Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 | 09:47 PM|
Museum of Hoaxes Forum
I got a fascinating front row look the other day at how the Lifewave scam works, and why it may take a long time to completely die.
Out of curiosity I attended a Lifewave presentation session in which David Schmidt himself came to a Curves (the large woman's gym) to explain the Lifewave "technology" and to "train" people on how to use the patches. I have trouble understanding how people think David Schmidt is a very charismatic guy. He seemed pretty Joe Average to me. His presentation kind of reminded me of a timeshare sales pitch I once attended by a transparently sleazy and manipulative sales guy, maybe a little smoother but not by much.
Anyway, after explaining how his meridian flowing, resonant energy transferring, biomolecular resonating sugar antennas "talk" to pain receptors in the body, he asked for volunteers who were in pain to try his patches. Two women volunteered. I think one woman said she had hip pain, the other said she had knee pain. I don't believe that they were plants because from all appearances they were, well, Curves' target clientele. He put the patches on them (over their pants in both cases) and asked them whether they felt less pain. They both said yes. He asked them both: If your pain level was a "10" before we put the patches on, what would you say your pain level is now? One said a "4." The other said "4," but then changed it to a "2." Naturally, some people in the audience were amazed at how quickly and effectively these miracle patches took pain away. Naturally, they had never seen or heard anything like it. Naturally some wanted to buy some patches then and there.
From my perspective, David Schmidt had set up the ambiance to place subtle pressure on the women to say that they felt less pain, using a few cheap sales tactics taken from the same playbook that the timeshare sales people use. But even without those sales techniques, I left with the impression that all you had to do was to project a positive belief that your product reduces pain, do a little bullshit razzle dazzle at the chalkboard with some high tech sounding phrases and supposed scientific skeches, and you'll get audience volunteers to genuinely believe that their pain level has gone down.
So there it is. As long as those razzle dazzle sales techniques work (and I am now convinced that they always will work astoundingly well for a certain percentage of the population), a snake oil salesman will always be able to scare up new buyers.
In some ways, however, it was pathetic. Lifewave had told people that it was going to be the next Microsoft and people had better get in on the ground floor before it's too late. But here, 5 years later, is David Schmidt himself trying to hawk a few boxes of patches at night in a strip mall storefront to an audience of less than 30 people on folding chairs, many of whom were obese women seeking help with their health issues.