Respectful Insolence

Damn you, PZ!

Not only are you muscling into my territory (what, aren’t creationism and atheism enough?), but you had to subject me to the most mind-numbing example of why homeopaths are the most clueless purveyors of pseudoscience there are! Behold, Dr. Charlene Werner, an optometrist (apparently) and a homeopath. I warn you, however. If you have any understanding of physics or chemistry whatsoever or if you’ve ever read (and liked) Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time (or anything else he’s ever written), sit down now. Take a deep breath. Heck, crack open a bottle of wine and down at least half of it before you watch this video. I’m serious. You’ll need it. You might need to lie down, too. In fact, you might need to lie down with a cool washcloth across your eyes.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Truly, the woo doth flow. Like a river. Like the energy from a supernova. From Bozeman, Montana, where, apparently they don’t have enough woo and have to import it from Texas. Now do you see why I couldn’t wait until Friday to give Werner a tiny taste of my characteristic not-so-Respectful Insolence? I haven’t seen such a mangling of physics and chemistry worthy of Your Friday Dose of Woo in a long time.

I really like how Werner starts out by asking the audience if they’ve all had chemistry or physics classes. Truly, if anyone there said yes and didn’t immediately see her talk for the hilariously rank pseudoscience that it is, he should demand his money back from whatever school or schools he attended. Either that, or he should go back for remedial physics classes; obviously whatever he learned didn’t stick.

Werner then asks everyone if they know what H2O is and who Einstein is. Now, I know why a homeopath would mention water. After all, homeopathic remedies are nothing but water. But what did poor Albert Einstein do to deserve this? (I know, I know, what did any physicist do to deserve such abuse of science and his good name by homeopaths?) Get a load of this:

You know that when light is energy, right? OK. And he [Einstein] gave us the theory that energy equals mass times the speed of light. E=mc2. OK. If we take that formula, and we think that there’s a lot of mass, right? OK. If you collapse all the mass down into the universe, so that there is no space between the mass, do you know how much mass there is in the entire universe? You think you’re a lot of mass, right?… Well, the whole universal mass can be consolidated down into the size of a bowling ball. That’s all there is in the whole universe. So, how much mass are you? That’s right, an infinitessimal amount.

I bet you’re wondering where Werner is going with this. So was I. But I was afraid. Very afraid. Yes, I wasn’t sure whether she was right about being able to collapse the entire mass of the universe into the size of a bowling ball. My memory of my physics classes doesn’t tell me if it’s a bowling ball, or something considerably bigger, but still less than moon-sized. I get the point, and for purposes of this discussion it doesn’t really matter, actually. What matters is the mind-numbing ignorance of what Werner says next:

So if you take that formula, E=mc2, you can almost cross out mass. So the formula ends up being “energy = the speeed of light.”

Arrrrghhhh! The burning stupid assaulted my neurons! Help, help, I’m being made more stupid just by looking at this video! Talk about a math fail. First off, if you remove the mass term, what are you left with? Zero! No mass, no energy! Even if you could just drop the mass term, you wouldn’t be left with “energy = the speed of light.” What happened to the squared term? Moreover, Werner completely misunderstands the nature of the equation. c2 is the proportionality constant for how much energy is present in a given mass. It’s a huge number, meaning that a small amount of mass contains a lot of energy, if that mass can be completely converted to energy. The point of the equation is not that mass is unimportant, rather that it’s very important indeed! That’s why I have a new equation:

S = mair2 * c4

where S = stupidity; mair = the mass of the air necessary to speak a Werner sentence about science; and c = the speed of light.

That’s right. Werner’s stupidity could power the universe. (Yes, I know that the units don’t quite work out. Either that, or the units of stupid are energy squared. Just go with me on this.)

But it gets better. Look at what Werner says next:

That’s why the visual system is so important, because we have lots of photorecptors that receive light. But when Hahnemann died, the scientists didn’t fall in his camp. OK. And, um, the pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit well together.

Actually, the pieces of homeopathy never fit together when Samuel Hahnemann was alive. It was woo then, it’s woo now. The only difference is the science-y gloss that its practitioners try to put on it with quantum mechanics and mangling of physics and chemistry. But wait, there’s more:

So God in his infinite wisdom sent us another Einstein called Stephen Hawkings. Stephen Hawkings gave us the string theory. And what he discovered is that there are other “energetic particles” in the universe, and they’re shaped like little U-eys, and what they do is they work by vibration. So our body is so wonderfully designed. We have light receivers, and we have ears. Vibratory–they pick up vibration. So if we added to that theory–Einstein’s theory of relativity, E=mc2, but mass is crossed out–and strings, vibration. But that still doesn’t tell us the whole picture, because what is a cell, right.

Alright, now stop right there. How much technobabble can one woman fit into a single talk? How much mangling of physics can one woman accomplish? Truly, I fear to know the answer. It was at this point that I started to wonder whether I should back out now. Just say no. Stop watching. the mind-destroying horror was too great. I could feel my neurons crying out in pain. Orac could feel his circuits overloading, his multiple colored lights blinking a little more multiple coloredly in distress. But, no. The things I do for this blog. I looked at what Werner said next:

The cell has a cell wall, a cell membrane, cytoplasm. Is that mass? Not very much, really. So what are they? You can break down the cells into tiny pieces of energy called electrons, protons, neutrons, right? So the whole body has an infinitessimal amount of mass, but what is the remainder? Energy. So, I am energy; you are energy.

You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t follow that logic. Maybe it’s because I understand that it’s crap! Come on! She completely misunderstands Einstein’s equations. The concept that the body is a small amount of mass does not mean that it’s all energy. True, there’s a whole lot of energy in the body’s mass, but, unfortunatey, to turn it into energy would not be pleasant for the person whose energy was being–shall we say?–released. That doesn’t stop Werner’s monumental misunderstanding of physics from leading her to try to use this line of “reasoning” to argue that homeopathy is real and scientifically supported:

Now if you go to study physics, we do not know how to create energy. But we don’t know how to destroy it, either. That is not humanly possible. So what we do is we take energy and we transform it from one state to another. That’s all we do. So if that’s all we do guess what the definition of disease is. It’s not mass. We have transformed our energy state into something different. That’s what the definition of disease is.

As a physician, I can most definitely say that Werner’s definition of “disease” is related to the real definition of disease only by her own delusions. Actually, it’s not related to the real definition of disease at all. What we’re really seeing is a form of primitive vitalism, where there is some sort of “life energy” that, when its flows are disordered, blocked, or otherwise messed with magically, then you have disease. Never mind those nasty microbes. After all, they’re just “mass.” It’s the same with those proteins whose function becomes disordered; that DNA that has abnormalities; or those cellular functions that go awry. All mass. So, by Werner’s logic, they must not be able to cause disease, or so it would seem. Instead, she thinks she can use light, sound, and homeopathy to fix these energy “imbalances.” But what is homeopathy?

Alas, Werner is too happy to tell us:

OK, so what is homeopathy? If nothing is really mass or an infinitessimal amount of it, and everything is energy, that means everything has a vibration to it. So what if I could encase some sort of energy for later use? So if I wanted to make a bomb and I took all these chemicals and I encased it in a bomb, and tonight my neighber let his dog poop in my yard literally, and I’m mad at that dog and my neighbor. I’m going to take this bomb and I’m going to get back at him. And I threw that bomb at his house, would he be happy about it? Because what happens now when that energy is released? It destroys something. It changes it…It changes its energetic state. Well, that’s what we can do with homeopathy. We take substances. And we put ‘em in solution and we succuss it just like a bomb, we threw the bomb, to release its energy into this liquid. And then we take these little white pellets. We sprinkle them with that solution, and guess what we have just made? An energetic substance to be used when we choose to use it. So, how homeopathy works is, whatever your disease process is, it’s an energetic change. And if I can find the remedy that matches your state and give it to you when we so choose, what can we do with your energy system? Transform it to a previous better state. That’s how it works.

How simple.

Actually, Werner is right about one thing. Homeopathy is kind of like a response to a dog pooping on your lawn. Not only is it a major stinker, but one could use homeopathy to clean off the residue of dog crap from the lawn. It is, after all, water. In case anyone doesn’t know what succussion is, too, it’s what homeopaths do with their remedies between each step on the way of diluting them into nonexistence. Basically, it’s vigorous shaking. The way homepaths prepare their remedies is that they dilute them 1:100, succuss them, dilute them 1:100 again, and so on and so forth for however many “C” the remedy is ultimately to be. If the remedy is a typical 30C remedy, that’s 30 dilutions of 1:100, or a total dilution of 10-60, or 37 orders of magnitude greater than Avagadro’s number, which guarantees that there almost certainly isn’t a single molecule left of the substance used for the homeopathy remedy. Of course, in general, it’s not a good idea to succuss bomb components. Bombmakers who do that tend to lose body parts. Now, there‘s some vibration.

After I had picked up my brain off the floor, its having oozed out of my ears as I watched this, and forced it back into my skull, I wondered just who Charlene Werner is. Apparently, in addition to homeopathy, she is a practitioner of a woo that I’ve never heard of, namely behavioral or developmental optometry. If you wnat a flavor of what developmental optometry is, I’ll refer you to Dr. Werner’s own website:

We are a holistic based optometric practice dedicated to the highest quliaty vision care for your entire family. We believe that 70% of how you physically function is through the vision system. Therefore, when the vision system is improved or enhanced it also increases overall physical wellness and performance. Don’t take our word for it … ask our patients.

70% of how we physically function is due to our vision? Where did that number come from? Why not 100%? I do understand one thing that puzzled me before. Remember how at the very beginning she mentioned how our eyes can see light and vibration? Obviously, she was combining the woo that is homeopathy with her other favored treatment modalities, which–surprise, surprise–do not appear to be evidence-based.

In any case Werner’s website emphasizes testimonials over science and is full of claims that “behavioral optometry” can treat ADHD, dyslexia, and a wide variety of other conditions. Indeed, it can even treat problems associated with autism! Now, now, I know that it could be very difficult to do a vision evaluation in an autistic child and that correcting poor vision is a good thing in any child, but the results reported on Dr. Werner’s website are truly astounding. Well, why the heck not treat autism with “visual therapy”? Dubious practitioners try everything else out. No doubt Werner combines homeopathy with visual therapy to produce a one-two punch of woo. All she needs is chelation therapy now. In any case, if vision is 70% of our “physical functioning,” then what can’t it help? Of course, I do notice a disconnect between Werner’s claims that we are “all energy” and “infinitesimal mass,” then why does she even care about the physical functioning of everything in our bodies? Just make one of those homeopathic energy bombs and fix whatever’s ailing the patient!

The really sad thing about the video above is that it’s not the worst of arguments that homeopaths make. (For that, you need Dana Ullman.) Rather, Werner’s arguments for homeopathy are pretty much standard fare, although they are not nearly as entertaining as those of, say, Lionel Milgrom. What they do show is a perfect case of crank magnetism.

Just don’t let your dog poop on Werner’s lawn. You might find yourself at the receiving end of a homeopathic energetic bomb, and you know that the more she dilutes it the stronger it gets.

Comments

  1. #1 SciencePundit
    October 28, 2009

    Heck, crack open a bottle of wine and down at least half of it before you watch this video. I’m serious. You’ll need it.

    Sorry Orac, that video calls for animal tranquilizers!

  2. #2 EM Tech
    October 28, 2009

    70% of how we function comes through the visual system. The other 30% comes through our feet, which must be purified with foot pads. Which draw toxins to our roots… like a tree.

    I live in Austin. The woo (and stupid) does flow strong here.

  3. #3 SciencePundit
    October 28, 2009

    Her developmental optometry sounds an awful lot like the ocular equivalent of chiropractics: “adjust the vision and cure almost anything that ails you.”

    S = w * cⁿ (n≥4) indeed!

  4. #4 Dave S
    October 28, 2009

    Thanks Orac,

    I really needed to watch that video and spit my morning coffee onto my nice LCD monitor!

  5. #5 Dr. Tim
    October 28, 2009

    Holy shit! What else can one say?

  6. #6 Wholly Father
    October 28, 2009

    Dr Werner says: “So our body is so wonderfully designed. We have light receivers, and we have ears.”

    My light receivers and ears may never recover from the assault of seeing and hearing her video. 8 minutes of nonstop banter. You’d think by pure chance she would get at least one thing right.

    Someone who doesn’t understand the difference between mass and volume should not be allowed to utter the names “Einstein” and “Hawking”.

  7. #7 Christophe Thill
    October 28, 2009

    And I threw that bomb at his house, would he be happy about it? Because what happens now when that energy is released? It destroys something. It changes it…It changes its energetic state.

    True! Before the explosion, the chimney was on top of the roof, a few meters above ground. After, it’s lying on the ground. Its potential energy has definitely changed (decreased, actually).

    And then we take these little white pellets. We sprinkle them with that solution, and guess what we have just made? An energetic substance to be used when we choose to use it.

    True again! The little pellets are some sort of sugar. When you ingest them, you get a release of energy. That’s what calories are all about. Of course, the solution they were sprinkled with matters little.

    Well, Orac, I think you’re being cruel with that poor eye-woo-peddler (I mean, behavioral optometrist). She manages to say a few things that are true. Unknowingly, yes, but still.

  8. #8 leigh
    October 28, 2009

    1. with cell walls, are we then plants or are we fungi? hmmm.

    2. if 70% of the body’s functioning is through the visual system, one would think that blindness would be fatal. funny how that doesn’t work out as expected.

  9. #9 Jon
    October 28, 2009

    Strangely enough, it wasn’t the homeopathy crap that made me WTF. It was the whole bombing your neighbor because his dog pooped in your yard. What the hell is wrong with this person? Is she even conscious that words are exiting her mouth?

  10. #10 Elaine
    October 28, 2009

    Wow, she seemed so nice. Y’know, the kind of person who’d make a nice kindergarten teacher. Too bad she’s a gibbering woo-bat. I’m glad you transcribed the video, because I could not watch it past the “We have light receivers, and we have ears. Vibratory–they pick up vibration” part.

    What bothers me most is that I used to believe in this stuff, and I always got mad when the media featured New Age people who sounded crazy. I used to think “but it makes so much sense, if you’d just let someone who can explain it the right way be on TV!” Now I see how crazy it all sounds. Blegh.

  11. #11 Joe
    October 28, 2009

    @Wholly,

    To be fair, she didn’t mention Hawking. She mentioned Hawkings, who apparently started string theory. Lenny Susskind is going to be pissed.

  12. #12 warhelmet
    October 28, 2009

    I couldn’t watch more than 30 seconds of this before my brain went into meltdown. It is currently burning its way through the earth’s crust.

  13. #13 IasasaI
    October 28, 2009

    I saw this the other day via PZ. She speaks of vision but all my vision could manage was that cartoon bugging out effect of “WHOA WHOA WHOA”! I never made it through the whole “presentation”. My eyes and ears each sent cease and desist orders to my brain and thus my hands and fingers. Absolutely astonishing. I’m not sure when I’ll ever recover…

  14. #14 Calli Arcale
    October 28, 2009

    “So God in his infinite wisdom sent us another Einstein called Stephen Hawkings.”

    Oh, what a relief. For a moment, I thought she was going to trash Stephen Hawking as well. Instead, she’s trashing some guy named Hawkings. Not sure who that is. :-P

    I gotta admit that “So if you take that formula, E=mc2, you can almost cross out mass. So the formula ends up being “energy = the speeed of light.”” is one of the most astounding things I’ve ever heard.

    As far as how big the matter in the Universe would be if you could crush it all down, well, if you crushed it down like that it would actually be smaller than the Moon. It’d be smaller than the bowling ball she mentioned. I’m not a physicist, but I’m pretty sure it would be a singularity, since it would undergo gravitational collapse. (I mean, holy crap, can you imagine a black hole that massive?)

  15. #15 Katharine
    October 28, 2009

    Dude, she’s an OPTOMETRIST. All she does is stick glasses and contact lenses on people. Why anyone would believe her bullshit is beyond me.

  16. #16 Frank
    October 28, 2009

    We believe that 70% of how you physically function is through the vision system. Therefore, when the vision system is improved or enhanced it also increases overall physical wellness and performance.

    Ah, this explains why people who suffer blindness always drop dead of massive organ failure within minutes of losing their sight!

  17. #17 Bob O'H
    October 28, 2009

    I’m sure I saw that video a year or two ago. I don’t even dare to play it – I still have the memory seared on my brain.

  18. #18 MikeMa
    October 28, 2009

    Someplace this loon mentions we don’t have much mass. That is patently ridiculous. Mass is constant and we have as much as we have whether all the space between the particles is removed or not. Weight, a function of gravity, varies but mass is constant.

    Some school somewhere ought to be examining their degree program to determine just how someone this stupid ever got in let alone got out.

  19. #19 Aj
    October 28, 2009

    In a halfway reasonable universe Stephen Hawking should have dropped onto her head around the eight minute mark.

    In a both reasonable and just universe, he would be in his wheelchair.

  20. #20 Joe
    October 28, 2009

    We could get close to a singularity, but I don’t know if we could do a singularity. We can’t calculate what goes on there because of the GR/QM incompatibility at tiny space, high energy scales.

    If nothing else, wouldn’t gravitational time dilation become effectively infinite before we could crush the universe to a singularity?

  21. #21 ennui
    October 28, 2009

    made it only to the 2:43 mark; had to preserve rest of brain

  22. #22 Uncle Dave
    October 28, 2009

    I had to stop about a 1/3 of the way through.

    Way to go Orac! Like putting a “Wet Paint” sign on a bench; of course everyone had to touch the bench to actually see.

    Now I got wet paint on my brain.

    Your ability to get to work has a lot to do with your vision as well. After all, a friend just told me that he couldn’t see coming to work. That means that your ability to get to work has a lot to do with your vision.

  23. #23 Andrew Dodds
    October 28, 2009

    I like irrelevant calculations.. (feel free to correct if you happen to be a real physicist)

    Mass of universe = 3*10^52kg
    Density of Neutron Star r= 4*10^17kg/m3

    Hence if we remove all the empty space in the universe (between and within atoms, which is probably what is being hinted at by the woo-meister), we get:

    Volume of universe(compressed) = 0.75*10^35m3

    Given that the volume of a sphere is 4/3pir^3, I make this a sphere of radius roughly 4*10^11m. Extremely roughly, that means that the universe would fit inside the orbit of the asteroid Ceres. Before the instant gravitational collapse to a singularity, of course.

    Note that the orbit of Ceres is significantly larger than the average bowling ball. Although by homeopathic standards, being wrong by a mere 12 orders of magnitude is practically a bullseye, I do admit.

  24. #24 Andreas Johansson
    October 28, 2009

    If nothing else, wouldn’t gravitational time dilation become effectively infinite before we could crush the universe to a singularity?

    It would from the viewpoint of some (massless!) distant observer, but for us, who are presumably busily going down with all the other mass (and being crushed into exotic states of matter in the process), nothing changes. We’d hit the singularity quickly enough from our of viewpoint (assuming there to be a singularity – as you say there might not).

  25. #25 realinterrobang
    October 28, 2009

    Dude, she’s an OPTOMETRIST. All she does is stick glasses and contact lenses on people. Why anyone would believe her bullshit is beyond me.

    If that’s all your optometrist does for you, you need to find a better optometrist. That said, I wouldn’t go to her to have the glasses they can’t fit me with fitted anyway, because woonatics like that also tend to be syncretins, and who knows what other kind of crazy shit she believes. For all I know, she’d fit me with the wrong kind of glasses on the grounds that I’d be “better able to see the flying saucers when they arrive” or something.

  26. #26 samuel black
    October 28, 2009

    the mass of the universe: 1e55 kg give or take a few orders
    density of nuclei: ~1e17 kg/m^3

    If she’s talking about collapsing the universe to nuclear matter as in a neutron star (were it possible), then the volume is some 1e38 m^3 or a sphere of radius 3e12 m or some billion km. That’s a hell of a bowling ball.

    Of course, in a gravitational collapse the mass is considered to disappear in a singularity, but the size of the black hole is normally taken as the radius of the event horizon (or the Schwarzschild radius), which for 1e55 kg is about 4e36 m.

    Oh, and it’s Hawking, and I’m certain he would not accept blame for string theory.

  27. #27 samuel black
    October 28, 2009

    the mass of the universe: 1e55 kg give or take a few orders
    density of nuclei: ~1e17 kg/m^3

    If she’s talking about collapsing the universe to nuclear matter as in a neutron star (were it possible), then the volume is some 1e38 m^3 or a sphere of radius 3e12 m or some billion km. That’s a hell of a bowling ball.

    Of course, in a gravitational collapse the mass is considered to disappear in a singularity, but the size of the black hole is normally taken as the radius of the event horizon (or the Schwarzschild radius), which for 1e55 kg is about 4e36 m.

    Oh, and it’s Hawking, and I’m certain he would not accept blame for string theory.

  28. #28 JohnV
    October 28, 2009

    sigh @ “[we have] cell walls”

  29. #29 Ahistoricality
    October 28, 2009

    Yikes.

  30. #30 Andrew Dodds
    October 28, 2009

    Samuel –

    Yes.. my estimate of the universe mass was visible only..

  31. #31 bigjohn756
    October 28, 2009

    I had to stop watching at 1:12 due to the extreme shame I felt for the woman.

  32. #32 Terrie
    October 28, 2009

    Hmmmm…. So, mass is insignifigant. My hand is consists of mass. So if I slap her across the face, it shouldn’t bother her, right?

  33. #33 Angel
    October 28, 2009

    Ouch — was shaking my head so violently back and forth I think I succussed my brain.

  34. #34 Uncle Dave
    October 28, 2009

    1.59486Kg × 10^55 You would think that someone would notice us?

    “‘Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity – and I’m not sure about the former.’ – Albert Einstein”

  35. #35 Ramel
    October 28, 2009

    Have you seen Lionel Millgroms attempt at writing about legal matters? It’s every bit as bad as his medical drivel.
    http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2009/10/legal-scholarship-of-dr-lionel-milgrom.html

  36. #36 Militant Agnostic
    October 28, 2009

    Andrew Dodds

    Although by homeopathic standards, being wrong by a mere 12 orders of magnitude is practically a bullseye, I do admit.

    I believe we have a winner

    More homeopathic lunacy or Saturnacy
    http://www.interhomeopathy.org/index.php/journal/entry/trituration_proving_of_the_light_of_saturn/

    I think if human being were abruptly converted to energy it would be noticed over an entire area code or two.

  37. #37 Joe
    October 28, 2009

    And yeah – when I said we could collapse it to a singularity, I was thinking by converting mass to energy, not just by removing the space between particles. My brain is saved by my failure to closely read the woo.

  38. #38 Joseph C.
    October 28, 2009

    This video is epic. I love it.

  39. #39 Becca Stareyes
    October 28, 2009

    Forget the video, I couldn’t make it through half of your summary without my brain pleading with me to go back to grading — no matter how awful the grammar, organization and information in student papers, most of them haven’t quite made it to this level of cluelessness.

    Come to think about it, that might be a useful cure to keep me on task — I can either grade papers or try to figure out all the not even wrong in that video.

  40. #40 Andrew Dodds
    October 28, 2009

    Militant Agnostic –

    Converting the average 70kg human to energy would be roughly equivalent (1500 megatons) to letting off the entire US nuclear arsenal at the same time and the same place. I’m fairly sure that you’d notice if a homeopathic remedy did that.

  41. #41 Calli Arcale
    October 28, 2009

    Andrew Dodds:

    Note that the orbit of Ceres is significantly larger than the average bowling ball. Although by homeopathic standards, being wrong by a mere 12 orders of magnitude is practically a bullseye, I do admit.

    You, sir, win the Internet.

  42. #42 Elihphile
    October 28, 2009

    Her basic mistake is that she confuses the concept of matter with mass. The mass remains the same however small you collapse the matter (except perhaps in a singularity according to other posters.) Add a couple of other, ahem, factual discrepancies to this and you get the train crash above. Oh and she doesn’t know multiplying by zero gives zero either.

  43. #43 SciencePundit
    October 28, 2009

    I think if human being were abruptly converted to energy it would be noticed over an entire area code or two.

    Well, I took the liberty of guessing Ms. Werner’s mass (Hopefully she won’t object to me putting her at between 45 and 50 kilograms.) and plugging it into the E=mc² calculator. Her total energy comes out to around 1000 megatons (Is gigaton even a word?), or around 65,000 Little Boy‘s. I think that would get noticed in quite a few area codes (pretty much almost all the ones that still existed). :-P

  44. #44 SciencePundit
    October 28, 2009

    Ack! My last comment is in moderation purgatory. :-(

  45. #45 rob
    October 28, 2009

    wait wait wait. her math is okay. if you don’t want something in an equation, just cross it out! here is another example:

    64/16 is equal to what?

    well, there is a 6 in the numerator and in the denominator, and i don’t want them, so i cross them out. that leaves the 4 in the numerator and the 1 in the denominator, or

    4/1 which is equal to 4. so 64 divided by 16 is 4!!

    see–her math works.

  46. #46 outwest
    October 28, 2009

    “Actually, Werner is right about one thing. Homeopathy is kind of like a response to a dog pooping on your lawn. Not only is it a major stinker, but one could use homeopathy to clean off the residue of dog crap from the lawn.”

    hahahahahahahahahaha! Sorry, I’m at work and when I read that, I almost fell out of my chair!

    Orac, you have succiently defined all-things-woo with that statement.

  47. #47 Amy
    October 28, 2009

    I’m in awe. You had to have watched this video multiple times to write this post. Once was painful-I’m even having a hard time reading your post because it brings it all back. That you can still speak in coherent sentences after multiple viewings is amazing. I would like to show this to my physics students, but I just don’t know if I can stand it again.

  48. #48 Dan Weber
    October 28, 2009

    “Stephen Hawkings” is going to become like “the Internets.” I’m going to use it ironically as much as possible now.

  49. #49 Confused
    October 28, 2009

    “So if you take that formula, E=mc2, you can almost cross out mass. So the formula ends up being “energy = the speeed of light.”

    I couldn’t bear to watch it, but reading that sentence gave me a spit-take that attracted stares from my officemates…

  50. #50 gravitybear
    October 28, 2009

    I weep for any teacher this woman ever had and how they might be wondering what they did wrong.

  51. #51 SimonG
    October 28, 2009

    I tried to watch it all, but simply couldn’t make it. Once she mentioned listening to strings vibrate my brain sort of locked up. I was so busy thinking about how incomparably stupid that was, that I couldn’t take in anything else she said.

  52. #52 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 28, 2009

    Militant Agnostic –

    Converting the average 70kg human to energy would be roughly equivalent (1500 megatons) to letting off the entire US nuclear arsenal at the same time and the same place. I’m fairly sure that you’d notice if a homeopathic remedy did that.

    At least it would take care of that fucking dog, wouldn’t it?

  53. #53 Darkissac
    October 28, 2009

    Ok, so If her math is true….. e=mc^2, re-written is sqrt(e/m)=c… Sooo.. If mass is basically 0… c=Sqrt(e/0)….. sooo… the speed of light is undefined? the speed of light has a vertical asymptote at energy? ok then, who am I to argue with a being of pure energy such as herself…..

    god damned fake doctors…

  54. #54 muteKi
    October 28, 2009

    The funny thing is that string theory is frequently bashed for being mathematics that creates no testable theories; some liken it to complex formulas based on the geocentric universe model. Sure, it *could* be right, but there’s no way to know — and massaging numbers can be used to support any conclusion. :P Most physics experiments are designed to test certain mathematical models that arise from theory work, which is manipulating equations (often based around modeling other experimental results).

    And as others have pointed out, mass is independent of volume. You push all the mass in the universe into a bowling ball, and you still have *all the mass in the universe*. How much is that? Well, what the hell are you going to compare it to? All the mass in the other universe across the street?

    This just goes to show, though, that physics without a thorough mathematic basis is just prattle.

  55. #55 TwoYaks
    October 28, 2009

    My brain! I can feel it leaking out my ear. I got as far as Stephen Hawkings(sic) and String theory before I suffered an involuntary spasm in the form of pounding the ‘stop’ button repeatedly.

    And who the hell bombs their neighbour over a dog taking a poo? o.O

  56. #56 han
    October 28, 2009

    Getting to the end of that clip was like a mental Fear Factor challenge. It took every ounce of will I possess not to run screaming from all that stupid.

    Now I have a headache.

  57. #57 Jim
    October 28, 2009

    and the lawn would not need mowed for awhile…….

  58. #58 Dan Weber
    October 28, 2009

    If I take her YouTube video, and I encase it in a… y’know, a bomb, and throw it at someone’s house, it will release energy.

  59. #59 Katharine
    October 28, 2009

    If someone figures out how to convert mass into energy, we’re fucked.

  60. #60 Katharine
    October 28, 2009

    I should have appended ‘for values larger than, oh, a tiny smidge of matter.’

    :P

  61. #61 Mike
    October 28, 2009

    Orac, to borrow one of your catch phrases: The stupid. It BURNS!

  62. #62 Sastra
    October 28, 2009

    Videos like this help give us insight into how ordinary people think about science, just off the top of their heads. This is “folk” physics, “folk” chemistry, where simple analogies which superficially fit over intricate concepts are substituted for the hard stuff. I don’t have a science or math background, and so I had no trouble following along. I could see all the connections she was making, because when you float along on the surface of deeper theories, you never leave the ordinary day-to-day world of common experience. Energy is a kind of “thing,” like invisible light, or smoke. Vibrations are states. If you change the way we vibrate, you change our state of health. Okay. Like freezing water, or letting it thaw. I get it.

    Where she and I part company of course is that I don’t consider shallow, superficial analogies which appeal to a child-like common sense to be in any way sufficient to understand reality. Science is work. If I speculate on some personal theory of energy which seems to imply that I’m not limited to my body and have magic powers – and I really like that — I recognize that I should check this out with someone who knows … physics. And math.

    Years ago I heard a lecture by paranormal researcher and woo-promoter Gary Schultz. He presented his own, new physics theory to a room full of people at a Center for Inquiry skeptic convention. He showed us how consciousness might survive death in a nice, five-minute power-point presentation, explaining that this theory was central to his work on the paranormal. People shifted uncomfortably as his science-y charts kept going up. At the end, Neil De Grass Tyson ambled over to the questions mike, and gently and eloquently explained that he had once taught physics, there were other physicists in the room, and, they would all agree, that, after the first slide or two, Schultz’s interpretation of modern physics theory was “sheer gibberish.” His speculations were worthless.

    The room broke out in applause, and Schwartz comically pantomimed despair by putting his head down on the table. Tyson then suggested that, since Schwartz had a Phd in psychology, he should consult his colleagues in the physics department before he ventured into working in an area he was clearly unfamiliar with, at anything but the most basic level.

    Schwartz’s response was interesting. He turned on the charm, and admitted that he had never given his talk in front of any physicists. “And I never will again!” Ha ha!

    Say what? This man had prefaced his presentation with an elaborate song-and-dance about how he loved science, understood the method, and by golly was a skeptic himself — and he thought that was a laugh line, one that we’d nod, chuckle, and be sympathetic to? Yeah, if you’re going to be cut down like that, best keep to nicer venues. We understand.

    Not at a skeptic’s convention. But maybe at a ladies’ tea and luncheon. You applaud everyone, because it’s nice.

    If there had been a scientist in the room trying to correct Werner, I suspect this would have been her reaction, too. Nothing about defending the accuracy of her interpretation. No, switch immediately to whether or not the critic is being friendly, and the importance of being nice. We all have our own way of doing science. Just because you’re an expert doesn’t mean you should think you’re a better person than other people. Let others exercise their right to think for themselves, follow the folk science analogies going on in their heads, and make up their own minds.

    Don’t confuse things with the facts.

  63. #63 Corina Becker
    October 28, 2009

    Dr. Werner confused me; I thought homeopathy was about getting the water to “remember” the “healing properties” of different substances in order to “cure” ailments. Or something like that.

    What with the energy-manipulation-thing? When I watched it, I thought “so homeopathy is like Scientology without the alien ghosts?”

    Gah, I haven’t taken science classes since high school, and even I can figure out how completely unsound her explanation is. Sheesh!

  64. #64 Yojimbo
    October 28, 2009

    Um – if you used homeopathy to clean dog poop off your yard, wouldn’t that make it worse? After all, the more you dilute it the stronger it gets…

  65. #65 IBY
    October 28, 2009

    I thought torture was illegal in this country. :(
    Also, I don’t think she paid enough attention in school. I mean goodness, she thinks mass can be crossed out because she just changed the density of the universe. And that part about breaking cells into tiny pieces, and then she proceeds to name subatomic particles, which is a wee bit too much oversimplification.

  66. #66 Rick at shrimp and grits
    October 28, 2009

    Talk about a math fail. First off, if you remove the mass term, what are you left with? Zero!

    She’s confusing addition and multiplication. This is an all-too-common student mistake in introductory science courses. (And this person has an advanced degree in … well … ANYTHING?)

  67. #67 idlemind
    October 28, 2009

    Finally, a woomeister whose cures don’t involve colonics.

  68. #68 Todd W.
    October 28, 2009

    @idlemind

    Finally, a woomeister whose cures don’t involve colonics.

    I guess that explains why she’s full of shi…

  69. #69 Rick at shrimp and grits
    October 28, 2009

    Finally, a woomeister whose cures don’t involve colonics.

    Colored lights are the new colonics? (“Syntonic Phototherapy”, one of the treatments on offer from Werner)

    http://www.syntonicphototherapy.com/online/page.cfm?Directory=42&SubPage=43

    A sample:

    Color healing, psychic communication, and the energy bodies that surround life seem less fantasy and more reality as the quantum sciences move from theoretical conjecture to scientific understanding.

    Yet biological sciences continue to be dominated by 19th Century chemical concepts as researchers and practitioners of the allopathic model still calculate body energy in chemical terms.

  70. #70 Warren
    October 28, 2009

    That’s right. Werner’s stupidity could power the universe.

    Of course it could. She’s surely powerful enough to roll a bowling ball on her own, after all.

  71. #71 nitramnaed
    October 28, 2009

    She counldn’t just be satisfied fitting people for glasses?

  72. #72 Sastra
    October 28, 2009

    The esteemed Dr. Werner doesn’t need to promote either homeopathy or ‘behavioral optometry.’ Word is that she’s about to put out a new series of instructional videos and start a lecture tour on the topic of “Science — YOUR Way!”

  73. #73 Kyle Reeve
    October 28, 2009

    What I can’t stand is that people who hear this pseudo-scientific bunk will think they understand “physics.” Even worse, they’ll probably never be exposed to REAL physics, which is actually interesting and, more importantly, NOT made up. She’s teaching people that diseases are made of, and can be cured by, energy (germ theory, what germ theory?), while also making it less likely that those who believe her will ever understand or pursue science.

    Worse than “2 girls 1 cup,” at least the audience wasn’t expected to swallow shit in that one.

  74. #74 Ryan
    October 28, 2009

    Quick question. Is “quliaty” a word or does this homeopath optometrist need her eyes checked?

  75. #75 fuzz
    October 28, 2009

    I live in Austin. The woo (and stupid) does flow strong here.

    Sweet merciful Jebus, does it ever, EMTech. A tiny amount of this highly concentrated stupid in cluster bombs would instantly vaporize Thoughtful House.

  76. #76 Cathy Sander
    October 28, 2009

    If numbers are to go by, homeopaths would probably hate Avogadro’s constant!

  77. #77 Jackrabbit
    October 28, 2009

    Rich fodder for a comedy writer…oh wait, it has already been done: “homey-oppathy, umkay.” Oh how I miss South Park.

    Ugh, why did you have to remind me of 2 girls 1 cup?

  78. #78 Mig
    October 28, 2009

    Woo-owww!That was pretty harsh, Man… I want my mommy.

    To think, that as a rather private person, I get worked up over posting comments on a blog, sometimes. In fact, I usually choose not to. I’ll just read, thank you very much. Now, along comes this… this… person, and she does THAT not only in front of an audience, but also in front of a camera! Now it’s on the web where all the world can see it!

    I gotta grow some stones.

    (See y’all, I’m gonna run down the street naked!!)

  79. #79 muteKi
    October 29, 2009

    Mmm, oddly enough the Colbert Report about half an hour ago had a discussion that ended up indirectly explaining what was so damn wrong with this video. :P

  80. #80 Militant Agnostic
    October 29, 2009

    I finally watched it AUGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! There is certainly an infinitesimal amount of matter inside her skull. She is the Sarah Palin of woo. Someone should wing a bowling ball at her head. This is “What the Bleep do we Know” squared. This is word salad. It is “worse than not even wrong.”

    Does anyone have access to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine? – I would like to see all of Milgrom’s paper regarding the BCA vs Simon Singh lawsuit – all that is available without paying is the first page at
    http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2009.0422
    There are a couple of howlers on the first page alone. Milgrom says that the BCA won the lawsuit (which hasn’t even been heard yet).

  81. #81 attack_laurel
    October 29, 2009

    Of course, in general, it’s not a good idea to succuss bomb components.

    …made me giggle. In her mind, Oppenheimer was a homeopath.

  82. #82 SimonG
    October 29, 2009

    Angel #33 said:

    Ouch — was shaking my head so violently back and forth I think I succussed my brain.

    I think you may have hit on something. Succuss your brain enough times and maybe you’ll be able to understand Homeopathy.

  83. #83 Ace of Sevens
    October 29, 2009

    Does anybody know if her doctorate (presumably in optometry) is real? I found her rather likable despite the stupidity of this particular speech. If she actually has an area of expertise, she could potentially be useful as a lecturer.

  84. #84 Lurky
    October 29, 2009

    Sastra at #62

    Thanks for the recount of that event. Would be great to have a video of it, altho that seems highly unlikely.

  85. #85 Tsu Dho Nimh
    October 29, 2009

    Dammit, Orac!

    You me eleventy-thousand brain cells, because that’s how many I lost in the first 3 minutes of this video. Then my cat stepped on the keyboard and stopped the neurological carnage or I’d have lost eleventy-zillion more.

  86. #86 Prometheus
    October 29, 2009

    Here’s my favorite part of the “talk”:

    The cell has a cell wall, a cell membrane, cytoplasm. Is that mass? Not very much, really. So what are they? You can break down the cells into tiny pieces of energy called electrons, protons, neutrons, right? So the whole body has an infinitessimal amount of mass, but what is the remainder? Energy. So, I am energy; you are energy.

    OK, lets try and put her “calculations” into a biologically relevant scale.

    One red blood cell (RBC) – one of the smallest human cells – has a mass of about 100 picograms (10^-13 kilograms). This means that if the mass of a single RBC was converted into energy, it would release just under 9 kJ. That is enough energy to raise the temperature of 34 milliliters of water from body temperature (37 deg C) to boiling. The “conversion” of 1,500 RBC’s would be sufficient to boil all the water contained in the “average” 70 kg human. That’s the number of RBC’s in 0.3 picoliters of blood.

    To put that in “bombing you neighbour” scale, the “standard” thermonuclear warhead on a modern ICBM has a yield of 150 kilotons (~628 terajoules) – you could get this amount of energy from the “conversion” of only 14 grams of matter to energy.

    That would keep the neighbour’s dog from defecating on your yard. It would also permanently eliminate the need for yard work for you and your neighbours (probably for your entire postal code, as well).

    “We are energy” in the same sense that a rock is energy. We are matter that is mathematically interconvertible with energy. This process does not occur routinely (fortunately!) and is not a feature of biology.

    On a funny aside, I once saw a paper in which some “scientists” had weighed a large number of live fruit flies, killed them and then re-weighed them. They found a 0.1 gram difference in weight which, when divided by the number of fruit flies yielded (they thought) the “weight of the soul” (about 1 milligram per fly, if I remember correctly).

    Their conclusion was that the “soul” had “transmuted” from mass to energy at the time of death (are there really fruit flies in “heaven”?).

    The authors were very excited about this until it was pointed out that 0.1 gram of matter converting to energy would yield an equivalent of 2 kilotons of explosive energy. Even if only a minute fraction of this energy were transferred to the experimental apparatus, the laboratory would have been blown “off-campus”.

    Thanks for viewing this so we didn’t have to, Orac.

    Prometheus

  87. #87 dedicated lurker
    October 29, 2009

    How the everloving !@#$ did this woman pass any optometry exams? She thinks humans have cell walls!

  88. #89 agentS
    October 30, 2009

    Well, I’ve had my 5 minutes of stupidity today. I should’ve stuck with Glenn Beck.

  89. #90 kevinj
    October 30, 2009

    that was painful.
    i would have needed more than half a bottle of wine to survive the entire length, as it was i stopped after a minute or so and just read the post, that way it was easier to balance the stupidity out.
    That said i am looking forward to putting the lessons learnt into practice particularly around deciding to cancel out parts of a formula on the grounds it looks small (well compared to the debt the interest rate is small so if we cancel that out…)

    How do you transcribe it? do you just have really good shorthand/use voice to speech software or do you actually watch it several times.
    if the latter the dedication is impressive, i certainly couldnt manage it.

  90. #91 MPL
    October 31, 2009

    I think developmental optometry is a real medical field (i.e. curing lazy eye and other conditions in growing children).

    Behavioral optometry is whack though, and her version looks especially crazy.

  91. #92 Dwatney
    November 1, 2009

    My 4-yr old recently gave me the best definition of “woo” I have ever heard. She said to me, “I call it ‘wee-wee’ and ‘woo-woo'”.

  92. #93 John Hayes
    November 2, 2009

    My niche is visual dyslexia and I would like to say that about 10% of dyslexics can describe visual problems that makes reading difficult. Dyslexia isn’t defined by visual problems but indeed there is a minority of dyslexics whose problems are visual.

    I sell See Right Dyslexia Glasses that remove the problems associated with visual dyslexia. It’s tough having a product in a field filled with crazies. On the other hand there isn’t much real competition.

    The crazies out there are trying to convince people their methods cure everything from ADHD, autism, and dyslexia with visual therapies. My glasses are a one trick pony. They only do one thing and that is to remove visual problems that make reading difficult for visual dyslexics with visual problems.

    I use what I consider a reasonable criteria to determine who are the visual dyslexics. Visual dyslexics can describe visual problems that make reading difficult. I like the fact that people who can describe visual problems know whether or not their visual problems are removed by my glasses.

    For those of you that seem to have some scientific background, Google auto fluorescence eye. Then consider that a photon of light that is absorbed and then emmited on a different pathway removes one piece of visual information and generates one piece of visual noise. There’s a limited number of wavelengths associated with different auto fluorescent proteins and by filtering all of them at once I created a universal visual dyslexia filter.

    Because I limit my marketing effort to only those that my classes will definitely help, my success rate is close to 100% and I am able to offer a money back guarantee.

    Dyslexics in general have a higher statistical rate of poor depth perception . As the cause of that is having different amounts of visual dyslexia dysfunction in either eye, my glasses restore normal depth perception for those individuals.

    For more information about visual dyslexia visit http://www.dyslexiaglasses.com .

  93. #94 Åsmund
    November 2, 2009

    kevinj said:

    That said i am looking forward to putting the lessons learnt into practice particularly around deciding to cancel out parts of a formula on the grounds it looks small (well compared to the debt the interest rate is small so if we cancel that out…)

    That’s not necessarily bad science. It’s done all the time in applied sciences to simplify equations into something that’s solveable, either analytically or faster numerically. Approximate solutions are often adequate.

    A simple example: f(x) = x + x². If you’re only interested in very small values of x (say in the range 0 to 0.01) x will be much larger than x² (x >> x², as we like to write it), and your result will not be very wrong if you cross out x². Oppositely, if you’re only interested in large values of x (say, larger than 1,000) x² >> x, and you can cross out the x term.

    When you do that you of course have to be careful to apply suitable limits to your results; Don’t let x go outside your chosen domain (x large or x small), don’t integrate for very long, etc.

  94. #95 John Hayes
    November 2, 2009

    “That said i am looking forward to putting the lessons learned into practice particularly around deciding to cancel out parts of a formula on the grounds it looks small”

    Using that theory I always wanted to make Pi/3 equal to 1 to simplify equations but I could never seem to convince my math teacher.It does seem to work fine if you are at the paint store and want to calculate how much paint you need to paint that third of a circle.LOL

  95. #96 Dr. P
    November 4, 2009

    I don’t know…..except for the mistakes in biology, physics,basic math, general concepts like mass vs volume,and general history of science,I mean she kind of had a point, don’t you think? Somewhere in ……there?………Guys?………

  96. #97 Diego
    December 8, 2009

    I’m speechless. I… I… This has got to be one of the biggest collections of stupidity ever assembled. I mean… is one even allowed to be wrong in so many levels?!

    I tell you, I laughed my ass off thru the first half, but then I just was so sad… oh, so sad. I finished the video staring aimlessly, my brain must have shut off.

    She escaped from a mental institution. No doubt about it.

    But so funny, nonetheless xD

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