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My favorite brand of snake oil is ...

Displaying poll results.
  1198 votes / 20%
  348 votes / 6%
Goat testicle implants
  622 votes / 10%
Magnet therapy
  895 votes / 15%
Actual snake oil
  1150 votes / 19%
Something else you just don't understand.
  1545 votes / 26%
5758 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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My favorite brand of snake oil is ...

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @05:41PM (#45030235)

    My favorite brand of snake oil is open source software.

    "Many eyes make all bugs shallow."
    "Just open up your proprietary closed source code and developers will pop out of thin air to carry on development and fix all the bugs."
    "Open source means anyone can audit the source code and prove that the application is secure, bug free, etc."
    "Launch an OSS project and a bunch of people will show up to help you build it."

    There are some notable exceptions, the Linux kernel being one of them, but OSS works best when a developer is scratching their own itch.

    • by orasio (188021)

      1 - Citation needed. In the sense of open source being easier to debug than proprietary code, it's undeniable.
      2 - Citation needed. That strawman is getting old.
      3 - True. It does mean anyone _can_, not that anyone _will_ . That's very valuable by itself. You can trust the vendor for example, but have the possibility to stop trusting them. Don't you prefer to be able to find backdoors vs not being able?
      4 - Citation needed. Same as 2 -

    • "Many eyes make all bugs shallow."

      This is true, at least to an extent. The more people you have doing code review, the better your software will be (well, assuming that the people doing the review are competent and not, for example, Debian OpenSSL maintainers). This is true with proprietary and open source software.

      "Open source means anyone can audit the source code and prove that the application is secure, bug free, etc."

      If I'm using a piece of software and I decide I don't entirely trust it, I can pay people to audit it, as long as I have the code. I can pay companies like Coverity for their static analysis tools (actually, Coverity is free t

  • Ok... see.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @05:58PM (#45030399)

    You eat this little cracker and drink this wine and zombie jebus will "save" you if you're super duper sorry.

    No we're not insane! No! Really!

    Stop looking at us like that!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @05:59PM (#45030415)

    My vote for snake oil are a lot of AV products out there.

    1: They can't pick up 0-days, and virtually everything out there is a zero day. My ad-blocking software is far more useful.

    2: It doesn't really help clean much if infected. The days of clicking on a utility, having a beer, and coming back to a de-loused system are far gone. Generally if you find some oddball application trying to toss a browser extension, it is time to grab media, save off files and reinstall.

    3: Other than Windows, it is pointless. I worked at a place using POWER7 machines, and McAfee had to be on all LPARs due to contract stipulations. Still no single detections.

    4: A scanner on a compromised box's disk drives is probably the only use an AV program has, or perhaps a SAN that can snapshot LUNs, search for malware, then freeze/roll back the machine.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Single DES is easily cracked these days.

    Many amateur service providers foolishly use a pregenerated key that comes with the service software. Apache HTTPD calls this key "snakeoil-rsa.key"

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:02PM (#45030455)
    You can build your own 2 milliamp unit for less than $10. Electrodes can be tricky but aloe mixed with salt makes a good conductive gel. You can build more elaborate units but be careful because 9 volts going through your brain is bad. I believe there may be some on the market, they are probably expensive but then again if you want to go that route buy now before the FDA clamps down.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      How does this compare to sticking your tongue on a 9-volt battery?
      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        It doesn't taste as bad. Seriously though, if you are sweaty and hold a 9-volt battery to your head you actually can stimulate a small part of your brain, however you will burn the shit out of yourself in the process.
    • Shock therapy. Nice... Not that I'm against it. In fact, I heard it does wonders for depression (it's actually quite safe unlike what Hollywood portrays it to be) . But no, I'd rather be monitored by a professional that do this to myself. Last thing I'd want is to trigger some form of epilepsy that I never knew I had.

      • by sjames (1099)

        I don't know that safe is the word I'd use for it. Just ask Hemingway.

    • by sjames (1099)

      You do know that is the subject of legitimate research, don't you?

      I don't see how the FDA is going to clamp down on DIY devices.

  • by linear a (584575) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:13PM (#45030541)
    Finally! My pet snake won't keep me up all night with his incessant squeaking.
  • Buckyballs are awesome for stress relief and finding metal studs in walls.
  • by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:20PM (#45030603) Homepage Journal

    I've never seen the point or any science whatsoever that supports the idea that people need to somehow "clean" their digestive track. Ranks right up there with having your aura cleansed. I think I'll start a business selling bottled tap water as "Dave's Incredible Miraculous Cleansing Diet Supplement". Drink enough of it and it will cleanse your digestive track.


    • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:53PM (#45030885)

      There's a need to clean it, just not with any ridiculous methods. You clean it by having adequate fibre in your diet.

    • Re:"Cleansing" diets (Score:5, Informative)

      by Just Some Guy (3352) <> on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:00PM (#45030949) Homepage Journal

      A hundred times this. I spent some time as an OR tech, where I'd stand next to the surgeon and hand him instruments, load scalpel blades, hold things, etc. Although I'm not a gastroenterologist, I've seen inside plenty of guts in my life. Never once, except in cases of severe disease, have I ever seen an intestine that looked like the nightmares that "cleansing" advocates describe. Basically, the insides of your intestines are nice and pink and clean unless there happens to be food actively passing through them at the moment. They don't have pockets filled with "toxins", or swallowed marbles, or any of that craziness. They're certainly not spackled with decades worth of unpassed stool that needs to be "purged".

      • I may not have your depth of experience, but I did have a sigmoid proctoscopy done and watched the results on a monitor. As you said, all was clean and pink. And, the result of that was a colonoscopy, and I now have three tats, 50 cm "up."
      • by Krishnoid (984597) * on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:25AM (#45032957) Journal

        They're certainly not spackled with decades worth of unpassed stool that needs to be "purged".

        Not by the time you see it [], no:

        MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

      • by Misagon (1135)

        Some foods that are often toted as being "healthy" and "full of fibre" are known to linger in the colon longer.
        A prime example of this is linen seeds - which can be quite common in wholegrain bread.
        Another culprit is nuts. Raspberry and tomato seeds also.

        I know this because I had a colonoscopy where I could see these seeds up close in my colon.
        I had eaten bread with "yellow linen seeds" a few days before, not knowing about the seeds in the bread - because they were yellow I could not see them.
        I had also eat

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Those loonies consider the normal mucus to be "toxins" so they always win their silly little game.
    • Some people are full of shit, Dave.

      But yeah, if you eat whole-wheat bread for breakfast instead of just having a cup of coffee, "this too shall pass".

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Some people are full of shit, Dave.

        But yeah, if you eat whole-wheat bread for breakfast instead of just having a cup of coffee, "this too shall pass".

        Great, I had a white English muffin and a cup of tea. YOU SHALL NOT PASS.

    • Enema's have been around for a long time. These people need one. So you're idea is a good one, the just need to put it in the other hole.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I've never seen the point or any science whatsoever that supports the idea that people need to somehow "clean" their digestive track. Ranks right up there with having your aura cleansed. I think I'll start a business selling bottled tap water as "Dave's Incredible Miraculous Cleansing Diet Supplement". Drink enough of it and it will cleanse your digestive track.


      Whilst we're on this subject, my favourite form of snake oil: vitamin supplements.

      Any supplement that has a measurable effect is prescription only and not sold over the counter. However this has not stopped pharmaceutical companies claiming that off the shelf vitamin supplements can do all and sundry. They always use spurious and hard to prove claims based on "feeling" rather than fact. If they had any real effect on health they'd have to be kept behind the counter with all the other medications that wor

      • Vitamin supplements work quite good for me as a supplement to coffee (but without the sleep problems). I assume it's a placebo effect, but it works.
    • by azalin (67640)
      Until people find out about the very high levels of Dihydrogenmonoxid in your diet supplement...
    • Hell my homemade chile probably has more cleansing properties than the stuff they sell. Lots of beans, tomatoes, chilies (bell peppers, jalapenos, habaneros , ghost peppers, and chipotles), onions, chopped garlic some meat (usually a mix of ground bison, ground beef, and/or ground venison) as well as other spices simmered for 8 hours. It does have some kick to it so it burns a bit on the way out but I could probably market that as the burn of all to toxins leaving your body.
  • Secret Option F (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heatdeath (217147) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:21PM (#45030613)

    Austrian Economics

  • Placebin (Score:5, Funny)

    by istartedi (132515) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:49PM (#45030841) Journal

    Placebo, the brand name for generic Placebin or it's full chemical name Placeboxidasemethylhydroxone as originally isolated from Asian dandelions. Some say it does nothing; but I swear by it.

    • Re:Placebin (Score:4, Insightful)

      by xQx (5744) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:51PM (#45032063)

      Actually, there are numerous scientific studies that prove that a placebos improve medical outcomes (compared with not administering any drug).

      Here are some cool facts* about the effectiveness of placebos: []

      This is why you can actually say [homeopathy/snake oil/Magnet Therapy] etc. all are "scientifically proven to improve your outcomes" and be telling the truth.
      The real question is if [homeopathy/snake oil/Magnet Therapy] is any "more effective than a similarly administered placebo".

      • Re:Placebin (Score:4, Funny)

        by istartedi (132515) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:40PM (#45032337) Journal

        No man. It's the dandelion extract. You have no idea how placebo actually works. Homeopathic remedies as originally formulated were filtered through a fine mesh that contained dandelion fibers. The snakes ate rodents, and the rodents ate dandelions. That's how the chemical got into the snakes. The magnetic field takes placebin precursors and facilitates a chemical reaction to synthesize the chemical. Yes, that's why all those studies show it works. I wish I could say I was surprised; but placebin chemistry just isn't very well taught these days. Pity. It's such a fascinating, ubiquitous and tenacious molecule. I was planning to write my thesis on it; but career got in the way...

  • economics. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Since Reagan, "free" market theory has been treated almost exactly like a religion.

    And I want to shout, "But these are all just assumptions!" just as much as I did when sitting through chapel every Sunday. But I can't, because the whole point in faith is blind acceptance.

    (And no, deer knee-jerker, this isn't a pro-Soviet post. Exactly the same problem occurred there.)

  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:04PM (#45030977)
    The story of John Brinkley [] is a fascinating one.
  • by YankeeInExile (577704) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:19PM (#45031123) Homepage Journal
    do nothing to dissuade me from my belief that Goat Testicle Implants are not really a thing. Were it so it could not be unseen.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:10PM (#45031531) Homepage Journal

    Enough said.

  • Just about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:32PM (#45031655)
    Anything labeled "Audiophile" or geared toward audiophiles. The green felt marker was pretty funny. Brilliant pebbles [] is a classic. If taping a bag of rock onto your interconnects isn't funny enough, how about a $30 audiophile grade outlet cover? [] Actually the company Machina Dynamica [] makes all kinds of funny shit. I actually thought this one was a joke at first. Every music listener needs a $6899.75 power cable []. Or a Denon CAT5, sorry AKDL1 dedicated link cable []. You can get a used on for just $400, or refurbished for $999.99. Which sounds pricy, but is a steal compared to the $9999.99 price. Read the comments on both of those. They are pretty funny. You better not skimp on your speaker cable either. These can be had for the low price of $14049.75 [] But if that a little out of your price range, you can always purchase them used for $950.75 less. What a bargin.
    • by Kittenman (971447)

      Anything labeled "Audiophile" or geared toward audiophiles. ...

      Damn you. I have about 100 old vinyl records I'm trying to sell. Of course only a true audiophile would see me in these clothes... I'm sorry, would realize that the sound quality from these scratchy old pieces of vinyl are far superior to modern digital recording techniques...

      Contact me for a deal, readers!

  • They are not really snake oil as they have an impact, although a negative one, but I really like kinked diet principles:

    • Eat complex carbohydrates so that you have energy all day long (you can have energy all day long with less of them, and as an extra bonus you will not get fat
    • Drink dairy products otherwise your skeleton will turn into dust (yeah, sure. Cows do not drink milk and they do not suffer from osteoporosis)
    • Don't eat fat otherwise cholesterol will kill you (it is long to explain, but thrombosis is
  • by Truth_Quark (219407) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:16PM (#45031899) Journal
    The whole field can be refuted with a controlled study.

    Older pages simply rank higher in pagerank. It is not due to the money you spent on SEO.
  • The more diluted it is, the stronger it gets. This means that every time I drink water, I'm consuming extremely strong homeopathy treatments for everything that it "cures."

  • Since it was invented by a Magnetic Healer [], I guess it's related, but it has grown as its own scam on its own.

    My favorite reference site when these type of "topics" come up is Science-based Medicine [].
  • Religion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:55PM (#45032435)
    Including, but certainly not limited to, Modern American Pseudo-Christianity. Why not subscribe to the First Church of Convenience - you can show up and participate if you like, or don't, and you may pick and choose whichever bits of cannon and dogma suite you while blatantly ignoring the rest, and that is widely accepted. Just claim you're a Catholic, for example, but you can skip services, never donate money, eat meat on Friday even during lent, use birth control, accept gay marriage, get divorced, and pretty much make no sacrifice whatsoever, and that is all pretty acceptable.
  • Capability Based Security lets a user decide what resources a program is to be allowed to access at run-time. Unlike Windows, Linux, Mac, it doesn't automatically just trust programs with everything on your system.

    This will eventually (10-15 years from now) allow for computers to be actually secure, assuming the NSA doesn't backdoor them.

    Everyone seems to think it's snake-oil, hand waving, or just a dumb idea... so I figured I'd post it here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is truly the perfect flamebait.

    We've got libertarians claiming it's fiat currency.
    We've got non-libertarians claiming it's Austrian economics.
    We've got atheists claiming it's religion.
    We've got conservatives claiming it's global warming.
    We've got closet Nazis claiming it's the Holocaust.
    We've got Republicans claiming it's Obamacare.
    We've got trolls claiming it's open source software (the perfect choice to piss off Slashot!).

    Now we just need a couple people to insist that it's gun control and affirmativ

  • But it worked for Ironman.

  • The so-called "American Dream".
  • I - as you can probably tell from my sig - am very interested in psychedelic substances and the effects they have on the mind. Generally speaking, I'm a proponent of their responsible use.

    However, I find that in the realm of psychedelic research, there is a great deal of pseudoscience and mysticism. Just because someone has a 'mystical experience' on LSD or other psychedelics, they then start going off and believing a whole lot of rubbish that just makes no sense. I myself have had plenty of such experiences, and they can be very profound, deep and wonderful learning exercises - I wouldn't be the man I am today without having had these experiences. What they are not however is evidence of something 'beyond our world'.

    Essentially, this is just another facet of people's failure to use critical thinking and logic, but it tends to be even more pronounced when it comes to experiences and feelings from within rather than when examining external matters.

    Where this causes the most problems is when people start promoting psychedelic use as a snake-oil to help someone 'get closer to the spiritual world' or 'attune yourself to nature' or so on. It's a problem because it works. If you go in to the experience believing this rubbish, there's a good chance that what you experience will reinforce it quite strongly. If however you go in to the experience without believing this rubbish, you can learn an amazing amount about yourself without the need for attributing things to mysticism and superstition.

  • Terrorism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Friday October 04, 2013 @05:45AM (#45033795) Journal
    The best one-size-fits-all term there is!
  • Just send $1 to:
    P.O. Box 181417
    Cleveland Hts, OH 44118-1417

  • Why not just have this be the next poll

    What is your favorite brand of flame war:
    Monetary theory
    Unix editors
    Computer operating systems
    Global Warming
    US politics
    World energy policy
    The lack of a Cowboy Neil option in recent /. polls

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?


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