Inventor Selling Pseudoscientific Product Gets Caught in Shark Tank

In case you don’t watch the show “Shark Tank,” it’s a reality show in which a panel of rich business tycoons judge someone’s “great idea” and have a chance to invest in it. The “contestants” have to pitch their idea to the panel and face a barrage of questions about their business plan, previous sales, concerns, etc.

Last night, one of the contestants was Ryan Naylor, the founder of Esso Watches, a product that deals with the “problem of positive ions” in our body. The watch releases negative ions, thus restoring “our body back to its natural state.”

In other words, a product that’s complete bullshit. Total pseudoscience.

Naylor was asking the investors to give him $35,000 for a 20% stake in his company. He ever “tested” the product out on one of the investors, who said she felt its power… right.

Check out the segment here (Sorry, non-Americans!):

Spoilers: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saw right through it. When Naylor offered him a watch to try on, Cuban flat out rejected it, prompting another investor to ask him, Are you allergic to positive/negative ion stuff?

Cuban responded:

No, I’m allergic to scams. Seriously. This is not new. It’s been disproven. What you saw was the placebo effect… It’s a joke. It’s a scam . It’s not real. I’m out.

Turned out his statement made a mark on the others, too. Ultimately, no one wanted to invest in the company.

Enjoy the clip. It’s beautiful to watch :)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-GK/507761207 Joe GK

    For science!

  • Jasen

    Balance test? Really?   Good job Cuban!

  • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

    Oh sweet schadenfreude!

  • Trix

    Dammmn me living in Canada…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527982303 Jonathan Arthur

    Independent laboratory testing!!!! What a concept!

  • FSq

    That….was….AWESOME!

  • http://www.facebook.com/NotInMyName2050 Notin MyName

    The balance test was so laughable. The first time, he does the resistance thing, stops, then tells her to stand on one foot in those insane heels.  With nothing to support her she wobbles all over the place.

    The second time with the watch, he does it all together thereby letting her lean on his arm while standing on one foot.  Of course it was easier! How any of the undecided ones didn’t spot that difference immediately is beyond me.

  • Doc

    “He ever “tested” the product out on one of the investors, who said she felt it’s power… right.” Its power. Hemant, “it’s” is a contraction for “it is”. You, a teacher, should know this stuff.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Typo. Fixed!

    • cattywompus

       So you caught the “it’s” versus “its” problem but considered “he EVER ‘tested’ the product” to be correct?

    • amyc

      you’re*

  • Hvaudry

    I love to feel the power! (Of reason)

  • Bob

    Laurie is an idiot.  She should be ashamed of herself.

  • Coyotenose

    The Shark Tank people are greedy, conniving, self-important jackasses… but I can’t help but appreciate them.

    • amyc

      I feel the same way, but I love this show.

  • Xeon2000

    The Force is with you!

  • Gwen

    I sent a note to Richard Saunders right after I saw it! I laughed so hard, I had to watch it twice to enjoy it again!! It was fantastic. I hope it goes viral and educates a lot of gullible people out there.

  • Anne Sauer

    That was intensely satisfying.

  • Troy Truchon

    A tip for any would be inventors, when seeking funding from one of five large scale investors, maybe don’t lie about the source of the molds for your products. The likelihood that one of them will have interests in your industry and know the source of your design is much greater than the likelihood that they are going to care that you purchased your designs… unless he actually stole them.

    I mean about halfway through you get the impression that the others might not care that its a scam if its a successful scam, but the second the gent in the middle there pointed out he was lying about his designs it went tits up.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Even if I had no scruples whatsoever I would not invest with this guy. If he wants to get people to take it, he should use the connotations. So the bad one should be too many negative ions, and it should help add positive ions. This guy fails at basic pseudoscience marketing.  

  • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Uly

    My niece picked up watches in that style (with no claims that I knew of) and they were the crappiest things I ever saw. They didn’t work, and the watch part slipped out of the bracelet part.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    Interesting, we have a version of the show in the UK, here it is called “Dragons Den” but it’s the same schtick. I’ve never seen an obvious woo product pitched over here though, it would be interesting to see the reaction.

  • dangerouslytalented

    And he thought he was NOT going to be laughed out of the room? Every series of every such reality show has its share of entrants that the producers allow through for comic relief. And this guy thought he would be accepted? That guy better look at himself really closely… And a wristwatch? What year is he in? 1989?

  • Sven

    Ions?  My TV and my lights are shooting massive* charged particles at me?  And it’s a health hazard?!

    This guy was a joke before he even got around to the bogus balance test.

    * By “massive” here, I mean “not massless”.  I don’t mean “big”.

  • https://www.facebook.com/joebible?ref=tn_tnmn Doug Philips

    Wow. I actually bought my kids these watches at a Walgreen’s because they like them and they were about 2 or 3 bucks a piece. I had no idea the watches would help their balance. Awesome. No wonder their ballet dancing has become less spastic!! Color me a fan of ions!!!

  • Anonymous

    I loved watching that last night, it was quite the sight, me cheering, my husband busting a gut. And then to get busted on his stolen designs too, icing.

  • gmizzledizzle

    Notice how the other investors were like, “I don’t give a shit–if it sells it sells!”

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      That’s how business works. If they can safely make money off of it, they’ll invest. This is a dangerous investment not only because the product doesn’t do what it says it does, but they can’t market it and there’s a liable IP claim to be made by another company for the design. It’s a really bad investment.

      That guy should quit selling phony watches and start up an SEO company. Businesses would sell their children to be number one in the search results!

  • Keulan

    That was hilarious. Positive and negative ions? I’m glad Cuban called him out on his bullshit.

  • Dhooton89

    http://www.snotr.com/video/3938/Dragons_Den
    There’s one from the Canadian version of the show with a similar moment.  The main difference is that the product the guy is peddling is at least 10 times more despicable.

    • Anonymous

      Well, I like these guys even more. The guy was absolutely disgusting. 
      Thank you for the link. It’s heartwarming to see that not everybody is a gullible moron.

    • Anonymous

      It looks like if you sit on the left, it’s your job to call the guy out first. That clip was more fun/sad to watch. I loved the verbal beat down, but at the same time it’s sad that he actually believed what he was saying.

  • Guest

    Think of the brand damage this does if he admits on TV this is fake.. He had no choice.

    Also, why is placebo a “bad” thing? People care about the effect. If it makes people feel good, that’s why there is a market for it. I think it depends on the ethical values of the investors/people involved how they feel about misleading people. It is a profitable business.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

       ‘Cuz scamming people out of money is immoral and unethical, “profit” shouldn’t even enter into it.

    • Elerena

      It’s not that the placebo effect itself is bad, it’s the way these things are marketed.  If they described what the placebo effect did, just using some flowery terms, they’d get exactly the same effect, and they wouldn’t be lying their asses off and deliberately giving people information that isn’t just misleading, but flat out WRONG, often causing them to make poor medical decisions and preventing them from getting *actual* care when they need it.

      Misleading people with advertising is wrong.  Flat out lying to them is worse.  But both of those pale compared to misleading and lying to them about products sold for medical issues- because *that* is straight up despicable, vile, and *evil*.

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      Also, why is placebo a “bad” thing?

      Because he’s selling a product that cures a nonexistent problem. It’s 100% a scam, no matter whether he believes in it or not.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      ” Also, why is placebo a “bad” thing?”
      .
      Placebo is placebo, and it’s hard to beat sugar pills on cost.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    So wait, we need technology to “restore” our bodies to our “natural” state? 

    Even the pitch doesn’t make sense. 

  • http://atheistlogic.wordpress.com/ OmniZ
  • Anonymous

    I’m a “non- American” and I missed out on this.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I love that the guy gets the science wrong in the first 30 seconds. Ions are molecules? That’s news to me. Also, I love that he says “negative ion” and “positive ion” rather than pluralizing things.

    • Dhooton89

      On his company facebook page he butchers it even more.  Somebody was asking him how you infuse something with negative ions.  His response was:

      “Looks like you need to study
      chemistry a bit more. Just look at the periodic table of elements.
      Everything is either positive or negative elements. Start there!”So these ions are not only molecules, but they are also elements which are inherently negative.  Who knew that was the way chemistry works?

  • TheSkydivingSkeptic

    If you want negative ions in your body, why don’t you just eat some cyanide?

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Because it is almost always delivered with balancing positive ions, like protons (H+) or metals.

  • Anonymous

    Mfw i can’t watch the clip cause I’m American.

  • RBH

    Richard Saunders, of the Skeptic Zone podcast, shows us how it’s done.

  • Anonymous

    So Shark tank is just a new Dragons Den?

  • amplex

    You shouldn’t be supporting these artificial copyright monopolies by linking to the content in their locked down US only hulu format.  You should either copy the video to a more open platform like youtube (although youtube has it problems with censorship, and I’m sure you could find a better alternative), or wait until it is made available in a more open, sharable format. Companies should not be allowed to profit from the copying and sharing technologies of the internet that are as ubiquitously assessable as, and therefore of equal monetary value to air, at expense of consumer access, and at often time, though the violation of basic human rights like the rights to free expression. Making something that is as ubiquitous as air profitable, necessarily requires the violation of the public’s rights (i.e. the banning of private collection of air to allow air to become profitable) These are the same companies that brought forth such horrors as SOPA and PIPA, showing the necessary restriction of rights these companies demand in order to make their outdated, decaying business models profitable. Please stop upholding their artificial copyright monopolies, they exist only by the permission of the public. Please say no.

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      “You’re not talking about what I want you to talk about, so I’m going to shove in my pet mission and ignore everything this is actually about!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I regularly watch Shark Tank as well as Canada’s version, Dragon’s Den (which has 2 of the same judges) and I was amazed to see this. For one thing, it was awesome seeing Mark Cuban laying down some cold hard truth on this scam. Sadly though, this is a method of disapproval that needs to happen a lot more on these shows. Too often new-age heal garbage gets pitched and undeservedly respected.

    Once on Dragon’s Den there was hippy who pitched magical healing crystals and was asking for a donation. Not an investment in a business of any kind, just a donation. He walked away with $1000 from one of the investors to help the hippy go to schools to give presentations about it.

  • Karol Stasiak

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