sciencebasedmedicine.org, www.rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pseudoscience, and www.badastronomy.com.)
Our world is embroiled in armed conflicts brought on by political misinformation and propaganda, which they are made more susceptible to by the erosion of critical thinking skills. We face catastrophic climate changes caused by scientific illiteracy, deliberately inflamed by religious and corporate special interests who sabotage the public’s understanding of science. Babies are sick and dying in growing numbers because of anti-vaccination crusaders whose research was long ago humiliatingly discredited. Millions of dollars are wasted on deceptive junk products that could be used to propel cancer research and feed the poor. At a time when people like us should be standing up to this kind of pseudoscience and ignorance, people like you are exploiting and profiting from it.
Please rethink what you are doing and consider putting your talents to use in advancing social good. Imagine all the good it would do if instead you launched a book series revealing your awakening to your own role in this pseudoscientific subculture, and becoming a champion of its defeat. You would have a wider audience *and* advance the human condition. Until then, I consider what you are doing to be unconscionable and I will have no part in it.
Matt Friedman, Kindle Wizard
Well, that’s just my take on it. But I’m outnumbered. In this country, it’s okay to lie, cheat, or steal, as long as you confuse people with fake science.