Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Something in the Water.

Oxygen 4 Life, singled out for mention by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia as a "dubious" remedy, makes some startling health claims.
It's a great refresher the morning after a night on the grog! [...] Oxygen 4 Life assists in restoring blood oxygen levels. Toxic stress depletes oxygen in the body.

EoR agrees that water is a great refresher for a hangover given the way it rehydrates the body... But what the hell is "toxic stress"?

The FAQ rather gives the game away, explaining exactly what's in the product. Well, sort of, if you consider scientific obfuscation an answer:
Oxygen 4 Life is made from natural ingredients. They are de-ionised water, a small amount of Atlantic Sea Salt and at least 125,000 parts per million bio-available charged** oxygen at manufacture. (**‘charged’ oxygen means electrically activated).

So, to summarise, that's salt-free water with some salt added?

Like other non-proven "health" products, Oxygen 4 Life likes to claim the imprimatur of NASA research (in passing, EoR wonders if all NASA does is research off-the-wall alternative therapies?):
This discovery, called Di-atomic oxygen, could deliver 30 times more oxygen than tap water. Although it was never commercially developed by NASA it was widely used in the space program.

Since the atmosphere consists of 21% diatomic oxygen (ie O2) breathing is probably a more efficient, and cheaper way, of obtaining oxygen.

Like every other non-therapeutic food product of its ilk, it is nonetheless a miracle capable of raising the dead and restoring vigour, as the many testimonials prove (as much as testimonials prove anything, of course):
I am amazed at the way I feel within days of taking Oxygen 4 life. I have more energy and a better frame of mind, better memory, clearer vision and a greater interest in life and things in general. I am truly astounded at the speed in which true wellness and vitality was restored to my mind, body and spirit. I believe that this Is a miracle product which could give everybody a renewed vigor and a better sense of humour - it may even eliminate road rage, who knows!

Exactly. Who knows? Eor doesn't. He suspects the amazed testator doesn't. And he's pretty certain that the manufacturer doesn't know either (though, to their credit, there are clear health benefits to them from all the money rolling in).

Never mind the scientific proof (actually, just an analysis showing the sample provided had a pH of 8.2 and an oxygen equivalence of >12.5% - seawater, by comparison, has a pH of 8.5 to 10 and pure water is neutral at 7 - so, if you really feel the need to imbibe something rather than just breathing air, drinking seawater might be the way to go), when you can get a real live right wing talkback radio demagogue to promote your product!
"We can lose oxygen daily through stress, pollution, Greens, do-gooders, feminazis, tree-huggers and the bandy brigade, not to mention physical exertion. We can however reinvigorate our body's oxygen with Oxygen 4 [pause] Life it's called, the unique new oxygen [pause] liquid [longer pause - is he losing his place in the ad copy?] supplement. [...] I'll drink it. [slurp] It's all right. It tastes like salt water. [pause] Belch. Excuse me.

Oxygen 4 Life is now expanding into the UK market as well, as reported by the Guardian (in a piece that, despite a brief paragraph from a GP querying the efficacy of this product) sounds like an advertising puff piece.

There are, however, some dissenting voices. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article by Professor John Dwyer, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of NSW, pointing out the difference between advertising and research which is blurred or non-existent in the minds of most of the public.
Perhaps the most regrettable aspect of the bogus health-care market is that it is so strongly supported by people trained to be professional pharmacists. These people are trusted by the public, which doesn't deserve to have such professionals, with expertise in scientific method, foisting on it preparations they know are useless. Too many appear to have heeded the advice given to them by Marcus Blackmore, who, in promoting a range of "alternative" products, emphasised to pharmacists the financial rewards associated with "capitalising on consumer sentiment".

Oxygen 4 Life has also been the subject of a formal complaint under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code in 2005 where it was found that, despite the manufacturer arguing that it made no medical or therapeutic claims,
the Panel was satisfied that the advertisement was an advertisement for therapeutic goods.

Oxygen 4 Life was ordered to, among other things,
withdraw all representations which suggest that the product is a liquid oxygen supplement, oxygen supplement, oxygen therapy in a bottle, etc

It is clear from their website just how much attention they have paid to this requirement.

EoR suggests that, rather than getting a few extra molecules of oxygen from magic water, you'd be better off to use EPO, train at high altitudes, use a hyperbaric chamber, give up smoking, exercise, or try breathing air.

Finally, Water pseudoscience and quackery provides masses of information on the alternatistas' various magic waters, including a whole page on oxygenated water scams.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Everything I Know About Health I Learned from My Pharmacist

EoR recently had occasion to peruse a selection of health information pamphlets from a local pharmacy. He is now concerned about the misinformation, lack of information, and disinformation promulgated in these propaganda pieces.

One pamphlet promotes a huge variety of Infant and Baby Woo 'relief' potions without any specified ingredients (except for the one that has echinacea - that well known placebo substitute).

Another spruiks the powers of hypnotherapy from
One of the leading clinical hypnotists

who also believes in reflexology, the mozart effect, chakras and reiki. EoR did, however, enjoy the testimonial for the healing powers of this gentleman from a Queensland woman who is described as
sufferer of Fibromialgia, Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis, Migraines, Stress, Anxiety Disorder, Depression etc, etc.

Sounds like she's been through the Hypochondriac's Dictionary from A to Z, and should be put down immediately to relieve her distress. She fulminates:
They work, they work, they really work.

EoR, however, is a bit concerned about the other testimonial that states
I have only been listening for two and half weeks and already I have grown nails.

EoR hasn't been listening for two and half weeks and he too has grown nails. Could it be a homeopathic-sympathetic

EoR also enjoyed the stunning ORAC (whatever that is - it seems to have nothing to do with Respectful Innocence) chart for Magic Zambroza Fruit Juice. Shame there's no indication what the y-scale is actually measuring, nor what the units of measurement are. Woo-units, perhaps? But a scientific looking graph is always impressive, and sure to please. And, of course, Magic Zambroza Fruit Juice scores higher than anything else, in whatever it is they might be measuring. Maybe it's profit margin.

EoR is also now aware that trampolining leads to an increased lifespan.

Do pharmacies still sell things like aspirin? Or do you have to ask for it "under the counter"?

The 17th February edition of Australian Doctor includes a report on "Pharmacists warned over 'dubious' health products":
Pharmacists have been warned they risk sacrificing their professional reputation by peddling 'dubious' products to the public. Last week president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Mr Brian Grogan admitted he was particularly concerned by pharmacists offering a so-called liquid oxygen supplement called Oxygen 4 Life.. [...] According to its makers [...] the product is made from 100% natural ingredients and has "no GI, no calories, no kilojoules and no carbohydrates".

EoR is pleased to see someone in the pharmaceutical profession is taking a stand, but his local pharmacy still has a resident naturopath and a homoeopath.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Naturopath Prescribes

The holidays are over, and it's back to normal at the ABC, including the return of Michael "I believe in magic" Treloar to the radio, the local naturopath and dispenser of sage advice.

In recent appearances, EoR has learnt how to cure arthritis - an epsom salts soaking. This will remove the uric acid that is the cause of arthritis.

Mr Treloar also expressed some skepticism at the various products such as anti-wrinkle cream advertised in the media since these do not have any studies to support them. He also recommended echinacea (not the cheap echinacea, since that isn't effective, but the "good quality" stuff). Certainly, the expensive stuff will be more effective at boosting naturopath's incomes. Maybe he's just happy there have been studies done of echinacea, no matter what the result.

EoR was also glad to learn that there are only three conditions of the bowel: colitis, and a couple of others which EoR missed in his shock. Maybe that's why it's so much easier to become a naturopath than a real doctor - the medical manual's so much slimmer.

Headaches are almost always caused by neck problems. See your friendly local chiro for a cure. It it's not that, then it's hormonal. Take herbs to cure.

EoR was also concerned at the caller who was advised that red meat was Bad and Evil for people with psoriasis. When the caller told Mr Treloar that he had just recovered from a major illness and his doctor had advised him to eat as much red meat as possible, Mr Treloar refused to relent, and told him again not to eat red meat.

This sort of stuff would be acceptable if it was prefaced not with the standard "general advice only" disclaimer, but a much clearer disclaimer that the whole segment is actually satire and humour, and please don't take anything Mr Treloar says as factual.

Oh, and always get your supplements from the naturopath since they're much better than the commercial stuff. Or did EoR already say that?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"That which does not kill us makes us stranger."

DVD coverÆon Flux - Complete Animated Collection: Director's Cut has been released in Australia, and EoR has been enjoying this animated oddity. Sometimes television comes up with something thought provoking and which doesn't just play to the lowest common denominator (usually about once every five years, in EoR's experience, which isn't a very high success rate).

Æon Flux is the eponymous heroine. Part terrorist, part anarchist, part existentialist, Æon Flux is the scantily clad gun-toting acrobatic star (with an endless supply of ammunition, a foot fetish, and breasts that could poke an eye out) of a series of animated shorts that are full of ambiguity and brilliant cinematic animation (there's a debt to anime, but also with a clear acknowledgement to the best European cartoonists such as Moebius and Druillet, as well as directors such as Kurosawa). Those of you familiar with the Jerry Cornelius works of Michael Moorcock (and other writers) will also be prepared for a lead character who repeatedly dies, and whose world changes frequently without explanation.

Originally a series of six two-minute shorts, there followed a series of five five-minute shorts (in which Æon never spoke - apart from one word - and in every one of which she died), and finally a series of ten half-hour programs (in which Æon spoke more but died less frequently). They are full of clever ideas and thought-provoking images, and the constant interplay between Æon and her nemesis/lover Trevor Goodchild, in a world where reality is a shifting and indeterminate concept (particularly in Chronophasia). EoR's favourite episodes also include The Demiurge (Æon is on a mission to kill a god) and The Purge (Trevor invents an artificial conscience called a "Custodian" - Æon's dilemma is does she have a conscience or not?).

Peter Chung deliberately didn't want straightforward dialogue in the full length series, and this example (from the opening sequence) gives a taste:
Trevor Goodchild: The dream to awaken our world...
Æon Flux: You're out of control.
Trevor Goodchild: I take control! Whose side are you on?
Æon Flux: I take no side...
Trevor Goodchild: You're skating the edge.
Æon Flux: I am the edge!
Trevor Goodchild: What you truly want, only I can give.
Æon Flux: You can't give it, you can't even buy it, and you just don't get it.

We are not what we remember of ourselves. We can undo only what others have already forgotten. Learn from your mistakes, so that one day you can repeat them precisely.

or EoR's favourite
That which does not kill us makes us stranger.

For DVD the series has been remastered: the colour has been improved, some minor CGI effects added and some scenes revamped. Fanboy agitation on the net seems to be mostly negative about this, but EoR didn't mind the new version (yes, he did see the original broadcasts) and, as Peter Chung has pointed out, it's only restoring what MTV (the original broadcaster) wouldn't allow him to do.

In an interview at IGN Peter Chung hints at more Æon Flux to come:
I found the experience of doing the first full half-hour series to be very frustrating in a lot of ways, because I felt like you're working with a lot of time constraints and budget restraints - restraints - and with content restraints, so we are developing Æon Flux animation in another form. I'm not sure what form it's going to take - you know, direct to video or theatrical or what. But yeah, I think how the DVD sells and how the movie does will affect what form that takes.

Unfortunately, the Æon Flux movie is an abomination which all fans will spit on and avoid like the plague since Peter Chung had no hand in it other than at the very initial stages, and Æon is no longer someone working solely for herself, without a past, and without a future. Hollywood adaptations suck - which is something Peter Chung agrees with:
the movie is a travesty. I was unhappy when I read the script four years ago; seeing it projected larger than life in a crowded theatre made me feel helpless, humiliated and sad. I know it's bad form for me to voice my disapproval in a public forum, but it's silly for me, of all people, to continue playing dumb, considering most of the critics have voiced their disapproval using every mocking and condescending expression possible. Maybe the makers didn't understand the source material and thought they were being true to it; or they understood it, but didn't think it would appeal to a wide enough audience and altered it to suit their presumed target. They claim to love the original version; yet they do not extend that faith to their audience. No, they will soften it for the public, which isn't hip enough to appreciate the raw, pure, unadulterated source like they do. The argument for the Catherine Goodchild movie is that an accurate live-action version of the Æon Flux would have been too inaccessible for a mainstream audience. It would not have made money, ergo there's no impetus for the studio to make it. It's a circular argument which attempts to shift responsibility away from the individuals who make the film to the presumed audience. Presuming to know what an audience wants to see and tailoring the product to fit is a method that sucks all the drive I'd have to ever create anything. It's self-defeating disingenuous. The original impetus behind the Æon Flux "Pilot" was a critique of the manipulation of sympathy in Hollywood movies. That method is most transparent in the action genre. Æon Flux was never an action vehicle. The only two episodes in which Æon does much physical fighting are the shorts Pilot and War -- in which her violent actions are portrayed as preposterous and futile. Not heroic. How can anyone watching those shorts NOT GET IT?

Buy the DVD of the original series though. Maybe that will be impetus enough to get the real Æon Flux back in action.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Energy's Working. I Think. Maybe. Maybe Not.

EoR has been following with interest the adventures related at energyblog, telling of the daily trials and tribulations of an equine reikiist.

From early attempts such as
This is my first experiment with healing energy on Tristan. I tried working on Tristan’s front and back legs. Front right hoof and corona: something feels a little off balance or out of kilter there. It’s hard to say exactly what. He just doesn’t feel like he stands on it confidently. He seemed to respond when I work it, shifting or twitching, but not pulling away.

EoR is concerned about this "seeming" (a word that recurs again and again throughout the entries) and the work on a horse's "corona". EoR almost suspects this is something to do with glowing magic energy, except it always occurs in relation to the feet. Horses have a coronet (the junction between the hoof and the leg), but not a "corona". It seems Miles and Becky don't just have delusions about magic aura energy, but also about their equine knowledge.

Of course, in this sort of delusional world, absolutely anything is evidence of reiki working:
Left flank: A lot of tension in the flank and around the stifle. It doesn’t seem out of kilter, but I got a lot of releases in the muscles and he loosened up a lot (and farted) when I worked it.

EoR feels slightly uneasy that breaking wind is proof of magic universal god energy working. Becky expresses her amazement at Miles' perceptive diagnosis:
The next day it was confirmed by the vet that the hoof had been trimmed wrong and that Tristan was rolling and landing more weight on the outside of this hoof.

Strangely, there's no fulsome praise of his diagnosis of the hoof that, in the next entry, forms an abscess, since Miles found
I didn’t feel anything in particular about it.

The madness gets worse.
He seemed to really respond to me connecting with the brow chakra, he kept trying to rub me with his head and stepping forward towards me as I did this. Don’t know if it was the energy work or if he wanted treats!

Let's see. Which would be more likely? That some unknown, undetectable, anti-physical force was flowing from human to horse, or the horse was hungry? Would anyone like some time to think about this?
He seemed to respond strongly to it, lowering his head, sighing and chewing, and turning his ears back to me. His head seemed very active, going up and down and moving his lips

These are the classic signs of alternative therapies working on horses. No matter if it's bowen, chiropractic or (as here) reiki, these signs are clear "proof" that the charlatan's particular form of magic is really working. And the reason that these signs are all given as proof is that any horse standing around for any period of time will start to show some or all of these behaviours. These liars could just as well state that "My magic is working because the horse is breathing. Look! Look! He's breathing! I'm amazing!" Of course, when the woo vibrations fail to elicit any response it is most definitely not an indication that action and reaction are totally arbitrary and unrelated:
I petted him and tried contacting with his heart and brachial chakras, but without much response.

Becky explains
It was a much more distractible day with having an audience member, and the scent of rain and a storm (which happened later that day) was clearly in the air. And of course horses react to this.

Of course. Not a random response. It was the horse's fault. Must keep the gullible public satisfied and deluded.

Miles is also a human conductor:
Then I pressed one hand into the soil and tried to draw up earth energy into the joint while I drew off the pain. Tristan really went for this! As soon as my hand pressed on the earth, I felt a big current of healing earth energy course up his leg and through me to the sore joints. I was able to draw off a lot of negative energy and I felt the healthy energy take its place.

EoR also notes, in passing, that this horse is said to be on some unspecified joint supplement (ordered over the internet, so it may or may not be something effective).

After he received his Reiki Level One attunement (what was he doing before - the whole mystical point of reiki is that you have to be "attuned" to be able to transmit the energy?) Miles found his powers increased remarkably:
This is much stronger than the energy I had been working with before (or really, the energy is the same but I now have access to a much more energy that I can channel easily in a strong flow, rather than the smaller amounts that I was generating myself). He jumped and looked back at me and seemed to say "What in the heck was that!? I never felt that before! Who are you and what are you doing?" I talked to him, reassured him about what I was doing, and channeled more energy for him gently. He skittered around a bit, and did a lot of looking at me and sniffing me, as if to reassure himself about who I was. Everytime I gave him more power he jumped a little.

Becky admiringly points out that this particular horse
has always been a more antsy horse about standing still. He fidgets a lot

Again, EoR pauses to ask a question. Which is more likely: a fidgetting horse flinching at hands being waved at him, or massive amounts of invisible supernatural energy jolting him around the paddock? Take your time...

Miles also has Deep and Meaningful conversations with the horses:
After I had done a bit, she expressed an interest in why it was different now. I told her about it, and how I was not being pushy with my energy anymore. She expressed approval of this, and after a moment she asked if I could show her how to do it herself (as I had done before). I showed her what I was doing, but said that I was not able to access the large pool of energy until after I have an attunement. I said that I could not give her an attunement, only a Reiki Master could. She said that she wanted to get an attunement herself sometime.

EoR looks forward to the day when horses are performing reiki on one another, and cutting out the middle man. Incidentally, that picture of Miles looks very worrying: is that his familiar sitting on his shoulder?

Miles also has the ability to transfer his consciousness into that of horses:
I have continued to have difficulty sensing clearly what is wrong in the horses, so I tried a new approach today. Instead of intentionally exploring and feeling out the various areas and probing to see how they feel, I tried letting go and sliding inside Pepper’s skin (with her permission of course). I consciously let go of my self and my ego, closed my eyes, and let myself flow out of my body through my fingertips into Pepper and tried to just relax and feel what it was like to BE Pepper. Pepper graciously let me in, and it was a much deeper sense of awareness and oneness that I had felt before. I could feel her thinking around me, and could feel somewhat of what her energy felt like from the inside. I could feel that she was somewhat hungry in the pit of her stomach, and was enjoying the process of eating her feed. Her hips were a little achy (but not much). The left hip area has some sore muscles behind the hip joint high on top of the flank.

A hungry horse. Now that's remarkable. Since horses are grazers, they're hungry all the time.

EoR looks forward to further entries, and seeing how long people can remain deluded and gullible about nonexistent things (though that comment that "I have continued to have difficulty sensing clearly what is wrong in the horses" might indicate that Miles is having trouble reconciling his amazing powers with their lack of evidence).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Homo Delphinus

Having previously looked at the magical world of dolphins and how they are leading us all into the new brighter future where woo rules and the fairies dance at the bottom of the garden, EoR was not overly suprised to find this report about Sharon Tendler, who is ushering in the new age in her own way:
In a modest ceremony at Dolphin Reef in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, Tendler, a 41-year-old British citizen, apparently became the world's first person to "marry" a dolphin. Dressed in a white dress, a veil and pink flowers in her hair, Tendler got down on one knee on the dock and gave Cindy a kiss. And a piece of herring.

EoR does, however, have a few concerns with this: shouldn't she be marrying a dolphin nearer her own age? And why is she rushing back off to London to leave Cindy (and just what sort of name is that for a male dolphin?) frustrated at her absence and having to satisfy himself with the second-rate local dolphins? And where will they set up the nuptial home? In a London flat, or beneath a tropical reef?
"He will still play with all the other girls there," she said, of their prenuptial agreement. "I hope he has a lot of baby dolphins with the other dolphins. The more dolphins the better."

How on earth does a dolphin legally accept a prenuptial agreement?

EoR raises a glass to Mr and Mrs Tendler. At least they won't be breeding any little Tendlerlets to carry on this strain of lunacy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Natural Horsemanship: Kind, Gentle, Deadly

Natural Horsemanship is usually promoted as a more understanding, kinder method of training horses in contrast to "traditional" horse breaking which is pictured as cruel, violent and harmful (if a horse is broken in properly, none of those things are true - but we're up against the same mindset that alternatistas seem mired in where "traditional" is evil and "touchy feely" is always right).

In a recent example of this, a group of wild horses were taken from a remote outback station to be trained 'naturally' (by people paying money for the privilege of working for the horsebreaker under the idea that this was some sort of newage 'experience').

The following information (tucked away in hoofbeats as a letter to the editor in the Green Horse section) is not mentioned anywhere on the relevant site or its associated propaganda companion.
I was enjoying reading your magazine as usual - until I was half way through the Wild Horse Update. People get a bit excited when they find these Wild Horses that have been abandoned by the station and start labelling them as Walers, ASH's or Stock Horses. [...] The training program has certainly given people a unique opportunity to hone their skills on untouched horses. Yet one would have to wonder, after watching the dramatic confrontation between man and stallion - knowing that particular old stallion has died and the younger one died in the yards at the station - is submission for these horses a fate worse than death?

The Editor responds:
A spokesperson from the program advised that fourteen horses were caught in the original muster, and yes, three died on the station, including one stallion. From the attending vet's point of view these deaths were due to the culminating effects of starvation and malnutrition, and possibly Ephemeral Fever. [...] The death of the older stallion Rex, at Margaret River, while lamentable, could have been a result of any number of factors, including the fact that he was an aged horse.
[...] Of the nine that survived, four were sold after the Horses and Horsemen clinic.

So four dead horses. Four sold. A triumph for natural horsepersonship. Rex is still there on the Horses and Horsemanship site, looking all touchy feely with the horse killers - sorry, horse breakers. No mention on that site or the other one
about the deaths.

EoR is not a veterinarian, and hesitates to disagree with a veterinarian's diagnosis, but Ephemeral Fever seems an extremely unlikely cause of an equine death since it is a specifically bovine disease. Maybe the animals were in such a poor condition that the veterinarian had trouble telling just what they were.

And this person has the gall to talk about the "science" of
understanding and developing horses and uses this knowledge to educate, challenge and develop both people and horses.

A lot of developing going on there. Sounds like he's developing them into carcasses. And then these people have the
pretension to form "academies" complete with a "syllabus".

As he says "Horsemanship is a good way to practice seeing natural processes."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hands of Money

After his recent encounter with the infighting amongst energy healers EoR decided to follow one of the trails, to Barbara Brennan's Hands of Light healing.

First stop was her scientific textbook, "Hands of Light". According to the blurb, this
is a scientist's look at the field of bioenergetic healing, offering specific techniques towards expanding perceptual tools of healing, seeing auras, understanding psychodynamics and the human energy field, and spiritual healing. Trained as a physicist and psychotherapist, Brennan has spent the last 15 years studying the human energy field and working as a healer. Hands of Light goes beyond conventional, objective knowledge while retaining scientific clarity. [...] Science and spirituality may currently be at odds, but fortunately there will always be scientists who are spiritual seekers, and it is in the mingling of the two worlds where wisdom is born.

Pretty standard alternatista "Science is bad except my scientific woo theories which are really rather spiffy and nice" stuff. The reviews are all congratulatory and backslappingly admiring of Barbara's magic powers. Someone claiming to be an engineer gushes
I honestly believe that this book will one day be considered a revolutionary text in modern medicine - that the techniques outlined in this text will one day become standard practices in modern medicine.

EoR isn't holding his breath. "Apostolic Pentecostal Woman" states (spelling and capitalisation preserved so you get the real feel of this frenzied diatribe):
WE ARE A MIRACLE OURSELVES LIVING ON A MIRACULOUS BLOB OF ENRGY CALLED EARTH. WE ARE CAPABLE OF HEALING OURSELVES BECAuSE GOD IS IN US-EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US-HE IS IN US. HE CREATED A REAL UNIVERSE-MATTER AND ENERGY-INTACT and Barbara Brennan-a human form of love and compassion, a scientist and a healer-is an instrument of God who is being used to explain this (not so called) 'mysteries' of our cosmos thru this book. I am learning from her book and I am delighted to be enlightened. I can tell all here that COMPASSION AND LOVE WORKS. I can tell you that I can see auras and chakras now after reading her book but I sill have to deal some issues with myself that when I know it has been dealt with, I know I will be able to heal myself and heal others. You too can...

Oh, right. So she couldn't see "auras and chakras" before reading the book. Pretty strong stuff.

On her website, Barbara provides details of the science:
The Human Energy Field is the manifestation of the universal energy that is intimately involved with human life. It can be described as a luminous body that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body, emits its own characteristic radiation and is usually called the "aura." The auric field is a quantum leap deeper into our personality than is our physical body.

Well done. Extra points for mentioning "universal energy field", "aura" and "quantum leap" all at the beginning. There's a bit more mystical mumbo-jumbo, and Barbara concludes
The Human Energy Field is composed of an infinite number of levels. We focus primarily on the seven lower levels throughout the four-year course of study in Brennan Healing Science. Each level penetrates through the body and extends outward from the skin. Each successive level is of a "higher frequency" or a "higher octave." Each extends out from the skin several inches farther than the one within it of lower frequency. The odd-numbered levels are structured fields of standing, scintillating light beams. The first, third, fifth, and seventh levels of this field are structured in a specific form. The even-numbered levels - the second, fourth, and sixth - are filled with formless substance/energy.

Just like her unaccredited course is filled with formless substance. Do you notice anything funny here? That's right: the "science" page is mercifully free of the complexities of science. No references. No studies. Nothing but woo. And apparently not even particularly original woo, apart from the title. No wonder the reikiists are pissed off. Someone else treading on their nice little scam must be really annoying.

In fact, even though
She has devoted the last 30 years to research and exploration of the Human Energy Field.

she is still yet to publish any form of research (books and tapes count as advertising, not fact).

EoR is comforted to know, however, that not all of her wisdom costs money. Monthly she lets out a morsel of newage wisdom. This month:
It is now that nations begin to dissolve the fear in rigid national and cultural historical traditions. These traditions are no longer needed because individuals in those cultures no longer need a historical sounding board of rigid beliefs to stop themselves from re-creating international pain. It is in this way that the earth can be healed through each individual holding clear and aligned intention to create from the essence of the self, that walks within both worlds at the same time.

Or, as EoR puts it, "Be nice to people". But, unfortunately, Barbara appears not to have looked at the world recently.

On the other hand, with Emoto-San and Barbara working flat out to heal the world, EoR wonders what the place would be like without their powers holding everything together...

Monday, February 20, 2006

William Blake: Schizophrenic?

Edward Friedlander, M.D., The pathguy, has available on his website a copy of his English Literature thesis, William Blake's Milton: Meaning and Madness, in which he argues for a diagnosis of William Blake as a schizophrenic.
As a medical doctor, I will try to break new ground in an area which has been ignored. I am going to suggest that Milton, in contrast to most works of literature, was to a very large extent conceived and executed unconsciously. The faculties of the mind of which we are ordinarily unaware worked much more freely in the composition of Milton than in the production of narratives by most other authors.

The way Blake's mind worked made him different from other people. It is possible to account for Blake's visions, much of his system, and the facility with which he received his "inspirations" with a single hypothesis. To date, no medical doctor with a literary background has ever reviewed the Blake records, or offered an opinion to the literary community.

I will review all the biographical information that we have regarding Blake's "visions" and "voices". I will then develop the case for Blake's having had schizophrenia. This is the commonest cause of hallucinations during clear consciousness. It affects around one percent of adults in our country, and was about this prevalent in Blake's England.

Such diagnoses post mortem and sans body are interesting speculations (though EoR feels they can only ever remain speculations), and Dr Friedlander makes an interesting argument from Milton, Blake's letters, and contemporary accounts for the similarity between Blake's visions and poetry, and the experiences of schizophrenics.

Blake's visions have certainly been fertile ground for theorising of all forms, with their gnostic sensibilities, and their remarkable similarities to the psychology later developed by Carl Jung, and Dr Friendlander is not the first (nor, EoR posits, the last) to psychoanalyse him. EoR remains unconvinced (and also feels that the exercise is intellectual rather than relevant to Blake's work). Interestingly, Peter Ackroyd's biography Blake (pretty much the standard biography) contains no index entry for schizophrenia or mental illness.

Dr Friedlander concludes
Let no one misunderstand me. Blake's writings and pictures are extremely interesting and valuable. Blake has opened worlds of marvels and great beauty to us. Blake rejected social injustice and mechanical philosophies just like most of us do.

But I believe that William Blake was wrong about his visions and voices. They are not guides to metaphysical truths for all of us. I find that Blake's visions of the end of the world and the transformation of all people's perceptions were figments of his sick brain. Like the sons of Los, I believe that it is better to live and work for good in the world as it really is.

I believe that Blake was wrong. But I hope that he was right. Then, when we understand his works, we will have broken through the "limits of opacity and contraction", and enter a larger, more meaningful world.

While EoR agrees with the first paragraph of that conclusion, he can't agree with Dr Friedlander's claim that Blake was not concerned with the "world as it really is" (and suspects Dr Friedlander's Christianity is surfacing here) given Blake's outrage at suffering and slavery, at war and repression, and his poems in Songs of Experience such as London, or this excerpt from The Four Zoas:
What is the price of Experience do men buy it for a song
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath his house his wife his children
Wisdom is sold in the desolate marketplace where none come to buy
And in the witherd field where the farmer plows in vain

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summers sun
And in the vintage & to sing on the waggon loaded with corn
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer
To listen to the hungry ravens cry in wintry season
When the red blood is filld with wine & with the marrow of lambs
It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan
To see a god on every wind & a blessing on every blast
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies house
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, & the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive & vine sing & laugh round our door & our children bring fruits & flowers
Then the groan & the dolor are quite forgotten & the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains & the poor in the prison, & the soldier in the field
When the shatterd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity
Thus could I sing & thus rejoice, but it is not so with me!

As Jacob Bronowski says in the introduction to his selection of Blake's poems and letters:
He was and he remained robust, matter-of-fact, and a rebel. He is as downright a rebel in the later religious writings as in his early Radical ones. Blake's form of Christianity was heretical, for it identified Christ the Son with all spiritual goodness and made God the Father a symbol of terror and tyranny. And this, the Gnostic or Manichaean heresy, is not merely a technical nicety among sects: it is a crux in Blake's mind. God to Blake personified absolute authority, and Christ personified the human character; and Blake was on the side of man against authority, at the end of his life when he called the authority Church and God, as much as at the beginning when he called it State and King. [...] The subject is the distortion of man by the rigid frame of law and society and the conventional systems; and the triumph is always the liberation of man by his own energies. The subject is war, tyranny, and poverty; the triumph is human freedom. [...] Blake read in these the signs of all human longing, and gave them an imaginative force which makes them still vivid to our generation, the generation of Belsen, and which makes his writing a universal monument of th spirit.

Or, as Blake said towards the end of his life
I have been very near the Gates of Death & have returned very weak & an Old Man feeble & tottering, but not in Spirit & Life, not in The Real Man The Imagination which Liveth for Ever. In that I am stronger & stronger as this Foolish Body decays.

The William Blake Archive

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tea with Sir Jason

This month's issue of Nova includes an advertisement for "KILLING CANCER The Sir Jason Winters Story" which intrigued EoR, so he went seeking further information.
In 1977, at the age of 47, Hollywood actor Jason Winters was told that he had 3 months to live. He was diagnosed with cancer of the throat, tonsils and tongue, & had a tumour the size of a grapefruit wrapped around his carotid artery & attached to the wall of his jugular vein, resulting in a death sentence from his physician. He was given 52 doses of cobalt radiation, then was told that his condition was hopeless, as the treatment had no effect. Sent home to die, he started reading the Bible, in which herbs used for medicinal purposes were mentioned 27 times. Sir Jason contacted the Archbishop of Canterbury to find the name of the herb mentioned in the Bible. It turned out to be Red Clover, which has been used extensively in Europe for thousands of years to cleanse the blood.

He has been honoured by Congress (though what the "meritorious achievement" he was honoured for, Sir Jason remains coyly silent about). His product is used and endorsed by Peter Brock. EoR can't imagine a better recommendation for a health product than from a racing car driver. Never mind efficacy studies, if you can get someone famous (even better, a famous sports star) the people will come running with open wallets. He also has one (count them: one) doctor (a certain Dr Pierce who, it is claimed, is a Scottish oncologist) who is quoted on his site to support his claims:
When he was sent home to die after being told that there was nothing more that could be done to help, Mr. Winters turned to herbs and prayer. He contacted Lord Coggan, the most revered and right honourable Archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Winters asked what herb he thought was mentioned in the Bible so many times for blood purification and good health. Lord Coggan did some research and informed Mr. Winters that the herb was quite possibly Red Clover, which is a herb that has been used in Europe for centuries. Jason had also heard from a Buddhist monk that Herbalene was very good for tumours. Jason also found that the American Indian people use a herb called Chaparral to cleanse the body. After obtaining all three of these herbs from three continents, Mr. Winters was making a tea of each one separately which was time consuming as well as ineffective. It was only after mixing the herbs together that the effects of the combination were felt. Mr. Winters' recovery was quite rapid and noticeable.

Ah, "research". EoR is worried about God's stupidity in spreading the magic mix of Three Herbs that Will Cure All Diseases on three different continents. What was He thinking? Maybe he was distracted at the time by creating Creationists. Dr Pierce continues:
We found that the herbs are not a cure all, but merely purified the blood to such an extent that a person's natural immune system starts working and the body has a chance to heal itself. These herbs would have the same effect on most illnesses.

The good old nonfunctioning immune system. Why did God put that in there when it's obviously so hopeless at fixing anything? But at least Sir Jason's tea and tiffin cures everything. So much, it's a miracle cure:
And the miracle happened. From the first sip, he felt the life flowing back into his wasted body. He brewed a gallon of the mixture and drank it. [...] "There are thousands of people I have met who were expected to die of cancer years ago. They all had one thing in common they agreed that God is smarter than their doctor," he stressed.

Doctors are amazed at him:
After drinking the herbal tea blend he formulated, Sir Jason went back to the hospital for a check up. The doctors were amazed that they couldn't find a trace of the cancer. His doctors said, "Keep doing what ever it is you are doing". Jason continued to eat healthily, not smoke or drink alcohol and drink his Classic Blend Tea regularly. He has not been diagnosed with cancer since. Sir Jason recently underwent a routine medical examination at the Southwest Medical Associates facility, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over a five-day period, Jason was subjected to over 100 tests, including x-rays, blood, cholesterol and triglyceride testing. When it was all over, his physician, Dr. Haulk, found absolutely nothing wrong with him and gave him a clean bill of health! Dr. Haulk and the staff at Southwest Medical even wrote Sir Jason a letter of congratulations. It seams even they were amazed that a 70-year-old man could be this healthy! Sir Jason is currently 74 years young (2004) and spends most of his time travelling around the world, telling his story, to help his fellow humans.

For all his marvellous miracle stories, EoR is disconcerted by that little disclaimer that all these sites carry (principally to avoid being sued for fraud since there's no way they could prove their claims medically or scientifically):
The information found in this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition

Nonetheless, $A36 for 30 teabags is a small price to pay for immortality and the Cure for All Cancers. Then there's the DVDs, filters and juicers ($A$1086.37 for a water filter, $A$362.73 for a juicer!), books, and supplements.

More of his amazing life story is to be found at the Sir Jason Winters Story where he relates his many adventures:
crossed the Canadian Rockies by hot air balloon [...] retraced Sir Alexander McKenzie's footsteps down the McKenzie River by canoe, a trip of more than 2,000 miles [...] crossed the Sahara Desert by camel before working for the New Zealand government testing seat belts by crashing cars into brick walls [...] Jason attempted to be the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon but crashed half way. Unlike most balloonists, Jason removed the typical basket from beneath the balloon and replaced it with a small boat, a fact that may have saved his life as it took several days for him to be rescued after crashing into the Atlantic.

There's also profuse mention of his many awards, media appearances and "thousands" of testimonials. EoR was bemused to see no mention of his scientific research or evidence. Presumably because there is none.

Alas, how well does the life of this Victorian-style adventurer and renaissance man hold up? EoR went looking for the truth. He found no record of Jason Winters or Dr Haulk at the Southwest Medical Associates. He found two different Jason Winters at IMDB, but neither of these are an actor. He found no reference to Jason Winters at the Order of Malta (which he claims granted him a "diploma"). He could find no record of a transatlantic balloon flight attempt (though a Mark Winters is listed for 1968). He could find no record of live humans being used as crash test dummies (cadavers, yes - perhaps Sir Jason was brought back to life by his magic tea?). He went looking for Dr. Ian Pierce M.D, but the only references to him were on Mr Winters' own sites and associated alternative health sites (where the good doctor's single paean is repeated ad nauseum). EoR didn't bother trying to confirm whether Sir Jason really has a knighthood from Malta (he wonders why he would have received this honour?) and whether it really entitles him to be so modest as to constantly refer to himself as "Sir" and register the domain name www.sirjasonwinters.com. Nor whether he's really on first name terms with Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He'd probably only be disappointed.

EoR also found a passing mention of Sir Jason on a non-Sir Jason site: BC Cancer Agency where it is pointed out that
December 21, 2005 Health Canada is warning consumers not to ingest the herb chaparral in the form of loose leaves, teas, capsules or bulk herbal products because of the risk of liver and kidney problems. [...] "Chaparral may also be mutagenic. One case has been described where a patient developed cystic renal cell carcinoma after regularly drinking chaparral tea." (Ernst)

The dangers of chapparal are also detailed by Cancer Research UK where one trial is mentioned in which four people taking chapparal tea had a decrease in the size of their tumour (lasting 10 days to 20 months). Unfortunately, the other 41 had an increase.

So. Yet another shyster with no provable claims (personal or medical), who proclaims on his front page that he doesn't "diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition". This means that all the people flinging their money at him in a desperate attempt to survive cancer are, to use the technical jargon, "suckers".

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Censorship Makes A Mark

Never mind images of Muhammad. There's something else that's far, far more offensive. Something that strikes at the very fabric of our society. Something that has the potential to destroy the world as we know it. A stand needs to be taken against this sort of stuff, and that's exactly what the Office of Film and Literature Classification has done, refusing classification to a particularly offensive computer game (for those not familiar with Australia's Orwellian classification laws, EoR feels compelled to point out that Australia does not ban offensive materials, nor issue an 'R' rating to computer games, it simply doesn't issue them a classification. And only classified materials are permitted).

Is this refusal because of excessive sex? Or perhaps excessive violence? Maybe excessive drugs? No: it's something far more insidious and revolting.


Yes, Marc Ecko's Getting Up has been refused classification.
The Classification Review Board has determined, in a majority 3 to 2 decision, that the computer game Marc
Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure should be refused classification. The Review Board met on 6, 8, 13 and 14 February 2006 with the Convenor exercising a casting vote because the members were equally divided in opinion. [...] "Both the National Classification Code and the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games state that a computer game will be refused classification if it includes or contains detailed instruction or promotion of matters of crime," Convenor, Maureen Shelley said. "It is the Classification Review Board’s determination that this game promotes the crime of graffiti."

This stuff is dangerous. It could warp minds irretrievably. Apparently, though, street racing is acceptable.

Of course, since the game isn't banned overseas, it can still be purchased via the internet.

EoR also wonders what effect this will have in reducing graffiti, particularly since this sort of stuff has been going on since the Paleolithic (found via Orac).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why Do Aliens Come All This Way Just to Call People Rude Names?

Via The Register is this image of a recent crop circle phenomenon that has EoR shaking his head in wonder at the produndities of these apparitions. Dr Haselhoff's Balls Of Dancing Light certainly have a sense of humour.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Praise Holy Darwin!

In its February 11-12, 2006 edition of its Review section, the Australian newspaper published, presumably in celebration of Darwin Day, an interesting review of Niles Eldredge's Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life and From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin (edited by Edward O Wilson) by Hiram Caton, who is described as
a retired professor of politics and history at Griffith University. He is completing his next book, Evolution in the Century of Progress.

The title of the review, An Article of Faith is a bit disconcerting, and this is reinforced throughout the early part of the review:
The canon's adroit evasion of uncomfortable facts [during Darwin's funeral oration] was not the beginning of the Darwin legend, but it was a landmark in his sanctification as the presiding spirit of scientific enlightenment.

"Legend"? "Sanctification"? "Spirit"? Do you see a certain theme evolving here?
Signs abound that the celebration of the bicentennial of his birth will reverberate with hymns and hosannas. [...] the hosannas of these two distinguished scientists provoke awe and adulation. We learn that the Origin is the "greatest scientific book of all time" that "fully explained" the struggle for existence (Wilson). The Voyage "is today regarded as intellectually the most important travel book of all time" (Wilson). [...] These surpassing achievements constitute a revolution equal in importance to the Copernican revolution. Smitten with reverence, my eye falls on the dust jackets to contemplate the photo of the aged Darwin: yes, he looks like a prophet.

Using the straw man arguments of the Creationists (but barely letting that word sully his 'review') Mr Caton points out various perceived flaws in Darwin's theory (though, of course, they are only flaws in Mr Caton's hastily erected "cathedral" (his word) to Darwin):
What were Darwin's discoveries in biology, and what is the story of their uptake? What was his new concept of humankind? Did it support the actively canvassed idea of sexual equaility?

But worse is to come. Darwin was not a 'real' scientist, but only an amateur:
Darwin the country gentleman was in complete disconnect with his world. His ceaseless pursuit of evolution questions resulted in not a single empirical discovery of interest to experimental biologists on the cutting edge. [...] The disconnect is especially telling in Darwin's failure to make any contribution to the science of heredity.

Mr Caton argues that Darwin's attempts at domestication breeding experiments proved his theories wrong:
Domestication also provided abundant documentation of events that Darwin unreservedly declared could not happen: single generation leaps, such as the two-headed calf and other "sports of nature", that disprove his gradualist theory of organic change.

Of course, we've all seen how two-headed calves become the dominant form in various species, outbreeding and outcompeting their inferior single-headed cousins.

The major hole (not failing, note, only a gap) in Darwin's theory was of course an understanding of genetics, and it is to Gregor Mendel that we look to provide the beginning of that particular science. Mr Caton, astoundingly, claims
Mendel believed his discovery disproved Darwin's theory. He was right.

Mr Caton concludes
One way to disabuse [creationists] of this nonsense is to discard the legend, which in any case has no business in science.

Indeed. THough it's usually the creationists who argue for the 'legend' of Darwin (and then attempt to dismantle it as proof of their pet 'theories'). EoR wonders why Mr Caton spent the bulk of his review on the legend, and so little on the science.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ban RU486: Save Christianity

As Prime Minister John Howard is fond of pointing out, Australia is not a racist nation. In confirmation of his stance, one of his party colleagues, Federal Liberal MP Danna Vale, has claimed that allowing the use of RU486 will make Australia a godless heathen Muslim nation in only 50 years.
"I've actually read in the Daily Telegraph where a certain imam from the Lakemba mosque actually said that Australia is going to be a Muslim nation in 50 years' time," she said. "I didn't believe him at the time but when you actually look at the birthrates and you look at the fact that we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by a 100,000 abortions every year. You multiply that by 50 years, that's 5 million potential Australians we won't have here."

EoR is interested by the implications of her statement that only "Australians" have abortions, and that "Australians" do not include Muslims (or, probably, anyone who isn't white and Christian).

In a spectacular example of political doublespeak worthy of Sir Humphrey himself, Nationals MP and parliamentary secretary for Trade De-Anne Kelly, has expressed her disagreement with Ms Vale
"As Jackie Kelly said, look Danna is pretty much on her own on this," she said.

She says will vote the same way as Mrs Vale, but disagrees with her thoughts.

Right, Ms Vale is a loony rightwing racist with a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease. But let's offer her our full support.

Australia's conservative government: continuing to lead the country back to the Middle Ages.

Addendum: Legislation was passed by the Australian Parliament on 16th February to move approval of RU486 to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and out of the hands of the Minister for Health.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Clinical Application of Chi 2

Looking at the January/February 2006 edition of the Journal of Complementary Medicine, today EoR considers "The challenge of intellectual innocence".

This article is written by Professor Stephen P Myers, PhD, BMed, ND and Director of the Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education. He is also on the editorial board of the journal.

A primary objective of modern health education should be to produce individuals who are independent and critical analytical thinkers. There are a number of forces that run counter to this objective during a student's educational tenure. These include the process where a student is moulded into a specific health professional, and the pressure of conformity they experience during clinical placements. They are expected to demonstrate best practice and to follow the lead of their mentors. Thinking outside the square is generally frowned upon and maintaining the status quo rewarded.

So, according to Professor Myers, the student who goes out on a limb with some wild diagnosis or treatment is to be preferred to the one who follows "best practice". Why should these students even bother with clinical placements if following "the lead of their mentors" is to be frowned upon so much. The problem is not thinking outside the square, the issue is to train students where the square actually lies, and what the range of issues and considerations are within that square. Of course, complementary medicine practitioners are uneasy with critical analytical thinking (even though they claim to utilise it) and following evidence based and proven procedures.

Professor Myers argues for "intellectual innocence".
In the context of complementary medicine (CM), it is essential for both the conventional and CM professions to engage in an open dialogue free from stereotypes and preconceptions. This occurred in June 2005 between more than 70 educators in conventional medicine and the major CM disciplines at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Dr Aviad Haramati, a professor of physiology at the university's School of Medicine and one of the conference planners, said that the goal was simply 'to create common ground across several disciplines that will make a difference in the education of healthcare professionals and thereby lead to improvements in our healthcare system'. John Weeks, project director for the meeting, noted 'those who are educated in silos are likely to practise in silos. To create the kind of thoughtful, respectful integration of healthcare that patients are requesting, we need to integrate the education all healthcare professions' students receive'.

To EoR this smacks of the Intelligent Designist's Wedge Strategy. First, teach the self-created "controversy". Everything else follows from that.

So, it's not important to determine whether alternative therapies are effective or not. Not teaching them indicates "moulding", "conformity", "closed minds" and professionals operating in silos. There's also the call to teach the system that "patients are requesting" rather than teaching what works. And, just like Intelligent Design, were such a call to be acted upon, then students would also, by the same argument, need to be taught such subjects as Witchdoctoring 101, Voodoo Basics 102, and Advanced Aura Manipulation 201. There is just as much 'evidence' for the effectiveness of these as for the (unspecified) therapies that Professor Myers is calling for to be included in courses.

Professor Myers concludes with that strategy beloved of the alternatistas, a call to the wit and wisdom of Albert Einstein:
Bear in mind Albert Einstein's observation that 'education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school'.

Which, presumably, implies that students shouldn't go to university at all. Anyway, they can get all the healthcare professional certification they need at the weekend complementary therapy courses.

The Clinical Application of Chi 1

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Clinical Application of Chi 1

EoR has been reading the January/February 2006 edition of the Journal of Complementary Medicine. It's like a porn magazine for the woo brigade.
The JCM provides the latest news and research in CM, evidence-based reviews on CM treatments for conditions commonly presenting in primary care; expert commentary on topical issues; regular sections on relevant therapies, education, routes to referral, further education and training.

The method employed in this journal consists of a large number of brief reports of studies that may indicate some potential benefit in various natural substances (which is fine by EoR - if the studies are confirmed the active ingredient is usually isolated and it becomes part of mainstream medicine), much good advice (if lacking a little in detail and depth), and then the knife which has been oh-so-surreptitiously inserted is suddenly twisted and you're down on the floor screaming in agony but there's no release.

For example, "CM: what pharmacists should do" discusses issues of ethics, registration of products, assessing customer needs, monitoring adverse events and so on. Towards the end pharmacists are advised
Proactive consumers most commonly took CMs and had the best health outcomes.

EoR wonders, in passing, what the difference between an 'active' consumer and a 'proactive' consumer is. Note how that little conjunction 'and' has suddenly become a causal link rather than a grammatical tool? It could equally be argued that "proactive" consumers are better informed generally, and specifically about conventional treatment and are probably more likely to see a doctor. There may be many more factors involved, but we are only told about two. A bit later we are told
However, most enquiries about CM were rarely direct, and the real query had to be discerned with prompts such as 'What are you trying to find out?'

This is clearly about pushing a product, not providing the best solution about a consumer's needs. EoR imagines a Monty Python type sketch taking place in your local pharmacy:

Proactive Consumer: I'm a bit concerned about my heart/lungs/legs/smoking/overactive bowel/underactive bowel/brain exploding [delete where appropriate - however, the more conditions the merrier].
Hyperactive Pharmacist: We have just the thing for you: Magic Aura Detoxing Ayurvedic Herbal Homeopathic Drops!
Proactive Consumer (in a daze): Oooooooh.... I feel better already.

The so-called evidence-based approach of the journal is also clearly shown in the lead article on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is an eight page article which goes into pathophysiology, conventional treatment, diet, allergies, food intolerances, the placebo effect, probiotics (getting a bit left field here), "Botanical medicine" (getting more left field here - all these are supported by numerous studies being mentioned - in fact, so many studies that they often only get a couple of lines of attention which is insufficient to assess the validity and rigour of the study - obviously, most GPs are not going to have the time or inclination to search out and go through all these studies), and then we go way out into left field where we find Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine. In the same authoritative tone, we are informed about
chi stagnation and blood stasis [...] damp heat in the Middle Burner meridian [...] deficiency of spleen and kidney yang [...] spleen and liver disharmony [...] spleen yang deficiency [...] an imbalanced increase in the Vata dosha.

This is supported by a double-blind, placebo controlled trial into herbs, incidentally conducted by a JCM Editorial Board Member, even though
The efficacy of many Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs has yet to be established.

Another article goes on at length about Liver Detox Programs. In between "Which toxin is that?" and "Rationale" we are told
There is little direct scientific evidence to suggest that LDPs improve prognostic outcomes for patients with specific chronic diseases. There is, however, some evidence to suggest that a simple general detox program over two to several weeks may assist in reducing general symptoms of poor health in various patient populations.

Note the clutching at straws about very vague responses in indeterminate cases. Wherever there is "some" evidence, proclaim it loudly. EoR wonders about the quality of these trials.

There's a regular column on medical acupuncture, this month on the Puppet Master Points, which EoR will ignore except for the boggling view of anatomy inspired by
Langevin has postulated that the connective tissue (CT) enfolding every muscle and continuous from head to toe is part of the acupuncture signalling system.

Hang on, that seems to presume the evidence already of an "acupuncture signalling system". Did EoR miss something? Oh, it's only a "postulated" hypothesis.
When a needle penetrates the CT and is twirled, the CT fibres wrap around the needle, are stretched and produce a piezoelectric signal that is propagated along specific tissue planes.

Don't you just love the scientific authority of all that jargon? Since a piezoelectric effect is caused by very high pressures applied to crystals, EoR wonders how a little twisting needle can cause such a reaction (he's happy about the crystal part - we all know about woo crystals in the body and which migrate to the feet in the magical world of reflexology). How is this (imaginary) signal propagated? More importantly, how is it transmitted to the brain rather than just to surrounding tissue? And even if it was transmitted successfully to the brain, how does the brain know where it's coming from and what it's saying? EoR could go on, but such questions are not the point of the article. The point is to engender a feeling amongst GPs and others that acupuncture is scientifically proven and well known to be effective.

There's more (including one article EoR will address separately), but you get the idea.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Darwin Day!

EoR wishes you all success at evolving, and hopes you don't become extinct.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


In Australia, which drugs are available for use is decided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). That's every single drug. Except one specific category. The exception is abortifacients and specifically RU486, used for abortions and available widely overseas.

In this case, whether this drug is available or not is decided by one person, health minister Tony Abbott. Mr Abbott, a male conservative Christian (not that Eor would ever imply that had anything to do with the decision) has decided the drug should be banned. Mr Abbott's arguments seem to consist of two main points, and he has recently been doing the talkback radio circuit spruiking his views: that the TGA is a group of unelected people, unlike himself; and that RU-486 is not a therapeutic drug, but a drug designed to kill babies.

EoR wonders how one untrained individual is able to make a more sensible, informed decision than a group of experts, elected or not (and if decisions made by unelected people are such anathema, why doesn't Mr Abbott get rid of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Judicial system, the Public Service, the Police etc etc?).

Of course, the second argument ("Baby killers!") is a fundamentalist catholic catch cry, and is at odds with mainstream Australia. One report on the radio this morning suggested that over 90% of Australians support abortion (which is legal here). Whether it's "baby killing" or "aborting a foetus", women will still have abortions. The point here is what options they have available should they choose that path. Mr Abbott is forcing his minority opinion on the majority. Now there's elected representation for you. EoR also can't help pointing out the similarities between his stance and that of certain Muslims Against Cartoonists: fundamentalism, religion and rigidity. God tells Mr Abbot abortion is evil. God decides policy.

A private member's bill has been introduced to Parliament to overturn this anomalous authority. It passed the Senate by 17 votes, but also needs to be passed by the House of Representatives. It's expected to be read there sometime next week, and also expected to be rejected because of the government's numbers.

Australia's conservative government: leading the country back to the Middle Ages.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Autism Epidemic Continues

The Radio National Breakfast show is usually one of the few examples around of good journalism. A recent segment on the "autism epidemic" (listen online here) has cancelled all that out though.
The debate surrounding the safety of the triple jab immunisation - measles mumps rubella - and its link to autism, has taken a new twist. [...] Dr Peter Fletcher, who was Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health, says he's seen a "steady accumulation of evidence" that the M-M-R jab is causing autism in some children. [...] Sue Corrigan is the journalist with the Mail On Sunday who broke the story.

The interview was with Sue Corrigan, not Dr Fletcher, and had no scientific credibility or evidence at all, and was basically a "scare the mothers into not vaccinating their kids" spew from Ms Corrigan who behaved like an evangelist spreading the Gospel of Fletcher (mediated by the Spirit of Wakefield).

Dr Fletcher's "proof" of an autism epidemic (at least, as it was relayed secondhand by Ms Corrigan) was not new evidence or studies of any kind. It was the fact that he'd gone back through all the literature and studies, and there was just so much of it there had to be something in it. As Ms Corrigan blithely informed us, there was no one piece of evidence to prove an MMR caused epidemic, it was the overall amount of evidence. EoR again apologises for being stupid, but isn't no one piece of evidence equivalent to no evidence? So the "steady accumulation of evidence" that has convinced Dr Fletcher is exactly the same evidence that all other scientists have seen and found no evidence of an MMR induced autism epidemic.

Ms Corrigan also pointed out the huge rise in autistic children since the MMR vaccine was introduced. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Fran Kelly failed to address any of these inconsistencies and failures of logic.

The "autism epidemic" is not as high profile here as it is in the UK and the US, but given Radio National's audience (generally well educated upper middle class - precisely the demographic that believes these kind of health scare stories) it's sure to have had a significant boost from this flatulent piece.

Dr Fletcher seems to be following the paranoid alternatista scaremongering conspiracy theory approach, as reported in Ms Corrigan's original article:
"There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves. [...] There's no one conclusive piece of scientific evidence, no 'smoking gun', because there very rarely is when adverse drug reactions are first suspected. When vaccine damage in very young children is involved, it is harder to prove the links. But it is the steady accumulation of evidence, from a number of respected universities, teaching hospitals and laboratories around the world, that matters here. There's far too much to ignore. Yet government health authorities are, it seems, more than happy to do so."

Not only is there no "smoking gun" at first, there's still no smoke, not even an unloaded pistol, to be found after strenuous searching. EoR also wonders how all the scientists apart from Drs Wakefield and Fletcher have been signed up to the Conspiracy of Silence so successfully. How come governments can keep such high profile mass poisoning secret, and can't keep budget secrets secure for more than a week?

Meanwhile, Ms Corrigan seems to make a profession out of promoting autism panic.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Truly Offensive

Is an image of Mohammad offensive?

Is the burning of an Australian flag by Indonesians offensive?

Is the burning of a bad replica of an Australian flag by Indonesians in response to attacks on Australian muslims offensive?

Is an S&M laden image of Christ offensive?

Is an image of Jesus surrounded by gay men offensive?

Is a burnt Australian flag as artwork offensive?

Is the burning of an Australian flag by a minority group offensive?

Are dildos in the shape of religious figures offensive?

Is a homosexual Jesus offensive?

Is a sketch of Mohammad offensive?

As Tasmania's Shadow Attorney-General is quoted as saying:
Well I and all other Liberals believe in freedom of speech, freedom of expression, but you have to have some degree of propriety and this is simply beyond the pale and it causes grave concern.

Which, presumably, means he doesn't believe in freedom of speech or expression. What he's trying to say is "I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression, as long as you only speak about and express things that I want to hear and see. Nothing else. Or we'll have you publicly stoned".

The overreaction to these "offensive" items is an example of fundamentalism and tribalism. It's the difference between a creative act and a destructive act. The creative act adds something to humanity as a whole. If you don't like it, you don't have to look at it (this is like bad television - it's not compulsory to watch it and there's always the OFF switch). The destructive act is an example of humanity's baser nature. It adds nothing to humanity. And it's strange that it alway seems to be fired by things that their believers would argue are enlightening, ennobling and uplifting, like religion and state. Unfortunately, it seems to EoR to be an excuse to avoid thinking, and to avoid dealing with difficult issues in an adult manner.

Laws are made against the "tribalism" of football hooliganism (something with a long history), but these sorts of things are accepted?

Incidentally, EoR wonders just how many of the protestors against the Danish Cartoons Blaspheming M------d have actually seen those cartoons (particularly since it would be blasphemous itself to look at them, and then they'd have to stone themselves). He also wonders how many people in the world have seen the cartoons in total (and how few would have seen them if no one actually complained).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hanging Out in the Red Light District

A couple of years ago hoofbeats carried an uncritical article on "DIY Light Therapy". Since then they have continued to display full page colour advertisements for Dr McLaren's Photonic Therapy. By EoR's calculations, that's a fraction under $A10,000 worth of advertising so far.

You could purchase the Equine Kit ($US585) or save money and buy The Works ($US910). Strange that you have to pay for it when it's a "complimentary therapy". Here's Dr McLaren's bio:
Dr Brian McLaren is a clinical scientist, a veterinary surgeon and the highest qualified acupuncturist in Australia, with postgraduate university qualifications both in veterinary and human acupuncture. He is a Fellow of the Australian Natural Therapists Association and a Member of the International Society for the Study of Pain. His Master's Degree thesis scientifically explained what an acupuncture point is and how it came to be there and how acupuncture actually works. He is currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy degree, with the University of Queensland, researching the treatment of Glaucoma by Photonic Therapy. Brian has received accreditation, from the Federal Government, for the instruction of a series of approved qualifications. His instruction in, and granting of, these qualifications have allowed the establishment of a series of McLaren Photonic Therapy clinics throughout Australia.

Impressive qualifications indeed (though, as EoR has pointed out previously, educational accreditation in Australia does not take into account the actual syllabus, only the accounting procedures and so on - you can apparently teach any lunacy you like and be accredited).

So how does Photonic Therapy work?
McLaren Photonic Therapy utilizes broad band 660nm red light to provide the photons required to painlessly, and safely stimulate tissue. Visable light is a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum and ranges between 400-700nm. Wavelengths below 400nm (ultra violet) have high energy and do not penetrate deeply into tissue but can cause damage, such as melanomas. Above 700nm, in the infrared range there is less energy per photon, and longer treatment times are required.

Dr McLaren puts his vast university education to good use, and can spout all that danged physics talk with the best of them. The best part is it's all accurate. Red light is indeed 660nm on the electromagnetic spectrum. Dr McLaren also mentions various organisms that can sense electrical potentials or infrared light though, for the life of him, EoR can't see the relevance (doesn't Dr McLaren specifically state above that he's not concerned with infrared light, or electrical activities, only a funky red light?). Legerdemain, however, has always been an essential skill of the snake oil salesmen.
McLaren Photonic Therapy has been successfully used to treat thousands of clinical cases in animals, painlessly, and without the risks associated with skin penetration. Also it is without the risks around the eyes, associated with the use of lasers. Because Photonic Therapy works so well on animals, it obviously does not rely on a psychosomatic, hypnotic, or placebo effect, but is a valid therapeutic modality.

Dr McLaren also needs to research how alternative therapies appear to work in animals. Confirmation bias, self-resolving conditions, return to mean etc etc all play a part. As a scientist he should understand that he shouldn't be making sweeping statements about his particular form of magic until it's been tested (preferably in double blind trials - though EoR presumes you'd have to blindfold the practitioner) and been peer reviewed and replicated. That, of course, hasn't happened yet, but why would you bother when there's apparently such a huge market for this miracle device (which, sadly, doesn't even come with a free set of steak knives). EoR wonders where all these magic penlights are going though? He's yet to see anyone (veterinary or amateur) flashing the magic photons at either themselves or their animals.

There's a longer (but generally more incoherent) explanation here. EoR admires the way he's worded it to attract both the pseudoscientific credulous public as well as the alternative magic credulous public:
Photonic Therapy is the marriage of 1990’s diode chip technology to simple, proven, though ancient diagnostic concepts, to alter electrical fields in the skin to stimulate healing, increase immune response and pain relief.

Essentially, Dr McLaren's hypothesis (for that is all it is) seems to be that the application of light to the skin transfers energy to cells (EoR finds this plausible, though his biochemistry is not up to scratch, and would also be interested to know just how much energy is transferred, or whether Dr McLaren has even bothered to measure it), but that this then somehow surges through the body's accupressure points, avoiding Good Cells and Seeking and Destroying Bad Cells, and cures ills and aches (EoR finds this a large leap of illogic and not plausible at all in the light (ho ho) of two centuries of scientific study).

This "certified" practitioner explains the theory a little more clearly (EoR uses the term loosely, you understand):
When placed on the skin, this red light is transformed into electrical energy by the connective tissue under the skin. This electrical energy is then transmitted to the brain by the nerves. The brain sends signals to release particular hormones and neuro-chemicals depending on the combination of points stimulated by the light. These hormones and neuro-chemicals relieve pain, increase immune response, and promote healing.

So, the brain knows exactly where the pain is, and sends the healing neurochemicals there. Or else the obfuscation about "acupuncture points" is just bullshit. Or maybe a bit of sunlight will do just as well. But hang on, there's more clever medical techniques used to ensure this therapy succeeds:
During a diagnostic examination, specific areas on the animal's body are physically stimulated by applying a quick flick to the skin by a blunt instrument, such as a round-ended pen. A response suggests to the practitioner where there may be a health concern. Additional areas are tested for confirmation.

This sounds like the charlatanism practiced by horse chiropracters: poke a horse on its back and it will flinch (as would you) but tell the owner this is a sign of "the back being out" or "the hips being out" or "wandering ribs" or some such made up diagnosis. The paying public loves that sort of stuff and the only really difficult part about it is keeping a straight face.

Researching a little further, EoR found that Dr McLaren did not discover this revelatory healing modality on his own, but in partnership with a Rodney Torkington. Somewhere they seem to have had a spat, and gone their separate ways though both are, to all intents and purposes, selling the same red penlight as a Marvellous Medical Device. Normally, EoR would consider Mr Torkington's $A325 version an absolute ripoff, but in comparison to Dr McLaren's horrendously overpriced product (think of the profit margin - the likes of Bill Gates can only drool in envy) he seems a samaritan of health.

Mr Torkington provides the facts of his torch (generally unrelated and disconnected facts about lasers, that people are using his device, that NASA apparently funded some study to look at something similar proves it works and so on). Strangely, some of the phrases are the same as on Dr McLaren's site (though at least Mr Torkington mentions Dr Mclaren - his name seems to have been expunged from Dr McLaren's site). The FAQ provides further fascinating details:
Q. Can I do any harm if I stimulate the wrong point if I use the acupoints as a guide?
A. No, it will register as a nil response. The non-coherent monochromatic red light from the Photonic Torch is safe. It is no stronger than a 40 mw light globe.

Q. Do I continue with my medication while using the Photonic Torch?
A. Yes, you certainly do. Red Light Photostimulation using our Photonic Torch is a complementary therapy. It may be used on its own or with prescribed pharmaceuticals. It is not as effective when combined with prescribed cortisone.

Q. Does it cure most disorders?
A. No. We do not make any such claims. Red Light Photonic Stimulation using LEDs does not replace competant medical consultation. It is a complementary or adjunctive therapy. The majority of common conditions can benefit from this new technology. Problems such a bacterial infections or malignant tumors certainly need conventional medical treatment.

Sooo... It's a low power light source... And EoR still needs to continue conventional treatment... And it doesn't cure anything... Tell me again why I should pay money for this? Ah, but it "boosts the immune system". Whatever that means.

Now, while it doesn't cure anything look at the conditions it can be used for (notice, conditions it can be "applied" to, not conditions it can "cure"), including (spelling preserved)
Arthrititus [...] Situational stress [...] Hormonal and reproductive conditions [...] Cystic ovaries [...] Glavccma [...] Hapatitis [...] High Blood Pressure [...] Low Blood Pressure [...] Menopause [...] Multiple Sclerosis [...] Parkingson's [...] Weakness

EoR does applaud Photonic Healing for having their Disclaimer clearly visible on their front page:
The Torkington Photonic Torch is a tool. No healing power of any kind is claimed or implied other than by testimonial.

On Dr McLaren's site you have to go looking for his disclaimer and specifically click on a link to view it:
The McLaren Photonic Therapy unit, of itself has no healing power of any kind, and no claim as such is made or implied. No warranty is given or implied as to the effectiveness or otherwise of this form of treatment or the formulae offered. As the method of application in using the light is out of McLaren Photonic Therapy’s control, no responsibility is accepted for any treatment effects, condition progress, or sequel arising after treatment.

EoR just wants to repeat that: has no healing power of any kind. None. Zero. Completely useless. But buy it anyway. Dr McLaren needs to maintain his well-funded retirement.

As to the NASA proof of the effectiveness of these little miracle lights, NASA Space Technology Shines New Light On Healing provides some further information. The results appear to relate mainly to surface sores and ulcers, though the device tested is remarkably unlike the McLaren Miracle Light:
The wound-healing device is a small, 3.5-inch by 4.5-inch (89-millimeter by 114-millimeter), portable, flat array of LEDs, arranged in rows on top of a small box.

It also appears to have an effect on cancer. But only when used surgically. And only to affect photodynamic drugs which, strangely enough, are affected by light, as opposed to the multitudinous other conditions this device can be "applied" to.
Quantum Devices altered the surgical probe to emit longer wavelengths of red light that stimulate a photodynamic drug called Benzoporphyrin Derivative.

EoR doubts very much whether these little lights have any therapeutic use at all (and he's not alone, given the wording of the disclaimers on the sites), but he is certain that these woo-lights are massively overpriced. If you're really determined to do acupuncture on yourself with a torch, save some money for real medical treatment, and buy a handy keychain light (so you never lose it for those acupuncture emergencies) for $US9. If you're really determined to spend lots of money on one, try the Pocket Knife with 128mb USB drive, LED torch, and scissors for $A53.10. The only problem you'll have is deciding what to do with the $US850 you've saved.

Or, if you've got access to a USB cable, a LED, a wire coat hanger, and some insulation tape, you could make your own USB LED light. Or, buy a back issue of Australian Sky and Telescope and follow the "Make a red LED torch" project.

And for more about LEDs, go ask the Bad Astronomer.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is That a Dowsing Stick in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Pleased to See Me?

The February/March 2006 issue of hoofbeats maintains the fine standards of that journal with a most magnificent double-page spread: on one side is a full page colour advertisement for Photonic Therapy (something EoR will be looking at shortly in a separate post), while on the other side is an informative and factual article promoting "An introduction to CRANIOSACRAL work with HORSES" (Eor hopes readers aren't being bored by all this horse-woo, but EoR, being a small stuffed donkey, tends to spend a lot of time with the other equines and he hears some amazing things around the stables).

Today, however, EoR wants to focus on another article: "Water Divining" by Fiona Adams (herbalist, bowenist, iridologist, fabulist).
Divining is the ancient art of finding 'hidden things' such as water or energy fields. Illustrations of divining have been found on cave walls at Tassile in North Africa dating back over 8000 years.

"My ancient magic is older than your ancient magic". In the words of the immortal Molesworth, "Yah boo sux".

EoR went looking for this 'evidence' (presumably, Ms Adams actually meant Tassili) but the only sites that referenced these prehistorical dowsing images were dowsing sites. Funny that. Looking a little further, many of these images are available online (at non-dowsing sites) such as here (where they are revealed not be dowsers, but Great Martian Gods), here (those couldn't be head-dresses, they must be aerials for early portable televisions), here and here. Call EoR stupid, but they look more like people carrying bows and arrows, not a pack of dowsing woo-woo merchants.

EoR also found one site claiming that evidence of dowsing includes
Cave drawings were found in Spain dating back to the cro-magnum era

Also known as the Dirty-Harry era. But to return to Ms Adams...
The British Army used diviners on the Falkland Islands to remove unexploded mines.

EoR bets that was a job nobody wanted.

Sgt Grope-Things: Private Parts, you 'orrible little man, take these twigs and find me some mines.
Private Parts:: Y-yes sir... Sir! Sir! I think there's one just over-

Try as he might, EoR couldn't find any proof of this outrageous claim. Not at the official site for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (the sappers) - no trace of dowsing. Nor at the official site for the UK army - no trace of dowsing. Not in the UK Hansard. Not at the Mine Action Information Center. Not at the United Nations University. But maybe the dowsers are talking about the sort of dowsing shown in a photo on this page. Why is this information being suppressed? Why are the dowsers the only ones privy to these secrets? Why are the Illuminati not silencing them?

The origin of this myth seems to be a statement made by dowser Patrick Aesteii
Patrick describes himself as a "physical and mental medium, a channel and an intuitive healer who specializes in gem therapies." Yet in addition to this, he follows the ways of Merlin by working with the earth’s energies, as a professional dowser.

The information is also repeated here. EoR finds it telling that both these sites also make reference to the "cro-magnum" era and are quite clearly copies of either one another or a third source.

But to return to Ms Adams.
Divining is a bit of an art, and some find it easier to do than others. This is due to the Corpus Callosum nerves between the left and right brain - the quicker the brain can switch from left to right the easier it is to divine.

This is the problem with all these wacky alternista theories. They require no work, just some fantasizing and a bit of scientific jargon. Make the most outrageous statements (the more outrageous the better) to provide an air of scientific evidence and respectibility to your magic. These statements take but a moment to make, and then they are propagated ad infinitum via the internet and the alternative journals and the woo societies so that their very multiplicity becomes an implied verification of them.

EoR went searching for any references to independent scientific verification of this Quick Switching Brain Effect. He found David Yarrow who, after mentioning some 1980s research into the left and right brain boldy claims
Dowsing opens a window between our Intuitive and Rational Mind. Like the corpus callosum, dowsing is a bridge betwixt our two minds to allow dialog between them. In dowsing, Rational Mind asks a question and Intuitive Mind answers by a movement of the rod. The art of dowsing is to ask clear questions which have unambiguous answers. Vague, imprecise questions will yield equally garbled replies.

From legitimate studies to fantasy speculations in one paragraph!

EoR also found this article, where the author appears not to have noticed the logical inconsistency inherent in
[My grandmother] counselled: "only believe half of what you see and a quarter of what you hear". Good advice from the 1930s that is even more relevant today. Luckily through dowsing we have an unique opportunity to quantify and qualify information

Interestingly, this site appears to have an earlier version of the urban myth about military bomb dowsers:
in the case of work done by the US military in the Vietnam War, the need to find underground Viet Cong tunnels and booby traps.

EoR presumes they were using metal detectors, but that's presumably close enough to 'real' dowsing for the dowsers not to mind. This page also leads EoR closer to that scientific proof he so craves:
Interestingly, the American Society of Dowsers have performed brain monitoring tests which show that all identified types of brain waves are involved in dowsing to some degree, a most unusual phenomenon and I am sure we will learn more about the "dowsing brain-state" in the near future.

Oh, "brain monitoring tests" by dowsers. Presumably conducted by pendulums and twitching twigs. And nothing about magic woo particles bridging the rational/irrational brain divide in a mystic epiphany. Sigh.

Even the BBC gets in on the act where, as well as including old books on folklore under "Science Weighs In", they also state
Even the British Army's Royal Electrician and Mechanical Engineer regiment (or sappers) used to train their regiment on how to dowse for water. The US Army went one step further than this and trained soldiers in Vietnam to dowse for unexploded bombs and landmines. It is not known how many lives - both military and civilian - this simple technique has saved in its use in clearing minefields.

No. It's not known.

The Canadian Society of Dowsers provided much helpful information (but, alas, no scientific evidence) such as
Several people who have polarity problems crave lamb. Eating lamb helps to rebalance them. [...] Eva Angyal has been monitoring the level of the energy we raised last month (using Raymon Grace's technique). She said that it has remained steady however lately there have been holes in it. She has been repairing them. Thank you, Eva! [...] Dowse when you are studying for exams. Arthur Clark said he would review his notes and stop at certain subjects and study those subjects. Those subjects would then be on the exam. [...] Margaret mentioned to us that there is a controversy among homeopaths whether or not paper remedies work. The Classical homeopaths say that paper remedies are nonsense. To give you an idea of what Paper Remedies are, there is a homeopath who works on an Indian Reservation. She finds out what they need, writes the remedy down on a piece of paper, they put it in their pocket and it works. [...] If we think our dowsing is wrong --- we just may not have asked the right one, or, we are interpreting its answer incorrectly.

Ah yes, the old "my woo didn't fail, it lied/deceived me/was blocked by your negative thoughts/has a cold/had a dodgy line/is on vacation" excuse. Won't wash. Sorry. EoR also finds highly amusing any homeopaths claiming magic remedies are "nonsense". Pot. Kettle. Black.

The hoofbeats article concludes
There have been many scientific attempts to explain how divining works and, despite the fact anecdotal reports suggest it does, there is little scientific evidence to substantiate the claims.

Perhaps Ms Adams is referring to the Australian Skeptics 1980 test (dowsing failed) or the many tests detailed at the Skeptic's Dictionary (dowsing failed - repeatedly)? Dowsing has been debunked so many times EoR is getting sick of loonies wandering about in paddocks with bits of wire and crystals detecting Naughty Energies.

Addendum: 245 photos of the Tassili rock paintings can be found at Visipix. You decide whether any of them show dowsing, or (as EoR prefers) scenes of hunting and gathering.