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The Golden Age of the Con Continues: Another Day, Another Energy Shield (and dead poodle)

by Mark Edward, Dec 20 2011

Which has the Capacity for More Evil? The Creature on the Right or Left?

Haven’t we all had enough of this by now? First we had rabbit’s feet, then Power Balance bracelets came along, now yet another scam. This one gets the media attention on the merit of a dead poodle.

What is wrong with us?

Article quoted from Nina Golgowski:

 Woman blames family’s misfortune on Princess the Poodle who was ‘possessed by the devil’

A New York woman claims her home got more than it agreed to when they brought an adopted toy poodle into their home that was demon possessed. Olga Horvat, a certified Lumia Science Color Therapist and writer of a book Paranormal Pooch writes that her pure-bred dog Princess brought with her a string of bad luck on her home and family.”We had her for four months — May through September in 2006 — and she didn’t want to eat, sleep and she couldn’t be trained to learn simple commands,’ Mrs Horvat told the Huffington Post’s Weird News.’ She was happy, but something was manipulating her,’ Mrs Horvat added. Detailing her efforts to help both her family and her small, fluffy white dog, she asserts in her book, according to the Post’s read, it was not her dog’s fault so they all needed to find help.Her husband next found himself in a serious car accident, nearly lost his job and then fell to a sudden and rare illness almost losing his life, according to her website, The odds seemed stacked against them ever since Princess entered their household, judging by their timeline, and their woes appeared to be only growing worse. By the time her daughter was nearly expelled from her third-grade classroom for inappropriately touching the arm of a Muslim friend with a glove – according to Mrs Horvat because a voice in her daughter’s head directed her to – her family’s trauma was listless. Perhaps fortunately for Mrs Horvat’s family however, though unfortunate for her dog, Princess died four months after they obtained the poodle.

According to Mrs Horvat to the Post, she fell down the stairs at the home of a friend, dying.

Yet the amount of trauma that entered their family’s life in that short amount of time, was enough to write a book which received a written introduction by Joshua P. Warren, author of Pet Ghosts.

The Center for Inquiry, however, which is dedicated to promoting critical inquiry and human enrichment, says Mrs Horvat’s situation needs more hard evidence. The only people who get possessed by demons — and subsequently cured — are those who believe it’s possible,’ Jim Underdown of the center spoke with the Post.

‘You never hear about it happening to atheists,’ Mr Underdown added.

But in the five years since Princess died, Mrs Horvat has dedicated herself to learning more about their situation and how it could have been prevented or better handled.

Charmer: Energy Shields start at $197 for people and $189 for pets, harmonizing bad energy
Charmer: Energy Shields start at $197 for people and $189 for pets, harmonizing bad energy

In her results, she is selling energy shield pendants for both animals and humans at $197 for the human and $189 for the pet. The Energy Shield is a device that will support and balance your body’s own magnetic field, while protecting you from the negative energy generated by many aspects of our environment,’ her website describes the small metal objects which resemble tiny water-tight canisters for holding addresses or other slips of paper – with the addition of ‘Energy Shield’ written around it. In addition her pendants, she says that dogs with pointy, opposed to floppy ears, she has learned, are more prone to demon infiltration, ‘because the spirit can get in there easier,’ she explained.

On scientific arguments against the pendants not working, collected by the Post, Mrs Horvat says that none of her customers who purchased them have complained about demon possessions after.

She adds in her defense that she doesn’t bother trying to convince skeptics.

‘They’re not going to change their minds until they’re put in a situation like I was,’ Mrs Horvat said.


Little Princess fell down the stairs huh? How many dogs in average health do you know who could acutally fall down a flight of stairs? And this woman gets a book deal? Have we gone mad?






38 Responses to “The Golden Age of the Con Continues: Another Day, Another Energy Shield (and dead poodle)”

  1. Miles says:

    I used to spend more time than I do now reading articles like this, laughing at people who believe in really strange and silly things. It’s almost akin to watching Jerry Springer. It’s completely pointless, and makes you feel a little embarrassed that you do it, but it’s hard to look away from the train wreck in motion.

    I’ve kind of lost my interest in hearing about that stuff anymore though. Bigfoot, 9/11 conspiracies, ghosts, faith healing, homeopathy, reikki, quantum healing, miracles, etc. I never bought into any of that garbage anyway, so reading articles where these things are de-bunked never served much of an educational purpose. At some point, this stuff just gets old, so it’s rarely humorous anymore. I don’t see it as having much of a net impact on our society in any kind of large way. Sure, people get scammed and duped, but those people are probably going to get scammed and duped anyway and that isn’t likely to change.

    Lately I’ve been wondering, what’s the point?

    For example, Mark begins his post with “Haven’t we all had enough of this by now?” And, well….yeah, I have had enough. So why are you writing about it? Why perpetuate it? I genuinely don’t mean any disrespect when I ask that. I’m honestly curious.

    What is the value in spending time to write articles de-bunking nonsense that is never going to go away, never going to convince people who believe in that stuff anyway, and is unnecessary to convince people who don’t buy into that stuff in the first place? I’m interested in what you guys think.

    I know that Brian Dunning has a lot of fun doing the research and learning new facts along the way when he goes to de-bunk stuff like this. And I can see the value in that. But I guess I just wonder why someone who is interested in learning new things would choose de-bunking nonsense as their means of learning. Why not just study a subject?

    What motivates you to care so much about Nina Golgowski and her devil-poodle?

    I honestly don’t mean this as a flame. I used enjoy this kind of stuff myself and I just stopped caring after a while. I’m just curious about what keeps that fire burning for you guys?

    • Max says:

      The skeptical movement has always been concerned with consumer protection. Righteous indignation keeps the fire burning.

      • Wrong says:

        Plus, if someone writes about it, any careful consumer who googles their products first will come across something more substantial than an advertising spiel. I mean, we could stop educating engineers in science, or programmers in code and syntax, or really anything, and say, “Surely they know this by now, we told some other people a similar thing”.

      • Miles says:

        I expected that kind of an answer because I used to feel the same way. Here is why I think that answer is a bit of a self-deception.

        1) I think we all know that the vast majority of consumers who buy those kinds of products are not going to be convinced to give up their superstitious dreams for miracle cures and easy solutions after a skeptic shows them the light. Explaining to the person who is buying healing crystals that the whole thing is utter nonsense is not going to “protect” them from getting scammed. More likely, the consumer is just going to get upset with you for belittling their beliefs and then fork over the cash.

        2) There are all kinds of different products out there that promise to do things they don’t. Yet, for skeptics, its the really odd-ball, bat-shit crazy products that get the most attention. I don’t see skeptics posting very many articles warning Best Buy consumers that the “protection plan” for DVD’s and Video Games is pretty much a waste of money, even though WAY more people fall for stuff like that than dowsing rods. Yet, it’s the dowsing rods that get most of the skeptics’ attention.

        I just have this feeling that there are a lot of skeptics out there who have a hard time admitting to themselves that they simply find it highly amusing to get together with other skeptics and make fun of people who believe in really strange things. I’m not saying that is the only motivation. I’m just saying its one which has a real effect and very few skeptics want to admit to it.

        Anyway, I know I just made it sound like I’m trying to uncover some secret society of bigoted skeptics only interested in humiliating others, but I’m really not. Maybe I’m just bored with posting “Yeah! People who believe in ghosts sure are dumbasses!”, which is what made me start to wonder why we bother doing that in the first place.

      • There’s nothing wrong in pointing out the obvious. Dumbasses will be dumbasses. It’s a vital role they must play in helping keep the universe balanced. I thank them for that.

      • Dan says:

        The universe is perfectly capable of maintaining its own balance. It doesn’t need the help of dumbasses.

  2. Richard Smith says:

    “the small metal objects which resemble tiny water-tight canisters for holding addresses or other slips of paper”…

    Yes, “Energy Shields” resemble tiny water-tight canisters for holding addresses or other slips of paper the same way homeopathic remedies resemble ordinary water: an inexpensive item/substance rendered far more expensive with the addition of a little handwaving, even less substance, and no actual value. Sigh.

  3. tmac57 says:

    I have a Jack Russell terrier with pointed ears…that dog is definitely possessed!!!

  4. erikthebassist says:

    @ miles – Imagine you are completely ignorant of the terms ‘skeptic’ or ‘critical thinking’ and you come across this nonsense. You decide it seems dubious anyway, so you decide to try and find out more, see if there’s anything to it.

    Off to the googles you go to do your homework, but because everyone has the same attitude you do, every site you find is nothing but completely credulous support.

    Wouldn’t that suck for you if you ended up buying this POS for $197 because no one bothered?

  5. As I said in another forum, there’s a cheaper answer to a devil possessed dog – called .22 long rifle :-).

    • Wrong says:

      I think that’s what Edwards implies. A healthy dog fell down the stairs and died? Rather suspicious.

  6. Wrong says:

    A brilliant article Mr Edwards, just a tip though, in that awesome final line, you misspell actually, simple typo. Might want to correct it.

    Thanks, loved the piece.

  7. Kenn says:

    Those who do not believe in Demons have never contacted Dell tech support.

  8. Kenn says:

    When my grandson was little he feared the monster who hid in the apple tree at night.

    I found a 4′ long ‘monster stick’. At dusk he and I made our way to the apple tree and vigorously beat the branches, scaring away the monster.

    It worked. The monster was gone.

    • Retired Prof says:

      Hey, you just gave me a great idea. I’ve been thinning a stand of pole timber. A lot of the trees are red maple, most of which have many straight, slender branches. Up till now I’ve been piling the brush, not realizing the commercial potential it held.

      I’m going to cut the branches to four-foot lengths, stencil them with the legend “monster stick,” package them with a copy of your post printed alongside a downloaded stock photo, and sell them for, oh, I don’t know, maybe $114.95. Plus postage, handling, and insurance, of course.

  9. Susan Gerbic says:

    Really think someone should contact the ASPCA or whatever is near this woman. Kicking/Throwing a dog down the stairs looks just like a dog falling down the stairs to his death. Considering that she believed the dog had a demon I think it more likely the dog didn’t “just fall”.

    The ASPCA might not do anything, but maybe they will make a call or send her a letter of concern. That should give her a few sleepless nights.

    Yeah for Jim Underdown who managed to get a couple skeptical lines into the article.

    Her protective thingy reminds me of the joke…

    Elizabeth – “Why are you banging two sticks together Joey?”
    Joey – “To keep the elephants away”
    Elizabeth – “I don’t see any elephants Joey!”
    Joey – “Exactly, thats how I know it works”

  10. FlatEric says:

    “On scientific arguments against the pendants not working, collected by the Post, Mrs Horvat says that none of her customers who purchased them have complained about demon possessions after.”

    You’ve got to admit, she has a pretty strong point there. Seems to work just fine.

  11. RL says:

    What do you mean ‘we’?

  12. oldebabe says:

    Incredible that anyone would be taken in by this outrageous,and in some ways hilarious, story as rationale for the sales pitch, i.e. protect yourself against demon pets!(and any animals, including people!).

    It may be interesting, however, to find out what actually happened to the maligned puppy, tho… if any of it is even partially true…

  13. Chris Howard says:

    The old “The Devil made my dog eat my homework, nearly kill my husband, and almost make him unemployed.” excuse. Man, if I had a dime…

  14. Kenn says:

    5,100 sales x $197 = $1,004,700

  15. Phea says:

    Tough call here. I can think of a few ways I’d rather not see some kook spending a couple hundred. Guns, religion, and politics are three that come to mind. Screw the demon trinket, if Olga has her shit together, the real money will be made selling her mailing list.

  16. Paranormal Poodle. Hmm. I’m a grumpy, bitter old bastard who spends his time wishing the world would enforce some kind of law that would allow us to shoot these idiots out into the darkest, deepest dead of space. I woke this morning with a little hope for humanity. Then I read this. I’m going to start building that rocket ship.

  17. Amy says:

    Small dogs do sometimes have trouble with stairs, especially if the stairs are very steep or tall. My parents’ basement stairs are quite steep, and over the years we’ve had several small dogs attempt to go up them only to trip and fall back down (thankfully without serious injury). The death of the poodle does sound suspicious to me, too, but sometimes a healthy small dog will have a difficult time tackling a staircase.

  18. Ian says:

    I’ve just submitted to Pharyngula on ‘Why I am an atheist’, and in it I make reference to this article which refers directly to an exorcism that took place in England in 1974 that went horribly wrong.

    The article is well worth a read.

  19. I’m sorry but, am I the only one who looks at the image of the author holding up her masterpiece thinking her and I are both equally shocked she wrote that bile? “I done made a book. No pichers. Jus words n stuff”

    I worked in publishing for a while. I’d have shot the entire accounts team if this made it on to the press.

  20. dionigi says:

    Now I know why those four poodles across the road bark day and night.
    I think an exorcism with chocolate and barbiturates should do the trick.

  21. Mark Edward says:

    Coincidentally (ha!)not long after I posted this piece, I picked up a book I have been reading “The Evening Standard Book of Strange Stories” and read a short story by H.A. Manhood entitled “Crack O’ Whip” which deals with a bunch of trained poodles and (no spoiler) the just fate that befalls their evil master. Weird.

    I can only hope that Princess become only one in along line of annoying yapping poodles in Horvat’s life.

    As for this being worthy of attention by me or any thinking person; whether or not anyone wants to buy “protection amulets” is of course entirely up to them – it’s their money to do with what they please – no argument there. But when innocent dogs (or people) become the pawns in an obviously stupid scam, it takes on a darker tone. What if it was grandma who went down the stairs?