Respectful Insolence

It’s been another eventful week on the ol’ blog, staring out with a post on despereate cancer patients self-experimenting with dichloroacetate, continuing on to do another fisking of the anti-evolution neurosurgeon and discussing real individualization of treatments, provided a little basic cancer biology, and ended up with some of the first straight medblogging that I’ve done in a long time. And then things finished up with the depressing news that Elizabeth Edwards’ breast cancer has recurred in her rib and possibly in her lung. Things have somehow gotten a bit too serious around here, even though I usually like to keep them from getting too deadly earnest.

And that means it’s the perfect time for some woo. Friday came just in time, didn’t it?

In order to show you just how amazingly woo-ey this week’s “target” truly is, here’s a shot across the bow in the form of a quote by one Sir Peter Guy Manners:

Recently, in Germany, researchers took the DNA of a 17-year-old boy, recorded its sound frequencies, and saved them. The boy was accidentally killed, but the scientists still had his DNA frequency patterns. Later, the DNA frequencies of the 17-year-old were transmitted into the body of a man in his late thirties. And the man almost became the young boy. His skin became youthful, he became slim, his hair went back to its natural color. Today he’s in his forties and he still looks like a much younger man.

Do you have any doubt that this is a worthy addition to our catalog of woo? Taking the vibrational essence of a dead 17 year old and using it to turn a much older man young again? Come on, it doesn’t get much better than that! But what is this woo of which Dr. Manners speaks? It’s called cymatics:

In the early 18th century, the German physicist Ernst Chladni, the ”father of acoustics,” covered plates with thin layers of sand, set them vibrating, and observed the patterns that were made in response to different sound stimuli.

In 1967, nearly three hundred years later, Hans Jenny, a Swiss doctor, artist, and researcher, published Cymatics – The Structure and Dynamics of Waves and Vibrations. In this book, published in both German and English, Jenny, like his precursor, showed what happens when one takes various materials like sand, water, or iron filings, and places them on vibrating metal surfaces.

When this is done, shapes and motion-patterns appear. Some of these patterns are nearly perfectly ordered and are stationary. Others develop in a turbulent, organic fashion, and are constantly in motion.

Jenny used crystal oscillators, and invented what he called a ”tonoscope” to set his plates and membranes vibrating. One of the most fascinating discoveries he made was that the vowels of Hebrew and Sanskrit, when toned into his media, formed the actual patterns of the letters themselves! Modern languages did not have this effect. All of which leads to the speculation that there may be some truth in the concept of a ”sacred language” — an actual, physical reason why the recitation of sacred mantras and texts may have real healing properties.

i-0c286c9f7fd2b677c3aeed1051a25725-Cymatics,complex.jpg i-fbf3cbb947c1f8bcfb762bef01e10032-Cymatics,triangle.jpg

Oh, no! This sounds like Dr. Emoto, only with sand and vibrations! What is it with woo-meisters and “vibrations” or “vibrational energy.” If it’s not one thing vibrating, it’s another. If it’s not light, it’s sound. And if it’s not light or sound, then, when all else fails, throw in a fallacious appeal to a bogus understanding of quantum theory, often gussied up with a really ugly interface. Not surprisingly, the Sound Healers Association (which, not surprisingly, was featured here in an earlier dose of woo) speaks very highly of Sir Peter Guy Manners.

But it gets better. I bet you thought you knew a bit about evolution, didn’t you? I bet you thought you understood the basic principles of natural selection, leavened with maybe some random genetic drift and sexual selection, along with other operating principles of evolutionary theory.

You’d be wrong:

Jenny thought that evolution was a result of vibrations, with the vibrations of one level of organization, such as that of cells, each one unique, combining to create glands and organs and so on, each new level being a harmonic of the previous one. Jenny saw that we could heal the body with sound by understanding how different frequencies influence the genes, cells, and organs of the body.

Out of Jenny’s work, and that of other scientists in the late fifties, came the reality of using sound to transmute diseased cells into their healthy counterparts.

I know I’ve been a big advocate of arguing that evolutionary theory provides useful insights into human disease and medicine, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. I haven’t decided if his “evidence” is more consistent with evolution by natural selection or “intelligent design.” Probably neither, just woo. But let’s see what Dr. Manners has to say himself, hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Here’s his view on the cause of all disease (all alties have to have a single cause for all disease, don’t you know):

Thus a large proportion of disease affecting mankind is primarily due to an obscure electrical deviation from the normal in the structure of the molecule-which in their billions form the substance of our tissue- which in their turn form the substance of our bodies.

If you are prepared to admit that sound waves transmitted through the air by bells (which have different structures from each other) will have a different character; then you can be quite sure that vibrant electrons forming a cancerous molecule must be differently arranged-differently numbered from those forming tubercular or any other pathological molecules. You can be equally sure of the waves or radiations they respectively send out will also be different in character. There will be the cancer waves, the tubercular waves, the malaria waves, sulfur waves and quinine waves. Perhaps no physician has thought of this.

Perhaps the reason no physician thought of it is because it’s utter woo. But Dr. Manners must continue:

We can easily see each organ will have its own or sonic sound field, its own noise if you wish. If properly detected, it should provide us with information of the process going on it that particular organ. Also keeping in mind that the human body, as well as the particular organs, is not a heap of matter accumulated at random. It is a well organized entity and hence bears the analogy to crystal. In scientific literature this analogy has long been suggested. The first question which presents itself to an investigator is, can it actually be demonstrated that our reasoning within the sonic field and human body is valid? Can any experiment be given as definite proof?

Ah, yes. Our minds are like crystals. Of course. How could I not see that. However, you skeptics out there might be wondering something. You might be wondering why, if these vibrations truly exist and can be manipulated by those skilled in Cymatics to heal, no one can detect them. Come, now, you must know that Dr. Manners will have an answer to that:

First, let us state clearly that these sounds must be extremely faint, otherwise our ears would detect them. So a very sensitive detector must be used. In the history of physical science all sorts of devices have been found for detecting such sounds. Now the general statement can be made, that as well as human beings, all objects are radiating sound waves.

Yes, the sounds are so faint that it’s not just our ears that can’t detect them. Nothing can detect them. I hate to jump in right here, but you haven’t shown us any evidence that these sounds even exist or that these “sensitive detectors” can actually record them, much less that, even if the exist, they have anything to do with health or disease? Isn’t Cymatics putting the cart before the horse here a bit? Just a thought.

But, no, Dr. Manners doesn’t listen:

Of course, every individual has its own pattern, or different collection of tones and shapes and geographical position. In each, the state of health is different. Also this sonic radiation will impinge on the surrounding objects and will be partially deflected by them. According to the environment a standing wave pattern should surround us with its nodes and anti-nodes.

As we move about in life, the field of surrounding waves arranges itself accordingly and will change in some incidental details. However, the fundamental pattern of interference will remain permanent. The general law could be defined thus: this radiation and its pattern is due to the distribution of the matter and its mutual correlation in any individual case. The actual chemical nature of the matter, its position, its temperature, its shape and so forth, is implicated by this definition. From this, we can see that harmony is the secret of perfect health.

Within the human body, any deviation from this harmony would result in ill health. This harmony of sound will only exist within the body providing that each molecule plays its part in the whole. Any deviation, any molecule moved and displaced in any way will upset the general scheme of the body’s harmonics. If the molecule is moved then the others will immediately rearrange themselves accordingly. The whole will be changed, and the sonic pattern also changes.

But what does all of this have to do with the Fountain of Youth? Good question! I was wondering that myself. Wonder no more:

Perhaps the most exciting possible application of Cymatics, as we indicate in the story that leads off this article, is its potential to reverse the aging process.

”When you’re born,” Dr. Manners said, ”every cell multiplies. Then, at puberty, the frequency patterns of the cells change, and instead of multiplying, cell replaces cell. As we age, cells still replace each other, but the tempo slows down.

”Within a few years of time we will be able to prevent this slowing down of cell replacement. And this can all be done with sound. If we take a frequency sample of your DNA at age 18, and save it, then later, if we transmit this frequency to your cells, they will rejuvenate.”

i-0bcee4b8b0141566ff51f0da5adb89cd-mar_mark5.jpgWhat, I wonder, about us old fogeys who were unfortunate enough to be born too soon, at a time before Dr. Manners’ work, before he could helpfully take a sample of our DNA and extract its vibrational essence and frequency when we were eighteen? Are we out of luck? Or could we, vampire-like, use Dr. Manners’ device (pictured) to extract the vibrational essences from some 18 year olds and use them to rejuvenate ourselves? Yes, i saw Lifeforce, too, and I think it’s high time for a remake, with an appropriate replacement for Mathilda May walking around naked and draining the life forces of all her victims, much as Dr. Manners undoubtedly drains the wallets of his victims (except that hopefully he is not naked when he does it, a thought too awful to contemplate).

As for the actress to portray the Mathilda May role in the remake, I nominate Jessica Alba.

That’d be a lot more interesting than contemplating more vibrational woo any day.

i-16b84e73b0e81c6a87acd3a94fc42a44-lifeforce2.jpg
Before developing the tonoscope Dr.
Manners used to use a more direct method
to harvest vibrational life energy to save to
rejuvenate himself with later.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Simmons
    March 23, 2007

    “Recently, in Germany, researchers took the DNA of a 17-year-old boy, recorded its sound frequencies, and saved them. The boy was accidentally killed …”

    Geez. Those German scientists should have been more careful when putting his DNA back into his body after recording its sound frequencies.

  2. #2 Christophe Thill
    March 23, 2007

    “You can be equally sure of the waves or radiations they respectively send out will also be different in character. There will be the cancer waves, the tubercular waves, the malaria waves, sulfur waves and quinine waves.”

    Is that what Mike Oldfield thought of when he recorded his classic album “Tubercular Bells”?

  3. #3 Joe
    March 23, 2007

    “… an actual, physical reason why the recitation of sacred mantras and texts may have real healing properties.”

    I forgot my mantra …

  4. #4 Christophe Thill
    March 23, 2007

    “We can easily see each organ will have its own or sonic sound field, its own noise if you wish.”

    So true. For instance, classic organs, such as the Hammond, the Vox, the Farfisa, each have their own, specific vibrations. Espacially when you switch on that tab marked “Vibrato”.

    “Within a few years of time we will be able to prevent this slowing down of cell replacement. And this can all be done with sound. If we take a frequency sample of your DNA at age 18, and save it, then later, if we transmit this frequency to your cells, they will rejuvenate.”

    How much sillier than this can you get? That the human body emits sounds (outside some obvious, unpleasant noises, of course) is already hard to swallow. Why should it lead to the conclusion that sounds can heal it? My flashlight can emit light as long as the battery is good. But I can put it in the sun as long as I want, it won’t reload an empty battery…

  5. #5 anon
    March 23, 2007

    Holy Guacamole– Beach Boys Science!!!

  6. #6 Bronze Dog
    March 23, 2007

    “Capturing the vibrational woo of youth”

    When I saw that, I had a sinking feeling this was going to involve the Super Adventure Club.

  7. #7 Thinker
    March 23, 2007

    Ah, I had always thought Dr. Frankenstein used electricity to bring his monster to life. Now I realize he must actually have asked his assistant to sing, based on the findings presented here.

    This, I understand, is called Egorian Chant.

    (Runs off the stage before getting grabbed by the hook…)

  8. #8 Juliana
    March 23, 2007

    “…Modern languages did not have this effect. All of which leads to the speculation that there may be some truth in the concept of a ”sacred language” — an actual, physical reason why the recitation of sacred mantras and texts may have real healing properties.”

    So logical!

    Maybe if I say a mantra I can change my DNA until this evening and feel like a new ME!! I want my 1,024 strands of DNA!

  9. #9 Joe
    March 23, 2007

    We all know about musical beans …

  10. #10 Zombie
    March 23, 2007

    “Recently, in Germany, researchers took the DNA of a 17-year-old boy, recorded its sound frequencies, and saved them. The boy was accidentally killed …”

    Accidentally, my butt. This is obviously some sort of Nazi plot to use electro-acoustical vampirism to resurrect Hitler.

  11. #11 G Barnett
    March 23, 2007

    And now my brain hurts.

    At least that’s offset by my amusement that you used a still from “Lifeforce” to end this installment. :)

  12. #12 Thony C.
    March 23, 2007

    Ernst Chladni, the ”father of acoustics,”

    and I thought that Marin Mersenne was the “father of acoustics”! It just goes to show what you can learn from the purveyors of woo!

  13. #13 Margaret
    March 23, 2007

    “straight from the horse’s mouth”

    wrong orifice

    “frequency sample of your DNA”

    I think he will find that it occurs at a precise frequency of one complete set for each cell, except for sperm/egg cells, which should have half a set for each cell.

  14. #14 Natalie
    March 23, 2007

    Oh how I love to read your Friday dose of woo articles so I can get my Friday dose of laughter. The sad thing is that people actually believe the woo!

  15. #15 Andreas Schaefer
    March 23, 2007

    O wow – and I missed that despite living here.

    It is obviously misreported though – since there is a relation between the fineness of a structure that can be imaged by a given wave sound waves are much to coarse to properly image a living body – it must be ether-waves; finer than light waves even that are really used to record these body-images.
    Also presumably to prevent abuse nobody mentioned the gadget needed to amplify and reproduce those recordings : the etherwave-amplifier driving the etherwave-generators ( something like speakers but not for sound )

    All of the above about the level of science found in the Science Fiction pulps ‘before the golden age’ ( and sometimes after )

    If we are at it why not go and integrate some more misunderstood physics : quantum effects, de Broglie matter-waves and of course that other concept from “before the golden age” : Atoms are small solar systems with electrons as planets ( and presumably electronides living on them ) – and if we but find the right way of canceling/changing our vibrations we can travel there.

  16. #16 Tara Smith
    March 23, 2007

    Wait, so the “vibrational frequencies” of the 17 yr old’s DNA must then also change with time? So I could theoretically take one of my old hairbrushes, isolate my own DNA, zap myself with my prior self’s vibrations, and reverse the aging process? I’m SO on this….

  17. #17 anonimouse
    March 23, 2007

    Like you need it, Tara. ;-)

  18. #18 Ahistoricality
    March 23, 2007

    I’d heard the vowels thing before — there are all kinds of linguistic woo out there, too — but didn’t realize that there were medical applications!

    Om and two bucks’ll get you rejuvenated at any coffee shop in the country.

  19. #19 Badger3k
    March 23, 2007

    If everybody has their own unique pattern, shouldn’t the guy turned into the kid?

  20. #20 Coin
    March 23, 2007

    Recently, in Germany, researchers took the DNA of a 17-year-old boy, recorded its sound frequencies, and saved them.

    Wait, what? How? Never mind the woo for a moment. As someone with a great personal interest in avant-garde electronic and ambient music, I find the idea of DNA music instantly fascinating. I mean, even if it has no particular meaning or the results are not properly “music”, the idea of inducing and recording any kind of vibrations from a DNA strand has a lot of potential, at least in a Matmos-style “hey, let’s make a dance techno song out of the synapses in a Crayfish’s brain firing!” sense.

    When they “took the DNA of a 17-year-old boy and recorded its sound frequencies”, what were they actually doing? Or did that just never happen at all, and they’re just stringing sciency-sounding words together without thinking about what the underlying meaning would be?

  21. #21 Orac
    March 23, 2007

    Hey. I just thought of something. They say the boy was “accidentally killed”? Does that mean the process of extracting his DNA and recording its sound frequencies “accidentally killed” him?

    Damn, I wish I had thought of that when I was writing this piece!

  22. #22 Sastra
    March 23, 2007

    I like Tara’s idea, and wonder if the DNA vibrations also work in reverse. Think of “The Hairbrush of Dorian Gray.”

  23. #23 blf
    March 23, 2007

    So if I vibrate some frog DNA just right, I get a T. Rex?

    Cool!

    (Ok, ok, I know, shades of J. Park…)

  24. #24 Alison
    March 23, 2007

    Holy cow! If I had had any idea of what sound vibrations could do to my youth and vitality, I would never have watched the “American Idol” audition shows. Too late now. Crud.

  25. #25 Marc
    March 23, 2007

    This is the Weirding Way, from the Lynch Dune movie! (The novel’s Weirding Way was completely different, I think).

  26. #26 Interrobang
    March 24, 2007

    One of the most fascinating discoveries he made was that the vowels of Hebrew and Sanskrit, when toned into his media, formed the actual patterns of the letters themselves! Modern languages did not have this effect.

    Oh really?! Are there any Hebrew vowel sounds that don’t occur in English? English has a lot of vowel sounds, and Hebrew really doesn’t have that many. The schwa doesn’t count as a vowel sound that doesn’t occur in English, because while it might not occur in your English dialect, it indisputably occurs in mine… *grin* I’m picking on Hebrew here because I know it, and I don’t know Sanskrit.

    Funnily enough, Modern Hebrew is an astonishingly modern creature. Israeli poetry from 50 years ago sounds archaic to young Israelis now, and not in the same sort of way that Beat poetry sounds weird to people who missed it. Nobody really knows exactly what Ancient Hebrew sounded like, although Temani (Yemenite Hebrew) is a good guess.

    In any case, if that were true, I would have Hebrew letters forming all over the surface of my brain, since I’m just listening to a song in Temani, and I might even have a naughty series of Hebrew letters on there somewhere, since a couple of songs ago, I listened to “Ella” by The Jews, and there’s an actual swearword (“ben-zonah,” son of a whore) in that song, oh NOES1!!one!

    It’s amazing how much sheer wrongness (and wrongitude, and wrongidity, and wrongification) a few little paragraphs of woo can contain, isn’t it? It’s sort of like woo is a compression algorithm for wrongness — start to unpack it, and all this hypercompressed Wrong comes exploding out.

  27. #27 Theo Bromine
    March 24, 2007

    My flashlight can emit light as long as the battery is good. But I can put it in the sun as long as I want, it won’t reload an empty battery…

    Get one of these and it will: http://www.solareagle.com/sunmate_flash.html

    (Gotta love the box – next time I visit my favourite electronic junk shop in Toronto I should spend $10 on some colourful switches, keypads, and blinkenlightz so I can build my very own all-purpose woo generator.)

  28. #28 Graculus
    March 24, 2007

    What is the sound of one lung clapping?

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