Theranos (v): to spin stories that appeal to data while not presenting any data
To be Theranosed is to fall for scammers who tell stories appealing to data but do not present any actual data. This is worse than story time, in which the storyteller starts out with real data but veers off mid-stream into unsubstantiated froth, hoping you and I got carried away by the narrative flow.
Theranos (n): From 2003 to 2016, a company in Palo Alto, Ca., the epicenter of venture capital, founded by Elizabeth Holmes, a 19-year-old Stanford University dropout, raised over $70 million to develop and market a "revolutionary" technology for blood testing that is said to require only a finger-prick of blood. The company grew its valuation to $9 billion without ever publishing any scientific data in a peer-reviewed medical journal. It turned out that the new technology was used only in 12 out of 200 tests on its menu, meaning that the business has been based on selling old technology at bargain basement prices subsidized by the venture-capital money. Further, it emerged that the new technology was not accurate, that the new technology has been shelved since last year, and in some cases when old technology was used, the lab personnel improperly handled the machines--all of which eventually led to a blanket retraction of two full years worth of test results. The company claimed that these results have been "corrected" in the last few weeks. It is unclear what "correction" means when such blood was taken from patients up to two years ago. The company is still in business, and Walgreens, one of its most prominent partners, continues its commercial relations with the company. For many years, the business and technology press has issued countless glowing reviews of the company (see this epic list just covering 2013-2015.) Until 2014, the company board consists entirely of politicians, former cabinet members and military leaders. All these individuals have been Theranosed.
The Wall Street Journal has done an exemplary job following this case, and deserves a Pulitzer for this effort. The latest revelation relating to the full-scale retraction is here.