The Placebo Store

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Fake pills have real effects on the brain

The Placebo Store is an affordable, rational, tongue-in-cheek alternative to scam supplements, pseudoscientific snake oils, and the multi-level marketing schemes behind them. By presenting an honest alternative, the dishonesty of these industries can be laid bare and viciously mocked. This can do much more to reduce their power and influence than traditional debunking strategies.


There is an overwhelming demand for health improvement, but a simple whole foods diet and regular exercise is not something that can be easily monetized. However, false promises in the form of "dietary supplements" earn businesses $160+ billion per year [1] and growing.

What can rational people who know this stuff is all pseudoscience and grift do to help put all this money to better use?

They can help raise awareness of the placebo effect, pseudoscience, overmedication, and modern grift, while earning a little extra cash, with The Placebo Store!

Honest Placebos at Honest Prices

Some get better results with expensive placebos

Since placebos work even if you know that they are placebos, [2][3][4] inert pills that are clearly labeled as such can be just as effective as the many expensive supplements, homeopathic remedies, and other cure-alls pushed by the "wellness" industry. They can be manufactured with minimal cost, since you can substitute cheap fake ingredients for more expensive ones. And they can be sold at a fraction of the cost of their scam competitors.

There can also be Extra Strength or Placebo Platinum for the people who need to spend more money to trigger their placebo response--a very real thing in late stage Capitalism.

Novelty Product Labels

Creative and fun "novelty" labeling can be used to make them a fun party gift. This also helps avoid any legal claims, since calling it a "supplement" would imply some active ingredient.

They could include catchy slogans like:

  • Works 10% of the time, all the time!
  • A 10% chance of curing almost anything!
  • Just as effective as homeopathy at a fraction of the cost!
  • Is it all in your head? Find out at ThePlacebo.Store!
  • Placebo Platinum: Bling for your brain!
  • Safer than Snake Oil

Different labels can apply to different conditions. Headache placebos, appetite suppressants, anti-anxiety, libido enhancement, etc., etc.. If they make a dishonest pill for it, The Placebo Store can make an honest one!

Opposing Overmedication

There is no question that overprescribing of medications is heavily incentivized by for-profit medicine.

There are two sides to the pseudoscience coin when it comes to placebos. On the one hand, the New Age wellness community claims that modern medicine is corrupt, pharmaceuticals are poison, and most things can be cured with "natural" remedies that ultimately rely on the placebo effect.

On the other hand, you have the pharmaceutical industry that oversells the effectiveness and necessity of many medications and caused an opioid epidemic that has killed hundreds of thousands. Many of the drugs they peddle aren't actually necessary or beneficial, and can often be replaced by placebos with minimal impact on effectiveness.

Some drugs are miracles, some conditions can never be cured with placebos, but the information overload has made it hard to tell the difference.

The truth is, as it always is, more nuanced than either vested interest is willing to admit. The Placebo Store takes on both sides of this issue by providing an honest alternative to both dishonest medicine and dishonest placebos, while always encouraging you to see a doctor if you have any serious pain or injury, or if the placebo is not effective.

There is also the case of patients with dementia who are used to taking multiple pills each day. They often demand medication when they have already taken it, and get distressed when they don't get it. Placebos can be used to calm their anxiety without introducing unnecessary medications into their bloodstream.

Placebo Rituals

Besides pills, it could also be possible to sell kits that allow people to perform "placebo rituals" to elicit the placebo effect through ritual acts. Simple kits with symbolic tokens and instructions for performing some ceremony, dance, incantation, etc. that will bring about the desired cure.

Multi-Level Marketing

Now's your chance to be the top of the pyramid!

Everyone has those old friends on Facebook that have been sucked into the MLM cult and constantly try to recruit you into their downline. Dietary supplements and similar pseudoscience are the most popular products pushed by this marketing model. The many independent contractors of the wellness industry--yoga instructors, personal trainers, nutritionists, life coaches, etc. all need to supplement their income and supplements are right there to cash in.

We can make a mockery of the whole MLM scam by creating an "honest placebo" multi-level marketing program that is also honest about the fact that you will probably lose money and annoy your friends if you try to make selling fake supplements into a real business. Doing it this way would have a few benefits:

  • Encourages networking with other secular organizations and like-minded people who are interested in countering pseudoscience.
  • Start conversations with friends in the wellness community about the placebo effect that can lead to broader critical thinking.
  • You can annoy your MLM friends by insisting that they join your placebo downline until they stop asking you to join theirs.
  • Doing so makes a mockery of the fact that they are involved in a scam, in a way that saying "MLMs are a scam" or debunking pseudoscientific claims can't do.
  • You can still make a few bucks but let's be honest--unless you're at the top of the pyramid you won't earn much.

Without scam pricing, nobody is really getting rich. But we might be able to fund some cool projects like developing secular institutions and education programs if it is done right.

Podcasts and Influencers

Besides MLMs, a vast network of podcasts and social media influencers drive the supplements industry marketing and The Placebo Store can do the same. Hundreds of atheist and skeptic podcasts exists that could provide marketing partnerships and reach a large number of like-minded people. Similarly, there are many social media accounts dedicated to debunking pseudoscience and anti-MLM activism that would also be ripe for partnerships. While they don't currently have the reach of wellness grifters and the right-wing manosphere, they do have significant audiences with potential interest in this venture.

Fundraising Opportunities

Any non-profit organization whose values align with science, evidence-based best practices, health and wellness, secularism, critical thinking, and anti-corruption, can become a top-level distributor for The Placebo Store and dedicate the proceeds from their downline to their causes.

Labels can be branded with your organization's logo and motto. Members can buy them for themselves, or resell them to others as a fundraiser. People who may not even be affiliated with your organization may sign up to your downline and raise funds on your behalf without having any direct connection. Meanwhile, the product itself is helping to start conversations and spread the message that pseudoscience and pyramid schemes are a blight on society that should be opposed.

Holding a Mirror to the Mirror World

Naomi Klein's usage of the Mirror World metaphor is meant to describe how progressive members of the wellness community fall down the anti-vax and conspiracy theory rabbit hole and end up as Qanon agitators with contrarian views that are the opposite of everything we know to be true.

By holding a second mirror up to the Mirror World, it creates a really cool fractal effect. But beyond that, it also disarms them and weakens their influence through proper mockery. It gives a perfect excuse to confront them about the misinformation, pseudoscience, and scams they are promoting. And it helps spread the word to the rest of society about the nature of the grift, immunizing the people against anti-vax conspiracy, MLMs, and other wellness nonsense.

Market Research

There are a couple of companies out there who sell honest placebos currently.

Zeebo primarily sells to the research market. Magic Bullet is more similar to the novelty approach. But neither has significant market penetration, and there is no patent on placebos so nothing would prevent a new product with a unique marketing approach from being viable.

Manufacturing and distribution sources have already been established through existing contacts at Meta Enterprises. The only thing that needs to be done is to design the labels and secure pre-orders for the first 500 units.

Join the Cause

We are currently accepting no-risk pre-orders for the initial run of 500. We are also seeking partners who are interested in investing either time or money towards launching this venture. Please contact for more information.