Anti-ScienceScience

Art influencing reality?

BoingBoing recently linked to a Spanish-language clip of a company selling beauty-enhancing snail snot. It’s incredible enough that this company is selling such a weird product, and more incredible still that there must be a market of people buying it. But what really makes this newsworthy is the fact that Penn & Teller predicted this very pseudoscience way back in  2003!

The second episode of Season 1 of Penn & Teller’s Showtime hit Bullshit! focused on alternative medicine. To illustrate the point that people will believe just about anything, the crew set up a demonstration of a snail-mucus beauty mask. People voluntarily allowed their faces to be covered with dozens of snails, and then stated on camera that they could actually feel their wrinkles disappearing. Apparently, some marketing genius was watching and decided to cash in. Insanity!

If anyone who speaks Spanish can dig in, I’d love to have a confirmation that this is for real, and any other info on the company selling snail snot to the public.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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13 Comments

  1. It makes me think of a story Ray Bradbury related in one of his essays. He asked a friend, a top clothing designer, to predict some fashion trends for the next few years.

    She replied that to make such predictions in the public media was to assure that those ideas would be seized upon, and begin to be trends in their own right. And that in turn would invalidate her original predictions.

    The snail-mucous treatment makes sense in terms of marketing psuedo-science. It's novel, to the point of being disgusting.

    And Penn and Teller, with their great experience at shocking and amusing people, are well placed to predict (even, perhaps inadvertently create) such wackiness…

  2. So if you really want a laugh, look at the number of results that appear if you google "snail cream"…I got over 700, so this can't be that new an idea, albeit disgusting!

    I speak a bit of spanish, and the entire clip was pretty vague. Figures.

    "It's like magic!" "It lets you live, and live well, because this is a product that helps you!" "It has amazing properties!" "It has profound effects (on my life) every day."

    *My translations are probably off by a bit-I've had no practice for a year…

    And since I'm in a basic biology course, does anyone here happen to know how snails actually repair their shells if they crack? We just started mollusks today, so now I'm curious!

  3. In Colombia, there is a lot of media exposure to the "snail slime". The idea is that snails can regenerate their shell if it breaks, so obviously, it will heal scarred tissue, prevent wrinkles and such.

    It is very common to see this product advertised during local morning tv shows. It is also seen in Infomercials from other "international channels", like Universal, Fox, and such.

    Usually these programs list toll free numbers in every spanish speaking country.

    See, for example: http://www.ventasportv.com/myproductos/Salud%20y%

    the name of the webpage translates as "TV Sales".

    The web page above mentions among other things that snail slime is useful for treatment and prevention of acne, wrinkles, burns, stretch marks, scars…

    Note that duck embryos and shark cartilage are also very common for better sexual performance and preventing cancer .

  4. And from the sales site, it is supposed to:

    heal acne breakouts

    removes acne scars

    kill microbes/act as natural antibiotics

    destroy fungus and virus

    help to heal warts

    contain Allantoin, Collagen Elastin, Glycolic Acid, Natural Antibiotics, Proteins & Vitamins…

    and then of course the typical wrinkle reduction, improved elasticity, and skin renewal.

    The site also sells shampoos that stop hair loss, gels, anti-fungal creams, etc, which don't appear to contain snail at all.

  5. This is on all the time on infomercials here. I've been thinking for a while about starting a thread about it. The first thought I had when I saw the infomercial was "Geez, now "all natural" has become such a powerful concept for some people that they'll even put creams containing snail-slime on their face".

    I guess I'm not the only one who thought that :D

    Another infomercial that has me facepalm every time I see it is one that features a gold- or silverplated magnetic pendant, which has a Chinese Yin/Yang symbol engraved on both sides, with one of the circles being replaced by a "+"on one side, and a "-" on the other. The pendant can rotate freely, and supposedly automatically rotates "magnetically" into the right position to rebalance your energy levels. (You know, if you have too much positive or negative energy).

    The infomercial is, of course, full of the usual testimonials of people who say they feel so much better ever since they started wearing it. And how they couldn't imagine living without it, etc…

  6. I can have the whole thing translated, if you'd like, but here's the bottom line: you can reactivate your social life thanks to the confidence that this product brings to you. The rest, IMHO is hot air.

    The seller, FWIW, seems real: http://www.directoacasa.tv/dactv/catalog/section/

    Gee… They have Disco Fever…

    Ahem!

    Call me a skeptic if you want, but I don't think there's anyone in this world who believes those crappy testimonials.

  7. Snail snot? That's so crazy, it MUST be true! Who could make that stuff up? Oh, right, Penn and Teller …

    Still, as a skeptic, I'll withold my pshaws pending evidence of efficacy.

    Chupacabras said,

    Call me a skeptic if you want, but I don’t think there’s anyone in this world who believes those crappy testimonials.

    Sadly, there must be a few believers or testimonials wouldn't be such a common marketing ploy.

  8. I've seen that infomercial many times here in Ecuador. I love it, it makes me laugh like mad. I love it when the snail's sliding over the Celltone jars, it's so cute…

    Many people believe that crap. There was an ad in the newspapers, it was an ostriches brain cream or some other internal organ of them, it was supposed to help you lose weight when applied over "difficult areas", and the ad said "WARNING: You must wear latex gloves while applying product or it could shrink your hands".

    Snails are used here in the rural areas, people apply the slimy side directly over damaged skin, it's a folk remedy, very popular and old.

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