Seeing as how I was pissed off at BET for promoting Peter Popoff (the faith healer) and his exploitation of African American viewership, I think it only fair to mention a similar advertising pitch found regularly in Popular Science. You’ll either see a quarter page ad or this full page ad displayed below, and if it happened once I would chalk it up to the advertising department of the magazine taking the money and hoping no actual science enthusiasts would notice or not bother to complain.
But this is a recurring ad. I’ve complained once to the editor and posted a small rant on one of my personal cartooning sites, however, that site isn’t read as much as Freethunk. Because I still have a subscription I just received the new issue and again saw the ad thus prompting me to post it here.
I’m certainly not naive that my complaint is a drop in the bucket, but I’m hoping other science readers, regardless of religious persuasion, we’ll see this ad for what it is–an outright hoax! It’s understandable that a magazine, especially one that may not have a mass appeal, will take smoking ads, ads for sex pills and even the recurring ad in the back for free books and DVDS regarding the Anti-Christ. As an atheist I could say the Anti-Christ is a hoax too, but really it’s a mythology and I don’t see a scientific claim associated with it. Science enthusiasts are not all atheists and if they want to read about religion, fine by me. For the cigarette and vaping ads, they have large disclaimers on their ill-effects and the health risks are well-known. For the sex ads, the claims can be hyped to a certain extent, but Viagra will get you hard and they are required to place all sorts of medical disclaimers by the FDA.
The John Ellis magic water ad is different then the rest and I believe it is dangerous to consumers and damaging to Popular Science’s reputation. The main claim of the ad? To increase the water properties back to pre-Flood (the biblical flood) times. This is apparently done by increasing the “Hydrogen Bond Angle (HBA) in ordinary water from 104 to 114 degrees.” In plain English, the claim is that if you drink John Ellis water you will live longer and your body will be younger (similar to the people who lived long lives before The Flood). To further clarify in plain English, this is B.S.. Changing the bond angle of water molecules or altering water to match a pre-flood era (as if you could know what that is from a religious text) is not going to make you live longer. It’s no better than a placebo.
It’s extremely disappointing to see this ad in Popular Science. Fact is, it’s shameful. I’m sure with the rise of the Internet print has been pressured to take advertising from any and every source. But just as I would not expect Popular Science to accept an ad promoting “Nazi Eugenics For Societal Health” or “Alchemy Kit Will Make Make You Rich” or “Psychic Surgery Cruise To Heal Cancer,” I would not expect them to allow the Ellis magic water ad. Advertising is always a compromise, but I’m increasingly getting tired of it with scientific resources that do not use discretion. Admittedly, it’s harder to control with online advertising (click ads that rotate are very random) and I could see dismissing an Ellis water ad that was funneled in via Google advertising–but again, this is print! There’s no mistake, the ad was accepted with full knowledge of what it claims.
If Popular Science magazine needs to go the way of the dinosaur because it cannot support the print edition with reasonable advertising compromises (the cigarette ads, the alcohol and sex ads, the religious literature, etc) then so be it. I have to draw the line at this hoax. I’m receiving renewal notices now from PS and will be ignoring them. There are too many options to be scientifically informed to justify rewarding Popular Science with a magazine renewal.
To contact the Popular Science editor, here is the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
However, I don’t think it will do as much good as either linking to this article or creating your own article or a Facebook post or other social media entry. Commercial enterprises don’t listen until they realize their target audience is ticked off at something they are doing and will eventually cause a drop in readership. I guess Popular Science can go the way of Discovery Channel Networks and start reporting on Bigfoot, aliens, ghosts and psychic phenomena. There’s always going to be more money found when placating the gullible.
There’s a nice overview of the hoax at Chem1.com.