Molekule's claims are fake?

I have always been a little skeptical of Molekule’s outlandish claims and now there is evidence that they have been peddling a product that does not work. https://thewirecutter.com/blog/watchdog-rejects-molekule-air-purifier-claims/.

They also agreed to withdraw certain statements from their website regarding their product, further suggesting their claims were invalid from the start.

[Edit] I previously recommended that this show stop promoting Molekule, but I realize that was wrong and am retracting that statement.

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Thanks for the article link. I’ve always been very skeptical of Molekule’s claims and figured they were mostly relying on the placebo effect.

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Given that TWiT is dependent on advertiser revenue, and that anyone who is able to listen live will have heard @Leo commenting on the drop in sponsor bookings since the spread of Coronavirus (“I’m doin’ this show for free!”) it might have been a bit kinder to first drop him a PM asking if he was aware of this case. The forum is public, and advertisers may read it, so we don’t want to rush into a situation we don’t know all about…

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That’s reasonable. I’d be happy to remove this post and ask him privately. Can someone explain how to remove posts?

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If Molekule had not already agreed to withdraw some of the fraudulent claims I’d agree, but since they have already agreed to withdraw some claims I feel its best to inform the public before others drop big bucks on this device.

From the Wirecutter article:

At NAD’s recommendation, Molekule has agreed to withdraw the entirety of its quantified pollution-elimination claims—meaning it no longer stands by the numbers it long touted as “proof” of the Molekule purifier’s “destruction” of VOCs and biological particles. NAD found that the company’s testing comprehensively failed to back up its claims.

Molekule has also agreed to withdraw all of its claims to have been independently tested, after NAD’s investigation found that much of the research was done either at a lab where Molekule’s founder is a director or at a lab that the company sponsors.

And Molekule has agreed to withdraw its claims that the Molekule purifier relieves allergy and asthma symptoms. NAD found both that Molekule’s two small studies of patients were unscientific and vulnerable to bias and that testimonials from doctors in support of the Molekule purifier were unsupported by evidence.

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Yeah, I’m in agreement with everything you say. Just not sure what the best action is when talking about something that could also impact the cashflow of the organisation we all love, and when all advertising contains distorted facts to some extent.

I was pretty conflicted about even posting a reply at all tbh.

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As far as I’m concerned if TWiT needs to promote scam products to survive they should not survive, period.

I’ve stuck to that position multiple times over the last 40+ years even when it was my own employment on the line. Even had to resign from one position as management refused to back off on their fraud (that company no longer exists partly due to being caught in the fraud). For me it’s simple bright line ethics.

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I wouldn’t rush to withdraw the topic, at least until you’ve seen what Leo’s opinion is. After all, you are reporting something factual.

What I could suggest - and this is only from my rather conciliatory viewpoint - is maybe tweaking the wording of your original post to make it a bit less confrontational? How about “… Molekule’s claims…” and “… have been promoting a product that may not work as claimed…” and maybe dropping the last sentence altogether? After all, the news article speaks for itself.

Feel free to disagree, I may be skewing too far in the opposite direction.

PS: I’m also thinking of the principle that sometimes 2 pounds of Semtex in the right place can achieve the same results as 1000 pounds of TNT dropped from a great height, if that’s not too defence-oriented an image.

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Just to absolutely clear on my feelings.

I’m 100% certain that Leo and the rest of the great TWiT crew have done absolutely nothing wrong. They have only believed the advertiser’s claims which they repeated in ads and they have also added their own anecdotal evidence. All of that is 100% OK.

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I’ve made a couple of edits. I don’t think it’s fair to hedge on the veracity of their claims (i.e. saying “may have claimed”) since it’s pretty factual that their product does not work as advertised. However the last sentence was inflammatory and I have posted an edit to that effect.

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Yep, sounds good. I’m usually too wishy-washy anyway. Let’s see where the discussion goes from here!

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Totally agree with you.

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Advertising seems, as much as anything, an attempt to make you just have good feelings (i.e. trust) for the brand, in hopes you’ll turn off your brain when making a purchase decision, and just go on feelings. Whenever an advertiser makes any claim, I like to try and use a simple heuristic that goes something like this:

  • If their product or approach is so wonderful, how can they be the only one doing it. (It could be they have a patent, but then the ad would normally say “our patented process/technology” and even include the patent number somehow in the ad.)
  • If their product is really a great value, how can they afford to spend so much on advertising. (Two examples that come to mind quickly are Credit Karma and Wayfair. The credit ads show people’s lives getting suddenly better… how could that be? Could it be that they’re implying people are going into massive debt and they’re making massive referral fees to be able to afford all the advertising? Wayfair exclaims loudly how they have the lowest prices… how could that possibly be when they’re advertising like crazy. They must be making an awful lot of money if they can afford to spend money blanketing market with ads.)

Another thing to consider, these days, is how well the product is built and if the manufacturer will support it so you don’t have to add to the global trash problem. Right to repair really needs to become the law, and manufacturers should design and price their products expecting them to last for decades. Remember it’s REDUCE first, then reuse (and/or repair) next and finally it’s recycling when nothing else is possible. Another company that advertises like crazy for their high priced vacuums… Dyson makes products that are way over packaged, they don’t support repair or replacing batteries, and they change models so frequently that add-ons from one model year are no longer supported with subsequent model years.

I’m very glad that TWiT has ads if that means it stays available to us at no cost… but I trust very few, if any, of the claims made in those ads.

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The problem with this scenario is trust of a health product.

When looking for air purifiers for my daughter who has asthma, I did look into Molekule based on hearing the ads on TWiT. However, as with many products that I’m unsure of, I searched Wirecutter for their advice (again, based on a trust of their review process). I came across this video they did specifically on the Molekule and decided then it wasn’t worth pursuing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM9CJZpqfpA

The issue is not just that their claims were false, but as a health product they were risking people’s short term and long term health with them.

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I Bought a Molekule in Sept 2019. It proved to be effective in controlling my Asthma for my bedroom. Then in Nov 2019 I bought a Levoit for the living room. Both machines seem equally effective. The Levoit is only a quarter the cost of the Molequle’s cost. Levoit claims the ultraviolet used in Molekule can be harmful to people with Asthma. I often switch machines from room to room. Can notice no difference.

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Like @Brickshy Lisa loves her Molekule, and always knows when it’s not on. That’s why we accepted them as an advertiser.

When I saw the Wirecutter piece I reached out to Molekule for a response. We’re on a conference call with them next week but here are a couple of points:

  1. Dyson is a paying member of NAD. Molekule is not. NAD is neither a testing lab, nor a non-profit. It’s a part of the BBB.

  2. Despite multiple requests from Molekule, Wirecutter was unwilling to test the PECO claims, saying they lacked the facilities. Their test was limited to particulates.

  3. The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs just concluded a test of Molekule’s PECO capabilities, and they reported Molekule was able to remove 90% of VOCs from the air including toluene, limonene and ozone. This is something the Wirecutter has consistently ignored. You can read the report for yourself here: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5mt139k5#main

I trust the Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, but neither publication tested for Molekule’s ability to remove the smaller particles that HEPA filters cannot block.

As I said I’m going to follow up with Molekule to learn more and I’ll fill you in when I do.

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Leo, you are awesome and this cordial conversation about a sponsor is what makes me so happy to be part of the TWiT community.

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Really appreciate you following up with Molekule about this Leo.

And echoing what GrandmaChaz said, you’ve built a great podcast network and community.

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Now that is a total geek-read :slight_smile:

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I bought a Molekule over a year and a half ago and I’ve been very pleased with it. It may not be doing All that it claimed and I’m glad to hear the company is changing their claims and also glad that Leo is in discussions with them. Mine is placed in my rather large bedroom and I can honestly say you can tell the difference when you walk in…but I’ve also never used anyone else’s purifier to compare. I can say that I’m amazed at the dust and hair that the prefilter pulls out! Ewwww… that alone, however is NOT worth the cost of the unit.

I’d really be interested in an independent study on exactly what it does accomplish. I own it so I’d like to know that it does some of what I’ve paid for!

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