A Victorian Take on “Red Mercury”

In the Victorian era, beauty treatments could be fatal.  In addition to using arsenic, belladonna, ammonia and lead-based paints (for that “whiter-than-white” look), women used vermillion, “a known poison,” was used as an early lipstick (Atlas Obscura).  In those days, vermillion was also know as our friend, Red Mercury, another example of how this substance has been lethal over the years.

Remember: Red Mercury does not exist and anything that claims to be Red Mercury is hazardous to your health.

Michael P. Moore

December 18, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Who is looking for Red Mercury

All of the recent attention on the Red Mercury hoax has been welcome.  But it did make me curious about who is searching for Red Mercury (because it DOES NOT EXIST) and in what context they are looking for it.  Using the search engine data collected by the Campaign’s site and doing a content analysis, I came up with the following information:

Red Mercury Searches

More than a quarter of the visitors to the Campaign’s website have found the site by using search terms like “Where to find Red Mercury”?  One in eight visitors are looking for Red Mercury and either landmines or other unexploded ordnance.  Two new areas that we can explore are the ideas of “cutting money” which means creating money through magical processes and the “Sandawana” which is a mythical animal in Subsaharan Africa.  Presumably, people are searching for Sandwana and Red Mercury for the same purpose: to get rich.  I was heartened to see almost one in ten searchers are looking at Red Mercury as a hoax or looking for stories about the con men running Red Mercury scams.

As for where the searchers are coming from, more than a quarter are from Southern Africa (Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), but a surprising number are from Europe.  India, with 5% of the searches, was unexpected but Turkey, where recent arrests for Red Mercury scams took place, was not.

Red Mercury Search Origins

Unfortunately, I could not correlate the location of the searcher with the search terms used, but I did think it interesting that Zambia had more people searching for Red Mercury than any country except the United States.  South Africa and Zimbabwe had the third and fourth most searches, respectively.

But wherever you are: Red Mercury does not exist and anyone who tells you otherwise, whether in person or via Google is a conman.

Michael P. Moore

December 8, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org