Apollo Mental Clarity

February 15th, 2018

Business Insider reporter Brandt River has quite the scoop on “a brain boosting smart drug” called Apollo Mental Clarity.

Developed by Harvard neuroscientists and endorsed by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, among notable others, the supplement provides many proven cognitive benefits, River writes in an article for the “Insider Picks” section of the business news site. These benefits include improving memory, increasing focus and boosting IQ. But act fast, River warns, because the supplement may soon be “banned from the public.”

There’s just one problem with River’s report: everything. Not one statement in the paragraph you just read is true. Specifically:

  1. Brandt River is not a real reporter. Chances are he’s not a real person. Brandt River seems to be a riff on Brandt Ranj, an actual Business Insider reporter who writes for the “Insider Picks” team;
  2. Similarly, despite their scientist-sounding names, the two Harvard neuroscientists credited with creating Apollo Mental Clarity — “Dr. Rosenhouse” and “Dr. Cortigan” — are not actual Harvard neuroscientists. According to Quartz, which looked into the internet advertising of another “smart pill” called Synagen IQ that also named Drs. Rosenhouse and Cortigan as its creators, there is no faculty or staff member at Harvard by either of those names;
  3. Ben Carson, an actual neurosurgeon and alleged Apollo Mental Clarity user, is quoted in the article as saying, “The brain is like a muscle, you got to work it out and use supplements just like body builders use, but for your brain, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to enhance my mental capabilities.” But like Drs. Rosenhouse and Cortigan, the quote has been used to peddle other dubious smart pills on the internet. These include Neurocell and Accelleral, though in the cases of these supplements the quote was attributed to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, respectively;
  4. While the article is long on the “clinically proven” cognitive benefits of Apollo Mental Clarity, which include “sky-rocket[ing] concentration by 312%” and increasing “IQ scores by 77%,” it is short on clinical proof. The article does not reference or link to any actual studies in support of these claims and its use of brain imaging to show the increased concentration levels of one Bill O’Reilly (another purported fan of AMC) can best be described as a nice try;
  5. Finally, while it’d be beneficial for consumers if the supplement was banned in that it would save them a lot of money (more on this to come), that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon. The mention of an impending “government intervention” is just an effort to get you to sign up for the trial bottle of Apollo Mental Clarity offered at the end of the article as quickly as possible.

In short, it’s not a real article. A closer look at the URL — business.insiders.news — reveals that Business Insider (or businessinsider.com) had nothing to do with it. It’s as fake as the smile you use to greet the clerk at the DMV.

Unfortunately for consumers, though, there are real consequences for signing up to receive a trial bottle of Apollo Mental Clarity.

By the time we got around to looking into the fake article, which was only a day or two after a TINA.org reader initially alerted us to it, links to the “risk free trial” had already been taken down. So we googled “Apollo Mental Clarity” and eventually landed on a site pitching its own “free trial bottle” with equally enthusiastic (and similarly unsubstantiated) claims about what the supplement is capable of achieving.

These included:

  • “We lose as much as 60% of our mental focus from ages 25 to 70. But what can be done to stop this decline in performance? … Apollo Mental Clarity is a potent supplement with an advanced cognitive formula made with all natural ingredients to fuel your brain.”
  • “Regardless of age, stay mentally sharp, remember facts with ease and have a quiet confidence of sound decision making and a new ease of life with Apollo Mental Clarity.”
  • “The days of the mid afternoon crash are over as soon as you feel the Apollo Mental Clarity experience!”
  • “This ‘Smart Supplement,’ by definition, helps to improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration by boosting your overall brain health.”

And that “free trial bottle” of Apollo Mental Clarity promoted on the site? It can come at a great cost. That’s because by signing up to receive the bottle (for which you in fact pay $4.95 shipping and handling), you are also agreeing to enroll in a membership program that sends out future monthly shipments of Apollo Mental Clarity at $94.95 a pop, that is, if you do not call to cancel within 14 days of ordering.

Yet, TINA.org found that Apollo Mental Clarity does not disclose the terms of its negative-option offer until after a consumer hands over his or her credit card information for the trial bottle — a clear violation of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act, or ROSCA. Even then, the disclosure appears toward the bottom of the next page beneath a large, “continue checkout” button that, rather than progressing with the order as is, signs consumers up for a second supplement, Poseidon, which has its own membership program that they need to opt out of.

Add it all up and this “free trial bottle” for Apollo Mental Clarity could end up costing you upwards of $200 in the span of two weeks.

If you’re looking to call and cancel, the number’s 888-866-0530. Good luck. When we called shortly after ordering, we were placed on hold for more than 20 minutes before someone finally picked up and we were able to cancel. While we were told that the supplements wouldn’t ship, we received them anyway. At least now we can tell you what is actually inside. Here’s the label for Apollo Mental Clarity and here’s Poseidon.

Find more of our coverage on brain claims here.

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Recurring offers or subscriptions that continue to bill you until you take steps to shut down the account. These types of offers put the onus on the consumer to remember and to take action, allowing a company to keep gathering in cash from forgetful or busy customers. Be wary of these types of offers, and remember to stop services you no longer want.

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