If you can't get better, at least get revenge

I just received, complained about and deleted an unsolicited commercial e-mail promoting "The Highland Hypnotist, Scott Burke".

I needn't post it here, because you can read the whole thing for yourself on prlog.org, one of those sites where people can upload press releases about whatever they like.

It's pretty standard woo-woo claptrap. Mysterious Scottish wizard Has The Power to Cure What Ails Ye, et cetera. Except for the headline.

Which is, just in case you've not yet read the prlog.org page: "Highland Hypnotist Uses His Powers To Avenge Bad Health....or Your Money Back!"

Avenge bad health?

So, what, he finds the guy who made you sick and beats the hell out of him?

I suppose that could account for the money-back guarantee - "OK, you've still got diabetes, but you didn't see the part when I totally avenged the dickens out of it!".

(Actually, money-back guarantees like this are de rigueur for quacks of all colours. Some of them just never return anybody's money, of course, but most rely on the low number of warranty claims that're likely to turn up when your audience is self-selected for gullibility and you're treating variable illnesses with indistinct end-points.)

Posted in Scams, Spam. 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “If you can't get better, at least get revenge”

  1. Andy Gondorf Says:

    After being a lurker around your site for longer than I care to remember Dan, a science teacher and a huge fan of the work of James Randi, this entry has inspired me to step forward and see if I can give this quack a little shakeup in my home town.

    A quick visit to his site, and a glance at his qualifications prompted a phone call asking about "zoneology" (the "ology" of zones perhaps??). Being told this was a wide field, I then asked about his Ph.D. It's from Canterbury University apparently. When I further enquired when he graduated I was told he was a busy man with clients waiting.

    Any suggestions from the interweb denizens here about what my next step of inquiry should be?


  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    "Canterbury University", eh?

    There's a real University of Canterbury in New Zealand, plus Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK. There's also the University of Kent at Canterbury.

    If your degree is just from "Canterbury University", though, then I suspect you got it from Canterbury University... of the Seychelles, which is of course just a diploma mill, using a name similar to that of a place associated with kosher higher learning to fool people who don't pay too much attention to detail.

    (This page mentions a further bogus "Canterbury University" allegedly located in the UK.)

    You might like to invite "Doctor" Burke to confirm exactly which university allegedly awarded his degree. If the institution turns out to not be two blokes in a garage on a Pacific island, you can then check with them to see whether a person by Burke's name ever actually did graduate.

    This whole line of inquiry is a bit pointless, of course, because there's nowhere in the world that'll actually grant real degrees in curing - or, um, "avenging" - all human illness with hypnosis.

    And if you search for "Zoneology", what do you find? That's right, "Dr" Scott Burke is hit number one! Remove "burke" from the search results and they become wonderfully random, the top hit now being an Angelfire page with nothing on it.

    For those new to, uh, Googleology, this means that Zoneology appears to have no existence separate from "Dr" Burke. My infallible psychic powers now suggest to me that this means Burke has awarded himself a qualification or two in this field of study which he has invented. That's another step on the standard script that starts with "get a fake degree".

    If you keep prodding him, stand by for "empty lawsuit threats", which are I think approximately step five on that script.

  3. Andy Gondorf Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions Dan, I had a shufty and came up with the two Canterbury Uni references here in the UK, but didn't realise there was a "Degrees R Us" version in the Seychelles.

    I would've thought he'd be delighted to talk about the qualification he put around seven years of his life into, I love to yap about mine to anyone who'll listen, so I suspect his Ph.D falls into the same vein as "Doctor" Gillian McKeith.

    I showed his site to my senior chemistry class and let them pick it apart, very amusing.

    Even more amusing was the fact that by tonight (six hours later) the "Ph.D" has miraculously disappeared from his qualifications list. Coffee and conclusions anyone?

    What amused the class the most was the office on "1 Harley Street" and yet he chooses a head office location up here in the sprawling medical metropolis of Inverness!

    Samspade.org gives site ownership to a street here in town, rather than his Florida offices too. Maybe I'll give him another buzz and ask what happened to his doctorate.


  4. hitmouse Says:

    Reminds me of a long-ago piano teacher of mine, whose website is now branding a ton of qualifications like "International Woman of the Year" from the notorious International Biographical Centre.

  5. Daniel Rutter Says:

    (I mentioned the International Biographical Centre and other vendors of bogosity in this previous post.)

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