Jilly Juice, Structured Water, and Internet Scams
There is a rise of Internet scams.
Social media has helped the American tradition of marketing scams flourish.
Really quick, in case you're not familiar with these scams: Jilly Juice is a fermented cabbage drink to help cure all your problems. Jillian Epperly claims to have discovered this wonder cure.
Structured water is a pseudo-scientific explanation of why water's molecules need to be "altered" or "shaped differently" so the water can be "more hydrating" to you on a cellular level. The idea is that by changing the shape of a water molecule (but maintaining its chemical composition of 2 hydrogen & 1 oxygen...) it becomes "super" water, that can cure anything. CURE ANYTHING. I know, it doesn't make sense to me either. Like... I get it, but it's like a little kid's explanation of the world — not real science.
And the water-structuring machines are expensive! They go for $500 - 5,000 + dollars!
Both also we have messianic centers of belief: With Jilly Juice it centers around the founder of the group, Jillian Mai Thi Epperly. She displays her abrasive-style of charisma across Facebook which has attracted many lost souls.
The structured water movement has actually been around since the W Bush years. You can find evidence of it on YouTube & Google dating back more than a decade. The messianic figure at the center of structured water is actually quite interesting, I'll speak more about him in a second.
Surprisingly, Google's search results about structured / hexagonal water predominantly rank misleading pages that would make any normal person believe structured water is a real & beneficial thing.
Whereas, when you Google "Jilly Juice" there's plenty of articles debunking the claims of Ms. Epperly mixed in the first few page's results.
Not so with structured water. The first few pages of Google search results are quite misleading. How did this happen when it's obviously a scam? Are structured water hucksters artificially ranking the SEO of their sales pages to bury unfavorable coverage? It's a believable premise.
From a deleted Wired article from 2008 called "Structured Water is an Appalling Scam" (here's a cached version of that article):
One of the characteristics of the scam is that the product itself is not complex. It's simple. It's usually so simple that it's stupid. And it's often different than described.
To sell the scam you have to say a lot of nonsense.
You say this, you say that. You approach from one angle for practical people, another angle for emotional people; add in some pitches for action personality types, for social personality types...
And just keep doing that: switching mediums (blogs, interviews, video, workshops, etc) and just do it over & over again. Create a new publicity stunt, a new "discovery," embroil yourself in community drama...
But you always have your stupidly simple product for sale.
To be an Internet scammer is to be a performance artist. Like Andy Kaufman.
But unlike Andy Kaufman, they make society worse.
It takes a cynical person to be a scam artist. Cynics whittle down human nature to basic physical / emotional responses that can be goaded by employing specific linguistic patterns. People are a panel of buttons to push, and out comes money.
And the scam artist does this with lies. Even if they delude themselves to the benefits of the scam, deep down inside they know they're lying to people to take their money — which is wrong to the human spirit. But everybody justifies their emotions differently. Many who go this far may be considered psychopaths, which also means these scams sometimes spiral out of control.
And so it requires great cynicism to be a scam artist because truth is irrelevant.
Quick aside — Does that mean Andy Kaufman's a bullshit artist?
Scam artists will say anything if it gets them closer to what they want. Their sales pitch is only concerned with acquiring more money & power. Sometimes, at any cost.
Harry Frankfurt, a philosopher at Princeton University, wrote a famous book called On Bullshit. In it, he analyzed & defines the term "bullshit." He states that the unique characteristic of "bullshit" and a "bullshit artist" is somebody that misleads people about their enterprise, regardless of facts.
"His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to... He does not care whether the things he says describes reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."
This is an important point. Snake-oil sales people, sellers of tinctures & pseudo health drinks, their #1 goal is to deceive you of their true intention — to take your money. So they'll put up misleading scientific studies, or make any dubious claim; they'll say anything they think you want to hear, so long as eventually you shell out the bucks.
By the time you realize you got scammed (and everybody always does eventually), it'll be too late. The scam artist has either moved on to the next mark, or has become impenetrable by hiding behind their wall of money & influence.
This is why Andy Kaufman isn't a scam artist — he never tried to deceive you of his intentions. His intention was to give you an unforgettable show. His intentions were optimistic. He wanted to entertain you with his veil of lies. Andy said this.
Andy Kaufman lied on TV, he sometimes played unlikable characters. He pulled the wool over people's eyes. He was a hoaxing entertainer, yes — but he inspired wonder.
By the time you realize you got scammed by Andy Kaufman, you smile.
Scam artists, on the other hand, are performance artists that defraud the public.
A scam artist (or "bullshit artist" as Mr. Frankfurt defines) is primarily an entertainer.
An internet scammer's main mode of entertainment is their mouth, but spectacle is just as important. Every day some new form of public spectacle is needed to sell the scam.
What they do is literal entertainment (and therefore, on some level, fascinating) but make no mistake: they're leaving the world in a worse place.
Stupefied. Humiliated. Vengeful.
You get on stage, you get on TV, you put on a straight face, and you lie for people's entertainment. You exaggerate your persona. Sometimes you play the baby face, sometimes you play the heel. But you increase that attention little by little This is why the Internet has activated & empowered the huckster in society.
A scam will not profit without this daily performance because emotional manipulation is needed to convince people to buy. It's as if each product requires its own "castle" of entertainment / performance / advertisement built around the product, in order for the scam to work. Many online marketers call this performative castle the "sales funnel."
And this is why the Jilly from Jilly Juice does her Facebook live videos every week; this is why structured water has so many articles written about it by the people who sell the products (saturating Google's search results with an entrance into their sales funnel).
Imagine what a snake oil salesman used to be like. Well, maybe you don't need to.
Just look at Donald Trump and Alex Jones. These are brilliant examples of classic American hucksters. Alex Jones — who first made a name for himself by peddling conspiracy theory VHS tapes on his local radio show, aided by publicity stunts — is now selling patent medicines.
But for these patent medicines to sell (in the case of Donald Trump: to convince enough people to vote for him) the huckster's going to have to put on a big show. All day. Every day. All the way.
That's why Donald Trump said all those shocking things each day during his presidential campaign. That's why Alex Jones brings his bullhorn to public events and shouts over peaceful protesters.
It's about maximum exposure, maximum attention, because all attention is good attention for the bullshit artist, which always leads to more sales.
The spectacle, the show, entertainment, novelty, this is the body of a scam.
So, the real full-time job of an Internet scammer is being an entertainer.
Many people who pretend to be this-or-that (journalists, activists, whatever) are actually just powder pushers. If it's not powder, it's something like powder. And if they don't start as powder pushers, they eventually pivot to it. Why?
Selling powder is an easy & profitable way to leverage your social media following. Powder doesn't cost much & you can mark it up like $$$$. But powder is stupid. Who wants to buy a bag of powder?? That's where the spectacle comes in.
Mike Cernovich is another example that comes to mind. He creates a lot of media: documentaries, YouTube rants, social media feuds, regional provocations, hours-long live-stream interactions with his fans, his interviews on national news, his propaganda pieces for the right-wing; all of these efforts are part of an elaborate sales funnel to guide people into buying his powders.
P. T. Barnum was also familiar with this tactic. He knew nobody would pay to see some dumb exhibit of his — like a so-called "Fejee mermaid" or George Washington's 150+ year old nanny, simply because of the merits of the exhibit. The mass population needed to be titillated & emotionally persuaded to participate.
Only then can their attention be gently guided toward the price admission, and how this show can only be seen in this specific theater on this specific weekend.
"So a man who advertises at all must keep it up until the public know who and what he is, and what his business is, or else the money invested in advertising is lost."
— P. T. Barnum
This is why the successful hucksters crank out media. Because none of their stupid powders & drinks will sell without it. The product almost doesn't even matter. It's all about the show.
As content marketing becomes more prevalent, so will the bullshit artist. As new technologies envelop our minds with diversions, the bullshit artist will meet us there.
Powder in a bag that you mix with water (or milk or juice) means nothing to anybody.
But if you give a whole song and dance, and tell people the powder has special scientific properties that will solve all of their problems, and make them happier; and talk about how it helped you; and talk about how it helped your family; and have many people talk about how it changed their lives; and link the powder to a higher mission in life (To save the world! To detoxify from globalist control!); if you're confident, look good, and have an entertaining presentation; then that same powder in a bag that you mix with water (or milk or juice) suddenly went from having no value to being worth around $40.
And if they don't buy your powder now, with repetition, they will eventually buy.
Recently I read in a book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds about Christian pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem for spiritual salvation. While there, the city merchants would sell the "religious tourists" various trinkets to bring back home to Europe. This took place between 700 AD - 1000 AD. An excerpt from the book:
"Relics were eagerly sought after; flagons of water from Jordan, or panniers of mould from the hill of the Crucifixion, were brought home, and sold at extravagant prices to churches and monasteries.
More apocryphal relics, such as the wood of the true cross, the tears of the Virgin Mary, the hems of her garments, the toe-nails and hair of the Apostles — even the tents that Paul had helped to manufacture — were exhibited for sale by the knavish in Palestine, and brought back to Europe 'with wondrous cost and care.'
A grove of a hundred oaks would not have furnished all the wood sold in little morsels as remnants of the true cross..."
"...as I have said before that [the people] ran to conjurers and witches, and all sorts of deceivers, to know what should become of them (who fed their fears, and kept them always alarmed and awake on purpose to delude them and pick their pockets), so they were as mad upon their running after quacks and mountebanks, and every practicing old woman, for medicines and remedies; storing them,themselves with such multitudes of pills, potions, and preservatives, as they were called, that they not only spent their money, but even poisoned themselves beforehand, for fear of the position of the infection, and prepared their bodies for the plague, instead of preserving against it...
I cannot omit a subtlety of one of those quack operators, with which he gulled the poor people to crowd about him, but did nothing for them without money. He had, it seems, added to his bills, he gave about the streets, this advertisement in capital letters, "HE GIVES ADVICE TO THE POOR FOR NOTHING."
Abundance of poor people came to him accordingly, to whom he made a great many fine speeches, examined them of the state of their health and of the constitution of their bodies, and told them many good things for them to do, which were of no great moment. But the issue and conclusion of all was, that he had a preparation which if they took such a quantity of every morning, he would pawn his life they could never have the plague; no, though they lived in the house with people that were infected. This made the people all resolve to have it; but then the price of that was so much, I think 'twas half-a-crown.
'But, sir,' says one poor women, 'I am a poor almswoman, and am kept by the parish, and your bills say you give the poor your help for nothing.'
'Ay, good woman,' says the doctor, 'So I do, as I published there. I give my advice to the poor for nothing, but not my physic.'"
So, it's not like America is the ONLY PLACE where this happens, and this isn't the ONLY ERA when it's occurring... This is a human thing. But America is a cultural system that amplifies this human tendency with a lot of energy. The huckster scam is prevalent. We're kinda known for it.
As the Internet continues to swallow us up in dimensions we can't anticipate yet (with virtual reality, augmented reality, space tourism, underground media platforms, etc), so will the scam artist continue to flourish — an old game in new mediums. And if times get crazier, if the world becomes more uncertain, — so will more quacks will appear.
They tend to be of a few subjects: health products, things that make you money, things that restore lost freedoms or time, sex, drugs, pain relief, knowledge, experiences, friendship (companionship / relationships), comfort, anything to improve happiness...
Let's return to the original subject of Jilly Juice & Structured Water. They both have a lively sub-culture of followers, sharing bizarre insider language. And they're both drinks.
One is a fermented cabbage drink you're supposed to make yourself, the other is a method of filtering your water. Other examples, like Herbalife & Brain Force, are powders that you mix with liquids. But they're all basically liquids.
These aren't just normal products. They're the expression of a capitalist cult.
Inside the cult are lost unhappy people. They're even willing to pay to belong to the group, for a feeling of meaning & fulfillment. For many the cult comes at a time when it appears as the genuine answer to all their problems.
But these cults — the internet scam, the capitalist cult — surrounds a commodity (a powder, a contraption, pills) with no intention to help anybody.
L. Ron Hubbard, Mark Hughes, and Keith Rainiere, all swore their mission was to help other people. Helping others fueled their passion, they said. And yet their actions seemed to be contrary to this statement. Well, of course. They're bullshit artists.
That's why cults are so seductive.
They will tell you anything you want to hear — especially the opposite of the truth. Remember: A bullshit artist's goal is to deceive you of their intention.
Why is nobody doing anything about it?
I'm not an expert on the law. But from my experience, it seems to be a mixture of the first amendment & not breaking the law by pushing up against it, and the prestige that money buys.
If a scam gets big enough in America, it just becomes accepted into the fabric of society. And if it makes enough money, the scam can buy itself protection.
Jilly Juice & Structured Water is just the beginning.
Expect to see more weird shitty expensive drinks for sale in the future.
Expect to see entertaining buffoons who are really just powder pushers. Expect to see more underground reactionary movements circling around a charismatic leader.
Don't get sucked in. But hey, if you wanna dive
If nothing else, the landscape is ripe to start that pyramid scheme of your dreams!
I'm going to finish this near endless rant with the story of structured water's messiah.
His name is Dr. Mu Shik Jhon.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of information about him online.
I presume he's a real person (although apparently he passed away in 2003). All of the pages I found talking about his research are located inside a sales funnel page pushing the purchase of expensive structured water products. There's nothing about Dr. Jhon I could find independent to the marketing of hexagonal water.
This is a red flag. I suspect a few things are going on.
1) Because Mr. Jhon is dead he can't defend the use of his image & research.
2) Because he's Korean there's a barrier to verify the source material by a third party.
3) We have to accept as truth not just the study by Dr. Jhon but the English translation of his study. The English translation appears to be done by somebody named MJ Pangman — a lady who sells her own books & products regarding structured water.
4) Because he apparently had a PhD, this lends authority to the structured water scam. (Herbalife does the same thing by paying a Nobel laureate millions of dollars to endorse their powders & liquids).
Is Dr. Mu Shik Jhon real? Is his work real? What would he have thought of structured water? Why is there no other source of information about Dr. Jhon?
What would Dr. Jhon think if he knew his name was used to justify a marketing scam?
Dr. Jhon is like a metaphor for this whole Internet huckster thing.
He may be real, he may not be. There's an eBook, however, with his name & some credentials on it... And it's hard to trace the original source material. Science is complicated anyway. Sounds real enough! Plenty good for me! Let's go ahead & assume it's real because it aligns with what I already believe in. And, oh hey! There's a community of people with the same problems as me! But they found a solution! And, oh hey! There's a product for sale!
Well that's because you're either stupid... or part of the conspiracy!
This is how the group-think works inside of a modern Internet capitalist cult.
No matter how many con-artists go to jail, how many frauds get revealed, how devastating the effects of a scam may be...
A sucker is still born every minute —
They make YouTube videos about how structured water changed their lives, how making Jilly Juice cured their problems, how Herbalife is the true path to a better life, how Alex Jones is jump-starting a cultural revolution, how Scientology connected them to true spirituality, how Donald Trump is winning for America.