Friday, August 18, 2006

Woo World In The Media

It's been a busy week for woo in the media here in EoR's gloomy corner of the forest.

The West Australian newspaper continues to lead the way with its illuminating, factual articles in its Mind&Body supplement. Last week EoR learned that acupuncture needles are different from hypodermic needles (that's why acupuncture needles pierce the skin, but "push blood vessels" out of the way, and that the sex of babies can be influenced by having sex when the moon is in the right astrological position). This week's highlight is "The Power of Crystals".

My first exposure to crystals was when I was in my teens. I was very attracted to one and felt compelled to pick it up and place it to my forehead. I had a headache at the time and I found that my pain was relieved. [...] In trying to understand how and why crystals can help in healing people, my research suggests that the concepts of quantum physics may give some validation to their healing properties. [snip long diatribe about "subtle vibrations", "perfect unity and harmony", "primal integrity" and "pulsating molecules"] Crystals are capable of receiving, containing, projecting, emanating, refracting and reflecting light, which is again a form of energy. Crystals are today harnessed by science for lasers, ultrasound devices, watches, memory chips in computers, as oscillators for controlling radio frequencies in electronic equipment, capacitors to modify energy capacity in circuitry, transducers to transmit energy from one system to another and in condensers that store energy.

Never mind real quantum physicists doing work with high energy particle colliders (which would be a lot simpler and cheaper to make with a couple of crystals), the author has done her "research". Which probably consists of reading Nova magazine. Of course, electricity, and all those other electronic components that are also needed to make a fully functioning laser, or even a crystal radio, are conveniently ignored. And it's a small step from "energy" and "systems" in the physical, electronic sense to "energy" and "systems" in the healing woo non-sense. As Humpty Dumpty (that proto-postmodernist) said: "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean".

The esoteric use of crystals also harnesses the power of these structures to store and transmit energy. Quantum principles help us to understand that the frequencies of crystals can be used to channel energy to reharmonise and intensify our own harmonic frequency. Each type of crystal has a specific frequency and healing property. [...] Far from being inert, non-living substances, crystals pulsate with their own life and vitality. People report their crystals communicating with them and even translocating -- getting lost or showing up unexpectedly.

Which is why computers, lasers, ultrasound devices, and most electronic equipment often fails to work. Their crystals keep "translocating" when they feel the need to go visiting and "communicate" with a woo friend. Hang on... What was that, Mr Quartz? This article is the greatest pile of steaming manure you've seen in a long time? EoR can only agree. Even though it's presented as a factual article.

It's nice to return to some sanity after that: our old friend the Dream Reader, Charmaine Saunders, who replies to a correspondent's dream about a name, and has remembered the name ever since just in case she meets the person. Ms Saunders also believes in this particular form of divination:

I've often dreamed phone numbers and always dial them the next day but nothing significant has come out of it.

Of course, a series of constant failed tests in Woo World is not contradictory to a belief that all is true in Wonderful Woo World:

It could be someone who was important to you in a previous life or a stranger who was merely a visitor in your consciousness. Far-fetched? Don't be too sure.

EoR tends to believe the past life hypothesis. Their number would be different now, hence all the failed telephone calls. Proof positive!

Meanwhile, the ABC upholds its fine tradition of promoting any loony spruiker with a psychic tale to tell and mediumistic book to sell. Allison "World's Only Real Scientifically Proven You Better Believe It Psychic" Dubois got a run on the current affairs Breakfast program. Interviewer Fran Kelly briefly mentioned contact from the Australian Skeptics about this interview, conveniently allowing Ms Dubois to mention her scientific validation by Gary Schwartz. Sadly, neither she nor Ms Kelly discussed their recent public falling out. The interview descended quickly into farce when Ms Kelly began asking Ms Dubois questions about why the character Ms Dubois in the television show Medium did certain things.

Ms Kelly, a point to note: Medium is a drama. It is fiction. It is not a documentary. EoR expects Kieffer Sutherland will be interviewed shortly about current methods of handling terrorist activity.

Of course, if Ms Dubois really were a psychic, Ms Kelly wouldn't have had to ask any of her questions. Ms Dubois could have just rattled off the correct answsers.

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