Respectful Insolence

i-dcfbc6d0e025514f12efe285c2810f51-mvomega.jpg

Hard as it is to believe, this little weekly vanity project of mine, this little weekly excursion into the wild and wacky world of woo, is fast approaching two years of existence. Really. I kid you not. This wouldn’t really disturb me so much except that I had been rather hoping to do a special anniversary edition of Your Friday Dose of Woo in a couple of weeks, but I really don’t have anything suitable. No, it’s not that I don’t have lots of woo in the infamous Folder of Woo. There’s stuff there for the foreseeable future. It’s just that I’m like a little kid. When a really, really good bit of incredibly outrageous woo comes my way, I have no self-restraint whatsoever. Into YFDoW it goes on the first Friday after I discover it. No thought of the future of woo have I! If something like DNA Activation, quantum homeopathic gyroscopic circles, the VIBE Machine, orbs invading a newscast, or a woo-ducation in neuroscience, I would snap it right up. What I guess I’m trying to say is that, if you have some woo that’s on par with some of the best of the last two years (or, even better yet, even woo-ier than the best), drop me an e-mail. Please don’t post it in the comments; too many people will see it, and where would the surprise be in that? You’ll be duly acknowledged if I pick your woo.

In the meantime, I’ll move on to this week’s installment. Don’t worry, O connoisseurs of only the finest woo. The above plea notwithstanding, this is woo every bit worthy of a a spot on the list of woo. Indeed, it’s a–if you’ll excuse the term–crystal clear example of my tendency not to be able to sit on a goood piece of woo for even a couple of weeks. Oh, no, I had to treat it this week. But why was I asking you to forgive me for mentioning “crystal clear”? I’m sure you can guess by now; indeed, this week’s installment is an examination of crystals. I know, I know, every New Age whackjob and his grandmother are into crystals. Where’s the excitement or nuttiness there? O, ye of little faith.These aren’t just any crystals. These are Marcel Vogel’s crystals, and you need to get a closer look at them.

Who was Marcel Vogel? Apparently he was quite the dude when it came to crystals. A biography helpfully provided for you tells the tale:

Marcel Joseph Vogel (1917 – 1991) was a research scientist for IBM’s San Jose facility for 27 years. He received numerous patents for his inventions during this time. Among these was the magnetic coating for the 24″ hard disc drive systems still in use. His areas of expertise were phosphor technology, liquid crystal systems, luminescence, and magnetics.

In the 1970’s Marcel did pioneering work in man-plant communication experiments. This led him to the study of quartz crystals and the creation of a faceted crystal that is now known as the Vogel-cut® crystal. The Vogel-cut® crystal is an instrument that serves to store, amplify, convert, and cohere subtle energies.

Marcel’s research into the therapeutic application of quartz crystals led him to the investigation of the relationship between crystals and water. He discovered that he could structure water by spinning it around a tuned crystal, altering many of the characteristics of the water and converting it into an information storage system.

Well, all right! It sounds as though Vogel started out as a real scientist and became a crank later in his life, at least if this biography is any indication. Let’s take a look:

In 1984, after almost 27 years as an IBM senior research scientist, Marcel retired and created his own laboratory, Psychic Research, Inc. The lab was dedicated to the study of subtle forces and energies that radiate from the body of living forms. It was his intent to quantify these forces and build a systematic language of identification for these energies which have most often been labeled and dismissed as “metaphysical.”

Well, all right again! “Psychic” research! “Subtle energies”? All studied by a former research scientist. Heck, according to this biography and other sources, Vogel was quite the impressive character–at least before he turned to woo. It started in his teens when it is claimed that his father built a laboratory in the back of their home. In fact, it started before his teens:

He applied this insatiable curiosity to himself as well. Each day he would walk to early morning Mass and in the quietness of prayer ask the question “Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?”

After six years he heard a voice in his mind say “You will be a phosphor chemist. You will do pioneering work in luminescence. You will write a book and create your own business.” Quite a tall order for a young man of eleven years!

Damn. I wish I had had a voice tell me, “You will be a doctor and a scientist” when I was eleven years old. It would have made my life’s trajectory so much easier. Instead, I was busy getting into science fiction and discovering The Hobbit for the first time. Certainly, there would have been none of those pesky struggles to figure out if I wanted to be a basic scientist, a doctor, or a computer scientist. Certainty is good–particularly if you’re woo-prone. Regardless, by the time Vogel was 26, he was working with Chicago University’s Dr. Peter Pringsheim and published a thesis Luminescence in Liquids and Solids and Their Practical Application after only two years of work. In the 1950s he joined IBM as one of its few scientists who did not have a Ph.D. and apparently did quite well, receiving numerous patents for his inventions, including for 24″ hard disc drive systems (remember, this was the 1950s), luminescence, phosphor technology, magnetics, and liquid crystal systems. All in all, it was an impressive career.

But then, or so it appears, something happened to him in the 1970s. As an aside, I can’t help but ask: Who alive at the time didn’t have something weird happen to them in the 1970s? Personally, I consider having had the misfortune to have been born at exactly the right time to have reached high school age in the late 1970s and thus to have had to go through high school at the height of the disco era to have scarred me for life. I was a sophomore in high school the year that Saturday Night Fever was released, after all. (The horror. The horror.)

But I digress.

Maybe the whole craziness of the late 1960s and early 1970s is why Vogel became so fascinated by The Secret Life of Plants to the point where his work was prominently featured in the woo-filled book of the same name (think of it as The Secret of its era, which makes it not surprising at all that Vogel’s spiritual heirs appear to buy into the ridiculousnessness that is the Law of Attraction), as described:

Despite initial rejection of the concept of human-plant communication, he decided to explore these strange claims.

He was able to duplicate the Backster effect of using plants as transducers for bio-energetic fields that the human mind releases, demonstrating that plants respond to thought. He used split leaf philodendrons connected to a Wheatstone Bridge that would compare a known resistance to an unknown resistance. He learned that when he released his breath slowly there was virtually no response from the plant. When he pulsed his breath through the nostrils, as he held a thought in mind, the plant would respond dramatically. It was also found that these fields, linked to the action of breath and thought, do not have a significant time domain to them. The responsiveness of the plants to thought was also the same whether eight inches away, eight feet, or eight thousand miles! Based on the results of the experiments the inverse square law does not apply to thought. This was the beginning of Marcel’s transformation from being a purely rational scientist to becoming a spiritual or mystical scientist.

Uh-oh. The terms “spiritual scientist” or “mystical scientist” are oxymorons. Science studies the physical, what can be measured and reproduced. Whenever you hear a scientist start referring to “mystical” or “spiritual” science, it’s an almost certain indication that he has gone far down the road to the Dark Side of Woo, and Vogel was no exception:

Marcel discovered that the greatest cohering agent is love. This, of course, set him apart from his fellow scientists. At a time when many still don’t acknowledge that an observer affects what they are observing, the notion of love was a totally unscientific idea. Even when cloaked in the garb of a term like resonance it was unacceptable. To Marcel, love was (and is) a pure force. Certainly we experience it as an emotion, but this is our experience of something that is beyond emotion. He likened it to gravity, an attracting and cohering force present at every level of existence. Without this relationship an important aspect of scientific investigation is missing, preventing us from discovering and exploring the more, perhaps most, subtle aspects of life.

This is a beautiful thought, but it sure doesn’t sound like science. Can one measure love, as one can measure gravity? Nope.

This is one reason why certain scientific investigations in the area of subtle energies cannot be readily replicated. It is not always a matter of scientific protocol, but a matter of relationship. Unfortunately many scientists would consider this to be some kind of inessential and perhaps bothersome epiphenomena. Although such individuals are scientists, to Marcel, they were technicians attempting to prove what they already thought was true. The true scientist is one who attempts to discover with childlike curiosity. Too often we, all of us, only want to confirm what we already believe.

Yes! We have the mark of a true crank! Vogel accused those who called his woo for what it is unimaginative–mere “technicians”! (Why was Vogel hating on technicians? I couldn’t keep my lab going without them!) He also accuses them of just wanting to confirm what we already believe (as opposed to Vogel’s wanting to confirm what he wanted to believe, I suppose). They clearly couldn’t understand what was obvious to his genius and free thought! Isn’t it obvious? But what, exactly, did Vogel do that was so worthy of being featured on YFDoW? Why does his woo reign supreme? Well, maybe not totally supreme (I’ve yet to find anyone who can top DNA Activation or Lionel Milgrom’s quantum homeopathy, but it’s at least in the same order of magnitude on the Woo-O-Meter. You see, Vogel was into crystals. No, he wasn’t just into them because they’re beautiful. He was really, really into them, so into them that he thought they could channel information and “subtle energies.” Indeed, he came up with a crystal that is still known as the “Vogel crystal.” It’s even in Wikipedia:

He also designed the vogel crystal which allegedly focuses “universal life force” by concentrating it to a higher level. Vogel crystals are cut to the exact angle of 51 degrees 51 minutes and 51 seconds or the exact angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The crystal is designed after the geometry of the Tree of Life symbol. Its design is said to have came to him in a dream.

It has been claimed that Vogel examined a metal triangle which was allegedly given to Billy Meier by extraterrestrials and marvelled at its unusual properties…

Yeah, baby! Pyramid power and crystal woo, all wrapped up into one neat package. When your favorite brand of woo makes it into Wikipedia, you’ve definitely arrived! Indeed, I’m truly impressed at the description of this woo as “evolutionary technology.” I was a bit worried at first that they might bring “intelligent design” creationism into the mix, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. Certainly it doesn’t much matter to the woo-meisters selling Vogel-cut crystals. The preface their description with:

The information in this article can be equally applied to Vogel-cut® crystals as far as application is concerned. We have offered this article as food for thought about possible instrumentation in the world of psychotronics.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about psychotronic energies or crystals. It’s all the same woo, and as such it’s all good. It really is:

Quartz crystals and other materials act as inter-dimensional transducers of elemental substance, bridging between the planes of existence. The circuitry is designed for channeling subtle energies, mirroring the virtues of the sacred geometry.

These dynamic free energy devices integrate sacred geometry, psychotronic circuitry, and psychoactive components in highly coherent light working tools. They are bridges to subtle dimensions and function by the natural principles of harmonic resonance. Each piece is made with attention and intention for the operator’s inner unfoldment.

Morphogenic patterns find their most elemental expression in number and geometry and are at the root of Sacred Geometry. These archetypal forms are universally found in the traditional art of native cultures all over the world. Symbolic iconography has been called “Paradisiac Art,” because it evokes the source patterns of being and perhaps, more importantly, invoke the Creative Intelligence into presence and activity. The invocation of noetic power from the use of geometric patterns was demonstrated over fifty years ago by Malcolm Rae, an English researcher in psychotronics. He created homeopathic remedies using geometric patterns on cards, which worked to re-establish the balance of health.

wow! Inter-dimensional transducers? Psychotronic circuitry? Sacred geometry and morphogenic patterns? Creative intelligence (which sounds uncomfortably like “intelligent design”)? They even threw homeopathy in! Why not? After all, it’s as though the purveyors of these crystals just threw everything but the kitchen sink in, to make a hilariously jumbled stew of woo, all for the service of devices like this:

i-607901843c94b4135993d100ee5a1aab-genesiscrytals.JPG

Yes, it’s the Genesis Crystal. (Is it anything like the Genesis Project in the Star Trek movies? Should we be worried? Will it destroy the world?) Let’s see:

The Genesis crystal is an accelerator of thought: a prayer accelerator. the generator winding, inspired by the designs of the modern visionary Nikola Tesla, create a magnetic field which receives vibratory information from the person holding it and focuses it to the crystal. The crystal and the resonator circuit receive the impulse and emanate it to the subtle bodies in an amplified form on a wide range of harmonic frequencies. this light based tool is a bridge between the morphogenic and physical planes. It contains the unity of opposites – Yin and Yang, right and left brain, masculine and feminine, past and future, aspiration and inspiration – as a perfect null point corresponding with the stillness at the root of polarity.

Damn! I really wish I had waited on this one. This is some fine quality, first class woo. Only the finest woo invokes the name of Nikola Tesla, you know. Throw in a mish-mash of New Age mumbo-jumbo, and you have a truly entertaining bit of woo that makes me wonder: How the hell can anyone believe this stuff? Or are the makers of the Genesis Crystal cynical scammers? You be the judge.

You may think that I’m done now. After all, how could this woo top invoking Yin and Yang, Nikola Tesla, sacred geometry, subtle energy, pyramid power, and so many other flavors of woo that I forget them all? How, you ask, could it do even more? I say again unto you: O, ye of little faith! For behold! These crystals can activate your DNA:

We would like to say that your bodily make-up is very similar to that of a computer or electronic device and that the process of DNA activation is similar to the software that runs a computer. Like your computers of today, they are rapidly becoming more refined and capable of assimilating and distributing more and more information. And just like the latest computers, your bodies are looking for the best software– the best designer genes– and that is the whole point of DNA activation– to produce a metaphysical body that resonates with the physical world as you know it and create a harmonic that is efficient and purposeful for your life on earth. We see this as being a natural progression or state of evolution. We have emphasized in our previous discussions that the most natural means of doing so is through the awareness of love, both internally and externally. It is love that activates the information within the recessive genes to create the type of advancement that you are seeking. That does not mean that this cannot be generated through other means or tools. Other means and tools are effective, too; but most especially so when combined with the force of Love. Having said that we will proceed with the assumption that the tools and devices that are being introduced to accelerate the DNA are all produced and a result of Love and therefore this compatibility is already established…

This is precisely what we have just said: the methodology is not as important as the intent of Love! This is the actual activator of the DNA. However, there are various and sundry tools that one can use to stimulate or create a type of forced acceleration. As you stated, it is a matter of personal preference or compatibility with one’s interest and not necessarily one device being more effective than the other. It is the Love that produces the activation and the acceleration of the DNA itself.

Take that, Toby! Oh, I’ll give you that your concept of the additional 10 etheric strands that, with the two strands that mere “conventional” scientists know about, make up our DNA is pretty bitchin’. So is the idea of the “divine blueprint” of 12 activated strands of DNA, just like Jesus had. And I particularly love the idea of the human genome being “arranged into 12 dimensionalized mathematical programs, each of which set the blueprint for one double-helix chemical strand.” But you do have to admit that this sort of DNA activation is beautiful in its simplicity. (True, the followers of Vogel’s legacy wrap it up in a Gordian knot of impenetrable woo-speak, which you really should read in its entirety if you dare. Truly, it’s among the finest there is. Moreover, Lifestream Technologies is more than happy to help you pick out the perfect crystal for you.) However, when you boil it all down, like the Beatles, all this woo says is: All you need is love.

Well, love and a lot of money, that is.

All it costs is somewhere between $250 to $2,000, depending on the specific crystal (DNA activation crystals are around $400-$500.) What a bargain!

Comments

  1. #1 Liesele
    June 13, 2008

    But, Orac, it’s in Wikipedia! It has to be legitimate if it’s in Wikipedia, doesn’t it? And, and, and, Tesla, and DNA and everything. No?

  2. #2 Dunc
    June 13, 2008

    Good grief! That’s some full-on woo.

    Vogel crystals are cut to the exact angle of 51 degrees 51 minutes and 51 seconds or the exact angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    Exact, you say? To what precision?

    magnetic field which receives vibratory information from the person holding it and focuses it to the crystal.

    Cool – magnetic fields are well understood, so this should be easily demonstrable in the lab, right? Right? Oh, it’s a magic magnetic field…

  3. #3 Dan
    June 13, 2008

    Uhm, no disrespect, but I think I with stick with Swarovski.

  4. #4 Dan
    June 13, 2008

    Should read. Uhm, no disrespect, but I think I WILL stick with Swarovski. My bad.

  5. #5 Dangerous Bacon
    June 13, 2008

    I communicate with my plants, and don’t need any high-toned crystals either.

    I send subtle thought energies along the lines of “Bloom or die”.

    Sometimes it works.

  6. #6 NJ
    June 13, 2008

    Oh, ye of little faith! Quartz really does have magic vibrations.

    After all, what’s more magic than a laser? ;)

  7. #7 ancientTechie
    June 13, 2008

    I envisioned all of your pull quotes being read by a muumuu-clad young woman with a soothing, breathy voice and long dark hair, seated on a silk pillow among lava lamps and Peter Max posters. Sitar music played in the background. Om…

  8. #8 Andy Holroyd
    June 13, 2008

    Orac, I have been hooked by YFDoW since the first post. Back then I knew of Lionel Milgrom from his work in photodynamic therapy. I have met him, heard him speak and I regarded his (PDT) publications as solid. It was an eye opener to read of his decent into woo. As it was to colleagues when I passed on your link. Thanks for that.

    But this… Words fail me.

    If ever you visit the UK go to Glastonbury (the city not the music festival) it’s concentrated woo in the few hundred meters of the high street. You will find enough material for years and years. It’s the same at the festival too, but at least there you get musical diversions.

  9. #9 Pierce R. Butler
    June 13, 2008

    Here’s an off-topic question for woo-busters: whatcha got on Gary Craig’s “EFT (“Emotional Freedom Techniques”)?

    A group I’m part of is considering sponsoring a workshop on same, despite my howls of protest. A search of S-blogs reveals our esteemed host has taken a passing swipe at this quackery, and Google shows several takedowns of its ancestral scam TFT (“Thought Field Therapy”) [link omitted to avoid moderation delays – a search for “TFT, Monica Pignotti” would be worthwhile] – but it seems Craig has set up a nationwide snake-oil pipeline with depressingly little criticism.

    Does anyone here know of layperson-friendly articles which might help me dissuade my friends from embarrassing themselves by promoting somebody (a) with no credentials (b) making extravagant claims (c) in classic newage terminology (“the body’s quantum energy field”) about a process which (d) has not been reviewed independently and who (e) hides behind the legal skirt (f) of a bogus “ministry”?

  10. #10 Cayte
    June 13, 2008

    There is a legitimate study of plant communication that is not based on crystals, vibrations or subtle energies. When grass is grazed it emits a volatile that means in plantese. “Attention all carnivore allies. Antelopes are around.”

  11. #11 DLC
    June 13, 2008

    Unfortunately sometimes scientists descend into the various circles of woo, which are somewhat akin to the circles of hell. When they do, it’s often too late to help them by the time they publish. Are there early warning signs of this malady? I don’t know.
    Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a Shockley Zombie out there, munching on the brains of those who descend into woo or crankery.

  12. #12 txjak
    June 14, 2008

    @ Pierce

    James Randi did a piece on him in March of 2006: http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-03/031706carroll.html#i4

  13. #13 Pierce R. Butler
    June 14, 2008

    txjak: Thanks! If you run into any more such zaps, please pass ‘em along.

    The problem with most anti-superstition writings (including the article you rightfully recommend) is that they’re written by and for people who’ve dealt with tons of such garbage already, and so strike the newcomer as acutely prejudiced.

    Refraining from sarcasm in this context is more than anyone could ask, and a take-each-point-seriously/dissect-it-carefully approach could consume multiple lifetimes and still only scratch the surface of the mountains of nonsense out there. Maybe that Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud book by Bob Park which Randi cites has the analysis I need in this situation (though Randi doesn’t mention Park addressing EFT in particular).

    Dealing with this stuff when it comes from a person I otherwise respect is much more of a challenge than just smacking down another fool…

  14. #14 txjak
    June 14, 2008

    @ Pierce

    There are also a couple of oblique references to Craig on this blog (enter “Gary Craig” up top in the search window) that might lead to more info.

  15. #15 txjak
    June 14, 2008

    @ Pierce

    A search on Quackwatch turned up this link:
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mentserv.html
    and from there a link to debunking TFT: http://www.geocities.com/pseudoscience_2000/

    HTH

  16. #16 Pierce R. Butler
    June 14, 2008

    txjak: nice work!

    I thought I’d done very similar searches, but somehow you’re finding things I (mostly) missed.

    Thanks again.

  17. #17 Militant Agnostic
    June 15, 2008

    @Pierce

    Were you able to find this paper from the link txjak provided?

    http://www.srmhp.org/0201/emotional-freedom-technique.html

    I have a pdf file on how make EFT sound more credible for CE credit that you may find valuable. It gives suggestions on how to make the woo sound more “sciency”.

    My email address is (type the name of the triangular greek letter used to designate change followed by the word time) at xplornet.com.

    Gary Craigs own ridiculous claims are the best source to debunk EFT – check out the newsletters on his website or the descriptions of the instructional DVDs (one of them includes spoon bending). If you can get the EFT proponent to send you a copy of one of more of these DVDs you could show people how ridiculous EFT is. While Gary Craig is tapping away there is a guy shuffling through a collection of little bottles on a small table. The whole thing is a carnival of woo.

  18. #18 Pierce R. Butler
    June 15, 2008

    @ Militant Agnostic –

    Nope, I hadn’t found that paper from txjak’s link, but it’s exactly what I was looking for. (Well, “exactly” would be something that dissuades my group from what it apparently intends, so that remains to be determined…)

    I’ll be sending you a query about that pdf asap.

    My absolute faith in this blog as a weekly convocation of woo-fighter expertise is experimentally confirmed!

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