Pseudoscience in advertising

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Testimonials in an ad for the Mark Eden Bust Developer, ca. 1969.
Style over substance
Icon pseudoscience.svg
Popular pseudosciences
Random examples

Pseudoscience in advertising provides a specialized outlet for exploiting "woo" and people's gullibility in order to make money via advertising.

One way or another, these all (try to) play off people's scientific illiteracy — or, worse yet, people's twisted sense that "skepticism about science" is smart — by pushing pseudoscientific buttons.


Now with "ambesium labidrol"!

It's supposed to, er, "make that certain part of the male anatomy larger". Why they don't say "it will give you bigger erections", we don't know. Unless that would be false advertising. Anyway, here's the woo:

  • "It's not a gimmick, it's real science!"
  • One formulation allegedly contains a made up substance, "ambesium labidrol" (front cover), but the formulation as of January 2017 lists these ingredients: folate, zinc, pregnenolone, black pepper, Piper longum, ginger, yohimbe, Ho Tribulus Terrestris, ginseng, Xanthroparmelia scarbrosa, gamma-aminobutyric Acid, velvet deer antler, horny goat weed, damiana, muira puama, pumpkin seed, stinging nettle, astragalus, licorice, L-arginine.HCl, Ho Shou Wu, hops, and boron.[1] (Not to mention a healthy dose of woo)


See the main article on this topic: HeadOn

First off, we thought he was the drummer for The Clash.[2] Okay, anyway, it's some sort of homeopathic headache remedy you, well, slap on your forehead like you forgot you could have had a V-8. As best we can figure it, the woo is:

  • Familiarity with transdermal patches, combined with utter stupidity.


This is one of those things they try to sell to insecure balding men.[3] The catch line, we poop you not, was "The cynic says, 'my hair is falling out and nothing can help'. The believer says, 'I use Abbatoir Avacor and my hair is growing back!'". The woo:

  • Playing on people of faith's complete demonstrated gullibility — and hatred of science and skepticism.


Just looking at this logo could be as effective as swallowing Airborne.
See the main article on this topic: Airborne

Airborne is an effervescent tablet that will "boost the immune system" and help the user fight off any number of unseen "germs". Absolutely no scientific evidence is offered by the company supporting the claim that Airborne helps users fight colds. The woo:

Kinoki Foot Pads[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Kinoki Foot Pads

The pitch: "Kinoki foot pads, the incredible detox system that naturally captures toxins from your body while you sleep!"
The reality: Kinoki foot pads contain green tea and vinegar, known antioxidants, which will turn black in the presence of moisture from your feet and the air. Other foot pad products contain common sugar, which will also turn black when exposed to moist skin. They work to remove money from your wallet but not toxins from your feet. The makers of Kinoki Foot Pads settled several consumer fraud class action lawsuits as a result of their false representations.


These nice folks sell tiny magnets that one is supposed to put on each side of the flappy part of your left ear.[4] Using this "acupressure" technique, along with a tremendous amount of will power and determination, will help you quit smoking. Of course, a tremendous amount of will power and determination will work without any magic woo magnets, too.

  • There is an intentional conflation of this with "acupuncture", which, while not fully understood, floats at the edge of pseudoscience because it might actually do something.
  • We all know magnets are magic, so what's the problem?


A piece of woo that claims to rid your home of rats, mice and cockroaches by "digital pulse".[5] If it did anything, it attracted more rats.

Stainless steel soap[edit]

Yep. A piece of stainless steel, shaped like a bar of soap.

See also[edit]


  1. What's in ExtenZe®? (archived copy from January 22, 2017)
  2. Not the one who is now a chiropractor.
  3. To add to the hilarity, there are already two approved baldness treatments; minoxidil and (the prescription drug, but more effective option) finasteride; they're both generic, and a prescription takes all of 15 minutes to obtain from a dermatologist.
  4. Quit smoking with zerosmoke (Jul 11, 2007) YouTube
  5. Riddex Pulse