Respectful Insolence

I realize that I’ve said many times before that there is no such thing as “alternative” medicine. There is medicine that has been shown to work through science, medicine that has not yet been shown to work, and medicine that has been shown not to work. “Alternative” medicine that is shown to work through science ceases to be “alternative” and becomes simply medicine.

There are times when I think I might need to change that opinion.

Well, not exactly. However, promoters of various forms of alternative medicine, stymied when they try to show that their woo works through science, seem to think that they can just make up alternative science in order to “explain” their favored quackery. Some of the people who do this have rather–shall we say?–colorful imaginations, too. Remember, for example, Lionel Milgrom and his torturing of quantum physics to justify homeopathy? Or his imagining the “healer”-patient relationship as a “quantized gyroscope“? Or Milgrom’s representation of homeopathy as the “semiotic notion that the homeopathic remedy is a ‘sign’ working simultaneously in and for two different but connected meaningful contexts“? Sadly, Milgrom is not alone in just making shit up. Dr. Charlene Werner, for instance, is not nearly as imaginative or talented at making woo up as Milgrom, as her widely mocked video about homeopathy and “energy” shows. The same is true of John Benneth and his even sillier attribution of clathrate hydrates as the One True Mechanism by which homeopathy works. When science doesn’t support woo-meisters, apparently they feel free to make science say whatever they need it to say to “explain” their quackery.

And I’ve found another doozy, this time from William A. Tiller. We’ve met William Tiller before. At the time, he actually had the audacity to propose a “higher-dimensional-level substance, labeled deltrons, falling outside the constraints of relativity theory and able to move at velocities” faster than the speed of light and that acts as “a coupling agent between the electric monopole types of substances and the magnetic monopole types of substances to produce both electromagnetic (EM) and magnetoelectric (ME) types of mediator fields exhibiting a special type of ‘mirror principle’ relationship between them,” and I proposed that Tiller and Milgrom battle it out in a steel cage match to see whose woo is strongest. It’s now three years later, and Tiller is back with more ammunition to use to prove whose woo reigns supreme, and all I can say is: Wow, maaaaan! Check out the title: On Understanding the Very Different Science Premises Meaningful to CAM Versus Orthodox Medicine: Part I–The Fundamentals.

You can tell right away that Tiller is going to make stuff up by the very title! Notice how he makes a dichotomy of “very different science premises” needed to be “meaningful” to CAM. In the real world, science is science. Different disciplines of science don’t need “very different science premises” to be “meaningful” to them. The scientific method is the scientific method. There may be different ways of applying the scientific method necessitated by different disciplines and different situations, but certain core principles always remain regardless of the specific scientific discipline, principles such as hypothesis testing and falsification. Not so, apparently, in woo world! You get a flavor of this right from the abstract:

Background: In previous articles by this author and his colleagues in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, it has been shown that physical reality consists of two uniquely different categories of substance, one being electric charge-based while the other appears to be magnetic charge-based. Normally, only the electric atom/molecule type of substance is accessible by our traditional measurement instruments. We label this condition as the uncoupled state of physical reality that is our long-studied, electric atom/molecule level of nature. The second level of physical reality is invisible to traditional measurement instruments when the system is in the uncoupled state but is accessible to these same instruments when the system is in the coupled state of physical reality. The coupling of these two unique levels has been shown to occur via the application of a sufficient intensity of human consciousness in the form of specific intentions. Part II of this article (in a forthcoming issue) explores the thermodynamics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) through five different space-time applications involving coupled state physics to show their relevance to today’s medicine: (1) homeopathy; (2) the placebo effect; (3) long-range, room temperature, macroscopic-size-scale, information entanglement; (4) explanation for dark matter/energy plus possible human levitation; and (5) electrodermal diagnostic devices. The purpose is to clearly differentiate the use and limitations of uncoupled state physics in nature and today’s traditional medicine from coupled state physics in tomorrow’s CAM.

Conclusions: Existing orthodox science provides the technical underpinnings and mindset for today’s orthodox medicine. Psycho-energetic science will provide the technical underpinnings and mindset for CAM.

Woo. Woooooo.

Notice how Tiller postulates that there is a “second level of physical reality” that can’t be accessed by “traditional” measurement instruments and that this “uncoupled state” can be coupled through human consciousness, specifically “intention.” Also note how cleverly Tiller paints scientific medicine as “today’s medicine.” It’s now, it’s mundane, it’s nothing, whereas to Tiller CAM is “tomorrow’s” medicine. Don’t you get it, you boring old drones doing science-based medicine? You’re way behind the curve. You’re the past; Tiller is the future! Fear him!

Sorry. I’ll settle down. But it’s hard. So hard. Especially when Tiller writes things like:

Today’s orthodox medicine follows the mindset and focus of today’s traditional science, which has a 400-year heritage of probing the nature of Nature!Acornerstone of that heritage, since the days of Descartes, has been the now unstated assumption that, ”No qualities of human consciousness can significantly influence a well-designed target experiment in physical reality.” Thus, science as we know it is a science wherein effects of human consciousness cannot be allowed as a significant variable in the study of Nature’s manifold expressions. Medicine has adopted this same unstated assumption, which is perhaps a useful approximation when dealing with seemingly inanimate objects, but not when dealing with living systems and especially conscious, selfmotivated humans.

A “useful approximation when dealing with seemingly inanimate objects”? What does that mean? Is he implying that it isn’t just living organisms that are alive? It sure sounds that way. That’s not all though. There’s so much more to Tiller’s “alternative” science. So much more. The woo threatens the very fabric of the space-time continuum. The first thing I notice is that Tiller recycles some of the same figures he used in his previous excursion into woo, but he has some new ones too. I particularly like this figure:

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What does it mean? who the heck knows? Tiller claims that this is “An energy level diagram embracing both classical physical and ”unseen” vacuum levels of substance.” Based on what evidence? Who knows? But it sure looks pretty. I do like how Tiller calls the “emotion domain substance levels,” “magnetic monopole substance levels” and the “mind-domain substance levels” (the three of which I like to call the woo-super woo lack of substance levels”) are separated from “classical physical reality” by a “forbidden gap.” Together they make up the “vacuum reality,” which to my mind is a pretty accurate description of the space between Tiller’s neurons.

In the meantime, Tiller amuses us with all sorts of very science-y-looking equations peppered throughout the paper as though someone took a dump from 20,000 feet and let it splatter. Normally, I’d be embarrassed that I don’t understand a lot of them anymore. It just goes to show how far I’ve fallen since I last took advanced calculus. It’s hard to believe that I never got anything less than an A in any math class in my life, but that was 25 years ago and, seemingly a lifetime ago. It just goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it. On the other hand, I’m comforted by the fact that the math here is easily recognized as pure nonsense, but that doesn’t stop Tiller from constructing elaborate “energy-velocity” diagrams and multiple vector diagrams. Perhaps it’s a good thing that my understanding of advanced calculus has deteriorated to rudimentary. If I understood what I used to understand when I was in college, my brain might fall out of my ears from the screech of mathematics being water-boarded by a mad torturer. I shudder to ask Mark Chu-Carroll about it. In any case, as a scientist I know that mathematical models mean nothing if they have no grounding in reality, and Tiller definitely has no grounding in reality.

Of course, no woo is complete without a reference to “information.” Tiller keeps using that word. I think it does not mean what Tiller thinks it means, at least not in this context. But get a load of how Tiller abuses information theory and relativity at the same time:

However, for the past 60 years,4 it has been known that any process in Nature that increases the information content, I, will automatically decrease the entropy, S. Since the mid- 1800s, it has been known from thermodynamics that the absolute temperature T times the entropy S is comparable to the internal energy E in the over-riding thermodynamic freeenergy function, so an information wave can indeed do work if the conditions are right. Thus, Equation 2a indicates that a serious problem does now exist with relativity theory.

The soundness of Equation 2a conclusion is greatly buttressed by the presence of Equation 2b, which is perhaps the simplest statement of the ”Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” that just ”drops out” of the same mathematical analysis. Here, Dx is the uncertainty of particle position while Dpx is the uncertainty of particle momentum in the x-direction and h is Planck’s constant.

To solve the dilemma of a massive particle traveling slower than the velocity of light interacting with a mass-wave component traveling faster than the velocity of light, I have postulated the existence of a moiety from the domain of ‘emotion’ shown in Figure 2. It is labeled “deltrons”; these act as the coupler in Equation 1 (aeff) with the capability of going both slower than the velocity of light when interacting with the electric field of some substance as well as faster than the velocity of light when interacting with the ”magnetic information field” of a vacuum level substance.

Sounds like science, doesn’t it? “Sounds” is the operative word. It’s really nice to be able to make up new particles like “deltrons” as needed. Now, I bet woo-meisters will retort that physicists make up particles willy-nilly all the time. While it’s true that physicists have postulated the existence of new particles, they’ve done it because of strong experimental evidence showing an anomaly that can’t be explained any other way. Then the existence of those particles were shown to explain experimental and observational evidence. If Tiller wants to postulate the existence of particles like “deltrons,” he really needs–oh, you know–to show that there actually is a “domain of emotion” that can be coupled with “classical physical reality,” which those of us who aren’t woo-meisters call simply reality. That’s the problem with the nasty, reductionist science that we scientists practice. It constrains us, preciousssss.

Not so, Tiller.

Tiller is, however, at least honest in one way. He clearly recognizes that several CAM modalities are so incredibly implausible based on current science that it is not unreasonable to describe them as being indistinguishable from being impossible. Homeopathy comes to mind, as does reiki. For those to be true, huge chunks of very well-settled and well-supported science in multiple disciplines would have to be found wrong. While it’s not impossible for this to happen, it would require a level of evidence somewhere on the order of the evidence supporting all the areas of science that say homeopathy is impossible. We haven’t seen that yet. Tiller takes a different tack. When science says homeopathy and his other favorite forms of woo are impossible, he twists it into a pretzel, makes up a bunch of stuff, and declares science as supporting his woo thusly:

The main point that this author has been trying to make with this article is that traditional medicine and CAM build their practices on two very different aspects of science, and they both need to understand that. I and my colleague’s experimental and theoretical research of the past decade has delineated these differences: (1) there are at least two unique levels of physical substance, not just one, occupying the same general space in our physical bodies but, normally, they are minimally interactive with each other. This leads to our normal, uncoupled state of physical reality; (2) the human acupuncture meridian=chakra system, functioning in the coarsest level of the physical vacuum (in the space between the fundamental electric particles that make up our electric atoms and molecules), is at the coupled state of physical reality; (3) using intention-host devices, one can macroscopically ”condition” a space, the measuring equipment contained within that space and, to some degree, humans occupying that space to the coupled state wherein the two uniquely different kinds of physical substance begin to significantly interact with each other; and (4) the normal, uncoupled state of physical reality is the material medium addressed by most of orthodox medicine while the partially coupled state of physical reality is the material medium addressed by most of CAM.

The theoretical construct, invented by this author to understand the seemingly strange behavior of inorganic, organic, and living materials present in the coupled state of physical reality when human consciousness is utilized as a significant experimental variable, consists of two, reciprocal subspaces, one of which is space-time (D-space) while the other is a wave domain (R-space) with some level of a higher dimensional coupler substance activated. D-space is the home of positive mass and energy, electrically charged particles traveling at velocities slower than c, while R-space is the home of negative mass and energy, magnetically charged information waves traveling at velocities greater than c. When one expresses the thermodynamic behavior of the partially coupled duplex system in equation form, as in Part II, Appendix I, one sees allopathic-like thermodynamics dominating at large values of the intensive variables, homeopathic- like thermodynamics dominating at very small values of these same intensive variables and some combination of both for intensive variable magnitudes in between.

The consequence, of course, is that Tiller’s physics is so different from real physics that–of course!–randomized clinical trials and evidence-based medicine don’t work:

This is a physics and chemistry behavior quite different from that found in traditional science; it is a significant perturbation of that reality. In this world, one cannot expect (1) randomized-controlled medical trials to be a rational strategy for experimentation or (2) evidence-based medicine, gathered by traditional science-based instruments, to access all of the relevant data-streams involved in CAM practices. Today’s problem for CAM is that there appears to be only one measurement instrument available to reliably discriminate between the uncoupled and coupled states of physical reality.

And that, of course, is Tiller’s goal. All of the equations, all of the pretty pictures, all of the contortions of language, all the tables, all the made up constructs, they all serve one purpose and one purpose alone: To produce a string of gobbledygook that can persuade the scientifically illiterate that science doesn’t explain CAM, that randomized controlled trials don’t work for CAM, and that you–yes, you!–can use your “intent” to cure disease.

Comments

  1. #1 Scottynuke
    March 16, 2010

    But, but, but…

    It’s Tuesday!

  2. #2 Orac
    March 16, 2010

    Sometimes I can’t wait until Friday.

  3. #3 Rene Najera
    March 16, 2010

    In my youth, the “forbidden gap” had an entirely different meaning… if you know what I mean.

  4. #4 Sam Cook
    March 16, 2010

    Can we please remove this idiot from my field of research? bits of my brain are shutting down because of the bullshit that Tiller has produced.

    I looked at his maths and it hurts.

    please make it stop.

    please?

  5. #5 Scottynuke
    March 16, 2010

    I’d say available evidence points to all of us having a tough time waiting for Friday. :-)

    Tiller as Yoda: “Couple or couple not; there is no reality.”

    And the woo’s really flying: “any process in Nature that increases the information content … will automatically decrease the entropy.” Decrease entropy??? That’s so wrongedly wrong its wrongedness can’t be quantified!

  6. #6 Terry
    March 16, 2010

    I propose a new particle: the “wootron”. Not only does it sound cool, it can be used to construct almost any reality ncessary to make a point. For instance, the reason Orac cannot understand this elaborate and cogent thesis is that he lacks the necessary wootronic connections in his cerebral wootex. For instance, if we were to take a WRI (Wootron Resonance Image) of his brain, we would have no choice but to note the decoupled state of his wootron/deltron ratio, given by:

    W(1) = BSN/SIMU

    Where is W sub 1 is constrained by the Bull Shit Nomenclature content divided by the Shit I Made Up bosun, a new, but as yet undected form of energy dipoles.

    Or maybe they are energy tadpoles. I’m still working it out.

  7. #7 Michael
    March 16, 2010

    “A cornerstone of that heritage, since the days of Descartes, has been the now unstated assumption that, ”No qualities of human consciousness can significantly influence a well-designed target experiment in physical reality.””
    Of course-that’s why scientists have never done experiments to investigate the placebo effect.

  8. #8 nsib
    March 16, 2010

    Scottynuke,

    And the woo’s really flying: “any process in Nature that increases the information content … will automatically decrease the entropy.” Decrease entropy??? That’s so wrongedly wrong its wrongedness can’t be quantified!

    You mean, posting comments on blogs won’t prevent the heat death of the universe? What have I been doing all this time, then?

  9. #9 Lilcaf
    March 16, 2010

    Lol at trying to use the Dirac energy gap to bridge the mind with the soul. Silly
    goose ! Energy boundaries are for real physicists.

  10. #10 Amy Alkon
    March 16, 2010

    Interestingly, nobody, not even the wooskis, ever pays a car mechanic to “energy-heal” their vehicle.

  11. #11 Dave
    March 16, 2010

    Reading this stuff reminds me of the conversations I used to have as an undergrad . . . late at night . . . stoned out of my gourd. (“Duuuuuude! What if emotions could affect gravity?” “Yeah, check it out! Your emotions are like energy, right?! And we all know that energy and mass are the same, so your emotions totally affect gravity.” “Duuuuuuude!”)

  12. #12 Jojo
    March 16, 2010

    If Tiller is going to abuse science so badly to justify his inane ideas, I wish he would at least come up with a catchier name for his reality than “Vacuum Reality.” Vacuum reality? Seriously? That’s the best he could do? He’s completely unfettered by logic and facts and the best mental image he can create is of…nothingness? This is not just a science fail, it’s a creativity fail.

    It does leave me wondering? What unit of measure do you use to measure energy in the vacuum reality, Hoovers, Bissels, or Dysons?

  13. #13 Scott
    March 16, 2010

    The bits about magnetic monopoles are particular howlers IMO. Probably because that’s the only part that actually comes close enough to reality to be compared.

  14. #14 Adam_Y
    March 16, 2010

    And the woo’s really flying: “any process in Nature that increases the information content … will automatically decrease the entropy.” Decrease entropy??? That’s so wrongedly wrong its wrongedness can’t be quantified!

    In a move that makes creationists butchering or the word theory look sane there are two different definitions of entropy. There is thermodynamic entropy and information theory entropy. He is referring to information theory definition of entropy.

  15. #15 Adam_Y
    March 16, 2010

    Ooyyyy…. Never mind. I think he is butchering the fact that the information theory and thermodynamic entropy can be thought to be similiar.

  16. #16 Scottynuke
    March 16, 2010

    @Adam_Y;

    Oh, that makes it all better then. [/sarcasm]

    Except that he’s applying the IT definition to thermodynamic processes. *going to soak my head to counteract the excess heating from cognitive dissonance*

  17. #17 Scottynuke
    March 16, 2010

    We agree, Adam_Y, my apologies for the mis-timed post.

  18. #18 LC
    March 16, 2010

    Holy crap – that crap looks like it came straight out of a Sokal generator.

    I’m surprised he hasn’t started raving on about dark energy and virtual particles. I suppose we shouldn’t mention physicists have created quasi magnetic monopoles in condensed matter experiments (not so forbidden after all) and dont get me started on negative energy.

    But for my particles I want to propose the “Wootrino” – a virutal particle which can’t interact with normal space/time. However in extremely dense mass fields (say inside a woomeisters head) the time dilation effects can cause it to remain in existence until it decays due to the effects of Skeptrons.

  19. #19 MikeMa
    March 16, 2010

    Tiller has gone the extra mile to convince any vaguely interested woo-lapper that he’s got his scientific shit together. Science-capable humans in this country are in a minority I fear and with a growing distrust of science and anything else you can’t understand, this loon has a ready-made and fertile field of sale.

  20. #20 Scott
    March 16, 2010

    I’ve seen a fun case where a creationist used the IT “entropy decreases in all natural processes” angle, but explicitly applied it to the thermodynamic definition (except that he had an extra h-bar). He then proceeded to claim that (thermodynamic) entropy decreasing in all physical processes proved ID, since evolution would have to be associated with increasing (thermodynamic) entropy, which we know can never happen.

    And he was giving a talk to the physics department at the time. I regret to say that courtesy was not strong enough to prevent people from audibly breaking out laughing.

  21. #21 TimonT
    March 16, 2010

    I think you have misjudged Tiller. He’s not a “woo-meister”. He’s actually a very sophisticated and imaginative science fiction writer.

  22. #22 Melkor
    March 16, 2010

    Speaking of woo, Mark Hyman over at that Woo Singularity place has a new and exiting bunch of babble about mercury: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/autism-mercury-toxicity_b_497047.html

    There is of course much lunacy to be had, a rich vein of rather vile autism biomed woo.

  23. #23 Melkor
    March 16, 2010

    Err, yes, forgot to mention – a rather impassioned defense of Wakefield is on the menu along with a selection of the usual straw men and fallacies, and a fresh sighting in the wild of the “Danish Studies” gambit. Y’all might want a look ;)

  24. #24 CaptTu
    March 16, 2010

    Must be time to go buy that Unprogrammed Tiller UED (unimprinted electrical device)…

    Nice disclaimer…

    We cannot promise that the UED purchaser will be able to convert this UED to an effective IIED as we have always been able to do. All we can promise is that we are purchasing the UEDs in bulk quantities from the same manufacturer that we have used for the past 10 years and that we have asked the manufacturer to assemble the device in exactly the same way as he has done in the past.

    But in the end of the “White Paper” it’s all good again…

    We, in turn, utilized these UEDs, converted to IIEDs, for our Minnesota and subsequent work and, even with this flaw, these IIEDs did a robust job of “conditioning” the experimental spaces to a higher electromagnetic (EM) gauge symmetry state than our normal electric atom/molecule level of physical reality.

    Can’t wait!

  25. #25 Thony C.
    March 16, 2010

    Reading this stuff reminds me of the conversations I used to have as an undergrad . . . late at night . . . stoned out of my gourd.

    I have had a lot of very stoned conversations in my life but none of them was even remotely that bad. That guy must be smoking some really evil shit!

  26. #26 Anthro
    March 16, 2010

    That post by Hyman is Part 2–I mentioned Part 1 a few posts ago as well as the latest screed from Dana Ullman that cites the goofiest “references” you’ve ever seen, but manages to look very “scientific” to the average science-illiterate. The comments in both cases are full of testimonials and rants against “allopathic” medicine and, of course, the evil “toxins”!

    I spent hours hitting “reply” to inject a bit of reality and consequently I now must face my own “Vacuum Reality” and attack two weeks of accumulated dust bunnies.

  27. #27 ibyea
    March 16, 2010

    I think he forgot Maxwell’s equation which says:
    The flux of magnetic field in a closed surface is 0.
    There is no magnetic monopole!

  28. #28 DayOwl
    March 16, 2010

    A more concrete measurement of “vacuum reality” might be obtained between tympanic membranes.

  29. #29 Rosie Redfield
    March 16, 2010

    Is the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine usually this dreadful? Do they even pretend to have peer review? Maybe the only people they consider as ‘peers’ are those committed to woo.

  30. #30 James Sweet
    March 16, 2010

    From Peter Medawar’s review of Teilhard’s The Phenomenon of Man:

    …yet he uses in metaphor words like energy, tension, force, impetus and dimension as if they retained the weight and thrust of their specific scientific usages.

    And that’s “alternative science” in a nutshell. They use science-y terms in a metaphorical sense, and then pretend like that means they are also applicable in a literal sense.

  31. #31 James Sweet
    March 16, 2010

    it has been shown that physical reality consists of two uniquely different categories of substance, one being electric charge-based while the other appears to be magnetic charge-based.

    Heh. I guess Tiller never got the memo.

    Hint: There are four fundamental forces in the standard model, not five. Dumbass.

    (I realize Tiller is pitching some fabricated “alternative” to the standard model, but he should at least use a name for his made-up force that is, you know, different from the force he is comparing it to. Sheesh…)

  32. #32 Todd W.
    March 16, 2010

    it is a significant perturbation of that reality

    I just recently finished re-reading The Path of the Perambulator, by Alan Dean Foster, which talks about something called a “perambulator” (go fig!) that causes perturbations of reality. I wonder if Mr. Tiller read the book and mistook it for science fact instead of science fiction.

  33. #33 Denice Walter
    March 16, 2010

    Because of my experience with the decidedly more articulate ESL students,I will venture a tentative translation of some terms quoted:”second level of reality”(i.e. fiction);”psycho-energetic science”(studying people’s attitudes about exercise, or, a neologism);”dark matter”(lack of grey matter);”energy plus possible human levitation”(a drink containing “herbal viagra”);”vacuum reality”(corporate culture at Oreck or Hoover); “forbidden gap”( lingerie dept. at mall store);”magnetic information field”( job title for ad writers at Philpott’s Magnets,Inc.)”mind domain”( oh… never mind);”spirit”(more fiction);”D-space”(*chez moi*).

  34. #34 Pareidolius
    March 16, 2010

    Mercola has a hilarious article on MSG “The killer in your medicine cabinet” over at HuffPo. Go get ‘em.

  35. #35 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 16, 2010

    I propose to extend Tiller’s theories with my own particle and domain. The particle is the bozon, the fundamental particle of stupidity. The domain, of course, is Tiller’s misnamed Vacuum Reality which is actually the Vacuous Reality.

    Tiller was on to something, though, because the bozon is generated by human consciousness. Though electrically neutral, bozons are strongly mutually attractive which goes a long way to explain traffic jams, malls at Christmas, and Tea Party rallies.

    Bozons build up until they reach a critical mass whereupon something truly stupid happens and the field is discharged. Tiller appears unique in that he was able to generate such a super-critical field of stupid by himself. The result of that catastrophic discharge is this paper.

  36. #36 Mu
    March 16, 2010

    I never understood why the woo guys are going through all the trouble to invent their own stuff. An hour on archiveX looking for the newest publications on dark energy and dark matter will give you enough “science talk” to hide not only all of homeopathy but all of its practitioners under too, with room to spare for some reiki and distance healing.

  37. #37 TimonT
    March 16, 2010

    @The Gregarious Misanthrope (#34)

    My belly laugh for the day! Thanks.

  38. #38 Pareidolius
    March 16, 2010

    Oh, and this is precisely the kind of thing that the nonscientist with wooistitc tendencies will fall for. Trust me on this one, in my youth my inumeracy coupled with wishful thinking and poor critical thinking skills left me wide open to shit like this. Okay, not like this but lesser shit; even at my most woo-addled I never fell for anything this ridiculous.

    But just in case: Ask your Doctor is Deltronivoxx™ is right for you. If you cannont pay for Deltronivoxx, MegaOmniPharmaCOM can help you with your prescription costs. Call 666.555.0007 and ask for Cindy.

  39. #39 VJBinCT
    March 16, 2010

    @5 Cool it, Scottynuke!

  40. #40 VJBinCT
    March 16, 2010

    @38 scratch that. was thinking of something else. sorry.

  41. #41 WLU
    March 16, 2010

    So…it’s good ol’ Cartesian dualism, with a bit of quantum mechanics – which is acknowledged to average out at scales beyond the atomic?

    He seems to miss out on the idea that if there really was any healing power to these approaches, we’d be able to demonstrate it, consistently, given the thousands of studies, hundreds of researchers and millions (billions?) of datapoints. If there really was something there, if it really was a consistent effect (or effects), we would probably have found it by now. Perhaps we should demonstrate unarguable consistent effect and before rewriting the discoveries of science to fit the theory. Hello Mr. Cart, would you like to lead, or follow Mr. Horse?

  42. #42 James Sweet
    March 16, 2010

    He seems to miss out on the idea that if there really was any healing power to these approaches, we’d be able to demonstrate it, consistently, given the thousands of studies, hundreds of researchers and millions (billions?) of datapoints.

    I think his contention is that, because these powers are influenced by mental states, the very act of collating the datapoints makes it stop working.

    Though I suppose that wouldn’t prevent a retrospective study… unless the bad vibes can work backwards in time! Oh noes!

    Anyway, in regards to any particular explanation that purportedly makes an approach untestable, I think the Church Lady has something relevant to say about that.

  43. #43 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 16, 2010

    @WLU

    But you forget that the woo doesn’t like to be looked at (man behind the curtain…), kind of like Uri Geller’s telekinesis.

    If you measure the woo, its quantum gooeyness decoheres and the effect is lost. How can you expect to measure effects from a higher-dimensional, parallel woo-niverse with instruments from our own?

  44. #44 Scott
    March 16, 2010

    Hint: There are four fundamental forces in the standard model, not five. Dumbass.

    Technically three – gravity is not in the Standard Model. And arguably two – strong and electroweak. But that’s nitpicking; your real point is of course correct.

    The interesting bit is that what he’s saying there is arguably a violation of relativity, too. (Since a Lorentz transform will mix electrical and magnetic fields.)

    Maybe he’ll take it as a challenge, and see how many fundamental laws of the universe he can break in a single sentence. My money’s on twelve.

  45. #45 James Pannozzi
    March 16, 2010

    Orac wrote:

    “There are times when I think I might need to change that opinion.”

    Aw, don’t feel bad Orac, there are probably a whole collection of your opinions that you are going to have to change sooner or later. Probably sooner.

    Let’s see, who was IT last time? Oh yes, last time you decided to attack a board certified MD who has done outstanding work in bringing acupuncture to the military and has done outstanding work, for example, in using Acupuncture to help amputees with phantom limb pain – Dr. Niemtzow. Somehow he became demonized as some sort of purveyor of “woo” whatever the hell “woo” is supposed to be.

    Orac appears in bad need of a course in scientific epistemology.

    Are the mysterious actions of particles in Quantum Mechanics woo too? Where does science end and “woo” begin? More importantly, how can you possibly know this without being the creator of the Universe??

    Who is IT this time? Well, this time, Orac has decided to attack a respected scientist and physicist, Dr. William A. Tiller. He is a respected materials scientist and has written several books – one of them “Science and Human Transformation” I have. Not that I understand all of it, but I have read it. It’s interesting stuff.

    Is some of what Tiller talks about speculative? Sure. But, what the hell, how can progress in science EVER be made without some attempt to enter new areas and explore new realms?

    More importantly, I think the key Orac fallacy here is that he assumes exact geometric deduction defines science, but modern science, like QM clearly indicates that is not always possible in the description of physical phenomena. Even poor Einstein got worked up about that.

    The name for Orac’s mistaken approach? SCIENTISM. The elevation of a fictional and quite non-existent science and its utilization for the denialism of alternative medicine.

    Scientist-chemist Lionel Milgrom said it best in his essay,
    “Homeopathy and the New Fundamentalism” here:

    http://hpathy.com/homeopathy-papers/homeopathy-and-the-new-fundamentalism-a-critique-of-the-critics/

    Orac’s arguments initially look justified but are based on assumptions and foundations that are woofully inadequate.
    When examined closely, those arguments go woof…er I mean poof!

  46. #46 Wholly Father
    March 16, 2010

    @40,

    So you are saying he put Descartes before the horse?

  47. #47 Scott Cunningham
    March 16, 2010

    Dave said:
    Reading this stuff reminds me of the conversations I used to have as an undergrad . . . late at night . . . stoned out of my gourd.

    I think he’s on to something.

    Gents, this lurker would like to humbly propose the “narcotic hypothesis of woo”:

    1. Alternative states of consciousness promote
    2. Alternative ways of knowing, which produce
    3. Alternative medicine. Alternative medicine requires backtracking to invent
    4. Alternative science to support it. Alternative science is published in
    5. Alternatives to peer-review journals, like MH and HuffPo.
    This all ends in
    6. Alternative malpractice suits, which are settled out of court for
    7. Alternatives to legal currency.

    The narcotic hypothesis of woo is testable. If it’s true, woo should be incredibly popular among drug officianados, much less so others, and it should be less compelling even to woomeisters if/when they stop smoking crack.

  48. #48 NJ
    March 16, 2010

    a board certified MD who has done outstanding work in bringing acupuncture to the military and has done outstanding work, for example, in using Acupuncture to help amputees with phantom limb pain

    Do the needles go into the amputated limb? Or, or does he use phantom needles for phantom limbs (like cures like, after all)? Wait, I’ve got it! It’s phantom needles into the amputated limb. Preferably via remote viewing.

    W.C. Fields had you in mind, James.

  49. #49 Katharine
    March 16, 2010

    Off topic, but apparently ScienceBlogs has an ad running today from the Mor(m)ons.

    I’m sending them an email to tell them to take it down.

  50. #50 MikeMa
    March 16, 2010

    James Pannozzi @45,
    What a dump you just took.

    Tiller just made up sciency sounding crap to fool the marks.

    Milgrom’s defense of homeopathy is doomed scientifically to failure. There’s nothing there. Placebos notwithstanding, no evidence exists to support infinite dilution and shaking.

    You mentioned Einstein to spice up that dung heap. There needs to be Godwin’s law for mentioning Einstein. Zero points.

    There’s more but I’ll let others have some fun with you now.

  51. #51 Vicki
    March 16, 2010

    Does he bring in the only particle that must travel faster than light, the king-on?

    The logic here is simple: when a monarch dies, his/her anointed successor immediately becomes king or queen, though the coronation may be days or even months later. Since the dead person and their successor may be separated by an arbitrary number of kilometers, the particle that carries kingship has to travel instantaneously over any distance. Or, at least, a distance of up to about 12,000 kilometers in a gravitational field of about 9.8 m/s/s. The assumption that this works off-Earth may be unwarranted.

  52. #52 DLC
    March 16, 2010

    @45: what, no Galileo gambit ?
    jeez, what low quality trolling.
    The Einstein-Godwin Was a good try but not very effective as physics has moved on since. In any case, tossing a gold brick onto a pile of dung does nothing to make the substance under the brick more than what it is.

  53. #53 Todd W.
    March 16, 2010

    @DLC

    Unless, of course, you also throw in a philosopher’s stone.

  54. #54 Seb30
    March 16, 2010

    @ Orac
    Tiller said:
    “(4) explanation for dark matter/energy plus possible human levitation.”
    And then you said in the next paragraph:
    “Sorry. I’ll settle down.”

    See? It’s working. Tiller made you levitate :-)

    @36 Mu – Tiller IS invoking dark matter. See point (4) above.

    @51 Vicki – Has Ponder Stibbons isolated this king-on particule already?

    @Everybody. Eh, why Tiller needed to create a new FTL particule? What about good old tachyon?
    Oh, and could we animate corpses with this negative energy?

  55. #55 Vicki
    March 16, 2010

    Stibbons would have isolated it if it didn’t require travel: Ankh-Morpork has no king, and Captain Carrot is keeping something resembling a low profile, which suits both him and the Patrician.

  56. #56 James Sweet
    March 16, 2010

    Is some of what Tiller talks about speculative? Sure. But, what the hell, how can progress in science EVER be made without some attempt to enter new areas and explore new realms?

    I’m sorry, but it’s far too kind to use the word “speculative” to describe a drawing purporting to show information about the energy levels of the fundamental forces which includes a cloudy area labelled “Spirit”. “Total bullshit” might be more accurate than “speculative”. And then, your argument doesn’t work:

    Is some of what Tiller talks about total bullshit? Sure. But, what the hell, how can progress in science EVER be made without some total bullshit?

  57. #57 SomeGuyWanderingBy
    March 16, 2010

    Huh. Magnetic monopoles would actually be pretty damn visible to “traditional measurement instruments” – in fact they’d have a rather beautifully clean experimental signature. Theres a clue in the name. There was a big push to go looking for them a few decades ago, cos they’re a GUT prediction (like proton decay). People got less interested when:
    1) You could experimentally limit them to being either astonishingly rare or non existent.
    2) It turned out Inflation would leave you with ~1 per universe.

    I tried to read past the first paragraph, but various important bits of my brain started melting.

  58. #58 HealthEd
    March 16, 2010

    Wow. All this stuff is way the fudge over my head, but one glance tells me it’s woo. However, I can isolate one statement even us humanities majors can find laughable:

    “400-year heritage of probing the nature of Nature”

    Seriously? Ancient Egyptian astronomers? Archimedes? Roger Bacon? Even if he’s just talking medicine, van Leeuwenhoek’s “wee beasties” were more than 400 years back.

    Sheesh.

  59. #59 Sastra
    March 16, 2010

    They’re always trying to put consciousness into the cosmos, as a fundamental force. The universe is just like a mind! Underneath religion, spirituality, woo, and pseudoscience, you often discover the belief that “Willpower” is an objective power. They don’t want to remove subjectivity from science, or special sensitivity from enlightened individuals.

    Reading Tiller (and now Panozzi) reminded me of this passage from physicist Alan Cromer’s Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science:

    Scientists and laypersons alike are incensed when they realise that science vigorously censors what appears in a scientific journal. Pseudoscience can be distinguished from science by its refusal to acknowledge the need to achieve consensus. Probably nothing disturbs nonscientists about science more than its seemingly dogmatic rejection of claims of the paranormal. But science isn’t rejecting the claims so much as the evidence used to support them. Scientific evidence, by our definition, must be strong enough to win a consensus: that is an exacting standard. In pseudoscience and religion, private knowledge based on personal insight, intuition, or belief is confused with public knowledge. Science’s exclusion of personal knowledge offends the cherished egocentric belief that one can have a direct personal relationship with nature or the supernatural. The knowledge that science offers instead isn’t impersonal but public. It’s shared knowledge, the common heritage of all humankind.

  60. #60 Zombie
    March 16, 2010

    Man, I’m looking at that diagram and wondering if he thinks ghosts are gonna come flying out of the LHC.

    On second thought, forget I said that; enough silliness has been said about the LHC already.

  61. #61 ebohlman
    March 16, 2010

    Terry #6: Are you implying that the only way to fight quackery is to reverse the polarity of the wootron flow?

    Sastra #59: You could fairly call the belief you describe “Galt’s Gulch physics.”

    I think Isaac Asimov was right when he said that the main appeal of pseudoscience is that it pretends to offer a level of certainty that real science doesn’t.

  62. #62 Wrysmile
    March 16, 2010

    James Pannozzi

    I think you’ll find that that particluar paper by Milgrom was lovingly ripped to shreads here:

    http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/a-homeopathic-refutation-part-one/

    part two here:

    http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/a-homeopathic-refutation-%e2%80%93-part-two/

    and part three here:

    http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/a-homeopathic-refutation-part-three/

    read it all and then come back with your comments.

  63. #63 jhcliborn
    March 16, 2010

    A veritable treasure-crock of BS! He’s a made man: I would advise he get his magnetic monopole evidence written up and published in Physical Review Letters, once independently verified, Nobel Prize!

  64. #64 Mike
    March 16, 2010

    Didn’t he inadvertently let the cat out of the box with this statement:

    “The theoretical construct, invented by this author…”

  65. #65 IDM
    March 16, 2010

    So all that BS was to purpose his theory on placebos?

    Thinking about Deltron and this guy, this song immediately comes to mind:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4jY9S-dcUQ

  66. #66 k
    March 16, 2010

    Orac, why is this, and the other nonsense you smack down, even dignified by the word medicine? Smells more like Complementary Ripoff Alternative Products/therapies to me.

  67. #67 Marc
    March 16, 2010

    @Orac: I’m a mathematician but did enough university physics classes to realize very quickly that the model proposed is complete BS. However, I have a physicist friend who knows a lot more than me about this. Would you be interested in a full deconstruction of this piece by him? Would be lots of fun. =)

  68. #68 Fuzzzone
    March 16, 2010

    @Marc (#66): I can’t speak for Orac, but I know that I always love a good woo smack down.

  69. #69 jj
    March 16, 2010

    Ahh that description of his use of math to prove somethign unfounded reminds me of this little gem:

    http://xkcd.com/687/

  70. #70 Michael
    March 16, 2010

    “I think his contention is that, because these powers are influenced by mental states, the very act of collating the datapoints makes it stop working.

    Though I suppose that wouldn’t prevent a retrospective study… unless the bad vibes can work backwards in time! Oh noes!”
    Yeah, but why does it only work that way with CAM? There have been plenty of studies of treatments where people who thought the treatment would work found that it didn’t and people who thought that the treatment wouldn’t work found that it did.

    Michael

  71. #71 redrabbitslife
    March 16, 2010

    Reading those rantings makes me think this Tiller dude mught be Haldol-deficient.

  72. #72 Marc
    March 16, 2010

    @Fuzzzone: I’ll send this piece to him. If he has time, he’ll probably annihilate it. I’ll post the woo smack down here later if so but no promises. He’s kinda busy with midterms and shit.

  73. Hey, Dave (@11) — I’m stoned out of my gourd, and that still made no sense.

  74. #74 Paul Murray
    March 16, 2010

    @ this “uncoupled state” can be coupled through human consciousness, specifically “intention.”

    This is magick, pure and simple. Read anything serious about from anyone who thinks that magic is real, and this is what they are talking about. Google “magick” with a ‘k’ for more info. Heck, try wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magick

  75. #75 Dangerous Bacon
    March 16, 2010

    James Pannozzi: “Well, this time, Orac has decided to attack a respected scientist and physicist, Dr. William A. Tiller. He is a respected materials scientist and has written several books”

    Oo, he’s written books! And he’s respected! (by who, is the question). True, Orac has only referenced the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tiller’s full-blown romance with woo. Let’s not overlook other vital Tiller research:

    “In the 1970′s, I carried out a series of experiments I with a man who had the ability to so energize a camera and its film that whenever he took a picture while he was experiencing a certain feeling in his seventh cervical and fourth thoracic vertebrae, some striking anomaly would appear in the photograph.”

    This leads to wonder – if the guy had a backache, went to a chiropractor, got “adjusted”, and lost his power to create striking photographic anomalies, would this be grounds for a malpractice suit?

    This next quote from Tiller’s “Subtle Energies” page illustrates just how True Believers get past inconvenient requirements of science to create alternate realities:

    “From these studies and many more like them, it can be seen that belief fuels expectations, and expectations in turn marshal intention at both unconscious and often conscious levels to fulfill the expectations.”

    Translation: “If I close my eyes and believe really really hard all of my beliefs can be justified! And if I cloak my conclusions in impenetrable equations and spacy language, no one can disprove them. I wins!

    I agree – this guy is miles beyond Milgrom. With that UED device (only $250, act now, James) he’s like Hulda Clark to the nth power of woo.

    I am in awe.

  76. #76 Phoenix Woman
    March 16, 2010

    Do you notice that he’s just smart enough, when he makes his non-sequitorial name check of actual physics terms named after actual people, to pick the ones named for dead guys like Dirac?

  77. #77 Michael
    March 17, 2010

    @LC: You forget that since wootrinos can’t interact with normal space/time, and skeptrons are one of the fundamental particles of the normal space/time universe, wootrinos by definition cannot be counteracted by skeptrons.

    Although, if they did interact in a matter/anti-matter kind of way, it’d be pretty awesome to watch woomeister heads asplode!

  78. #78 Marcus Hill
    March 17, 2010

    Not only do the editors and reviewers (do they have any?) of this supposed “journal” have no idea about basic science, they also have a limited grasp of grammar. In any paper that lands on my desk for peer review, the phrase “I and my colleague’s experimental and theoretical research …” would immediately be red penned to “My colleagues’ and my…” – I’m relatively certain that Tiller has more than one colleague, and I’m damn sure that the first person pronoun needs to be a possessive.

    Furthermore, Orac once again makes the error of overestimating his target’s cerebral capacity. Mentioning “the space between Tiller’s neurons” implies that he has more than one neuron, which is not at all clear, especially given the evidence in this very post.

  79. #79 attack_laurel
    March 17, 2010

    We cannot promise that the UED purchaser will be able to convert this UED to an effective IIED as we have always been able to do.

    Sadly, in my field, IED is “Improvised Explosive Device”. So, upon seeing this, my first thought was “aha! Invented Information Explosive Device!”. And then the math made my brain, well, explode.

    It certainly is one of the more convoluted “Its this way because I say it is” polemics I’ve read.

  80. #80 Summer Seale
    March 17, 2010

    My suggestion for people who are into Woo “Medicine” is to offer them only that when they go into the hospital – no matter what ailment or injury they have.

    If they choose not to be treated with any Woo, they should be made to sign a form renouncing their former beliefs and promising never to engage in promoting them ever again upon penalty of breach of contract law.

    I know that may be against the Hippocratic Oath, but is it ever so tempting….

  81. #81 Snoof
    March 17, 2010

    I’m still impressed that the _very first sentence_ is demonstrably wrong. Most papers wait until they get out of the background at least, but not this one. Straight in to the deep end of applied psychoceramics.

  82. #82 imr90
    March 17, 2010

    I don’t think “Vacuum Reality” is quite accurate. I think the more appropriate term is “Reality Vacuum”!

  83. #83 DebinOz
    March 19, 2010

    Well, it’s Friday here in Australia and I have just over-dosed on this FDOW. What the heck??? Is anyone else reminded of the continuum transfunctioner in ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ – a mysterious and powerful device, who’s mystery is only exceeded by its power?

  84. #84 dahduh
    March 21, 2010

    Thanks for your insightful interpretation of the Dirac equation’s spectrum, Dr. Tiller. Last time I laughed so hard I snorted a peach out my left nostril.

  85. #85 Woo
    August 24, 2010

    Man you pseudo-skeptics are dumb as they come and irrational as well. No wonder nobody listens to you anymore. Your journals are dying and as defenders of materialism and scientific orthodoxy you’ve become just like the church of old that wouldn’t look through Galileo’s telescope. Pitiful.

    Tiller’s experiments are good and he’s postulating other levels of reality to explain things. At some point mind and consciousness acting on physical target systems will have be be really looked at by the scientific mainstream but their current dogma just gets in the way. It will happen and fools like “orac” & pseudo-skeptics will just disappear.

  86. #86 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 24, 2010

    Tiller’s experiments are good and he’s postulating other levels of reality to explain things.

    In other words

    Making stuff up.

  87. #87 Travis
    August 24, 2010

    Tiller’s experiments are good and he’s postulating other levels of reality to explain things. At some point mind and consciousness acting on physical target systems will have be be really looked at by the scientific mainstream but their current dogma just gets in the way.

    Postulating something does not mean it is in any way real or correct. Or even grounded in reality at all. It could just be rubbish.
    Sure it is our dogma gets in the way, whereas you just know that “At some point mind and consciousness acting on physical target systems will have be be really looked at by the scientific mainstream” and know you are correct without any evidence. No problems with dogma there.

  88. #88 woowatcher
    July 16, 2011

    Ah so this is where you all are. I could tell by the pitchforks outside. :)

  89. #89 andy
    December 12, 2011

    I’ve just done a Google search for Tiller and noticed that the woomeisters have added Nobel Laureat after his name. Is there any truth on this or is it just hyperbole?

  90. #90 Chris
    December 12, 2011

    That is very easy to check against the list of all Nobel Prize winners:
    http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/all/

  91. #91 andy
    December 12, 2011

    Guess what? No sign of him on the list.
    Thanks.

  92. #92 SongBird
    January 17, 2012

    Death to Woo.

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