The Things People Will Believe: Two Connected Aspects

Thanks to my previous musings on bogus fuel and energy gadgets (and additives, and more...), I attract more letters about such things.

Most recently, a correspondent has brought the Hydrodrive Electronic Converter to my attention. He did, to his credit, say that it sounded "completely bogus" to him, but he still asked me "Does it really actually do anything?"

I confess that I did not spend a lot of time examining the Electronic Converter page.

That's because it looks like a perfectly typical long crackpot rant (not helped by the fact that it's a page; like Geocities before them, Freeservers are an absolute wellspring of groundbreaking physics...). I see no reason to even start trying to unravel what the hell all that multicoloured capitalised marqueed-and-blink-tag text is trying to say.

It is not, of course, impossible that the person responsible could have actually come up with a revolutionary device to do... whatever it is this device is supposed to do. It is also not impossible that Elvis is still alive and, thanks to some magnificent plastic surgery, currently serving as the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

I consider these two possibilities to be similarly likely, and I also wonder why on earth anybody would even bother asking someone else about it.

Is there anything, anything at all, about that gadget that suggests that it has any value at all? Am I missing something? Or is this just like the Unanswerables that plague Barbara and David, as the world's e-mail-forwarding-aunties keep asking them whether that little boy really does need a new body to replace his burlap bag filled with leaves?

I've noticed that one of the common features of many of these kinds of sites is a page proudly displaying completely ridiculous "awards", which the crackpots responsible cannot tell from real ones.

A fine example of this phenomenon may be found at the justly famous site of the Atom Chip Corporation. Their URLs have shifted around since I last wrote about them (end of this column), but their proudly displayed Bogus Prize That Looks Exactly Like An Academy Award, I Mean, How Obvious Can You Get, Jeez, is still on display. It's now here.

Srinivasan Gopalakrishnan, the fellow responsible for the Hydrodrive Electronic Converter, lists on his personal page a similar, if smaller, collection of awards. He does actually seem to have invented some real things before he came up with the Converter, so I dare say the patent and such lower on the page may be for genuinely useful things (though a patent does not actually mean the patented idea has value; it's not the patent office's job to figure that out).

But the second thing on that page is a letter congratulating Srinivasan for having made it through the rigorous qualification procedures for the American Biographical Institute's frightfully prestigious "International Directory of Distinguished Leadership".

Unfortunately, the ABI's IDoDL - like their rather popular Man of the Year nomination, which Srinivasan reprints next - is one of those bogus Who's Who scams, kin to the expensive Forums and poetry collections whose only real purpose is to extract money from the people listed, invited or published.

(After that, Srinivasan has another similar certificate from an Indian outfit with no Web site that I'll betcha is just as fake, though less successful.)

I was, at first, amused to find someone who's apparently proud to have attracted the attention of both the American Biographical Institute and the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, England (so "Centre" is not actually misspelled, you twit). But my smile faded as I discovered that pretty much anybody who falls for one of them seems likely to fall for the other.

Apparently Wikipedia is not as well known as I thought. But people are about as dumb as I thought.

Yes, I have received letters from these kinds of scammers, too. Not for years, though. There's nothing like being nominated as one of the World's Most Super-Smart And Really Cool Ultra-Professional Top Executives, Wow, You're Like James Bond And Warren Buffett Rolled Into One, You Are when you're 22 years old and, in my case, living with your mum, to tip you off to the scam.

(I might have been younger. I don't remember exactly. I was licking frogs pretty often back then.)

7 Responses to “The Things People Will Believe: Two Connected Aspects”

  1. RichVR Says:

    "Homer are you licking toads?"
    "I'm not NOT licking toads."

  2. phrantic Says:

    Umm, Dan... How old ARE you?

  3. Simon Says:

    phrantic, what a question! Though now you mention it...

    Hmmm, his Slashdot User ID is 126873; and, as everyone knows, your Slashdot UID is inversely proportional to your age. So Dan's age is clearly 7.88*10^-6.

    I think it would be indiscrete to say what units that's in, though...

  4. phrantic Says:

    Which is equal to 1 Rutter?

    Or may that's in Internet Years? (or Internet weeks or something. 7.88 x 10^6 is a pretty big number)

    Or should Dan's age be measured in relation to the ages of both AND this blog? (the ratios could be manipulated to produce a unit of sorts?)

  5. Jonadab Says:

    Dan is older than Gervase Markham but younger than Strom Thurmond. HTH.HAND.

  6. shanthima Says:

    You are a Psychopath - have you ever tried 'Hydrodrive'? I have and am still using this on all my four wheelers. I know the value of 'Hydrodrive' so do not talk through your hat.

  7. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Not that it'll make the slightest difference to you, shanthima, but lots of people "know the value" of lots of completely worthless devices of this sort.

    To tell whether such devices actually work, you need to test them properly. If you don't, you are likely to fool yourself, because you are the easiest person to fool.

    It is incumbent upon the people promoting such devices to have independent tests done. When no such tests have been done, and the argument in favour of the device is a lengthy rant on a free hosting site by a person who cannot tell a real "award" from a scam, it is sensible to presume the claims made to be incorrect.

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