Respectful Insolence

I had considered putting Your Friday Dose of Woo on hiatus this week. It seemed rather superfluous. After all, for whatever reason, whatever confluence of strangeness, this blog has read like Your Friday Dose of Woo for nearly the entire week. I mean, come on. I started out fisking that über-woo Deepak Chopra on Monday, and then, not satisfied with one deconstruction of Choprawoo, I took him on again on Tuesday! Then, not content that enough woo had been dealt with on the blog this week, for whatever reason, yesterday I decided to write about what is arguably the ultimate in woo (at least in “alternative medicine”), homeopathy. Of course, the great thing about yesterday’s piece was that it exposed me to two great quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of which I may well put on the masthead. No matter how you slice it, that was a lot of woo for one week. I wasn’t sure if my readers could take yet another heaping helping of woo of the kind that it is my wont to serve up every week on Friday. Heck, I wasn’t sure that I was ready for another heaping helping myself.

Contemplating this very question the other morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself. “Self,” I said. ” What should I do about Friday? The woo around here is getting out of hand. The blog’s drowning in it. True, it’s all fun debunking it, but I may have gone too far this week.”

Self answered, in a harsh tone, not unlike that of R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sargeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, “What is your major malfunction, numbnut? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention as a child?”

“What?” I asked, jumping back startled.

Self continued, “Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? When skepticism gets tough, you’re just going to turn tail and run home cryin’ to your Mommy? Then quit, you slimy walrus-looking piece of shit. Get off of my blog. Now. Move it. I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the blogsophere. I will motivate you, Private Orac, if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo. Now get back in there and take on that woo! Your readers demand it!”

“Now wait a minute,” I said, regaining my composure. “It’s my blog, and it was a rhetorical question. Of course Your Friday Dose of Woo must go on.”

“Oh,” said Self. “Never mind. Carry on, soldier. What did you have in mind for this week?”

“After a woo-fest like this week, only the finest, tastiest woo will do to finish the week out. So, just ask yourself one question: Would you like your molecules enhanced?”

Self disappeared. Was it my alter ego? Or was it my conscience? Who knows?

Whatever the case, answer to my question was obvious. Of course he would. Wouldn’t we all? And, with that, I read all about the Molecular Enhancer:

The Molecular Enhancer is a multiple-wave oscillator. What it does is to saturate the cells of the body with the appropriate energies on which the cells operate. This, in turn, maximizes the chemical processes of the cell, which are brought into balance through resonance, allowing proper repair and operation. When one uses the Enhancer regularly, it maintains the electrical health of the body at a cellular level. Bringing the electrical level in each cell to the same potential does this. All chemical processes in the body require energy to take place, and the Enhancer feeds the need at the molecular level.

Oooh. Doesn’t it make sense? The body needs energy, right? Cells generate voltages by using chemical energy to create ion gradients across their cell membranes, right? Right. So all you have to do to “reengergize” these cells is somehow transfer electrical energy to the cells. Of course, there is one little problem with that. If you’re not careful, transferring all that electricity can result in rather nasty effects (think electric chair or getting struck by lightning). There must be a way to reap the benefits of Molecule Enhancement by electrical oscillations and not end up frying yourself.

Lucky you, there is:

This is accomplished by setting up a high-energy field in and around the body through resonance. The Enhancer doesn’t pass current through the body. This transfer of energy is accomplished through induction. All that is used is the oscillating field. A person is insulated from the high voltage at either connection. This prevents excessive charges from developing in the body. Any excess charge is bled off to the space around the person. The process is similar to gently shaking a box of marbles. After a while, the marbles organize themselves into to order that their shape dictate. The cells molecular structure has a way of organizing themselves if provided sufficient energy. When this is achieved, the cells work at maximum capability without causing cellular stress.

Wow man. I didn’t know you could organize your molecular structure that way so easily. Certainly nothing in any of my chemistry, physics, biology, molecular biology, or medical school classes taught me this. Fortunately for you, the inventor of this wondrous device, Dan Dial, understands what apparently medical science has yet to fathom. (Don’t people like him always?)

Of course, I’m sure you’re dying to know more about how the Molecular Enhancer “works.” Never let it be said that I withheld information like this from you! Continue on, my intrepid ones:

One scientist explains it this way: A normal cell has an electrical potential of 70 millivolts (mV), an aged cell has 50 mV, and the cancer or ill cell has 15 mV. When the cell is in electrical difficulty, the mV and sodium-potassium balances are out. The high potential brings the cells to an equal level, basically resetting them to their normal state. This allows healing to occur at a higher pace without stressing the cell. The additional energy restores cell integrity by reorienting its molecular structure to allow for easier potential movement and interaction. Basically, it bolsters the field of each cell individually so that the cells support each other more easily, thereby creating a balanced system.

Ah, just what I wanted, bolstering the energy field of each of my cells! This is utter bunk, of course. True, neurons and other excitable cells (neurons, muscle cells) have resting membrane potentials of around -70 mV. Some even have more marked electrical potential differences; for example the resting potential of cardiac muscle can be as high -90 mV (by convention, the negative means that the inside is more negative than the outside, or, if you prefer to look at it this way the outside is more positive). Aged cells do not have a significantly lower membrane potential than young cells. For one thing, if they did, in old cells neurons would start firing randomly because a decrease in the membrane potential of 20-30 mV is usually enough of a change in potential to trigger the opening of some voltage-gated ion channels, resulting in an action potential. What’s really ridiculous about the above hokum is that the resting potential of cells is generated by assymetrical ion transport, such that there tends to be more positive charge outsiide the cell. The ion transporter primarily responsible for maintaining this electrochemical gradient is the Na+/K+-ATPase. Putting yourself in an electrical field, which is what this device seems to be claiming to do, will do nothing to change the electrochemical gradient across the membranes of your cells. It may change the electric gradient between the two electrodes, or between the electrode and the ground, but it won’t change the gradient across your cell membranes.

Not surprisingly, the genesis of this device came about as a byproduct of a search for a different kind of woo:

In 1978, I (Dan Dial) wanted to experiment with Kirilian photography. I wanted to use it to see the aura of the body. But after doing some research, I found that the photo processing was messy and expensive, so I decided to develop a system to view auras without the use of film. Using simple components I had around the shop, I put together a crude high-voltage, high frequency oscillator. When it was completed, it produced the display I was trying to achieve. It showed the aura around the fingertips clearly. I discovered that since I was using high frequency rather than high-voltage DC, I was able to see more detail in it. I could see gaps in the field when a person had something wrong with him or her. And the size of the field varied with the persons overall health as well.

Then one day, a friend of mine who was a borderline diabetic came over to check out the Enhancer. At the time, he had three very nasty cuts in the palm of his hand that were severely infected and had been for three months. We messed around with the Enhancer for about 45 minutes that day. The next morning I received a call from him, telling me that all of the infection was gone. Later that day, he came by and, to my amazement, all that remained of the infection were three scab lines. There was no redness or pus remaining, and the cuts subsequently healed up in a few days. Upon seeing this, I decided to blind-test it at parties I attended. Many people used it, and over 50% would call me the next day to ask me what happened? The Enhancer produced consistent improvement in almost all that tried it. It caused aches to stop, sprains to lessen, skin irritations to clear up, and an odd assortment of problems to lessen or disappear altogether for a while.

It took me about 12 years to pin down what the Enhancer was doing. I tested it on many different problems in others and myself. I have found that what it does is power the bodys own systems of repair. I noted that the body didnt store the energy very long, and that the body used this much energy the same way it uses vitamin C. You store a small amount, but the body quickly (from hours to days depending on need uses it up). It is important to use the Enhancer regularly to maintain the availability of the energy to the system. The Enhancer behaves like a trickle battery charger bringing up the bodys charge slowly. The body and not the Enhancer control the bodys repair speed. All the systems have their own time of repair rate, and the body repairs its most critical systems first. It appears that the body knows which systems must be brought up to speed and in which order to do so.

Ah, testimonials! This is in essence no better than the Breatharians, who claim that you can live without food by using the energy of the sun to power your body. Rather than viewing the body as one big solar cell, this guy seems to view it as a rechargeable battery that you can just hook up to his Molecular Enhancer to reenergize, although he does concede that nutrition is still necessary. Again, what he says about the body’s use of energy is really silly. The body can indeed store unused energy from food for long periods of time. It’s called fat. If our bodies couldn’t do that, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic that is going on now, would we? Perhaps Mr. Dial is referring to the glycogen stores in our livers, which indeed are quickly used up with fasting (part of the reason some marathon runners hit “the wall” at about 20 miles is because they’ve used up their glycogen stores), but they’re also quickly replenished by food. Either way, hooking yourself up to an electrical oscillator will not “recharge” your body’s energy. Our bodies weren’t designed that way.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that this thing works the way Mr. Dial claims that it will. Never mind that the body doesn’t work that way. Let’s for the moment assume that it does. Then these are what the “benefits” of the Molecular Enhancer would allegedly be:

What the Enhancer does is to equalize the charge level in all the cells in the body. When the body has enough energy, the cells genetic programming has sufficient power to correct itself. This gives the body the ability to identify and remove damaged or improper cells, replacing them with the original design that is encoded in our DNA. The Enhancer doesnt replace nourishment, nor does it replace or repair the emotions. It provides the body with the vehicle to reach equilibrium in which the body can then operate normally. Any cells with a different genetic structure, i. e. bacterium, virus, or mutated cells, develop a different charge than the majority of the healthy cells. This allows the body to see them more easily and process them out of the system. Also with the additional energy available, the body can assimilate the components it needs more readily.

Wow, that’s a theory of immunity that I haven’t heard before. But that’s not all (of course):

The Enhancer powers the body’s immune system allowing the removal of toxins at the body’s own rate. The Molecular Enhancer operates on a very simple principle. It oscillates the cell’s subatomic structure to increase its energy field level. This in turn charges the total molecular structure of the cell increasing it’s energy field size. Because of the increased energy field the orientation of the molecule must become more precise to fit in the space That provides a better sense of timing between the cell components.

Nutrients (balanced diet and/or supplements) must be added. The Molecular Enhancer augments the assimilation of herbs, vitamins, and/or synthetic drugs. The Enhancer also assists the body’s defenses to recognize damaged or mutated cells. This occurs because of the individual cell’s resonant field energy. The vast majority of the cells in the body are healthy. All of these cells have the same genetic structure, and therefore resonate together at the same rate. Any cell that has a different genetic structure (i. e. mutated or damaged DNA) will develop a different charge level. Then the body can “see” the faulty cells more easily and dispose of them though regular body processes. But friendly organisms that the body recognizes are not attacked.

Pretty amazing, eh? It almost makes me wish that my body did act like one big battery that could be recharged through the use of this device. On the other hand, like all good woo-meisters, Mr. Dial leaves himself an out if the Enhancer doesn’t produce the desired results:

Nevertheless I must stress that if a persons emotions are negative, they will be detrimental to the recovery process and can stop it altogether. I cannot say enough about balance in ones life. If the three components are not there (energy, nutrition, and well being) healing cannot take place. People who refuse to remove the stress that helped cause the disease cannot recover completely. In addition diet plays an important part. If you dont put in the nutrients the body needs it wont repair itself. The Enhancer doesnt replace nutrients, it makes better use of what a person takes in.

Another point I must stress is that the Molecular Enhancer does not heal a person. It merely provides the energy to promote healing. Some people have made the claim that they can heal you with the Enhancer, and this is false. The bodys own genetic codes do the healing, not the Enhancer. The Enhancer doesnt force the body to repair itself. It only maximizes the availability of energy so it can proceed at the best possible rate.

Yep, just like the Hoxsey therapy, if you don’t believe enough in it, if you have “negative emotions,” the Enhancer won’t work. If you refuse to remove whatever “stress,” the Enhancer can’t help you. In fact, if the Enhancer doesn’t help you, then Mr. Dial can always claim that your “negative emotions” prevented the full effectiveness of his wondrous machine. I will give Mr. Dial credit for one thing, though. He does warn of potential complications, which is more than most alties do:

Contraindications for using the Enhancer: If you have any implanted electrical devices, such as pacemaker, insulin or pain pumps. It does not seem to effect those pumps that don’t use a radio-frequency control, for example, chemotherapy pumps that are attached to a belt.

Yikes! Hooking up even a weak electrical field in the presence of a pacemaker! Anyone who did that would be looking to compete as candidate for a Darwin Award. I’d even be leery of putting a chemotherapy pump into such an electrical field (assuming that this thing even generates much of an electrical field). There is also this:

As far as side effects from use, they have been minimal. None have been life threatening. They include hunger, sleeplessness (use in morning rather than at night), drowsiness, and what a couple of people described as internal shaking and this was due to a calcium deficiency in which they tested positive. If the body is harboring any hidden diseases, the Enhancer will push them to the surface to be processed and this is referred to as a healing crisis. In some cases, the persons had an unknown problem that could have been fatal had it not been exposed by the Enhancer (i. e. major tooth infection, gall bladder dysfunction, low grade infections, etc.).

“Internal shaking”? Gee, you don’t think it was due to giving oneself an electrical shock, now, do you? Of course not. Perish the thought. It’s just the healing magic of the Enhancer at work. At least it’s reassuring that it won’t cause any really serious problems other than a “healing crisis.” One wonders what would happen if a person had a high grade carotid artery blockage at the time of using the device. Would its “pushing the problem to the surface” be manifested as a stroke? Inquiring minds want to know! Well, actually, not really, because I already know the answer.

And how much will this amazing device set you back?

Only $1,840, plus $120 for shipping and handling! But it’s totally worth it, if you believe Mr. Dial. In fact, he even warns you that you shouldn’t use any less expensive similar devices:

Molecular Enhancers are one-of-a-kind devices. Your usual multi-wave oscillators, rife machines, vibe machines, and other frequency devices FORCE certain frequencies into the body and are very costly and often risky, though some do a good job of ridding parasites and unhealthy microbes it is reported. The Molecular Enhancer DOES NOT FORCE frequencies into your body. The body takes what it wants, when it wants it, from aetheric energy during a session.

How nice. I’m still trying to figure out how the body does this if you hook it up to an electrode. Of course, my absolute favorite part of this entire spectacularly entertaining and useless piece of woo is this:
:

8) Question: What’s that smell?

Answer: What you smell are the ionized compounds that are being emitted from the body and a small amount of ozone. This is not harmful. When using the Enhancer you are getting the same benefits as if using an ozone generator. Even so, you should always have good ventilation when using the Enhancer.

The smell of ozone and “ionized compounds that are being emitted from the body”? Just what I always wanted. I just hope it’s not in reality the smell of slowly burning flesh.

Comments

  1. #1 Frumious B
    October 20, 2006

    I will motivate you, Private Orac, if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo.

    What does this mean, exactly? how does shortening the dick of Congoian cannibals motivate someone? is the motivation factor higher or lower for other types of cannibals? Will I have to do this at my next team-building event?

  2. #2 Dianne
    October 20, 2006

    I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the blogsophere.

    Oh, is that what you’ve been blogging with? How do you type with…never mind.

  3. #3 Michele
    October 20, 2006

    So I can’t eat anything I want, party all the time, keep my stressful job and stay up reading til all hours of the night and expect this to repair the damage? What good is it?

    Having sustained an electical shock from trouble shooting an argon beam coagulator when an intern decided to play with hand switch I really can’t fathom doing this to oneself on purpose.

  4. #5 Orac
    October 20, 2006

    What does this mean, exactly? how does shortening the dick of Congoian cannibals motivate someone?

    I have no idea. Try asking Gunnery Sgt. Hartman–if you dare.

  5. #6 VJB
    October 20, 2006

    But put the conductors 10M overhead, and switch from DC to 60 Hz, and all sorts of maladies ensue. I’ve read it, in genuine print. Must be true.

  6. #7 Sid Schwab
    October 20, 2006

    Mmmmmm. Membrane potentials…. I’m glad I stayed awake in med school. I totally get what he’s saying.

  7. #8 Tim
    October 20, 2006

    I guess the most head-scratching part for me is how one would get a potential across a cell membrane given that the cell is a sphere. If we make the very reasonable assumption that the entire outside of the cell is at the same potential, it is simply not possible to establish a potential difference across the membrane with an external field. If there is a 20 mV potential difference between different points outside the cell, I would have quite a current flowing through my body. This would be unpleasant for the fraction of a second before I’d be completely toasted.

  8. #9 Blake Stacey
    October 20, 2006

    @Sid Schwab:

    You stayed awake in med school? Well, that sure puts you up a notch on Deepak Chopra!

  9. #10 James
    October 20, 2006

    “But put the conductors 10M overhead, and switch from DC to 60 Hz, and all sorts of maladies ensue. I’ve read it, in genuine print. Must be true.” – VJB

    It does make one wonder whether the same people who use these beleive that power lines and cell towers cause cancer.

  10. #11 MattXIV
    October 20, 2006

    Tim,

    You can’t make it uniform around the entire membrane (the other side will have 20 mV less difference), but as the field gets stronger the ions that can’t make it through the membrane will bunch up at different ends of the cell based on charge and the conductivity will decrease. Of course, this would do all kinds of horrible things to the cell in question and the body in which it resides in general.

  11. #12 schwa sticker
    October 20, 2006

    Wow. It’s easy to see through woo when you can parse it..when was the last time somebody saw something from an altie that was actually READABLE?
    This moron used one apostrophe on hi’s entire web page and it was inside a posessive pronoun?
    The only thing worse than his alternative medicine is his alternative grammar!

  12. #13 Scott
    October 20, 2006

    If this thing makes my own cells so much stronger, whats to keep it from supercharging all the various viruses and cancer cells and whatever else is floating in and around my body?

  13. #14 ms
    October 20, 2006

    Its Friday, why don’t you have a bottle of magnetically aged wine (http://www.shooterbuddy.com/) and relax

  14. #15 Ed Deneke
    October 20, 2006

    Excellent post, BUT I WANT REIKI WOO! You’ve been promising it for weeks, and I get excited every Friday morning. Time to bring it!

  15. #16 melior
    October 21, 2006

    I remember reading a story as a child of a salesman who came to a town selling Ever So Much More So. A pinch of this magic substance would make everything it touched ever so much more so than it was before.

  16. #17 Aesmael
    October 21, 2006

    All the same benefits as if using an ozone generator? Forgive if I do not find that appealing.

  17. #18 Sastra
    October 21, 2006

    Even reading these excerpts gives me insight into the appeal of pseudoscience. I’m not a scientist, have only a mediocre understanding of electricity and biology — and everything this guy wrote made sense. Or seemed to. It’s all analogies to things I think I DO understand better.

    The reason I easily recognize it as garbage isn’t catching the science, it’s that the claims are just too extraordinary. If something like this actually worked, it sure wouldn’t be sold only on the website of some guy nobody ever heard of. It would be a major breakthrough heralded by all. Nobel prize material.

    For the average person, that’s where woo breaks down. Here and there we can pick up the technical bloopers. But for the most part, it’s the mismatch between the value of the product and the indifference of the mainstream science community.

    Which is probably why most alties are into conspiracy thinking. We ignoramuses who aren’t are filtered out.

  18. #19 Brendan
    October 22, 2006

    What’s bugging me is the claim that it “[equalizes] the charge level in all the cells in the body.”
    How the Hex does anything get accomplished if all cells are at the same charge? There’s no electric potential difference! No voltage difference means no charge flow! The system would be at zero volts! Maybe I’m missing something important, but this sounds an awful lot like neutralizing the system, not energizing it.

  19. #20 Dunc
    October 23, 2006

    Any cells with a different genetic structure, i. e. bacterium, virus, or mutated cells, develop a different charge than the majority of the healthy cells. This allows the body to see them more easily and process them out of the system.

    Hey! I like my gut fauna, thank you very much!

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