Oh, I found you a new job

January 30th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, utter nonsense | 76 Comments »

I thought you might be interested in this job advert from the Independent.

It’s from the nice people at Maperton Trust.

You can go and see them for a diagnosis with their magical machines, although the best product is their Head Lice Repelling Unit or HELRU (right) which various people have emailed me about over the years, usually when they’ve been used in their local schools. It’s a badge. It’s basically too silly to write about. Here is a fun report of a trial, and here is the FAQ:

1. How does it work?
Without a comprehensive understanding of technology e.g. that used in space travel, it is not really possible to provide a very satisfactory answer.

We’re too stupid to understand their science. It costs £19 and they take all credit cards.

For free you can have an intense online treatment:

www.mapertontrust.com/htmlfiles/treatmentdetails.htm

And it looks like they maybe dip into treating seriously ill people too. Generally I reckon the people who go for this kind of thing kind of know what they’re getting into, but I suppose if people exert enough effort to make it look all sciencey then there might be the odd person who really does think they’re getting space age medicine. Ho hum.

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/a-return-journey-to-placebo-land-courtesy-of-radionics-1337621.html

(Sorry no column this week, boring story.)


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

76 Responses



  1. NelC said,

    January 30, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Wait a minute, that’s no good to me: the job offer closed last month!

  2. RTomsett said,

    January 30, 2010 at 2:57 am

    I love that you can tell it’s bollocks from the very first line, partly because they seem to think a “Phd.” and an MA are equivalent, and partly because they got PhD wrong :-\

  3. CoralBloom said,

    January 30, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Perfect.

    Vegetarian? Is that legal?

    An nit repelling badge – I’ll be giggling all night so don’t apologise.
    I’ll need to phone my mum and tell her all about it – it’ll be the funniest thing she’s heard in weeks. A nit repelling badge…..

  4. Jonas said,

    January 30, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I love this from the Phil Hammond, independent report:

    Inside are a seemingly random collection of inductors and capacitors, some not connected up at all and some short circuiting each other. “I’m not exactly sure how they work,” says Gordon. “but I don’t really mind as long as they do. A bit like my car, really.”

    If only all CAM practioners were so honest!

  5. bovinespirit said,

    January 30, 2010 at 6:03 am

    “Radioaesthetics”? I have a soft spot for those big old JVC tubular ghetto blasters, and I like the retro look of some Roberts products, but I guess Pure radios have the most contemporary design.

    Do I qualify for a job?

  6. AnotherBee said,

    January 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Well, the advert is scrupulously honest about the benefits.

  7. Kess said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Perhaps NASA would benefit from employing some researchers from the Trust, given their deep understanding of the technologies used in space travel (snigger).

  8. Kess said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Who on earth approved the Maperton Trust as an “educational charity (reg. no. 327683)”? What they’re doing is the opposite of education.

  9. Moganero said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

    In the interests of research I have just completed the Mapperton Trust’s two free online treatments. I don’t feel any different yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

  10. BobP said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I’ve got an idea that ATSC (of Iraqi bomb detector fame) is somewhere near Wincanton. Probably a coincidence.

  11. Moganero said,

    January 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I hope they don’t tell me there’s a bomb under my desk! It’s cold outside this morning.

  12. geof said,

    January 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I’m just so impressed! If I had written a spoof version of this I don’t think I could have done so well. Whilst I’m sure that there could be some circumstances where pluralising “radiation” is necessary it just sounds so good in context.

  13. Phildemil said,

    January 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Bloody hell Ben, I wish you’d resize your images. That damn thing is 1536 x 2048 and weighs more than half a MB. Locks up the whole page.

  14. iamjohn said,

    January 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    If there is anything potentially funnier than that advert it would be the CVs and covering letters of applicants.

  15. sionnyn said,

    January 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    If it really did repel nits then none of its target market could come near it.

  16. dirkgently said,

    January 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Damn, It’s a shame we’ve missed the closing date – we could all have applied for that.
    Well if they’re gonna take the piss why can’t we?

  17. mellD123 said,

    January 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    bet goes to an internal candidate, why do they even bother interviewing if they have already employed the person they want?

  18. Jorge Garcia de Bustos said,

    January 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    This job requires a flexible attitude with regards to so many things: long working hours, misuse of scientific terminology, misrepresentation of scientific evidence, fraud, poor English grammar…

    I’m sure the interviewer’s task is simple. If the candidate’s aura makes the magic crystal glow with the right colour, you’ve got the right person.

  19. Sili said,

    January 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I’d need far more than 24000 a year to give up meat. Hell, I’m almost getting that on the dole (before tax, though).

  20. annoyingmouse said,

    January 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Perhaps the interview will consist of the employer reciting a list of their most commonly used “scientific” terms and will employ the first person to get through that ordeal without laughing, crying or displaying any other emotional response.

  21. brainduck said,

    January 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I am *so* applying for that, Jobcentre want proof that I’m considering wider areas…

  22. twistor59 said,

    January 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I wouldn’t be too hasty to scoff. The last person who scoffed was turned into a grey cat….

  23. pberry said,

    January 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    You could get a good 10 minutes of stand-up material out of this one. So many things wrong with it it’d be like shooting fish…

    A little subtlety almost lost among the bollocks: “parascientific knowledge” – isn’t that an oxymoron?

  24. Moganero said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    It doesn’t say what currency the salary is paid in – it may be Turkish lira which wouldn’t be quite so exciting.

  25. Jeesh42 said,

    January 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    You people are all just rotten cynics. Didn’t you read the trial report? The severity of lice decreased by 60-70 points of something or other! (I couldn’t tell exactly because they used the 3D chart.)

  26. edwardatport said,

    January 31, 2010 at 7:56 am

    This so much woooo, I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know what wages are like in the UK but 20 to 24 thousand pounds sounds ridiculous for such a highly qualified professional with 5 years experience. A recent MA in business management with no scruples and a great ability to spin maybe what their really looking for

  27. edwardatport said,

    January 31, 2010 at 7:57 am

    This so much woooo, I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know what wages are like in the UK but 20 to 24 thousand pounds sounds ridiculous for such a highly qualified professional with 5 years experience. A recent MA in business management with no scruples and a great ability to spin maybe what they’re really looking for.

  28. Nadia said,

    January 31, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Some of the vegetarians I know are filthy.

  29. SimonW said,

    January 31, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Depressing they are still going, on the upside perhaps the tax man and the charity commission will be interested in the discrepancy between the salary offered and their charity commission filings?

  30. Baisui said,

    January 31, 2010 at 10:15 am

    From the html for the treatment code:

  31. Baisui said,

    January 31, 2010 at 10:15 am

    FORM name=”PercentageForm” action=”Noneatall.exe” method=”post”

  32. Susan said,

    January 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

    About 15 years ago, DH, a bona fide audio electronic engineer, was commissioned to make a device for this company. He made them a power amplifier which he was told was to drive multiple, miniature speakers. They couldn’t get the amp to work properly because it kept short circuiting. After fixing it for about the 3rd time DH said he really needed to know under what conditions they were using it. At that point they revealed that all the loud speakers were ‘in a pulsating sphere’ filled with some liquid substance. That explained the problem and DH told them he wouldn’t fix it again.

  33. RandomNoise said,

    January 31, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Would it be very unethical to buy one of these badges in a post-modern ironic kind of way. They do look quite cool.

  34. Alfster said,

    January 31, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Isn’t it illegal to put such requirements in job specs such as ‘must be vegetarian’ which seems to be what the sentence ‘A personal minimum vegetarian minimum health standard is required’.

    That seems a straight discrimination against meat-eaters.

  35. Daibhid C said,

    January 31, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Hang on, Wincanton is twinned with Ankh-Morpork.

    Clearly these are real, serious researchers … from Unseen University.

  36. denvillesken said,

    January 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Interestingly if you look at Maperton Trust on the Charity Commission website their income for the year ended April 2009 was £3 against expenditure of £6,852. In fact their total loss for the last 5 years is £12,208 so it’s difficult to see how they can afford this post unless there has been a massive increase in income.

    The Trust was founded and is run by Major Gordon Smith.
    www.positivehealth.com/author-view.php?authorid=242

    He is also a trustee of THE RADIONICS AND RADIESTHESIA TRUST which has a small income but no expenditure and BIOMAGNETICS DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION LIMITED which has no income or expenditure.

  37. MrNick said,

    January 31, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    It is so far beyond self-parody that it’s come all the way round the back.

    How the hell the Maperton Trust is an educational trust is beyond me. Is there some way of complaining to the Charity Commissioners.

    Nick

  38. iandouglas said,

    January 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I understand the science involved in space travel. Am I allowed to hear their bullshit?

  39. Moganero said,

    February 1, 2010 at 10:07 am

    @Baisui: I spotted that too!
    I sent the following to Maperton trust:
    I just completed the two free treatments on your website and wondered if and when I should notice any effects of the treatments. Will I receive emails with details of what was diagnosed and treated?
    Here’s the reply:

    Thank you for your email.
    If you are not feeling better this morning try another treatment. More details are enclosed.

    Here’s the text of the details for your scrutiny, some serious science going on here:
    It is accepted by science that all matter is energy. This includes your body which is controlled by energetic systems. If the energy in the body is good you feel well, if it is not so good you do not feel so well. All disease is a form of energy and so are treatments.

    The Maperton Trust which is an educational charity based in Somerset in England has been studying various forms of energy and delivery systems for over 35 years and has reached the stage where the results of their trials which are on their website, www.mapertontrust.com and are also held in the archives of the Houses of Parliament in London.

    They are now in the position of being able to send help for individuals, people and animals over the Internet and the results are quite startling. You can try a free taste of this system by going to their website and following the instructions.

    WE THINK THAT IT IS THE FREEIST FORM OF HEALTH HELP THAT YOU CAN GET ON THE PLANET. YOU CAN TRY IT ANY NUMBER OF TIMES BY GOING TO THE WEBSITE WWW.MAPERTONTRUST.COM HELPING THE PHYSICAL. EMOTIONAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL.

  40. natsils24 said,

    February 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I want to know what it means to have’A personal minimum vegetarian minimum health standard’? I am vegetarian but the amount of chocolate I eat surely negates a minimum health standard?

  41. harryr3 said,

    February 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Is this advert for a real job or it a form of guerilla marketing?
    It asks for a Ph.D or MA is a field relevant to parascience or psionic h/w. Which subjects would such qualifications be in then? It then desires experience in various sciency sounding things. It’s a big box advert in large type in a broadsheet with the organisation emphasised. Lots of readers would have seen this while turning the page, and in passing assume that there was a basis to it’s implied seriousness.

  42. Colonel_Mad said,

    February 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Are nits really such a huge problem in Wincanton? Those people in the Testimonials section of the website seem to catch nits on an appallingly regular basis. I lost my badge and within 2 days had head lice again etc etc etc.

  43. DanielDWilliam said,

    February 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t think there is any reason why one couldn’t discriminate for or against vegetarians.

    As far as I recall UK law one may not discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, aspects of disability or sexuality and in some parts of the Union, on the grounds of (some) religion.

    Whatever is not expressly forbidden is permitted. Therefore I can discriminate on the grounds of someone’s diet, or political views, drinking habits, physical fitness, good looks, belief or otherwise in homeopathy.

  44. William Levack said,

    February 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Still waiting for my free treatment to progress… hasn’t cured my boredom yet. Yawn.

  45. iamjohn said,

    February 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I’m enjoying the comments page on their website, such as:
    Thank you for offering this treatment. My hands were very cold when I started it – warm when it was finished
    and:
    How will I know if the treatment has really worked? Am I meant to feel anything?
    and:
    During this time I became very sleepy, my arms felt heavy my breathing slowed right down, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My mouth filled with saliva

  46. iamjohn said,

    February 1, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, also, “Our products have no chemicals therefore no side effects”, other than placebo of course

  47. Bloodvassal said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    @Edwardatport Sadly 24K is believable at the lower end of the wage scale for PhD although the 5yr experience requirement makes this unlikely, but frankly not outwith the realms of possibility outside of London. But to work in such a cutting edge field you’ll find people willing to pay to work there anyway. The benefits are unstated but the privately owned health provisions at the Maperton Trust are colorful and lapel compatible.

  48. MrFred said,

    February 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    “Our products have no chemicals…”

    Pure genius from the Maperton Trust’s ‘non-chemical healing products’ page.

    Plus a reference to Roger Coghill not PhD, not MPhil of electromagnetic dog blanket fame under ‘bibliography’.

    Could this possibly be any better?

  49. pajamapaati said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:04 am

    “Susan said,

    About 15 years ago, DH, a bona fide audio electronic engineer, was commissioned to make a device for this company. He made them a power amplifier…”

    I trust it went up to 11. :-)

  50. HelenC said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Edwardatport and Bloodvassal,
    Sorry to be a pedant, but it doesn’t say the successful applicant will be paid in pounds sterling, it just says 20,000 to 24,000. We assume it will be some form of currency but, given their interest in electromagnetism, it could be Volts.
    Anyway, during my astral projection session yesterday evening, I managed to travel back in time and submit my application. I meet some of their criteria, being a vegetarian and enjoying minimum health. This morning, I looked back through my unopened mail, and I haven’t received any response from them. I assume that I was unsuccessful and that they had too many applicants to respond to each one of us individually.
    According to some of my New Age friends, the Mapperton Trust’s Head Lice Repelling Unit is very old technology. Apparently it’s now possible to get rid of nits just be asking them, telepathically, to leave. I can’t verify this personally, however, as I’ve never had head lice. They don’t like the colour of my aura.
    Helen C

  51. neuro_chelle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I decided to email the nice people at Maperton Trust to ask how their headlice badge works. I sent them this:

    “Hi there,

    I have a “comprehensive understanding of technology e.g. that used in space travel”, could you tell me how your head lice badge works please? I will buy one for each of my 3 nephews and 1 niece if you can give me satisfactory explanation of how it works. Also, I don’t suppose it also repels spiders, as this could be a great product for arachnophobics?

    Thanks,

    Michelle Pierce, PhD”

    and got this back:

    “Dear Michelle

    Thank you for your email.

    Basically, the HELRU works on what we call a ‘field effect’ and we found the field effect that head lice do not like and put it into a device that is within the badge. The badge contains no chemicals and no electro magnetics and is perfectly safe for anyone to wear. Further than this is proprietary information. The badge comes with a 90 day money back guarantee if returned as sold.

    Sincerely
    Patricia
    The Maperton Trust”

    In other words, it does eff all but we can’t tell you that or you won’t buy it. Hilariously, I have a PhD in ‘field effects’ (I studied neuronal population activity) so they really picked the wrong person to try and bullshit.

  52. Confused of Kent said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Posted whilst listening to “The Worried Well” by Show of Hands – The requirement for a minimum of 5 years working experience would fall foul of the age discrimination legislation.

  53. danielearwicker said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    “a working knowledge of… quantum singular activity”.

    Uh… yeah, I know how all that stuff works. Got all the Futurama DVDs.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_singularity

  54. smithers said,

    February 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I love some of the user comments:

    ‘Increased energy-symptoms diminished’. Mrs D. Sherborne, Dorset.

    WTF does that even mean?!

  55. smithers said,

    February 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Got to love some of the user comments:

    ‘Increased energy-symptoms diminished’. Mrs D. Sherborne, Dorset.

    WTF does that even mean?!

  56. neile said,

    February 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I just did the HUDET therapy, and I can’t feel my legs.

    I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGS!

    Oh wait, there they are.

    Maperton Trust can’t tell us how it works, not because WE don’t have a “comprehensive understanding of technology e.g. that used in space travel”, but because THEY don’t.

  57. denvillesken said,

    February 4, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I really think this is worthy of a new T shirt for Ben’s excellent range…but what to put for the slogan?

    How about;

    If its brown, smells and is near a bull it probably is what you think it is!

    Any other suggestions?

  58. Mijin said,

    February 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    “Basically, the HELRU works on what we call a ‘field effect’ and we found the field effect that head lice do not like and put it into a device that is within the badge.”

    So, if we were to take apart one of these badges we’d actually find a device inside and not, say, solid plastic?

    Great! At last the so-called scientists of the world might get some insight into how to harness quantum singular activity or sub-molecular harmonic frequencies.

  59. Mijin said,

    February 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    “Basically, the HELRU works on what we call a ‘field effect’ and we found the field effect that head lice do not like and put it into a device that is within the badge.”

    So, if I were to break open one of these badges I’d find some sophisticated sciencey magubbins inside?

    Great! All my years of so-called higher education have been a waste when one badge will show me how to harness quantum singular activity and sub-molecular harmonic frequencies…

  60. walks with tench said,

    February 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Mum bought one of these and my nits got WORSE: other people’s nits actually came to ME!
    I took my badge off my lapel and put it in my trousers pocket; you DO NOT want to know where I’ve got nits now!
    Could I sue them and claim it was faulty; that the sypatic fractals of the secondary applied field caused a quantum harmonic paradigm reversal in my dynamic met-space? [ie that it phuqued my aura?]
    And would a judge believe this?
    Someone should start a campaign or something like those that claimed side-effects from Homy Pills to make them say what is[n't] in them.
    I was going to e-mail them the above but mum says I’ll get into trouble but someone else might like to.
    Got to go, Apple Crumble for tea; HOORAH! BYE.

  61. mangie said,

    February 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Cool, but for the salary

  62. ALondoner said,

    February 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Here’s a nice description of what they get up to at the Maperton Trust

    www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=511

    No one seems to have left any comments there, yet…..

  63. MrNick said,

    February 8, 2010 at 1:15 am

    @ALondoner

    I left a comment at positivehealth.com.
    It remains to be seen if it will ever appear.

    Nick

  64. Mijin said,

    February 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Hehe, I believe so: www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=511.

    After all the waffle a snappy response. Like it.

  65. elfy said,

    February 11, 2010 at 5:46 am

    @DanielDWilliam,

    It’s probably legal to discriminate against meat-eaters, but probably not against vegetarians. The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, which includes “any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief”. So if you’ve got a decent coherent philosophy, you’re probably covered. Vegetarianism is just about coherent enough to pass, while meat-eating is more just a default option without much philosophy behind it. Except that animals taste good.

  66. speedkermit said,

    February 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    who you gonna call?

  67. speedkermit said,

    February 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    louder

  68. speedkermit said,

    February 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    i can’t hear you

  69. lff12 said,

    February 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    20k a year is rather crap for a PhD with vegetarian skills. I’d be rather pissed off if I spent years of research for that.

  70. lff12 said,

    February 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Although it is quite hilarious to read if you realise that all the verbiage is basically cack. Whats funnier still is how they would expect a genuine MSc or PhD to apply, given that the pay is rather low. I guess they’d probably accept my degree in Musicology instead.

  71. lasersage said,

    February 16, 2010 at 8:36 am

    A little more info on how said badge works following an email from me saying I was interested but wanted to know more about how it works and how it relates to space travel.

    Dear Ian

    Thank you for your email.

    Basically the HELRU works on what we call a field effect and we found the field effect that head lice do not like and put it into a device that is within the badge. Further than that is proprietary information.

    The badge is non chemical and non electro magnetic and is perfectly safe for anyone to use.

    I hope this helps

    Regards
    The Maperton Trust

    I don’t think this has anything to do with space travel, and if the information were so “proprietary” why don’t they patent it? Oh yeh, cos they’d be laughed out the patent office.

  72. thtelford said,

    February 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Just how many vegetarians with a minimum of 5 years experience in the parascientific, psionic hardware, sub molecular harmonic frequencies, ultimatonic field patterning instruments, geomagnetic wave calibrations, electromagnetic field potentials, exploratory map sensing, quantum singular activity, radioaesthetics, with a flexible attitude to working hours, looking to earn £20-24k who live in an easily commutable distance of Wincanton are there?

  73. nonisa said,

    March 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    getting the free treatment now…i shall report back…

  74. Delster said,

    March 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    i know how space travel works….you throw stuff really fast out the back and you go forward….basically speaking

  75. wholesale lingerie said,

    March 11, 2010 at 7:27 am

    yes, i do agree i shall report back

  76. Sqk said,

    July 13, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Hello all!

    There appears to be a lack of ‘reporting back’. Has the treatment caused some interference with the internet? Have you been carried off in the night by giant pre-emptive head-lice?

    Hate to break it to anyone studying a PhD, but there’s at least one profession out there where you’re expected to have a good degree and a Masters or PhD, start on £15-20k and if you’re really lucky stay on it indefinitely. You do it for the love of the subject apparently. Still, there’s never a dull moment and there’s a fascinating surrealness that you just don’t find anywhere else (and vermin infested hovels are ‘character building’).