Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

From Today's Telegraph:

A NEW product that's smaller than a five cent piece but powerful enough to shield us from the potentially harmful electromagnetic radiation generated by mobile phones and other electronic devices, has just been released.

The Qlink Mini employs patented Sympathetic Resonance Technology (SRT) which can maintain the strength of naturally occurring protective energy systems within our bodies.

OK, if you can't smell the bullshit already, then your nose is broken.

The product, QLink Mini, is basically a small shiny sticker which you put on your mobile phone to shield you against harmful "electromagnetic rays".

Let's just forget for a moment that those electromagnetic rays are what makes your phone work and that blocking them would make it unusable as, well, a phone, and look at the product itself, shall we?

Ben Goldacre has already taken on the QLink here. Skepdic also has a page.

It is, of course, nonsense. It contains nothing more than a small resistor [NOTE: a zero-ohm resistor!] unattached to anything. Qlink's global advertising claims research from Stanford, Penn State and Wollongong University. Interestingly, the AU distributor doesn't mention Wollongong Uni, presumably because it's too easy to check up on the empty claim when the University is just down the road.

This is just ridiculous.

What's more ridiculous, it sells for AU$48

What's more ridiculous, it comes as a pendant for $148

What's more ridiculous, there's a gold pendant version for $1598

No, seriously. Over $1500 for a $0.002 resistor on a chain. Which doesn't do anything

So this is just another sympathetic* magic product, like PowerBalance, for which ridicule should be deployed. If you've bought one, you're a sucker. If you know someone who's bought one, they're a sucker. If you see one, point and laugh.

Oh, and Stephen Fenech, your byline is on this undisguised piece of quack advertising You're a sucker and a shill and don't deserve the title "technology writer". If your byline is on this without your consent, get it removed. If you actually 'wrote' it, you're a snake oil salesman peddling bullshit.

UPDATE 1:39pm Sydney Time

So, it turns out that QLink is endorsed, presumably for a fee, by Mario Fenech. Mario Fenech is Stephen Fenech's brother.



Downesy is all over this on twitter. It also appears that Stephen himself has been defending the product on twitter, so the byline is consensual.

Basically, Stephen, you've done a very silly thing. As a technology correspondent, you should be aware that the internet knows things and the internet doesn't like it when someone is trying to pull the wool over its eyes.

UPDATE 1:54pm

QLink and Fenech Bros reported to ACCC via Scamwatch.gov.au

UPDATE 2:05pm

I would just like to mention that there IS proven technology that can block electromagnetic waves from your phone. It's called a Faraday Cage, and to use this you'd have to enclose your entire phone inside one, rendering it useless for telecommunications, as it would stop the radio signal it uses to communicate. It's also not very portable.

UPDATE 2:50pm [redacted due to stupid math on my part, and repetition of someone else's mistake] Q-LInk claims to have been working this technology for 20 years. yada yada

UPDATE 5-11, 11:39am

Letter to the Editor submitted on the telegraph website:

Regarding Stephen Fenech's thinly-disguised advertorial for QLink, Telegraph, 4-11-10

Given that Fenech's brother is a paid endorser of Q-Link, and given that Q-Link is a product with no scientific plausibility whatsoever, and given that it's been panned by actual scientists worldwide as nonsense, will we be expecting the Telegraph to have an empty desk in the technology section shortly?

Shilling a quack product in which one's brother has an interest is hardly the pinnacle of journalistic ethics now, is it?

UPDATE 11:50am

Cameron Reilly and Downesy note that Fenech has shilled for Q-Link before (8/3/2004 and 14/12/2005)

UPDATE lunchtime

reportscams@services.nsw.gov.au - emailed. QLink has a Sydney office. I'll also be forwarding to VIC authorities

UPDATE 2:35pm

Crikey awards Fenech and the Tele a Wankley Award

UPDATE 4:25pm

@HappySinger reports that the Telegraph have pulled the story. I, of course, have a copy saved which I'm sending to the press council. HappySinger has it twitpic'd here. The internet never forgets.

More coverage from Crikey

Dan's Data has coverage here and here

Tim Lambert's Deltoid has it here

YAS has it here

Coverage from The Vine

* it even uses the buzzphrase "sympathetic resonance technology". Will the quackery never end?

posted @ Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:21 PM

 
 
 

Comments on this entry:

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matt K at 11/4/2010 12:45 PM
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I just thought I would point out the connection between the author of the article and a person who endorses the product.

Stephen Fenech helped write two of Mario Fenech's books
Personal Best: http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1278060
and
What's doing? http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2519172

It could be a coincidence that they share the last name and look a little similar but I'm not going to focus on that.

# Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by TWINARP at 11/4/2010 12:47 PM
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This should have been done as an expose of money grabbing theft!

It is a complete and utter SHAM and should be exposed as such.

a) Mobile phone emissions are yet to be proven to be dangerous.

b)' can maintain the strength of naturally occurring protective energy systems within our bodies.'
Humans do NOT have 'protective energy systems'

c) 'programmed with naturally occurring frequencies which resonate with our body's energy system just like a piano string would resonate with a tuning fork.'
Wow. It is a plastic sticker, how is it 'programmed'? What frequencies and how are the measured? What 'energy system'?

d) 'shields us from exposure to outside stresses and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) which can cause sickness and disease.'
Again, wow! 'shields us from exposure' How? 'outside stresses' What like job stress, Post traumatic stress? EMF has NEVER been proven to cause injury or illness.

e)'Research has shown that we are exposed to 100 million times more electromagnetic energy than our grandparents.'
Maybe so, but a non-sequitor,

f) 'Naturopathic physician Daniel Taylor says modern technology is definitely having a negative effect on our bodies.'
A Naturopath, (not an actual doctor or researcher) to vaguely claim something vague.

g)"I have patients in my practice who basically are fatigued, tired, have headaches and things like that and we test them and find their mobile phone is weakening them tremendously."
Anecdote and also it has never been shown ANYWHERE that a mobile phone caused 'weakness'

h)"Mobile radiation and the effects on the human body is a huge problem and it affects everyone who uses a mobile phone."
Who says it's a problem and what effects does it cause on 'everyone'?

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Terry Bailey at 11/4/2010 2:21 PM
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. I did see a man wearing two Power Bands on the same wrist, well as I said it is common knowledge and a clinically proven fact that this will cause a self cancelling apposing harmonic and standing wave. If one wants the benefits of wearing two Power Bands (genuine only, watch out for the copies that do not work and are a rip off) they must be worn on each wrist. This as you have seen in the Lab test ( fastened to one front and one rear paw (opposite sides) of the dog) produces not double the power but 2.3147 times the benefit or close to pie no sauce.
WTF has this to do with preventing the millions of folk dropping dead from using their mobile phones. Well it has been discovered that wearing two power bands on one wrist causes a Dopler Shift like effect (Named after the famed lead Guitarist Mark Dopler). This cancels out your incoming signal all together so rendering this lethal device inoperative and harmless.

This then solves this problem but revisits the original in opposing harmonics. If you soak you power band in Goji juice you get a sine wave divided by the reciprocal of a cleric so neutralising the Juice.
You may pass this on to others in Quandary or other West Australian country towns.
Terry

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Andrew Skegg at 11/4/2010 2:27 PM
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"My energy system is now stress free...."

My head just hit the desk.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Quietly Shocked at 11/4/2010 4:17 PM
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Mr Fenech is obviously quite a fan: http://www.qlink.com.au/media-articles.asp

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Dan at 11/4/2010 8:41 PM
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Q-link is making specific claims, so perhaps we can report them to consumer protection for it. Perhaps write to other rival newpapers about DailyTelegraph promoting a scam.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jason at 11/4/2010 8:54 PM
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@Dan they've been reported to scamwatch, by me. I'm not the only one.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 11/5/2010 2:58 PM
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How about the Australian Press Council? From http://www.presscouncil.org.au/pcsite/complaints/formguide.html -

"You cannot complain to the Press Council about an advertisement or any material clearly marked as an "advertising feature". But the Council will accept a complaint about advertising when the promotional material is disguised as editorial material"

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jason at 11/5/2010 3:28 PM
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I shall be sending a complaint to the press council after beer o'clock tonight.

I suggest any other interested readers do the same.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 11/5/2010 6:23 PM
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There's two nice things about the Press Council. One is that they can order a correction published (I wonder if that will make it into the qlink press clippings page). The second is that the complainant can "ask for a face-to-face conciliation of the complaint conducted by a member or officer of the Council". In other words, you might be able to grill the bastard directly.

For that reason, the complaint should be lodged by someone who lives in Sydney. I was going to submit one but I live in Perth and a telephone link just isn't that satisfying.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jason at 11/5/2010 7:17 PM
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> the complaint should be lodged by someone who lives in Sydney

How convenient. I happen to live in Sydney.

#win

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 11/8/2010 1:40 PM
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Jolly good, do keep us posted.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by kpath at 11/8/2010 6:26 PM
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Someone should ask National Technology Editor at news.com.au Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson why this story was allowed to run. Anyone?

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jason at 11/8/2010 10:00 PM
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I think now that it's featured on Media Watch, Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson will be fully aware of the problem...

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by mattg at 11/8/2010 11:36 PM
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ha! brilliant namecheck on Mediawatch. Hearing Paul Barry say your url, and seeing the banner made my day.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 11/9/2010 8:51 PM
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Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson seems to be on Twitter (@jendudley) - maybe one of you twitter-using types should send her a heads-up, just in case.

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jason at 11/9/2010 8:54 PM
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Already done. I tracked down Jen earlier, and she's referred me to other appropriate people within News Corp.

Currently awaiting official statement(s)

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 11/9/2010 8:56 PM
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I'm glad that there's motivated people like you out there chasing this stuff down. Makes life a lot less frustrating. Damn good show all round really - and having just watched the Mediawatch clip, bloody good quote of yours they picked :)

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Jack at 12/5/2010 9:18 PM
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Here is a happy update. A mate who's a subeditor at The Terror says that Fenech has "resigned" over this although it was more an honorable option to being fired. His "resignation" has been reported on some industry sites and twitter.

So News has ethics and professional standards? Who'da thunk it?

# re: Shilling for quackery? The Telegraph? Say it ain't so!

Left by Matthew at 12/12/2010 7:21 AM
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RESULT!!!!
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