Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Truth Behind Alternative Therapies

Sometime ago EoR had the inspiration to create his own alternative therapy. Taking the piss wasn't an option (it's already been done viz. Urine Therapy) so the next best thing was making an arse of True Believers.

Hence he invented Buttockology, the science (there are numerous personal anecdotes available, and countless unspecified studies have confirmed it scientifically) of healing through the buttocks. After all, if reflexology works, and iridology, why shouldn't the buttocks reflect all the body parts as well?

EoR soon realised that this was only the start, and transformed Buttockology into the more medical sounding Gloutology (as in gloutous, Greek for buttocks). It still promoted the same wacky pointless healing system for dealing with evil toxins.

Unfortunately, EoR didn't follow this through. If he had, he might today be rich: Rumpology.

EoR still thinks Gloutology is the better name but, having looked at the 'examples' Jacqueline provides, is glad he gave the idea up as a bad joke.

In passing, EoR wonders if there isn't any sarcastic lunatic idea the True Believers won't fall for and pay money for?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I See Difficulties Ahead...

Even though EoR has previously made fun of believers in certain esoteric practices, he has decided to change tack and deal with something we all know is Real and True over the next few days: the Wonderful World of Psychics.

For example, this full-colour one-third page advertisment from Quokka (the local buy and sell classifieds paper):

Funny that the "Accurate Clarivoyants" couldn't foresee the spelling mistake. Or, since the advertisement continues to run in the same form, obtain some spiritual guidance from Those Who Have Passed Over on how to correct the problem. Or that they would be held up to ridicule.

EoR would give them a call and point out their error but, given their amazing powers, suspects they will be calling him any minute now. Any minute now. Any... minute... now...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Channelling Inanities

A few days ago I blogged in wonder at indigo child Solreta Antaria who channels messages from Kryon.

What I didn't know at the time is that Kryon has also gone to the trouble of creating his own website (actually, a whois lookup shows it's registered to 'the kryon writings inc.' and the contact person is Lee Carroll, Kryon's emissary-in-chief on earth). On the site you can read actual channellings from "Kryon of Magnetic Service" (though most seem to have the disclaimer that "To help the reader, this channelling has been rechannelled" ie rewritten). Really freaky things like "How Big is God?":

However, in interdimensional time, the readers are here now. I'll prove it: Reader, are you with me? [Smile] I can "see" your eyes on the page! Reader, to you, this live conference was in the past. But for both of you, reader and listener, we see you together right now. That's what makes this energy here so large and so complete.

EoR could hardly credit it. When he read that sentence about his "eyes on the page" his eyes were on the page! Exactly as foretold! Oh, and the answer to the riddle is

God is bigger than anything you can conceive... yet small enough to live in your heart.

How twee. Channelled information from an angel in the stars that sounds like an inane positive affirmation made by an idiot. But Kryon doesn't just spout platitudes. Oh no, he's firmly scientific. Take DNA for example:

It's a spiritual time, here... a sweet time... whatever that means to you.

Um, yes. Exactly.

...We now are now even labeling the DNA layers. We're giving them names in Hebrew. Some have asked, "Why are they in Hebrew? Why are they not in an older language such as Lemurian or perhaps Sumerian?" The answer: Go find a dictionary of Sumerian and Lemurian and we might do that... but there is no such thing.

Kryon must have been sleeping, or just too involved with cosmic rebalancings to have noticed a Sumerian lexicon. EoR expects Kryon to immediately correct his oversight and rename everything in Sumerian. Or admit he's a rather boring, bad and unoriginal bullshit artist.

Incidentally, EoR wonders how many of Kryon's True Believers are simultaneously happy to have their DNA fiddled with, and are also stridently anti-GM.

The ninth layer of DNA is called Shechinah-Esh. Shechinah-Esh. We will translate that in our way, as the Flame of Expansion. It's layer nine. Now let me tell you what it is and what it does. Like the others, it's an interdimensional layer, and this is esoteric information that can never be proven in your lifetime. But some of you will know this since it rings with truth. You see, layer nine is what's missing in layer one! You might even say that layer nine is what makes the "junk" work! And when you put layer nine and layer one together, you get a completion of communication to the rest of the interdimensional layers. [...] Layer Nine even has its own patron saint, St. Germaine.

So, to summarise:

  • These claims can never be proven

  • These claims are true because it 'rings' with truth

So 'stuff' (ie magical maniacal meanderings) is true because it can never be proven to be true. Goodbye scientific process. Hello madness.

Then Kryon comes up with a single, profound statement that EoR can fully agree with:

Ridiculous, isn't it?

EoR promises hard not to laugh out loud.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mighty Mystifying

The West Australian (the state's only local daily newspaper) has a Froth and Fancy section (sorry, Mind and Body section) on Tuesdays.

In the most recent example of this wide-eyed wondering approach to all things woo, Iridology was the uncritical lead story. There was also a large (uncritical) write-up on the healing powers of crystals, as well as some handy crystal cleaning tips:

Cleansing crystals is very easy. Just place your crystals out in the sunlight for four hours or soak them in a bowl of salt water, for twenty minutes. Alternatively you can leave your crystals out overnight during a full or new moon, which are especially good for cleansing and charging your crystals.

An article on "Watch out for cancer 'cures'" will probably be ignored by the True Believers for its rigid Western based approach to healing (though it does support acupuncture, yoga, massage and music therapy).

EoR was most interested in "Mighty Magnesium" though:

Magnesium is eliminated from the body through perspiration and urine. This loss is increased by consuming coffee or alcohol, by taking the oral contraceptive pill and by hormone replacement therapy, diuretics and ACE inhibitors or beta blockers.

EoR wonders how the human race survives. There we all are, dangerous toxins building up steadily in our bodies, threatening our health and amenable only to magic hand waving, magic water, magic needles or something magic in order to rebalance, realign, restore or eliminate them, and at the very same time our bodies are eliminating, with no difficulties, the very substances we need for health! Oh, if only toxins could be removed so easily...

A less forgiving soul than EoR might argue that it's just a bunch of SCAMsters persuading people that they've got lots of Bad Stuff (insert pseudoscientific gobbledegook of choice) which they need to pay lots of money to remove, oh, and they're also missing lots of Good Stuff (insert pseudoscientific gobbledegook of choice) which they need to pay lots of money to receive. But EoR would never say that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nurse! Prepare for an Urgent Auraectomy!

EoR has been browsing the latest issue of Nova ("Keeping body and soul together").

The disclaimer is interesting:

NOVA does not promote the doctrines or philosophies of any organisation, religion or belief system. [...] We endeavour to maintain a high standard of credibility in the quality of articles published.

Funny, EoR rather gained the impression Nova promoted a plethora of philosophies, and maintained an amazingly high level of credulity. Thought Field Therapy, Kinesiology, Natural Medicine, Yoga, Goddess Blessing, Chi Machines, Feng Shui, Meditation... Et cetera. Et cetera. And that's just up to page 7.

While there's such a wealth of woo to wonder at, EoR's attention was caught by "Verna Yater - Acclaimed medium returns":

The acclaimed American medium and healer is perhaps best known for her work with a team of spirit doctors who, says Verna, want to use their medical knowledge which "has increased since being on the Spirit Side" to help humanity. The original team of seven has grown over the past 25 years to a fraternity [EoR wonders why no female doctors?] of 27 with the recent addition of a dentist.

Verna has often spoken of her joy at being "the conduit through which these highly evolved, loving and joyous beings bring remarkable healings to all who need them. Perhaps the most important work they do is to work on the finer vibrations of each person's body, doing exactly what is needed for that individual."

In more recent years, Verna reports she is able to transmit heavenly sounds from the highest angelic healing level, that of the Seraphim and the Elohim.

Her voice resonates at frequencies and overtones up to 250,000 cycles per second and although the sounds are entirely vocal, many hear musical instruments accompanying them.

EoR is impressed (yet again). A spiritual ER team! Dentistry by spectral means! EoR just hopes she hasn't recruited Harold Shipman by mistake since his passing over to the 'Spirit Side'.

Since 250,000 Hz is somewhere on the AM frequency band, EoR is really impressed that Verna can produce radio waves by singing. And that people hear 'musical instruments' when the human ear can only hear up to around 20,000Hz. EoR would almost suspect a con if he wasn't a True Believer.

Unfortunately, no details of her appearances in Australia are given (though some dates are here). Maybe they're hidden elsewhere in this issue. Maybe they're only available on the etheric plane. Sigh.

But at least you don't need to be ill to benefit (that's 'benefit' as in 'your money benefits Ms Yater'):

You don’t have to be ‘sick’ or have symptoms of illness to benefit from this healing

So, not only can Ms Yater heal the sick, she can heal the healthy as well! How many conventional doctors can make that claim?

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Clarification

To all those practitioners of SCAMs who cannot proofread their miraculous claims:

EoR does support complimentary therapies.

EoR does not support complementary therapies.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Second Opinion - The Usual Suspects

With a tear in his eye, EoR watched the final episode of Second Opinion. It was just like Old Folks Week, with returning guest stars, and a sentimental homage in the final minutes consisting of highlights from previous programs. And all the therapies featured this week were manipulative (in at least one sense of the word). Life will never be the same again.

Thankfully, Aleisha returned this week in order to roadtest Rolfing. Rolfing structurally aligns the whole body with gravity, which improves energy and allows the body to spontaneously heal itself. Is this sounding familiar? Does it sound like every other therapy? Rolfing, however, uses a "variety of techniques" (EoR isn't quite sure which, since it was never stated, but did notice diagrams of Trigger Points hanging on the practitioner's walls) which get fascia "to change in some way". Aleisha, to everyone's surprise, felt more invigorated and energised at the end.

Chiropracty was used to heal a Down Syndrome patient who had fractured his tibia and fibula in a traffic accident four years previously. The chiropracter diagnosed compression fractures of the L1 and L2 vertebrae which had not been found four years earlier. He then manipulated the patient, including using a bizarre "toggle machine" (EoR thinks that was the name, but maybe he said "Magic Woo Machine") which the patient's head rested on, and which seemed to be a simple spring mechanism so that when the head was pressed down against it, it sprang back. As a result of this, the patient's sleeping, walking, language skills and social interaction have all improved way beyond expectations. No other therapies or social skills training that the patient may have been undertaking were mentioned.

During the in-studio discussion about the therapy, the chiropracter (actually his friend, since the real chiropracter was on an overseas jaunt) and the Tame GP metaphorically backslapped each other and spouted hearty congratulations.

Last, and least, was the long awaited return of Second Opinion's ponytailed poster boy, Tony Kew, a practitioner of his self-created Integrated Body Tuning. In this miracle cure he treated a sportsman suffering osteitis pubis which regular treatment had failed to cure.

Mr Kew diagnosed that the problem was caused by upper foot, ankle and lower leg misalignment which were affecting the femur/hip joint which, in turn, was causing the groin pain. In fact, according to the Wisdom of Kew, "more often than not" pain originates from different areas than where it is felt. 90% of lower back pain is because of problems below the knees. Headaches and neck pain are caused by problems in the wrists.

Mr Kew promised to effect his miracle in only three treatments. Even though he had already diagnosed the problem in the lower leg, he also spent time manipulating the patients arms, back, shoulders, head, legs, groin, etc etc. The cure was effected (though we don't know how many sessions it took). The patient who wasn't playing any sport (and hence, presumably, resting) was now back in full action. No mention was made of the effect of the period of rest, nor whether he was on other therapies or medication (do you notice a pattern here?). IBT costs $A50 to $A150 per session.

And so EoR bids a fond farewell to Second Opinion as it slowly sinks in the West, in the ratings and in the ABC's schedule...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Talking in (Star) Tongues

A brief break from the lunacies of homeopathy for something much more sensible: Solreta Antaria (EoR suspects this is not her Real Name but wonders why if she has such "a strong connection with the star system Sirius" she isn't called Solreta Siruisa?).

Solreta appeared last night on John Safran's Speaking in Tongues claiming to be an 'indigo' child (all born around 1980 she informed us - shades of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos), to have been clairvoyant from an early age, to be able to speak in ancient tongues (Atlantean, or was it Sirian? EoR got a bit confused) and to have higher spiritual and psychic energies. She then proceeded to speak in her magic language (which other 'indigo' children can apparently understand without training). EoR was unfortunately unprepared for this, and was unable to transcribe it, but it seemed to be some sort of faux-Polynesian with a preponderance of vowels ("ah ooh ah nana wanny woo" etc). It also seems to be related to her self-created magic which she calls Sirian Healing:

In short, the energy that this star brings has a profound effect on humanity and Solreta has learnt to harness this in a healing manner that brings the client to a greater spiritual awareness. [...] Solreta primarily provides her healings through the Sacred Sirian language of love that touches the very depths of our souls. This vibrational healing is a key to unlocking blocked emotions and energies from the past, within this life or others. The healings also utilize a frequencing alignment with Gems, Flower Essences, Sound and Colour with each session being unique and different for everybody.

Unique and different? EoR is suitably impressed.

Mr Safran invited viewers who understood her glossolaliac gibberish to email the translation to him. EoR was struck with a blinding light, and was perhaps one of the few who truly understood her words. He immediately dashed off the important information that Solreta had channelled to him: "If you take too many drugs you can end up like me. Just say 'no'".

EoR looks forward to the emails of other enlightened beings.

Solreta could be described as many things: bizarre, scary (she has these unsettling staring eyes), loony, deranged, or possibly just grasping and manipulative.

She's a fully qualified therapist in such powerful modalities as Holistic (or is it Wholistic?) Kinesiology, Transformational Kinesiology (doesn't (W)Holistic Kinesiology also, by definition, include this?), Reiki, Crystal Dreaming™ ("These techniques open all channels to the spirit world and beyond, facilitating interdimensional travel" - $A100), Alchemy and Soul Star Workshops.

She also runs the Australian College of Energetic Medicine (presumably, as opposed to the Australian College of Lazy Medicine). This is a Registered Training Organisation. EoR wonders what you have to do to qualify as a Registered Training Organisation. It seems it's all about having audit procedures in place, and complaints procedures, and so on. What you're actually proposing to 'teach' has nothing to do with it. For example, providing Dimensional Therapy:

"Dimensional Therapy also frontiers the application of sacred geometry to the physical body, putting the Egyptian dimensional principles into a technical application and using ancient math to align the frequencies of the human vehicle with corresponding Egyptian healing secrets".

Where does this knowledge come from? Apparently, it is "channelled information from Kryon, the Pleiades, Orion, Lyra and Vega systems". EoR is appalled that someone who casually chats to beings from other star systems is a Registered Training Organisation. Presumably, all you need is a Certificate of Lunacy. Furthermore,

"Dimensional Therapy is the art of identification of destabilisations in the five bodies of human consciousness. The body is re-stabilised through the use of comprehensive correspondences to sacred geometry, planetary influences, connection point and string interferences, and dimensional life interchange and recognition techniques. Unlocking the secrets hidden in numbers, the Qabalah, The Flower of Life and sacred geometry, the body can be restabilised. Analysing and feeling the auric and etheric pattern, distortions in the physical energy field are identified through the use of forearm frequency matching".

EoR can feel his brain turning to mush already...

Solreta also sells tuning forks which can tune in angels and crystals, and designs and sells newage jewelry including The African Mother:

A cool breeze blows through the open planes of the African land, there is a woman boldly standing with her children who are crying over the loss of their farther, his ashes are carried away in the wind. The strength of their mother is reflected in the powerful beads she wears around her neck. Her name is Isis. This combination is very powerful, the tigers iron helps bring out inner strength and give the power to keep on going, it maintains and balances the root chakra, and is very good for emotional release, it is also beneficial for those who are feeling exhausted.

and the Elfian Princess:

This necklace comes from the old world, it is said that when worn it will align you to the ethereal plane; this is where the more subtle beings live. Rainbows woven in copper, this necklace reflects the delicate nature of the elves.
"We elves work with the mother (nature), who speaks to us all, she is part of us, take time to stop and listen, and you can find your heart amongst the trees."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yet More Homeopathic Wonders

EoR is fascinated by the wonderful magic of homeopathy. He can't get enough of it.

According to Antidotes that Interfere with Homeopathic Treatment no matter how powerful the healing vital force of homeopathy is, it can apparently be stymied by something as simple as a sip of coffee, or going to sleep in the wrong bed, or being unfaithful and casting your gaze at the local acupuncturist. Of course, it wouldn't be because homeopathy simply doesn't work. Or that people's symptoms come and go with no correlation to intake of homeopathic 'remedies'. Homeopathy is magic, and magical thinking requires that disparate events are inextricably linked by some mysterious force. Let's call it, umm, how about 'vital force'?

In the absence of studies, always fall back on anecdote...

Poor Debbie suffered from a variety of women's issues, all resolved by Sulphur (including making her "energy much better"). This was fine for seven months until she partook of forbidden fruit (well, actually some coffee flavoured cookies). The effect was dramatic. Only one week later her symptoms had returned. There could be no doubt. The cookie from a week ago was the culprit. Nothing else could explain it. Not even that the two events were fundamentally completely separate and unrelated. There was manifestly a direct causal link.

Poor Don had some men's issues, resolved by Thuja. But when he used some marijuana, his venereal warts returned. When he used Thuja again, they disappeared. EoR is convinced. He's never heard of warts disappearing on their own before. In passing, EoR wonders about how powerful a high you could get from homeopathic marijuana...

Barry had a number of issues which "resolved well" with Causticum, but he foolishly threw away the miracle by using an electric blanket only to have the symptoms return. Yes, obviously it couldn't have been that the homeopathy had no effect at all, it was that nasty device with all that evil bad energy. Presumably the homeopathically besotted should forego all electrical devices.

Vick's Vapo-Rub, hair perms, coffee and caffeine (though not, strangely, caffeinated tea), Tiger Balm, cough drops, prescription medicines, immunisations, dental work, other homeopathic remedies, herbs, vitamins, acupuncture... The list seems endless. EoR is amazed that any homeopathic remedy works. Ever.

EoR admires the way homeopathic victims are turned away from wasting their precious money on other SCAMs. Give it to your friendly local homeopath instead. This appears to be the standard 'alternative' ethical stand: it's okay to spend all your money on bullshit, as long as it's my bullshit. Just don't fall for those other shysters.

As an aside, EoR finds it presumptuous and misleading of Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHANP to refer to herself as "Dr" Reichenberg-Ullman (and stick all those silly letters after her name).

Monday, November 21, 2005

More on Homeopathic Healing

EoR thought he had a very good understanding of how homeopathy 'works' but was enlightened by Homeopathic Medicines.

There's the vital force again:

The vital force is a type of energy which permeates everything, it is found in abundant quantities in the air and in water. Because this is a force, like gravity, it has certain properties. And like gravity is it just as "physical".

Yes, when I drop a brick it falls on my foot and hurts me. When I drop a heavy amount of vital force, anything could happen.

Maybe the homeopaths have vitalforceometers?

If it permeates everything, why does it only adhere to water? Why is it only one-way? Shouldn't the 'memories' in the water leak out and affect the curative substance the homeopath is hopefully waving about? Maybe those curative substances are becoming more water-like, and not the other way around? EoR's mind starts to spin.

EoR also knew that desperate homeopaths were drawn to all sorts of arcane and offensive materials for their materia medica, but

There are a number of sources that homeopathic medicines can use to obtain the original substance in the production of a medicine. [...] Imponderablia. These are energy sources such as x-rays, sunlight, moonlight, and other radiations.

Does anyone seriously believe this? Homeopathic remedies made from sunshine? Pauses momentarily to shake a drop of sunshine and and a swimming pool full of water together. And how does the homeopath mysteriously separate the sunshine from the 'other radiations' passing through it? In fact, every homeopathic remedy should have such a profusion of substances interfering with it (let alone the homeopath's breath, deposits of skin and other material from his hands, bacteria in the air, fly faeces etc etc) that the mind boggles at the combinations. When extended to homeopathic potencies it's a wonder the universe doesn't explode.

In response to a critic, Paul argues that

Water in the ‘wild’ is a lot different to the homeopathic water/alcohol solution. The homeopathic medicine has been succussed as well as diluted, plus there is only one medicinal substance in the water. Hence, there are no contaminating factors. [...] It would be great to have good equipment to measure this vital force to know for sure.

Water in the 'wild'? Sounds dangerous to me. 'Succussion' (from the noun 'Sucker' hence, Succussion: to fool the suckers) involves hitting the homeopathic solution against a leather bound book. Not a paperback (water knows you're using a cheap substitute, and won't play with you in that case). All homeopathic 'remedies', as argued above, have a multitude of contaminating factors. And that last sentence sounds almost like an admission of defeat.

Paul then gets himself in more knots arguing why 'wild' water is not 'succussed'. EoR won't bother insulting your intelligence by repeating it here.

Conclusion: homeopathy doesn't hold water.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cure Every Disease! Guaranteed! Failures Your Fault.

EoR recently had occasion to look up the subject of 'equine bladder cancer' on the internet. He now understands why internet 'research' is a misnomer.

The top hit was from Robert McDowell, an Australian purveyor of SCAMs. According to him:

This modern day distortion of normal feeding habits leave them unable to properly eliminate toxins accumulating in the blood and the lymphatic system and the end result of this can be a breakdown in the immunity within these systems and cancer. [...] This powerful immunity booster and blood and lymphatic cleansing program has the potential to reverse Lymphatic Cancer in Horses.

There's those nasty toxins again, making all those cancers, but Mr McDowell can cure cancer. Sorry, has the 'potential' to cure cancer. Sorry, wants your money.

Another high-ranking hit was from what is probably the web's largest cesspool of irrationality, Shirley's Wellness Cafe. According to Shirley, it seems just about anything will cure cancer (except for evil practices like drugs, chemotherapy and surgery). EoR was pleased to learn that

Cancer like other diseases is curable in Homeopathy. Why and how ? To understand this, one has to understand the basic principle of homeopathy. According to the principle of cure in Homeopathy, there is nothing that is incurable provided there is sufficient energy 'Vital Force' in the patient at the time of taking to or restorting to homeopathic treatment. According to homeopathic scientists, without the cause, there cannot be a disease. So the cause should be traced. If we find out the root of the disease than there must be a medicine for it.

EoR almost vomited on this quote. This sort of utter bullshit is offensive in the extreme. Here are hopeless scamsters and magicians demanding your money with promises of curing anything and everything and, if it doesn't work, it's not their fault, it's yours for failing to have enough 'vital energy'. EoR hopes these people all die slowly and horribly from cancer.

If homeopathic magic doesn't work, there's always the old standby of magic energy waving:

Healing by intention, on the other hand, is pure magic - making changes in the physical world by thought alone. There is by now a vast body of scientific studies, carried out under the most exacting scrutiny and often carried out by scientists in order to de-bunk the idea that intention alone can heal, that simply prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it really, really works.

So, let's get this straight. Shirley is telling us magic has been proved by science? A 'vast body of studies'? It doesn't just 'work'. It doesn't even 'really work'. It 'really, really works'. Really and truly? Cross your heart? Are the scientists all too busy lining up for James Randi's $1,000,000 to publish? EoR wanted to email Shirley to question this particular point, but couldn't locate an email address anywhere on her site (which EoR also notes, in passing, deserves an award for one of the worst designed sites on the web, quite apart from its lies). Maybe she only accepts contact on the etheric plane.

And, yes, EoR did learn quite a bit about bladder cancer, but had to look at the legitimate human sites to avoid the alternative woo overload.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Learning to Listen

Helen O'Shea, a teacher of the Deaf for 19 years, has some interesting comments on Tomatis "Listening Therapy" on the Second Opinion guestbook:

I have worked with families who have been told by Tomatis therapists that their children do not have hearing loss, rather they need to be "taught to listen". The families paid large amounts of money and the therapist that they saw (not the therapist on this program) told the children that they no longer needed to wear hearing aids because they had been cured by the Tomatis program.

Of course, it all ended in tears (except for the therapist's bank balance). If you can't find a disease niche, create one. Then you can be assured (being the only expert in that area) of creating a cure as well. EoR wonders whether dead people are really faking it, and just need to be "taught to breathe"? Slackers.

Friday, November 18, 2005

If You Can't Beat Them...

DoctorGeorge ("Your Family Doctor on the Web") provides well researched and proven advice for the ill and curious:

Crystal therapy physicians believe that the body has 7 of these [chakra] points, each located at vital areas in the body.

As opposed to acupuncturists who believe in thousands of these little energy centres, but never mind the contradiction, there's more:

Resonance is the secondary effect of vibration where the energy waves produced are released by the stone to the body, and back again. When a "defective" chakra has been detected, the stone produces a different level of energy to fix the problem. [...] The chakras, being the window to the energy within of the body, must be re-energized by providing it with proper outlets. [...] This makes it easier for them to open their chakras and release all the negative energy residing in their body.

Notice how the "believe" earlier in the article rapidly devolves to "is" later on. EoR isn't entirely certain about this advice (he suspects there may be just a hint of medico-scientifico-mumbojumbo), but is convinced that Dr George is a fully-qualified top-of-the-line quack.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Second Opinion Saved My Life

Tuesday's show featured two miracle cure stories.

A woman with frozen shoulder used Myopractic to effect a cure. She chose this particular form of voodoo after "researching" on the internet. Myopractic is apparently good because it "involves the whole body" and "takes a holistic approach". It is also a form of "manipulation". But aren't they all?

There appears to be nothing to distinguish this from other forms of massage, both legitimate and illegitimate (apart from the language of magic happening). The practitioner found a "distinctive difference" from one side of the patient's body to the other. This sort of thing amazes patients, who don't seem to understand that just about everybody has such an asymmetry.

The practitioner explained that Myopractic involved a "series of cross fibre moves" which "allows muscles to release" and "balances vital organs" as a fortuitous side effect (see, SCAMs do have side effects, but they're always beneficial, because SCAMS are Nice and Holistic and would never be Nasty and Evil). Sounds suspiciously like Bowen Therapy, which claims exactly the same methods and madness. I wonder if they'll sue? Oh, hang on, look at the browser title bar at the Australian College of Myopractic, and whose meta tags include CONTENT="MYOPRACTIC The Bowen Approach" and CONTENT="Bowen, Bowen therapy, Bowen School, Bowen College.

While we were told that only 2 to 3 treatments were needed to effect the miracle (at least EoR was pleased they weren't being SCAMmed continuously) there followed the usual disclaimer: ongoing "maintenance" required. Of course. Must keep that cash flow going. At $A60 to $A70, one of the cheaper SCAMs.

The patient claimed she was cured, even though the movements she was making seemed to be the same ones she was making at the beginning of the segment when she was explaining her injury. She also reinjured her shoulder carrying shopping, and now uses a shopping trolley. But didn't the Myopractic give her back the ability to do all things muscular?

Secondly, we had a woman with severe epilepsy who was on large amounts of medication (Pills! Evil! Side effects!).

Initially, she turned to aromatherapy (this postulates that smells can effect marvellous things - for example, when the practitioner smells the cash, they become happy). Yet again, a madness selected after internet "research". For $A55 to $A180 she was massaged with scented oils (actually, only one scent, since she needed to be "triggered" to that particular scent). This apparently produced "behavioural conditioning". Is anyone concerned that the witch doctors are practicing psychology? Now, the patient only needs to spray the scent on her wrist (but it can only be used when having a seizure - there was no explanation why it shouldn't be used at any other time. Were there dangerous side effects? Surely not...). This allowed her to reduce her medication slightly (but would this have happened anyway - epilepsy medication is constantly being monitored and adjusted?).

The tame GP (who is supposed to provide the conventional Big Pharma point of view but who always seems to be the metaphorical equivalent of a slap in the face with a wet cabbage leaf) said she didn't think "conventional medical theory totally agrees". Nonetheless "aromatherapy can have a positive effect". It turns out the tame GP is also the patient's GP, and recommended the aromatherapy.

Still not satisfied, more research produced Donna Andrews, a California clinical psychologist whose "theory" (if EoR's rather small mind understood its convolutions correctly) is that, because epileptic fits produce electrical storms in certain areas of the brain, not thinking thoughts that stimulate that particular area can stop the fits. EoR wasn't aware that thoughts could be controlled, or traced in the brain, to that level of detail and management. And EoR thought people being pretend psychologists, like the aromatherapist, were bad. Like all California gurus, this one was as optimistic as the next self-help (she left the patient with a workbook) revivalist pumped-up inspirational speaker: "Do you think you're going to take control? I'm EXCITED for you! It's WONDERFUL!" (No wonder: her airfares to Australia were paid for her either by the patient's sister, or someone equally desperate in the same state that Second Opinion is made in. Apparently, she also cures 86% of epilepsy cases. Completely. Why hasn't she got a Nobel prize?). After this particular treatment, the patient's mother claimed to be able to bring the patient out of an epileptic fit by talking to her and rubbing her hand. $A75 to $A175.

The tame GP thought what improvements occurred were due to reductions in the patient's anxiety levels. EoR tends towards this theory. A couple of posters to the guestbook seemed to be slightly less than satisfied, claiming aromatherapy can bring on seizures (no! side effects from natural nice holistic gentle non-invasive woo? surely not!) and stating "Epilepsy is no longer the realm of snakeoil salesmen". Sadly, this last statement is patently untrue. Everything cures epilepsy: hormonal therapy, neurotherapy, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbs, phytotherapy, acupuncture, ayurveda, meditation, craniosacral therapy, cognitive restructuring, ketogenic diet, art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, exercise, yoga, aromatherapy, magnetic stimulation, autogenic training, and chiropracty.

EoR was also disappointed that Aleisha didn't roadtest a lunacy this week. Maybe she was ill.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

All Your Cures for All Your Money

EoR was chatting to his fundamentalist christian friend last night. The christian friend was expounding the amazing results various 'therapies' have had in curing his wife's Multiple Sclerosis.

(Is it just me? Many of the people I've encountered who have wandered the twisting paths of SCAMmery have also been devout christians. I guess they've already shown themselves to be predisposed to accepting one unlikely and unproven fantasy system, so piling on a few more is not any sort of intellectual leap at all.)

This particular cure involved Miracle Water (also here and here), mineral supplements from the naturopath, organic food, the clearing of heavy metals and toxins from the body, and 'faith'. EoR tried to point out that minerals could be supplied from the right foods, but no, he was informed, MS demanded special minerals, more minerals than you could get from food stuffs (so the naturopath assured them) and so they were resigned to buying the expensive ($A100 a week) stuff from the naturopath (who, remember, was the one who told them that only that would work - talk about conflict of interest). At least they've managed to save a little money as they no longer need the Miracle Water, having now installed a water filter (only $A2000). Isn't it just a little strange to be spending all that money putting in extra unwarranted minerals, and paying even more money to stop extra unwarranted minerals?

They were just thankful that they, unlike a lot of other people, had the money to afford all these miracles. But probably not as thankful as the SCAMmers.

Doctors are an evil blight on the face of the earth: they only want to prescribe drugs to her. At only 50% effectiveness rate! With side effects! EoR pointed out that at least there was research to back all this up, but to no avail. Tales of anecdotal miracle cures are all these people want to hear. This is a university educated woman, who 'researched' the topic on the internet. She obviously hadn't been to any of the MS societies. "Currently there is no cure for MS". "Such treatments may be a waste of time or money, and some could be potentially dangerous". "Can MS be cured? Not yet". "There is no curative treatment available for the MS". In fact, Alternative Therapies used by People with MS is full of phrases like "Ineffective in MS", "no evidence of benefit", "A Danish study suggests that the use of alternative medicines declines as the disease progresses" (of course, if they worked, use would increase as the disease progresses), "No results have been reported" and "May be associated with significant serious side effects". Even if you insist on a 'healthy' healing diet, which one is correct? Are they all?

This woman is the SCAMster's dream: wealthy, desperate, and with a disease that has symptoms that come and go (it is well known that symptoms may go into remission sometimes for years), and one of which can be "fuzzy thinking".

She has now become an internet guru for other sufferers of MS, recommending hair analysis, diet, minerals, magic water etc etc. And so the madness continues.

Finally, EoR gloomily wonders why the alternatistas don't point out that MS is a result of an overactive autoimmune system? Aren't they always talking about 'boosting the immune system'? Having MS should be seen as a success story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


From personal experience, I have developed a powerful alternative modality that is 100% effective (far higher than 'western medicine' can claim) and is low cost, drug-free and non-invasive.

Unlike the 'value for money' healers, I am prepared to offer this therapy absolutely free of charge! Out of the goodness of my heart I am giving this therapy to the world so that one more alternative cure can be added to the armoury of those who understand the medical-industrial complex's constant conspiracies to crush the creative thinkers.

Everytime I have a cold, I put on my red shirt. The vibrational energies of the shirt (particularly the higher quantum phased red end of the spectrum) excite the healing channels of the body, improving the flow of qi, and drawing the toxins out of the body.

Continue wearing the shirt for a few days AND THE COLD WILL BE CURED! I have conducted many studies of this amazing effect and I have shown that where a cold may take a week to be cured by itself my method can resolve the symptoms within seven days!

This is incontrovertible proof of the miraculous healing power of redshirtology!

If you don't have a red shirt, other colours will suffice in an emergency.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Homeopathy Cures ADHD

On the Second Opinion guestbook, a study conducted into the effect of homeopathy in the treatment of children with ADHD has been raised a number of times, particularly since it is a "randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover study" It is usually in response to mention of the recent Lancet metastudy showing no effect above placebo from the use of homeopathy. Unfortunately, this Swiss study is mentioned in a disengenuous way, and apparently by people who haven't read the study itself.

The study is available for purchase at European Journal of Pediatrics. It has only been published online.

Since the True Believers are wary of mainstream studies, arguing they are funded by Big Pharma and therefore fatally biased and flawed, it is interesting to note that, by this logic, the Swiss study must also be disregarded since, of the eleven authors, one is from the Swiss Association of Homeopathic Physicians and two from the Kollegiale Instanz für Komplementärmedizin (KIKOM)/Homeopathy. Oooh! Talk about conflict of interest! (EoR doesn't necessarily hold to this argument, but dismally hopes the alternatistas will stand by their unmoveable principles and condemn this study accordingly).

The publicly available abstract concludes

"The trial suggests scientific evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, particularly in the areas of behavioural and cognitive functions."

So what did the study involve? How was it actually conducted? And what are the real results?

In the first phase of the study, children (aged 6-16 years, both genders) openly received individually prescribed homeopathic remedies (remember that homeopaths argue that there is no specific prescription for any specific disease, but that the cure must be prescribed specifically to an individual based on that individual's symptoms - this of course ignores that the homeopath must still be using some system of principle(s) to determine the remedy - "according to the guidelines described by Hahnemann and Boenninghausen" according to the authors - if it is not assumed to be random choice). Only children who showed a positive response were allowed into the subsequent part of the study.

"Patients must reach an amelioration of 50% of the initial CGI value or at least 9 points during the screening phase."

The mean period to achieve this cutoff was 5.1 months (range 1-18 months). The CGI or Connors Global Index is a subjective assessment of ten items rated from 0 (never) to 3 (very often) ie 4 points. Therefore this does not appear to be a random sample but a specifically selected sample with a pre-existing inherent bias (more about how this can skew results later).

The sample was then split in two. One half received verum for six weeks, and then placebo for six weeks, while the other half received the placebo initially, and then the verum. This was performed as a randomised double blind trial. Both groups then continued receiving open label treatment for six weeks. This six week period was determined by a previous study involving only four(!) children.

An assumption made was

"A reduction of 5 points [in the CGI] from pre-treatment value due to verum was considered clinically relevant and a zero point reduction was assumed under placebo."

This seems to assume that the placebo effect is not measurable, something which would be a surprise to most researchers. It should also be noted that

"patients who dropped out after the first crossover period could also be included in the analysis by assuming missing at random"


"For other types of analyses, patients with missing values were excluded."

62 children participated in the study. 8 dropped out "due to insufficient response to homeopathy." A further 5 dropped out due to "compliance problems."

"Reasons for drop out were increasing tics, behavioural problems and a reactive depression."

Therefore, only 49 children completed the study. Statistics presented represent all 62 children though.

Some of the more interesting findings include:

"Within-patient comparison of treatment effect shows that the CGI, the primary endpoint, decreased under verum with a mean of 1.67 points."

Bear in mind this is based on a scale with 4 points for each parameter. A parent changing a result from a 3 to a 2 has scored a 25% reduction!

"Arm A: unexpected rise in CGI during verum phase, possibly due to expectation of receiving placebo in first phase. Persistent high CGI with placebo in second phase, normalisation of CGI with open label verum after crossover trial. Arm B: CGI rose with placebo in first phase and returned to CGI values within the normal range with verum treatment in second phase, as expected."

So both groups (placebo and verum) scored poorly to begin with due to "expectations"? Isn't that the same as saying the effect was a placebo? Didn't homeopathy actually fail here, or am I missing something?

"Comparison of the scores CPRS scores between start of treatment and 14 weeks after crossover trial still revealed highly significant improvements in all subscales, in both mothers' and fathers' ratings. Teachers ratings (CTRS) showed a significant improvement in behaviour, and a trend in improvement of the CGI. Impulsivity/hyperactivity and passivity were improved, but did not reach significance in the teachers' observations."

Here's another problem: the assessment scale used to produce the miraculous results of homeopathic power are subjective. Teachers (who presumably have less emotional investment in the child) observed less improvement than parents.

"The latest follow-up during open label treatment showed a maximum [my emphasis] amelioration of 12 points (63%)"

This reflects an improvement from an initial CGI of 19 (range 15-25), to 7 (range 2-15). This is the other major problem with this study, that small numbers of participants, and small scales of measurements can easily produce massive changes in percentage ratings. And notice that important word "maximum". In the discussion section, the authors state

"CGI decreased by only 17% (1.67 CGI points), somewhat less than that expected from the results of an earlier study."

So does this study in fact prove that homeopathy is less effective than expected?

Apart from the subjective parent and teacher assessments, a large number of cognitive tests were also performed on the children. The results of these were more mixed:

"positive: improved auditory short-term memory, a trend to increased stability of mood, better reactions to unexpected events; negative: decrease in alertness to visual details and the trend towards decreased visual spatial organisation"

and the researchers conclude that

"the CGI difference between placebo and verum was considerably smaller than expected."

Presumably, then, homeopathy is actually counter-productive to certain aspects of ADHD? Are the proponents of homeopathy publicising this? No.

The penultimate paragraph is significant:

"The CGI and the CPRS scores (parent ratings) decreased between 37% and 63% over the long-term observation period, most probably related to treatment induced adjustment of behaviour. The CTRS improvement ratings by teachers were smaller (between 28% and 37%) than those of the parents, reflecting the higher cognitive stress for patients in school situations. However, on the whole, the overall intensity of ADHD symptoms appears to be lower during treatment and results in an improvement in the childrens' social, emotional and scholastic behaviour. The question whether these long-term improvements are a treatment effect or merely due to a spontaneous change in development of the children cannot be definitely answered by our trial data."

Bearing in mind the effect of subjective assessment (higher by parents, lower by teachers) and the scaling effect of changing a low scale rating to a percentage, we get an improvement of 28% to 63%? A vast range indeed. Surely not an artefact of a small sample size? What would the placebo effect on its own be?

It should also be noted that the change in CGI touted by the authors as so large reflects the change before the children were selected for entry into the trial to the end of the actual trial. The children who actually entered the trial had a CGI of 8 (range 3-16) for one group, and 9 (range 4-20) for the second immediately prior to commencing the study. The difference over the period of the trial to a CGI of 7 (range 2-15) at the end can therefore be seen to be statistically insignificant.

So what this study actually showed is no significant change in CGI from the start of the trial to the end of the trial, though during the first six weeks there was a significant rise in CGI (for both groups on verum and placebo ie no difference whether the child was on a placebo or a homepathic treatment). The largest reduction in CGI occurred during the open label treatment (ie not randomised or blinded).

The authors conclude

"The results of this trial point to the effectiveness of homeopathy in the treatment of ADHD. To corroborate the findings presented here, the authors suggest a larger and independent multicentre study."

Well, I guess it points to the effectiveness of homeopathy as much as any small scale statistically doubtful trial could. Though it tends to point more to the desperate clutching at straws of the True Believers for any slight indication that homeopathy just might be something more than a placebo effect. Unfortunately, this study proves nothing else. I wonder what the larger scale trials have shown... Oh, hang on, we already know. Waves copy of Lancet threateningly at hordes of angry homeopaths...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Spammed by a Colon

EoR was the lucky recipient of spam mail promoting a variant of the Nigerian Scam. What makes it interesting are the following paragraphs (apart from the creative grammar and spelling):

We thought that you might be interested in part time position to work from home with our company. My name is Thomas Colon, project coordinator and your direct supervisor at Global Cash. Please read the information bellow about our company and your job description.

There are 5 openings for a representative to assist in creation our virtual local presence for the back office functions.

EoR is very suspicious of Thomas 'Colon' and his desires for 'back office functions'. Could Eneman be moonlighting as a spammer?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

UWA Extension Studies

Some courses available at the University of Western Australia (the state's most prestigious university) Summer extension school:

The Wisdom of Women's Bodies
Maryanne Sea, The Bright Centre
Drawing on the work of Christiane Northrup, MD, this course empowers women of all ages to take charge of their health and healing. Learn how to scan your body and its energy centres and to locate and feel contraction and flow in the major organs of your body.

Reality, Consciousness and Divination
Dr Robert Docters van Leeuwen
The movie What the Bleep Do We Know? raises questions about the nature of reality. This lecture explains how the mind moves between different levels of existence, how divination helps to acquire insights, and how mind reading, prediction, and other psychic phenomena work.

Mind reading, prediction, and psychic phenomena work? Why isn't he claiming James Randi's $1,000,000?

The Gong of Peace and Sandalwood Healing
Shobha Day, Yoga and Meditation Teacher
Shobha will craft the fragrance of sandalwood and the peace gong with guided relaxation, breathing and meditation.

The Camino Walk: A Metaphor for Leadership
Patricia Klinck, Keylinks International Consulting
For centuries, the Camino de Santiago has been associated with vision, quest and challenges. Few have embarked on it without being transformed. What are its lessons, its metaphors and its messages for the modern day pilgrim seeking to understand leadership?

Its message probably has something to do with making you feel inadequate, in need of constant self-help therapy, and grateful to throw your money at gurus.

After all that, EoR was relieved to discover that the Festival of Light was actually a photography expo.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Reiki: Religion. Not a religion. Religion.

There was a recent flurry on the Second Opinion guestbook about the portrayal of a reiki practitioner on the program.

Coralea Mackison (Unfortunate portrayal of a Reiki treatment) was most upset and wailed loudly

I found the segment offensive. All Reiki folk I know, hold the attunement process and symbols as sacred material, certainly not to be filmed nor publicly displayed as has occurred in this segment.

Actually, EoR found the segment offensive too, but possibly for different reasons.

Portrayal of this procedure as being 'Reiki' is misleading and unfortunately has painted Reiki as something quite weird and on the fringe. It is one thing that Reiki practitioners have been discredited, it is another to dissuade or frighten members of the public from seeking support from a responsible Reiki practitioner.

Funnily, EoR already thought reiki was nothing other than quite weird and on the fringe. And just how 'responsible' and ethical are the reiki practitioners? But before I address that issue, there was a further response from Lynette Kirkman, Executive Director Reiki Australia (Reiki treatment).

Reiki treatment practice is gaining credibility within traditional mainstream healthcare.

Oh, really? Can you specify just where the studies have been published? Or where the 'traditional mainstream healthcare' that heals with reiki is (or is that 'traditional' as in 'traditional chinese medicine'?).

A Reiki attunement is part of the sacred initiation ritual when someone chooses to enter into the path of Reiki practice. [...] The representation of the attunement as part of a standard Reiki treatment and the public display of the Reiki symbols - which is information considered sacred by the major practices of Reiki - was deeply concerning.

EoR was fascinated by the religious aspect of these fulminations. Reiki is 'sacred', requires 'initiation' into its various levels, and has 'secret' symbols. I suspect the Freemasons are behind this.

Back to ethics, and the confused contradictory logic of the reikiists: the International Association of Reiki Professionals says

Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. [...] Reiki energy is not based on belief, faith or suggestion.

It is also not based on logic, science, knowledge, common sense or reality. Incidentally, note the "Reiki Integrity Award" button on the IARP site. EoR didn't know there was such a thing. He feels all warm and fuzzy now, knowing of its existence. But reiki master, Ernie van den Bossche says

Reiki is the healing light of humankind. Seek Reiki and you are seeking the light of God and all being. [...] The existence of this "life force energy" has been verified by recent scientific experiments, and medical doctors are considering the role it plays in the functioning of the immune system and the healing process. [...] Reiki is a simple, natural, and safe method of spiritual healing. [...] It is the God-consciousness called Rei that guides the life force called Ki in the practice we call Reiki. Therefore, Reiki can be defined as spiritually guided life force energy.


While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not. Because Reiki comes from God, many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it.

EoR agrees that it helps to believe nothing in order to accept reiki. This statement also contradicts the avenging furies on the Second Opinion guestbook who stated the patient had to know what form of reiki she was receiving before it would 'work'. From the reiki FAQs:

Is Reiki a religion? No. It is not a religion. It is very spiritual in nature, but there is no belief required in order to learn and use it.

So reiki is not a religion, but does believe in spirits, God or the 'life force energy'. It does not have a dogma (only initiations, attunements, levels and secret symbols). Does anyone else see just the tiniest little contradiction in these beliefs? Of course, people who hold loony beliefs have no trouble holding two (or a plethora) of contradictory loony beliefs at the same time:

"I use it where I see fit," said Steingruby. "You could have a direct reiki session where a person wants reiki. Or you can use it at times during massage where you intuitively feel someone could use it and you take a minute to do it. Basically, you're asking God to use yourself as a vessel for energy into the person so you can promote peace and healing."

Practitioners often note that reiki dovetails nicely with religion because reiki brings them closer to the experience of their religion. But they also insist reiki is not a religion itself.

So here's a practitioner applying a therapeutic modality to a patient without prior consent, and without informing them? Highly ethical. Just to highlight the hypocrisy of these presumably enlightened higher souls, the Reiki News Magazine, Spring 2005 published an article on Keeping Reiki Free.

One way our freedom to practice Reiki could be unnecessariy limited is through government licensing or other forms of government regulation. This possibility is real - it has already happened in one state, and attempts to restrict Reiki have occurred in other states or could occur unless we take action. Remember, Reiki is powerful and will help us maintain its free use, but in order to do this, we need to be well informed, work together, and take positive action. [...] Another threat to the freedom we enjoy as Reiki practitioners is the Medical Practice Act. [...] Government licensing would most likely require anyone wanting to practice Reiki to take training from a government approved school, practice according to government guidelines, pay a licensing fee, and be subject to government oversight, fines, and the possibility of losing one’s right to practice if one didn’t meet government requirements.

So any sort of oversight, review or control is an affront to the free practice of lunacy. Treating illnesses and complaints is the last thing that should be looked at by the Medical Practice Act. God (sorry, Life Force) forbid anything like that.

Variants on this are common on reiki sites eg Using the Religious or Spiritual Defense

The article below outlines several key issues necessary for Reiki to be considered ones religion.

and Reiki and Religious Freedom is a very lengthy legal analysis of how to argue the protection of religious conduct:

The question of Reiki and religious freedom is complex. On a case by case basis any legal challenges to Reiki practice would most likely turn on whether there is a justifiable regulation of health care practitioner practices. In addition in some cases the five questions of the strict scrutiny test will be considered to discern whether the fundamental constitutional freedoms of a practitioner have been unduly burdened. In some instances the law of general applicability will be upheld even when there is an incidental burden on religious freedom. In other instances the strict scrutiny test will be discussed.

So, to summarise, reiki is not a religion. It is a secret, possessive, self-serving society. If pushed, feel free to lie about what you're doing. It's okay, reiki feels good when you do this.

If this flatulent attitude to scamming offends you, reiki symbols are available online. Also The Four Symbols of Usui Reiki Ryoho and pages and pages here. View them. Learn them. Practice them. Wave your hands about. Move that energy! Tell everyone you're a fully trained reikiist! Tell them you're not practicing a religion (you just want the protection afforded to religion). Tell them you're allowed to lie because you're channelling the energy of God. Um, Goddess. Ah, spirit. What the heck.

So much for the value of the "Reiki Integrity Award."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

ABC Bites Hand That Feeds It

The Media Report offered an excellent program on science, pseudoscience, bogus history and mail order PhDs today.

Few punches were pulled, and shovels were summarily labelled spades.

The host, Stephen Crittenden, on 'Secrets of the Star Disc':

More overheated rubbish from the BBC's Science Unit. Hardly a single word of what you just heard has any basis in fact, and in the old days of proper editorial standards, it probably never would have gone to air.

Lawrence Krauss on the question of whether democracy in science broadcasting (the 'show both sides of the controversy' stance) is valid:

It's exactly wrong; because the most amazing thing about science is that it isn't democratic. It actually isn't fair. We don't treat all ideas the same. In fact, once an idea has been shown by experiment to be wrong, then we throw it out. The great thing about science is there aren't two sides to many issues, often one side is wrong, and I think suggesting that for most people they can tell the difference between scientific sense and scientific nonsense, is unfortunately, and truly unfortunately, incorrect.

Unfortunately, for all the finger pointing at the US and the UK, no mention was made of the homegrown Second Opinion, broadcast on the very same network.

Nevertheless, read the transcript, or listen online.

Very Little Brain

He had just come to the bridge; and not looking where he was going, he tripped over something, and the fir-cone jerked out of his paw into the river.

"Bother," said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge, and he went back to get another fir-cone which had a rhyme to it. But then he thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day, so he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him... and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too.

"That's funny," said Pooh. "I dropped it on the other side," said Pooh, "and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?" And he went back for some more fir-cones.

It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn't know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which is what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which is what he had said it would do, so he had won twice... and when he went home for tea, he had won thirty-six and lost twenty-eight.

A A Milne: The House at Pooh Corner

Just to reiterate the steps that went on here:

  1. Observe some part or aspect of the universe.

  2. Develop a theory that is fully consistent with what you have observed.

  3. Use this theory to make predictions.

  4. Test those predictions by controlled experiments or additional observations.

  5. Update the theory in the light of your results, and make new predictions.

So if a Bear of Very Little Brain can understand and implement the scientific method, why is it so hard for the alternatistas?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Another Second Opinion

Aleisha McCormack roadtested yoga tonight. Aleisha roadtests some wacky therapy most weeks. After every one she feels "invigorated" and "re-energised". You get the idea. One wonders if she has any illnesses left, or even a single smidgeon of toxin lurking in her liver. At least yoga actually seems to be doing something - stretching and exercising are good things. Until the practitioners start telling us why it's so good. The external sweating detoxifies the body. We saw Bikra Yoga (developed 30 years ago) which is practiced in a room heated to 38 degrees Celsius. This is good because the heat "eliminates the risk of injury" (but probably not dehydration or heat stroke) and "also helps to eliminate toxins." The practitioner also blithely commented that it will "cure any illness you have." Let's hope she really didn't mean that.

Tomatis Listening Therapy was used to treat a young boy with Down Syndrome and mild autism. TLT involves the child wearing a special set of headphones which contain a 'vibrator' which rests on the top of the head. The mother speaks into a microphone and her voice (with the low frequencies removed) is played through the vibrator, as well as normally through the headphones. The 'theory' behind this bizarre practise is that sound is also transmitted through the skull to the cochlear (true in a very minimal, diffuse way), and doing this through the vibrator lets this specific band of frequencies "attune the ear to language." Notice how easily the True Believers make the leap from some fragment of scientific knowledge into the lands of uncharted fantasy and vague unprovable platitudes.

EoR finds this difficult to understand. He wonders what the difference is where the sound comes from? It still has to be processed by the brain. And why high frequencies? Lower frequencies would be transmitted through the skull much more effectively.

Nonetheless, the child had shown dramatic (unmeasured) improvements across the board in things like speech, interaction and eye contact. It must be due to the TLT. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he has also just started school. No other therapies were specified, but his parents had previously taken him to the US for treatment so it is more than probable that he was undergoing a range of other treatments as well (in fact, the TLT practitioner said that she always recommends that other therapies, such as speech therapy etc, be used in conjunction with it). The constant implication throughout the segment was that TLT was the sole miracle cure.

Of course, it's certainly a success for someone. It costs $A4500 for a full course of treatment. Unfortunately, people in the situation of this child's parents are usually desperate and likely to clutch at any straw offered to them no matter how high the cost (of course, there's always the "It's expensive so it must be good" error of logic as well).

Finally, there was a real corker. Craniosacral Therapy was used to treat sinusitis, in conjunction with naturopathy. The patient was prescribed mineral supplements and 'dietary changes' (these were unspecified other than that he must avoid the evil gluten). This apparently produced 'relief' of an unstated level after four weeks, but he Wanted More. So was it effective or wasn't it? We don't know, but he decided he needed the application of the Craniosacral Woo.

This started with the practitioner gently feeling his feet to "tune into the cranio sacral rhythm" of his spinal fluid. Speaking personally, if EoR could feel his spinal fluid in his feet, he'd be heading to Emergency. At least the practitioner told us she felt it at a "very very subtle level". This is another magic moulding of body parts through gentle touch. It "allows the body to unwind", it is "artistic" and "creative" (well, yes, creative it certainly is). Just to make sure we knew something was going on, otherwise we might ask for our money back, we were told that it was like "watching paint dry - not a lot happens". How true. How true. But at up to $A120 a session, it was a very expensive not happening.

The Naturopath Knows All

Tuesdays is woo day on the ABC. On local radio Michael Treloar, naturopath and dispenser of wisdom, made his regular appearance. When a caller asked what she could do about the high tension power lines outside her house he commented that the effect of these was "pretty well substantiated as unhealthy." The worried woman stated that the previous owner of the house had died of cancer at 57. Join the dots. Obviously something as unlikely as dying of (unspecified) cancer at 57 must be the fault of the power company.

Mr Treloar advised her to worry about things she could change, and not to worry about things she couldn't (like the location of power poles). Mr Treloar regularly advises people to eat 'sensibly' and to exercise. Profound advice.

He did also tell the caller about the powers of magnetic therapy. Previously this affect was only anecdotal, but now there are clinical trials to prove it, he assured us.

One wonders if he can see the connection between the forces in a magnet, and the electromagnetic forces in a power line? Presumably not. EoR wonders why believers in magic magnets aren't all building their houses under high tension power lines. Free powerful therapeutic lifelong maintenance!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Negligent Tinsel

Some anagrams of Intelligent Design:

dill netting genies
ten gentiles idling
ill, needing testing
tit needing selling
id: listen - negligent
ID: negligent tinsel

Anyone would think the phrase had been designed to provide these gems.

Monday, November 07, 2005

ABC Censorship?

Paul Monk, posting on the Second Opinion guestbook, bemoans "ABC censorship?":

"I have attempted to leave critical comments concerning Second Opinion. These comments have never appeared. A question emailed to the producers of the show has never been replied to. These comments and the question were in regard to how the concept for Second Opinion came into being and the role of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society Ltd. Is there any hope that this comment will be posted?"

EoR has encountered the same problem but, being of a gloomy outlook, has tended to favour the Lazy Guestbook Moderator Theory. Postings made late in the day, and particularly on Friday afternoons, tend to disappear, presumably because the moderator deletes them to lighten the workload before departing early. Now I wonder whether only comments pointing out the inconsistencies and logical fallacies of SCAMs are ignored, or is the culling applied equally across all messages?

Certainly, a number of recent posts which seem to emanate from the Tony Kew fan club (a manipulative therapist featured on a previous program who, to EoR's mind, has no distinguishing features from all the other manipulative therapists featured on previous programs) and which add nothing to the discussion have all been posted in their mind-numbing emptiness. EoR is almost inclined to believe, in his more paranoid moments, that there is some more sinister force behind these particular postings. But then he notices a particularly tasty looking gorse bush.

Second Opinion

EoR sadly watches Second Opinion every Tuesday night. For those unfamiliar with it, Second Opinion is the alternative health care program broadcast on the national, taxpayer funded broadcaster, full of anecdotal miracle cure stories, a lack of journalistic standards, and wide-eyed wonderment at the power of shamans, voodoo doctors, energy healers and their ilk.

Last Tuesday's programs presented miracle stories about:

Acupuncture: this told the sad tale of a second year medical student who suffered facial paralysis, underwent various tests and treatment in hospital (never specified) and then turned to the needling. As usual, any decrease in symptoms was attributed solely to the acupuncture. The patient admitted he didn't know what he had, and didn't know what cured it. I hope his university sees this, and fails him from his medical degree.

The acupuncturist helpfully stated that meridians are like the wiring in a house. EoR will be poking needles in wires tomorrow to ensure free flow of energy, and release of toxins.

Sound therapy for treating tinnitus: this was an absolute rort! $A4500 for the deluxe premium edition! The patient opted for the $A400 el cheapo version! For this amount he got four cassettes of classical music! And not even properly recorded (part of the power of the therapy is to have deliberately badly recorded tapes, apparently)! Completely resolved the tinnitus. So he tells us.

Feldenkrais to treat scoliosis: looks like a variant of the Alexander Technique, which is a variant of the 'pay attention and improve your posture' school. Making people aware of their bad habits and more conscious of their posture is good. It can also be done for free (as opposed to $A100 a session). But what a goldmine! Regardless of the patient's optimism that she might, one day, no longer need to see the witch, the witch assured us she will need treatment for the rest of her life (and the magic 'maintenance' word was also mentioned). Agreed with the technical description of this method: "manipulative therapy". Indeed.

Looking forward to next week when Tomatis Listening Therapy (are these
people funding this program? they seem to appear every week) cures Down's Syndrome and autism.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

More Chickens people who espouse loony belief systems about magical powers and mystical happenings are doomed. Oh, sorry. Everyone except the christians (does not include roman catholics and other wacky cults that we disagree with).

If you find this sort of thing inspiring, there's lots of tips of how to promote the site's singleminded message: Unfortunately, this was the page that lost me. I'm concerned about
the woman in the photo. For a site that relentlessly pushes the fundamentalist christian agenda, I couldn't believe they'd put something so evil on their site. Obviously, this site is really the work of Satan and to be avoided at all costs. That short skirt the woman is wearing is just inciting licentious and lustful behaviour. No true christian would be associated with such a harlot. Better stone her until she repents.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Loose Erections and Ballooning Problems

A poster to complained about for apparently giving alternative practitioners a bad name ("Over-priced and cheaply manufactured herbal products, and this is coming from a trained Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. These kind of people give Oriental Medicine such a bad reputation"). It's good to see the alternatistas turning on each other.

I enjoyed the articles, eg Sometimes Being Too Big Can Be A Real Pain ("I have been practicing your very effective ballooning method and Power P along with some extra jelqing (pulling). My penis, which was rather big, has become really huge. I was very satisfied and proud of it until my girlfriend started to complain about its new size" - the solution is to buy more herbal supplements to make the female more 'relaxed', and the special 'Finger Plier Technique' is also highly recommended), and Insecurity Plus A Weak Liver Equals Erectile Dysfunction ("When I am laying on my back and my girl gets on top, I tend to loose my erection. I used to be fine. I also way to say that I am very intimidated by my girlfriend cause she has been with a few other guys and I always wonder if I suck" - the solution is to buy more herbal supplements "to clean the liver up and activate the cGMP production" and "When you have sex with her, imagine that you are making love with the most beautiful woman in the world with a pair of beautiful big boobs and a swollen clitoris"). A loose erection is always a concern...

Interesting biology comment from Dr N K Lin (self-styled 'expert'): "I think that the word enlargement can often mislead people and I prefer the word balloon as the penis can be blown up like a balloon...".

I was also disappointed that the drop down search box for "Penis Fracture" produced a "No results were found" page. How telling.

I don't see what all the fuss is about. It seems the usual "Imaginary cures for imaginary ailments" SCAM.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Leave the Children in the Dark

Jack T. Chick LLC has some mind-numbingly amusing propaganda for indoctrinating children in how to behave towards homosexuals, lesbians, jews, nazis, mormons, roman catholics, buddhists, halloween... Um, well, anybody who isn't a true upstanding WASP churchgoer. Of particular interest are the true explanations of our origins. Bible good. Evilution baaaaaad.

I thought I'd post a couple of the panels here. Oh, some bits have been changed to show how we can use this sort of stuff after the Untelligent Designers win the battle to teach the controversy (minus the evilutionary bits). The really scary thing is how little I had to change things to point out how fatuous the arguments are.

Big Daddy

Apes, Lies and Ms. Henn

Is it just me, or do other people have an overwhelming urge to slap that smug little Susy Barnes about?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A question...

Why is that, when people lose things, they always find them in the last place they look? Wouldn't it make sense to start at the last place and save time?