So, who has heard of the Rife Machine? It is a quack device that purports to destroy diseases by homing in on their resonant frequency, and disrupting them with radiofrequency (RF) waves (like a soundwave shattering a wine glass). I’ve met true believers of this stuff before, and there is little you can do to dissuade them of the magical power of these machines, that when dissected reveal they’re little more than batteries with flashing LED-lights – and no capability of generating specific radio frequencies. I just got an email this weekend about recent hucksters selling these in Australia, it’s a woo that just won’t die, possibly because it’s very attractive to cranks.

The story behind the Rife machine has all the perfect components of crankery. You’ve got the miracle cure for cancer, suppressed by the mainstream medical profession, with a visionary hero (Royal Rife) who like Galileo was persecuted for defying the orthodoxy and whose revolutionary inventions were destroyed to prevent him from being validated.

So what quack sites did I have to go to to learn about this absurdity? What den of psuedoscientific iniquity is pushing this story off as fact? Why Wikipedia of course.

The article is an amazing example of hagiography of a quack. Let’s start with the biography:

After a short time he diverted his field of university study to bacteriology. While still at university, he began working part time for Carl Zeiss at their New York offices.[3] After a time he moved to Germany. He worked part time at Carl Zeiss at their Heidleburg offices, while attending University of Heidelberg. He worked for 6 years with Hans Luckel, who was Carl Zeiss’s optical scientist and researcher,[4][5] He learned how to grind parabolic lenses.[6]]

Now, each of these sources links to various sites that provide this information without any sourcing. One Rense.com, has to be seen to be believed (9/11, UFOs, medical conspiracies etc). When one tries to check into his biography, you see that it’s unclear whether Rife ever got a medical degree, it is alternately called an MD from the University of Heidelberg, a “Doctor of Science” from USC (which is said he threw away without opening his mail so there is no record), others suggest he had no degrees whatsoever and was actually an optician who lied about his credentials. Who to believe? Well, if enough unsourced sites say he had a degree from Heidelberg, it must be true.

Rife apparently developed a series of microscopes with claimed magnifications to rival electron microscopes, even though this is physically impossible with broad illumination by visible or near visible light. There is a diffraction limit to what can be seen due to the relatively long wavelength of visible light compared to the size of cellular structures. While exceptions to this limit have been discovered, it’s been using fluorescence, single-photon and confocal scanning techniques which rely on computers, scanning and other technology to generate an image (later they cherry pick these studies to suggest that UV illumination could violate these boundaries – it could not).

We already have questionable credentials, and a physically-impossible claim. What’s next?

On November 20, 1931, forty-four doctors attended a dinner advertised as “The End To All Diseases” at the Pasadena estate of Dr. Milbank Johnson.[19] This dinner was honoring Dr. Arthur I. Kendall, professor at Northwestern Medical School, and developer of the “Kendall Medium” or “K-Medium,” and Dr. Royal Rife, the developer of the “Rife microscope.”

Sample (selected cancer or other) diseased human tissue was able to be ground-up, diluted with water, then either Berkefeld N or Berkefeld 000 filtered thereby removing the human cells, and then this mixture was able to grow in culture using the “K-Medium” where with prior mediums it otherwise would not. The resulting filtered culture, if injected into a healthy test subject would develop disease. The samples of the filtered mixture were viewable using any of the several working Rife “Virus” Microscopes where moving microorganisms were supposedly seen, still-photographed and motion pictured. A write-up in a medical journal described the procedure and general characteristics of a Rife ‘virus’ microscope.[20]

Ahhh yes. Diseased human tissue was ground up, diluted in water and grown in mysterious K medium. Then microbes were seen. Or were they? One only has to follow the link and one sees that the bacteria came from agar, not human tissue, and, all the photos are of Rife and his microscope! No actual data and lots of silly gibberish about optics that makes no physical sense. The Wiki calls this proof of the Rife “virus” microscope – but he wasn’t looking at virus – he was looking at typhoid bacteria. No one can be bothered to actually fix the most basic errors at this site apparently. The same citation is then used again in the next paragraph as proof of something completely different.

But enough of this silliness, none of the linked claims show anything but testimony about the visualization of bacteria – which are within the range of light microscopy especially with the use of stains. Nothing to suggest he managed to violate the laws of physics and optics with his scope. What about the Rife Machine? What about this cure for cancer that was suppressed by the evil doctors at the AMA?

After purposefully leaving an electric ionized gas tube running 24 hours in close proximity to a cultured sample, the organisms appeared to be dead. Rife experimented with radio frequency radiation to discover how the culture could have been killed. After some experimentation Rife believed that he had then found that there is a particular “Mortal Oscillation Rate” for each particular organism at which the resonance becomes so extreme as to lethally damage (devitalize) and or completely halt their reproduction. The microorganism itself does not vibrate, only constituent chemicals in its structure did so as is currently done with chemical samples in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance analysis.

A PHYSICIST’S VIEW – Gary Wade PhD. indicates that usually viruses are coated with a protein and that the protein structure under resonance conditions will disintegrate:

The Rife frequency instrument when set to the frequency which corresponds to the most stressful oscillation mode for the virus of interest, as illustrated in Figure 8B, will destroy that virus capsid coat and therefore destroy the virus.

Since it is the protein that is disrupted, and not the entire microbe, the resonance must be happening to the chemical bonds. In NMR analysis, the bonds and neuclei are what is induced to vibrate.

Similar resonance destruction can be observed when a human singer is able to shatter fine crystal wine glasses by loudly sustaining a note or frequency which causes the glass to resonate and build up energy levels until it shatters.[24] The destruction happens when the energy absorbed builds faster than it can be radiated, and the resonating part of the structure is no longer able to maintain integrity. The entire wine glass does not shatter, only the weak part that was vibrating the most does so.

As is currently done with NMR? Now this is certifiably insane. Just because there are radio waves used in NMR and the word “resonance” has nothing to do with this proposed mechanism. The amazing thing is they link the NMR wikipedia entry, and then clearly don’t read it. Powerful magnets are used in NMR to align the spin of the nuclei of atoms, this is a quantum effect. The resonance from the RF field that is then applied is perturbing the spin states of atoms. It’s not altering chemical bonds, if it were, MRIs would kill you. Also, you can’t just shoot non-ionizing radiofrequency at people and make their atoms resonate or make organisms or their proteins inside them resonate. This is just BS handwaving. If non-ionizing RF frequencies really could disrupt proteins, it would similarly affect viral and human proteins – proteins in viruses and humans are all made from the same constituent parts people – amino acids. If they were smart, they’d compare it to microwave oven technology which causes water molecules to vibrate (although it’s still a terrible comparison). Their creepy fake expert’s page is worth a visit too.

Let us continue.

Rife came to believe that he could find a Mortal Oscillatory Rate for any pathogenic organism, and directed his research accordingly, culturing and testing various pathogens with his machine. Rife documented, in the course of this work, the precise frequencies which destroyed specific organisms. Working with Dr. Kendall, Rife was able to show that many, if not all, contagious bacterial diseases could be cured using this radiation treatment. These frequencies were typically in the 10-100 MHz range (HF to mid-VHF).[25] A document circulating the internet entitled “Rife Table by frequency 06-30-2001.doc” consists of 46 pages of specific frequencies with pathogen(s) affected.

And here is the meat of the issue. The idea that different bacterial (and cancer cells) have different frequencies of RF to which they are susceptible. Never mind that in the paragraph above the cranks assert that it’s the proteins being broken apart, an idiotic suggestion, now it’s the whole organism that oscillates. There is a significant difference in scale here from molecular bonds of proteins (which aren’t broken by RF and would be the same in both humans and other biological organisms) to a bacterium. And the idea that they can target cancer cells specifically is hysterical. As if the molecular and genetic changes of cancer alter some mystical EM-field – one wonders if you could mis-tune the device and kill all your healthy cells by accident.

But are we done with Wikipedicranks? Nope. Where is all the evidence this revolutionary new system of cures works? Where are all the pictures from this amazing microscope that takes EM-resolution images of viruses?

Well, it was all destroyed by the medical establishment! They couldn’t risk a cancer cure getting out, then they’d be out of a job. It’s a conspiracy!

Rife and his latter-day supporters account for the absence of demonstrable equipment or detailed notes on its construction by reporting that the then-head of the AMA and editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Morris Fishbein, or alternatively the government, raided Rife’s labs, destroyed his microscopes, seized his equipment and notes, and forced him to move on.[citation needed]

Years after the “successful” Dr. Milbank Johnson 1934 clinical trials, Fishbein learned of Rife’s activities. Fishbein knew a man who was dying of cancer. One day he met the man by chance. The man was completely well, a successfully treated patient who had returned back from California to Chicago. Fishbein wined and dined[33] (Search for ‘Fishbein wined and dined’) this person to discover how he could have been cured. Fishbein then learned about Rife from this reluctant man. Before this time, the AMA did not persecute Rife or the M.Ds working in association with him.

According to audio recordings made in the 1950s of the people involved, in 1934 the AMA sent a letter trying to purchase the patent for the Beam Ray, and that Dr. Johnson had kept a copy of the letter on file.[9](Search for 09:00 and mention of AMA).

In 1939 to break up the Beam Ray Corporation, the AMA provided money [34] (search for $10,000) to one of its disgruntled partners, Philip Hoyland, to bring a law suit against them.[35] Hoyland’s intent was to secure a position on the board of directors for Fishbein’s AMA agent.[34][35] Rife wins the court case but begins to abuse alcohol. The presiding Judge Kelly offers to fight the company who represented Hoyland indirectly, the AMA, but Rife has no more money and is now a drunk.[9] (Search for ‘Judge Kelley’). During the time of the trial the AMA threatens all MDs[34] (Search for ‘get rid’) using the Beam Ray equipment with revoking their membership in the AMA, thereby losing their licenses to practice medicine. All MDs comply, surrendering their equipment except Dr. Milbank Johnson, and Dr. James Couche, MD. Rife cannot afford to keep the Beam Ray Corporation going, and there are no MD customers wanting to buy the equipment. Rife shuts the company down, and sells off all of the assets.

After the AMA became involved, the California Public Health Dept. held hearings regarding Rife-like frequency equipment. It is claimed that although declared safe by all scientific labs consulted, the state branch of the AMA supposedly declared such equipment unsafe.[36][37]

Persecution! And then more anecdotes, proof being offered in interviews (ref:guy in a bar – also talks about UFOs), rife-promoting sites used as evidence, and unreferenced claims in websites etc. All the solid evidence is gone because of the persecution and conspiracies of the AMA. Classic crank stuff. What ever happened to the principle that extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof? Maybe Wikipedia needs to institute that as a global policy.

It’s sad, after all this time we should be familiar with this technology but magical thinking still persists about radiowaves. Non-ionizing radiation does not interact with the molecules of your cells in a physiologically meaningful way. Some exceptions – in a 1.5 Tesla magnetic field RF might perturb the spins of atomic nuclei – but this has no physiologic effect. And specific frequencies of microwaves make water vibrate which generates heat. But RF frequencies do not make specific organisms oscillate, the notion is absurd. Remember, organisms on this planet are all made of the same building blocks, even if there were away to damage chemical bonds or proteins with RF, there is no reason it would be specific to one organism vs another, or even more ludicrous, specific to cancer cells over healthy cells.

What is even sadder, is that Wikipedia has psuedoscience entries that while challenged are done so ineffectually. The monkeys are running the zoo. While Wikipedia might be an OK starting point for some things, it certainly should never be cited as a primary source or one of significant authority.

So, if you’re a devoted Wikipedian (I’m not), and would like to rescue the reputation of the online encyclopedia, here’s a good start. Take out some of the psuedoscientific garbage.
i-83ab5b4a35951df7262eefe13cb933f2-crank.gifi-3a38ecb7855955738c9e961220d56e25-1.gifi-02de5af1f14cb0cdd5c20fb4d07e9b84-2.gifi-489dd819efedba2ae35c8ed120ac2485-3.gifi-62a2141bf133c772a315980c4f858593-5.gif

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    July 23, 2007

    While Wikipedia might be an OK starting point for some things, it certainly should never be cited as a primary source or one of significant authority.

    Tell that to Egnor and his “reverse engineering.”

  2. #2 MaxPolun
    July 23, 2007

    That’s some good woo.

    Wikipedia is pretty good for a lot of stuff, but everything in it should be taken with a grain of salt. And anything that people care strongly about with more like a mound of salt

  3. #3 bill
    July 23, 2007

    Wasn’t this the central plot device in Robert Heinlein’s “Sixth Column” (1941/1949)? In addition to doing diseases, it could also turn dross into gold, and be tuned to specific races. Maybe Heinlein’s estate could sue him?

  4. #4 Bohica
    July 23, 2007

    The claim was that he got his MD from the University of Heidelberg, but they didn’t say Heidelberg, Germany. Maybe the degree was granted by a university in Heidelberg(40.3913,-80.0905), a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stranger things have happened.

  5. #5 Tom DiVito
    July 23, 2007

    Yes, Wikipedia should only be used as a starting point. I’m not familiar with another site with such a vast amount of starting point information. The key to using Wikipedia is understanding that “anyone” can create an article. This means holding a skeptical/critical eye to most information presented. However, Wikipedia articles usually present enough general information to launch a reader more deeply into the subject.

    Although I recognize the need for pseudoscientific, pseudohistorical, and other “damaging” articles to be heavily scutinized, one should not worry so much about the moderation of these articles because their existence is necessary to inform people. I find the “Rife Machine” interesting because it is pseudoscientific, and I’m glad you wrote about it. I should be able to know that such a device exists, whether or not the device is effective. Much like I should be able to learn about unscientific theories of biased, racist anthropologists, so I can learn what is good science, and what is bad science.

    Maybe Wikipedia (and the entire world) should place a greater emphasis on critically evaluating data/information and presenting data objectively. Wikipedia does have a system constructed to account for ambiguities/biases/lies, but it is far from perfect. I am hopeful that as Wikipedia continues to grow in size, and as viewership increases, these flaws will become accountable.

    The problem lies not with the system (Wikipedia). It’s a human created system, and it’s shortcomings are caused by human biases. The idea behind Wikipedia is brilliant. An encyclopedia of everything. Spreading knowledge. The flaws only lie in human bias. Critical thinking accounts for these flaws. Even objectively presented data is criticized. To some degree, one can not worry about how non-critically thinking people will interpret their work.

    Yes the Rife Machine article should be revised because it seems very misleading to most people. But there is enough there for a critical thinker, regardless of educational background, to be skeptical.

    What you should do is revise the article, or post a link to this blog. You’ve written multiple paragraphs on the subject already, a few more wouldn’t hurt…

    Cheers

  6. #6 Javier Marti
    July 23, 2007

    See this article for a funny(?) example of what you just exposed…
    http://niquel757.blogspot.com/2007/03/quality-of-wikipedia-entries.html#links

  7. #7 HP
    July 23, 2007

    I’m far from a devoted Wikipedian, but you should always check the Discussion and History pages on any Wikipedia article if you want to know what the deal is with a flaky article. For me, Discussion and History are every bit as much a part of the article as the main text.

    I think you’ll find the discussion page for Royal Rife to be, uh, illuminating. Of course, you’re welcome to jump into the fray, but it’s not something I would want to do.

  8. #8 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 23, 2007

    Way I figure it, the worst Wikipedia can be is to be on a level with the Internet at large.

    Remind me sometime to tell the story of Christopher Michael Langan and his Wikipedian legacy. It was conveyed to me by an anonymous source (parking garage, deep shadows, cigarettes, etc.) but most of the evidence is in the public record, if you know where to look.

  9. #9 Sean T.
    July 23, 2007

    I remember the following Terry Schiavo’s article discussion back in the day. It was absolutely awful, with a few tenacious individuals able to hold up the entire thing.

  10. #10 katie
    July 23, 2007

    I have to admit I use Wikipedia, but mostly as a collection of links about a particular subject…

    I interviewed a woman who ran a colonic irrigation clinic for an article in my student newspaper. She had one of those Royal Rife machines, and told me (off-record, of course) that she could cure AIDS with it. I asked her how, and she said it just “zaps” it.

    I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry…

  11. #11 Linda M Tashker
    July 23, 2007

    It seems to me that the Wiki article is sufficiently skeptical. Note it is a “claim” of curing cancer, and the use of quotation marks around “Beam ray” and ‘devitalizing’. So I appreciate that the entry is there to warn me about Rife and Rifism.

  12. #12 Mark
    July 23, 2007

    8 years ago I felt the same way about these so called rife machine devices as being quackery. And after reading your blog there are some far fetched ideas and people that are hosting pages that are ‘on the edge.’ A good friend of mine actually builds a type of rife machine called “The Detox Box.” In addition to using frequencies for disabling microbes and pathogens in the body, he says that the frequencies can also be used like a tens device that chiropractors use for alleviating stiff or tight muscles… kind of like an electronic massage. I tried it myself when my back was sore and to my surprise it actually got rid of the pain. My brother tried it and it got rid of the stiffness he had in his neck and it has helped my wife with her allergies. Crazy as it may sound this Detox Box Rife unit really works. His web-site is http://www.2detoxify.com and has a 30 day money back offer. So I bought one and have been using it now for a couple years. I have personally seen results with detoxing, alleviating muscle pain, headaches and sinus issues.
    Depp=[true]
    Notiz=[disemvowelled for spam and lies]

  13. #13 daedalus2u
    July 23, 2007

    Actually, one needs to be skeptical about everything one reads, even in peer reviewed journals. Peer review is not a guarantee of accuracy or correctness or the absence of fraud or crap. Peer review simply means that someone else with a credible knowledge in the field has looked at it and thinks it is worth being published.

    There is crap in the highest tier peer reviewed journals. There is non-crap in journals that are not peer reviewed. The only way you can tell what is crap and what isn’t is by becoming knowledgeable “enough” in the field. You have to read a lot of crap and non-crap to be able to tell which is which.

  14. #14 Bronze Dog
    July 23, 2007

    I smell marketing from Mark.

    Of course, personal anecdotes are worthless. They don’t do anything about biases.

  15. #15 Will
    July 23, 2007

    The quality of an article depends largely on how popular it is. Somethign like Intelligent Design is going to get a lot of people to view it, and a lot of critical examination. This page however, is a pretty obscure one. The article was mostly written it seems by this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Oldspammer/Robert_C._Beck and only a handful of other people have had a look at it.

  16. #16 DaveW
    July 23, 2007

    bill — Nope, Heinlein’s “Sixth Column” (later reprinted as “The Day After Tomorrow”) used magic beams that were not electromagnetic, but were electrogravitic or magnetogravitic or some three-phase type.

  17. #17 Anthony D'Onofrio
    July 23, 2007

    Actually, the “Rife machines” you buy from the internet in no way shape or form reflect the machines Rife built in his lifetime. He’s been dead for a while, so he’s obviously not hawking anything on eBay.

    Resonant frequency actually has a basis in reality, and a young kid invented something a few years ago that uses RF in water to kill mosquito larvae – larvasonic.com.

    And if you don’t believe there are any conspiracies committed in the name of money, you’re a bit confused on the way capitalism works. A bunch of people, sitting in a room, conspiring to maximize profits and minimize losses of their corporation.

    Not to say that any of the Rife article is truth or fiction, as I have no way of verifying any of it.

  18. #18 Ruth
    July 23, 2007

    There is a very successful company in my area (Vancouver Island) selling Rife Bare machines. When I was looking for work a year ago, I had an interview with them. (The employment agency sent me out on short notice, and I didn’t have a chance to google the company). I was interviewed first by the owner and “Head Researcher”. I was somewhat taken aback when he informed me that the FBI had been intercepting his email (we’re in Canada); but that he had solved the problem by switching from PCs to Macs.

    Just for giggles, I agreed to also be interviewed by the owner’s wife, who was Head of Personnel. When she heard that my hobby was dog training, she asked me if my dogs communicated psychically with me.

    Yes, this company truly had the whole enchilada–peddling one type of woo, belief in other woo, and conspiracy theories. The frightening thing is that they are doing millions of dollars worth of business a year, and expanding rapidly.

    In case anyone is interested, they DID offer me a job, and I did not accept it.

  19. #19 Michael
    July 23, 2007

    Wikipedia is a publicly editable site. As such, you’re going to get a representative cross-section of the public. Unfortunately, the public is stupid. Ergo, Wikipedia can be equally stupid.

    I love Wikipedia and rank it as one of my favorite sites, but you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, and use it appropriately. I don’t trust every random Joe that gives me information, and I don’t trust every random article on Wikipedia either. But as in social interaction, I’m able to distinguish information I’m willing to trust from that which I’m not, and I do likewise on Wikipedia. Concrete mathematical subject matter is (generally) fantastic. Bacteriology isn’t. How is that not the same as interacting with the general public via other mediums? If something is controvertial in general, then it’s controvertial on Wikipedia, so stay away from it. But the fact that it is there is still entirely valid and in line with the mentality of representing the public knowledge, because, unfortunately, the public actually believes that crap, as noted by the fact that someone from “the public” posted that article.

    Use your head people. Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. Yes, they both have “pedia” in the name, but anyone with a grain of common sense can take a quick glance at the structure of both and realize that they are fundamentally different.

    Back to the author, you are correct. Don’t use Wikipedia as a citable reference. I think Wikipedia is the best thing since sliced bread, but someone would have to be dilusional to think it’s citably accurate.

  20. #20 ttes
    July 23, 2007

    checkout the wikipedia page on effective microorganisms for yet more quackery

  21. #21 MarkH
    July 23, 2007

    @Anthony D. The larvasonic is clearly using resonant soundwaves. Whether or not it works, I don’t know, it’s not comparable to RF. It sounds more plausible, however, RF does not interact in a physiologically meaningful way. Sound waves? Maybe.

    @HP. I read the discussion and linked it at the end of the essay. It is freaky.

    To the others that suggest it is adequately skeptical, I disagree. An appropriate article would say that this technology has been debunked, is physically impossible, and Rife was likely a con-artist. People who sell these things are con-artists. I don’t think these articles are adequately informative, and in particular this one is rife (haha) with unsourced material that is likely false.

    Anyway, I’m not a wikipedian, I’m not going to become one – I just don’t have enough time, but if others are, they should consider devoting time to the rational skepticism project and fix nonsense like this.

  22. #22 Patrick Hall
    July 23, 2007

    Watch the article in the next few days, and you will see it improve (because of your post here). That’s the nature of Wikipedia: complaints make it better. (And you could have also opted to improve the article yourself, instead of writing a sensationalistic expos. But still, both will result in improvements, because some people care that much about Wikipedia.)

    One should never cite anything that they don’t go to the trouble to double check, Wikipedia or otherwise.

  23. #23 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    July 23, 2007

    a “Doctor of Science” from USC (which is said he threw away without opening his mail so there is no record)

    1) If he threw it away without opening it, how would we know it was a diploma and not a solicitation for donations or some such?
    2) I’m pretty sure most universities do keep records of degrees they award.

  24. #24 Nomen Nescio
    July 23, 2007

    the original quack’s breakthrough discovery:

    After purposefully leaving an electric ionized gas tube running 24 hours in close proximity to a cultured sample, the organisms appeared to be dead.

    “electric ionized gas tube”? sort of like a fluorescent discharge tube, perhaps? and if so, aren’t those things known for often putting out quite a bit of UV light?

  25. #25 mark is a turd
    July 23, 2007

    Hey mark hoofnagle, you’re an idiot. science once said bloodletting and leeching was good and that disease was caused by bad humors. now science says germ theory is everything. what will science say in a few years when we realize there’s more to life than germs? i’m not a supporter of rife, but I think your snake oil science isn’t any better than rife’s. yours just happens to have better PR and more money. iatrogenic deaths are a leader killer of americans.

  26. #26 Tyler DiPietro
    July 23, 2007

    Wow, a germ theory denier. Who’d a thunk it?

  27. #27 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 23, 2007

    How about this:

    Any time any of us writes a snarky and/or sensationalistic “Expos” of a Wikipedia article, we should note a page on that site which we have found helpful, comprehensive and/or well written. If we don’t have a link to such a page on hand, we should resolve to do so later, at the soonest opportunity. Otherwise, we’re only discussing half the phenomenon, and we’re instituting a pervasive sampling bias.

    If we can’t do that — I mean, if we simply can’t find good articles to talk about — then we’ll know that Wikipedia has a real problem.

    Just a thought.

  28. #28 Cain
    July 23, 2007

    The stupid, it burns!

  29. #29 Torbjrn Larsson, OM
    July 23, 2007

    While Wikipedia might be an OK starting point for some things, it certainly should never be cited as a primary source or one of significant authority.

    What is good enough for Fields medalist Terence Tao is good enough for me.

    What you can possibly mean is that besides using it as a convenient link source for definitions in areas you know about (as Tao), and it can have good entry-level articles in other areas, it can possibly also be as bad as the rest of the Internet in places.

    Can’t fault you there.

  30. #30 Torbjrn Larsson, OM
    July 23, 2007

    Oh, and I second Blake Stacey, OM, thought.

    Btw, if it works to identify IDiots and other denialists (nothing good to say), it works for denialism as I understand it. :-P

  31. #31 jre
    July 23, 2007

    Well, as that last commenter has illustrated for us so vividly, there are some who would do well to take a few more of the blue pills, and not so many of the yellow ones.
    So it is with Wikipedia. The early contributors to a piece such as the Rife article will tend to have some of their fasteners insufficiently torqued. That’s not Wikipedia’s fault; in fact, it is fun to see a new article move from the completely zany to the (relatively) reality-based. Will a given Wikipedia articles ever move to a forthright acknowledgment of the real world, and a rejection of the loopy? No, because even the loopiest viewpoint is entitled to a mention. Armed with that knowledge, it is possible to make great use of Wikipedia. It is really amazingly good, considering.

  32. #32 jre
    July 23, 2007

    … that last commenter …

    Not Torbjörn, of course. The lag-time always gets me.

  33. #33 jre
    July 23, 2007

    Hey! The umlaut previewed just fine!

  34. #34 David McCabe
    July 23, 2007

    It says, right at the top, “The neutrality of this article is disputed.” What more do you want? That’s Wikipedia’s way of saying that it doesn’t indorse the article yet.

  35. #35 LymeSurvivor
    July 23, 2007

    Well, I agree with this only in the sense that wikipedia should never be relied on as a solid factual source. It’s tough to find anything on the internet that can be relied on as fact. I find it somewhat ironic actually… If you’re going to write an article about the flaws of wikipedia, use more sources than one flawed wikipedia entry will ya?

    Now on to Rife, which should be an entirely different article altogether Mr. Hoofnagle.

    Throughout the article the author is mostly going at it with sarcasm and little professional attitude. He goes into tearing apart the wikipedia article, but not doing too much else to educate the reader. Truth is, there ARE lots of devices out there sold as “Rife Machines” that truly are nothing more than a battery and a lightbulb. Those ARE snake oil and quackery. Ebay is particularly bad for this stuff, people claiming “miracles” “cures AIDS”, etc. You can’t look into rife machines without doing serious research and eliminating all the quack devices from your list of choices.

    I don’t believe all there is to the conspiracy story, but I whole heartedly believe that pharmaceutical companies usually have just ONE thing on their mind: MONEY. Rife machines don’t have any profitability, whereas if you can make a pill for 20cents and sell it for 2 bucks a piece, you’re making millions overnight. It’s no secret that doctors are pushed or given pay raises to prescribe certain drugs. The author has been raised and educated to become a doctor of medicine. He’s been taught by other doctors that there are certain things that DO work and certain things that DON’T, and that anything else should be disregarded. He says anecdotal evidence for Rife machines working is all biased and isn’t reliable…. is his opinion or that of a doctor any less biased?

    In one of the notes at the bottom of the page, a reader commented that in the 1700’s, blood letting was considered a sound medical practice. Things have come a long way haven’t they… what if scientists proposing otherwise hadn’t had their way… I guess we’d all be pretty short on blood huh! Science is always advancing and changing, there are new discoveries in the field of medicine every day, however most doctors are very opinionated and believe only what they’ve been taught, and are unwilling to accept or entertain new possibilities. There are two extremes to the spectrum… one side has the doctors strictly believing what they’ve been taught, dismissing anything else as absurd. On the otherside you’ve got the true quacks claiming Rife machines or other “miracle cures” will cure every disease out there overnight. Both of these extremes are equally damaging to true science and medical advancement. A good doctor should always be willing to entertain new scientific advancements, even if they are a little radical. Likewise, a firm believer of Rife therapy or other alternative treatments shouldn’t claim miracle cures or silver bullets that just don’t exist.

    I’ve been fighting Lyme disease for over 5 years now. Traditional medicine and antibiotics only got me out of the gutter and held the disease at a stalemate. That’s as far as it could get me, and I wasn’t willing to accept living the rest of my life like that. I spent months researching Rife machines, eliminating the snakeoil quacks on Ebay and other online sites immediately. I’ve been undergoing Rife therapy now for 8 months and I haven’t felt better in over 5 years. It’s slow going but steady. Yep, that’s just anectodal evidence, maybe it is biased, but no one can argue that I’m feeling better than I have in years. Rife therapy isn’t about popping pills, it takes a very disciplined approach and schedule to be successful. It also requires a proper device, not a lightbulb, battery, and magic wand. It doesn’t work for everyone, but neither do antibiotics.

  36. #36 Nick Johnson
    July 23, 2007

    I think you mean New Zealand, not Australia. You do realise that calling us Australians is tantamount to hitting us with an iron gauntlet and challenging us to a duel, right?

  37. #37 BR1
    July 23, 2007

    The main magnet used in MRI machines (typically 1.5T) is not RF. It supplies a static field. RF coils are used to flips the proton spins ine the static field for imaging and spectroscopy. There are also so called gradient magnets used to adjust the local static field.

    The large magnets, especially larger than 1.5T, can have physiological effects. When someone moves in the static field, or when the gradient magnets are shifted (again not RF), it can set up eddy currents that cause tingling and numbness.

    I think the main concern with the RF is thermal. To much excitation over a given period of time can cause localized heating issues. Check MRI safety websites.

  38. #38 G Felis
    July 23, 2007

    I do love how a page clearly labeled “denialism blog” still draws in denialists. They are so convinced of their own rightness that they even feel compelled to jump in and comment in a forum where their arguments have been decisively refuted and REPEAT THE ARGUMENTS!

    Wow.

    I guess there is such a thing as a perpetual motion machine, of sorts, as every crank in the world seems compelled to keep turning and turning and turning and…

  39. #39 RobM
    July 23, 2007

    We see this time and time again with Wiki articles. There *are* some things it’s good at, don’t get me wrong. I mean if I need something translated from wookie to klingon I’ll be right there.

    But for stuff in the real world? That I need to actually depend on for something? I’m not so sure. It isn’t that the quality of an answer on wikipedia will certainly be wrong, it’s that there is no way of knowing unless you’re already familiar with the subject area. And most of all, if you link there to reinforce a point of your own on Monday, the supporting text (whether right or wrong) could be flushed down the pan on Tuesday.

  40. #40 MarkH
    July 23, 2007

    @Nick Johnson. Quite right. I saw the .au on the story and didn’t look too closely at the locations. I think Rife machines are actually banned in Australia, so that should have been a clue.

    @Dave McCabe. That did not appear there when I wrote the article. Maybe the attention I focused on this entry did some good.

    @BR1. NMR is not exactly the same as MRI – but you are incorrect MRI also uses RF. The magnet is used to align the spin states of nuclei in a homogeneous direction. The RF pulse then perturbs this field, and the relaxation speeds are used to infer information from the sample/patient.

  41. #41 Eamon Knight
    July 23, 2007

    bill — Nope, Heinlein’s “Sixth Column” (later reprinted as “The Day After Tomorrow”) used magic beams that were not electromagnetic, but were electrogravitic or magnetogravitic or some three-phase type.

    Pah, one piece of SF technobabble BS is the same as another ;-). What I recall about that story was the racism — they could tune the rayguns to kill only Asians (the villains of the story). Every “race” had its characteristic resonances (I don’t recall if he said anything about the resonances of mixed-race people — I think they officially Didn’t Exist back in the 40s).

  42. #42 Skemono
    July 24, 2007

    Amusingly, I am currently reading a Ph.D. dissertation that cited Wikipedia in a footnote–albeit only once, and it was on a subject rather tangential to the actual thesis of the piece. But as the page it cited was that on Freemasons, which is probably bound to draw out the cranks, I’d still be wary.

  43. #43 Mandeep M
    July 24, 2007

    Actually, the article had a very large section on Pseudoscience and it was tagged as unverified, original research and biased:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Royal_Rife&oldid=139640665

    But all these tags and the pseudoscience section was removed by a user, who seems to have some personal interest in the article. The tags are back now.

  44. #44 BR1
    July 24, 2007

    Mark,

    You didn’t read my comment. I said MRI machines use RF coils to flip the spins. But my point was that MRI can have physiological side effects.

    For MRI there are regulations regarding the allowable Specific Absorption Rate of RF power. Basically this is to aviod thermal injury to soft tissues. Click on the link I put on my name.

    The Rife stuff sounds completely bogus. I’m with you there, I’m just being a little pedantic. This is the interweb after all…

  45. #45 MarkH
    July 24, 2007

    You’re right BR1, sorry I think I just skipped your whole second sentence.

  46. #46 llewelly
    July 24, 2007

    Hey! The umlaut previewed just fine!

    Scienceblogs preview has a serious bug: The text in the box on the preview page is not the text you put in the box on the previous page. In particular, instead of the proper html codes for special characters such as umlauts, less-than, greater-than, and so forth, you will see the bare, unadorned character. This of course does not work, because the ampersand code is the only way that renders properly. So, after previewing, you need to hunt through the text in the entry box, and find all of your umlauts and other special chars, and put them back in html form, with leading ampersands and so forth, and click ‘post’ .

  47. #47 Twirlip Of The Mists
    July 24, 2007

    I do love how a page clearly labeled “denialism blog” still draws in denialists.

    Well, yes, isn’t this a forum for the discussion and practice of Denialism? So far I’ve managed to deny most of post-Newtonian physics, and and am now progressing to higher abstractions such as matrix theory. Once I reach Adept status, I should be able to manage denial of material impediments, thus achieving unlimited lifespan and fertility!

  48. #48 David Harmon
    July 24, 2007

    Yeah, that preview bug has been around forever. Very annoying!

  49. #49 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    July 24, 2007

    In particular, instead of the proper html codes for special characters such as umlauts, less-than, greater-than, and so forth, you will see the bare, unadorned character.

    Actually, if the character encoding supports umlaut, such as for Unicode UTF-8, it may not matter. I use keyboard umlaut just fine most of the time.

    But ScienceBlogs doesn’t have a consistent template, and sometimes some blogs forces other encodings it seems. It can be especially annoying when it varies between different scripts (name box vs comment box).

  50. #50 Darin Brown
    July 25, 2007

    I agree with you Mark, there’s a lot of pseudoscience on Wikipedia, and it should not be trusted. For another example, just take a look at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV

    which has, among other things, the scientific-looking, but pseudoscientific graph

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hiv-timecourse.png

    which is loosely based upon another graph which David Crowe has shown is an invention of the wild imaginations of Anthony Fauci, Giuseppe Pantaleo, and William Haseltine:

    http://aras.ab.ca/articles/scientific/DatalessGraphs.html

    Silly statements in the pseudoscientific Wikipedia article include:

    “HIV infection leads to low levels of CD4+ T cells… [via] firstly, direct viral killing of infected cells; secondly, increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells…”

    which is directly contradicted by no less than [the Paper Tyger] Anthony Fauci himself:

    “…[A]poptosis is strictly dependent on cellular activation. Direct infection of CD4+ T cells with HIV is not required for apoptosis to occur…”

    Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, edited by Anthony Fauci

    “…[I]ntensity of apoptosis correlated neither with the clinical stage of HIV disease nor with the viral burden in the lymph node… [A]poptosis was not restricted only to CD4+ T cells; both B cells and CD8+ T cells were found to undergo apoptosis. Taken together, these results indicate that the increased intensity of the apoptotic phenomenon in HIV infection is caused by the general state of immune activation, and is independent of the progression of HIV disease and of the levels of viral load.”

    — “Analysis of apoptosis in lymph nodes of HIV-infected persons. Intensity of apoptosis correlates with the general state of activation of the lymphoid tissue and not with stage of disease or viral burden.”, Fauci AS et al., J Immunol. 1995 May 15;154(10):5555-66.

    “…[I]t is difficult to explain completely the profound immunodeficiency noted in HIV-infected individuals solely on the basis of direct infection and quantitative depletion of CD4+ T cells.”

    Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, edited by Anthony Fauci

    Other silly statements include:

    “HIV-1 entry to macrophages and CD4+ T cells is mediated through interaction of the virion envelope glycoproteins (gp120) with the CD4 molecule on the target cells and also with chemokine coreceptors… HIV enters macrophages and CD4+ T cells by the adsorption of glycoproteins on its surface to receptors on the target cell followed by fusion of the viral envelope with the cell membrane and the release of the HIV capsid into the cell… The first step in fusion involves the high-affinity attachment of the CD4 binding domains of gp120 to CD4.”

    which is directly contradicted by Sahai BM et al.:

    “To characterize clinical, virologic and immunologic features of HIV 1-infected subjects who survive for 3 years or longer with CD4+ T cell counts of 0 to 20/mm3… CD8+ T and B cells were purified from PBMC using immunomagnetic beads (Dynal), their purity assessed by flow cytometry, and presence or absence of HIV 1 provirus determined by PCR. Results: We identified a series of 5 HIV 1-infected subjects, from 45 screened, who survived for at least 3, and as long as 6, years with less than or equal to 20 CD4+ T cells/mm3… PCR analysis of purified CD8+ T cells and B cells [from these patients] revealed presence of HIV provirus in both cell types.”

    — “Characterization of long-surviving HIV-1-infected individuals with severe CD4 lymphopenia.”, Sahai BM et al., Int Conf AIDS. 1996 Jul 7-12; 11: 260 (abstract no. Th.A.4041).

    as well as Carbonari et al.:

    “We found that cell suspensions obtained from lymph nodes of eight human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals contained variable proportions (2.1% to 18.3%, median 11.2%) of dead lymphocytes permeable to supravital dyes, represented by CD4+, CD8+, and B cells. The frequency of dead cells correlated directly (R = 0.847) with the amount of HIV provirus in the cell populations, and HIV provirus was enriched in the dead cell fractions. Similar proportions of dead cells were observed in cell suspensions from lymphadenopathic lymph nodes of HIV- donors.”

    — “Death of Bystander Cells by a Novel Pathway Involving Early Mitochondrial Damage in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Related Lymphadenopathy”, Carbonari M et al., Blood, Vol. 90 No. 1 (July 1), 1997: pp. 209-216

    but which is not surprising, given that according to Gelderblom et al.:

    “Shedding of envelope proteins [i.e. gp120] is a common phenomenon of retroviruses. The extent and velocity of loss of surface proteins in case of HIV, however, appears extraordinary. Our observations are confirmed by biochemical studies. The loss of surface knobs apparently correlates morphologically with virus maturation. Immature and/or budding HIV particles are ‘spiked’ [i.e. gp120], but they are rarely observed.”

    — “Fine structure of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and immunolocalization of structural proteins.”, Gelderblom HR et al., Virology 156, 171-6, 1987.

    Other pseudoscientific silliness:

    “HIV-1 testing consists of initial screening with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies to HIV-1. Specimens with a nonreactive result from the initial ELISA are considered HIV-negative unless new exposure to an infected partner or partner of unknown HIV status has occurred. Specimens with a reactive ELISA result are retested in duplicate. If the result of either duplicate test is reactive, the specimen is reported as repeatedly reactive and undergoes confirmatory testing with a more specific supplemental test (e.g., Western blot or, less commonly, an immunofluorescence assay (IFA)). Only specimens that are repeatedly reactive by ELISA and positive by IFA or reactive by Western blot are considered HIV-positive and indicative of HIV infection.”

    Who let’s these pseudoscientific cranks onto Wikipedia, who actually think an antibody-antigen reaction is proof of “infection” and actually confuse repeatability with validity??

    So, I agree with you completely, Mark… best to fight back against all the pseudoscientific jibberish those cranks love to put up at Wikipedia.

    darin

  51. #51 Danny
    August 3, 2007

    I’ve worked on this article several times over the past year and a half. Every time we fix it, the pseudoscientific nuts come out of the woodwork, adding in even more nonsense. If you want to have a look at what the page looked like in its better days, check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Royal_Rife&oldid=66397018 .

  52. #52 Ed Darrell
    August 15, 2007

    Are you guys familiar with Robert Parks’ article, “The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science?”

    It’s worth a look:
    http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i21/21b02001.htm

    Just looking quickly, quack claim hits six of the seven warning signs.

    Maybe Wikipedia could use an entry on Bogus Science!

  53. #53 Stephen Weber
    April 3, 2008

    As an adjunct to my last posting, The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (which is spoken in about in the video that I mentioned in my last posting), is where Dr. Steven A. Curley is researching the use of RF to kill cancer. This URL (above) interestingly comments that RF research will ALSO being lookingat treating fungi, virai (please forgive the typo “virii” in my last posting) and bacterial infections.

    So, we have “LEGITIMATE” MODERN DAY RESEARCH on the use of RF to treat cancer AS WELL AS virai, fungai and bacteria, but HARDLY ANYONE has yet come forth to tie cancer TOGETHER with fungai, virai and bacteria (except the “fraud” Dr. Royal Rife over 75 years ago).

    This is getting more interesting…

  54. #54 Glen Gordon MD
    November 30, 2008

    Hello Mark,

    While Royal Rife’s contribution to science is suspect, it must be said that your diatribe is little better. You really must understand more of paramagnetic/diamagnetic dynamics, electromagnetic forcers, p/d dampers, and quantum information output as phonons, which for your life scientist thinking, are responsible for conformational adaptation of proteins, which you might recall is responsible for control of cell function. All this is the physics of medicine. Please see my article in International Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering that was peer reviewed at MIT by members of bioengineering dept and invited to PIERS (Google) and the Chinese Academy of Science and invited as a keynote address at IEEE/CAS 2008 Symposium in Shanghai. Good luck in med school Mark, BTW, did you say it was the Univ of Hamburg??

  55. #55 LanceR, JSG
    November 30, 2008

    Paramagnetic? Diamagnetic? And all this is relevant to the original article… how?

    And the ad hominem at the end really makes your comment all the more effective. Really.

  56. #56 MarkH
    November 30, 2008

    It’s amusing. At his homepage he’s proudly listing an article written for Natural News, Mike Adams’ crankfest website. His scientific articles are little more than disjointed opinions that I am shocked got through peer review. No real data, just conjecture under the guise of “review”. I think we’re done, unless you feel the need to contact the editors of these journals about the shoddy job they’re doing..

  57. #57 Tommy Gunn
    February 8, 2012

    Rife stuff is new to me, but I was searching this topic, then found this page of opinions – on “truth” of Wikipedia! Clearly, Wikipedia is just opinions, with references… of other opinions! (Some rather well founded, others not.)

    ON RIFE’s IDEAS/CLAIMS:
    While normal light microscopy has theoretical limits, we geoscientists use polarized light to see “invisible” color and internal detail of minerals routinely, so why not in live organisms? It may be possible to get interference imaging detailed structures far smaller than normal limits. I’m not convincd such is IM-possible.

    MY VIEWPOINT OF HOW THINGS WORK/OUGHT TO WORK:
    (NOTE: I had sketched how to use optical tricks to present 3-d living color TV, and not via holograms. But I was too busy in my remote Africa ore exploration work to “develop” patents. And if I had, would corporate enemies have attackd me to protect their projects?? Probably! The best solution is this: abolish patents! Let folks develop ideas for goodness sake, not investor profits! Abolish “corporations” owned and traded by others, and just allow the set up of small work units owned by workers and past workers – folks who know each other. Allow real competition of such units, not monopolo-corporations! Nor communism run from top down!)

    MORE ON RIFE AND CANCER:
    It seems likely to me that cancer has a “particle” cause of some sort in most cases, one set into growth if conditions are right… or halted if conditions are hostile to it. And Rife claims he saw such particles – “mutating” forms. Even if he did not see this, his model might lead to some gains. Let’s keep looking for such particles, and learn exactly what conditions turn it off! (Here more usual resarch on factors fits our model: lack of sunlight and Vitamin-D seem to be factors for cancer growth. Reverse it for a stop!)

    [Remember, stomach ulcers were blamed on stress and spicy food, with stomach acidity, NOT ANY PARTICLE. But 1983 two Australians found that Heliobacter pylori bacteria was a root cause! Kill H-p to stop ulcers. (Now new drugs target for destruction some chems H pylori needs to grow.) Something like this likely to give cancer a strong cheap CURE! (Will make “old way” stuff junk INVESTMENTS… so a huge corporate push to hide such cures!)

    Just as a microwave at right freq will make water molecules vibrate and get HOT, it is possible some vibration method will break cancer structures and not others. In some way they are DIFFERENT, so one might succumb and not the other ones. (Why not? Be really clever!) Therefore, some RF, or sound, Magnetic, or gamma/x-ray energy device well tuned might someday “smash” cancers only. Open your mind!

    But did Rife actually do it? His own hard data is missing now. I cannot say anything. Certainly devices being sold are NOT… not his super-microscope, nor his oscillators!

    Certainly conventional “treatment” surgery is harsh, and radiation damaging (it never does you any good, but might be focussed to destoy a deep interior “bad” spot at a high price of other damage), and chemotherapy is pure poisons.

    Focus on conditions that allow cancer to grow, versus NOT GROW… and push such positive corrections. (Do no harm!)

    Over a dozen foods, herbal chems, vitamins, etc. have shown positive effects against cancer. Use these (nontoxic) more. GIVE PEOPLE CHOICES, and TIME TO DECIDE their therapies! Never rush folks into the pharma industry racket, because…

    It’s just a subset of the fact we’re totally manipulated by the top money masters… who firstly DEFINE what is “money” (their word) and lend it at interest to enslave all others! [Rothschilds are the core of this.] CONSPIRACY rules us via our money “god,” controlling global squeezing corporations, and the “opposite” of labor-unions/left-political gangs (democracy controlled by PR, as PR Master Edward Bernays wrote in 1928 “Propaganda”) – conspiracy like Trotsky was backed by top bankers to foment “red” revolution ostensibly against capitalists…. both systems are frauds! They love war investments and engineered wars, and other killing such as the medical industry, ostensibly for “cures.” Then little fraudsters set up selling Rife buzzers too. Ha ha!

    Oh, what is TRUTH? (I do have an actual answer, but not for this forum now.)

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.