Here are the rules for selling junk science, based upon the methods of radio pioneer John Brinkley, who became a multimillionaire in the 1930s by convincing millions of Americans that he could restore male virility by implanting goat glands.
- #1: Tie your product to the customer’s fears. Brinkley constantly played on the fear of loss of virility.
- #2: Tie your product to popular culture. Brinkley built his medical treatment around popular religion with a revival-tent flavor.
- #3: Have multiple products to sell. Brinkley build an entire distribution channel for dozens of patent medicines.
- #4: Use social proof rather than scientific proof. Brinkley constantly trotted out men who would testify how the goat glands had made them young and fit.
- #5: Argue from authority rather than fact. Brinkley constantly cited his numerous medical degrees and awards.
- #6: Spread the BS as thickly as possible. Brinkley often cited non-existent authorities that supported his work.
- #7: Treat real science as junk science. Brinkley constantly questioned the validity of scientific research published by the AMA.
- #8: When all else fails, trot out your family. Brinkley constantly used his son as “proof” that goat glands really worked.
- #9 Use gullible reporters to get your message out. Brinkley constantly schmoozed reporters to get them to write positive stories.