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This Pseudoscience related article has been awarded SILVER status for quality. We like it, and you should too! See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

Editorial notes
  • With the information contained in this article it's probably worth bumping it up a category. It's well referenced and pretty comprehensive.

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Magnetic field strength[edit]

Debunking even such an obvious sham still needs to be done without introducing further woo. If anyone cares to discuss this diff, I will be around. __ Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 04:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

There's a difference between a modern gauss meteror SQUID (and recall that these things need up to several days to make measurements at their highest level of sensitivity) and what will affect and subsequently deter biological creatures. If we look at electroreception in aquatic animals, the fields used are actually measurable. The Shoo!Tag will have a field a minute fraction of the Earth's background field. By the time you've moved two inches away from it the field isn't going to affect anything. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 12:05, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
I suspect the "several days" comes from some averaging process, in aid of minimising the effects of noise and what not. It may also have something to do with imaging resolution, or sensing field gradients. As I understand fluxgates and SQUIDs, the measurement is effectively instantaneous at any time scale much greater than the period of the RF excitation.
What first tripped my BS detector here was the "inverse square" malarkey. In general, magnetic field diminution as a function of distance depends on the geometry of the whole arrangement, to include surrounding permeable structures as well as the polarizing item itself. It is not so simple as gravity, which is in fact alleged to conform to an inverse-square law.
I have no doubt that various animals, including some arthropods, have a magnetoceptive sense, but I suspect that is most useful in the range of about half a gauss, that being the order of magnitude of the earth's ambient field at the surface. Critters may be sensitive to low-level anomalies in that field; I do not know. I can easily believe that the average siphonapterous insect cannot detect, much less read, a credit card at a distance of ten or twenty centimeters. That doesn't mean that the card's perturbation of the ambient field is "undetectable" at such a distance, which is what the counter-woo was claiming. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 19:51, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The several days of measurements will be for a single-to-noise reasons, which does relate to resolution slightly although it's different. If you don't leave it there repeating the measurements you won't get a precise result - if you get a result at all. All you see is noise until the scan time builds up. To say the signal is undetectable with a short scan time isn't necessarily correct, it's just that it is indistinguishable from the noise.
Electromagnetic force does dissipate according to the inverse square law, although it is affected by shielding. But as dogs and cats aren't generally built from mu-metal, it's a good enough proxy under ideal conditions. Once the field has permeated through any shielding barriers it will decay under the inverse-square law - as does all force that radiates. It's certainly not going to be easily detectable once you've moved an inch or two away from it. This isn't "woo". Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:18, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Aside from all this, though (as I have written on my blog) even if fleas & ticks and other pests do respond to magnetic fields in some way (which is not indicated by any science I have ever read), then you'd next have to show that the ShooTag interferes with these fields using some method that actually has the desired effect of repelling them. It's baloney upon speculation upon claptrap.Anaglyph (talk) 20:04, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

The far field may well decay as an inverse square, but the removed text simply said "Magnetic field strength decays by the inverse square law" which could stand to be qualified. Depending on geometry, it may not always be so. That amounts to a rough and ready definition of the near field, doesn't it?

Kindly note carefully: I do believe the shoo tag is unadulterated sheep dip mixed with hogwash, in an undisclosed proportion. I'll have my baloney upon speculation upon claptrap wrapped in a layer of dissimulation, a jumbo, to go, please. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:35, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

In which case, I agree with the wording there. I am in the middle of an edit that will be more precise. I am currently looking up some magnetoreception stuff on PubMed, some species of insects are receptive to magnetic fields and use them to navigate. This may be where the fractal wrongness breaks down. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:37, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the proposed amendment completely. I was just pointing out that whatever claims the ShooTag people make of this thing are baloney, so buying into the mechanism is kinda useless. They may as well say it works on quantum principles and Schumann Waves. Oh, silly me, THEY DO!Anaglyph (talk) 20:41, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Which is why I've attempted a fractal wrongness list. It's sort of "this isn't true, but that doesn't matter because this isn't true, which doesn't matter because THIS isn't true...". Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Today I learned about fractal wrongness. Thank you. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:47, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see the issue now. You can reverse the list and it still makes sense. I'm not sure which way around to put it, though. Do you start at fact and move onto the woo, or start with the woo (i.e., make the assumption that it's true) and move onto fact? I have chosen the latter for now, because I think it's more intellectually rigorous. I don't think it's right to end with "you're talking crap", it's best to end with "even if you weren't talking crap this would still be a problem. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 20:51, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The deleted section contained a relevant data point on the fractal wrongness: that limitations of physics prevent a magstrip value from being read at any range significantly greater than touch. IT was incorrect only in that it *over*estimated the range at which the values would be detectable.
When you swipe a card, or read magnetic tape, it must rub *physically against* the read head. Any amount of dirt on an audio tape - even non-ferrous dirt - will cause significant audio quality degradation, and even a thin layer of dirt built up on your swipe card can cause it not to read correctly. This is for two reasons.
1) Magnetic field strength of a dipole decreases with the inverse CUBE of distance. Magstrip magnetic flux strength should be about 10^-6 to 10^-5 Tesla (since it's basically audio tape, per I don't know the value for the magnetic moment for the 0.12mm of audio tape that would store one bit, but given I'd guess it card becomes indistinguishable by even SQUID (which can detect 10^-15 Tesla, or 10^10 times weaker than the card), at a range of about 2mm, or 20 times the width of the bit (as 20^3 is 10^10). That's assuming that it's in an isolating chamber to prevent any sources of electromagnetic noise from interfering, of course. And also assuming that I'm not wrong and it's not the N+1th root, where N is the number of poles on the card.
2) But the inverse cube problem's not even the main issue. There is not just one single data-bit 1 or 0 mark on the card. At distances over about twice the length of a magnetized 1 or 0 bit, its magnetic field becomes effectively one magnet with the one adjacent, as the field lines of the two join, so all you're detecting is the sum of the field strengths of the two. And this just gets worse as you zoom out.
So it seems to me that in two different ways, simple physics makes it impossible even with yet-unknown future technology to read a magstripe from even the width of a flea away from the strip. The sensitivity of the magnetometer makes no difference in this case; only the proximity. The strip simply cannot affect a biological pest unless the pest was specially engineered to read DEC-6-bit, and deliberately walks the length of the strip to do so. Three times, as there are three parallel lines of data. They'll have to walk in the correct direction each time, of course. DewiMorgan (talk) 05:23, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
Good post! Very interesting! If correct, this should all go in the article.
On your final point — that the fleas would have to deliberately swipe themselves walk the length of the strip — I'll note that fleas do not even 'walk' in the sense required, but jump (which would make the already near-impossible magnetical interaction infinitely more difficult still).
Also — regarding distance to fleas and the placement of the magnetic tag — I'll note that fleas preferentially colonize the armpits and groin areas of dogs, making a collar-hung tag especially pointless.
(Source for both claims). Reverend Black Percy (talk) 09:18, 17 July 2017 (UTC)


May be worth going through bit-by-bit. I'm impressed (if that is the word) by several things.

  • The "why am I still seeing live pests on my pets?" question. The answer being that the tag doesn't kill pests, so you'll still see them. This is a nice get-out clause if they don't work. It's likely that if an owner sees the ticks they'll resort to a chemical means of getting rid of them quickly and use the tag to "stop them coming back", and eventually credit the tag with the hard work.
  • "the slight magnetic field of a scissors or other household magnets will not cause damage" - enough said.
  • The reiteration of the word "natural". I've got a pet peeve about the abuse of the word "natural", because there isn't really a proper distinction between "natural" and "non-natural". But a plastic tag with a magstrip CERTAINLY ISN'T on the side of the spectrum marked "natural".
  • "... with specific frequencies proven to disturb targeted pests and create a barrier. For more information please visit our science page." But the science page contains nothing of the sort. The word "proven" here may be in violation of several advertising standards (I'm not sure what these standards are like in the US and Australia where I've seen these sites, but this wouldn't pass the ASA - which possibly explains why redirects to an American site even though it does have regional ones).

Scarlet A.pngpathetic 21:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Elsewhere the ShooTaggers have claimed that the tags might not work in 'certain areas' due to power lines or geomagnetic disturbances. There is no elaboration on how close you'd need to be to these kinds of things for the tag to be 'interfered with'. It's a brilliant escape clause. How likely is it that you might not be 'near a power line'? Anaglyph (talk) 21:26, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Geomagnetic disturbances are poorly catalogued. (Actually, oil companies have surveyed them extensively, but good luck getting a peek at any of that data.) Why, I could be sitting on one right now. Prove it isn't so, and your money back.
One fairly swift and reliable way to remove fleas from a mammal is to reduce its body temperature. I once saw a hawk strike a squirrel in the woods, and my companion and I startled the bird enough to make it drop its quarry. The fleas were hopping out of said squirrel's fur like rats off a sinking ship. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:36, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Oh, you've reminded me - FWIW, the ShooTaggers have a 'money back' guarantee, and the oft heard cry on the pet lists is 'Why don't you try it! If it doesn't work then you get your money back!' Of course, there are limitations on the money back guarantee. And, if you live anywhere except the US, the money back guarantee is just a pain in the ass. The way I see it, these people make money if the thing works or not. If they sell a million of them, and handout a few dozen refunds, they're still making a lot more money than I'll ever see.Anaglyph (talk) 21:46, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Shootag & Magnetism[edit]

Cut from Sprocket J Cogswell's talk page 02:48, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

In reference to your challenge to the magnetic field assertions on the ShooTag page:

I'm not qualified in anyway to dispute or endorse the scientific accuracy of the user edit that included the magnetic field information. Personally, though, I think even adding it is a furphy. There is no known mechanism by which such a phenomenon could work, as I have pointed out in my comprehensive dismembering of the ShooTag phenomenon. Even if there is a measurable magnetic field ANY distance away from the ShooTag it is quite irrelevant. I had this conversation with 'Jeff' in the comments on one of my posts:

‘It’s entirely possible that ticks and fleas experience their world, and navigate through their world relying extensively on magnet field sensing. Who knows, maybe they can ’see’ magnetic fields.'

Yes, indeed, Jeff. Perhaps that is the case. However, it is an entirely irrelevant case. Even if it were so (which is an assertion that requires some significant scientific substantiation in its own right) then, to prove that ShooTag even has the remotest basis for working, the next logical step is to show that interfering with that field actually affects the little buggers in some useful way. Then, the step after that is to demonstrate that there is a magnetic field around people or pets. Then, you need to show that this field interacts with the fleas & the ticks via some plausible mechanism. Then the next step after that is to prove that interfering with that field causes a situation to arise where the fleas and ticks are repelled, rather than attracted, say, or caused to breed out of control, or any of a million other possibilities

There's another thing in the ShooTag entry that I feel should be changed: the bit under the 'Does it Work' heading that says 'Probably not.' There is no reason at all to give ShooTag the benefit of the doubt. I have thoroughly examined these tags and they are literally nothing more plastic cards with magnetic strips. There is NO data, other than the very contradictory and obviously cherry-picked testimonial kind offered up on the ShooTag site, for any efficacy of these trinkets. ShooTag has promised to publish scientific trials that they ran in 'Europe', but there is no evidence that these trials ever took place. No other even vaguely scientific tests have been made.

You may be interested to know that the most recent development in the ShooTag saga is that they sent a bunch of the stupid things to Haiti as a gesture of 'humanitarian aid'. These were the 'people tags' that supposedly fend off mosquitoes. I don't need to elaborate on how potentially dangerous this kind of thing could be. — Unsigned, by: Anaglyph / talk / contribs

Could I copy the above to the article talk page? Scarlet A.pngpathetic 16:54, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Sure, go ahead (all references can be accessed from the link I included above). I note also in the ShooTag entry that there is a 'positive' review linked. This review is almost certainly written by one of the ShooTag clan. It is something of an MO for them to go around the pet forums and talk up the product while posing as disinterested third parties.Anaglyph (talk) 20:05, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Santa Fe Sandy is probably legit as I found her through a few different routes while researching it ages ago. The "Miss Bergman" one on the talk page is definitely suspect. If you've got enough evidence that they actively spam sites with fake glowing reviews it should definitely be included. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 02:48, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
'Evidence' is tricky. They obviously use pseudonyms and pretend to be other people so I have no concrete links. I know it's them because I've spent so much time listening to their comments. Hard to prove. Check this post (and comments) out to see how they proceed. Anaglyph (talk) 03:08, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Very hard to show. I think the glowing reviews like the Miss Bergman one above look more suspiciously like something sponsored by the manufacturer themselves (impossible to prove, but we can point out that it's suspect because it does read as an advertisement). Kookaburra's comment to me seems more like a generic woo-lover getting defensive - i.e., they'd produce the same shtick for any product. Especially as they came back for more, a planted review is usually a drive-by event. Perhaps Kookaburra is involved in the company in some manner but the independent crank magnet is where I'd place my bet. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 14:18, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Oh, no, I'm certain Kookaburra is more than just a random crank. His IP came out Texas, within a mile or so of where the ShooTag operations are. He certainly knows these people at the very least. I actually know his name in fact - he is a complete net novice. He really attacked a woman named Darcie who runs a blog called The Dish and we were able to compare IPs, link it with his name (which he uses in full on other lists in comments) and find out his complete identity (read the comments here) You might like to read Darcie's experiments with ShooTag. They don't constitute rigorous science, but she did give the tags some thorough testing.
The behaviour exhibited by Kookaburra is, as I mentioned, an MO for these people. They pose as other people frequently, but consistently make huge intellectual gaffs that give them away. Read the comments by 'B' on this site. There are so many hallmarks of Melissa Rogers in the reply; the professing 'not to have tried' the product; the posing as a disinterested third party; the sudden change to speaking in the first person about the product: 'in our preliminary farm tests'; the invoking of the 'trivector' mechanism (which they've completely eradicated from their site after I linked them to the fraudulent William Nelson/Desiré Dubounet). They have maintained an aggressive profile right through the pet forums, consistently urging people 'to try the product' if they are skeptical. I notice that they now have Amazon selling it, where it gets favourable reviews by people who have only ever reviewed one thing on Amazon (I don't have to tell you what that means - 'Jasper', here, is a ShooTagger for sure - the 'Go Green' mantra is something they frequently use).

Anaglyph (talk) 15:29, 13 December 2010 (UTC)


Nom. ТyTalk 14:02, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Aye. ADK...I'll annihilate your riddle! 15:34, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Agree. I think we should have more like this. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 15:57, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! (I will be ungracious and take credit for a lot of this work, along with Dewi who decoded the hexbit on the tags visually - a magnificent feat if ever there was one). If you didn't catch my deconstruction of the ShooTag patent application, I highly recommend it. I don't know that it's my place to remove the 'According to Tetherd Cow' from the paragraph in this entry that associates the ShooTag sisters with William Nelson/Desiré Doubonnet, but it is superfluous: there is no uncertainty - they are explicitly involved with one another (both sets of names on the patent app). I point out as well that the RationalWiki entry on William Nelson has been removed for some reason. I did ask why this was, but received no answer. He really should feature here. He is a woo swindler of quite some status.Anaglyph (talk) 00:04, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I reinstated Nelson's page yesterday. The article was not the greatest but deserved improvement rather than deletion. And thanks for your efforts in this Anaglyph, I see nothing wrong in removing the bit you mention the only time you need to be reticent is promoting yourself -leave that to others. :) Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 00:35, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm upping the rating now. ТyNo 00:35, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I'll have a go at the Nelson Page when I get a chance. I've accumulated a lot of information about him/her (he should probably have two separate entries, as he now spends his life as Desiré Dubounnet). My belief is that, far from being just a loony eccentric (which he/she is, there is no doubt), he's an extremely dangerous individual. In my opinion he knows that his machines are phoney, and is an expert at working the system. He holds at least one US patent that is nothing more than a whole bunch of hogwash - but that he got it awarded says something about his canniness (I expect he holds more than one patent, but the US Patent Database is something less than user friendly when it comes to finding out specific information. On purpose, is my guess).Anaglyph (talk) 01:30, 18 July 2011 (UTC)


This page lists organisations which Shootag sponsor. This is a weird assortment of good causes and some woo but Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed is a commercial pet food company while Boy Scouts of America-Central Florida Council seems an odd choice. Also, given that the Gates Foundation is trying to wipe out malaria I wonder how Shootag donated to them - a bunch of free tags? Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 03:50, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Interesting. The Boy Scouts donation doesn't seem that odd to me. Nor the Gates one actually. And yes, it would be a donation of tags as per their MO. There is nothing to say these organizations WANT sponsorship from ShooTag. There's a world of difference between just sending off a box of crappy plastic cards and the company involved accepting that as a valuable contribution. The ShooTaggers are all hype, so endorsements of any kind are used as spin. Works like this: they send off (unsolicited) a box of the things to the Gates Foundation and then make claims like 'We're working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate malaria'. They haven't made this claim on their site (where they know I would jump on it immediately), but it would not be at all surprising to hear that they tell people this at Pet Expos and so forth. I can't begin to tell you how slimy these scumbags are.Anaglyph (talk) 04:13, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh, and they are not averse to extraordinary exaggeration. So the Boy Scouts 'donation' works like this: 'The Boy Scouts of America use our tags!' Seriously - they have done exactly this in the past: The Finnish Olympic Team are using ShooTag!Anaglyph (talk) 04:18, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh my. The Finnish Olympic Team claim has now been whitewashed - should have remembered. I really have to make a concerted effort to archive every single piece of propaganda these people float out there - every time I catch them, they rewrite history. This is just another piece of evidence that stacks up to enforce their credentials as phoneys. If they believe in their product, why do they keep altering stuff they've claimed? Anaglyph (talk) 04:29, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Well the fact they say "Central Florida Council" seems odd to me, why a council and why Florida when they are based in Texas? But then looking at their stores map seems to bring up a lot (16) in South/Central Florida compared to 3 in Austin, 2 in San Francisco and one near Cleveland. For some strange reason Zinger Hardware of Austin, TX is shown 350 miles south of Accra in the Gulf of Guinea. And you make a good point about archiving stuff as website seems to have disappeared. BTW, Shoo!Bug TAG a different set of sales outlets. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 05:25, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
The ShooBug tag is aimed at a different market, so probably different kinds of outlets - camping stores and the like, say. I confess to having a niggling feeling of guilt that my goading to the 'Taggers to show us the evidence for efficacy via malaria reduction might have given them the idea to push into the market for 'people' tags. I desperately hope not, but it is one of the reasons that I continue to stay on their case. Anaglyph (talk) 05:38, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Ah yes, now I click on the Shoo!Bug TAG outlets I see that they are all Scheel's All Sport. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 06:31, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure that those who are up to date on this don't find it confusing but I thought this was a product for pets. So I was confused by the reference to the Boy Scouts The Finnish Olympic Team "using" the products in this talk page. The article intro is all about pets. If they are being marketed to humans perhaps this should also be mentioned in the intro. Or have I misunderstood?--BobSpring is sprung! 09:11, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I think that when we first started covering this it was mainly a pet-oriented product. But as the quotes show, it was soon adapted for human use. One of the disadvantages of a small wiki is keeping tabs on this stuff as it mutates through external scrutiny. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 11:01, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
With Anaglyph registered and editing we have a better chance of staying on top of this one. While I know it failed on Citizendium, we might benefit from certain users with expertise or high levels of interest being given some degree of "official" editorial authority and responsibility over articles. Just a thought. ADK...I'll crackle your dot! 12:44, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Anaglyph provided much of the source material for this article prior to his(?) joining and I'm glad to see him adding to it. Specialist interest and knowledge is of course very welcome but I don't think we need to go down the road of appointing "heads of departments" as it veers into the realm of article ownership and goat knows how often we've criticised certain CP editors for the same thing. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science.Moderator 12:58, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
It's not so much ownership as "User X has proven experience of this subject, if in doubt, ask them." and give some semi-official recognition of that. The fact that CP and CZ has been criticised is irrelevant (not least because we need to get out of the f**king shadow of Conservapedia), we need to look at what those systems did wrong, not that they used a particular system. Remember that Hitler was elected using a form of democracy, pardon my Godwin, so do we abandon democracy worldwide? So we need to look at the specifics of what went wrong and why. CP banned editors and made editing/adding difficult, while CZ gave people article ownership beyond any and all reproach. If RW implemented such a "system" (not that I think it would be organised to the point where it could be called a system) it would have to avoid such things. It would be more like looking at how has made some good and proven contributions and semi-officially recognising it, rather than handing over editorial control. ADK...I'll feel your spawn! 10:49, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps a spot could be found for a "human resources" collection. 'Twould need a better name, since HR often connotes "bureau of dim redundant jobsworths," at least in my experience of corporate anthropology. That way, if someone comes looking for particular expertise, finding the right party upon which to sic them would be only a click or two away.
A case could be made for making a template for tagging some mainspace articles, something like {{Custodial staff|<insert name here>}} to point readers at the "expert(s)" but similar info could be gotten by looking at the history of the article and its talk page. so meh.
While I'm here, I'll try out my festive new sig. I think I'll save it for special occasions, or special people.
Sprocket J Cogswell Talk to Sprocket 15:06, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

There seems to be an Oz company called Pet Protector selling a product that sounds awfully similar to this... (talk) 19:06, 18 February 2014 (UTC)


By the way, I love "in their own (mostly) words." It probably means "mostly their own words," but it could also mean "in their own utterances, most but not all of which are words." — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

I betcha[edit]

"There is a faint chance that the tags genuinely do work as pest repellents. Given the known evidence, which indicates that their described mechanism is impossible, the remaining rational possibility is that rather than the inert plastic repelling pests, some chemical is involved — the magnetic strip being just misdirection."

I'd go with this possibility. Find out which plasticizer is used in the PVC credit card. Phthalates are common. Dibutyl phthalate and dimethyl phthalate are insect repellents. Retromedic (talk) 20:59, 7 September 2020 (UTC)

Update[edit] now (October 2023) sells bug spray and "healing" salve in addition to weird magnetic stripe cards. Quote from their FAQ: "Naturally, we would love for the tags to last a You actually learned this back in high school biology." Vivisectionist (talk) 23:08, 11 October 2023 (UTC)