Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mind&Body (No Brain Required)

The West Australian's Mind&Body [sic] supplement for Tuesday May 2, 2006 is a little gem (to continue the theme of the 34th Skeptics' Circle for a moment).

The headlining article is "Feng Shui Your Life" (EoR will just leave the sloppy grammar of that for his readers' amusement). The article is headed:
Does sitting in a cluttered, dark lounge room leave you drained and depressed? Clare Morgan reports that feng shui can help.

Not "might", "maybe", or "could" but "can" help. No argument. Indeed, in the whole article the remote possibility that such inanities as
A feng shui study or audit on a building involves looking at both the tangible qi, the things you can see - objects, structures, furniture, roads, rivers, mountains - and the intangible qi, the subtle life force, the energy that we don't see

could, perhaps, be only a belief is broached only once in passing. Otherwise, the necessity to have
qi energy circulating around your home in nice, even circles so everything is calm

is presented as solid, indisputable fact. You know, like all that unintelligible stuff in physics textbooks. Wouldn't everything be calmer if all that "qi energy" wasn't rushing around so much? This is, of course, unscientific gibberish which has no meaning even within its own magical framework, and all presented as solid fact.

Moving on: Pranic Healing. Again, there is only one passing reference to what practitioners "believe". Unfortunately, the rest of the article is presented as fact. Anyway, it must be real, since Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital uses it. A single anecdotal case is presented of a cancer patient who (note the scientific style of reporting)
After undergoing pranic healing before his last bout of chemotherapy, he didn't develop any sores and left the hospital after five days, instead of 21 days.

Nonetheless, the practitioner featured states
Pranic healing will not cure cancer but Mrs Yorg said it might help adjust the body's energy levels to help recovery.

So does it or doesn't it cure? Or is the important word there "might"? And what effect is the chemotherapy having?

In other articles shiatsu is featured (more references to the already accepted and proven manipulation of qi), an article on calcium supplements being of little apparent benefit for children (based on a study in the Cochrane Database - must mix some real science in there to subliminally convince the readers that everything is science), and "TOXIC METALS LINKED TO ILL HEALTH" (which is hardly newsworthy enough to warrant it being in capitals like that), mixing information with fact with fantasy, all without any boundaries.
Toxic metal burden may be the reason naturopathic or medical treatments fail to work.

Or maybe they just don't work at all. Anything "may" be the reason. Anyway, get yourself a hair analysis to find all the toxic metals in your system, and
Eat organic food, drink filtered water and avoid chemicals in the home.

A worthy goal. EoR is going to spend a whole day avoiding all chemicals in his home. But since everything is made up of chemicals how will he do it? Oh no, he's just realised his own body is made up of chemicals! In order to achieve balanced energy levels, he's going to have to avoid himself. Perhaps some sort of transdimensional temporal loop...

The final article of interest is "BACK CRACKING QUESTIONED" which reports a metastudy of 26 studies on spinal manipulation, conducted by Professor Edzard Ernst. It was found there was "little evidence" of the treatment's effectiveness, and some potentially serious rare complications. Predictably, the chiropracters and osteopaths refuse to assess any new information about their "science" (it's a university course, it must be a real science - EoR believes it's part of the Faculty of Medicine and Magic) and update their knowledge, but simply stick their fingers in their ears.
But chiropracters and osteopaths in Australia have slammed the study, backing their British colleagues who accused the review team of focussing on negative results.

Well, says EoR... If the results are negative, the results are negative. That's what science is about. Scientists (not chiropracters or osteopaths who live in a fantasy world where nothing ever changes and they only ever have to look at studies that support their beliefs) frequently have to face up to results that are contradictory to expectations.

The rest of the article provides all the reasons about why osteopathy and chiropracty are A Good Thing, Work Really Well, and are not at all dangerous or deluded.

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