Let's just kill the snake oil salesmen

Hello fellow Sophonauts!

It’s hard to choose words in the ”personal development” space. Should we call it “mind and body”? Wait, is it just the “mental health” space? Or was it “wholistic health” now? You see my point. Personally, I like ”health and wellness”, but it becomes hard for anyone to understand anyone else when we’re talking past each other. I think I know why this is happened.

This phenomenon is caused by an incredible pile of nonsense accreting for so many years that it’s polluted our shared community spaces. There are so many loud sources of BS that it’s nearly impossible for us to determine what’s valuable and real. It’s all because of these ridiculous snake oil salesman! If you’re not familiar with the English idiom, ”snake oil salesman“ is a term for someone selling health products that patently do nothing, usually for premium prices. See also: scammers.

“Buy this oil, it gives you wiiiings”

Funny enough, it turns out that the original namesake “Snake Oil” is a real remedy used in traditional Chinese medicine. The oils from the fats of Enhydris chinensis, the Chinese water snake, are good for you!  The therapeutic effects come from the contents of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is a type of Omega 3 fatty acid. It’s a lot like fish oil and has similar uses. This remedy was used for centuries, so what the heck happened?

In the early 1800s, charlatans took a product that had valid uses, stripped everything actually valuable from the contents, and replaced it with the cheapest possible ingredients. Then, they advertised it as a cure-all, miracle tincture. This process has been going on for years and to be frank, I am so fed up with it I could throw a fit.

Well, this is exactly what has happened to the health and wellness industry. So many people made outlandish claims, being good at convincing rather than delivering value. It’s twisted to me, because the people purchasing phony products are the ones who need the most help. We buy these things that we hope will make us feel a certain way, because we are insecure and feel like we are not whole.

That’s not true. You’re whole already! You’re a magnificent being on this beautiful planet. You are the whole package! We all need some work (I’m sure I do more than most) but it’s not going to come from a magic pill that suddenly solves all of our problems. It comes from really hard work.

Getting rid of snake oil salesman in the health and wellness industry is not an easy task. It requires the people who have been working diligently for years to patiently deal with the outcomes of the few bad actors. All the good actors would like to eliminate the bad actors entirely, I’m sure, but the sacrifices involved can’t be taken lightly. It requires a shared understanding that being measured and regulated isn’t the worst thing to happen to an industry. It’s good, if we can focus on the delivery of real solutions and measure them!

If you’re like me, and you just want to feel better more of the time, this is worth thinking about. Legitimacy within an industry has to come from diligent standards that we keep. As consumers, it means we need to be more awake as we scroll through social media, and add another layer of critical thinking to our purchase decisions.

We all want to kill the snake oil salesmen for good, but when we look at the sacrifices good actors have to make, it doesn’t sound so easy. Getting rid of the people who are preying on our weaknesses means growing past our weaknesses together. Everyone wants that, but few want to put in the work. I promise it’s worth it in the end!

Anyways, email me back if you’d like to buy some magic beans that stop you from farting forever and can make you live to 134 years old.

Here’s what’s new with us:

Bite the bullets

  • If you still haven’t taken the test! https://app.sophonaut.com/ 

  • As we mentioned last time, we’re working on coach and client matchmaking now

    • If you’re looking to improve in some meaningful way and want a match, or you’re a coach who wants more clients, we want to chat! Psst It’s an open secret to the folks in this newsletter, we’re not talking about it in public yet so 🤫 

  • Our Discord: if you want to talk to people about personality/behavior. Come say hi! https://discord.gg/aGPu9s9JBE

  • We are welcoming a new team member!

    • Phillip Blest is interning with us as a UX Designer! He’s a rad dude, straight out of Houston and proud. We’re stoked to have him onboard!

That’s it, go back to whatever you’re procrastinating!

Peter DePaulo, Co-founder

About Sophonaut

Sophonaut means “wisdom sailor” and was founded by Peter DePaulo and Tyler Capps . It’s a project with the intent of solving several problems that humanity faces by attacking the most upstream problem: people don’t understand and cannot control their own behavior.

The approach here is to hijack desire to move people up on the scale of their own development. Our models for this are based on a modified version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a ton of personality psychology, and Robert Kegan’s model of adult development.

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