Respectful Insolence

Last week’s woo was pretty darned hard to top, don’t you think? It had it all, after all: Boner potentiation, penis enlargement, magnets, near infrared, and more. The only thing it lacked that would have made it absolutely perfect woo were references to pseudoscientific “vibration” or, even better, quantum theory. That’s the reason I could only give it a 9.5/10 rather than a perfect score of 10/10. All I can say is: Better luck next time.

In looking for something that could at least live up to last week, if not surpass it, I was surprised that there actually was such a link in my ever-reliable Folder of Woo. Even better, it was yet another form of woo that I’ve somehow managed to miss in this nearly two year odyssey into the depths of pseudoscience, spiritualist mumbo-jumbo, and, of course, woo. But what, you my intrepid readers might ask, could possibly match last week’s peerless descent into vulgarity. You’ll see soon enough, and you’ll get your opportunity to decide for yourself whether or not it is worthy of a Friday installment.

One of the key characteristics of a whole large subcategory of woo is, as any connoisseur of woo knows, “natural” sorts of remedies. The reason, of course, is that if it’s natural it must be better for you than any big pharma-manufactured abomination against nature. Or so the woo-meisters tell us anyway. Certainly curare is incredibly healthy, as is strychnine, deadly nightshade. Oh, wait, they’re deadly poisons. Well, what about taxol, which comes from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree? Not a bad example, given its effectiveness against various cancers, especially breast cancer, except that big pharma had to go and make is so that women don’t have to chew on bark to get all that natural goodness. Instead, it had to go and defile the tree and extract all the anticancer goodness into a product that has to be injected IV. Oh, well.

But that doesn’t mean that plants aren’t our friend from a woo point of view. Besides, it’s not enough that a natural substance derived form plants function through old-fashioned pharmacological actions, such as binding to a receptor, interfering with an enzyme, or activating a signaling pathway. Oh, no. That’s materialistic and unimaginative! If I’m going to use plants to cure diseaes, I’d want them to do something far cooler and more…energetic. Fortunately, I’ve found just the thing! Actually, Dr. Brent W. Davis has. Indeed, he’s found a way to extract the essence of living plants and harness its power for for your–yes, your!–health. Before we see his creation, let’s introduce you to him:

Dr. Brent W. Davis divides his time between his integrative healing and chiropractic practice in Nashville, Tennessee and the FlorAlive® forest/farm/training center about 75 miles outside Nashville. He travels internationally to photograph, study, and prepare highly energized flowers which have the potential of becoming new flower essences. When not traveling, he teaches seminars and is a sought-after conference speaker.

Well, all right! He’s an “integrative” healer and chiropracter! I’m sure he’s totally an expert in this stuff. At least, that’s what he tells us, and why wouldn’t I believe him? But what, exactly, is his woo? It’s something called Floralive, and it brings you the power of floral essences:

At the turn of the millennium, however, Dr. Davis shifted the focus of his research and practice to the discovery, clinical proving and production of our patented UNCUT flower™ essences.

This research took him to some of the last pristine places on Earth, where he encountered the divine Source frequencies of certain extraordinary plants, often growing around vortices of enormous “information transfer” downloading to Earth. Traditional healers frequently lead him to these remote and sacred environments.

Aware of the power of intention in achieving a goal, Dr. Davis created patented methods of collection and extraction that are in harmony with the healing intentions of Nature. (The designation “UNCUT” refers to a unique, co-operative, non-invasive approach to the plants themselves, necessary for the highly sensitive process of full transfer of their healing information.)

Yes! Somehow Davis is extracting the healing essence of the plants without actually, well, extracting anything physical out of them. He’s getting all the natural goodness out of them without actually crushing, cutting, or kiling them. How great is that? So great that he claims it’s patented! Even better, it’s “scientifically proven“! I know I’m in for only the finest of woo when I see that Davis quotes Rudolf Steiner and his description of “spiritual” science in the introduction. Of course, what is particularly hilarious is that Davis claims his flower essences have been validated by “all three” kinds of science, “hard,” “soft,” and “spiritual.” Looking at the latter two, however, I get the feeling that they are more consistent with woo than science, given that Davis states about “soft science:

“Soft” science uses a rational and orderly approach to assessing experimental questions which are inherently less objective than “hard” sciences. It may use tools such as questionnaires in the field of psychology, or applied kinesiology muscle testing in the natural healing arts.

Applied kinesiology? Ha! It doesn’t get more “woo-ey” than that, other than perhaps homeopathy or reiki. Personally, whenever I hear woo-meisters cite “soft” science or, even worse, “spiritual” science, I tune out. It’s always a load of crap. This is no different:

At FlorAlive® we feel fortunate to be able to employ the three types of science in the development of the (r)Evolutionary quantum frequencies from FlorAlive® uncut flowers. Though in its infancy, the UNCUT flower™ phenomenon is enabling enormous transformation of human consciousness in a short time and with very little effort.

Yeah, baby! Davis brought abuses of quantum theory into it! Now I really know I’m dealing with first class, grade A, super-charged woo. Of course, I love it when I see woo-meisters refer to “hard” science:

A belief in Higher Guidance from the supersensory world is what prompted Dr. Davis’ dream at the turn of the millennium where he saw in his mind’s eye what is now the patented FlorAlive® extraction process and apparatus.

Two “hard” science studies suggest that FlorAlive® essences contain a greater concentration, amplitude, and range of healing frequencies than the world’s best known and widest selling flower essence.

“Soft” science in the form of one clinical study using questionnaires and statistical analysis show that in one month the quantum frequencies of FlorAlive® essences diminished and removed destructive beliefs of the participants by as much as 50 percent. Validation by clinicians properly trained in applied kinesiology muscle testing shows on an ongoing basis that FlorAlive® essences remove self-destructive and limiting subconscious beliefs when tested by means of self-referential statements.

So let’s see what sort of hard science Davis marshals in favor of his amazing Floralive plant essences:

The first evaluation was performed by the laboratory of Prof. Fritz-Albert Popp at the International Institute of Biophysics in Neuss, Germany. Frequencies emitted by biological systems may be so subtle that conventional laboratory instruments cannot directly measure them. So Dr. Popp devised an ingenious way, tested over many years, to measure subtle frequencies (such as those found in homeopathic remedies and flower essences) by measuring the amount of re-emitted photons from standardized sprouting seedlings that have been treated by the substance under investigation. (A sophisticated instrument that can actually measure individual photon emission was used.) Two standardized sprouting seedling systems were used, each one having been treated by one of the flower essences. Both systems are then exposed to the exact same quantity and intensity of light, and the light that each system re-emits is directly correlated with the vitality of the test solution (each company’s flower essence.)

Most hilarious of all is the graph:

i-d16fd823ff99f1384593800a47d523f4-SCI_popps.gif

How’s that for dissing a fellow woo-meiseter’s product? I’m convinced. How about you? Davis even included error bars to crank up the “science” factor and make the whole thing look more convincing to the lay person who doesn’t know much about science and data presentation! But where’s the p-value? I mean, if you’re going to make the “data” supporting your particular brand of woo all “science-y,” why not go whole hog and include a p<0.05, to show that the difference in "life force" between the two floral extracts is statistically significant? Of course, even if Davis could measure "life force," the size of those error bars would pretty much preclude any statistically significant difference. There's just too much overlap between them. Bummer. Maybe Davis's other bit of "hard" science will convince me:

The second evaluation consists of an ingenious new technology made available in 2007 in which a very sensitive, ultra compact RF (radio frequency) monitor is placed within a small sample of the solution under investigation. The monitor can detect the strength (amplitude) and spread of frequencies (hertz range) of each test sample. This is a direct measurement. Initial tests show a very exciting finding relating to ReviveAll™. The dominant resonance of the atmosphere around the earth is the Schumann frequency of 7.83 hertz (cycles per second), and this is a critical part of the natural frequencies of the brain and life cycles in biological systems. Direct measurement of ReviveAll showed the distinct signature of the frequency of living plants – a hertz range including the Schumann frequency – which communicates information in biological systems. That low hertz range was not present in the test sample of Dr. Bach’s five flower formula.

Nope. Sorry. it sure sounds good though. I particularly like the bit about the Schumann frequency and the distinct “signature” frequencies. Very nice use of common features of many varieties of woo, namely “vibrational frequencies” or “natural frequencies” of lief essences.

So, failing the “hard” science, I had to wonder what sort of other “science” Davis could marshal to support his plant woo. Quite a lot, it turns out. He provides a number of graphs of patient’s subjective responses to Floralive on self-worth, resentment, and a number of other emotional responses. Can anyone say “placebo effect”? Sure, I knew you could. But what about “spiritual” science? I was tempted to swipe a couple of Davis’ case studies to show the before-and-after photos used in the Floralive testimonials, but I thought it would be better if you just followed the link to see the full depths of this woo yourself. Personally, I was disappointed; the only difference in the “before” and “after” photos that I could see was the lighting and composition, with possibly one exception; so I think I’ll close with what to me is the most convincing testimonial of the whole bunch from a woman named Vicki:

I have been an energy worker for the past six years. I have worked with color, crystals and Reiki. Through my healing work I observe human auras and energy fields, watching how they shift – and that shift is a gradual one. While attending your seminar in Fredericton, I saw auras change instantly when you used the FlorAlive flower essences.

I saw a person connect directly to Heavenly Source with a warm golden light and each of her chakras become connected with a golden arc, and then they became illuminated. It was a very powerful and moving experience for me and unlike any I have had in my healing work. As a result, I booked an appointment with Dr. Davis to have a flower essence assessment, and was again amazed with the essences he tested on me, as I instantly felt energies shift in my own body.

As, I’m sure, have we all, Vicki. As have we all.

Comments

  1. #1 FullFrontal
    May 9, 2008

    I don’t know Orac, how can you really argue against “More Reemitted Light=Greater Life Force. Totally makes sense–sign me up!

  2. #2 FullFrontal
    May 9, 2008

    Sorry bout the double post–browser problem.

  3. #3 Eliza
    May 9, 2008

    No! Get out! I’ve been enjoying your blog for several months and this is actually the first time I’ve been so surprised by the Dose of Woo that I said “what?” out loud and drew attention to my slacking in the office. I’ve come to terms with the fact that a disturbing number of the people I’m surrounded by harbor some incredibly strange notions, but I just cannot believe that anyone, anywhere could possibly buy into this. I want to click on the links so bad but I would be so embarrassed to have that show up in the logs and have the IT guys think I’m a loon. My mind is blown.

  4. #4 khan
    May 9, 2008

    I have been an energy worker for the past six years. I have worked with color, crystals and Reiki. Through my healing work I observe human auras and energy fields, watching how they shift

    What I find interesting (and sad) is that Vicki probably really believes all this stuff. You can go to any forum and before long, someone will start talking about Reiki and auras.

  5. #5 clarabell
    May 9, 2008

    At the turn of the millennium, however, Dr. Davis shifted the focus of his research and practice to the discovery, clinical proving and production of our patented UNCUT flower™ essences.

    *insert circumcision joke here*

  6. #6 Bob O'H
    May 9, 2008

    “Soft” science in the form of one clinical study using questionnaires and statistical analysis show that in one month the quantum frequencies of FlorAlive® essences diminished and removed destructive beliefs of the participants by as much as 50 percent.

    I think that means it killed the sceptics.

  7. #7 Ms. Clark
    May 9, 2008

    So he’s selling little bottles of water?

    “FlorAlive® is unique and (r)evolutionary because it is created out of a conceptual framework and in a modern clinical setting where the potential of a flower to transform consciousness can be tested in real time. This is done by utilizing the applied kinesiology procedure of self-referential statement evaluation as well as other techniques which are part of the new field of “energy psychology”. These developments did not exist in Dr. Bach’s time, and have just recently been adapted by Dr. Davis to use in the development of FlorAlive® flower essences. As an example, patients are tested clinically by these procedures for the presence of limiting beliefs or memories (which negatively affect performance and health.) After placing test drops of the selected FlorAlive® essence in the patient’s mouth, immediate re-evaluation reveals whether or not the essence cleared the undesirable condition. (All the FlorAlive® essences have been proven by this method and this distinguishes them from other flower essence companies worldwide.) Re-evaluation weeks or months later often shows that the transformation has lasted.

    Three other distinguishing features of
    FlorAlive®essences are:

    1. They are prepared from UNCUT flowers and hence contain all the plant’s healing frequencies in an optimally coherent state.

    2. The powerful flowers we use come from highly energized regions around the world, often located in vortices where huge amounts of transformational “information” enters and is absorbed by the flowers.

    3. Our proprietary essence selector guides your choice of flowers so that you can transform limitations in the subconscious mind which are normally unidentifiable.”

  8. #8 Warren
    May 9, 2008

    Hmm, it’s hard to choose between this and last week’s woo. Competition is stiff.

    *insert circumcision joke here*

    Posted by: clarabell

    Huh huh huh. You said “insert”.

    Plant-based energy healing woo can go nicely with boner enhancement, though — after all, plants are a good source of wood.

  9. #9 StuV
    May 9, 2008

    I instantly felt energies shift in my own body.

    Happens to me too, but usually only after eating iffy burritos.

  10. #10 StuV
    May 9, 2008

    where he encountered the divine Source frequencies of certain extraordinary plants, often growing around vortices of enormous “information transfer” downloading to Earth.

    That’s not English. Those are not real words. What the hell is wrong with these people?

  11. #11 Patrick
    May 9, 2008

    I think doctor D is cruising for a practicing homeopathy without a homeopathic license case. How far apart can an essence and memory of a substance be? Especially when one doesn’t even transfer a single bit of the material before succusing the solution. This definitely also borders (if not outright plagiarizes) infringement of the Secret.

    Homeo, Homeo, wherefore art though Homeo? (Sorry Bill, had to modify one of your most famous lines!)

    At the end of taking in all this information, my head truly Hertz. :D

  12. #12 Oldfart
    May 9, 2008

    As a result, I booked an appointment with Dr. Davis to have a flower essence assessment, and was again amazed with the essences he tested on me, as I instantly felt energies shift in my own body.

    Of course she did. While Dr. Davis was fumbling around with her clitoris, that is…..poor Vicki.

  13. #13 Oldfart
    May 9, 2008

    Sorry about the dupe. Keep getting internal server errors.

  14. #14 wackyvorlon
    May 9, 2008

    Fritz-Albert Popp! What a name! I love it! Amusingly, it actually is patented:

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=f4oHAAAAEBAJ&dq=brent+davis

    The key part of the claims:

    A method for collecting an extract of a living plant, comprising:

    selecting the living plant;
    placing an extraction vessel proximate to a component of the living plant;
    adding an amount of an extraction solution to the extraction vessel; and
    contacting the extraction solution to the component of the living plant for a period of time, wherein the component of the plant remains attached to the living plant during the period of time.

    Basically, he’s dipping a part of the plant in this ‘solution’. Oh good lord. The solution is – get this – water! He submerges part of the plant in a beeswax container of water for ‘up to two weeks’.

  15. #15 Heather
    May 9, 2008

    I think these should be made into enemas. Just to complete the ridiculous woo cycle. Anyone up for a homeopathic, floral scented enema?

  16. #16 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 9, 2008

    I want to click on the links so bad but I would be so embarrassed to have that show up in the logs and have the IT guys think I’m a loon. My mind is blown.

    Speaking as one of those IT guys, we think everyone is a loon. So go for it.

  17. #17 Jim
    May 9, 2008

    Why is it?? Why must one always travel far, ride horsies, be guided by primatives, to find these “vortices of enormous “information transfer”"? Why not just down to the local park? Oh yeah, always wanted to find a way to write off vacation trips. I bet there is a good vortice close to that Hawaiian volcano, probably could even find some water there that would be good enough to collect whatever falls off unnaturely submerged plant bits and get two weeks on the beach (any way back to Magic Sands beats sitting here in midMisery)

  18. #18 Glenn
    May 9, 2008

    Man, just read the patent if you want to get a true understanding of just how far the USPTO has sunk.

    Particularly check out Fig 3, the diagram of homeopathic vibrational spheres, or some such crap. That the examiner didn’t just reject it out of hand for that one, is pretty sad.

  19. #19 Ktesibios
    May 9, 2008

    That’s some black belt woo, alright. It hits two of the important items on the WooScore checklist:

    1. Must work the word “quantum” into the pitch somehow, even if it takes a hydraulic press to shove it in there.

    2. Absolutely must keep using the word “frequency” in a way that makes it clear that the writer has no idea of what it means.

    Since it does all that plus makes me think of going out to chop up some flowers to garnish the roast kittens, I’ll give it a 10/10.

  20. #20 viggen
    May 9, 2008

    So Dr. Popp devised an ingenious way, tested over many years, to measure subtle frequencies (such as those found in homeopathic remedies and flower essences) by measuring the amount of re-emitted photons from standardized sprouting seedlings that have been treated by the substance under investigation

    Um, wow, so the intensity of scattered light is proportional to life essence? I suppose I should be selling white paint to these people.

  21. #21 Sastra
    May 9, 2008

    Hoo boy! When those folks at the “Dr. Bach’s Five Flower Formula” factory see those charts, the chakra’s really going to hit the fan, you bet. They’re going to get right to work drawing up their OWN charts and graphs — and who do you think is going to have the HIGHER bar then? That’s right. The good old Dr.-B-5! They’ve got subtle frequencies that have never even been measured yet!

    Dr. B’s Five Flower Formula outdated my ass. “FlorAlive” — yeah, right. They’ll see. The bastards.

  22. #22 anon
    May 9, 2008

    Orac – I sometimes wonder if the “Folder of Woo” is more of a metaphor than an actual folder. Does it really exist?

  23. #23 charles
    May 9, 2008

    He’s getting all the natural goodness out of them without actually crushing, cutting, or killing them.

    Wow, do you think he could get some sequence data for me with this method?

  24. #24 Will TS
    May 9, 2008

    The superiority of FlorAlive is evident in the scientific precision of their data. It vibrates at the healing frequency of 7.83 Hz. Wow! Two significant digits.

    That kind of rigor is the only way to protect yourself from the destructive influences of vibrations at 7.82 or 7.84 Hz (Equivalent to the famous bad wavelengths of 38336.63 kilometers and 38238.83 kilometers, respectively). That’s why only get my healing frequencies from a licensed certified vibrational therapist.

  25. #25 Pineyman
    May 9, 2008

    Holy Shiitake Mushrooms, Orac!

    $45.00 for a freaking 2-3 oz bottle of water??? I’m truly at a loss for words. My brain cannot comprehend people actually buying this shit…er, essence. Part of me wants to cry that his customers are allowed to drive, vote and worst of all procreate and another part of me wants to stand up and salute him for have the supersized balls to actually do this….

  26. #26 Kate
    May 9, 2008

    I love your blog! As a cancer survivor I have no problem with trying complementary treatments as long as people stick with SCIENCE for their primary care! Thanks – Kate
    http://www.aftercancernowwhat.wordpress.com

  27. #27 ebohlman
    May 10, 2008
    where he encountered the divine Source frequencies of certain extraordinary plants, often growing around vortices of enormous “information transfer” downloading to Earth.

    That’s not English. Those are not real words. What the hell is wrong with these people?

    Ah, but it is English. It’s extremely frumious[1] English, but English nonetheless. All the words are in fact real, it’s just that they’re combined in a syntactically valid but semantically meaningless fashion. As I’ve said several times, someone who knew very little about sports would be impressed by my claim to have batted fifty touchdowns in a basketball game.

    Jim Laidler quite accurately described this type of writing as “pidgin.”

    [1]I personally translate “frumious” as “dangerous and notorious” based on the semantic slot it appears to occupy in Jabberwocky.

  28. #28 anon
    May 10, 2008

    Orac – I sometimes wonder if the “Folder of Woo” is more of a metaphor than an actual folder. Does it really exist?

  29. #29 Chaz
    May 11, 2008

    Theses pictures were hilarious. Thank you, Dr. Brent Davis and Vicki, for truly brightening my day. You and the woman who believes intestinal flukes cause all disease truly give me hope for the natural healing ability of my body.

  30. #30 The Integral
    May 12, 2008

    wow Orac…..

    where the hell do you manage to dig up all of this shit? (the woo I mean)…..

    you need a stupid-o-meter for measuring your woo……this would be a 9. Not only in terms of silliness but utter gobbledygookery.

    Even when YOU wrote about it, in your excellent writing style, I struggled to make sense of it. As is the case quite frequently with your Friday Woo posts….

    yeah this was DEFINITELY worthy of a Friday woo installment……