The Melanin Harvesting Urban Legend: A Hoax Deconstructed, A Myth Busted, A Scam Exposed

It started almost immediately. After we published our post revealing melanin, the aromatic biopolymer and organic semiconductor, that makes people black is worth over $300 a gram more than gold people began commenting about what came to be revealed as an urban legend involving “melanin thieves” and a so-called “melanin harvesting” conspiracy theory. Some even mentioned “black organs”(????) and fetus’.

Our response to anyone suggesting melanin was being harvested was always the same: “where did you get that idea?” To which the reply was something along the lines of “everybody knows.” No one ever directed us to a source for that claim. Then came the day. We were given a source. That led us to a conspiracy theory, clickbaiting, yellow internet website. And another. Eventually we would come to what we believe to be their source.

“White” is the title for a short film produced by PBS for its “FutureStates” series. In the film the main character is opposed to Black people selling their melanin (which, of course isn’t even possible.) His wife is pregnant. Eventually, she needs medical assistance to deliver their child. That requires money. They don’t have any. The protagonist attempts to steal from the school where he’s employed, but he is interrupted before he gets the money. He then decides to sell his melanin.

Before the March 13, 2011 airing of PBS’ 15 minute short film “White” there was no mention of melanin thieves harvesting melanin. The movie depicts a future where people sell their melanin for money. Pseudoscientific melanin harvesting by melanin thieves only happens in the movies and on tell-lie-vision. The movie does introduce us to the politically correct way of referencing people who have lower levels of cutaneous (skin) melanin, (i.e., melanin challenged.)  We believe the film is one of the inspirations for the “melanin thief” urban legend. The other is an X-Files episode titled “Teliko” which is discussed below.

The melanin harvesting hoaxters also claim melanin is being harvested so it can be injected. One of the people whose image is being used was easily shown to be a man who had begun injecting himself with Melanotan-II for five months in 2013. (See his Reddit account here with 1.6k+ comments.) He was interviewed by the Daily Mail in 2015 when he began using Melanotan again. Melanotan is a synthetic form of the alpha-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone secreted by the pituitary gland of vertebrates or animals with spinal columns. Melanotan-II was invented as a way to prevent skin cancer by increasing the production of melanin. Melanotan-II is illegal for sale in the USA and other countries but, people still purchase it over the internet anyway.

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Before pic of man who injected himself with Melanotan-II for 5 months.

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After pic of man who injected himself with Melanotan-II for 5 months.
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Not Subject 39 from a 2003 Australian Clinical Trial. His name is Wolfie. He is German.

The other image of someone supposedly taking melanin injections was this guy. His name is Wolffi. He went at the time by the username Wolffi007. He was not in a “2003 Australian Clinical Trial” despite the caption. Wolffi is German. He started taking melanotan in 2008. He documented his experience on melanotan.org and you can read the whole thing here on Archive.org (It’s in German so you will have to use translate.google.com to read in another language.)

Update: TELIKO

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Screenshot from Youtube video for Can You Feel It by the Jacksons (no idea why it calls them the Jackson Five)  with text on screen reading “deceive, inveigle, obfuscate.”

As if all the above hasn’t been strange enough, melanin envy takes a new twist. While viewing a youtube video of “The Jacksons” entitled “Can You Feel It” we saw something on screen that did not fit. A text on screen phrase “Deceive Inveigle Obfuscate” appeared. That was odd. We had seen the video for the song several times before and know the text was not there before. An internet search connected the phrase to an episode of the X-Files entitled “Teliko.” In the episode Fox Mulder alludes to a joke connecting Michael Jackson and an investigation of deceased African American men who lack skin melanin.

The wikipedia article on the episode barely mentions the word melanin. The article page for the screenshot image from the episode does all it can to mention the “pigment” as ambiguously as possible.

The IMDB entry goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning melanin, also. It seems to want to connect removal of the pituitary gland to melanin reduction. Yeah, okay that can happen. Just not instantaneously. Since the pituitary gland produces a lot more hormones than a-MSH the effect of removing it would affect more than just skin melanin levels. Connecting the melanin capturing fantasy to African mythology makes it even sadder for the melanin challenged.

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By Source Screen shot from X-files episode Teliko on Wikipedia(WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

None of which even begins to bring to mind the need to envision humans having melanin “sucked” [their words] out of their skin. Is that Dracula talking? Of course they will never admit to having melanin envy. But when melanin is in animal fur, bird feathers, insect chitin, microorganisms and cephalopod ink the emphasis on melanin in human skin seems to make an obvious statement.

Melanin Is Worth Over $350 A Gram More Than Gold
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