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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Faith versus fact

29 May 2008

Over the years I've noticed a very disturbing facet of human nature, namely the predisposition for some folks to cling tenaciously to a "belief" even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Some would argue that the most prolific example of this are the many religions that mankind holds sacred but I think there are a new breed of "faithful" out there who might not believe in God but who do believe that the laws of physics don't apply to them.

These are people who don't have time for science or the immutable laws that we've created to explain the world around us.

These are people who "just know" that some invention or device designed or created by a slick snake-oil merchant works, or will work.

I'm sure that most regular readers will have already perused the feature article I wrote on the "run your car on water" scam.

Yesterday I added another page to this article, including some really basic math to show just how ridiculous the scammers claims are.

And wouldn't you know it... I've already had a raft of email from "believers" who have offered me a mountain of opinions as to why I (and the laws of physics) are wrong and they (with their kindergarten-level understanding) are right.

Here are some of the reasons that you *can* run your car on water by doing electrolysis in a jam-jar and running a plastic tube from that jar into your car's air-intake:

  • because HHO gas burns more efficiently than gasoline/petrol
  • because the HHO makes the gasoline burn faster so you get more horsepower from less fuel
  • because the electric field that splits the hydrogen and oxygen also "energizes" the hydrogen so that it produces more power
  • because the electricity used free energy, after all, the alternator is always turning anyway

After much discussion with these people, it has become clear that just like the religious devotees of some crazy brainwashing cult, there's simply no way to shake their "faith".

If you ask for proof of their claims, they simply say "build one and see for yourself" or "people are using these things and saving a fortune in gas every day, there's your proof".

Ask why the technology hasn't been adopted by car-makers, if it's so damned good, and you'll be told that the oil companies are conspiring to have this knowledge suppressed and the car-makers are in cahoots with them.

At every turn, these guys simply demonstrate their lack of even the most basic understanding of the science involved and their unbelievable levels of gullibility.

Is it any wonder therefore, that armies of scammers are descending on this population of idiots with the intention of separating them from their hard-earned cash?

What interests me most however, is just what makes people like this so gullible?

I can understand why so many people embrace religion and indeed, this kind of faith often brings many benefits. Good religions also bring with them a sound basis for behaving as a good person, teaching some sounds rules by which one's life should be guided. Religions also provide comfort and support for those who need such assistance.

While it's also true that far to many wars have been fought in the name of God, I suspect that overall, the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to many religions.

However, the kind of misplaced faith we're seeing in all kinds of areas where pseudo-science is involved brings nothing positive into the lives of those who "believe".

At the end of their involvement, they'll only be left embarrassed, poorer and with a shattered faith in their fellow man.

To this end, I think the "faith scam" ought to be considered a much greater crime than it is.

Right now, if someone makes false claims about a product they sell then our consumer laws can prosecute and punish them. But that only really covers the material losses involved. What about the humiliation and other injuries suffered by those who are stupid enough to be duped?

Does it serve them right?

And shouldn't "responsible" organisations like TradeMe simply refuse to take auctions from those who claim to defy the first law of thermodynamics?

If someone tried to flog the Auckland Harbour bridge on TradeMe they'd get pinged for it, but these "run your car on water" scammers get away with it. Why?

Just like the idiots who open unsolicited attachments in their email, or buy stuff from spammers, there'll always be brain-dead morons who waste money on crazy "never going to work" schemes. What can we do to scuttle the scammers who rip these people off?

Or should we even try?

Maybe the really stupid amongst us deserve to be ripped off -- but do those doing the ripping deserve the rich rewards that such scams often net them?

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Features:

The EZ Battery Reconditioning scam

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

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