Respectful Insolence

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Although there’s been plenty of woo this week (Harriet Denz-Penhey, anyone?), it hasn’t been the truly entertaining woo that I so love, you know, the kind of woo of Your Friday Dose of Woo, my long-standing (albeit now intermittent) excursion into the depths of alt-med silliness so over-the-top that it requires–nay, demands!–some serious not-so-Respectful Insolence, but in a more light-hearted way. After all, it’s Friday, and what better way to get ready for the weekend than with a little visit to Dr. Orac’s Emporium of Quackery and Pseudoscience known as Your Friday Dose of Woo, as long as you aren’t someone who’s fallen for the blandishments of one of the victims–I mean subjects–of Orac’s little project.

Of course, last week I was busy deconstructing nonsense about medicine from the Three Musketeers of Woo when in reality I had wanted a dose of what only YFDoW could deliver. However, duty called when it was clear that the Musketeers were launching an all-out assault on science-based medicine, although I did find it rather amusing that Dr. Dossey demanded that his woo be treated on equal footing with science-based medicine. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

In any case, I found the perfect bit of pure silly quackery to start 2010 out right with its first installment of YFDoW. For one thing, it’s cosmic, man. No, really, it’s cosmic. I mean it. It’s something called Cosmic Beam Therapy.

Far out, man.

You know, sometimes I wish I didn’t have scruples. After all, it’s scruples that keep me from doing what these guys do, namely asking for just a picture and then claiming that they can cure you of just about any disease (or “dis-ease,” the preferred spelling of the word by quacks):

A person may be living anywhere in the world; a photograph is required to sense the AURA (energy field around body) to diagnose & heal from any distance.

This is a distance healing method for brain diseases like migraine, schizophrenia; genetic dis-eases like thalassaemia; reproductive disorders, kidney/ gallstone, cysts & other incurable dis-eases.

Amazing, isn’t it? Just send in a picture, and you can be cured incurable diseases! Of course, I’m a bit curious at this woo-meister’s choice of “incurable” diseases. Gallstones, for instance, are certainly quite curable with a little bit of surgical steel applied carefully, these days through small ports by laparoscopic instruments. Yes, that nasty old reductionist scientific medicine is quite effective against some of these diseases, and for the ones out of this list it can’t cure it can often treat reasonably well. However, before I get into the woo itself, let me just point out one thing that really amused me when I read it. It’s the healer stating:

Before any argument, discussion, suspicion, criticism, belief on the contents of this website, it is necessary that first & foremost you ring/ email us to experience the soothing effect of Cosmic Energy on your body and mind. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you live in.

I’ll pass, thank you very much. I’m certainly not making an international call, and I don’t see the point of e-mailing someone. Besides, if this particular healer can heal distantly, why can’t he sense my intent distantly and preemptively e-mail or call me? I mean, come on! He’s got the cosmic beam to detect and heal disease distantly! Why not detect and preempt nasty skeptics making fun of his woo? I must say, I do find it pretty funny that, right there on the very front page of the website, there’s a plea by the healer to skeptics not to be mean to him and harsh his cosmic buzz. Nasty, vicious skeptics, insisting on scientific evidence for claims such as “cosmic beam healing”! How could we? Why can’t we just believe? You know, believe John Edward, believe Sylvia Browne, believe, well, this:

The intense reaction in the brain on success or failure in possessing the worldly pleasures (attachment to man & material), results in an imbalance of cosmic energy. This in turn leads to the gradual closure of the vital centers (called chakras), thereby preventing the smooth flow of Divine/ Cosmic Energy. When the body is deprived of this Energy, it is prone to all sorts of physical and mental diseases, which makes our life journey painful.

As painful as the assault on science and reason this website launches? I think not. It’s also clear that the healer thinks not, as in doesn’t think:

Physicists state that there are no basic building blocks of matter, rather that the Universe is an inseparable whole. Since we are inseparable parts of that whole, we can enter into a holistic state of being, become the whole, and tap into the creative powers of the Universe to instantaneously heal anyone, anywhere. Dr. Andria Puharich was able to consistently measure an 8 Hz magnetic pulse coming from the hands of healers. He found that healers who produce a more intense signal have a greater effect of healing.

Andria Puharich? I hadn’t heard of him before; a little Googling revealed that he was a parapsychology researcher who had reported favorably on Uri Geller. Apparently, he also investigated favorably a “psychic surgeon” named Z√© Arig√≥ and a Dutch psychic named Peter Hurkos. Suffice it to say, from what little I could find out about Puharich, I’m not impressed with his critical thinking abilities. Not surprisingly, his name is mentioned on a whole bunch of quack sites, including the current topic of YFDoW today. A quick search on Google Scholar yields many books and articles with titles like “Beyond Telepathy” and “Basic Energy Systems in Acupuncture,” or credulous paeans to Uri Geller. He fits right into blithering idiocy like this:

This therapy is neither for the dis-ease nor for symptoms, but for the person as a whole – i.e. for physical, mental & spiritual health. All dis-eases manifest as a result of an imbalance in positive and negative energy (toxic matter), and as such, name of the disease is immaterial – be it Schizophrenia, Rett Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Angina, Arthritis, Cysts, Spondylitis, Migraine, fibroids, adenoids, stones, etc. Almost all dis-eases, including those, which are considered chronic / incurable, can be healed.

He shoots, he scores! It’s the perfect alt-med trope about “treating the whole person,” but what elevates it to truly extraordinary is the claim that the name of the disease is immaterial and that all disease can be healed. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you have, stage IV pancreatic cancer or a hangnail. These guys will fix you up! All it takes is this:

This is a powerful method of tapping the Cosmic Energy and directing it to the dis-eased, irrespective of time & space. It is a complete and exclusively distance method of healing, wherein only a photograph of the dis-eased is required. As soon as we receive the photo and the details, we sense the AURA to find out whether the patient is in a healable stage. So also the problem areas & the cause (like anger, worry, greed, tension, ego, fear, attachment, past-life effect, etc.) are assessed. Some guidelines are sent – to speed up the healing process.

Oh, come on! Everyone knows that only the Silver Surfer could manipulate the power cosmic. True, Doctor Doom did manage to steal that ability from the Surfer once, but the Surfer got it back. In any case, I have to wonder if these guys are counting on poorly adjusted and focused cameras. How else would they see “auras” in photographs. It’s a wonderful scam, though, particularly since the healer offering this “service” apparently resides in India. Not too many people are going to track him down, and if they die, if a many of those patients with incurable diseases die, who’s going to know? Certainly, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would actually track this person down.

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But you don’t have to worry about this, really. After all, cosmic beam therapy is amazing in its awesomeness:

3. How correct is the Aura sensing?
Aura has been scientifically proved beyond doubt. Aura can be photographed – which is a costly affair; it can be seen by the clairvoyants – which is a rare phenomenon and lastly, it can be sensed between the palms – which is simple, easy and accurate. Of course, the accuracy of the interpretation & diagnosis depends upon experience & expertise of the healer.

4. How is it different from other healing methods?
In Cosmic Beam Therapy, sensing of the problem areas and healing can be done if the dis-eased person’s hair, nail, photograph, blood drop, handwriting, recorded voice, or anything belonging to him / her is available. But we prefer a passport size photograph. This is a powerful method of tapping the cosmic energy, wherein normally, one can feel the effect of the therapy instantly, but feels within a day or two if the case is chronic or if sensation level of the dis-eased is low. We continue the therapy only if the dis-eased feels the effect of Energy on his/her body, in these two days. This system of healing has been developed after rigorous practice.

In other words, cosmic beam therapy is magic. It’s witchcraft. You take an image of someone or something that belongs to that person, and then you do magic on it in order to affect the person. The only thing that’s missing is a voodoo doll, except that, instead of sticking needles in it, the healer thinks nice thoughts at it and expects the person whom the doll represents to respond to those nice thoughts. I’d love to see the “rigorous practice” that led to this “healing modality,” though.

Unfortunately, something that I truly loathe about alt-med rears its ugly head once again, even in this light-hearted woo that’s so silly it’s hard not to laugh at it. This is the one part I didn’t laugh at:

6. What should the dis-eased do?
Dis-eases are our own creation. Older people are often seen relating their disease to old age. But old age has nothing to do with the disease. There are instances of people living a healthy life till the end. So, understanding the meaning of life, the cause has to be analysed and avoided by the healee. Healee is expected to follow the healer’s instructions, for faster healing. Be with the Nature. Be cheerful. Laugh and make others laugh. Drink plenty of water. Wash hands, feet & head at regular intervals. Be bare-footed, as far as possible. Let there be no conflict in what you think, do & say. Most important is the regular feedback by the healee to the healer, for continuous guidance.

7. Is there a chance of relapse?
After restoration of health, if one merely keeps a check on his/her ‘wish horses’ – like anger, worry, jealousy, lust and attachment, and if there is minimum conflict in what one thinks, does & says, then there is no reason why you cannot live a dis-ease free life. It is our uncontrolled desires, which create an energy blockage (accumulation of toxic matter in vital body channels/paths), leading to dis-ease.

Whew! For a moment there I thought these guys were actually going to admit the possibility of failure and relapse. Dodged that bullet! But notice the same “blame the victim” mentality that so burns me. Old age has nothign to do with disease? Diseases (excuse me, “dis-eases”) are our own creation? Follow all these instructions, or you’ll stay “dis-eased”! And it’ll be your own fault!

Notice one other thing. What’s most important for staying free of “dis-ease” once you’ve finally purged yourself of lust, anger, worry, jealous, lust, and attachment? Regular feedback by the healee to the healer, of course! Like a chiropractor suggesting regular “adjustments” for years and years and years that stretch into the rest of your life, our cosmic healing healer wants to keep the marks coming back again and again and again and again.

Because that’s the way things work in woo-world.

Comments

  1. #1 Anthro
    January 15, 2010

    Is this really any different from praying? I’m getting fed up being asked to pray for the people of Haiti, who will, supposedly, hear these prayers and feel much better about the disaster they are dealing with. Or is that I’m to pray to god so that he can help them find survivors in the rubble? This would be the same god who sent the earthquake (but I guess that’s because they made that deal with the devil).

    None of this is any weirder than the nutter you describe today.

  2. #2 MikeMa
    January 15, 2010

    Anthro,
    You have hit the nail hard on this. The reason these frauds even think they can pull this crap off is that they have billions of morons who are ready to believe them based on their religious disabilities. They already believe in a sky fairy of one sort or another. They already ascribe power to prayer. They already believe in the divinity of a book written by goatherds 2000 years ago which contains so many serious inconsistencies that an entire industry has sprung up to ‘clear things up’. Sounds like the money ought to be rolling in.

  3. #3 Todd W.
    January 15, 2010

    But we prefer a passport size photograph.

    Hmm…might they be making fake passports? “I’m just asking.”

    As I was reading, I was wondering when you were going to get to the inevitable out they would provide themselves: i.e., “if you don’t get better or get sick again, it’s your fault, not ours.”

  4. #4 Matty
    January 15, 2010

    Isn’t this

    Physicists state that there are no basic building blocks of matter, rather that the Universe is an inseparable whole.

    Almost exactly 180 degrees from the truth? I’m sure the people at CERN would be fascinated to discover that they say there are no ‘building blocks of matter’.

  5. #5 Beatis
    January 15, 2010

    They say it works with pets too. A girl in my office visited an aura reader when her cat had cancer. She was told it was her own aura that was making her cat ill.

    Totally bonkers, these people.

  6. #6 Calli Arcale
    January 15, 2010

    You may be fed up with that, I’m fed up with people using the pleas for help in Haiti as an opportunity to complain about religious folk asking for other religious folk to pray. The Big Picture blog posting got inundated with that sort of crap.

    You are making an assumption about what all religious folk believe about prayer and God. There is only one possible divine entity, eh? Either a single God is in charge of every single event and there is no free will, or there are no gods at all? All prayer is meant to invoke miracles, eh?

    Your conflation of Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism with all religious belief isn’t even internally consistent. The folks like him aren’t asking for people to pray for help, because they think, in some sick way, that Haiti deserved it. (He said the same basic thing about Katrina.) The folks asking for prayer are not like this. They believe that Haiti did not deserve this. And they’re right; Haiti did not deserve it, but they do deserve our compassion.

    And when they ask for prayer, that is what they are really asking for — compassion. Keep the Haitian victims in your thoughts. Do not forget them; it is easy to forget people thousands of miles away whom you’ve never met, but we should not forget about them. Search your heart (metaphorically speaking, of course). If your heart leads you to help, do so. It would be a blessing to them, in the sense that you will make things a little bit easier. How can you help? For most of us, the best we can do is to give money or at least verbal/print encouragement to the people who are going to help. (And those who go to help should be professionals; they can’t afford to cope with hoardes of random untrained volunteers at this point.)

    That, in my opinion, is the real power of prayer. Done privately, it’s an opportunity for reflection. Done publicly (or at least if you tell people about it), it’s a form of encouragement. They know you’re thinking about them and that you wish them the best of luck. That sort of encouragement is desperately needed, because Haiti’s situation, already dire before the earthquake, is now best describe as apocalyptic. Whatever comes out after the earthquake will be an entirely different country; the devastation is so complete. It is a country that was on the brink of failure not too long ago; can they survive this? It’s hard to say, but I am going to pray for them, and I am going to tell people that I am praying for them, so that whatever encouragement that can give will be given. It is not all that I will do. But it is a start.

  7. #7 Scott
    January 15, 2010

    @Matty:

    You are mostly correct. There is a sense in which everything is simply an excitation of a field (i.e. “electron” becomes “an excitation of the electron field”), and I can kind of see a way to twist that around to be vaguely similar to the quote.

    But high energy physicists most certainly do consider that there are basic building blocks of matter, and we do not say that the universe is “an inseparable whole.”

    It’s just another example of somebody who heard or read something, didn’t understand it, and dove off the deep end using it to make his BS sound sciencey.

  8. #8 ASFalcon13
    January 15, 2010

    This is way out there. In fact, it’s so far out there that I’d bet that the folks peddling it don’t even believe it. Sounds more to me like a big scam to get gullible people to send them money. I mean, it’s not like they even have to do anything other than maintain a webpage. Send money and a photo to a foreign country, and they’ll sit around in a room mentally projecting cosmic beams at you? Riiiight…

  9. #9 Jeff Read
    January 15, 2010

    Be bare-footed, as far as possible.

    There’s that woomeister foot fetish again…

  10. #10 Pablo
    January 15, 2010

    Calli – given the choice between “prayer as an expression of support” and $5, I would suggest that the Haitians would prefer the latter.

    If everyone in the US gave a nickel, that would be $15 million that they could really, really use. Those prayers? Not so much.

  11. #11 Gary Carson
    January 15, 2010

    I have an aura, but I have to keep it locked up in a specially-constructed room in my high-energy physics laboratory. It’s a monster of pure energy that would run amok if it ever got loose. The original Outer Limits did a show about it called “It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork,” but I never got my royalty check.

  12. #12 Hmmmm
    January 15, 2010

    This sounds eerily like H**peh therapy, doesn’t it?

  13. #13 Vicki
    January 15, 2010

    All that stuff about “wish horses” sounds a lot like the Buddha’s idea that desire is the cause of all suffering. Emotionally, there is something to that–desire can lead to envy and frustration (as well as to satisfaction and connection with others). But in this case, it’s a nice out for them: because the one thing that any sick person will wish for is healing. If they can convince people that wishing makes them sick, they have an out, always: they can claim that wishing, including wishing for health, makes us sick, and anyone who stops wanting to be healed won’t complain. If someone complains about being cheated, or about not being healed, they can be told to minimize conflict, i.e., stop arguing with the “healer.”

    Also:

    The victims of the Haitian earthquake are much better off if someone like me sends money to help, and then goes and thinks of other things (work, sex, sports, rainbows, anything) than if someone prays, or “keeps them in her thoughts,” all week and doesn’t act.

  14. #14 OleanderTea
    January 15, 2010

    I just want to know which orifice this “cosmic beam” shines out of, and if the healers need a special room to prevent embarrassment. I mean, you wouldn’t want a cosmic-beam-out-the-butt to happen on the subway or anything.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    January 15, 2010

    *Interesting* choice: schizophrenia, being that some people with this illness may believe in a sort of “action at a distance” as a symptom-e.g. the thoughts & wishes of others *directly* affect them,others *control* their thoughts,someone *puts* thoughts into their heads,*machines* transmit ideas to them, etc.Finally! a woo-meister who can establish *real rapport* with these patients: someone who believes that the world operates in a similar way- a more fluid, cosmic way!.It gives a whole new meaning to “peer” counseling!

  16. #16 rob
    January 15, 2010

    on the cosmic beam site, they say

    “…living organisms emit energy vibrations at a frequency between 300 & 2000 nanometers and they called this energy…” blah blah blah

    first, nanometer is a unit of distance. you don’t measure frequency in distance. you use hertz.

    second, it is not an energy either. energy is measured in joules, not nanometers.

    third, the range 300-2000 nm covers everything from the UV to infrared portion of the spectrum, including the visible. if this aura drivel were true, we could detect it with our eyes. you wouldn’t have to have any special ability to detect it.

    fourth, matter (living or not) emits blackbody radiation that is a function of the temperature. it is not some cosmic aura radiation with healing powers. actually, if a body were to emit substantial radiation of 300 nm like the site claims, it would have to be very very hot, say, like THE SUN. that sort of radiative emission would not be a healing glow, it would be destructive conflagration.

  17. #17 Matty
    January 15, 2010

    rob, that reminds of a conversation I once overheard between my brother (who is a physicist) and a woo advocate.

    “You have a spiritual energy”
    “How many joules?”

  18. #18 Snoof
    January 15, 2010

    What makes me laugh is that real cosmic radiation includes things like gamma rays, alpha particles and even relativistic iron nuclei. You know, stuff which causes cell damage and cancer?

  19. #19 Jim Purdy
    January 15, 2010

    First, let me say that I’m not disagreeing with any of your points, but I strongly disapprove of your childish name-calling.

    What is the point of all your juvenile insults: magic, nonsense, pseudoscience, quackery, silliness, witchcraft, woo. Do they somehow substitute for presenting your own facts?

    For that matter, how do you justify the use of impressive-sounding term like “science-base medicine.” If you’re going to claim that, then show the science, not the slurs.

    You might do well to adhere to the statement from Dragnet’s Joe Friday:
    “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”

    One final note about your sarcastic comments about “quacks” telling people to
    “send in a picture.” What do you think radiologists are doing when they study x-rays and other images sometimes transmitted from many miles away? Are radiologists quacks by your definition?

    As a patient, I have had many doctors smugly disregard my complaints of serious drug side-effects. They get upset when I stop taking their drugs.

    The doctors call me non-compliant.

    I call them my ex-doctors.

    A lot of people will choose a “quack” any day over a doctor who doesn’t listen to patients.

    Now I’ll do a little name-calling of my own :

    An idiot in a long white coat is still an idiot.

  20. #20 Orac
    January 15, 2010

    Do I detect the scent of concern troll? Dude, I’ve seen you around before. Do you not know what the purpose of Your Friday Dose of Woo is? It’s to take some bit of woo that is so hilariously over-the-top and nonsensical that all it deserves is a humorous demolition.

    I particularly like this statement by you, though:

    One final note about your sarcastic comments about “quacks” telling people to “send in a picture.” What do you think radiologists are doing when they study -rays and other images sometimes transmitted from many miles away? Are radiologists quacks by your definition?

    That could win the award for most hilariously inept analogy of the year for 2010 so far. It would set a high bar for others to beat.

  21. #21 rob
    January 15, 2010

    i am gonna send them a satellite picture of Haiti and see how many people they can remote heal.

    i wonder if they can raise the 50,000+ dead too and restore power, sewers and other infrastructure.

  22. #22 Katharine
    January 15, 2010

    “One final note about your sarcastic comments about “quacks” telling people to
    “send in a picture.” What do you think radiologists are doing when they study x-rays and other images sometimes transmitted from many miles away? Are radiologists quacks by your definition?”

    Oh FSM, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an analogy fail this hard.

  23. #23 Greg Fish
    January 15, 2010

    Physicists state that there are no basic building blocks of matter, rather that the Universe is an inseparable whole.

    Clearly, someone hasn’t heard of particle physics. If there were no basic building blocks of matter, we would have to throw away about 150 years of physics and the LHC would have no actual purpose.

  24. #24 bluemaxx
    January 15, 2010

    wow… all that LONG DISTANCE curing going on!

    several thoughts…

    FAILURE of CURE: obviously due to lack of sincerity, faith, or perhaps the bounce of a check, all faults of the ill person.

    PASSPORT Photo: you know, I applied for a new passport last year, and it was initially rejected because my AURA was assessed as being a security risk. I went to a different post office, and they got a pic on my GOOD AURA Day. Funny they don’t say whether I need to mail the actual photo, or could maybe just email it. Do you think maybe they could develop a COSMIC RAYBOOK and I could just friend them and share my picture?

    WISH HORSE: I am curious, they say they are able to read/assess AURA’s all over the world, or send the COSMIC rays. But if I am in southern hemisphere and there are solar flares, and the horses tend to run COUNTER clockwise, can they still help me if my picture was taken in north?

  25. #25 Fuzzzone
    January 15, 2010

    “You might do well to adhere to the statement from Dragnet’s Joe Friday: ‘All we want are the facts, ma’am.’”

    Kindly refrain from telling me what I want, Jim.

    You want a 100% dry, facts-only blog that never has any fun or calls things as they are? Feel free to start one. I’m sure you’ll have tons of readers. Frankly, I don’t mind when a person sees nonsense and has the chutzpah to call it such. In fact, I prefer that to tiptoeing around the issue and lending it an aura (hehe) of validity.

  26. #26 JFox
    January 15, 2010

    I get my cosmic beam therapy on the golf course and chase it down with an ancient natural fermented herbal infused potion known to relieve all manner of post cosmic beam therapy distress.

  27. #27 bluemaxx
    January 15, 2010

    KATHERINE:

    if you truly don’t comprehend the difference between tele-radiology with the viewing of actual tangible, reproducible, measurable visible images (we call ‘em “radiographs”) and the woo-tasia of sending in “passport sized picture” so that an invisible yet cosmically sensed aura can be assessed and then treated remotely with COSMIC rays…

    then you should probably not be allowed to use the computer without adult supervision!

  28. #28 Scott
    January 15, 2010

    @27:

    Perhaps you didn’t notice, but Katherine was quoting Jim Purdy. To ridicule precisely the point you proceeded to ridicule.

  29. #29 bluemaxx
    January 15, 2010

    OOPS!!!
    my error and sincere apologies to you KATHERINE…
    the ridicule missile should have been targeted for JIM PURDY… who sounds like the guy many in private practice would enjoy calling “ex patient”.

    please pardon my marksmanship error, I always have trouble with aiming when laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. But sometimes, if I am crying and I squint, I can see people’s aura’s (and the light bulb’s too!)

  30. #30 Prometheus
    January 15, 2010

    I love the idea of using a photograph to “diagnose” a person’s aura! In fact, a few years ago a friend of mine sent a photograph to one of those “aura readers” to have them diagnose it.

    Unfortunately for the “aura reader”, my friend has a rather dark sense of humor and sent a (carefully cropped) photograph of his grandfather resting peacefully in his coffin (he looked so lifelike!). The “aura reader” said that my friend’s grandfather had “stomach problems” and “some kidney weakness”.

    In reality, he had died as the result of two gunshot wounds to the chest (he was a Chicago city police officer in the 1930′s and died at the age of 28).

    So, if an “aura reader” can’t tell from a photograph that a person is dead, how likely is it that they can make an accurate diagnosis?

    Prometheus

  31. #31 rob
    January 15, 2010

    geez Prometheus. apparently you didn’t read the cosmic beam website. their diagnosis can transcend space *and* time. it is obvious that your friends aura reader read the grandfather’s aura at a time *before* his death. surely the kidney weakness would have been a problem if the two chunks of lead in the grandfather’s chest weren’t.

  32. #32 Calli Arcale
    January 15, 2010

    *sigh* I’m sorry to have ranted here. It was just bad enough seeing that kind of stuff in a thread actually about Haiti. To see it in a thread where that hadn’t even been brought up seemed especially crass. So Pat Roberton said something mind-bogglingly cruel and heartless. What else is new? Do folks have to dump on *everyone* who happen to believe in God just because Robertson does too?

    Getting to the topic….

    The distance healing thing is of course another old trope in quackery. It’s funny to see another bunch presenting it as something new. Though I have to give them props for coming up with a cool new name — Cosmic Beam Therapy!!! Love the Silver Surfer pics; it fits perfectly. ;-)

  33. #33 JohnV
    January 15, 2010

    To be fair Prometheus I’m sure that at the time the picture was taken neither the kidneys nor the stomach were in tip top shape :p

  34. #34 Circe of the Godless
    January 15, 2010

    Calli –

    “And when they ask for prayer, that is what they are really asking for — compassion. Keep the Haitian victims in your thoughts. Do not forget them”

    Whether you go home and cry about these poor people’s plight every night or if you laugh every time you see it on the tv is totally immaterial. You are just using prayer to validate yourself as a “good” person for your own ego. The only thing that makes a difference is the action you choose to take. To be helpful this would be sending money, sending supplies, or going there yourself to help out.
    I have untold empathy for the Haitians, I cannot begin to imagine how awful it must be, but I will not be praying for them anytime soon. “Prayers” do not equal empathy and compassion, so don’t insult me by asking.

  35. #35 Jojo
    January 15, 2010

    One final note about your sarcastic comments about “quacks” telling people to “send in a picture.” What do you think radiologists are doing when they study x-rays and other images sometimes transmitted from many miles away? Are radiologists quacks by your definition?

    This fails on so many levels that I just have to keep reading it over and over again. Jim, thanks for giving me the best laugh I’ve had all week.

  36. #36 Pablo
    January 15, 2010

    To be helpful this would be sending money, sending supplies, or going there yourself to help out.

    Unless you are already part of an organization that works to help in these types of emergencies, I recommend NOT going to help out. You will only get in the way.

    The organizations have plans based on their current known resources, and if you are not part of them, you won’t be helping. Their workers are specifically trained to do what needs to be done. Right now, send money. That is needed more than anything.

    In the long term, absolutely consider contacting your Red Cross to see how you can help, and they will absolutely appreciate it. But right now, let them do what they need to do.

    I was listening to a doctor from Doctors Without Borders yesterday, and she was saying the same thing. Even in terms of doctors, don’t just go. That isn’t helping.

    (I realize you weren’t necessarily advocating everyone jump a plane to Haiti)

  37. #37 Pablo
    January 15, 2010

    To be helpful this would be sending money, sending supplies, or going there yourself to help out.

    Unless you are already part of an organization that works to help in these types of emergencies, I recommend NOT going to help out. You will only get in the way.

    The organizations have plans based on their current known resources, and if you are not part of them, you won’t be helping. Their workers are specifically trained to do what needs to be done. Right now, send money. That is needed more than anything.

    In the long term, absolutely consider contacting your Red Cross to see how you can help, and they will absolutely appreciate it. But right now, let them do what they need to do.

    I was listening to a doctor from Doctors Without Borders yesterday, and she was saying the same thing. Even in terms of doctors, don’t just go. That isn’t helping.

    (I realize you weren’t necessarily advocating everyone jump a plane to Haiti)

  38. #38 Pablo
    January 15, 2010

    To be helpful this would be sending money, sending supplies, or going there yourself to help out.

    Unless you are already part of an organization that works to help in these types of emergencies, I recommend NOT going to help out. You will only get in the way.

    The organizations have plans based on their current known resources, and if you are not part of them, you won’t be helping. Their workers are specifically trained to do what needs to be done. Right now, send money. That is needed more than anything.

    In the long term, absolutely consider contacting your Red Cross to see how you can help, and they will absolutely appreciate it. But right now, let them do what they need to do.

    I was listening to a doctor from Doctors Without Borders yesterday, and she was saying the same thing. Even in terms of doctors, don’t just go. That isn’t helping.

    (I realize you weren’t necessarily advocating everyone jump a plane to Haiti)

  39. #39 Pablo
    January 15, 2010

    Whoa, sorry about that. I don’t know why that reposted. I only refreshed the screen (after the first one was already there)

  40. #40 Adam_Y
    January 15, 2010

    first, nanometer is a unit of distance. you don’t measure frequency in distance. you use hertz.

    second, it is not an energy either. energy is measured in joules, not nanometers.

    Actually you can measure frequency in terms of distance. Its called the wavenumber. Its something chemists tend to do.

  41. #41 Karl Withakay
    January 15, 2010

    @ Jim Purdy @18

    Perhaps you should consider lurking around on the site long enough for you to get a feel for it before posting your foot in your mouth.

  42. #42 Scott
    January 15, 2010

    You can measure wavelength in terms of distance. Wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency, so related, but absolutely not the same.

    Measuring a frequency in units of distance is strictly wrong. Period. (Inverse distance in natural units, sure, but never distance.)

  43. #43 Scott
    January 15, 2010

    Bleh, forgot to specifically mention wavenumber. Wavenumber is NOT ever measured in units of distance. It is measured in units of inverse distance. It’s the analog of measuring a frequency in natural units (actually identical when the wave is light in a vacuum).

  44. #44 Art
    January 15, 2010

    The focus of the site is clear from the start. Go to their site and read the first line. It offers “Information for those who are destined to seek help”.

    Notice that these people are characterized by their destiny to “seek help”. That might be a veiled reference to their gullibility. But quite honestly the site, from the first line, offers “information”, a story, for those seeking help. Notice that it doesn’t offer any actual help.

    One has to wonder if this is related to the compulsion of many con men to tell you, often right out front, that they are crooks. The lines “Do I look like a crook?” or “Would I scam you?, asked rhetorically, should give everyone a clue. In the scammer’s internal dialog this is interpreted as people being warned but turning around and ‘asking for it’.

    Destiny is an interesting reference. Water that flows off a cliff is destine to fall just as some people are destine to seek help. One might set that falling water to work by using a wheel. Just like one might put those “destine to seek help” to work, for fun and profit, by telling them a story and offering “information”.

    One born every minute. An inexhaustible supply of suckers and rubes. We may run out of oil, and water, and land but never stupidity nor ignorance.

    Personally, I have no issues with people making use of a natural resource. My objection is not that they use stupid, ignorant people. It is that they actively promote and even require that people stay stupid and ignorant. That people get trapped in recursive paths of ever deeper misinformation and misapprehension of reality.

    Even worse when their inner villain fails to meet the challenge and the subject/object barrier starts to break down. They start identifying with the victims and excusing their behavior by telling themselves they are benefiting the victims. Then things get weird.

  45. #45 Andreas Johansson
    January 15, 2010

    What makes me laugh is that real cosmic radiation includes things like gamma rays, alpha particles and even relativistic iron nuclei. You know, stuff which causes cell damage and cancer?

    Those are cosmic rays. These are cosmic beams, which differ by being cuddlier.

  46. #46 sikiş
    January 15, 2010

    Even worse when their inner villain fails to meet the challenge and the subject/object barrier starts to break down. They start identifying with the victims and excusing their behavior by telling themselves they are benefiting the victims. Then things get weird.

  47. #47 mconlonRN
    January 15, 2010

    I’ll bet the healing is in direction proportion to the size of the check attached to the “passport sized photo”!

  48. #48 Jim Purdy
    January 15, 2010

    I’m sorry I commented earlier. I mistakenly assumed this was a serious science blog. I didn’t realize this was TheOnion.

  49. #49 Scott
    January 15, 2010

    If you’d actually provided some meaningful points with supporting evidence, as opposed to a substanceless flame, you would have gotten a very different response.

    Ya reap what ya sow.

  50. #50 Karl Withakay
    January 15, 2010

    @ Jim Purdy @ 48

    You have just won the Judy award for the day, Jan 15,2010 for the following statement:

    “I’m sorry I commented earlier. I mistakenly assumed this was a serious science blog. I didn’t realize this was TheOnion.”!!!

    Here is the wording engraved on the virtual statue that accompanies the Judy prize:

    “And the moral we learn from that last comment, Boys and Girls, is that if you can’t win an argument on its merits, take a shit on the desk and leave.”

    -Someone named Jody in a thread on skeptico

    (Orac, please let me know if you want me to stop posting this quote/award when somebody earns it.)

  51. #51 blf
    January 15, 2010

    What sort of things can be diagnosed with a reasonable degree of certainty from looking at a passport-sized photograph (of what?—the face, I assume…)?

    I suppose if the head is clearly detached from the body a diagnosis of “dead” can be rather confidently made. This assumes, of course, the photo hasn’t been altered.

  52. #52 GrayGaffer
    January 15, 2010

    “Cosmic Beam” has been around for a very long time, in one guise or another. There is even a New Age-y group Cosmic Beam Experience from the 70′s that actually did some interesting stuff, if you can avoid listening to the lyrics. Even this example is a repeat performance of what is generically called Aura Healing. Never done for free. I had one practitioner tell me (I was not a customer) that the act of paying was what probably had most effect on the marks. If they pay for it, it must work, or they were scammed – and that just Will Not Do!

  53. #53 Calli Arcale
    January 15, 2010

    Circe of the Godless:

    I have untold empathy for the Haitians, I cannot begin to imagine how awful it must be, but I will not be praying for them anytime soon. “Prayers” do not equal empathy and compassion, so don’t insult me by asking.

    I didn’t ask you to pray, and I won’t ask you to pray. I feel that would be rude. My point was merely that prayer isn’t always just whatever you happen to think it is, and that it’s tiresome to see people hijacking threads to dump on prayer, especially when it’s in the context of a horrific calamity that has claimed tens of thousands of lives already.

    That’s the last I’ll say on the subject in this thread. We’ve gone off-topic quite long enough.

  54. #54 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 15, 2010

    One final note about your sarcastic comments about “quacks” telling people to
    “send in a picture.” What do you think radiologists are doing when they study x-rays and other images sometimes transmitted from many miles away?

    Jim Purdy is trying to make the following analogy:

    radiologists:X-rays::people who claim to read auras:photographs

    As we all know, analogies only work when there are no points of significant disanalogy between the two schema being compared. In this case, there are several, and I will limit myself to only one of the largest: “auras” have not only never been shown to exist, but they have never even been shown to have inter-rater reliability.

    Show ten radiologists the same X-ray, and they may disagree about what they think the shadow on the X-ray represents, but ten out of ten will point to the same spot on the X-ray and say “That’s a shadow caused by some dense mass coming between the source of the X-rays and the X-ray film.”

    In contrast, if you show the same photo to ten different “aura-readers”, one might say it’s pale crimson; one might say it’s sunflower yellow; one might say it’s “crystal”; one might say it’s swirling light blue. How can they all be looking at the same aura and seeing it so differently, you ask? The most obvious explanation is that they aren’t all looking at the same aura; they are all instead imagining that they see an aura, and the products of their imagination vary as widely as you might expect.

    Even if we were to accept for the sake of argument the suggestion that maybe different people see the same aura differently, that only means that aura-readers asked to group photos together by the color of the person’s aura should, if auras were a real phenomenon, sort them into the same groups with a high degree of consistency. But to my knowledge there has never even been an attempt to establish inter-rater reliability in this fashion, and without it any attempt to compare the reading of auras to the reading of X-rays fails to pass even the giggle test.

  55. #55 Sastra
    January 15, 2010

    This therapy is neither for the dis-ease nor for symptoms, but for the person as a whole – i.e. for physical, mental & spiritual health.

    Are there ever any science-based treatments or therapies which commonly mention that they are good for “spiritual health,” or that they treat “the soul?” Does this even happen? Maybe somebody can tell me they saw this claim in an advertisement for something with real evidence behind it, as a bit of nice-sounding puff added on. I don’t know. I suppose a hospice might promote this as part of their care package.

    Otherwise, it seems to me that any mention of “spirit” or “soul” in connection with “health,” is a red flag for some upcoming bit of unscientific nonsense. It’s even worse than “wellness” — and more explicit than “holistic.” I suspect it helps cue the patient to loosen their criteria, and fire up the faith-boosters. The standards of evidence have shifted. Relax. This is about you.

  56. #56 Todd W.
    January 15, 2010

    I wonder if the some of the people who genuinely believe they see auras (as opposed to those who know they don’t and are just scamming people) have synesthesia of some variety?

  57. #57 Karen
    January 15, 2010

    Hi, I’m Karen. Since my mother was diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension four months ago, I’ve decided to make a blog to raise awareness of PAH. Perhaps you’d consider linking to my blog – it’s http://hypertension-pulmonary.blogspot.com/

  58. #58 AndyD
    January 15, 2010

    “There are instances of people living a healthy life till the end.”

    What happens to them? Do they all get hit by a bus?

    And if the universe is just one giant, holistic ball of energy waiting to be manipulated by these guys, why do they waste their time focusing on individual people when they could just get together and woo away all those nasty negative-energy “toxins”, holistically, of course? I mean, isn’t formaldehyde just a bit of energy too? Why not change it into lentils?

  59. #59 muteKi
    January 15, 2010

    Why can’t I send a photo from my camera-phone thing and just save on the postage?

  60. #60 DrWonderful
    January 15, 2010

    I honestly can’t believe you guys take this shit so seriously. You all sat in the front row of the bus in elementary school didn’t you? Go 5 rows back and you’d get the ass beaten out of you. Now…this is your revenge!!!

    I do admit it’s quite entertaining watching you guys lather up your panties over absolutely nothing every single day. Hate to break it to you, though, but your deepest darkest fears are true…no one really cares. And the tough guy threat “As they say, be careful what you wish for” flamed out as it was being typed.

    Anyway, yeah, I’m a chiropractor but I also do agree with much of what you all post and comment here (except about chiro’s and God, whom I both adore) but don’t you take this insane crap, including yourselves…oh snap!, a little too seriously?

  61. #61 Peapoh
    January 15, 2010

    Well Dr. Wonderful, you certainly do stick around long enough to read through all this shit so you must care too.

    I think it’s a fascination/disdain for people’s lack of skepticism. It’s entertaining for me anyway. Plus seeing as I’m still a freshman in college pursuing a career in either nursing or pediatrics, it’s interesting to see people debunk this stuff.

  62. #62 AndyD
    January 15, 2010

    Oh dear, Cosmic Beam Therapy appears to have been zapped by a ball of negative energy. Naughty sceptics!

  63. #63 Militant Agnostic
    January 15, 2010

    fails to pass even the giggle test

    -Antaeus Feldspar

    I am going to steal that.

    And Sastra nails it (as usual) at #55

  64. #64 squirrelelite
    January 15, 2010

    Calli (6,32 & 53)

    Thanks for trying. I always enjoy your comments.

    I already posted my opinion of Pat Robertson’s comment on another blog and won’t repeat it here.

    But, I agree that sending money is probably the best thing most of us can do to help.

    And, I don’t think it is a total waste of time to express our compassion for the victims in Haiti in the hope that it will encourage others to send money to help.

  65. #65 squirrelelite
    January 15, 2010

    Jim Purdy 19 and DrWonderful 60:

    I wonder if you two were reading the same blog.

    Orac 20:

    I agree with your response to Jim Purdy, but I think he may have managed to hit one nail with his comment about doctors who “smugly disregard my complaints of serious drug side-effects”.

    My wife has a known adverse reaction to sulfa drugs (I don’t think she is unique in that) and her previous doctor gave her several prescriptions for medicines which included sulfa drugs. (She did note that in her paperwork.)

    After she got very sick for several days when she started taking one of these medicines (until she stopped taking it), he prescribed a different formulation containing the same drug.

    We didn’t fill the prescription and got a different doctor.

    I suppose it is not totally impossible that if he had carefully discussed why he thought the first medicine had made her so sick and why he thought a different combination would avoid that problem and why he thought it was necessary to keep trying to use this same drug, we might have kept trying.

    But, since he didn’t seem to be aware of the problem, we chose to give up and look elsewhere.

    But, we did not resort to Cosmic Beam Therapy or any of its cousins.

  66. #66 Thony C.
    January 16, 2010

    Forget the woo baby! Just keep those Silver Surfer graphics coming ;)

  67. #67 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    January 16, 2010

    Calli wrote:

    I didn’t ask you to pray, and I won’t ask you to pray. I feel that would be rude. My point was merely that prayer isn’t always just whatever you happen to think it is, and that it’s tiresome to see people hijacking threads to dump on prayer, especially when it’s in the context of a horrific calamity that has claimed tens of thousands of lives already.

    Calli, I get your point about reflection and its capacity to induce compassion. But please understand, whether you ask other people to pray or not, just mentioning it in the context of what needs to be done for such a horrific disaster in Haiti cannot help but be seen as preening self-regard. No one should care if you’re praying. No one should care if I’m sitting on my couch counting my failures to do my best for the poor, and resolving to be better. No one should care if John Doe is doing Buddhist meditation to “center himself” after hearing such awful news.

    Honestly, there’s no way to be nice about it – who fucking cares? We can all get off our pompous, navel-gazing, reflective asses and donate money, or we should all shut up. Compassion isn’t demonstrated by public pronouncements of how much we care, or how deeply, spiritually we “feel” for those poor people. It’s demonstrated with money and action.

    I don’t give a shit what prayerful, spiritual thoughts you have. I don’t care what it takes for you to motivate yourself to help end concrete, human suffering in the here and now. And you shouldn’t care about my “feelings” about this either. The only thing that matters is that we act. That’s compassion; all else is smug, cheap, Oprah-style posturing.

    I know you don’t mean it that way, but that’s how it reads. Anyone’s thoughts on prayer/spirituality/compassion don’t mean a tinker’s damn in this context. Just go donate.

  68. #68 Mark p
    January 16, 2010

    I honestly can’t believe you guys take this shit so seriously.

    Sorry? Obviously Orac and most readers here don’t take cosmic beam therapy even remotely seriously.

    So I presume your concern is that Orac is interested in very deliberately NOT taking it seriously. Which is what your problem is.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either this sort of woo is wrong, in which case we should fight it, like we should fight all untruth. Or the woo is right, in which case it should be taken seriously.

    What it seems to me you are asking us to do is to let untruth go unchallenged. I find that morally repugnant.

  69. #69 Lone Wolf
    January 16, 2010

    I find it hard to believe that any one could fall for something so obviously bullshit yet they do.
    Of all the magic based alt-med pseudoscience bullshit out there distance healing seems the most obviously ridicules. Even if you believe in that magic, distance healing still seems like bullshit.
    People will believe anything.

  70. #70 Jody
    January 16, 2010

    Karl said:

    -Someone named Jody in a thread on skeptico

    Damn. I’d forgotten that I wrote that. I had to go track down that comment and, sure enough, ’twas me.

    (Orac, please let me know if you want me to stop posting this quote/award when somebody earns it.)

    Well, I don’t know about Orac, but I’m happier than a cat-with-a-formerly-unswallowed-canary that you are still using this quote. Please, please never stop. I’ll take all the nearly-unknown immortality I can get.

  71. #71 Kristen
    January 16, 2010

    I honestly can’t believe you guys take this shit so seriously. You all sat in the front row of the bus in elementary school didn’t you? Go 5 rows back and you’d get the ass beaten out of you. Now…this is your revenge!!!

    No, my revenge then, as it is now is to be able to spot epic stupidity. School is for learning, and the people who wasted their time with social posturing pay for it by lacking discernment and falling for every woo-meister out there.

  72. #72 dusonfnp
    January 16, 2010

    Mmmmm, here’s a strawman for the knocking down: all atheists think that theists are smug, posturing, and kinda stupid. But based on the response to Calli in this thread, the strawman is rather lively. Calli, you are awesome. Orac and Pablo, also awesome. You define RESPECTFUL insolence for this lurker.

  73. #73 Dangerous Bacon
    January 16, 2010

    Dr. Wonderful is probably ticked off that this Cosmic Beam woo practitioner is poaching on a chiropractic preserve – the idea that manipulation alters energy fields to heal “dis-ease”:

    “When a chiropractor removes a vertebral subluxation, he or she alters the way that intelligence expresses through that individual. By removing interference to the free flow of life force, the brain and body are able to give and receive instructions (in the form of vibrations) that keep the three trillion plus cell functioning harmoniously. As a chiropractor I do far, far more than treat disorders or symptoms, for I literally restore life….I reconnect my patients with their Source.”

    Take that, you vibration-less allopaths!

    Chiros have also been associated with other mysterious Healing Forces, like magnets.

    Whatever keeps the marks patients happy.

  74. #74 DrWonderful
    January 16, 2010

    Oh Bacon, Bacon, Bacon you’ve come at me enough to know that’s not the type of chiropractic I practice. You also know that website you linked is from an individual who represents an insanely small number of chiropractors. That is not the accepted behavior, or norm, in the chiropractic profession yet to try to make it seem so. You also failed to mention that absolutely no energy or magnetic healing is taught in chiropractic schools.

    Being a gutless prick, you’re always able to find a stray chiro here and there so you can put up their web site and point to it as “evidence” of what all chiropractors are. Yet, because of your naturally selected superior critical thinking skills you know it really isn’t evidence at all. But as someone without a God, you are not overly concerned about honesty. As an atheist aren’t you sort of theologically bound to be on a never-ending pursuit of truth? Don’t see much of it from you.

    Instead, we (yes, we) see someone who is trapped in their big brain and who makes decisions based on limited cherry picked evidence. We see someone who actually has become what they hate the most…a fundmentalist who manipulates and distorts the facts to suit their own agenda. Admit it, the cool kids regularly beat the snot out of you at the bus stop because of what little dick you’ve always been. And now behind the cloak of secrecy, and without a benevolent God in your way, you seek your big brained revenge. Bwwwahhahahahahahhahhaaaa. True, isn’t it?

  75. #75 Dangerous Bacon
    January 16, 2010

    DocWonderful: “…that website you linked is from an individual who represents an insanely small number of chiropractors.”

    Odd then they feature treatments common to chiropractic practices, including “nutritional and diet therapy”, gadget machines, useless and potentially hazardous manipulations like the “Webster Technique”, which is supposed to prevent breech births, pediatric “adjustments” and the usual tripe about “subluxations”.

    From what you say here you appear to be near the less whacked-out end of the chiropractic spectrum and your position on vaccination (unlike the antivax propaganda spread by many of your colleagues) is laudable, but in general, chiropractic is not much more evidence-based than the types of woo you’re upset at seeing featured on this blog.

    Maybe there’s a hidden subluxation that’s responsible for your pointless nastiness. Have you considered a few sessions on the Active Therapeutic Movement 2 device (ATM2) featured on the chiro site linked to previously? It sounds marvelous. The mark patient removes money from his/her ATM and puts it into the chiro’s ATM2.

    Genius!

  76. #76 Rincewind'smuse
    January 16, 2010

    Thalassemia? Really? You can cure thalassemia? Hell, all this time I thought it was due to an inheritable mutation forming abnormal alpha or beta globin leading to life-long anemia. All this time it was negative energy and dis-ease. And with a paradigm shift in thinking I can convince those 6 month olds to cure themselves( with the help of cosmic beams). Who knew? Oh, and Dr. Wonderful? Being without a god doesn’t mean not being concerned about honesty;that statement alone calols into question your own honest quest for truth.Aaaand ….by definition an atheist wouldn’t really be theologically bound by anything, would he? You also seem to be a little preoccupied with everyone’s status in school or on the school bus, I’ve now seen several rather childish references in this vein.Why is this still so important to you?

  77. #77 DrWonderful
    January 16, 2010

    There ya go again Bacon, talking with authority about things you know nothing about. You literally sound insane to an impartial observer. It’s all or nothing with you, huh?

    Just because that DC feels he does “energy work” does not mean he doesn’t also perform manipulation and treat basic musculoskeletal issues. Der. And what is so wrong with treating kids? Who the fuck are you to say I cannot treat kids? Just this week I had 2 new pediatic patients (both sent by their peditrician, omg) for treatment. One is an 11 yr old female travel team basketball player with acute Osgood Schlatter’s and the other is a 13 yr old travel team wrestler competing in a national tournament next month who has an acute hamstring pull. So what? Big whoop the dude treats kids. So do I. Get over yourself.

    As far as the Webster technique why couldnt a chiro do it? It’s myunderstanding we’ve helped develop it! Der. I have never been trained myself so I will not do it but certainly a qualified chiro can. You personally may not accept a chiro doing it (therefore no one should accept it, right?) but many OB’s do ask chiro’s to do it for them. In my town the largest OB/Gyn practice in the area refers to a female chiro who specializes in womens health and pediatrics. She’s also one of the most sought after doula’s in the hospital where they all work. Her practice is all pregnant women and kids. she does not replace OB or pediatricians but works with every one of them in town. My understanding is that everyone who works with thinks she’s great.

    Anyway, this DC does all the Websters in the area when indicated. Rumor has it the OB/Gyn practice is looking to fold her directly into their practice which I think would be super. I know this because both parties have asked me for help working out their arrangement. Why me? Because one of the principle OB’s in the practice delivered my daughter and he thinks I am the greatest muscuskeletal specialist in the world after I fixed his carpal tunnel and achilles issues. we play golf at least 3 times a year and most of his family have been patients of mine.

    Just because you can find some garbage on a web site and sort of read it does not mean you have a clue, Bacon. So what, the guy adjusts people…whoa, shocker for a chiro. Big fucking scandal. Better call in the Chiro Hunters quick! Stop bringing this junk if you have NO game.

    You guys really know nothing about chiro, except what you want to know, which is nothing.

  78. #78 Dangerous Bacon
    January 16, 2010

    Don’t stop with the 13-year-old athletes who supposedly need chiropractice adjustments, Doc. How about the infants and toddlers whom chiropractors claim need chiropractic manipulation? And there’s the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, which presents three testimonial examples on its website to show how chiro manipulation increases the flow of breast milk in nursing moms. Really.

    Then again, that’d probably impress the heck out of you, since your last post is 100% testimonials, including my favorite:

    “…one of the principle OB’s in the practice delivered my daughter and he thinks I am the greatest muscuskeletal specialist in the world after I fixed his carpal tunnel and achilles issues. we play golf at least 3 times a year”

    Even M.D.s have their handicaps. :(

    I’d have more respect for chiros if the “mainstream” types and their chiro organizations did something about purging bad techniques and treatments as well as the sleazy types who promote and employ them – instead of indulging in knee-jerk reactions against those who respect evidence-based medicine of all types.

  79. #79 DrWonderful
    January 16, 2010

    Who’s knee jerking and cherry picking the evidence to support their argument? Uh, you. Look at your first shot at me. Trust me, you throw that shit at me and I will come back as fast as possible.

    Anyway, since you have become a fan of DrWonderful I’ll remind you that I’ve oft agreed that we have a lot of garbage in our profession. It has been draining out steadily over the past 20 years and I’m proud to say the typical chiro is very respectful. Hard for you to see it when you only look for the energy healers and wackos, though.

    So, anyway. I have no problem with chiro’s treating infants. It’s not dangerous. Definitely not compared to the alternative medical procedures and drugs. No they don’t ALL have evidence behind them either so get off your high horse.

    The fact is that I became a chiropractor because I saw one as a child. I had horrible asthma and ear infections that were managed medically until I was about 12. My mom took me to her chiro and within a month I never had another ear infection or asthma attack again. Yes, this chiro was also interested in diet and environmental factors. I’ve adjusted every one of my kids since they were born and I have yet to deal wirth a single ear infection, bout of colic or asthma attack.

    If they were to have an acute ear infection or asthma attack I would seek medical treatment for the acute episode. That is appropriate. Chiropractors do NOT treat acute asthma attacks and ear infections but do have success breaking up the repetitive onsets. The MD’s that work us understand this because they sat down and listened for five seconds instead of having your type of knee jerk reaction.

    I do not treat a lot of kids in my practice because I am mostly sports med. I send them to the chiro that is about to become partners in an outstanding OB/Gyn practice because she specializes in it. The MD’s there handle the acute stuff and the chiro works on lifestyle, nutrition, and structural stuff that really does have an impact. It’s not in your bible, PubMed, but it does have an impact and is very safe. That’s about all I can tell you on the subject. And, I honestly do not care what you think about it.

  80. #80 ESPness
    January 16, 2010

    he thinks I am the greatest muscuskeletal specialist in the world

    My mum thinks I’m good at drawing spaceships.

  81. #81 DrWonderful
    January 16, 2010

    @ESPness- um, uh, you named yourself after a penis? Dude, I could not have done a better job defining you myself.

  82. #82 Dangerous Bacon
    January 16, 2010

    Wow. Dig deep enough and the woo comes pouring out, even from initially reasonable-sounding chiros.

    There’s also testimonial evidence in my family about chiropractic manipulation for asthma. My wife was taken as a child for this treatment, which proved to be both painful and ineffective. She’s found relief from mainstream therapies. But since testimonials pro and con are basically worthless, here’s what the respected Cochrane review organization found when they looked at various sorts of manual therapy, provided by chiros, osteopaths, physical therapists etc.:

    “Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of manual therapy for patients with asthma.”

    In other words, you got nuthin’. Except for the one-sided testimonials that populate typical wooist websites and publications. The same goes for ear infections, infant colic and the other conditions that even “mainstream” chiros fantasize that they can effectively treat.

    Too bad. I thought for awhile that we had a semi-evidence-based chiro on board.

  83. #83 ESPness
    January 16, 2010

    The MD’s that work us understand this because they sat down and listened for five seconds instead of having your type of knee jerk reaction.

    There must have been quite a bit of personal testimony and anecdote crammed into that 5 seconds.

  84. #84 tod
    January 16, 2010

    wouldn’t you know it! kevin trudeau is already signed onto long range healing through photos. a link from his “kevin trudeau show” site takes one to “AIMprogram.com.” it uses an “energetic balance” technique. The video testamonials are so damn sincere!

  85. #85 DrWonderful
    January 16, 2010

    Bacon- Trust me I am patient centered and really do my best to do it the right way. But I do have a question, how do generally accepted medical therapies hold up to the same evidenced based standard that you would require of basic chiropractic care? Not as well as you might think.

    You seem to forget that I do not even pretend to assume the “evidence” is ample for conservative management of the more visceral issues such as asthma, colic and ear infections. I do, however, explain this to patients when recommending they try something. I also know it can help. I don’t need proof that the sky is blue. The number of patients that report success far outweighs the failures. Why? How? I care little as I am a grunt in the field waist deep in sick people all day. I will say that I do counsel patients to co-manage any non musculoskeletal issue with the appropriate medical specialty which I always encourage my colleagues to do. I will, however, take offense to your assumption that chiropractic care is just a big scam that preys on the public. No more so than medicine then, sir.

    I would mention that I have similiar discussions about accepted risks and benefits when mentioning other options such as for example epidural injections that are now being used by MD’s as if they were aspirin. The truth is epidural steroid injections also have a very poor level of evidence behind them (Armon et al. Neurology 2007) and are much more dangerous than anything I could ever do to a patient. However, there are plenty of patient testimonials saying they can be helpful and I weigh those in my decision making. I do explain this to patients when I suggest they consider them when they are stuck in a rut.

    The bigger issue here is that patients do not, and will not, care about your little cabal’s opinion of the evidence. They will not put a bunch of snarky assholes in charge of their health care. Forget the dream. To think you can reduce health care to a set of cookbooks and strict recipes is a foolish and useless pursuit, my dangerous friend. As long as it is people we who are being are treated(and not horses) EBM will never grow to be more than “influencial” in decision making and will certainly never become authoratative. Much like the new mammography guidelines, which I agree with btw, got brushed aside.

    Peace brother.

  86. #86 Dangerous Bacon
    January 16, 2010

    First, DocWonderful gets upset at the idea of criticizing (or just mocking) quackery and thinks he can have fun jeering at skeptics.

    When he gets called on his own brand of quackery, he flings insults, talks about how “respectful” chiropractors are, flings more insults, plays the “I’m far too busy healing the sick to worry about evidence” gambit, does more name-calling, and then says “Peace brother”.

    This is one confused chiro.

    “I will, however, take offense to your assumption that chiropractic care is just a big scam that preys on the public.”

    Never said that. Apart from their limited utility in managing musculoskeletal pain, however, most chiros do embrace quackery to a variable extent, as you have demonstrated.

    The problem with DocWonderful is that he wants the respect and admiration of the cool evidence-based kids in the back of the bus, but all that dorky woo ruins the impression he’s trying to make.

  87. #87 ESPness
    January 17, 2010

    The problem with DocWonderful is that he wants the respect and admiration of the cool evidence-based kids in the back of the bus, but all that dorky woo ruins the impression he’s trying to make.

    That, and he made fun of my nickname. My real one is worse you know.

    Shorter DrWonderful: “I get no respect!”

  88. #88 DrWonderful
    January 17, 2010

    @Bacon and Short Penis- I believe I made some very good points about standard of care with reagrds to medicine and chiropractic and more similiar the two professions really are.

    Did you get my point about epidural steroid injections or did that not fit your pre-determined and biased opinions? You seem to forget that true science is supposed to have no pre-determinations or biases. This is where you guys in this cult go off the rails…and become fundamentalists yourselves.

    Anyway, the evidence shows no true benefit from epidural steroids into either the cervical or lumbar spine. I am surprised by Armon et al because patients typically report improvement and sometimes it’s permanent so I am still open to suggesting them to patients. I tell patients about the research v testimony and do refer them for injections when we’re stuck. Their choice, however. Typically they could not care less about the research.

    The evidence that specifically states there is no beneift from epidurals certainly does not stop orthopedists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, physiatrists etc from making the exact same recommendation. It goes without saying that they refer for epidurals much sooner and much more often than I certainly would. This procedure is “accepted” by their peers, however, so it slips under your radar and off your shit list. Repeat over and over and over again with a multitude of procedures used in medicine that are accepted based on testimony and field testing rather that pure science. So, apparently you want a double standard here. Where’s screaming about the sudden and obvious increase in epidural injections over the past 2 years right after the research said it doesn’t work? Y’all are silent, of course.

    My point is that patient testimony is often the determining factor in making referrals, deciding which procedures to perform and ergo even when determining insurance benefits in all fields of health care. Why are you not concerned about more dangerous procedures such as epidurals that also cost 20 times more and have research that specifically states they are ineffective? Or are they excluded because they are done by MD’s and are already “accepted.”

    If you’re going to overlook procedures done by MD’s that are widely “accepted” by their peers but the research says does not work then you will have to do the same across the board. Why? Because doing it any other way is pure unadulterated discrimination and that is frowned upon in this culture, the legislature and the courts. Only fundamentalists would try to override the entire system and culture for their own narrow agenda. You’ve now become the unreasonable, born again, supreme priests of science.

    I guess that’s the point you refuse to comment on because it would force you to think critically about, well… you.

  89. #89 Dangerous Bacon
    January 17, 2010

    I am more than happy to question procedures and drugs used in mainstream medical care when they lack evidence of efficacy. Such treatments have been criticized by Orac and commenters here – and no one in the medical field to my knowledge has responded to criticism by saying “You shouldn’t be attacking us – look at chiropractic instead!”

    Medicine continually questions its sacred cows and makes changes in accordance with new evidence. This is held against it by woo practitioners, who virtually never toss out their ineffective and/or dangerous therapies.

    I’m not sure how respecting evidence-based medicine counts as “fundamentalism”, except that flinging this epithet is common among woo-meisters who like to pretend their opponents are “worshipping” science (also a tactic used by evolution deniers who claim the other side “worships” Darwin).

    Here’s another one of those allegedly “insanely rare” chiropractors who’s into energy healing, amongst a parade of other woo:

    “Dr. Debbie O’Reilly graduated with honors from National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, IL. Dr. O’Reilly is A Diplomate in Acupuncture, and is certified in Addictionology, Body Talk, Neuro-Emotional Technique, and Nimmo Trigger Point Therapy and Animal Chiropractic. She also treats using contact Reflex Analysis, Solutions Spiritual Clearing Technique, Rife Machine, Cranial Sacral Technique, Ion Cleanse Foot Bath and Psych-k.”

    http://www.vibrantenergy.com/home

    There’s enough bizarreness there to keep Orac in material indefinitely. Oh, and like her colleague DocWonderful, she thinks her woo is useful against ear infections and asthma.

    You ought to get in touch with her, Doc. She seems to have a lot of ideas that could juice up your practice.

  90. #90 ursa major
    January 17, 2010

    Dr Wonderful,

    Wow, I mean, just wow. The childish temper tantruming you manage is just amazing. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Sit down. Take your fingers off the keyboard. Mediate. Read for comprehension. See a psychiatrist. Do not see any more patients until you do ’cause you’ve got some serious problems.

  91. #91 DrWonderful
    January 17, 2010

    @Bacon- I never said “you shouldn’t be attacking us- look at medicine.” You’ll need to show me the evidence. I beleive that is your own childish distortion of what I wrote. I said I also refer for epidurals and have no problem with the fact that patients still does not line up with the very few studies that have been done. That’s quite different that what side side says.

    What I did ask was whether y’all are able to see the hypocricy in your own fundamentalist arguments? Are you willing and able to create one standard for all instead discriminating against those who are not exactly like you? That is the basic question you will need to answer very shortly.

    @ursa major- go fuck yourself. If you read the thread I am the only who wrote comprehensive and balanced comments in a clear and articulate manner. You’ll need to also show me some evidence of what problems I may have, especially since I just totally beat the bollocks out of Bacon and Short Penis during a fair and honest debate. So, go fuck yourself again.

  92. #92 Jody
    January 17, 2010

    DrWonderful wrote:

    …My point is that patient testimony is often the determining factor in making referrals, deciding which procedures to perform and ergo even when determining insurance benefits in all fields of health care…

    ….The fact is that I became a chiropractor because I saw one as a child. I had horrible asthma and ear infections that were managed medically until I was about 12. My mom took me to her chiro and within a month I never had another ear infection or asthma attack again…

    …My understanding is that everyone who works with thinks she’s great.

    In response, I’d like to quote this learned scholar of medicine:

    Ok, some stories. But I’ve always thought (and was taught in school) that patient testimonials were not considered valid proof of anything.

    And who is this noted scholar of medicine, parser of the proactive and keen critic of the contemptible? ? One DrWonderful, writing on the Chirotalk.proboards.com, in response to patients who reported being injured by Chiropractic woo.

    One standard for the good Dr and one standard for everyone else. Is that what they teach in Chiro school, sir?

  93. #93 DrWonderful
    January 17, 2010

    @Jody- sorry, you’re not making any sense. Did you even read what I wrote? I have always agreed that patient testimony does not equal “proof” of anything. It is not “scientific evidence.” Yeah, got it.

    I fail to see your point about the quotes of mine you selected. Yeah, um, ok? I would need a double blind study to say any of the above? This conversation sort of confuses you, doesn’t it?

    So, anyway my point, if you care, was about how we can’t discriminate against professions in this discussion…if you want it to go well at least. The glaring example is the increase reliance on epidural steroid injections immediately after Armon et al published a study showing they were completely ineffective. Nonetheless, the neuros, ortho’s, PMR guys, etc completely ignore the evidence every day and order them anyway.

    That is an example. Just an example demonstrating that what you’re accusing me of already actually exists in your own backyard. Or “their” backyard more likely, because I’m not so sure you’re very well educated and likley are not an MD.

    So to call me out on it this hypocritical unless you do the same for everyone else. The difference between epidurals and some of the other wacky stuff Orac calls the MD’s out for is that the epidurals are “accepted” amongst the peer group and therefore becomes the standard of care.

    The point is if this group wants to set one standard for chiro’s, are they willing to set the same standard for medicine? Why is this so hard for you to wrap your head around?

    I will say I much prefer this site to chirotalk because at least these people here are very well educated and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Orac. He is not the slightest bit insecure or intimidated by anyone and does not censor dissenting opinions.

  94. #94 bellastarkey
    January 17, 2010

    Does anyone think it’s a little disturbing that these psychic, remote medical treatments/surgeries are lifted straight out of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Marquez and even in that book, which full of magical happenings, they didn’t work and it was made quite clear that the “doctors” were scam artists?

  95. #95 Adam Cuerden
    January 17, 2010

    Isn’t this just Radionics, the big quackery of 1910?

    I read some old AMA books on quackery from the early 20th century. It depresses me to see it all coming back.

    We need a new Morris Fishbein.

  96. #96 Tracy W
    January 18, 2010

    They will not put a bunch of snarky assholes in charge of their health care.

    Actually, while even I, as a non-doctor, recognise that there are many medical inaccuracies in Dr House, on the TV show “House”, well if there was a real genius diagnoser out there and I had some unidentified disease, I’d seek him out even if he was a snarky asshole like on the TV show.

    To think you can reduce health care to a set of cookbooks and strict recipes is a foolish and useless pursuit, my dangerous friend.

    Perhaps the goal might never be achieved, but the pursuit to reduce health care to a set of cookbooks and strict recipes strikes me as a very useful one even so. The more we can figure out the best solutions ahead of time, and a strict protocol for applying them, the better off patients will be. my old doctors had a strict “recipe” of asking the patient to confirm the name of the medication and the expiry date before giving any injection, which I thought was a very useful recipe for making sure that the wrong medication was not given (I changed doctors because I moved countries and am now trying to persuade my current doctors’ practice to adopt the same “recipe”).
    Or take checklists for treating patients. My brother received a severe brain injury in 2005, and got far better treatment than he would have gotten 10 years earlier, because the medical system had introduced a cookbook for treating head injuries. (My mother and I read a book “Over My Head” written by a doctor about her severe head injury received in the 1980s, and it was obvious there how the treatment was missing.)

    Remember that cookbooks and strict recipes can be set up so they adjust to a situation, for example a medical “recipe” can call for checking for egg-allergies before giving the injection, with obviously not giving the injection if there is an egg-allergy.

  97. #97 Dangerous Bacon
    January 18, 2010

    Earlier, DocWonderful was going on about how supporters of evidence-based medical care shouldn’t criticize quackery like cosmic beam therapy (or chiropractic adjustments for childhood asthma and ear infections, which he performs), because of the existence of non-evidence based medical treatments – specifically citing epidural steroid injections for pain relief.

    Apart from this being an obviously fallacious tu quoque argument (and foolish, since non-evidence-based medical care has been questioned previously in postings here), what about epidural steroid injections?

    This is not in my area of medical practice, but I looked up some Cochrane reports and other systematic reviews on the subject, and epidural steroid injection for pain does in fact have some legitimate medical uses backed by research.

    Some readily accessible 2009 publications on the subject.

    Clearly this is an area still under study – but it’s a helluva lot more evidence-based than the practice of manipulating the spines of young children in an attempt to prevent or relieve asthma and ear infections.

    At least the cosmic beam nonsense only drains the wallets of scam victims – chiropractic manipulation of young children for these conditions is not only useless but can be dangerous as well.

  98. #98 DrWonderful
    January 18, 2010

    Bacon- you’ll need to look at armon at al, Neurology 2007 where it is fairly clear that epidurals are not indicated as there is no evidence of any benefit. MY point is I will still suggest them to patinet much like the ortho’s, neuro’s, neurosurgeon’s, pmg docs, etc. Point is, again, if you’re so overly concerned about the mess in my back yard it would be much less hypocritical of you to first clean up the mess in yours.

    Now, cosmic beam therapy…how often does this actually happen? Does it need any real attention at all? Fun to look at in this forum, yes, but so were my original comments (for me at least).

    Now onto to children. You are correct, I am not opposed to chiro’s treating kids as it is very safe and reports to have some positve impact. Juts like I’m not opposed to patients trying epidurals based on field testing and patient testimony despite the evidence sayng they are worthless.

    So anyway…any evidence to back up your statement here?…”not only useless but can be dangerous as well.” If you’re interested, chiro’s do not adjust children the same way we would adjust an adult. It is not dangerous at all. Very specific techniques are used on children of varying ages. I adjust my children so that may tell you I know it is safe. Also, do you even know what an adjustment is? Because you seem to have some hard fast opinions about them that do not macth up with reality…again. Boy, you are somethnig else with your assumptions.

  99. #99 ursa major
    January 18, 2010

    From the wonderful and erudite DrWonderful:

    @ursa major- go fuck yourself. If you read the thread I am the only who wrote comprehensive and balanced comments in a clear and articulate manner.

    Oh yeah, he sure showed me. I’m convinced. “Dr”, go fuck yourself and your nonsensical chiro. I don’t give a damn how much of the woo of your “professional” colleagues you swallow – whether it is 50% or 80% or what. The entire foundation of your scam is bogus. Now if you had wanted to go into some evidence based hands on care – well you could have tried physical therapy. But you went the woo way.

    Oh Bacon, keep up that hickory smoked goodness. Ah, the smell of woo cooking in the morning.

    *wanders off for a cup of coffee and copy of the DSM4.*

  100. #100 Dangerous Bacon
    January 18, 2010

    I responded to your tu quoque distraction on epidural steroid injection with evidence from systematic reviews showing some legitimate uses from this therapy. More are available from an Internet search (Google is your friend), for instance Cochrane reviews showing efficacy for these injections in relieving postoperative pain. All you seem to have is a single cherry-picked publication. Did you even bother to read the links I posted?

    As previously noted, I have no stake in defending epidural steroid injections. I realize they are probably a sore point with you seeing that your rice bowl is threatened – but really, you need better examples of medical iniquity.

    And even if you present them, so what? No one here is defending the use of non-evidence based medical care. You’re the one who chose to attack us for lampooning woo. Now that the nonsense you pursue in your own practice has gotten attention, all you can do is point fingers at others (I still haven’t seen you present any evidence that it’s a smart idea to do spinal manipulation on kids for asthma and ear infections, other than testimonials and the fact that you’ve inflicted this treatment on your own kids).

    And yes, manipulation performed on children can be dangerous.

    “Thirteen studies (2 randomized trials, 11 observational reports) were identified for inclusion. We identified 14 cases of direct adverse events involving neurologic or musculoskeletal events. Nine cases involved serious adverse events (eg, subarachnoidal hemorrhage, paraplegia), 2 involved moderately adverse events that required medical attention (eg, severe headache), and 3 involved minor adverse events (eg, midback soreness). Another 20 cases of indirect adverse events involved delayed diagnosis (eg, diabetes, neuroblastoma) and/or inappropriate provision of spinal manipulation for serious medical conditions (ie, meningitis, rhabdomyosarcoma).”

    Given how unlikely it is that there’s any benefit to the vast majority of these manipulations in young children (what mechanism do you postulate for spinal adjustment helping or preventing asthma?), it’s unacceptable for there to be even a small risk of serious injury as a result.

    If you’re going to be jumping into these discussions solely for the purpose of thread-shitting, be prepared to have the embarassing odors associated with chiropractic come under scrutiny.

  101. #101 Jody
    January 18, 2010

    @Jody- sorry, you’re not making any sense

    Actually, doc, I am. You cite anecdotes to support the efficacy of your treatments, then turn around and state the irrelevancy of the same when they criticize the same. Utterly ridiculous.

    What’s more, you turn around and point to one study of one practice in the wider field of medicine as support both for the problems with EBM and the advantages of chiropractic woo. Again, ridiculous.

    Again, you didn’t get much of an education at your chiropractic school.

  102. #102 Vicki
    January 18, 2010

    Dr. Wonderful @98:

    That you adjust your children tells me that you believe it to be safe (and, I hope, beneficial). That doesn’t tell me that you know it to be safe. To put it simply: people make mistakes. Suggestions or evidence that your techniques are potentially harmful do not necessarily imply that you are deliberately hurting your patients, whether your children or someone else’s.

    It’s an easy error: “I take this myself, therefore my patients can trust that it’s safe.” No. Undergoing a treatment does not automatically tell you that it’s safe, whether you’re a layperson, a doctor, or a professional of some other sort.

  103. #103 ESPness
    January 19, 2010

    Given how unlikely it is that there’s any benefit to the vast majority of these manipulations in young children

    Careful Dangerous Bacon, you know how litigious chiropractors can be when faced with the truth.

    Haven’t had any swearing for a while, DrWoonderful that’s your cue.

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