Herbalife :: Eat Me



You’re fat.

If you don’t know that yet :: go flip through any copy of Vanity Fair … they’ll tell ya.

You’re fat :: even if you’re not fat … you’re fat.

One way to lose weight would be to make long-term :: fundamental … changes to the way you live your life.

Does that sound fun?

You could spend lots of extra time :: and lots of extra money … buying and eating only real whole foods that aren’t part of the hyper-industrialized fake food system that dominates the world. You could walk more and drive less … even though most of our cities are not amenable to that. You could exercise regularly … even though it’s fucking boring and expensive. You could stand at work … even though your company’s choice of office equipment is not your call.

And hey … maybe ice cream and fried chicken could stop being so fucking delicious?

etc … it’s not easy.

Rick Calvert needs his tacos.

Fat is a semi-cultural phenomenon. It’s super hard to change things on your own without the facilitation of corresponding cultural changes. But cultural changes are hard :: and selling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of fake solutions to the fat epidemic {both real and contrived} is like way easy … so we’re mostly doing that.

Quoting Marianne Kirby in The Guardian …

Self-loathing is, after all, a renewable resource…

I’m sure that there is a lot of money to be made here. But the money depends on the perpetuation of a system that operates on false claims and unreasonable expectations.

Cashing in on culturally created self-loathing is the “good” :: comparatively uncontroversial … part of Herbalife’s business model.

Herbalife claims its top-selling front product :: Formula 1 … will help you lose weight right now.  According to the label :: all you need to do is replace two meals per day with this HLF nonfood powder … for the rest of your {really sad at breakfast and lunch} life.

Here’s the ingredient list from a tub of Cookies and Cream Formula 1 …


Soy Protein Isolate :: oh yummy … everyone loves isolates … so much less complicated than actual foods.

Fructose :: very healthy … and where else are you going to get that rare non-nutrient?

Cookie Crumbs :: for sure … gotta have that!

Natural & Artificial Cookie Dough Flavor :: I prefer the natural myself … from the leaves of the Vermont Cookie Dough tree I believe.

Silicon Dioxide :: hell why not? … for your health!

According to The New York Times :: “fine shards of metal” … are sometimes tossed in as a {Mark Hughes} bonus ingredient. Said a former employee about the incident …

“Quite honestly, if this place has a G.M.P. audit by the F.D.A. in the next month,” the company would be in trouble, he said, using a vulgarity. “I don’t know how else to put it.”

“Fucked” is a vulgarity?

Oh well :: good thing people aren’t drinking this shit … or fine metal shards could be a really serious problem. But as things stand :: Herbalife could prolly replace their artificial cookie dough flavoring with concentrated botulinum … and still kill fewer people than die each year from turtle attacks.

Although some of the staff at Business Insider recently decided to actually put Formula 1 into their mouth holes :: the results were quite humorous … with no one complaining {or dying} of metal shards … yet {that we know of}.

“like I’m drinking an oatmeal bath”

“this is pretty gross”

“I feel like I just ate an entire box of cake batter”

“it’s a little sweet … but also a little bit gross”

“this isn’t fun to eat”

Finance editor Linette Lopez summed it up best :: with her face …


… she no like.

Remember when I called out Business Insider for some total bullshit? Well :: goddamn right I still stand by that :: but this Herbalife taste test delighted me … so I’m going to have to grant them 25% absolution for their sins.

HLF corporate wasn’t so delighted :: and while they haven’t found the time to answer any of Bill Ackman’s basic questions about the legality of their business model … they did have time to complain about the food preparation technologies available at Business Insider.

“…we were all disappointed about was the way in which you trialled the shakes  – by mixing them with a spoon in a small cup – as it was not representative at all of what a shake should look or taste like,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Business Insider.

“The shakes should be made using a blender and at the bare minimum a handful of ice; and that’s before we get into the many variations of fruits, nuts and other ingredients that can be used to flavor them to taste,” the email said.

As long as you add some delicious real food :: like fruit … then these chemical isolates might taste okay {like fruit}. And don’t worry about the customers of Herbalife Kazakhstan :: because while per capita income there might be low … I’m sure everyone has a fucking blender.

>> bleep bloop

194 thoughts on “Herbalife :: Eat Me”

    1. @The Last [Herbivorous] Dragon,

      They say they have an R&D team. But they say that with the same sort of trying-far-too-hard-to-be-believed faux sincerity with which they say they have Real Honest To God Scientists Doing Important Research n’ Sh*t.

      As ever, I’m skeptical.

      Furry cows moo and decompress.

      1. @Wyrd,

        I’m pretty certain that the protein used in their well guarded proprietary blend is extracted from Johnson’s spewed jizz.

        Way to go HLF science-tists!!!

      2. @Wyrd ::

        Here’s “researcher” Susan Bowerman of UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition and Herbalife Shilling :: teaching us how to properly prepare this pretty gross shake …


        Thanks Susan. Oh … and thanks for helping to screw over millions of poor people.

        Here’s Susan Bowerman a couple of years ago warning us against fake foods …


        “Common nutritional wisdom tells us that we should eat foods that are as close as possible to their natural state, and fresh vegetables certainly fill the bill.”

        I guess it’s hard to keep your message consistent when your life is a lie.

        1. @SD, why am I getting a lesbian bar vibe from the two ladies in the first videos’ screen view? I suppose her ‘guest’ has her flannel shirt in the wash.

  1. …the Karl Ichan’s of this world playing the short squeeze must *surely* start to feel uncomfortable?

    I mean, just because the don’t like Ackman, they are putting millions of their investors money at stake in a company that makes terrible tasting sub standard quality product and sells it via an illegal ‘biz opp’ pyramid scheme to vulnerable low income groups – where those groups in the US have truly been saturated, used and abused, and now the farthest corners of the third world are being used and abused until they are used up as well.

    It’s like a game of Poker where everyone knows that Ackman has the winning cards, but are just bluffing with more and more money…

    Looks like Ackman will not be bluffed anytime soon: pages 8-14 of Ackman’s Pershing Square investor letter are good reading:


    Key quote:

    “pyramid schemes are inherently confidence games” …and when that confidence crumbles, there is going to be the fastest exit of all time!

    1. @Random stuff,

      I want to make a shorter summary of the Pershing Square HLF summary for people who can’t go around reading “summaries”.

      * Can’t purchase business opportunity leads or product leads or decision packs
      – Herbalife: “we forgot blind leads & hidden negative option decision pack scams were unethical”

      * No using educational loans to fund running your “business”
      – no way to shift money about to get around that one

      * Top leader leaves for Vemma.
      – Who can remember up what The Verge told us about the footer-change at the decision-pack IncomeAtHome deals?

      * Also, I found out on IncomeAtHome.com to:

      “Come learn why National radio hosts, have been endorsing this business for years!”

      And to please for us to forget about that it was the Herbalife idea being paid-endorsed there. I think paid, but I can’t tell you for sure because I never found out

      from IncomeAtHome.com about the paid-endorsed idea, but they told me to choose where I heard about it from one of these:
      – Glenn Beck
      – Sean Hannity
      – Rush Limbaugh
      – Dr. Laura
      – Steve Harvey
      – Sirius/XM
      – Health Talk W/Dr. Hoffman
      – Travel Show w/Arthur Frommer
      – Maria Lopez
      – Delilah

      I tried typing in “Salty Droid” but I can’t figure out about how to do it for now.

      * Whistleblower concerned about something he went to call “product safety”
      – Herbalife does the ol’ “digruntled employee” gag.

      * Pershing Square Management thanks UCLA and Nobel Laureate for paid-endorsing Herbalife and blocking some sort of light that was being shined upon Herbalife. Maybe “thanks” could be the wrong word there.

      * Something about “not safe product storage” blah, blah, blah. And a bunch of “perception this” and “perception” that like maybe Herbalise is trying to trick people or something, maybe. But it’s OK because I think I remember about somewhere the “perception is reality” idea, so maybe it’s
      not a trick then, or some sort of fake trick?

      * Something about indecipherable “expiration dates” and “no expiration dates” being shown.
      – But can’t we also see about the benefit thatmaybe the FDA could use for this by requiring print on warning labels on medicine to be made much smaller so as not to scare people?

      * Something about a puzzle Herbalife was trying to make them solve

      * Something about “AERS” reports from FOIA requests, but I don’t know about what AERS is, but i figured out about you can make words “sera eras sear rase ares arse ears” which sounded kind of like from Dr. Seuss poem, so I like that part of the Ackman research.

      * Then Pershing Square tries to scare us about something called “Adverse Event Reports” made to the FDA that talk about hospitalization
      and life-threatening reports (I still like having the idea of the cat-jumping out in a scene idea better, though). Also tries to make
      some big deal about HLF having 14 – 21 times as many “Adverse Events Reports” as competitors.

      * Another whistleblower/disgruntled employee.

      * Asks if Regulatory Intervention will occur and tells us it takes time, not hospitalizations and life-threatening things.

      * Also tells us about potential for Regulatory Intervention will increase, but when I think about “potential” I know about that it’s all just myth to sell things, so probaby the idea of “Regulatory Intervention” is just a myth, too.

      * Then there’s something at the end about pyramid schemes, non-repatriationable money (I made up the word I think), and hard time
      getting lenders just because of something called lack of “assets” to protect lenders and bondholders.

      Probably all of it is just for trying to get people to join Vemma, though.

      1. @Jack,

        I think you’re right. It’s to make everyone join Vemma. I think Ichan et al can now go long on Vemma with confidence – but might need to drop their Herbalife short squeeze position – or I think I’m wrong there, as it’s really nothing to do with Herbalife and thinking MLM nutrition shakes are even sounder businesses than Apple Pie marketing, and everything to do with Ackman, who they don’t like, so they are bullying him, which is mean, and something I thought was more for the playground rather than the city, but some people apparently never grow up.

    2. @Random stuff,

      For Herbalife‟s Formula 1, 84 of the complaints referenced hospitalization or emergency room treatment. Three of these were “life threatening”and two were described as “abortion spontaneous.”

      Wait, what?!

      Should Formula 1 be contraindicated during pregnancy?

  2. Too bad the awesome, public-spirited folks at Curb-a-Life don’t advertise on TV. “But Wait! Call now and we’ll send you two of our proprietary shit-bomb shakes for the price of one (+shipping and handling)…the same shakes Curb-a-life ‘donates’ to fight starvation in the third world! But that’s not all! It’s pert near as effective as Syrup of ipecac for curing those sour tummy blues!”

    More giggles than the E-Trade baby gets for sure?

  3. Firstly, from TF[saltydroid]A

    “Fucked” is a vulgarity?

    :-) Yes, Salty Droid. Most folks consider that to be a vulgarity. But your processors don’t register that, and that’s part of your H2SO4 caustic charm.

    Also nice Rick Calvert-tacos and turtles references.


    From the NYT article you referenced

    Herbalife also moved to obtain X-ray equipment to inspect the potentially contaminated bottles, the documents show. In a Jan. 18 conversation, Mr. Plunkett said the inspection with the X-ray machine would start the following week and would likely take three weeks to complete. The company ultimately decided against using an X-ray machine because of concerns that the cookie crumbs in the formula would be difficult to distinguish from metal shards.



    From from TF[saltydroid]A

    “The shakes should be made using a blender and at the bare minimum a handful of ice; and that’s before we get into the many variations of fruits, nuts and other ingredients that can be used to flavor them to taste,”

    Yes. Herbalife does indeed always recommend using a blender and adding yummy stuff to the shake mix. It reminds me of the cute, quaint stone soup story. Except without that spoonful of playful-sugar to help the dishonesty go down. Herbalife also recommends–at least implicitly–that the shake is being made for you by someone who’s financially motivated for you to like/love the product. And then there’s the informal weight loss challenges, and the weekly weigh-ins at the “health club” that doesn’t technically count as a food selling place so it doesn’t risk inspection from the local health board.

    And then there’s the part where the brick-and-mortar location is not to actually put the name Herbalife on the sign anywhere. They say this is to reduce competition with other sellers in the area. But now I’m thinking it’s mostly because, like most scams, they want to keep a low profile. The psychological trick(s) MLM-meme propagation rely on only work in relatively small groups and face-to-face. Probably because, since it really is a fucking fraudulent scam and 9/10s mind game to boot, it can’t stand up to real criticism. So Herbalife might have Famous Sports People sport the logo–but just the logo. They have to keep banking on being a seekrit thing. When a bright light is shone on them, they crumble.

    That is unless, except, of course, if there’s so much fucking corruption on Wall Street that almost everyone Bronte Capital-rationalizes and closes their eyes. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens I guess. And keep yelling.


    Now that we’re talking of the Herbalife product line, how about the part where, when it was legal, Herbalife had a fen-phen type stimulant diet pill? Whatcha wanna bet that, that window of time where Herbalife was able to sell that potentially highly addictive drug was the one time when actual product sales (instead of MLM hope-vampire commissions) were a significant source of revenue for the company?

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  4. Salty, Salty, Salty…you have been remiss here…you are completely forgetting about all the diseases that Herbalife products treat..like epilepsy, for example! See the great results this Herbalife distributor reported on a Seeking Alpha thread:

    herbs4mikeComments (380)
    I believe when Mark was Alive D & T was “the firm”. They even gave a full page contribution to the HFF memory book after Mark passed.

    BTW, just put a lady with epilepsy on the product. She started two days ago. In the last two days she has been on the product, she has had no attacks. This is way down from the 5 to 10 petit-mal seizures she had daily. if this keeps up, I’ll have another “life” customer that will have a distributor ID number. Not saying Herbalife cured her or anything like that. Just saying so far she is very happy with Herbalife’s Nutritional weight management food. We’ll see tomorrow if she has dropped any weight…… 11 Apr, 03:37 PMReply! Report AbuseLike2

    Oh, yeah, he’s not saying Herbalife cured her or anything like that…um, so what is he saying?

    1. @2+2=4 ::

      Here’s a whole page of Herbalife curing epilepsy …


      Someone should tell the Epilepsy Foundation …


      … I’ll bet they’ll be surprised to learn that a cure has been found :: and that that cure is protein powder and cookie dough tree extract.

      In June 1993, after being on the products for the past 8 months and finding I wasn’t having any seizures, I asked my doctor to take me off the Tergatol. I HAVE NOT TAKEN ANY MEDICATION SINCE THE END OF JULY 1993 AND HAVE HAD NO SEIZURES. I FEEL FANTASTIC!

      Because of my results of the products, I decided to become a distributor. I placed my Success Building order and retailed it in 10 days; then went on to Supervisor. The world of Herbalife is very rewarding and exciting.


      I DON’T BELIEVE it either.

  5. You should hear the outcry when I posted that video on BehindMLM from Herbieheads. :)

    They didn’t ice it!

    They didn’t use a blender!

    They didn’t add fruit!

    It wasn’t fair as it wasn’t prepared professionally!

    They’re doing it wrong! Waaaaaah!

    I managed to calm one down long enough to have them read the actual label on the can. It says: “Blend or stir…” “Add ice and fruit for best results.”

    So they have… well… a little bit of a point?

    1. @K. Chang, Isn’t the “add fruit” bit kind of like selling lumps of salt as bread and saying, “for best results, just add flour, yeast and grains!” (Oh yeah, with the added disclaimer “may contain traces of metal filings, cockroach eggs and plutonium”)

    2. @K. Chang ::

      If you have ice :: fruit :: nuts :: and a fucking blender … then you have all the makings of a nutritious and delicious shake. No need to add improperly regulated chemical powders. But you could add some Red Swiss Chard like @The Last [Herbivorous] Dragon was telling us about … or maybe some flax seed … or any number of other actual foods.

      If you replace two meals a day with this healthy real food based shake … you’ll also lose weight {until you go back to eating normally and gain it all back}.

      This idea that you’d replace the food in your diet with factory produced food substitute as a way to “get healthier” is fucking preposterous. But I’m a little too preoccupied with the pyramid scheme behind that preposterousness to actually care.

  6. As far as their spurious claims go I have an ad I saved that someone posted to my Facebook with some of the most egregious nutrition statements I’ve ever read. “Fat is created to protect the body from toxins and impurities creating unwanted weight” “Calorie cutting and/or exercising results in fat loss increasing toxic density, this results in rebounding as toxic overload triggers the body’s need to create fat” “cellular cleansing removes toxins from the body creates lean muscle and melts away fat”….All statements that are scientifically meaningless, absolute bollocks and the ad implies that exercise and diet are waste of time when it comes to losing weight.

    I sent a copy of the ad to the advertising standards authority in the UK and lodged a complaint, however Herbalife’s name appears nowhere on it so they were unable to act on the complaint. However I asked the person who posted the ad where they’d gotten it from and they’d received it in a kit when they’d signed up….Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to post it here but it’s shocking advice to give to anyone.

    1. @Marc,
      Aaah…the “cleansing response”. Sounds like Curb-a-Life has their own version with some interesting twists.

      When my ex was with [preying] MantisTech, a purported MD who directed their “independent” charity arm sent out a letter explaining the “cleansing response” to their IBOs for distribution with their vaunted flagship flatulence-generating sugar powder. In the letter, he listed symptoms that may arise from use of their frauduct and which he attributed to the “cleansing response”. His advice was to not be alarmed if they occurred…just give it some time and the symptoms would resolve. His list of symptoms to be thus disregarded included headache, shortness of breath and chest pain–premier symptoms of stroke or heart attack.

      Being a retired paramedic, I was alarmed at the danger posed by his advice. Fortunately, my ex listened to me and did not distribute the letter to her downline. An attorney, who was also a [preying] MantisTech IBO and quasi legal advisor to “the field” blew off any suggestion that the letter be modified to advise immediate consultation with a licensed physician to rule out the life threats those symptoms imply. Her concern: “That advisory could frighten prospective customers away” from using their frauduct.

      Lack of concern for their customers’ safety was rife throughout the company; and it was an early indicator to me of the depravity that characterizes the MLM industry in general. It was one of many realizations that ultimately prompted me, five years later, to present my ex with a choice between her continued MLM involvement or me. Her decision was…well…she’s my ex. I must admit that I’m ashamed and embarrassed that it took me so long to figure it out; and I’ll always wonder how many innocent people I injured by my involvement–peripheral though it was–in MLM.

      And Senator Orrin Hatch, you too should be ashamed of the damage you’ve caused to the health of countless innocent consumers with your fucking 1994 “Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act” (DSHEA), which withdrew dietary supplements from the FDA’s regulatory purview. The act gutted a major essential impediment to MLMs dispensing natural, but in many cases toxic, bioactive compounds. Curb-a-Life happens to be one of the largest MLMs, among hundreds which have immorally and unethically exploited the free pass they got from “DSHEA”.

      “The love of money…”

      How’s that for a rant?!

  7. I worked on a webpage for a distributor, once upon a time. The nice man gave me a container of this stuff to try – very generous guy. Thanks for nuttin! I had diarrhea for a week! Many suffer in silence, too embarrassed to seek assistance or support. So sad – I was hoping for a yummy cookie shake, but all I got was the runs. Hell of a way to lose weight

  8. ‘Millions of people are churning through multi-level marketing and failing. They are told the day they come in that the system works 100% if you work the system 100%. That the only reason you would not succeed in this miraculous program is personal…’

    ‘To those that believe they’ve failed personally, look at the system you failed in. It was set up. You were set up. You were SUPPOSED TO FAIL…that’s the business…’

    If you haven’t seen this episode of P&T Bullshit! on MLM, it’s worth a watch:

    1. @Mother Kilstein, Ah, but they didn’t talk about Herbalife in that episode. :) Zree, True Romance, and Man Cave. Definitely ridiculous, helped with editing. :D

    1. @This is a good read, David Brear is of the mind that all MLMs are pyramid schemes and FTC is a surrender money who kowtowed to Amway and ruined the American Public and unleashed the MLM beast upon the whole f***ing world. Oh, and any one who disagrees with him, even by the slightest bit, should suffer death of a thousand cuts.

      I disagree slightly. :)

      1. @K. Chang,

        Then maybe you should re-name your website to Proper MLMers reunited? or Pyramid Skeptic? or something? As your(?) website contains some confused mixed messages… to my mind.

        For example you don’t believe that the Scamworld Verge article was good? http://amlmskeptic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/introduction.html Was the Verge article by any chance all about good MLMers that ‘hater’ people are just being plain mean to, for no reason at all? Help me out here. Thanks.

        1. @This is a good read, @K. Chang,

          I agree that maybe there is something counter-productive in the “Tone” or “Voice” (as our English Compositon teachers would have said), of MLM American Dream Made Nightmare. The title of the blog itself…a little more shrill than might be advisable?

          But then when I first ran across the Droid here, I also found the tone off putting. In the Droid’s case, the more I read, the more I got it. I think it’s effective/justified at this site because:

          Número Uno) When you are dealing with this phenomenon of bad guys who fly under the radar of our legal system, who seek to psychologically manipulate others for their own personal gain and are masters of all the tools of coercion, you can’t be diplomatic and nice. People who have been hurt by this thpe of criminal behavior appreciate a cussing robotic white knight who isn’t going to take any prisoners. You can actually feel a bit vindicated, healed and protected here from the bad guys. Our legal system seems to be failing us here, we’re mad, and the cussing droid cusses for all of us.

          Número Dos) It is genuinely funny and the content/analysis is consistently intelligent (to me anyway).

          I think that MLMADMN is also justified in a strident tone due to the outrage angle I allude to above (our legal systems are failing us and these criminals seem to be in cahoots with our legislators in some cases). I also really appreciate the amount of information the blogger has gathered, I particularly like the history of Nutrilite that I haven’t seen anyone else pay attention to, and I like the way he keeps hammering home the insidious psycho-social aspect of this whole genre of crime. (I must say I also Love SD’s series here on Sheeple, parts one thru five…seriously, stellar!!, SD, and can I just say “portmandeau” ?…thank you for indulging me…but it took me a while to find the Sheeple series here…tho SD does link back to it sometimes in newer articles, which is good because that is how I found them).

          But anywho… again, I think the odd funny-cussing tone of SD is on the whole a bigger success than just a POed, outraged tone. That is just my personal opinion-taste. Like anyone asked me. Oh well.

          And finally, while I am here giving my unsolicited reviews of scam blogs, I must agree with “Mr./Ms. This is a good read” that MLM Skeptic confuses me. I have read a number of posts there. I am also all like “help me out here” about that blog. I hear people (who may all be MLMers, I don’t know) say all over the interwebz that there are good MLMs. But I personally have not seen any examples of that, on MLMSkeptic or anywhere else.

          Direct Sales, selling a good product at a reasonable price that people want, okay, that kind of single level direct sale marketing I might be able to go along with.

          But: Multi level commissions? That alone screams bad idea to me, even if anyone could show me one that tried to do it ethically.

          K. Chang…Maybe you could point out some posts where you’ve provided evidence that there are MLMs that don’t screw the majority of distributors? I personally am always open to evidence.

          1. @2+2=4,

            While you could say portmandeau, you could also say portmanteau, portmantoo.

            I agree, SD is one of the last great meta-robotical POets of our times.

            And in the spirit of freakishly coincidental portmantwos, I mean that with only the utmost of sincerity – and without the other….

          2. @2+2=4, I don’t analyze MLMs for a living. I do have a regular job, so this skeptic thing is a hobby. I know a few people who make a living at it, and it’s not a lifestyle I envy as I am NOT a “people person”.

            As for are there MLMs that doesn’t screw their affiliates over… i.e. the unicorn, I honestly don’t know, but that doesn’t mean that MLM is “fundamentally fraudulent”, like David Brear maintains. Yes, I’ve conversed with many experts, from MLM lawyers and advocates to MLM opponents (such as Brear and Taylor and Fitzpatrick), and it takes a very unique set of circumstances to make MLM profitable and ethical, and it is VERY EASY for it to slip over the edge into pyramid scheme, and from my experience, I’d say 95 to 99% of MLM participants have NO IDEA what is the Koscot test (or its relative the Howey Test) that defines the pyramid scheme (and Investment, thus Ponzi scheme).

            But any way, to turn the topic back toward Herbalife, Herbalife has been doing quite a bit to address Ackman’s accusations even as it blasts Ackman in public. It has severed ties with the suspect “lead generation companies” and it claimed to be moving toward reclassifying the lowest distributors as “customers”. When that’s done, I am not certain FTC will find much to prosecute Herbalife on, and it’s clear DSA will do all it can to run interference. But it’s ALSO clear that Herbalife, even if it may be running “barely legal” today due to all those “diet clubs”, those only started in 2003. What was it doing for 23 years before then?

            I do believe that the DS/NM/MLM industry is due for some big shakeup, as it has failed to do a bit of introspection, and believed that many of its members are much like the big banks: too big to fail. Herbalife basically let the top affiliates ran them instead of they running the affiliates. Herbalife is cleaning house in hopes to survive this round with Ackman and FTC, and DSA should be HELPING the FTC clean house, but you know they won’t. Many of the Herbalife top affiliates have left Herbalfie for other companies with less marketing restrictions (i.e. control) and that is NOT a good sign for the industry. Too many top affiliates have “learned” that to make big money you need a company with hands-off management and basically make a scam out of it (like described in The Verge’s scamworld companion article about Shawn Dahl’s company), and many companies, watching for its bottom line instead of ethics, let the top affiliates get away with it until Ackman and FTC hit them with the spotlight.

            I’m not apologizing for MLM, but I don’t believe they are fundamentally evil either. Does that explain my view on MLM?

            1. @K. Chang, thanks, I appreciate your civil response.

              “it takes a very unique set of circumstances to make MLM profitable and ethical, and it is VERY EASY for it to slip over the edge into pyramid scheme”

              Not a ringing endorsement of the business model and this admission on your part I am afraid leaves me in the exact same place I stood on the topic before reading your response. If it’s that bad, then it needs an overhaul so radical that it won’t resemble or even be called Multi Level Marketing anymore, will it?

              You didn’t specifically mention the insidious cult tactics that MLM companies are prone to employ, from gray area manipulative sales techniques to outrageously blatant coercion. It is more or less part of MLM DNA since MLM is fundamentally based on influencing social contacts, either existing relationships or those developed for the sole purpose of building a downline. MLM is not fundamentally about inventors/developers/artisans/scientists/workers/etc creating great products or providing outstanding services that people will want to buy. It’s fundamentally about using social influence to sell business opportunities mixed up with some kind of product that isn’t really that important, a lot of different products would do. That is the gimmick with MLMs, the social influence angle, and that is actually an insidious thing.

              Another commentator here said it so well recently, and though I will fail to express it as nicely, I will attempt to paraphrase:

              Scams that use psycho-social coercion tactics remove freedom of mind first, before taking the victim’s money, so the usual concept of “caveat emptor” no longer applies. Our criminal justice system does not deal well with this particular problem, the removal of freedom of mind prior to the crime.

              I think this whole area of social influence used unethically/criminally is fascinating, and I also think that most people, including those working for regulatory agencies or legislative bodies are quite naive about it.

            2. @K. Chang,

              “K. Chang”…Imaginative handle. I like it.

              But to the point: MLM is “Fundamentally fraudulent” maybe sounds overly harsh at first blush. But consider this: Taylor and Fitzpatrick agree that the MLM business model is fundamentally flawed, based on its reliance on the fictitious foundations of an infinite chain of distributors and a perpetually virgin market.

              Here’s an interesting exercise anyone might find worthwhile. Deconstruct the MLM business model and rebuild it again incorporating reasonable ethical and moral standards. In my experience, it can’t be done.

              Without distributors at the top selling the two fictional notions identified by Taylor and Fitzpatrick to their recruits all the way down the line, the model doesn’t even get off the ground. To represent fiction as fact is, on its face, a deception. My New Oxford American Dictionary defines “fraud” as “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”.

              Logically, if MLMs’ existence depends on representing to participants that one or more fictions are facts, if doing so constitutes a deception, if MLMs’ objective is financial gain, and if deception for financial gain is fraud, the inescapable and sound conclusion can only be that MLM is fundamentally fraudulent. No other nefarious MLM business practices need be considered.

              I’m no authority. So I’ll bow to the twin deities of Reason and Logic; and they say “MLM is fundamentally fraudulent”.

              The twin deities rest their case.

            3. @K. Chang,
              According to the July 31st issue of the New York Post, Herbalife has already begun reclassifying the vast majority of its lowest-production distributors as “members”. I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of that maneuver. But from where I sit, it looks like a remarkably thinly-veiled and desperate attempt to “cook the books”. The two purposes for such a tactic that come immediately to mind are to 1) increase the average income distributors earn for better-looking future disclosures and 2) establish a legally acceptable retail:internal sales ratio. This conclusion seems waaaay too easy; and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Herbalife doesn’t have some other devious intent.

              If my superficial analysis is correct, should Johnny Law come knocking and should Herbalife end up defending itself in court, calculations based on those new numbers would bolster their case…if they can get away with keeping this juicy bit of history out of evidence. They’re as practiced at deception as any entity on the planet. So they just might pull it off.

              Is Herbalife finally on the run?…We can certainly hope.

            4. @Roger Willco,

              3) Cut former distributors who are now merely “members” out of their commissions. a) Those commissions will now flow further up the pyramid, further increasing the average income of distributors. b) Distributors at the pyramid’s new bottom will feel greater pressure to buy more product to pay for their paychecks, lest they fall into “member” territory, so overall product sales volumes will increase.

              4) Possibly make “members” pay the distributorship fee again if they want to qualify to collect commissions on their downlines.

            5. @2+2=4
              “MLM is not fundamentally about inventors/developers/artisans/scientists/workers/etc creating great products or providing outstanding services that people will want to buy. It’s fundamentally about using social influence to sell business opportunities mixed up with some kind of product that isn’t really that important, a lot of different products would do. That is the gimmick with MLMs, the social influence angle, and that is actually an insidious thing.”
              preach. insidious is the best word for it. It’s not a clearly obvious evil, like Madoff just straight up lying and stealing peoples money. It is insidious, it preys on peoples basic humanity and good will and turns them to the dark side.

            6. @Roger Wilco, IIRC, Herbalife does NOT pay MLM commission to affiliates until affiliates reach “supervisor” level, which means making pretty significant sales, I think it’s 2 thousand in two months or something like that, including sales to downlines. The lowest level member does NOT qualify for ANY MLM commissions.

              According to one income disclosure I read of Herbalife, only 25% of all affiliates/members hit supervisor level. Yet their income disclosure statement only covers supervisor level.


            7. @2+2=4, I don’t recall having made any sort of ‘endorsement’ of MLM. Indeed, vast majority of articles on my blog are about the negative aspects of MLM, scams, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, suspect schemes, and such.

              Most MLMers who visit my site don’t thank me for my insight with MLM. They generally consider me an enemy of MLM out to bash their favorite scheme. AiYellow, TelexFree, Zeek Rewards, Wazzub, Rippln… the list goes on and on. Many of them aren’t even really MLMs but just outright scams, yet they share MLM tactics of recruitment.

              As “MLM Skeptic” I am skeptical of any such “endorsements”, so I don’t make any. :) And I even go through a couple other people’s endorsements to show where they had gone off the deep end in their train of thought. This does not help my popularity. Doesn’t stop some of them from throwing out random accusations of “you’re just out to get hits for your blog”. :D

              I am well aware that to some MLM critics I sound like an “MLM apologist”. I assure you I have no intention of apologizing for MLM. As a skeptic, I get flamed from both sides, just for standing in the middle.

            8. @K. Chang,

              1. shouldn’t it be ‘aN mlm skeptic’? the rule is based on the vowel sound, not the letter.

              2. have some real courage, and admit that MLMs are all bad. Why the hell are you so obtuse about it? on your ‘why this blog exists’ page you yammer about being Morpheus and how ‘I can just show you the door…’ but it reads as just weakness. why don’t you tell your story? why won’t you be honest about your relationship, past or present, to the MLM world? your arguments are frustrating as hell. you sound like someone saying ‘you know, some people are highly functional heroin addicts.’ that may be true, but it’s FUCKING IRRELEVANT. HEROIN IS BAD FOR HUMANS.

            9. @Anonymous, @SD : my history with MLM is very clear… never was involved in one. All the views I have came from research and reading about it from all the experts… from BOTH SIDES.

              It’s not about “admitting” MLM is evil or not. I already told you I don’t consider MLM to be “inherently evil”. That’s like saying “narcotics are inherently evil”. It’s black and white thinking.

              I think my point is that MLM itself is not inherently evil, but the human tendency to take “shortcuts” and the structural similarity between MLM and pyramid scheme, which, as I wrote before, makes it very easy to turn back into a pyramid scheme.

              I do acknowledge that a “scamworld” have developed around what currently is a “legal” MLM industry… both the pseudo-MLM scams (scams that bears the MLM flags but are outright pyramid or Ponzi schemes), as well as the “feeder scams” like the WorkatHome recruiting scams that Verge highlighted as part of its Scamworld Series. Amway had its Amway Support Organizations.

              And I fully acknowledge that the DSA, instead of acting as an industry police and standards group, has instead tried to muddy the waters and EXPAND the gray area in Koscot and Omnitrition definitions (by legitimizing self-consumption in various state legislations) thus allowing even more organizations to exist in the gray area that between MLM and pyramid scheme.

              But I do ask you to consider this: are MLMs evil because of its very nature, that it is RELATED to pyramid schemes? Or is it evil because it can be easily TURNED INTO a pyramid scheme through all these gray areas?

              I will say that MLM has some fundamental flaws in is very nature that most participants are not aware of, and that can be abused by unscrupulous marketers / scammers, but do the flaws make MLM inherently EVIL? Or merely FLAWED and dangerous?

              I know this is turning into sort of a philosophical debate, so I think I’ll stop here. I think I’ll just say that MLM is DANGEROUS to its participants, and they need to know all the risks they are taking before they go in, but IMHO, DANGEROUS != EVIL. IMHO, it’s the PRACTITIONERS of MLM, those taking the easy way out, i.e. recruiting, that made it “evil”.

              Perhaps I’m just splitting hair and my little philosophical rant is pointless, but that’s the way I see things.

            10. @K. Chang,

              It does seem kind of like hair splitting to me. It might be that this is important because you’ve been at this a while and you’re site has that specific name that it has.

              I consider myself a {t-shirt wearing} skeptic. (Actually, I misplaced my Skepticality shirt years ago. But I still wear the skeptic shirt in spirit.)

              I believe I understand the thing you’re running up against and the point you’re trying to make: it’s the can’t-prove-a-negative issue.

              That’s true. I cannot actually go out and prove that all MLMs are in fact “evil”. Whatever the heck “evil” means.

              But then I also can’t prove ghosts don’t actually exist. I can’t prove aliens aren’t among us or that they didn’t build the pyramids. I can’t prove every blurry ‘Nessy photo is just someone’s misinterpretation or intentional hoax.

              I still feel comfortable saying “I don’t believe ghosts exist.”, “I’m sure aliens haven’t landed.” and “In the age of camera-phones, it’s decidedly telling that, as yet, no one’s been able to get a good picture of the Loch Ness monster or Big Foot.” Folks can try showing me evidence of any of these. If I have time, I will make the effort to look it over. Each time, there exists the real possibility that I won’t be able to see a flaw. But I’ll always be looking for the flaw.. because although I can’t actually prove ghosts don’t exist, aliens haven’t landed, or that Cryptozoology is just a fancy word for wild goose chasing I’m mindful of the fact that debates over these sorts of topics (all of which are filed in the Dewey decimal system under “spurious knowledge” btw) have gone on and on since time immemorial. (The ghosts were always ghosts. The cryptozoology used to be plain old monsters. The Aliens used to be called Demons or Satan.)

              At this point, I’ve got to look at MLMs in the same light.

              Or let me qualify that just a bit.

              Let me mention that even our current dam-burst-wide-open, broken laws uphold that pyramid schemes are inherently fraudulent, dishonest, corrupt entities whose true purpose is to funnel money from unsuspecting people at the bottom to a very few fat cats at the top. That’s why they’re illegal.

              Let me state, for the purposes of this and any future discussions on the topics of scams and frauds that when I write
              evil xyz
              I am stating that I believe xyz to be “inherently fraudulent, dishonest, and corrupt.”

              So.. keeping all that in mind:

              I do not believe there has ever existed or ever could exist a financially successful MLM that is not, in truth, a pyramid scheme in the legal sense. Pyramid schemes–and the financially successful MLMs that pretend to not be pyramid schemes–are evil.

              I could be wrong. But I’d hafta consider the claim of a financially successful MLM that is not, in truth, a pyramid scheme to be an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

              I await such evidence. But I ain’t gonna hold my breath about it.

              P.S. (echoing what Salty said elsewhere)
              I also am not hating on you. Or at least I’m not trying to. I think you have a good website. Thank you for being skeptical of MLMs. I appreciate your point of view.

        2. @This is a good read, I’ve cited that Verge article more than a couple times. However, I consider the MLM world SEPARATE from the Scamworld, with quite a bit of overlap where they chase after the same “low-hanging fruit”.

          My blog is called MLM Skeptic because I take a skeptical view toward the claims of MLM and the excuses their promoters make, and from there on I broadened the claims to scams in general. I don’t condemn ALL MLMs just because they are MLMs. That’d be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

          But this is not really about my blog, is it?

          1. @K. Chang,

            It is about your blog if there is a hidden agenda. But with your reasoned arguments above, your responses to other questions, I’ll accept there is no hidden agenda, *if* you can provide examples of MLMs that do not screw the very great majority of people who get involved.

            Avon used to be a direct sales model – but moved more towards the MLM model – and it’s credibility and reputation is suffering. They are trying to adjust their rewards scheme back to one where the people selling the product make the most money, and not those recruiting a downline.

            Avon is the most oft quoted example of a good MLM but is not exactly a poster child for the industry.

            You have given a whole load of fairly cogent arguments, yet conveniently forgotten to provide a shred of evidence / an example of an MLM business that is a good business. Hint: a company that is financially sound, non-exploitative of the end sellers, honest in their representations (phenomenal promises of wealth generating business opportunities countered by standard disclaimers won’t wash) and sells products that are sound / well established / offer real value to the consumer.

            If you can’t provide some good examples to back up your thesis that MLMs are not inherently dishonest / corrupt – then you are to my mind dissembling, and unfortunately pretty much in the same category as the less intelligent and less articulate trolls that try to defend scamworld.

            All MLMs operate on the same principle as Herbalife: portraying themselves as a wonderful company, entering into contract’s with ‘3’rd party distributors’, screwing 99.8% of those distributors for every penny they can, maxing out their credit cards, etc., and if any of those distributors complain, then it’s a question of ‘Ooops, sorry, did’nt you read the 300 page contract? …you obviously did not try hard enough, it was a genuine ‘franchise’ business opportunity, and your ‘independent’ business from Herbalife just lacked the business prowess to succeed. You are nothing to do with us. Try another business opp (and at the same time thinks: ‘although if we have done our job properly, you won’t have any money or credit left’)!’

            And then Herbalife goes on to harvest and process further fields of fresh new bright eyed and bushy tailed distributors, destroying them financially and emotionally, leaving a wreakage behind, and people in an even deeper hole than they were before embarking on the ‘opportunity’.

            And when the FTC comes knocking at their door, Herbalife put their hands up, and say sorry, we don’t have stats on what our distributors do with their product, how many of them make money etc. etc…. they are independent businesses, see!

            Herbalife is so obviously a damn unpleasant MLM / pyramid scam that it is to my mind crass to even pretend anything else.

            Like you – my interest in MLM is a hobby / interesting topic for me. Unlike you, I have read into it *and* come to the opinions expressed, I think pretty clearly, in the paragraphs above.

            Put up or…

            1. @This is a good read, I take issue with your attempt to reduce the question of my credibility to “can you name the unicorn”, i.e. name one MLM that is ethical, non-pyramid, and profitable for its affiliates. This may be one of those “fast, accurate, cheap, pick any two” type of situations: ethical, legal, profitable, pick any two. :D

              As I said before, I haven’t found any such unicorn, but then I don’t make attempt to learn about every MLM under the sun.

              I think my point is just because it doesn’t seem to exist doesn’t mean it CANNOT exist (i.e. against its nature)

              I think people are reading too much into the label “MLM”, which has indeed gather a huge “connotation”, all the unspoken definitions that followed the term that has little to do with the term itself.

              MLM is a massive spectrum of companies. I can see quite a few scam ones, obviously pyramids, some are in the gray area, and some are legal but not profitable.

              I think something like Solavei (the MLM phone company) may be one of those… not going to make much, but probably legal.

              So to summarize, I reject your black and white thinking. :)

      2. @K. Chang,
        If you’ve represented Mr. Braers sentiments accurately, I’ll proudly stand with him!

        1. @Roger Willco, based on my somewhat limited and later acrimonious interaction with him, I believe the description to be 100% accurate, with an addendum that he does not tolerate dissension, and any one who disagrees with him, even a little, is automatically wrong. I tried to make a few points about his thinking limits his views as he starts from a presumption, and he basically considered me a surrender monkey. :)

          I still think we’re on the same side, but he’s advocating “nuke them all from orbit and let God sort it out”, whereas I’m advocating surgical strikes. :)

          Well, it’s a free world, and he’s welcome to spread his views any way he sees fit.

      3. @K. Chang ::

        David Brear is of the mind that all MLMs are pyramid schemes and FTC is a surrender money who kowtowed to Amway and ruined the American Public and unleashed the MLM beast upon the whole f***ing world.

        Yeah … I’d have to say that’s just about how I feel about it too. Except :: I’d be willing to take it much further than that.

        IMO …

        All MLM’s are intentional pyramids :: intentionally made up of smaller intentional pyramids for cover. All the various MLM pyramids congeal into the “MLM industry” … which is a sort of over-pyramid {or maybe a meta-pyramid?}. Next to this truly ginormous meta-MLM-pyramid sits other almost equally as large meta-pyramids harvesting people from different ‘niches’ within the same basic delusion.

        A huge tertiary support system made up of every kind of service provider and professional surrounds that cluster of meta-pyramids … attracted by jaw dropping cash flows and the chance to make higher than average returns just for giving the ol’ wink wink.

        And there you have a sick machine.

        Let’s say :: for the sake of Internet argument … that a “good MLM” was theoretically possible. Okay fine … but it will have no chance to compete under these conditions. No chance.

        The rules of the game :: and the rules of the market {because black markets are still markets} … predetermine that all MLMs will be scams.

        You think you’re standing between two sides … but I think you’re missing the forrest for the trees.

        1. @SD, perhaps better rules needs to be written then. After all, that’s how industries develope, right? To curb abuses?

          Financial industry has this “accredited investor” thing where you can’t invest directly in companies unless you have a million bucks net worth, and all brokers have to be licensed and bonded and stuff. Pump and dump and other manipulations are outlawed, and there are plenty of disclosure. None of those were present at the earliest commodity or stock markets. Those evolved over time.

          MLM’s difference from pyramid scheme was basis on RETAIL sales commission. So put in laws that company agent is only allowed to recruit downlines IF AND ONLY IF s/he meets retail requirement to people NOT in the company, and self-consumption cannot be commissionable nor used for qualification of sales targets.

          Frankly, the extreme attitude about MLM = Evil reminds me of that long rant in Starship Troopers… about raising a puppy that pees and shits all over the house, so you yell at it a bit, send it outside for a while, but let it back in, then when the dog’s finally big enough, and did it again, he’s taken outside and shot dead. :) Except in this case, we’re still debating on whether the dog’s evil or not, and whether to shoot it or not. :D

          (Disclosure: I don’t own a dog)

          1. @K. Chang ::

            Of course we need better rules :: and for those rules to be adequately enforced.

            But if you eliminate the dreams and unicorns of the high paying business opportunity :: then what’s left to sell?

            Inferior products … at above market prices.

            No legit company should ever need to rely on the direct sales method {and I can’t think of one that does} :: because it’s much too expensive and hard to control … and the Internet itself has become such a great low cost social sales platform.

            “I think I’ll just say that MLM is DANGEROUS to its participants, and they need to know all the risks they are taking before they go in…”

            What they need to know is that it’s literally impossible to make money in a chain recruiting scheme without committing criminal acts. Knowing that :: zero percent of non criminals would choose to participate.

            PS :: I’m not hating on ya … this is a good convo to have.

            1. @SD, No offense taken. We agree that there are scams to be busted. We simply disagree on how “fundamental” is the scam, but that doesn’t really have much to do with scambusting itself, does it?

              Speaking of which, any one remember when did Shawn Dahl and gang joined Herbalife, and when did his buddies start up those lead generation/fake recruiting scam-y biz, i.e. copied his mother-in-law’s pyramid scheme?

              That should provide an interesting timeline as to how pyramid-y Herbalife is, esp. if all that was long before 2003, when the “diet clubs” got started. Most of the current Herbalife “defense” was centered on diet clubs, and it’s pretty clear that Herbalife was helped by pyramid schemes long before that…

          2. @K. Chang,

            It seems to me that you’re focusing on the legality of MLM. I can’t speak for others here; but my focus is on its morality and practicality as a business opportunity, which makes a lot of what I have to say very philosophical.

            What I write here comes from an acknowledged layman’s perspective; and it is therefore highly subject to error. With that in mind, I think you’re pretty much spot on in your contention that there is such a thing as a “legal” MLM…theoretically. The industry consigliari with whom you’ve consulted are of course, going to tell you a legal MLM is possible because it is under current law. However, their ethical obligation is to address “legal” issues and give “legal” advice. If they get into the “morality” of their clients’ activities, they risk violating their professional ethical obligation by bringing their personal values and judgements into the process.

            Based on my personal philosophy, to receive anything of value without returning like value costs some part of the universe (usually another person) something and amounts to theft. In my world, theft is immoral and unethical. This philosophy renders as fallacious the notion that wealth can be created. In my opinion, decades of our financial sector operating from the opposing perspective is what finally culminated in our national financial crisis; and that opposing philosophy also underlies the belief system EVERY MLM uses to propagate itself.

            Theoretically, our laws reflect prevalent long-standing social values. In reality they are unduly influenced by the values of the most powerful (largely based on material wealth) forces in our society. Consequently, laws necessarily follow the evolution of social values. Rapidly-evolving social values regarding LGBT rights already leading to changes in law is a good current example.

            Applying my personal philosophy and values to the MLM question leads me to a single simple conclusion–MLM is fundamentally immoral. Our laws don’t yet reflect those values. In my opinion, that’s due to two problems: Lack of interest and awareness by the majority of our population and MLM industry’s undue influence and its powerful and well-funded lobbying arm, the Direct Selling Association, on lawmakers and regulators.

            Just as LGBT-rights advocates have agitated for changed social values and laws, finally with great success, I see a role in this debate for voices willing to be instruments of greater public interest and awareness and advocates for changes in law.

            If on the other hand, anyone attempting to educate their readers on the currently-applicable legal issues surrounding MLM, they might adopt a posture similar to yours and maybe even choose to set up an online blog. That’s a choice you’re certainly free to make. But if that’s indeed what you choose, you’re misrepresenting yourself and your blog as advocating for the 15.6 million victims in the U.S.–most of them unwitting–of the immoral, unethical and pernicious MLM industry. But what you’re putting out there carries with it the implication that, if your readers just keep looking they might actually find a unicorn. That is, in my opinion, a reprehensible disservice to any reader who is seeking PRACTICAL information when making a decision about MLM.

            The foregoing sermon expresses the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of this blog, its sponsor, or any other posters on this site.

            1. @Roger Willco, I agree with your view, right up to the point where you imply that I may be mis-representing myself. I understand my views can be seen as paradoxical. It certainly did to David Brear and his Indian colleague.

              However, I believe I have NOT misrepresented one bit of MLM on my blog… or here… that MLM is a DANGEROUS business to get into.

              AFAIK, there are NO blog post on my blog that are actually “positive” toward MLM. At best, they are neutral (like the “genre analysis” posts). Vast majority are negative, that covered MLM. (Most covered pseudo-MLM scams, and illogical excuses MLMers make to defend their “scheme”).

              How about we just say this: I am showing the world how dangerous MLM is, and how crazy the MLM followers can be, which coincides with your goal, SD’s goal, and even David Brear’s goal.

              So can we go back to discuss Herbalife and danger of MLM, rather than my philosophical differences with the MLM-is-evil absolutists?

              Perhaps I’m taking the soft-hearted approach rather than “bash them over the head” approach. :) Maybe I’m a bleeding liberal at heart. :D

      4. @K. Chang,
        YES you are splitting hairs
        would you ever recommend a person get involved in an MLM ‘opportunity?’ no way! it’s a nightmare! who are you trying to help by saying ‘maybe maybe maybe there’s got to be SOME good company out there in this sea of dark manipulative life-suckers…….? blech

        1. @, I certainly have not found any such “good” company, but I think I simply differ in APPROACH to the same message: that MLM is dangerous (or unprofitable). I simply rather LEAD the readers toward that conclusion instead of throw the conclusion in their face THEN prove show them the proof.

          Ever heard of the “backfire effect”? In that if you cause someone to have a cognitive dissonance (i.e. two sets of “conflicting” truths), they’ll rather believe the lie instead of the truth, and even STRONGER than before?

          If you tell an Herbiehead that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, and they believe it’s not, no amount of proof you throw at them will get them to change their mind. Their mind is CLOSED to any proof contrary to their belief. Confirmation bias at work. They’ll even believe MORE fervently that Herbalife is a real business and you all are evil people. Yes, it’s crazy.

          I document such craziness.

          I explain WHY such behavior is crazy. As it has nothing to do with the merits of each side.

          Then I leave the readers to stew over those thoughts. Maybe it’ll grow into stronger doubt, maybe not.

          But at least I got a foot in their proverbial door. (or maybe not, as I’m often treated as “hostile to MLM” like SD’s site here)

          But again, the matter of fact is, there currently *is* a line that marks whether a MLM is legal or not. I discuss what are the implications of the line (with frequent reminders that the line between MLM and scam is very blurry and thus dangerous), while you all are discussing where the line should be redrawn (i.e. ALL of MLM *should* be illegal, but isn’t).

          Are we REALLY *that* different in our positions?

          1. @K. Chang, Esq.

            re: Your August 31st posts in response to mine.

            Diversion is one way of obfuscating a real issue. It looks like you’re attempting to divert discussion from an issue to which you opened the door with your August 25th hyperbolic reply to @This is a good read, in which you hyperbolically critic criticized David Braer’s position thusly:
            “David Brear is of the mind that all MLMs are pyramid schemes and FTC is a surrender money who kowtowed to Amway and ruined the American Public and unleashed the MLM beast upon the whole f***ing world. Oh, and any one who disagrees with him, even by the slightest bit, should suffer death of a thousand cuts.

            I disagree slightly. :)”

            In a different reply to me on the same date, You wrote, “Ever heard of the “backfire effect”? In that if you cause someone to have a cognitive dissonance (i.e. two sets of “conflicting” truths), they’ll rather believe the lie instead of the truth, and even STRONGER than before?”

            Yes, I have heard of the “backfire effect”, even read the studies about it. I believe the correct description is that when a person with a pre-existing opinion is presented with evidence, they tend to become further entrenched.

            Any port in a storm?

            You also wrote, “Perhaps I’m taking the soft-hearted approach rather than “bash them over the head” approach. :) Maybe I’m a bleeding liberal at heart. :D”

            Perhaps you might better reserve your soft heartedness for the victims of MLM fraud instead of the perpetrators…Or did you mean to say “Perhaps I’m taking a soft-headed approach…”? If so, I’m in full agreement with you.

            Finally, I’m a true bleeding heart liberal; and my heart bleeds for every unwitting MLM victim you mislead with your incorrigible equivocation.

            Please feel free to have the last word on accounta I don’t waste time on incorrigibility.

            1. @Roger Willco, again, are we really that different in our positions? I do feel for people victimized by MLMs, which is why I warn them about the dangers of MLM in various forms, why most of them are completely CLUELESS on what makes a MLM legal or illegal, and so on and so forth, and how they may have been deceived into joining, and what sort of cultish tactics were used to keep them in.

              I think you’re too fixated on our minor differences that you don’t see our vastly greater common ground.

        2. @anon, I think the problem here is, again, matter of… style.

          I know there are people, like SD and David Brear, that considers MLM to be “pure evil”. The problem is expressing that view, even with evidence, sounds very much like fanaticism.

          In a way, it mirrors the fanaticism of the MLM believers (who operates with much fewer proof, many of which are lies). Add that to cherry-picking, confirmation bias, and Ikea effect, will result in simply butted heads, and no conversation, merely yelling matches. And they… are the Borg, with replicated mindsets.

          I approach the situation differently, slightly conciliatory perhaps, but I think I have a better chance in infiltrating their mindset with a more sympathetic angle to their problems, like “how do I pick a legal and profitable MLM?”

          SD and David Brear will simply say: there isn’t one. Then throw in all the evidence, which is NOT what they want to hear.

          I, on the other hand, take the long approach… I explain how to evaluate this, evaluate that, legal this, ethical that…

          There probably is no unicorn at the end of the rainbow (I’m just massacring the analogy here) but if they came to the conclusion themselves, they’ll own the idea, rather than being FED to them.

          If that kept them looking for the unicorn, well, at least they’re not actually JOINING MLMs in the meanwhile, right?

          1. @K. Chang,

            I do actually understand your point of view now, thanks for clarifying.

            I am in the pleasant position of agreeing with everyone here. I agree with Brear, SD , Roger Wilco, Random Stuff and all the commentators here that MLMs are fundamentally wrong and that a good MLM is a unicorn.

            I also agree with you that it is extremely difficult to get through to victims of organizations that use cult tactics to control them. So I do understand your approach, now. I also agree and already hinted that I think Brear’s tone does seem counter productive…yes, I think it would come off as “fanatical”, not only to people who are fully sucked into MLM, but also to your average Joe or Jane who knows nothing about the reality of MLMs and other coercively controlling organizations that amazingly exist in our world.

            I think Salty’s unique teaching approach might be effectivel, though, because it is so off beat, arresting, and he does come up with break through, paradigm shifting type stories. I am guessing Brear’s approach, on the other hand, can only speak to those already willing to hear?? My opinion only, of course.

            Did you see the Lincoln movie or read Team Of Rivals? Thaddeus Stevens comes to mind. He was much more forward thinking and correct on slavery than his peers…he was “Right”. But they had to convince him to shut up about it so that they could bring everyone a baby step forward toward the ultimate progressive goal.

            I don’t think anyone needs to “shut up” here, in this forum, of course. I am just saying that I can see the sense of tailoring your communication approach to your audience.

            1. @2+2=4, that’s one of the movies I have in my Netflix queue.

              Kinda reminds me of one of the short stories I read, I think it was in Jerry Pournelle’s “There will be war” anthologies, about an idealist and a pragmatist who are best friends. The idealist ended up keep getting into trouble, getting jailed, for his rebellion against authority, while the pragmatist tried to work within the system, to bring about change. Eventually the idealist lead a rebellion. One of the most poignant remark from that short story was a quote which I will paraphrase as I don’t remember the exact wording. The pragmatist told the idealist that “they” will build a statue of you (idealist), but there will be none of me (pragmatist)

              I’m more of a pragmatist. :) I prefer to work withIN the system, rather than redefine the system. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I feel we have a lot of common ground we can discuss and share some insights. I come to SD’s website having discovered him through The Verge Scamworld article, and enjoy his… style of prose. :) I’ve since found Glancingweb by Omri Shabat and he writes in a similar style.

              @SD, I don’t think I see anything about “carbon credits” on your site. Maybe that can be your next bleep topic? About how it’s attracting a whole nest of snakes? Even a bunch of MLMers? There’s news that Interpol had issued a warning about criminal elements flying the carbon banner, and UK broke up one such scam earlier this year.

  9. Ok so hello and let me offer my most sincere testimonial as a new reader of your site. Good job on the blog. I originally found your blog SD from a search of famous cyberstalkers. Im doing a college project on cult leaders and I guess you could say “cult of personality” types. You have to understand the original article I had read explained how you had contacted one of your subjects you write about and the young son of age 6 had picked up the phone, bad things turned to worse, I suppose you are familiar with the subject. I find it funny how the moderator “Jack” pertends to be black, etc. And so the objective of this blog is to gossip about random people and trash them? so very strange.

    1. @Howard,

      What makes you think that Jack is pretending to be black and isn’t black (and is a moderator)? I must admit I have trouble telling the races of cameleopards.

    2. @Howard,
      You can’t spell, you can’t reason, you can’t write…And you’re working on a college project? I suppose that means you’re in college? Good luck with that! Unless you’re pursuing your degree at an online diploma mill, sorta looks like you’re fucked.

    3. @Howard, First I wanted to go onto tell you about that I found out about my speech from when I got to be an abandoned baby and got to be raised by a family of spambots. In some fact, what you didn’t know that now I’m going to go ahead to tell you about now is that they raised me for being color-blind, but not because of some kind of the political-correctness idea, but because it’s that spambots like to go to habitat in the monochromatic environments.

      Also, I didn’t know about being a moderator, but it now made me wonder about why Salty Droid went to revoke my moderator privileges which I never had forever before.

    4. @Howard
      Oh right, this is a cult here.

      I know as soon as I started commenting, I was contacted and pressured to attend an initiation session and more importantly, to start sending in cash. I then realized it totally made sense to sign up my credit card for automatic forced continuity, so much more convenient. Just 10% of gross keeps me in a state of grace! Life is perfect and all blessings come to me now, like unto a magnet. The Holy Salty Tube Socks® that I must now wear at all times (except for showering) protect me from All Evil and also keep my feet toasty warm (despite the holes). Because I worship the Droid as the One True Religion, I follow all his teachings. Those whole wish to achieve anything worthy on this planet must Follow The Droid. If he tells you when to marry or who to marry or when to have kids, don’t question it, the Droid knows best how to run your life. If the droid tells me where to send my kids to school, great, I certainly don’t know anything! If there is an edifying droid educational conference in Buffalo this weekend, and another one in Orlando next month, please, where do I sign up? I have all the droid’s book and materials. I only read SD approved materials, in fact.

      If a follower of the droid wins new converts to Salty Droidism, I know that they are truly worthy individuals indeed, and earn a worldly and spiritual position much higher than those losers who fail to Promote the Droid.

      Of course we all know Herbalife shakes are Satan’s nectar and I don’t defile my body with them. But Salty devotees know, unlike all you unenlightened schmucks, that most other foods are pretty unhealthy too. I drink two meal replacement glasses of Salty Broth® daily to keep my body healthy and pure. I can’t say enough good things about this product, and if you are interested in getting ahold of some and trying it for yourself, just Ask Me How!

      1. @2+2=4,

        So jealous.

        Where did you find the tube socks?

        All I got was a T-shirt that says bleep on the front, and bloop on the back.

        Oh… and the next time you have conver…oops, meant guests, over –
        try adding little bite size pieces of smoked, eviscerated, chewed up, spit out chicken (@Howard) and a Kakarot to the boiling broth.

        Best when served up amuse-bouche style and paired with a complimentary whine.

        And you’re welcome :)

    5. @Howard ::

      “You have to understand the original article I had read explained how you had contacted one of your subjects you write about and the young son of age 6 had picked up the phone, bad things turned to worse, I suppose you are familiar with the subject.”

      Well :: I don’t understand … and I’m not familiar with the subject. Why don’t you tell us more about the “sources” you’re using for your “college project” @Howard?

      The “objective” of this blog is to fight back against cult lies … with fucking jokes.

      And it’s pretty much working perfectly. Isn’t it assholes? Isn’t it?

      One of the reasons it works so well :: is that making up horrible lies about me {a very common cult tactic for dealing with a dissenter} … is stupidly ineffectual and serves only to underline my point/s. There’s no sense in trying to give someone a bad impression of this place before they get here … because I already make the worst possible first impression. Ha! But any victim who spends 12 hours here trying to find enough sins to call for my crucifixion at the feet of their fake deity … will have an almost fair chance to decide to walk away from scamworld forever.

      So keep sayin’ my name fuckheads!

  10. @ Lanna re: your post this morning,

    3) Cut former distributors who are now merely “members” out of their commissions. a) Those commissions will now flow further up the pyramid, further increasing the average income of distributors. b) Distributors at the pyramid’s new bottom will feel greater pressure to buy more product to pay for their paychecks, lest they fall into “member” territory, so overall product sales volumes will increase.

    4) Possibly make “members” pay the distributorship fee again if they want to qualify to collect commissions on their downlines.

    Good call! Mr. Johnson does seem to earn his keep.

    1. @Roger Willco, Most “legal” MLM companies already does this with a “preferred customer” class. They are registered with the company and thus gets the “dealer discount” (often 15-25%) on the products off the list price, but are NOT eligible for the comp plan. They are not allowed to retail the products either (have no idea how that’s enforced?)

      1. @K. Chang,
        I haven’t looked at every MLM out there; and I don’t intend to. Their fundamentally fraudulent nature renders detailed analysis of every MLM a pointless exercise. That said, your description of “preferred customer” in “Most ‘legal’ MLM companies” seems just another way to describe “unqualified distributors”. Unqualified distributors with the majority of “legal” MLMs are those who haven’t met the requirement for personal purchases specified in their IBO agreement–often referred to by critics as the “pay-to-play” provision. Unqualified distributors are ineligible for commissions on any sales with which they or their downline members are credited, although they remain qualified for distributor pricing (still way above open market value).

        Pay-to-play provisions are in my opinion, an unethical burden on distributors who aren’t sophisticated enough to recognize how they’re being abused by this practice. This is one of the prevalent distributor purchase inducements which lead to inventory stockpiling, further reducing the retail value of products when they’re dumped on Craigslist or Ebay. Pay to play also serves to artificially inflate company sales volume, and pads upline commissions.

        Do you ever wonder why the “full comp. plans” MLMs hand out are so outrageously complicated? One plausible explanation–the one I accept–is obfuscation–a tactic that infuses just about every aspect of MLM company operations, from logistics to promotion. If distributors and prospects can be kept distracted enough by the manipulative promotional bullshit and irrelevant detail contained in their published comp. plans, their unfortunate victims are unlikely to recognize how unrealistic it is to expect to realize a net profit. But, the illustrations sure are purdy.

        My last question for you is, “Why would you expect any company, whose foundation is based on fiction and which is therefore fundamentally fraudulent, to operate ethically at any level?” You’re clearly articulate and a careful researcher; and your efforts can help a lot of people stay out of the MLM sewer. Just don’t rely on a snake-oil salesman to tell you truthfully whether or not he’s a fraud.

        1. @Roger Willco, How you view all MLM, is, of course, your own perogative. I maintain that the multilevel commission is not inherently evil, but so prone to abuse and backsliding that it can VERY EASILY turn back into pyramid scheme from which it evolved from.

          It does bring up the question: are those “preferred customers” actually failed vendors? Or are they just actual customers looking for that 25% “discount” if they join? I say there are both kinds, and unless the “mix” is clarified the MLM company is clearly doomed. The MLM advocates are sticking to their interpretaiton that they are all customers (i.e. “I joined Herbalife to get 25% discount, I drink that shake everyday”) while critics like Ackman, Fitzpatrick, Taylor, et al says those are failed distributors. The truth is somewhere in between, but closer to which end, as it’s clearly not in the exact middle?

          As you pointed out, if the preferred customers are not allowed in the comp plan (and not allowed to retail/resell) then they are clearly customers/retail.

          Indeed, the whole question of customer vs. distributor comes down to “why did they join?” Did they join for the product and stuck around for the income opportunity? (the MLM Advocate side) or did they join for the income opportunity, and claimed they like the product due to post hoc justification? (the MLM critic side)

          In the Burnlounge case, FTC was able to argue to a judge that majority of Burnlounge’s “moguls” (paid affiliates) joined for the cash payout which they get by recruiting more members, not for the chance to sell music. This was proven beyond a doubt when audit shows Burnlounge revenue breakdown of 90%+ came from membership sales, less than 10% came from music sales, when it was supposed to be a music e-tailer. Its lawyers tried to argue that the membership perks like rock history, venue perks, and such are goods with value as well, but FTC was able to convince the judge that people bought those memberships because they need to qualify them for higher payout, not because they wanted those perks.

          As for the complicated comp plan, my personal view on it is, the more complicated the comp plan, the more likely it is to hide a plan that is tilted in favor of the company, and this is a view that is supported by even some MLM advocates. Since then, I’ve also reached an addtional conclusion, that a complicated comp plan can be used to disguise a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. Lyoness is one such example: very complicated terms, does NOT use MLM terminology, presents itself as shopping loyalty scheme, but allows one to “purchase” reward levels via paying the company directly (and encourage others to purchase as well), thus essentially operates as Ponzi scheme.

          That’s one reason I call myself “MLM Skeptic”. I ask questions of BOTH sides, and I believe I understand the viewpoint of both sides when it comes to this stuff, and I tried to present the evidence available as best I see them.

        2. @Roger Willco, regarding your last question… no, I don’t expect a company that had lied to start behaving ethically unless circumstances, such as potential FTC lawsuit, forced them to, and only enough to avoid such FTC lawsuit.

          I do disagree, as I stated before, that MLM is fundamentally and inherently fraudulent. I think many MLMs placed the wrong emphasis: recruiting over retailing, and once it had gone that route, it will likely never recover (people who recruit people are rarely any good at selling products, and vice versa). Yet when you think about it, recruiting is much EASIER than selling, esp. when you can entice people with “potential income”.

          I think there are ways to make MLM ethical, such as you have to do X amount of retail before you are allowed to recruit downlines, or a particular retail to recruitment ratio must be maintained. Part of the Amway Safeguard rules, such as the 10 retail customer rule, was intended to enforce that, but it appears it was rarely enforced.

  11. @This is a good read, I take issue with your attempt to reduce the question of my credibility to “can you name the unicorn”, i.e. name one MLM that is ethical, non-pyramid, and profitable for its affiliates. This may be one of those “fast, accurate, cheap, pick any two” type of situations: ethical, legal, profitable, pick any two. :D

    As I said before, I haven’t found any such unicorn, but then I don’t make attempt to learn about every MLM under the sun.

    I think my point is just because it doesn’t seem to exist doesn’t mean it CANNOT exist (i.e. against its nature)

    I think people are reading too much into the label “MLM”, which has indeed gather a huge “connotation”, all the unspoken definitions that followed the term that has little to do with the term itself.

    MLM is a massive spectrum of companies. I can see quite a few scam ones, obviously pyramids, some are in the gray area, and some are legal but not profitable.

    I think something like Solavei (the MLM phone company) may be one of those… not going to make much, but probably legal.

    So to summarize, I reject your black and white thinking. :)

    @K. Chang, I reject your ‘massive [color] spectrum of companies’ thinking, (and also your smug smiley at the end, for the record).

    MLMs are scams for mathematical reasons, not black and white reasons, or color reasons. Ask @2+2=4.

    I’m still confused by your stance.

    You seem equivocal about Herbalife?


    Herbalife, the company that trains it’s distributors to f*uck over more honest people further down the line… for example for amounts as large as $200,000!..


    Your suggesting that they might be an good company that just recently – and unluckily – hired some rogue distributors does not wash.

    It’s been going on for too long! It is part of the HLM game plan!

    Also – re Solavei – they are either a crowd sourced marketing company i.e. with just three levels maximum, and there for not an MLM, which has endless levels, or they are an MLM which will abuse the customers at the bottom of the chain, because there will be too many phone accounts sitting on too little bandwith contracted from T-Mobile, and paying for too much commission out of their monthly contract to get any phone service at all.

    You are right on one point though: ‘one MLM that is ethical, non-pyramid, and profitable’ is a UNICORN! Profitable ethical non-pyramid MLMs do not exist.

    If you could suggest just one MLM that is ethical (i.e. does not abuse the lowest entrants to the scheme), non-pyramid, profitable, and offers a good competitively priced product – it would help.

    Here is a link with a few that you can choose from:


    Finally I apologize to the broader Salty Droid Community. “@This is a good read” is me, “@Random stuff”! I posted the David Brear article link thinking it would only generate the odd comment, and no controversy. How wrong I was! Nevertheless it has generated some good discussion points, and resulted in older ones being re-emphasized – so all is not lost.

    1. @Random stuff, I don’t believe I ever stated that Herbalife only “recently” hired a bunch of rogue affiliates. If that’s the impression you got, I would say… read more of my writing to get a full picture.

      How about… this one:


      “Diet clubs are UNOFFICIAL but permitted sales method. It was NOT an official corporate endorsed method that all Herbalife affiliates get trained in. In fact, they are NOT even permitted to use the official logos. It didn’t even exists before 2003, and it wasn’t even invented by Herbalife corporate. This “additional value” around Herbalife that Mr. Hempton claimed exist was NOT created by Herbalife, and did not exist before 2003. Herbalife was founded in 1980. So what was it doing for 23 years?”

      Or maybe this one?


      “I am probably boring you with all these court cases, so here’s my point I’m trying to make: the product itself is actually quite irrelevant. A company can have a proper product, (apparently) reward people for selling them, yet still operate as a pyramid scheme.

      While most pyramid schemes are disguised with bogus products with minimal value, some suspected pyramid schemes, like Herbalife, essentially operates as a product-based pyramids scheme as described above. Herbalife has real products, not woo, and is apparently paying the people based on sales… but is it a product based pyramid scheme?”

      I think you read my conclusion in that post you quoted and interpreted it in a way I had not intended. The quotes were:

      “So, did Shawn Dahl simply took over the business from his mother-in-law with a slight name change?

      That, you have to answer for yourself.

      Does this prove that Herbalife is a scam? Of course not.

      Does this prove that Herbalife has shady people working for it?


      I think you took that 3rd to last sentence as a “denial” that Herbalife is a scam, and thus you conclude that I was making excuses for Herbalife’s legitimacy.

      What I really meant is “Does this prove absolutely, positively, smoking-gun that Herbalife is a scam? Of course not.” And indeed, it doesn’t. I’ll go correct/clarify that.

      I don’t think we have “controversy”… as we’re discussing philosophical differences, like is “MLM absolutely and inherently evil?” whereas I kinda sidestepped the discussion and went to “why don’t we discuss the current situation instead?” :) I know, mea culpa. :D

      1. @K. Chang,

        Just out of cat killing curiosity, since you wrote that this is only a hobby, and that you actually have a full time job, I’m just wondering:

        1) When do you work? :)

        2) Whendo you sleep? :)

        3) Whom do you think is the greater of the revered Russian novelists? :) Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? :)

        OMFG, it HAD to be asked!

        1. @Inquiring Dragons Wanna Know, My day-job has a very flexible schedule, thus I’m often awake late at night. As for Russian novelists… I don’t believe I read either of them. I’m more of a modern technothriller guy, like Clancy, Brown, Bond, etc.

    2. @Random stuff,

      I’m only representative of the narrower based Salty Droid community comprised of droll dragons and 12 year old girls who are incensed by profligate usage of emoticons.
      But speaking on their behalf I would like to personally thank you for linking to the David Brear article and introducing another awesome site into the mix.
      Perhaps less has been lost, and more has been gained than you think.

      1. @Dragon is Losing It!, I said before, I think David Brear’s website is fine, but he writes like he has a chip on his shoulder, and even though I agree mostly with him (95 to 99%), and I told him so, somehow that few bits of difference caused him and his colleague to see me as an enemy, even though “enemy of my enemy” should be a friend.

        Now back to your regularly scheduled Herbalife channel. :)

      2. @Dragon is Losing It!,

        Thank you – various Dragon comments v amusing.

        I’ll probably be getting busier now – so might not be keeping up to date with the SD comment streams. But I’ll remain a passionate anti MLMer, anti scammer, and anti BS fraduct peddlers. – and I have been shocked to hear quite how bad it all is – & almost all from SD. This site really is the best – the site itself, and all the regular readers / commenters.

        @K. Chang – I still don’t quite understand – but I’ll have to sign off now re the discussion. All I’ve asked for is a good MLM – you seem to have really researched them alot. If you cant provide an example of a single good sound MLM – I’d say that you should really also think that all MLMs are bad, and tend to make that clearer on your website – sort of stands to reason. By not being abundantly clear re this specific point, and by having well written posts on your website, you may inadvertently be perpetuating the myth, and may be contributing to less wary people to being sucked in (MLMs prey on the more desperate, the more needy, and the less wary). That’s my view, and if you can take some of it on board – all for the better.

        1. @Random stuff, as I said before, I don’t recall having written a single “positive” coverage of MLM on my blog or my hubpages hubs. Everything I wrote are about the bad excuses MLMers make, the lies they used, the things they never talk about, the frauds that claimed to be MLM, the MLM genres that made no sense or not profitable, the dangers of MLM, and so on. Thus, I don’t feel I need to revise my “stance” on MLM.

          There may be one such ‘good’ MLM out there, but it’d have to be one that we don’t hear about, that does NOT recruit online, does NOT hold recruiting seminars, does NOT have its members post capture pages or teasers and whatever, and so on, but only have product pages. It’d be basically a 90% pure direct selling (i.e. Avon and MK) with only a very minor proportion of recruiting, and only if that sales rep has a good reputation for training the right people. If it does exist out there, it’d be a small operations that stayed off our collective radars.

          I know, what’s the difference between this and a pure Direct Sales company, which is NOT a pyramid scheme? Almost nothing! :) So a “good” MLM company is basically MOSTLY NOT a MLM company! Hahaha. :) Now that is ironic.

          1. @K. Chang,
            that’s not really ironic, or funny. that is your brain tying itself in knots. if you really are just using soft tactics to pacify people lost in the system, would you please drop the act when commenting here?

            somewhere there’s a Doritos chip shaped like Jesus. who cares.

            1. @Anon, I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about. It seems you insist on using this “purity test” on me, as if I shouldn’t comment here if I don’t agree 100% that MLM is evil incarnate. I don’t expect you to agree with me, but your persistence in pestering me to “drop my act” is getting rather amusing. I already explained my reasoning, and I already said I agree with your position and SD’s position, albeit not “all the way”.

              We can keep on this verbal jousting which really serves no purpose, or we can discuss scams. I’d rather discuss scams.

            2. @Anonymous,

              Probablly this woman, Dorothy Dursley of Rio Rancho, NM, who was saved by a Jesus Cheetoh.


              Or perhaps the woman who opened up a canister of HLF Formula One and thought she found health and financial security….

              Ha ha h….. :,(

              “that’s not really ironic, or funny”

          2. @K. Chang,

            alright fair enough. i don’t want to be an internet annoyance. i think the reason i get riled up is because from everything i’ve seen, the MLM world DOES seem to be a particular kind of ‘evil’ or whatever you want to call it. Going on youtube and seeing those endless videos of normal people with blank eyes, reading MLM scripts full of doublespeak, attempting to manipulate and assimilate other normal people…i just don’t see at as worthy of a fine-point legal/semantic treatment. it just strikes me as missing the point. The emotional, human-based consequences are the real thing.

            1. @K. Chang

              and i understand if your purpose with the ‘its not black and white’ talk is to tread lightly with victims, so that they slowly come to their own revelations. But I come to this website, and to the comments, for a dose of actual truth, facts, REALITY. More ‘manipulation’ just doesn’t feel right.

            2. @Anon, you and are are skeptics, who seeks out information, not only to affirm one’s beliefs, but also to contradict it to gain a full picture. A MLM “supporter” or those who had FALLEN for MLM will not visit this website (except a few trolls who come here to post hate speech, but they can’t outdo SD in… saltiness of speech). Only those who are actually skeptical of the MLM claims, or have been disillusioned by MLM, will visit this website (or similar “anti-MLM” sites).

              The danger of visiting only the sites that confirms your belief is the “echo chamber effect”. MLMers are especially vulnerable because they also socialize with their uplines and downlines, thus constantly get affirmations of their beliefs. We skeptics are in danger of the same if we start with a concept, and seek/interpret events to confirm that concept.

  12. I have no inside track or specific knowledge on the demographics of visitors to the many MLM related blogs out there–pro and con. My intuitive speculation is that the folks who are entrapped in MLM cults do not seek out websites, i.e. “A MLM Skeptic” that might counter their pro MLM preconceptions or the ikea effect to which some may be susceptible. Conversely, I intuitively speculate that honest information seekers, including those who want to base their decision whether or not to involve themselves in MLM on solid facts.

    Consequently, the aforementioned “backfire effect” has little application to honest truth seekers. So I think efforts on those sites to avoid offending MLM adherents unnecessarily muddy the waters and only serve a constituency that doesn’t exist.

    Right now, legal definitions of “pyramid schemes” are extremely equivocal; and that clearly appears to be the biggest reason enforcement of consumer protections has been and remains so ineffectual. That there’s a difference between MLM and pyramid schemes is a conceptual red herring on which the legal definition is based, rendering the legal definitions illogical.

    I’m not interested in resuming a flame war with any other commenters here. But I’m abjectly angered by not only pro-MLM websites, but by noncommittal websites and those infused with equivocation. It’s tragic that our lousy consumer-protection regs provide justification for the operators of those sites. They amount to little more than internet clutter that unintentionally (I suppose) conspires with the MLM industry’s SEO hacking to make finding the practical, moral and ethical truth online extremely difficult. I’ve seen too many people, including some I care for deeply, victimized by that conspiracy.

    In my opinion, anyone who’s busy looking for a unicorn is VERY LIKELY to sign up with whatever MLM they’re being pressured to join when they encounter an apparently “credible” implication that one exists. That’s why I’m convinced equivocation is so dangerous to the uninitiated. So as far as I’m concerned there’s an irreconcilable difference between anyone who knowingly equivocates on the issues for ANY reason and me. NO, we are not at all in agreement. In my opinion (unfortunately, PC demands this qualifier) this is THE discussion about MLM that matters most on this thread.

    1. @Roger Willco, As I told Anon, honest truth seekers comes in two types: those who are already skeptical of MLM claims, and those who had been disillusioned by MLM lies. They have successfully defeated the the cult programming to “avoid negativity” to seek out information that are contrary to their previous world view.

      Backfire effect are about the “true believers” and almost-true-believers. Those people will not read this website except to gather material for their propaganda, like “See, people out there don’t get it, they are haters, and haters will hate”.

      The true believers will not change their mind (they’ll twist the facts, introduce a time delay, or some other goofy explanations) even when the facts hit them in the face.

      It’s the almost-true believers, who can be enticed into reading some mostly neutral articles that does NOT bash them with “YOU LIVE A LIE!” message, that I am going for.

      I guess you can view it as an addiction. Some can quit cold turkey, but they’ll suffer a lot and relapse, while others can be “weaned” off slowly with a bit of help. Different approach, merely.

      I do understand where you’re coming from, but there’s a Chinese saying: to untie a bell, you need the person who tied it. (Western equivalent: it takes a thief to catch a thief). I’m using cult tactics to… dismantle a cult, if you want to see it that way.

      1. @K. Chang ::

        So you know what kind of people read this site then? Did you commission a demographics survey or something? Have you read my emails? Do you have access to my dashboard? Have you been reading this site for more than three months?

        Or … is it from your ass which you are speaking?

        You wanna have a “who’s saving more souls” contest with me? Cause how many souls is that gonna save?

        Just some questions I have for you to ponder during your pursuit of skeptical greatness.

        1. @SD, It’s not a contest, SD. Different audiences.

          If anything, I was hoping to driving people to seek out MORE negative info.

          But people need a lot salt taste before they get the full flavor, perhaps?

      2. @K. Chang, I like the site you made and think the analysis you made on Zeek was helpful to take down the $600 Million Dollar Zeek ponzi…but…

        “Backfire effect are about the “true believers” and almost-true-believers. Those people will not read this website except to gather material for their propaganda, like “See, people out there don’t get it, they are haters, and haters will hate”.”

        I don’t think you read enough of this site, because even on the public pages and not even SD emails you will find enough examples that contradict that idea completely. I will give you a personal Iron-Clad moneyback guarantee that your “true believer” idea is completely, no-holds barred wrong.

        1. @Jack, I think you missed my point. People who love MLMs don’t read SD’s site except to skim it and get some material to justify their “avoid negativity” cult tactic. Which is exactly what I wrote.

          I did not say SD’s wrong. I said the MLM true believers live in an echo chamber and it’s a rare circumstance (like government shutting down their scam) to pop their chamber with something close to “reality” (and SD is a HEAVY dose of reality).

          If you got a different impression of what I wrote, I’ll blame myself for being a clumsy writer.

          1. @K. Chang,

            “@Jack, I think you missed my point. People who love MLMs don’t read SD’s site except to skim it and get some material to justify their “avoid negativity” cult tactic.”

            I understood about it. Also, you tell us you’re a skeptic. I thought about that Skeptics believe in logic and scientific methods and such kind of things…in this case you would need to have some sort of scientific evidence for your skeptic-position?

            Where is your evidence about it???

            Here’s where SD’s logic comes in:

            You can’t have evidence about it, because you don’t have access to Mr. Droid’s analytics or to his emails.


            1. @Jack, “absence of proof is not proof of absence.”

              I agree that I don’t have access to SD’s website logs. I am basing this on my exposure to MLMers of all types and their typical behavior in terms of cult indoctrination of “avoiding negativity”.

              When I was busting TVI Express I’ve found my website listed specifically as “websites not to visit” on some promotor’s websites. I can guess that SD’s site would be on similar terms with a much larger non-audience, being a MUCH more famous site than my humble blog.

            2. @K. Chang, So magically you know more about SD’s own site and visitors than SD? Also, you’re little Skeptic saying would have to go assume that SD didn’t look for any of the evidence about what he’s talking about or that you looked more than he did?

              Is that what you’re saying. You looked for the evidence about what you’re saying more than SD said?

            3. @Jack, *sigh* why was everything I write was taken in an adversarial context?

              Based on absence of public available data, and availability of my existing experience, I assumed that audience of this website would not include much MLM lovers. Thus I concluded that those who would reach SD privately to talk about how they are victimized are somehow constrained to NOT talk about things publicly, but are skeptical.

              As this is rather getting off the topic of Herbalife, I will not continue on this topic other than state that I know nothing about SD’s site traffic, and those who assume are an ass.

              “el fin”

    2. @Roger Willco, slight clarification… I said the two types of truth seekers are those skeptical of MLM claims, and those who are disillusioned by MLM lies. There are probably a bit of overlap in there. There’s a large segment of “bad arguments” on my website that explains why those are bad arguments, how they hide facts, are logical fallacies, and so on. If I can get the truth seekers to see / understand more of the lies they have been exposed to, then they’ll understand the purpose of SD’s site here, right?

      The idea is to get to those who have some nagging doubt in the back of their head, who outwardly show enthusiasm, but inwardly have some doubts. MLM Cults keep those in line with shame and guilt (standard cult tactics). If you bash them with “you live a lie” they’ll just recoil to fellow cult members for affirmation. I think I can get to them with a more “neutral” message hopefully will bring that doubt to the forefront and turn them into truthseekers.

      Well, such is my goal. :) Who knows if I can succeed or not?

      1. @K. Chang,

        I said the two types of truth seekers are those skeptical of MLM claims

        Yes, and I said I consider myself a skeptic too (hi). And, just as I can call myself a skeptic and say “I don’t believe in ghosts,” I can call myself a skeptic and say “I don’t believe in a financially successful MLM that is not, in truth, just a vile pyramid scheme with a veneer of respectability poured over it to fool people. People like you, @K. Chang.”

        Well I didn’t write those words exactly before.

        One of the skeptic maxims (which you oughta be well-familiar with @K. Chang) is: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

        I submit that the notion of a financially successful MLM that is not a pyramid scheme is an extraordinary claim–just like ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, and a (successful, national) politician that never lies.

        So I’m waitin’ around for some/any extraordinary evidence for any of those things. But I’m not holding my breath.

        There’s no need to give MLM the benefit of that much doubt. And your arguments for why it might be necessary (so as to not alienate people) don’t seem to wash for us’ns here that have been on this site for a while.

        The thing is, while you are arguing about how, theoretically, it might alienate lots of folks if you come down harsh on MLM, @SD claims to have an Inbox full of former victims and almost victims and relatives of victims of MLM and all the other kinds of scams out there.

        So.. that’s like Real World Evidence that might be in conflict with Your Belief. Remind me, @K. Chang, what does Skepticism say you are supposed to do when you’re confronted with evidence that contradicts your beliefs?

        Or should we just shrug that off, post some Minecraft videos and get on with the much more mundane world of soothing, calming cognitive dissonance?

        Furry cows moo and decompress.

        Furry cows moo and decompress.

        1. @Wyrd, While I understand your point, that evidence is overwhelmingly condemning that MLM is a dangerous venture for participants, I disagree that we are actually on different sides. I AGREE with all the evidence present.

          I am NOT trying to prove “MLM is harmless if done correctly and most people are doing it wrong.”

          If most people are doing MLM wrong without prompting then MLM is a FAILED business concept.

          Though I can see how you could have reached that conclusion as I do emphasize quite a bit on the difference between legal and illegal, which indirectly results in a “what to do and what not to do”, which leads to “what people are doing wrong”, which of course, leads to “what if you do it right…”

          But as I half-jokingly stated before, a MLM that was “done right” is not a MLM, but a direct sales organization with MINIMAL multi-level structure, with no autoship and no starter kit, and clear delineation between affiliate and customer. It’s “mostly not MLM”, if it exists at all.

          Kinda hard to get point point across though.

          So what message should I emphasize? That there is no “good and safe MLM”? That MLM itself is a self-conflicting and flawed concept? Should I go interview a few MLM advocates on what is their “ideal” MLM and point out how stupid their vision is?

          1. @K. Chang,

            Again, some burning questions which in my mind need to be asked! Since you have your OWN blog, why are you (ab)using SD’s blog as your own veritable blogging platform?

            And some burning questions of yours that need to be answered:
            So what message should I emphasize? That there is no “good and safe MLM”?


            That MLM itself is a self-conflicting and flawed concept?

            Wow. YES!

            Should I go interview a few MLM advocates on what is their “ideal” MLM and point out how stupid their vision is?

            Yup. That would work as well!

            Now you’re starting to get it my dear.

            And you can thank my lousy clumsy bumbling preaxial digit for that inadvertent ‘like’.
            Go on now, thank it.
            Thank It!

            1. @Dragon V. “Skeptic”, how am I abusing the comment system as my blogging platform? You folks (not you personally, i think) asked for clarification of my stance and I answered, which actually lead me to further think about my position, and even some revisions.

              I believe I already covered one or two of those ideas, albeit not in a fully developed form. I covered the inherently contradictory nature of MLM in my “5 fatal flaws” article, and I did conclude that one should NOT join MLM at all, though I did make a concession near the end that if reader should ignore my advice, at least look for the obvious warnings signs and blah blah blah.

              I’ll keep some of those ideas in mind for future blog topics.

      2. @K. Chang,

        You seem to be an avid student of logic. If so, I’m sure you’re familiar with one of the basic logical fallacies–“The False Dilemma”. Your implicit contention that the only available choices are “mostly neutral articles that does NOT bash them [site visitors?]” [or] “…’YOU LIVE A LIE!’ message…” is a false dilemma.

        There are other available choices which neither equivocate on the truth or abuse (bash) readers. IMNTBHO, many of those alternatives are far more effective at educating anyone seeking the truth about MLM–from the uninitiated to the disillusioned–and helping them avoid succumbing to MLM business [bankruptcy]-opportunity pitches which are fundamentally fraudulent…No wait…I meant to say ‘FUNDAMENTALLY FRAUDULENT!

        I’m not hating on you either. From where I sit, you’ve created a beautifully executed blog and you’ve clearly done a lot of research. But your talent can do a great deal of good; or it can be catastrophically harmful. It’s easy to see the back and forth on this thread as only theoretical. I can assure you it’s not.

        I once unwittingly encouraged a dear friend to research MLM on the FTC website when she was considering changing her MLM affiliation. She did; and she found the same equivocating BS on which you base the assertions you make on your blog and here. The result: She used that equivocation to maintain that her new company was a rare one which was legal and profitable for its new recruits. She used it as justification for giving up who she was to descend into MLM’s alternate cult-like reality. And she took her brilliant and wonderfully caring son with her.

        Her immersion in MLM led to her involvement in a self-help cult, into which she also led her son. Four and a half years later, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 23. by much available evidence, triggered by the mind fuck he experienced in a seminar put on by that cult 4 days earlier.

        This precious life didn’t have to end the way it did. If the FTC weren’t so corrupted by DSA influence, if it really took the interest of consumers to heart, if I had been better informed, his life may have taken a completely different trajectory.

        Your responsibility to your readers with the ideas you propound on your blog are not limited to the financial wellbeing of your readers. This stuff isn’t about “pride and prejudice”. I’m here to tell you that sometimes it really can be about life and death.

        I personally hope you’ll reflect on the wealth of wisdom other commenters on this thread have gone out of their way to impart to you; and that maybe you’ll take at least some of it to heart.

        1. @Roger Willco, I perfectly understand that for some people MLM is intensely personal, which is both the blessing and the curse.

          I do have ONE family member who joined a MLM (actualy, make that about 4… Excel Comm, NuSkin, Market America, and Amway) that I know of. I shrugged off the recruitment attempts. My view of MLM, while not personal, is… personal enough. That’s 15 years ago though. I’ve since studied the subject a great deal more, along with a bit of scam study, psychology, and more.

          I do understand where you’re coming from. IYHO, it is not fair to “lead on” victims of MLM, which may give them false hope that the unicorn is out there.

          I don’t think I have ever intentionally gave any one any false hope that the unicorn exists, but I will surely examine my posts to make sure I do not UNintentionally provide such false hopes.

          1. @K. Chang,

            You’ve caught me at a particularly tender moment. So I’m not going to rip your reply or otherwise be unkind.

            What I will say is that you do not understand where I’m coming from. IMNTBHO “leading on victims of MLM” has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with right and wrong.

            Peace…Out (My late stepson’s favorite sign off)

          2. @K. Chang,

            If this whole dialogue has indeed caused you to think further about your position, and even make some revisions (what are they, btw?) – and as mentioned earlier, if it provoked some thought in or served as a deterrent for some other equivocal passers by who also happened across this blog by “stance” – then our collective work here is good.

            What interests me personally, is your personal story – about your family member’s involvement in the cult like world of the MLM and how this experience has impacted you directly.
            It would seem that it has shaped your views if not being entirely responsible for your inquest into this phenomenon.
            Am I wrong?
            Only if you’re comfortable, of course, could you relate that experience to us here?
            I, for one, would be interested.

            1. @Mindful Dragon, Not much to tell actually. She kept saying that she’ll add me as her downline, i don’t even have to sell anything. I just put her on the ignore list. She’s now pushing Amway on another continent, after suffering severe financial losses (not MLM related, honest). That was 10-15 years ago.

              My journey into amateur investigations actually started in 2008/2009 when I started investigating the scam known as TVI Express, a very obvious pyramid scheme when it spread to San Francisco Chinatown in the US. It’s documented on my blog somewhere.

          3. @K. Chang,

            Now that I’m done reacting, I’ll respond…

            Good call Dude(tte?)!…and what Mindful Dragon said.

        2. @Roger Willco,

          What a story. I am so very sorry. MLM and all other forms of serious/coercive/unhealthy/criminal social manipulation that Cross That Line are just Completely Fu€ked.

          It’s personal for me too. Not with MLM but with another cult tactic group (and if my posts have registered with you here in these comments threads, you can probably figure out which one). Thus my interest in the Droid. I have tried the direct approach of logic and reason with a family-member victim, and experienced the awful reality of that totally not working. Even to the point of causing some harm in the relationship. Because that is how these twisted, effed-up cultic groups work.

          Thus my semi-equivocation in earlier comments about how best to get rid of this pernicious cancer that is MLM. It is a tricky thing.

          But my basic position is the same as yours. MLM is just bad. No reason or justification for it’s existence in the economy. Serves no healthy purpose. I wish the government would engage in some black and white thinking on MLMs, just like they have on pyramids and Ponzis, and make them illegal.

          Because, IMO, MLMs are just nasty pyramids that have been disguised by whipping up with generous portions of fluffy “product”, further camouflaged by combining with a messy mess of compensation rules, folded in with a couple of tons of zero financial record keeping, and finished with a final blanket of plausible deniability over the top. There are a few more ingredients in the recipe, but you get my sentiments here, I am sure. Poo served up to the American People as wholesome Apple Pie.

          It has been great to find this site and other people who actually understand this whole area of cult-tactic abuse and crime.

          It has helped me feel less crazy about my own personal involuntary involvement with cult-world.

          Thanks, all.


          1. @2+2=4,

            Thank you for your thoughtful words. I haven’t a clue as to which cult has harmed your family member; but I would like to know.

            I’ve only been cruising Mr. Droid’s site for a few weeks; and I haven’t seen enough to figure out a lot of things. But I do appreciate this place where I can feel at home and polish my chops without apologizing for my position on MLM and cults.

            I wish for you much good fortune as you deal with your sadly-victimized family member. With your reasoning and logical ability, your family member can only be blessed by your presence.

            Best wishes

  13. http://corporatefraudswatch.blogspot.fr/2011/09/mr-chang-has-been-banned-from-corporate.html

    Kasey ‘told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.’

    Mr. Chang – has been banned from Corporate Frauds Watch

    The free-thinking readers of Corporate Frauds Watch should be aware that the blinkered nuisance who has kept posting confusing, and potentially dangerous, comments under the name of ‘Kasey Chang,’ is a de facto, pro-‘Amway’ infiltrator. He has, therefore, now been banned from CFW.
    Mr. Chang (who has kept insisting that he has no connection to ‘Amway’ and that he supports the stance of the authors of CFW), has also posted confusing and dangerous articles on his own Blog.
    After exchanging e-mails with Robert FitzPatrick, some of Mr. Chang’s articles now contain what appear to be common-sense warnings about the proven 99.9% failure rate of (what he still refers to as) ‘legitimate MLM income opportunities,’ but these articles also comprise reality-inverting propaganda from the ‘Amway/DSA’ Ministry of Truth.
    Tellingly, Mr. Chang does not care to explain how ‘Amway’s’ so-called ‘MLM income opportunity’ can possibly be described as ‘legitimate’, when it has had an effectively 100% overall failure rate for its participants during the previous 50+ years, and when (despite ‘Amway’s’ so-called ‘Code of Ethics’) this key-information has been deliberately hidden from the public.
    A typical recent example (posted by Mr. Chang at the beginning of September 2011) was entitled ‘What separates a legitimate MLM from and illegal pseudo-MLM scam?’ http://kschang.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-separates-legitimate-mlm-from.html . In this, Mr. Chang ignores quantifiable reality and actually quotes from ‘Amway’s’ own Website. Yet, at no stage, does Mr. Chang cite any quantifiable evidence which proves that any transient adherent of ‘Amway’ has earned money by regularly selling goods, and/or services, to the public for a profit.
    Corporate Frauds Watch takes the view that the quantifiable evidence (in the form of the tax record) proves beyond all reasonable doubt, that the bosses of the ‘Amway’ mob have always been running, and occulting, a blame-the-victim closed-market swindle, dissimulated as a ‘legitimate MLM income opportunity,’ in conjunction with various advance fee frauds dissimulated as ‘training and motivation systems.’ The overwhelming majority of all the cash which has flowed into the global ‘Amway’ racket has come from unlawful internal payments made by the organization’s own constantly-churning, insolvent adherents in exchange for effectively-unsaleable wampum, and not from lawful sales of goods, and/or services, to the public, as the organization, and its apologists have steadfastly pretended..
    In one of his latest comments on CFW, Mr. Chang made the extraordinary claim that he has appointed himself as the ‘MLM Devil’s Advocate.’ In the same comment, Mr. Chang stated that Mr. Brear is an educated man who must know that the Devil’s Advocate is a real post in the Catholic Church, and that the Devil’s Advocate doesn’t really believe in his own arguments.
    In reality, the ‘Devils Advocate’ was a salaried-office in the Vatican until 1983. According to the leadership of the Catholic Church, the role of the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ was to gather evidence which challenged the authenticity of ‘miracle’s allegedly performed by persons who had been put forward as candidates for ‘Catholic Sainthood.’
    It is, therefore, deeply-ironic that Mr. Chang has conveniently ignored all the evidence which challenges the authenticity of ‘miracles’ allegedly performed by so-called ‘Diamonds’ who, in pernicious ‘Prosperity Gospel’ cults like ‘Amway’, are the equivalents of ‘Catholic Saints’ – i.e. perfect, unquestioning role-models for rank and file adherents to emulate in the hope of achieving future redemption in Paradise.
    Corporate Frauds Watch (copyright 2011)

    1. @Déjà Vu all over again, Thanks for posting it – one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen before. I don’t know how anybody can see “Amway” and not think about the Amway Decision as a nifty little mechanism to whitewash fraud. The article is mainly laughable or cryable or both, maybe?

      1. @Jack, as I said before, that was two years ago, and I believe I have characterized David Brear’s thought pattern as black and white. Either you’re with us, or you’re against us. There is no “I agree with you 95%-99%”.

        I don’t expect you (or any one) to agree with me 100%, and it’s his blog (or technically, his Indian friend’s blog) so he’s welcome to ban me there. However, just because I don’t agree with his position 100% doesn’t make me automatically wrong.

        As I have no intention to turn a topic about Herbalife into a topic about K. Chang, I think I’ll stop there. Those who are actually interested to see my side rather than read David Brear’s one-sided rant can read my rant blog:


        And related entries on the same blog.

      2. @Jack, did you also notice the mealy-mouthed propaganda that Kasey Chang posted on his own Blog in 2011, ‘Kasey’s Korner?’

        In this, Kasey Chang presented a demonstrably-false version of the above published statement in which the Indian lawyer, journalist and noted anti-fraud campaigner, Shyam Sundar, and his associates, calmly explained in great detail why they had justifiably decided to ban Kasey Chang from Shyam’s influential Blog, Corporate Frauds Watch.

        When compared to what Shyam Sundar actually posted, Kasey Chang’s version, is frankly, pathetic.

        He said:

        “Shyam’s knee-jerk reaction can be best illustrated by a theoretical exchange between an anti-smoker and another anti-smoker:

        A: Cigarettes are bad for you and they also cause disease A, B, and C!

        B: Cigarettes are bad yes, but you can’t really say they cause B… There’s not enough proof of that…

        A: How dare you justify cigarette’s legitimacy! You must be the enemy!

        B: Now wait a minute… I did no such thing!

        A: You are justifying cigarettes to the gullible people who don’t know otherwise!

        B: I surely did not!

        A: I don’t want to see your face here ever again!”

        1. @Déjà Vu all over again, I can see that you’ve decided to take their side of the story as the gospel truth without verifying bit by bit how much of a debate there was, just because Sundar has some credentials as anti-pyramid crusader.

          Yes, I was sore at the time. I see the problem a little differently than they do. That doesn’t automatically make me wrong.

          There are plenty of antipyramid crusaders who got a few skeletons in their closet. Merely being one doesn’t make them always right. You still have to analyze their arguments and their supporting evidence.

          What’s even more hilarious is I was banned from their blog for something I posted ON MY OWN BLOG, not for a comment I posted on their blog.

          As far as I know, I was already on their sore side for raising questions about their positions on fraudulent=illegal (they don’t believe something can be fradulent and legal at the same time, even temporarily) and Amway = Racketeering (RICO laws specify 35 conditions that qualify for rackteering, only 2 of which even comes close to Amway’s activities). I even classified myself as “devil’s advocate” once or twice.

          They way I see it, they found some excuse to refuse my further attempt to engage them in dialog.

          That’s “free-thinking” at all. That’s closed-thinking.

          1. @K. Chang,

            Is the shit from your brain finally seeping out into your ears as well rendering you unable to hear yourself talk as you {barely} think?

            Are you that hung up on the legality of legality that the words unlawful, fraudulent, corrupt, deceptive, misleading, amoral, unconscionable and cultish don’t even register with you?

            “Amway = Racketeering (RICO laws specify 35 conditions that qualify for racketeering, only 2 of which even comes close to Amway’s activities.”

            Only 2?



            Not enough seeming conditions for you there little buddy?

            And why in fuck’s name would you ever want to classify yourself as “devil’s advocate” unless :

            1). Some “devil” has you on his

            2). You’re just a freak who enjoys
            the tickle from the flames of hell
            right before they singe the hairs
            in your asshole.

            Since you have such ample amounts of extraneous “bored of playing with my Amway Pom Poms” time on your hands, why don’t you put it to good use by advocating for @Roger Wilco, @2+2=4 and the countless, both told and untold, others who’s family members have


            {physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially} as a direct result of the perniciousness of your “free-thinking”, “intellectual”, “hobby”?

            1. @Dragon’s Got Some Issues, Mighty strange isn’t it how Kasey Chang, the great RICO expert, completely overlooked section 1503 (relating to obstruction of justice)?

            2. @Dragon’s Got Some Issues, did you BOTHER to read Brear’s stance in 2011 before you came to that conclusion? His stance was Amway is a racket, therefore RICO law automatically applies. And Brear was going by Wikipedia definition (which he quoted)

              I asked him which of the 35 provisions in RICO law actually applies, and I named two. I went by law of the text, not the summary.

              And yes, Deja, I seem to have left out obstruction of Justice, good catch… 2 years late, but thank you! (only slightly sarcastic)

              As for “devil’s advocate” aren’t you just narrowing your focus too much on the term? Devil’s advocate is a Catholic church position to argue against someone gaining sainthood, IIRC. It’s generally used as someone who is advocating an unpopular position, or questioning a popular position, not literally working for the devil as you seem to be implying.

            3. @K. Chang

              Re: Legalities and Sarcasm

              You seem to be a bit slow on the draw when it comes grasping the subtle nuances behind both.

            4. @Dragon, internet is a POOR platform for sarcasm.

              Indeed, sarcasm is a lost art. Some people are just immune to it. I sincerely hope I haven’t gotten to that stage. A periodic reminder that it’s sarcasm would be appreciated.

              As for legality… That’s for lawyers. :)

            5. @K. Chang

              I’ll concede to you on that one Sir Chang.
              The Internet is indeed a poor platform, ‘specially when said sarcasm goes south and forgets to take a left at Albequerque.
              You have the potential of being not so creepy, Chang. Consider a paradigm shift and learning the lyrics to kumbaya. I might even hold your hand and buy you a Coke (classic).

              And with that being said, my legal team has advised me to go to bed.

              Good night. : Z

    2. @Déjà Vu all over again,

      As I pointed out to David Bear, and his Indian proxy, Sundar, they didn’t bother to read the conclusion:

      “While these 5 differences should allow you to distinguish a legitimate MLM from a fake MLM (i.e. pyramid scheme in disguise), they do not tell you if the MLM opportunity will be good for you. A MLM can be perfectly legitimate, yet be completely unprofitable for any of the associates except the lucky few who joined very early. ”

      Perhaps this thing looks like an apologist article compared to what you see on SD’s site here, but you have to keep in mind that it was written 2 years ago (actually, closer to 3, as it was republished from Hubpages) and I have many OTHER articles that explained the flaws of MLM.

      In any case, as I said, I have no intention of making this a topic about K. Chang, and I have not made it a secret that I was “banned” from his blog for not agreeing with him 100% 2 years ago. If you all wish to dwell upon the past on the minor differences, so be it, but it’d be off topic.

      1. @K. Chang, it is quite obvious that anyone who can see through your pretence of affinity, you immediately seek to portray as being not only ill-informed and completely wrong about you, but also closed-minded. However, I have looked at the available evidence and made my own decision about you, and there seems to be very little point to the endless ambiguous rubbish that you spread about the Net., other than to cause doubt in the minds of confused ‘MLM’ victims who might be on the point of deciding to complain that they have been defrauded.

        For many years, Mr. Brear has put his case in great detail that, since its instigation, MLM has always hidden a form of cultic racketeering. Thus, your own extensive Internet activity can be easily explained as an attempt to obstruct justice, forming part of an overall pattern of ongoing major racketeering activity as defined by the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970 (and clarified by subsequent US Supreme Court Judgements).

        I observe that Mr. Brear has published a full analysis of both RICO and of the cult phenomenon, and, what a surprise, yet again your false and simplistic version of someone’s detailed published thoughts, is frankly, pathetic.


        There is a huge problem with every poisonous jibe you have posted about Mr. Brear and Mr. Sundar – in that we only have your valueless word that these claims are true; for, when I have actually taken the trouble to go to the written record, I have discovered that you are a liar, but you now claim that these ‘skeletons in your closet’ are mere aberrations written in moments of thoughtless anger.

        There is a very good reason why your published article looks like an ‘MLM’ propaganda article – it is an MLM propaganda article.

        The fact that you have posted statements which appear to be critical of MLM, is a red herring.

        1. @Déjà Vu all over again, interesting that you claimed to have studied Brear’s discussion at length. Did you happen to spot the discussion I had with in in August of 2011 about the same topic?

          Using a 2012 article he wrote to justify your evaluation of his decision about me in 2011, is moo crap. I can’t believe you fell for that crap. (This has nothing to do with Brear’s RICO stance in 2012, mere its application to me)

          1. @K.Chang, you do not appear to comprehend, or to be able to write comprehensible, English. Instead, you continue to spread ambiguous rubbish and to place your own words in the mouths of people who can see through your pretence of affinity.

            Contrary to what you pretend, Mr. Brear originally published his unabiguous thoughts on RICO at the same time as his unambiguous thoughts on cultism (2005) and in doing so, he clearly demonstrated that he is an authority on both subjects, whilst you have again demonstrated that you are an ignorant fake.

            1. @Déjà Vu all over again,


              You spoke too soon.

              He didnt overlook it. In a self vested, CYA response he lovingly refers to it as “moo crap”. But then again, much like the pattern he’s demonstrated in this particular comment thread – he’s clearly concerned with the ramifications of said given or any topic only when it affects him personally, even at the cost of it serving as a detriment to the greater good within the bigger picture.
              And in his overly excited rumination, I believe he failed to realize that :

              “Thus, your own extensive Internet activity can be easily explained as an attempt to obstruct justice, forming part of an overall pattern of ongoing major racketeering activity as defined by the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970 (and clarified by subsequent US Supreme Court Judgements.”

              the words “overall pattern” and “ongoing” are relevant to and encompass 2013 as well previous years past.

            2. @Déjà Vu all over again, Having unambiguous thoughts about a topic is not the same as detailed analysis of the arguments presented. Heck, George Bush had unambiguous thoughts (any one remember “stay the course”?)

              At the time (2011) Mr. Brear presented no other logic of his view on “Amway is a racket” other than as a tautology. His only proof was a quote from wikipedia (that I recall) and later, a P&G expert witness study of Amway’s similarity to the Mafia organization.

              If he had deeper thoughts about the topic in previous times, but didn’t link them or expanded upon them at the time between his engagement with me, how was I supposed to know?

              And I didn’t even disagree with him!

              Again, why was everything I wrote taken as adversarial?

            3. @Déjà Vu all over again, if that was the opinion you have formed about me, then there’s really no convincing you otherwise, is there? I personally believe that you have formed the conclusion that I’m an affinity troll, and is now busy scouring the Internet for evidence to support your conclusion. I have encountered a few affinity trolls. Heck, I even discussed them in my blog, just not that specific term.

              But what would be the point of an affinity troll? Put myself out for ridicule? put my “MLM History” on trial? Test my “MLM hatred purity”?

              You are going so far offtopic that you’re making this Herbalife topic personal about me. All for what?

    3. @Déjà Vu all over again ::

      @KChang is wrong … of course. And he is quite pig headed about his wrongness … also granted. But is there evidence outside of this belligerent wrong-a-tude that he is affiliated with Amway in some way?

      Because “Kasey Chang” :: if you are associated with Amway :: and you’ve had the fucking balls to try to run your troll propaganda here … then I’m going to go apeshit in a way that neither you nor Amway will soon be forgetting.

      But …

      a) his web profile is old
      b) most of his chatter leans anti-MLM
      c) he said my name in public … a known no no
      d) he’s here {something very unusual for anyone on the inside}
      e) if he’s a super sophisticated affinity troll … then why is he also so annoying?
      f) why does the way he is annoying so remind me of PZ Myers and his wannabe skeptic crew?

      Obviously no one needs to preach to me about the dangers of equivocation while battling mind control techniques … which is why all of @KChang’s cat crap of that variety will need to be mocked here {if it’s brought here}. But while I totally take @RogerWilco’s point about the massive damage done by the FTC’s mealy mouthed pseudo-endorsements of MLM :: stamped as they are with the seal of expertise and ultimate authority … I can’t say that I exactly feel the same about just some dude on the Internet getting stuff wrong.

      Someone is wrong on the Internet!


      I will also note that these opinions …

      – “all MLMs are pyramid schemes”
      – “MLM is inherently evil”
      – “MLM is intentional cult fraud”
      – “MLMs are mafia cartels”

      … are only held by a tiny minority of people {to include myself} :: and by only a slim majority of people active on this issue.

      To each his own as far as website and message management goes :: but for my part … I will not ban someone for being wrong … or for being annoying.

        1. @K. Chang,

          Wow, that helps!

          I think it would be better if you were to explain why you are trying to convince people that relatively minor examples like FHTM and Zeek Rewards are scams, yet that their big brothers like Amway and Herbalife, which operate the exact same ‘business model’, are legitimate ‘companies’ that operate well within the bounds of the law (despite you admitting that they may violate two laws within RICO).

          1. @W. Rong, The difference is suspect fraud (has not been proven in a court of law), vs. actual fraud (has been proven in court of law). This is due to a lot of gray area in the law itself (or as RogerWilco put it, wifflewaffle by the FTC, IIRC)

            Zeek is a Ponzi scheme, not MLM. It has some pyramid elements, but it’s primarily a Ponzi scheme.

            I agree that FTC had only going after the “obvious” pyramid scheme cases and not going after those companies operating in the gray area. The line between legal and illegal is so fuzzy even MLM Lawyers like Kevin Thompson had commented on that. And the DSA is only EXPANDING the gray area instead of shrinking it by trying to legalize “self-consumption” and thus erode Koscot and Omnitrition cases precedents.

            IMHO, some of you believe that as I don’t speak out much about the entire MLM industry, but rather concentrate on the “bad apples” and their warning signs, I somehow create the impression that there is such a thing as a “good MLM”. I already told RogerWilco and SD that I understand how people come to that view, and it was never my intention to provide “false hope” to any one to look for the unicorn.

            But as I said before, just because I don’t agree with you all 100% doesn’t automatically make me wrong, esp. when I agree with you all 99% or so.

            I don’t recall having ever portrayed Amway and Herbalife as “legitimate companies that operate well within the bounds of the law”. If you got that from Brear, I’d suggest you update yourself a bit and actually look through my blog instead of skimming it.

            This mirrors my discussion with David Brear in 2011. It’s certainly deja vu.

            1. @K.Chang,

              Forgive me for paraphrasing, next time I will quote instead.

              I believe you did write this, though:

              “While these 5 differences should allow you to distinguish a legitimate MLM from a fake MLM (i.e. pyramid scheme in disguise), they do not tell you if the MLM opportunity will be good for you. A MLM can be perfectly legitimate, yet be completely unprofitable for any of the associates except the lucky few who joined very early.”

              If I may summarise, I believe you write here that an ‘MLM’ can be legitimate, if no-one makes money except for a few shills that joined in early. Please elaborate how that would be different from a pyramid scheme, and how this could possibly be ‘legitimate’.

              Besides, perhaps you know more than I do, but I am aware of any court proving that FHTM is a scam. That would make your somewhat artificial distinction between scams like FHTM and Amway a little redundant, now would not it?

              Also, as I have observed you like to speak in analogies:

              If a burglar in Kentucky would be convicted of robbing a house and sentenced to jail-time by a court of law, he would obviously be a criminal, right? But if his colleague in Nevada would do exactly the same thing, identically, his act would be completely legitimate until a court of law has decided otherwise?

            2. @W,Rong, several points to note:

              1) It was written 2-3 years ago, and it’s no longer my primary blog, thus my viewpoint have shifted somewhat

              2) Perhaps “legitimate” is not the right term. The term should be “legal”, or perhaps “not outright illegal”.

              3) FTC convinced a court to issue the cease and decease order closing FHTM. That’s determined by a court, right? I’m sure there are appeals pending somewhere.

              4) The legal gray area and the lack of enforcement by FTC in previous years until FHTM (and Burnlounge a few years earlier) makes it difficult for the average Joe to determine whether Herbalife and Amway fits the LEGAL DEFINITION of pyramid scheme… because it’s so f***ing fuzzy. Going by FTC past prosecutions is useless because they went after OBVIOUS pyramid schemes, and Herbalife and Amway, being sophisticated, are LESS OBVIOUS.

              Indeed, Ackman saw this, and everybody else is basically betting that Herbalife can MOVE ITSELF back on the legal side, if FTC does draw the line a bit tighter (i.e. not illegal enough to be prosecuted).

              No, I don’t like this, but again, being fraudulent is not automatically illegal. New laws and case precedents often had to be passed to close the loopholes and whatnot.

              5) One such loophole is Herbalife and whether it qualifies as a product-based pyramid scheme. The Koscot test can be rendered useless through autoship and self-consumption, which is why Omnitrition case was added to tighten up the definition. Herbalife, in its attempt to REFUSE to account how many of the lowest distributors are actually customers, basically REFUSED to prove itself innocent or guilty. That, logically, points to it being guilty of being a pyramid scheme.

              6) Amway actually had a very similar admission not too long ago, when its top execs were interviewed by either CNN or CNBC. (I’ll have to look it up)

            3. @W.Rong — It’s a WSJ interview of heads of Amway. At about the 9:15 mark they claim that 50% of their distributors are mostly self-consumers, while “sell a few to friends and family”.


              This is the same sort of excuse Herbalife did in January as a “rebuttal” of Ackman.

              These big MLM companies don’t know which side of the law they stand. And they DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. They simply assume they are on the right side (though Herbalife was getting a bit worried after Ackman’s accusation)

            4. @K.Chang, @W.Rong

              Bob Fitzpatrick filed a complaint with the FTC against Amway last fall, using that video-recorded interview as evidence. So far…no acknowledgement and no action.

              Oh wait…How silly of me! I forgot the FTC needs “credible” complaints from “injured consumers” against a specific company in sufficient volume to trigger an investigation.
              Sorry Bob…My bad.

            5. @Anon, My “ignorance of these matters”, eh? You’re taking these matters way too personally. I don’t mind being lectured to, but I don’t start from the tautological position of “MLM *is* fraud” and then find evidence to prove it. I’d rather point at an event, discuss its meanings, how each side would spin it, discuss the relevant laws, and so on.

              I looked at the video, and it suggests some disturbing numbers that *suggests* perhaps Amway is not doing as much retail as it claimed, but the Chairman was talking about number of distributors, not value of goods sold. There’s no DIRECT correlation between the two unless they also give average amount of goods sold per class that they talked about, and you know they’ll never do that, just like Herbalife would never show just HOW many of their distributors are REALLY just in for the discount.

              It’s not smoking gun evidence. It’s one more nail in the coffin, but it’s not a stake to the heart.

              And you seem to take that “they don’t know” expression way too literally. Did you read my follow up sentence “they don’t want to know”, which I even CAPITALIZED? it’s called willful ignorance and (im)plausible deniability. As I wrote elsewhere, you can only pretend “not to know” for so long.

              But it seems you wish to interpret all of my statements in the most “pro-MLM” way possible… and use that to bash me. Personally, I’d rather discuss the issues.

            6. @K.Chang, I would remind you that you opened this indigestible can of worms when you began to post personal attacks on the Net.

              It is patently obvious to anyone who understands this subject that you have not got the beginings of clue what you are talking about. Yet you pretend that it is everbody else who doesn’t understand.

              You have continued these personal attacks here, drawing the impressive-sounding word, ‘tautological,’ like a sword, but you don’t seem to understand what it means – in the same way that you don’t seem to understand what fraud means or appreciate the damage that that theft by deception causes. In fact, you make a habit of ascribing your own parallel meanings to traditional language.

              Laughably, you continue to pose as a honest victim of personal attacks whilst telling direct lies about what Messrs. Van Andel and De Vos actually said during the few key-moments of the WSJ interview.

              As David Brear and Robert FitzPatrick have pointed out, contrary to what you have just falsely claimed on the Blog, the video evidence proves that Messrs. De Vos and Van Andel were asked what percentage (by value) of ‘Amway’s’ declared annual sales are retail? and that they initially replied that they believed that this figure was 50%, but they then suddenly claimed that they didn’t really know, before finally retreating into their usual vague MLM script and claiming that ‘100% of Amway sales are to customers and end users.’

              The key follow-up common-sense questions that the WSJ stooge then failed to ask, despite these being handed to him on a plate, were:

              – What percentage of ‘Amway’s’ declared revenue has ultimately derived from lawful-retail sales to the general public?

              – What possible lawful reason(s) can you supply for hiding the answer to the above question from the public, and from regulators, for more than half a century?

              If, Mr Chang, you do possess sufficient common-sense to realize that DeVos and Van Andel must be lying (which apparently you are now claiming) about their knowledge of the ultimate unlawful source of their company’s revenues, then why can you not state what you believe in comprehensible English, intead of talking vague and ambiguous rubbish and then blaming other people for not understanding what you later claim to have meant?

            7. @Anon,

              @Anon wrote [to @K. Chang]

              @K.Chang, I would remind you that you opened this indigestible can of worms when you began to post personal attacks on the Net.

              Where and when did @K. Chang do that? And.. are you @Déjà Vu all over again or are you @W. Rong or are you some 3rd party?

              You have continued these personal attacks here, drawing the impressive-sounding word, ‘tautological,’ like a sword, but you don’t seem to understand what it means

              Mayhaps you could edu-ma-cate us all then… ’cause I thought (the very pedantic and annoying) @K. Chang was using the word more or less correctly.

              But I agree with this sliced out highly edited sliver of what you wrote

              [@K. Chang,] you don’t seem to . . . appreciate the damage that that theft by deception causes.

              I agree with that. @K. Chang seems not to “get” that there are some people in the world that act in a manner that’s inherently deceptive at every conceivable level of interaction and in every conceivable sense of the word “deceptive”. I guess @K. Chang‘s never met any sociopaths or highly narcissistic manipulative people. Or if he has, then he didn’t realize that, that’s what they were.

              But enough about @K. Chang. Let’s talk about you for a bit, Mr. @Anon:

              The reason I wonder as to your identity: you seem to be arguing in a very personal-attack-ish manner yourself. That makes me speculate you might be @Déjà Vu all over again. I further wonder if @Déjà Vu all over again is actually Shyam Sundar or someone from the CFW site that was party to the original debacle that ended in @K. Chang‘s banning from that site.


              When I read that post on CFW with the banning of @K. Chang, and when I see the exchange here between you and him, it feels like I’m looking at a flame-war that will never end.

              Once again, I find myself being boring by agreeing with Salty Droid about something: I agree with his assessment of @K. Chang.

              @K. Chang might turn out to be an Amway operative or something.. and if he does, @SD will destroy him with words and derision.

              But probably the duck is a duck. Probably the know-it-all-ish, pedantic-to-a-fault @K. Chang is just a run-of-the-mill Aspie-esque dude not entirely unlike myself. He has taken a (mostly dispassionate) interest in the matter of MLM and rather than focus on the sheer personal tragedy of it all, he’s done a typical Aspergers’-y thing of focusing all his attention on niggling over lawyers quibble-y details.

              @K. Chang just sees himself as “just being honest” and “just sticking with the facts”. Everyone else sees @K. Chang as “stubborn” and “intractable”.

              Some folks–like you @Anon–arguing from a highly emotional position (possibly for very good reason–like maybe real life tragedy happened to you or your loved ones) see @K. Chang‘s every equivocation and counter-argument as a personal attack.

              My wife and I get into these impasses frequently.

              And now this post will likely either be ignored or else I will probably be the next target of attack.

              And will I deserve it? I dunno. Probably-maybe.

              Attack me if it makes you feel better I guess. Please note in advance: there was no malicious intent in any of this. Maybe a little bit of pokiness, but no meanness.

              Furry cows moo and decompress.

            8. @Jack,

              Probably this one form MLM in general:

              and this one for TVI Express stuff:

              The “New to Kasey’s Korner? ” link explains

              Welcome, welcome.

              This started as a personal blog, but then turned into a TVI Express expose.

              One of these days I’ll have to move all the entries about TVI Express into a separate blog.

              Both those blogs have very recent posts on them.

            9. @Wyrd, all I’ve ever invited anyone to do, is think (which, believe me, is usually an uphill battle and which sometimes makes me sound quite provocative), but the long-winded Kasey Chang is attempting to stop us from thinking.

              Thus, the following is not an attack on you.

              Let me get this straight, you do agree that it would be OK for certain people, if certain suspicions were proved, to destroy Kasey Chang with words and derision?

              Why do you think that Kasey Chang’s use of the phrase ‘tautological position’ can be described as ‘more or less correct,’ when quite obviously no one holds the tautological position, ‘MLM is fraud,’ which he pretends they do and which only he has kept repeating?

              Bearing the above in mind, do you think that Mr. Chang actually understands the meaning of the word, tautology? and in what sense do you think he used it?


              Perhaps, instead of reflecting on all these relatively unimportant issues, we should now reflect on the more-important issue of why Mr. Chang found it necessary to lie on this Blog about what Messrs. DeVos and Van Andel said during their WSJ interview.

              At this stage, I fully-accept that it also remains a remote possibility that Kasey Chang simply missed or misunderstood the key moments in the WSJ video and that he is this self-righteous, annoying, nit-picking blunder-machine whom you, and the author of this Blog, have identified. If you don’t believe this statement, you can check with the author of this Blog, with whom I’ve already been in contact, off-line.

              The fact remains, Mr. Chang has now used this Blog to broadcast a denial that two billionaires, Messrs. De Vos and Van Andel, were caught on video committing fraud and obstructing justice, in the same way that he has previously used this Blog to broadcast a denial that obstruction of justice is a RICO offence and that, combined with fraud, RICO can be easily applied to De Vos and Van Andel’s activities.

              On the balance of probability, do you think Kasey Chang simply missed or misunderstood section 1503 of RICO as well?

            10. Judging by Anon’s use of “stop us from thinking”, and the ‘quote wikipedia as if it explains everything’ tactic. I agree with Wyrd that we’re dealing with Mr. Brear, Mr. Sundar, or one of their proxies / fans. Mr. Brear labels himself and his merry band “free-thinkers”, so clearly any “enemy” of Mr. Brear would ‘stop us from thinking’

              How does asking questions about one’s belief stops us from thinking? Asking questions is the only way we learn.

              Frankly, your insistent highly personal derision against me is causing me to stop thinking about you. You just constantly derail the conversation into issues not about herbalife. *yawn*

  14. @K.Chang

    No “reply” option left on the prior exchange; I want to weigh in on your comment, “I don’t start from the tautological position of “MLM *is* fraud” and then find evidence to prove it.” I take to mean that you think others of us do? If not, then please disregard what follows.

    IMO (Damn! I hate the PC mandated qualifier), There are mathematical and logical bases–both of which have been well covered on this thread–that CLEARLY lead to only one SOUND conclusion, that MLM is fundamentally fraudulent. So your implied assertion that I and perhaps other commenters have succumbed to confirmation bias is patently erroneous.

    1. @Roger Willco, Some anti-MLM folks do start from the tautological position that MLM is fraud, and they don’t want you to tell them about any legal distinctions between MLM and pyramid scheme. The distinction is a gray area that not even MLM lawyers know where to draw the line.

      As I said before, I previously used the word “legitimate MLM”, though what I meant was “not obviously illegal MLM”.

      Apparently that word goes against the tautology “MLM is fraud”, and thus, by using that term, I became their enemy.

      Let’s face the facts: some MLMs are far more OBVIOUSLY FRAUDULENT than others. Yes, this is a vague statement, but I think you’ll agree that perhaps, a pyramid scheme that sells woo is MORE fraudulent than, say a pyramid scheme that sells real products, perhaps?

      And those that sell virtual goods, like memberships, virtual bids, virtual shares, and whatnot, are MORE fraudulent than one that sell physical goods?

      So why is it so hard to see that some MLMs are MORE obviously fraudulent pyramid schemes than others?

      Indeed, MLM Attorney Jeffery Babener wrote an article defending MLM and Herbalife, and tried to paint a continuum, from ‘established networking marketing firms’ to ‘egregious abusive scams’, and claimed there’s a “wide gap” between them. I just posted on my blog rebuttal his observation, as he thought he proved that established MLM don’t abuse. What he actually proved is “established MLM don’t abuse egregiously”.

      But the idea that there is a SPECTRUM of MLM/Pyramid-ness scale is sound. On one side you have pure retailing (pyramid scale of 0) and on the other side you have pure pyramid scheme (10). MLM is such an amorphous mess, it is just about everything in between.

      So the question is, where should the “legal” line be drawn, and where it is NOW? If you accept the tautology that MLM is fraud, the line would be drawn somewhere around 0.1, while Jeffrey Babener seem to think the line is somewhere around 8, and “established” MLMs (such as Amway and Herbalife) are quite a ways off (my guess is 3?) and FTC seem to hint that their line is drawn somewhere around 5-7, even though they only prosecuted 8’s and 9’s. Though based on Herbalife’s reluctance to show some real data and Amway’s own admission in 2012 the established companies could have their pyramidness up to 7.

      However, if you accept the tautology that “MLM is fraud”, then there is no spectrum. The decision is binary: 0 or 1. Guilty, or innocent.

      The world doesn’t work like that.

      Is my theory working against your “free-thinking”? Only you can decide.

      1. @K. Chang,

        ‘Guilty, or innocent.

        The world doesn’t work like that”.

        Go tell it to the judge.

        But it’s really sweet of you to champion Evil in that inimitable logical style of yours and make concessions for it based on varying degrees of nefariousness.
        I’m sure Evil is writing you an email thanking you right now as we speak.

        Dear Chang,

        I’m usually so misunderstood.
        Thanks for seeing my side if it.


        P.S. Wanna swap body counts?

        1. @Dragon is A Little Pregnant, technically speaking, the jury instruction is “beyond reasonable doubt”, so it is a spectrum from “no way, man” to “sure he’s guilty”. Well, depends on whether it’s a civil or criminal trial, I guess. I said I’m not a lawyer… :)

      2. @K. Chang,
        ” but I think you’ll agree that perhaps, a pyramid scheme that sells woo is MORE fraudulent than, say a pyramid scheme that sells real products, perhaps?”

        NO. if you’re judging based on ‘how much could this ruin your life,’ the one that pretends to sell real products could be much worse.

        that’s the bottom line for your dumb-ass argument. you think that an MLM that lies about its intentions is better than one that doesn’t. and your reasons always have to do with legality, not with THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER.

        fuck you dude. your arguments make me sick. you have said that you make these kind of points as a ruse, to try and seduce brainwashed victims into listening to reason, but then you keep defending the same points as if you actually believe this crap. WHICH IS IT?

        the fight here is against sliminess, double and triple speak, grotesque smiling facades hiding true sinister motives, etc
        it’s present in all MLMs, big or small, product or no product. it’s the NATURE OF THE BEAST.

        lies lies lies. it’s all lies. the more ‘product’ the more lies. telling people lies, that were taught to you, in order to get them signed up to tell other people the same lies. the emperor has no clothes. it’s all terrible. sometimes, things ARE black and white, you equivocating bitch. MLMs are terrible. They are some of the worst humanity has to offer,

        1. @, No, I didn’t say that MLM that lies is less fraudulent. I said some schems are more OBVIOUSLY fraudulent than others, thus more obviously GUILTY of fraud and thus gets stepped on sooner by the authorities. It’s simple matter of “the nail that sticks out gets pounded”.

          MLM had been around 30+ years. It KNOWS how to disguise itself, esp. the older companies, and as we watch Herbalife squirm, it is FURTHER attempting to fix up its image by disassociating with Scamworld figures like Dahl and such.

      3. @K. Chang,

        Welcome to the world of reasoned debate.

        May I recommend you read Dean VanDruff’s seminal 1990 essay, “What’s Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?”

        This work speaks to what could arguably be the most basic practical problem with MLM–uncontrolled expansion of distributorships. If you understand his essay–and it’s an easy read–you’ll understand why MLMs, including Herbalife, push their IBOs so hard to buy product. While the practice results in high internal (distributor) demand for their products, it also results in oversupply to external or real retail customers. While they’re able to maintain outrageously high wholesale prices to their distributors with this artificially-created demand, the resulting glut in “retail supply” lowers market value of the same products to far below the “wholesale” price they paid, leaving unwitting distributors selling (dumping) their accrued inventory and sustaining ridiculous losses. So distributors are left holding the bag while the schemers are enriched by the fraud.

        Thus, the idea that having tangible products makes an MLM less fraudulent on a theoretical continuum is a red herring. In my opinion, basing a multi-level marketing structure on tangible products makes the scheme more insidious and therefore, more virulent.

        You’re a very bright fellow; and just like millions of other smart people, you’ve been hooked into this fallacy by a fraud that plays on every human being’s inherent susceptibility to certain logical fallacies. None of us are truly immune. Case in point: My dear friend, who’s fully entangled in MLM and cults, was the valedictorian of her high-school graduating class.

        1. @Roger Willco, I did read that. Its ideas were a part of my 5 fatal flaws of MLM article. Perhaps my conclusion was not as stated as absolute, but I think I got most of the supporting evidence is there. I’m not going to spam the URL there, but I *think* (or at least, like to think) that I understood it.

          1. @K. Chang,

            Why wouldn’t you spam VanDruff’s URL? I think it’s safe to assume he posted “What’s Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing” on the internet to reach as many readers as possible.

            The essay is by no means obscure; and informed consumer advocates and activists generally hold it in high regard. It seems to me that spamming it in support of your own conclusions would add credibility to them and give your readers an opportunity to benefit directly from VanDruff’s excellent work. Attribution of ideas to the original source is a time-honored academic and publishing tradition; and it helps avoid the appearance of plagiarism.

            Do you take issue with what he’s written; or is there some other reason? I really don’t understand.

      4. @K. Chang, Now even I am getting annoyed with what I see as bad reasoning.

        You seem to agree that pyramid schemes are bad….so….should I accuse you of being guilty of a tautology? Kasey is engaging in black and white thinking. He says all pyramids are bad. He sets up this tautology that all pyramids are bad and then he is just looking for evidence to fit it.

        How do you know how any of us came to our conclusions about MLM? You are engaging in mind reading. I came to my conclusions about MLM after looking at evidence.

        Or, your spectrum thing. So how about this.
        Joe Blow A senselessly killed one innocent person
        Joe Blow B senselessly killedthree innocent people
        Joe Blow C senselessly killed nine innocent people

        There’s a spectrum for you. But it was all bad. They were all on the wrong side of decent, ethical, healthy human behavior.

        You seem to have latched onto this concept of black and white thinking like it’s some kind of holy grail and you are not thinking about how you are using it.

        We engage in black and white thinking every time we make a decision. We would never get anything useful done if we didn’t engage in black and white thinking at some junctures in life.

        My position is that MLMs =pyramids. They are gussied up, disguised and confused, using product. Pyramids are illegal, and MLMs should be illegal too.

        If X=Y and Y= Z then X=Z where X is MLM, Y is Pyramid Scheme, and Z is illegal

        The criminals have just gotten more clever. They have hidden their scam under a lie of product. The product is a physical euphemism for “pay to play”. It is more insidious than Pyramid crime, because MLM does manage to sell some product outside the scheme.

        If those of us who are not victims don’t wise up and realize that we are being played by falling for this false “legality”, we will never get rid of this scourge.

        Single Level Direct Sales I think are okay…the DSA wants us to think that is what MLM is. It is not. Single Level Dorect sales should be the legal model for direct selling, I propose.

        SD, I hope this is civil enough for you and you don’t think I am further piling on Chang on your site, K. Chang, from what evidence I’ve sen, I don’t think you work for Amway or DSA or any MLM. I am just irritated at what I see as bad argument/bad reasoning.

        1. FWIW, @2+2=4, I agree with you completely.

          I especially like where you used the transitive property. It fits well with your handle.

        2. @2+2=4, I was… *clumsy* in my word choices. I wrote “obviously fraudulent”, but I guess my analogy could have been BETTER chosen.

          What I meant to say is the more OBVIOUS scams are stamped out first by the authorities, just as attentions are focused more on the mass killings than the individual murders.

          The MLMs of today, having survived 30+ years, have indeed learned how to survive… by disguising its fraudulent activities, by pushing up against that’s possibly fraudulent line, and by REDEFINING the fraudulent activities as “possibly legal” (by expanding the gray area through lobbying).

        3. @2+2=4 ::

          No :: of course … this is perfectly fine. And I totally agree with you. And there’s no saying you have to be civil or you can’t pile on. I wasn’t talking to any of the normal participants here. This is why I’m pissed about having to defend him … because then it sounds like I’m defending him {which I am not}.

          I’m talking to whoever thought it would be a good idea to turn this conversation into an vicious argument about a passed argument. Anyone who thinks that sounds fun or productive should go hang out here instead …


          1. @SD,

            Anyone who thinks that sounds fun or productive should go hang out here instead …


            Word. Also “I heard that!” and etc.

            [EDIT: the following was off topic. I feel bad about posting even further off topic at this point. But it’s difficult to resist the urge to post. So I’m doing it in rot13. Interested individuals can google that out. or not. It’s all good]

            Ogj (rira zber BG), ohg CM unq fbzr cbfg n juvyr onpx abj jurer ur fnvq ur’f bssvpvnyyl frcnengvat uvzfrys sebz “gur fxrcgvp pbzzhavgl”. Ur frrzf gb or nyy nobhg perngvat pbagebirefl sbe ab (tbbq) ernfba va beqre gb xrrc uvf pncgvingrq nhqvrapr sberire-pncgvingrq naq sebguvat ng gur zbhgu. Fb.. xvaqn yvxr gur riravat arjf, ohg jvgu n sbphf ba nagv-eryvtvbhf, nagv-guvf, nagv-gung fghss vafgrnq.

            V fgvyy fnl, vg’q nyy or tbbq vs ur’q whfg fgvpx jvgu gur orvat n fpvragvfg cneg.

            1. @Wyrd,

              更關閉的話題。我通常使用的谷歌中國(傳統 – 當然) ,但是這是非常甜蜜的。

            2. 這是很酷。翻譯軟件總是提醒試圖讓計算機做好翻譯的故事。他們從英語翻譯成俄語和英語的。






  15. @Wyrd,

    Again no “reply” option available for your post; so I’m starting from scratch again. But re. your post: K. Chang’s posted this comment on August 25th.

    “@This is a good read, David Brear is of the mind that all MLMs are pyramid schemes and FTC is a surrender money who kowtowed to Amway and ruined the American Public and unleashed the MLM beast upon the whole f***ing world. Oh, and any one who disagrees with him, even by the slightest bit, should suffer death of a thousand cuts.”

    “Personal attack” may be a bit of a stretch. But that comment and K.Chang’s obtuse responses to those in disagreement seem to have subsequently become the focus of this thread.

    IMO (Have I ever indicated how frustrating this PC-mandated qualifier is?), the ensuing discussion is much weightier than the original topic, which didn’t seem to require too much follow-on commentary.

    1. @Roger Willco ::

      I’d say “personal attack” is a big fucking stretch actually.

      Here’s @Howard above trying to damage the creditability of this site via defamatory personal attack …

      You have to understand the original article I had read explained how you had contacted one of your subjects you write about and the young son of age 6 had picked up the phone, bad things turned to worse, I suppose you are familiar with the subject.

      Here’s Namoi Dunford doing the same …


      Also on display in the Spider Dunford series is almost every variety of shill trolling {including affinity} … and the conversion of @Wyrd from his early skeptical Aspergers’-y-ness to fully onside contributor.

      Now here’s Blogworld New Media Expo CEO :: and notorious taco eater :: Rick Calvert on Marketing Land …

      According to Salty everyone who could possibly be considered an internet marketer is by definition a scammer.


      A gross mischaracterization of my well detailed position? Yes.

      A personal attack? Fucks no.

      Because that’s what I get for taking a strident public position :: it’s what I expect :: it’s what I want. Made you say my name Rick … you lose.

      1. @SD,

        I haven’t spent much time on Mr. Braer’s blog. But I’d bet he welcomes comments such as @K.Chang’s, even though I imagine he’d prefer a much more vitriolic attack. They must be pretty validating.

        Would that organic mortals, such as myself, didn’t feel compelled to tone our rhetoric down in order to avoid getting SLAPPed (no statute in my state). It’d be like dyin’ and goin’ to heaven to be able to name names and call ’em like we see ’em.

        How do you keep your tit out of that wringer? Oh yeah … robots don’t have tits?

        When it comes to us mortals, Wayne LaPierre may be right when he says, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with an MLM is a good guy with some mon’ “… or something.

        1. @Roger Willco, since It was Sundar that banned me from the blog where Mr. Brear espouses a lot of his views… I personally doubt that Mr. Brear is as… magnanimous as you believe him to be.

          Not that I have any intention to test that, of course.

          1. @K. Chang,

            I think you may have missed my point. I don’t think Mr. Braer would be at all magnanimous to anyone who rips him for his, in my opinion, well-conceived views. I consider spurious ad hominem attacks leveled at consumer advocates, scambusters, cultdestroyers … you get the picture … to be badges of distinction. One of my personal philosophical truths is “If you haven’t pissed somebody off, you probably haven’t accomplished much.

            I hope to score tons of attacks as I work to end MLM abuses. It’s the best payment I can imagine for whatever good I might be able to do with my big mouth and mighty pen … er … keyboard.

          2. @Roger Wilco,

            The problem is I didn’t rip him for his well-conceived views. I merely ask him did he consider ALL the angles on some issues, such as that RICO thing. He does not like to be questioned. Apparently he’s used to being called into question by shills and decided anyone that questioned him is a shill. IMHO, of course.

  16. So :: @K. Chang is not a shill … and considering that … I really don’t like how this has gone down. I don’t like people coming in here and ganging up on him about a time he was wrong a couple of years ago :: and accusing him of bullshit that’s not true {which I then have to investigate even though I’m quite busy trying to save the fucking world from evil asshole scammers} … so that instead of discrediting him for the bullshit he is guilty of … I end up having to basically defend him five times.

    How is that a win for team anti-scam?

    If Kasey Chang wants to leave another 500 comments here where he ignores the forrest for the trees :: and fails to recognize the tragic and highly emotional nature of this situation … then that’s 500 times we can make the counter points in new and interesting ways.

    But that won’t happen :: because if his heart is in the right place and he’s trying to be a scambuster as he professes … then he’ll shape up. And if his heart is not in the right place … then he’ll get exhausted and troll off into the sunset.

    I hope I’m done talking about this.

  17. Back on topic folks…

    What can we pleebs do to raise awareness of the *cough* ‘alleged’ *cough* evil of Herbalife?

    Pointing out how the top affiliates (“founder’s circle”) live (mansions in multiple locations, luxury cars, etc.) compared to the regular affiliates (who spends money, not making them) doesn’t seem to work. Sheeple see that as “inspiration”, as “you can do it too”.

    Explaining how pyramid scheme works only brings out the “everything is a pyramid” and similar bogus counterarguments.

    And so on and so forth.

    With 30+ years, it seems MLM “industry” has prepared a set of bogus responses for every truth we can throw at it.

    What can we do to pierce the veil?

    1. @K. Chang,

      In my view, while Herbalife serves as a case study on the ins and outs of MLM’s myriad deceptions, if they get taken down isolation, there are hundreds more that continue to run the con. The entire industry needs to be brought down. With 15.6 million victims losing in aggregate $15 billion in 2012, MLM has become the most pervasive and costly fraud in America.

      I’m fully invested, though a relative newcomer, in the anti-MLM cause. My personal research has led me to believe there are three major contributors to MLMs impunity; lack of public awareness, regulatory ignorance and political corruption. Right now, there’s little commercial media interest in MLM issues; although Bill Ackman’s very public battle with Herbalife is having some impact. For now, that leaves internet media to carry the ball. My observation–maybe inaccurate after only a few weeks of hanging around here–is that SD’s website does a great job of keeping seasoned observers informed and giving us “haters” and activists some sense of community. Websites such as “A MLM Skeptic” can raise public awareness and educate other folks with more tender sensibilities who for a variety of reasons, are also seeking the truth.

      IMO Mr. Chang, you are a rare talent in the blogosphere. As I’ve written before, you can do tremendous good with your reasoned approach. However, if the translation from theoretical analysis to practical application is at all poorly considered, you can do catastrophic harm, as has been pointed out interminably by several commenters here, including me.

      I don’t want to take up any more space on this thread to talk about some of what I believe are the relevant issues with you–stuff that may not interest other readers. So I’m going to ask the author of this blog offline if he’d be willing to pass my contact information along to you.

      IMO, you can do a lot!

    2. To borrow a good quote from a bad man…

      “Propaganda must confine itself to very few points, and repeat them endlessly. Here, as with so many things in this world, persistence is the first and foremost condition of success.” Adolf Hitler, _Mein Kampf_ Chapter 6.

      Anti-MLM propaganda needs to have fewer points, and repeated. What should those points be?

      1. @K. Chang,

        1. Is that what you consider this site to be? Merely an open forum for the repetitious spewing of ‘Anti-MLM’ ‘Propaganda’ ?

        2. Has there been a recent change made to the oath sworn in a court of law swapping out the word TRUTH for its closest matching synonym ‘Propaganda’?

        As in: I swear to tell the Propaganda, the whole Propaganda, and nothing but the Propaganda so help me Xenu?

        3. With the plethora of good quotes from good human beings so readily accessible all around the Net,
        why would you purposefully borrow a quote from a ‘bad man’ instead?

        In a concerted effort to diminish the quantity of points, whilst increasing their repetitiveness – please reread points 1-3.

        1. @Disgusted Dragon, because the enemy is using propaganda, and as Goebel had once said, propaganda has nothing to do with the truth. Except OUR propaganda will have truth behind it. Theirs just have lies and obfuscations and omissions.

          But what points would be the most effective when repeated? That is the essence of propaganda, no matter who said it.

          1. @K. Chang,

            Well…those of us who’d like to see MLM fraud brought to an end could do what the FTC has been doing since 1979, We could go around and around, focusing on relatively unimportant issues such as % of sales made to retail customers, how much emphasis is placed on recruiting vs. that placed on product sales, or any of a myriad of other red herrings that have kept consumer protection sidetracked.

            That strategy has certainly worked well…

            …for the MLM industry.

            It’s also kept too many concerned citizens so busy looking at the trees that they can’t see the forest as they try to educate unwary MLM prospects on the tragic consequences that accrue to 997 of every 1,000 MLM recruits. Of course we do need to show off our outstanding conversance on the fine points of MLM fraud…don’t we?

            Verbal masturbation … anyone?

            Maybe someday when we’ve finally run out of the energy that particular inconsequential exercise requires, we’ll actually hammer at the two fictional foundations on which every MLM must rely in order to even start up. And maybe we’ll actually do that before the public grows so weary of listening to us jack off, they stop listening. Or maybe not?

            What Ever … we should get back on topic, hunh.

          2. @K. Chang,

            So you carefully selected Goebbels, The Nazi Propagandist, Hitler’s right hand man (and boy was he busy) as your counterpoint?

            To quote another famous German:

            Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

            Albert Einstein

            Which clearly epitomizes anyone’s efforts at attempting to have a semblance of a meaningful dialogue with you.

            At this juncture, anything you say pretty much sounds like:


            Though a trifle more spiteful and incendiary.

            Too bad you weren’t around in the good ole’ Mengele days. He would have loved experimenting on a bifurcated, dichotomized creature such as yourself.

            And btw, every time you *yawn*, a ghost puts his dick in your mouth.

            Dragon’s out!

  18. One odd thing I’ve noticed about Herbalife… Seems it wasn’t that successful until it managed to infiltrate the Latino market by Peterson introducing it to Mexico in 2001-2002, and from there backfilled into Southern US Latino community. And it wasn’t really attracting that many other minorities in the previous (ref: SD’s “Herbalife vs Black People”)

    Is there something about Latino community that made it “more” susceptible to Herbalife (or maybe MLM in general) than, say, white, black, or Asian community? Wonder if there’s any DSA figure on it or just MLM in general? Could it have something to do with more extended families in Latino community compared to white or black community?

    1. @K. Chang,

      Dude, I want to have your back, but you don’t make it easy.

      What are you talking about “introducing it to Mexico in 2001-2002”? According to Herbalife’s 12/31/12 10-K, they officially entered Mexico in 1989. The Wikipedia articles on Omnilife and founder Jorge Vergara say Vergara met John Peterson in the 1980s and the pair smuggled Herbalife into Mexico until the company finally decided to get government approval to operate there. In 1991, Vergara used his Herbalife experience to found the Mexican MLM now known as Omnilife, a fact repeated by CNN. Following Peterson’s death, the New York Post cited a 1996 lawsuit that mentioned “Peterson and his former wife were the first to bring Herbalife to Mexico.” Herbalife was in Mexico years before 2001.

      And how are you defining success? Gross receipts? Profits? Distributors?

      Where are you getting your numbers prior to 12/16/04? The early years (1980-1986)? The NASDAQ years (1986-2002)? The private years (2002-2004)? Seriously, I’m not sure how to get that info. Morningstar and EDGAR are only showing me 12/16/04 and newer.

      1. @Lanna, which means I goofed in finding the introduction date of Herbalife into Mexico. I assumed that Peterson had introduced Herbalife not long before the diet club idea.

        But then, that just means Herbalife had been deceiving Latino community for that much longer, and it was the Latino community that tried to steer Herbalife into a more (ahem!) legal path, while feeding its coffers.

  19. Bill Ackman ain’t saying shit lately is he? He thought he could come after Herbalife but he didn’t understand that the BIGGEST difference between Herbalife distributors and your common work employee is that We actually care about what we do. As a distributor I take pride in the company and my “independent business”. Your average Walmart employee don’t really give a shit about the company as long as they get a paycheck! In my opinion Bill ought to invest in the makers of K-Y Jelly because after Herbalife is done taking a stand, he will have taken the biggest bone up the A$$! Bigger than he could have ever imagined!!!

    Here’s where I drop the mic…………….

    1. Hey, asshat, those microphones are expensive: be more careful with them.

      If by “lately,” you mean this past week, then, yeah, Ackman hasn’t said shit lately. That’s probably because he’s been celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday like most U.S. residents.

      Using a flashback sequence to go back – way, way back – to Friday, November 22, we can see Ackman gave a presentation about Herbalife called Robin Hood in Reverse at the Robin Hood Investors Conference and then gave an interview to Bloomberg TV, saying, “We are going to take this, as I say, to the end of the Earth.”

Comments are closed.