Respectful Insolence

I have an MD and a PhD. While many people find that to be impressive, personally I’ve become so inured of it that I certainly don’t take note of it much anymore. Certainly, I rarely point it out. So, you may ask, why am I pointing it out this time, even going so far as to start a post with it? The answer is simple. If there was one thing I always thought about having both an MD and a PhD, it’s that it should render one more resistant to pseudoscience and woo. I know, I know, maybe I’m being incredibly arrogant or incredibly naive–possibly both–but it was what I thought for a long time, even well into my blogging years. You’d think that delving into the depths of woo on a nearly daily basis for five years would have taught me the error of my thoughts in this, but it didn’t.

Until now. I’ve just encountered a man with a legitimate MD and PhD who has truly gone to the dark side. Meet Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD of the Klinghardt Academy of Neurobiology. Here’s a man who started out seemingly promisingly enough until, well, this:

Dr. Klinghardt studied medicine (1969-1975) and psychology (1975-1979) in Freiburg, Germany, completing his PhD on the involvement of the autonomic nervous system in autoimmune disorders. Several publications followed. Early in his career, he became interested in the sequelae of chronic toxicity (especially lead, mercury, environmental pollutants and electromagnetic fields) for the course of illness. While working in India as a junior physician, he encountered Eastern concepts of disease etiology and blended them with his Western training. This laid the foundation for his 5-level system of Integrative Medicine.

I hate it whenever I see someone refer to “Eastern medicine.” There is no such thing, except as an artificial construct to justify woo compared to science-based medicine. Worse, Klinghardt seems to use a veritable cornucopia of serious woo:

Due to his innovative contributions to Neural Therapy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology he is regularly invited to teach workshops at the prestigious “Medicine Week” in Baden-Baden, Germany.

That Klinghardt uses homeopathy should tell you all that you need to know about him! After all, homeopathy is the purest form of quackery that exists. Well, maybe reiki and other forms of “energy medicine” give it a good run for its money. After all, when you come right down to it, reiki is nothing more than faith healing based on Eastern mysticism rather than the more common Judeo-Christian religions upon which most faith healing is based in the U.S. and Europe. But, hey, it’s Eastern, and therefore more exotic than the run-of-the-mill faith healers who prowl the U.S.!

So what are these “five levels” of healing of which Klinghardt writes? I’ll get to that in a minute. First, you just have to check out this video, which lays out the fundamental teachings of Dr. Klinghardt:

Who says woo doesn’t pay? This is apparently from a five DVD set being sold on Dr. K’s site called, appropriately enough, The Fundamental Teachings of Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD. It’s only $145, too! Actually, I wouldn’t pay $145 for the DVDs of my five favorite Star Trek movies. In Blu-ray, but apparently Dr. K’s fans will pay nearly $30 per DVD to hear him drone on as you see above.

Whenever I hear someone claiming that the first basis of all chronic disease is “toxicity” and “chronic infections,” I know I’m dealing with a high level woo-meister, particularly when he refers to his model as a “philosophical,” rather than a medical or scientific model. “Toxicity” almost always refers to mystical, magical “toxins,” usually (of course!) from modern life, that are allegedly poisoning us. Rare is it that someone like Klinghardt will actually specify what these “toxins” are, how they make us “toxic,” and how he knows that it is the “toxins” that are causing disease, other than sometimes to invoke vague “heavy metal” toxicity (which would be a great name for a band, by the way). “Chronic infection” almost always means something like “chronic Lyme disease” or vague, unproven parasitic or fungal “infections” that are not. Dr. K also lays on the “functional” causes, which, allegedly, chiropractors and osteopaths deal with.

Perhaps my favorite one is “interference fields,” in which, according to Dr. K, any structure in the body can become “electrically active,” whatever that means. Of course, nearly your entire body is “electrically active,” given that nerves bring what are in essence electrochemical signals to all parts of the body and cells maintain an electrochemical gradient. It’s calle the resting potential, and it’s usually in the range of around -60 mV. Cells have special protein pumps that pump sodium ions in and potassium ions out to produce the gradient using ATP for energy. (Those of you who took biology and biochemistry will remember the Nernst equation to calculate equilibrium potentials.) Consequently, I can’t figure out what Dr. K is talking about when he says that any structure can become “electrically active,” because pretty much every cell in the body is electrochemically active. He give the example of abnormal pacemakers in the heart, which is a real world problem that can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, but the examples of diseases and conditions where abnormal electrical activity is the cause are relatively small: epilepsy, GI motility, and other problems of that type. Of course, it’s not surprising that if your body can become “electrically active” that Dr. K would claim that electromagnetic fields are a major cause of chronic disease.

But what are these “five levels” of healing of which Dr. K makes such a big deal. He explains them here. They include:

  1. The lowest level is the physical body.
  2. The second level is the energy body or “body electric.”
  3. The next higher body, the mental body or mental field.
  4. The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language.
  5. The fifth level is the “spirit body.”

Not surprisingly, we boring, unenlightened science-based physicians just treat the lowest level of all, the mere physical body. Dr. K, as you might imagine, claims to go much beyond that, into the realm of pure woo. For example, check out this description of the third level. Yes, I wanted to know what on earth he meant by going to a level “beyond the mind and beyond language” (level 4). Now I know, but I had to read about level 3 first, unfortunately:

The next higher body, the mental body or mental field, extends theoretically into infinity squared, and the higher two levels extend beyond that. Beliefs, attitudes and thoughts form and organize this level. There is an individual mental field and a consensus field (consensus reality). Every emotion (2nd level) is preceded by a perception and a thought or chain of thoughts. Thoughts trigger emotions and other energy body changes, which in turn trigger change in the physical body. We are all surrounded by our own mental field, which in turn interrelates with the field of our human species. A mental field can be healthy and can be sick.

Infinity squared? Does this guy know just how meaningless such a phrase is? Doesn’t he know that infinity squared is just infinity? It doesn’t even really sound all that “science-y,” and anyone who’s taken freshman physics would laugh at such pretentious twaddle. In fact, I’ll do Dr. K one better! I’ll take my mental body to infinity cubed. So there! (Speaking of cubed, I wonder if I wait long enough whether Dr. K will go into Time Cube territory. Almost. the fourth level is even more fun:

The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language. It is the home of near-death experiences, past-lives, archetypes, spirit possession, ecstatic states, karma and the expression of unresolved trans-generational family issues. The highest level at which an interaction between physician and client is possible is the fourth level. This level is the “dream body or intuitive body”. Healing on this level often leads to instant disappearance of the associated unresolved conflicts on the third level.

Uh-oh. That last line about eliminating “unresolved conflicts” sure sounds dangerously close to Hamer territory. I’m talking about the German New Medicine and its offshoots like Biologie Totale, wherein cancer is viewed not as a disease but a normal response to unresolved psychic conflicts designed to resolve the conflict. I didn’t see any more explicit invocations of concepts associated with this quackery, but it sure sounds suspiciously as though Dr. K is at least flirting with Hamer time.

Can you guess what first brought Dr. K to my attention? No, he wasn’t featured on NaturalNews.com, although he’d be right at home there. Rather, he was featured on that uber-quackery site that is almost as nutty as Mike Adams’ quackfest, namely Joe Mercola’s website, in an article entitled Radical New Treatment May Help Cancer Without Drugs. Whenever I see anything about cancer on Mercola’s website, I stand up and take notice, given Mercola’s previous track record with quacks like Tullio Simoncini, he of “all cancer is white” and “all cancer is a fungus” fame. He didn’t disappoint with Dr. Klinghardt, although, oddly enough, there’s nary a mention of cancer in his interview with Dr. Klinghardt:

I didn’t realize that they taught acupuncture and homeopathy in German medical schools in the 1970s. Somehow, I doubt they taught much about acupuncture, although, given the German roots of homeopathy, it wouldn’t surprise me if homeopathy was taught there. Hilariously, Klinghardt calls homeopathy “science” at one point in this video. He also invokes evolution to claim that it used to be the “strongest” who were selected for, but now what’s selected for are genes that produce the most robust “detoxification” response to get rid of those nasty alt-med toxins. One particularly amusing part of the second half of the video occurs when Klinghardt answers the criticism that there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of AK or ART by invoking a review of retrospective studies that concluded that there is “worldwide” agreement that AK is reproducible science. No surprise at all, Klinghardt neglects to mention that the article was written by the creator of AK, George J Goodheart Jr., and published in a chiropractic journal and completely fails to address the criticism, but, hey, he sure sounds like he knew what he was talking about when he did it. Maybe the German accent has something to do with it.

In any case, Dr. Klinghardt seems to be particularly known for two types of woo, autonomic resonance testing (ART) and something called “neural therapy.” ART is described thusly:

ART Definition: When a substance is placed over an area of your body that contains this identical substance, a stress signal is elicited, which makes a strong indicator muscle go weak.

In other words, ART is nothing more than a gussied up version of that quackery known as applied kinesiology. In fact, Dr. Mercola admits as much:

Muscle testing was initially developed in the US by a chiropractor, Dr. George Goodheart, who developed applied kinesiology. Dr. Klinghardt has since taken it to an entirely different level, to where ART can be used to understand and gauge how different interventions can influence a person’s pathology.

Conventional medicine does not have the tools to determine the root of a health problem, which makes ART that much more valuable. And contrary to popular belief, the ART method of muscle testing is not based on psychic abilities or some flimsy methodology of using your body as a pendulum.

Rather, it is a true diagnostic system that is based in physiology, the function of your autonomic nervous system, with repeatable experiments to back it up. In the video above, you’ll hear him give several examples of the methodology that distinguishes ART from other muscle testing techniques.

AK, if you recall, is the idea that every disease or organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness. By testing muscle strength, according to AK, there is specific muscle weakness due to substances, foods, etc. Chiropractors will test specific muscle groups after exposure to various foods or substances, either by having the patient put them in his mouth or by merely holding them over various muscle groups. It’s total woo, of course. Basically, there’s no reproducibility, no scientific validity, no standards, and no scientific plausibility, as the Quackwatch article on AK demonstrates.

In reality, Klinghardt’s ART is nothing more than AK tarted up with a lot of different forms of woo and surrounded by “science-y” sounding terms like invoking the autonomic nervous system. Klinghardt postulates three laws of ART. (What is it with woo-meisters and “laws”?) They are:

  1. The First Law of ART – the law of resonance between two identical substances (this law has been most clearly identified by the research of Y.Omura, MD): if a substance is held in the energy field of a person and the indicator muscle weakens, the identical substance is in the body (resonance between two identical substances). If the substance is only in a particular organ, ganglion or other structure, the test substance has to be held exactly over this area. A variation of this test is the most common A.R.T. test: the examiner finds a structure that therapy-localizes (while holding it, the indicator muscle weakens). The indicator-muscle becomes strong, when the resonating substance is placed anywhere on the patient.
  2. The Second Law of ART – 2-Pointing: if the examiner therapy-localizes more than one structure, ganglion etc. during the A.R.T. body scan or examination, two structures (or more) may be affected by the same toxin or infection, or one structure may affect one or more others. If the indicator muscle weakens while holding one of these structures but strengthens while holding another (which weakened when held alone), there is a) either a cause/effect relationship between the two or b) they are both affected by the s toxin/infection . The 2nd law of A.R.T. is therefore really a variation of the 1st law.
  3. The Third Law of ART- Resonance between the examiner and the patient: the examiner’s body acts exactly like any other substance held into the energy field of the patient. If the doctor is toxic with the same substance that is causing the patient’s illness or that is stored in one or more of the patient’s tissues, the test will be affected as outlined in the 1st and 2nd law of ART. Therefore, the 3rd law is really a variation of the 1st law also (but overlooked in any other school of kinesiology).

I love how Klinghardt “expands” upon AK in order to make the physician able to induce the “allergic” state in the patient through resonance, meaning that the physician has to be “pure.” Kind of like a priest, I’m guessing. In any case, how are these laws applied. Klinghardt is more than happy to explain:

In ART the body is stressed with different modalities:

  • Electromagnetically (placing substances in the field)
  • Psychologically (APN)
  • Structurally (pushing on a teacher area, squeezing an organ or gland, stressing a joint etc.)
  • Bio-chemically (giving a medication orally, i.v. or via other route)

The ART practitioner then assesses the organism’s response to the stressor usually by muscle testing.

But how is this done. You’ll like this:

Then the practitioner assesses the organism’s response to the stressor by one of several means:

  1. The muscle test
  2. Arm length test
  3. Bi-digital O-ring test
  4. Applied Kinesiology (multiple muscles)
  5. EAV (electro acupuncture according to Dr. Voll)
  6. HRV (heat rate variability)
  7. Kirlian photography
  8. VAS (Nogier pulse)
  9. Other types of biofeedback equipment

Kirlian photography? Heh. Heh heh. Hahahahahahahaha! That’s nothing more than “aura” photography! Klinghardt even invokes “Biophoton” woo:

The coherent field of the low intensity light emissions inside the cell is the central regulating agency in the cell. The coupling and interference of the individual fields forms a common shared field in which the entire organism us embedded and orchestrates all the functions of life.

This field is a holographic field of standing waves which are capable- with the help of a broad spectrum of frequencies, polarizations, degrees of coherence and squeezing of the waves-to communicate signals to any place in the organism in close interplay with all material structures etc. The involved physical structures such as microtubulin are designed as antennae for the reception or broadcasting or these signals.

The central storage container and sender of this coherent biophoton emission in the cell is the DNA. The spiral shape of the DNA is an ideal light storage arrangement, because through rhythmic contractions it can store and emit light. The DNA works together with a hierarchy of other light active molecules and forms the network of the “light metabolism”.

Personally, I like this example of an Advanced Biophoton Analyzer better. It at least had more flamboyant language. If you’re going to go woo, go woo. On the other hand, I will give Dr. K props for the bit about spiral shape of the DNA storing and emitting light through rhythmic contractions as part of the body’s “light metabolism.” (I thought light metabolism meant that you didn’t eat anything too heavy.) That is some primo, grade A woo there, yes indeed.

Actually, go woo is exactly what Klinghardt does. The rest of his website is full of only the finest bits of woo, including something he calls neural therapy, in which he advocates detoxification and various other forms of dubious therapies. He also advocates something called applied psycho-neurobiology, in which people “choose from the audience representatives for their ancestors which are placed within the circle of participants in a specific order. Through a series of healing interventions memories, thoughts and feelings of the represented real people are brought to light. The circle and the specific groupings of representatives function spontaneously and powerfully as a healing tool for the client and her/his family.”

That’s right. Your ancestors heal you through people living today. What more could you ask for?

Many are the times I’ve pointed out that having an MD is not the same thing as being a scientists. Most MDs, in fact, are not scientists, and the susceptibility of physicians to pseudoscience, such as “intelligent design” creationism is evidence of that. After all, it is a physician, Dr. Michael Egnor, who has embarrassed me for my profession more than just about anyone else by being the Energizer Bunny of creationism and being the inspiration for me to postulate the “vindication of all kooks” corollary to the principle of crank magnetism. But Dr. Egnor doesn’t have a PhD, too. Dr. Klinghardt does. But he does have what we science-based medical doctors have a hard time gathering, namely testimonials and some really awesome protocols to “detoxify”! Unfortunately for Dr. Klinghardt, one of his testimonials is this one:

“One of the most brilliant and gifted medical pioneers of our times.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola

That should tell you all you need to know about Dr. Klinghardt. Maybe next he’ll get Mike Adams’ endorsement. Oh, wait. He already did, and it turns out that he’s into amalgam woo and “detoxification” of mercury from amalgams to treat dental problems.

Never mind. And I take back what I said about people with MDs and PhDs being more resistant to woo.

Comments

  1. #1 symball
    March 26, 2010

    of course there is actually a group of kids (I’m not sure if they really qualify as a band) called this.

    http://www.freewebs.com/ibanez822/apps/photos/album?albumid=1269660

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    March 26, 2010

    This guy is a major woo-woo-woo-woo shoe scum.

  3. #3 Valdyr
    March 26, 2010

    “The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language. It is the home of near-death experiences, past-lives, archetypes…”

    Oh boy, archetypes. Why is it that every pseudo-medical woo-peddler seems unable to resist mentioning discredited philosopher-wannabes like Jung and Freud? As a psychology student who happens to be a skeptic, I have enough of a chip on my shoulder from dealing with the people WITHIN the field who don’t have enough grounding in scientific methodology. We really don’t need douchebags like this guy associating psychology with woo in the public imagination.

    So, respectfully, Dr. Klinghardt, I must say: Fuck you, good sir, and keep your damn dirty hands off what you mistakenly believe to be my science.

  4. #4 Marcus Hill
    March 26, 2010

    Transfinite mathematics fail! For any infinite cardinal N and any nonzero finite integer x, N^x = N. If he wanted bigger infinities, he should have gone for 2^infinity, which does invariably give you a larger infinity than the one you started with.

  5. #5 LovleAnjel
    March 26, 2010

    I SING the body electric!

    Sorry, sorry, had to do it…

  6. #6 Marcus Hill
    March 26, 2010

    Actually, make that “positive”, not “nonzero”.

  7. #7 imr90
    March 26, 2010

    To infinity and beyond!

  8. #8 Phoenix Woman
    March 26, 2010

    I loved this part:

    Whenever I hear someone claiming that the first basis of all chronic disease is “toxicity” and “chronic infections,” I know I’m dealing with a high level woo-meister, particularly when he refers to his model as a “philosophical,” rather than a medical or scientific model.

    Lemme guess: He wants to have it both ways, right?

    He wants to sound all nice and sciencey on the surface, without all that icky evidence-based stuff to harsh his woo mellow.

    “Toxicity” almost always refers to mystical, magical “toxins,” usually (of course!) from modern life, that are allegedly poisoning us. Rare is it that someone like Klinghardt will actually specify what these “toxins” are, how they make us “toxic,” and how he knows that it is the “toxins” that are causing disease, other than sometimes to invoke vague “heavy metal” toxicity (which would be a great name for a band, by the way). “Chronic infection” almost always means something like “chronic Lyme disease” or vague, unproven parasitic or fungal “infections” that are not. Dr. K also lays on the “functional” causes, which, allegedly, chiropractors and osteopaths deal with.

    Bingo! He wants to have it both ways. He slops on just enough sciencey-sounding stuff to slide it past most of the folks who either slept through or can’t remember high school chemistry classes, yet disappears behind a curtain of vagueness in order to preserve the woo that wouldn’t stand up to even mild scientific scrutiny.

  9. #9 Vicki
    March 26, 2010

    Beyond the mind and beyond language, but he can somehow think about it and tell us about it, eh?

  10. #10 KWombles
    March 26, 2010

    It’s incredibly disheartening and it’s no wonder that people out there fall to the woo. How can they decide what to believe when people who should be legitimate authorities are so far gone into the woo that it’s hard to believe they managed to get legitimate advanced degrees?

    And it makes it understandable that people could look at two different people with the same initials after their names and decide to go with the one who promises all sorts of goodies over the one who admits the limitations of science and promises no magic cures.

  11. #11 Canadian Curmudgeon
    March 26, 2010

    Although I only have a lowly master’s degree (pharmacology), and no MD in sight, I was dismayed to find a fellow student who received her PhD in Pharmacology, peddling detoxification cures. I still wonder how she managed to pass her courses.

  12. #12 Dangerous Bacon
    March 26, 2010

    Note to Drs. Klinghardt and Mercola: at the sixth level of healing you can regrow scalp hair.

    It takes a lot of spiritual energy, though, and properly hairy caveman ancestors who don’t mind sharing.

  13. #13 Shannon
    March 26, 2010

    I think Dr.K should stop eating those sheets of blotter tabs he’s apparently been downing. Maybe that’s what ruined his previously educated mind.

  14. #14 Nescio
    March 26, 2010

    “Never mind. And I take back what I said about people with MDs and PhDs being more resistant to woo.”

    My alternate definition of crank magnetism ( http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2009/12/crank-magnetism-revisited.html ): the ability of cranks to attract rational people.

    In its milder form this may cause the sceptic to blog about the anti-science movement. But, when The Force is strong sceptics are converted and their critical thinking skills are nullified. In essence, the crank spreads a highly contagious virus causing mass-hysteria, if not a delusional disorder ( http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2010/03/delusional-disorder-part-ii.html ).

  15. #15 kalki
    March 26, 2010

    Orac, we know placebos work, has anyone done a study to see if the placebo effect is mediated by the degree of expectation? In other words, would people who believe their sugar pill is a brand new super-cure-all respond better than people told their placebo is a regular old drug? If belief and expectation play such an obvious role in health and healing, then I think that’s an entirely sufficient mechanism for homeopathy and alternative medicine. Obviously you’re not going to help someone by saying “This is just water diluted with bullshit, there’s actually nothing in it that could help you or have any effect on your body.” If real magic requires a little sleight of hand, where’s the harm? If people have no faith in “Western” medicine, I think there are limits to how much it can help them.

  16. #16 MikeMa
    March 26, 2010

    Canadian Curmudgeon:

    I was dismayed to find a fellow student who received her PhD in Pharmacology, peddling detoxification cures.

    In addition to Pharmacology, she obviously took some Marketing classes. She learned about the suckers birth rate and went after them.

  17. #17 James Sweet
    March 26, 2010

    Today was a good day, I didn’t even have to use AK.

  18. #18 rob
    March 26, 2010

    Eastern Medicine: take two jelly beans and call me in the morning.

  19. #19 a perfect circle
    March 26, 2010

    @kalki The harm is in people with treatable conditions turning to “alternative” treatments first and dying. Or in people who have been through conventional treatments for cancer for instance, but who are terminally ill turning to scammers in desperation and having their money stolen on top of still dying.

    That’s the thing about medicine–it doesn’t require me to believe it works: it does or it doesn’t. There’s no need for me to really really believe the anti-depressants I take will alleviate my major depression. I take them and they do regardless of whether I have much or no faith in them.

  20. #20 Scott Cunningham
    March 26, 2010

    Is it just me, or are the woo-meisters disproportionately Germans and Brits? As a Biology student of German/British family this worries me.

    Have any Sociologists or Anthropologists come up with historical and cultural explanations for the strength of the woo in these countries?

    I’d like some reassurance I won’t suddenly go insane and start peddling magnet bracelets when I turn 30.

  21. #21 Anthro
    March 26, 2010

    Obviously, integrating woo into one’s thinking is not completely related to basic intelligence. This is scary because I’d like to think that people who do woo are just stupid. It’s something neurological and is related to believing in gods. There has to be a way to undo this or prevent it and the rational among us must figure it out. As I’ve stated here many times, I know several MD’s who have either “integrated” their practices or have given them up completely for full-time woo. A friend and I have a running joke about opening a phrenology practice–we figure we could make a lot of money if we dress it up in some scienc-y sounding verbiage.

  22. #22 Ds
    March 26, 2010

    God, how do they come up with this stuff?

    ” The central storage container and sender of this coherent biophoton emission in the cell is the DNA. The spiral shape of the DNA is an ideal light storage arrangement, because through rhythmic contractions it can store and emit light”

    These guys go out if their way to misunderstand every field if knowledge in a single
    sentence. The woo, it senses and permeates all.

  23. #23 Ds
    March 26, 2010

    God, how do they come up with this stuff?

    ” The central storage container and sender of this coherent biophoton emission in the cell is the DNA. The spiral shape of the DNA is an ideal light storage arrangement, because through rhythmic contractions it can store and emit light”

    These guys go out if their way to misunderstand every field if knowledge in a single
    sentence. The woo, it senses and permeates all.

  24. #24 Ian
    March 26, 2010

    @kalki – There’s pretty clear guidelines in medical ethics about deception vs. informed consent of patients. It’s incredibly unethical to give a patient a treatment that you know has no function, but pretend that it’s good. That’s one of the reasons that trials have to be double-blinded (the other being that experimenter expectation can lead to biasing).

    @Orac – Eastern medicine is real, and is superior to Western medicine for one very important reason: it has more cardamom. Delicious, delicious cardamom.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2010

    (Rather than sprinkle my comment with Germanic expletives and idioms)I’m *so* disappointed:there is a veritable treasure trove of terms from psych with which he could create malapropisms!However,I’ll use something correctly to explain his inundation by woo:proactive interference-when he was a child,his parents took him to an advocate of New Medecine ahd his grandmother often made him herbal teas when he was sick.This *previous* learning(that woo works) interfered with what he learned getting the MD,PhD.Later,post SBM education,he observed that the Woo-Meisters made easy money with mysticism and drivel and studied the major forms of Woo. This new Information interfered *retroactively* with the reality-based med/psych. Thus,the realistic information was surrounded and gave up.

  26. #26 Flex
    March 26, 2010

    @ Scott Cunningham, #20,

    There are plenty of woo-practitioners from other cultures. I don’t think you have to worry about turning to woo because of your heredity.

    However, you might have a point about the prevalence of German/British cultures toward *marketing* woo. Every culture has had plenty of unscientific beliefs about medicine, most of them aren’t trying to sell them to others.

    There may well be a cultural reason (ala Weber) for why Northern Europeans tend to try to sell their woo far more strongly than other cultures. (Although, I honestly have some problems with Weber’s analysis.) Maybe a sequel should be written, “The Woo Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”? ;)

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2010

    @ Dangerous Bacon: Hahahaha! However, there is an all natural “proven”(sic) *protocol* to re-grow lost hair and darken grey hair *entirely* with veganism,supplements,exercise,meditation,journal writing,and increased spirituality(see Gary Null.com)

  28. #28 Anthro
    March 26, 2010

    EEEkk!

    Speaking of Mercola! I can’t even read this, but maybe we should all get over there and be as insolent as possible?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/antioxidants-benefits_b_509655.html

  29. #29 J Fox
    March 26, 2010

    These guys look like they’re two decisions away from going L Ron Hubbard.

  30. #30 sirhcton
    March 26, 2010

    “AK, if you recall, is the idea that every disease or organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness.”

    Careful, careful, careful. This sounds like it could be related to “Happeh Theory.” We might soon be visited by Mr. Happeh, himself.

  31. #31 Toxicologist Kat
    March 26, 2010

    I find it hard to believe that someone who studied heavy metal toxicity would want anything to do with Ayurveda, since it’s a known source for heavy metal poisoning.

    http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/082808.htm

    and I think some TCM preparations either contain or are contaminated by metals. Of course, I’ve heard that large areas of China are contaminated, so it could just be that the herbs bioaccumulated metals from the soil.

  32. #32 TimonT
    March 26, 2010

    Orac said:

    But how is this done. You’ll like this:

    Boy, you got that right. Perhaps because I’m a relatively new RI reader, I didn’t know what a “Bi-digital O-ring test” is. But as is often the case, Wikipedia comes through.

  33. #33 MikeMa
    March 26, 2010

    TimonT
    Good call on the wiki article. Included in the BDORT explanation was a thorough cover of it’s dismissal as a diagnostic tool. There’s woo out there I hadn’t even dreamed of. One of the (many) reasons why BDORT was so soundly smacked about was that it is user dependent, meaning that it’s use and results were very dependent on the practitioner. Well, duh.

    Along with JFox @29, I see an extension of the $cientology e-meter scam – a BDORT box! A 9-volt battery, some rubber bands, deflection meters and someone could make some serious woo-money!

  34. #34 Dangerous Bacon
    March 26, 2010

    Speaking of toxicity, I hope it isn’t too late for all of Orac’s readers to get in on Dr. Ni’s Five Step Detoxification Program (as detailed in the Huffington Post).

    Dr. Ni has some groovy ideas about toxins, including an apparent conviction that all the liver does is belch out toxins (as opposed to the reductionist Western myth that the liver actually detoxifies such things). Also you should be sure to dry brush your skin to get the nasties out of your lymphatics and take lemon to eliminate all the roughage clogging your bowels (you don’t want to wind up like John Wayne or Elvis Presley, with 100 pounds of backlogged poop festering in your entrails. Or was it 200 pounds? I forget).

    Hurry on over to the HuffPo, and you too can be one of the Woo-Knights Who Say Ni!

  35. #35 MikeMa
    March 26, 2010

    I was joking about BDORT box, I really was but I looked up deflection meters just to be sure such a thing might exist (I don’t know why) and found the craziest junk EVER!

    Credulous fools with money are everywhere…

  36. #36 Composer99
    March 26, 2010

    I wish I could say that you couldn’t make this stuff up, but unfortunately Mr Klinghardt has made this stuff up.

  37. #37 Karl Withakay
    March 26, 2010

    “The second level is the energy body or “body electric.””

    Hummm, a Twilight Zone/ Whitman reference…

    (One of my best friends used to have a band called “The Body Electric”, it later change to Glitch Factor.)
    ————————————————————
    “The fourth level is a level beyond the mind and beyond language.”

    A-Ha! We know this is also called “The Twilight Zone”.
    ————————————————————
    “extends theoretically into infinity squared, and the higher two levels extend beyond that”

    How about infinity to the infinity power? (Is the zeroth level where you go when you divide by zero?)
    ————————————————————
    You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination, of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into the Woo-Woo Zone.

  38. #38 provaxmom
    March 26, 2010

    Thanks for the Friday afternoon laughs. I was going to join in on the fun, but you will all be pleased (and a bit relieved) to know that if you type BDORT into amazon, they just think you’ve spelled BOOT incorrectly.

  39. #39 bluemaxx
    March 26, 2010

    gotta love the BDORT stuff…and the associated circle of WOO

    from the WIKIPEDIA pages about the esteemed and remarkable founder of the BDORT assessment method, DR OMURA:

    Solar energy stored papers
    Special Solar Energy: Solar Energy Stored Papers (SESP) is a device which Dr. Omura claims was developed using BDORT assessment and evaluation, that can capture a special healing power of sunlight. Omura uses index cards or other ordinary paper and he says the sunlight must be ‘captured’ at the ideal times of sunrise and sunset. Omura says the energy can then be preserved in SESP while maintaining appropriate qigong polarity and shielding the papers from electromagnetic fields by carefully wrapping them in aluminum foil. Thus captured and preserved, he claims that Special Solar Energy is effective in the treatment of a number of conditions, including arthritis, cancers, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s Disease. He has applied for a patent for this process.[19]

    Psychic healing
    Omura, as published in his journal, has investigated the application of psychic healing and psychic surgery in Brazil, particularly that of Rubens Farias, Jr, who claims to channel the spirit of Dr Fritz. Applying the BDORT as his tool of evaluation, he concluded that psychic healing’s and psychic surgery’s healing effects were achieved through the application of qigong energy and the use of acupuncture points. [20]

    who doesn’t love and respect a salesman that can sell ‘index cards or other ordinary paper’ as a reservoir to capture the healing properties of dawn/dusk sunlight. ABC BABY… Always Be Conning… I MEAN… CLOSING…

  40. #40 Cambrico
    March 26, 2010

    Eastern Medicine? The millions that died for centuries of infectious deseases before the horrible, unnatural, miserable, non sancta, money driven, scientificallly proven Western Medicine entered the Eastern countries would had liked to have a word or two with this new age doctor. Surely they would have survived using homeophaty to cure collera or canalizing body energy to cure smallpox.
    The final part of the above paragraph is a sarcasm, if any Eastern Medicine fanatic idiot didn’t get it.

  41. #41 phantomreader42
    March 26, 2010

    Kalki @ #15:

    If belief and expectation play such an obvious role in health and healing, then I think that’s an entirely sufficient mechanism for homeopathy and alternative medicine. Obviously you’re not going to help someone by saying “This is just water diluted with bullshit, there’s actually nothing in it that could help you or have any effect on your body.”

    Except that homeopathy is NOT marketed as a placebo, even though it is. The selling point is “this is just water diluted with bullshit, but it’s MAGIC water and MAGIC bullshit, so it can do MAGIC, but it can’t have any bad effects because it’s really just water.” They try to have it both ways, promising an effect but avoiding regulation due to lack of ingredients that could actually cause an effect, and in some cases they’re lying about even that, see Zicam.

    There might be an ethical defense for lying to individual patients about the effectiveness of a placebo, with apropriate controls and record-keeping, if a doctor sincerely believed it would do good for the patient. There can be no ethical defense for building an entire industy on self-serving, self-contradictory lies.

    Kalki @ #15:

    If real magic requires a little sleight of hand, where’s the harm?

    The harm is in charging desperate people extortionate amounts for a product that you know full well cannot help them, and lying about it.

    Kalki @ #15:

    If people have no faith in “Western” medicine, I think there are limits to how much it can help them.

    And it’ll help even less if you convince them not to take it by lying to them! And what luck, that creates even MORE demand for phony medicines you can charge an arm and a leg for!

  42. #42 LovleAnjel
    March 26, 2010

    “If people have no faith in “Western” medicine, I think there are limits to how much it can help them.”

    Only if they choose not to use it. Antibiotics will kill bacteria, regardless of what the patient thinks.

  43. #43 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    March 26, 2010

    That BDORT graphic on Wikipedia had a disturbing Goatse vibe to it.
    What has been seen cannot be unseen. [shudder]

    I’m thinking about getting my MD and opening a woo clinic but giving my patients actual pharmaceuticals for their actual ailments. Just for kicks. Anybody in?

  44. #44 NgeliMwenu
    March 26, 2010

    *yoooooooooowl* Can’t such people at least do me a favor and come from places which are not near my hometown? *shame*

  45. #45 Taylor
    March 26, 2010

    OK, I’m baffled.

    Is it the sentiment of the group here that we know all there is to know about human biology and the forces, whatever they are, that will spin cells into states of corruption and whatnot? And that we know how to put’em back together when that happens?

    Why, do you suppose, that the US Institute of Medicine, not exactly a center of radicalism, has set aside in the forthcoming $1 billion US comparative effectiveness research program almost 50% of funded projects for non-Random Controlled Trials? Apparently because the IoM has observed that outcomes and observational trials will give decision makers at least as much good evidence as do RCTs, which have their own set of issues. Most notably that would be too many RCT-described products that don’t work, or worse.

    I know that it is fun to mock the purveyors of stuff that is outside the Box of Respectable (and Remunerated) Health Practice. But you guys sound like a convention of the Daughters of the Spanish Inquisition.

    If I’d read here something along these lines — “I’ve thoroughly researched the assertions of the efficacy of [ fill in your demon’s fare here ] and can report that it just doesn’t hold up” — it would be really interesting and useful.

    This also baffles me: here is the first of 3 “60 Minutes” pieces on radio technician John Kanzius who treated his cancer in 2007 by swallowing some nano-gold particles and dialing up a radio transmitter. Which killed the cancer. Something about frequency effects on metals, which he knew about from his profession.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RPoNJ51dYg

    Killed the cancer. I don’t understand why those of you who are MDs, MD/PhDs and scientists are not all over this.

  46. #46 Taylor
    March 26, 2010

    OK, I’m baffled.

    Is it the sentiment of the group here that we know all there is to know about human biology and the forces, whatever they are, that will spin cells into states of corruption and whatnot? And that we know how to put’em back together when that happens?

    Why, do you suppose, that the US Institute of Medicine, not exactly a center of radicalism, has set aside in the forthcoming $1 billion US comparative effectiveness research program almost 50% of funded projects for non-Random Controlled Trials? Apparently because the IoM has observed that outcomes and observational trials will give decision makers at least as much good evidence as do RCTs, which have their own set of issues. Most notably that would be too many RCT-described products that don’t work, or worse.

    I know that it is fun to mock the purveyors of stuff that is outside the Box of Respectable (and Remunerated) Health Practice. But you guys sound like a convention of the Daughters of the Spanish Inquisition.

    If I’d read here something along these lines — “I’ve thoroughly researched the assertions of the efficacy of [ fill in your demon’s fare here ] and can report that it just doesn’t hold up” — it would be really interesting and useful.

    This also baffles me: here is the first of 3 “60 Minutes” pieces on radio technician John Kanzius who treated his cancer in 2007 by swallowing some nano-gold particles and dialing up a radio transmitter. Which killed the cancer. Something about frequency effects on metals, which he knew about from his profession.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RPoNJ51dYg

    Killed the cancer. I don’t understand why those of you who are MDs, MD/PhDs and scientists are not all over this.

  47. #47 Daniel J. Andrews
    March 26, 2010

    Taylor, you start out with the cliche “Science doesn’t know everything, therefore…” and end with an anecdote, sample size = 1. Your critical thinking skills seem a bit rusty. Keep reading science blogs though. That’ll shake off some of that rust. Good luck.

  48. #48 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 26, 2010

    Taylor:
    From what I can tell, Kanzius had leukemia, underwent a full course of chemotherapy, invented his “cancer cure” (which also extracts energy from seawater – bonus!), and claims that his invention cured his cancer, despite the fact that chemotherapy can cure a high proportion of leukemias. Sounds a lot like other “breakthroughs” that have come to naught.
    There are in fact medical researchers investigating Kanzius’ work. I’ll wait for their assessments before I go “all over” it.

  49. #49 Phoenix Woman
    March 26, 2010

    Speaking of weird claims made against chemotherapy, Daniel Hauser’s parents are convinced he now needs glasses because of the chemo treatments that saved his life.

    From http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/taste/89021227.html

    Daniel has “probably grown nearly a foot in the past few months,” he said, but added that the boy’s hair has lost its bright red color, and the family thinks the chemo is why he now needs glasses.

    Glasses? Um, that comes from things like reading. His folks would be better worrying about high blood pressure, as it sounds like the kid’s on a massively high-salt diet that will give him hypertension in a few years:

    To try to ensure his cancer doesn’t return, Daniel “diligently sticks to his very high nutrition diet, more alkaline than most people would dare to follow. He realizes the importance of taking good food and eliminating the bad,” Zwakman said.

    Betcha when he has a stroke at the age of 18, Mom and Dad blame the chemo.

  50. #50 Orac
    March 26, 2010

    That link actually leads to an article about some weird utensil.

  51. #51 Militant Agnostic
    March 26, 2010

    T. Bruce McNeely – where did mention energy from seawater? I did notice that the Youtube account owner was a Free Energy whackaloon.

    Talyor – nowhere in parts 1 through 3 did it say Kanzius used the device to cure his own cancer. In fact based on the link you provided, it looks like he had no way of delivering the nanoparticles to the target.

  52. #52 T. Bruce McNeely
    March 26, 2010

    Militant Agnostic:
    I didn’t bother with the Youtube Link, I did a Google search and found several accounts of Kanzius. My comment is based on those accounts. I will provide links later.

  53. #53 Digitaldoc
    March 26, 2010

    I stumbled upon this site via my RSS feeder and simply had to respond. I’m not an MD,PhD, just a lowly MD. I can’t address all of your arguments, but you seem to be stuck in a Newtonian scientific worldview. Yes, there are a lot of quacks and charlatans out there, but the concept of homeopathy could be explained see this link by biophysicist Mae-Won Ho:
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/water3.php

    Additionally I would recommend reading “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton,PhD to open your eyes beyond the limited view you were taught in whatever schools you attended.
    The idea of “toxicity” as a cause of disease is VERY REAL, however it is not linear, it is more than can be studied in vitro, and I have seen the effects of toxins in patients firsthand.
    Please take the time to check out these links if you don’t “believe in toxins”:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/03/26/bee-killer-still-at-large-new-evidence-makes-pesticides-a-prime-suspect/

    http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/news/20090529/environmental-toxins-and-liver-disease
    http://www.ewg.org/node/25920

    As for the role of chronic infections and disease, I suggest reading “Plague Time” by Paul Ewald, PhD
    I can’t speak about applied kinesiology…maybe it’s woo, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know as I don’t do it, but don’t denigrate everything Dr. Klinghardt has to say…if you listen to him you might learn something new or perhaps you know or think you know all scientific truth…

    “A mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open.”

  54. #54 Phoenix Woman
    March 26, 2010

    Orac @ 50: Ooooops!

    Here’s the right link: http://www.startribune.com/local/89288327.html

  55. #55 Militant Agnostic
    March 26, 2010

    I found the energy from seawater clip – by pumping a huge amount of RF energy into a test tube of seawater he was able to produce some hydrogen which then caught fire. Apparently Kanzius eventually admitted that this was not a net generator of energy. The idiocy of the TV reporter was painful to watch.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Haj4BX0trU&feature=related

    Oh and Taylor please explain how Kanzius cured his cancer given that he died at age 64. In fact if you had actually payed attention Kanziuz just had an idea for a cancer treatment, but only knew how to make one part of it (concentrating low frequency RF) work. Other people were working ways to get the metal particles to the cancer cells.

    Pro Tip – before linking to something check to see if it actually supports your case. If it doesn’t maybe you should reconsider your position.

  56. #56 TimonT
    March 27, 2010

    OT: Regarding the Kanzuis cancer treatment

    See: Exciting News from the Kanzius Labs at MDA

    To me as a definite non-expert, the Kanzius folks seem to be following a legitimate path, though probably propelled by the usual hype and over-enthusiasm.

    Orac, I’d be interested to know what you think. Perhaps this is not “woo-ful” enough for your attention.

  57. #57 Seb30
    March 27, 2010

    @ 45/46
    “outside the Box of Respectable (and Remunerated) Health Practice”

    OK, now I’m the one baffled. Do you mean that homeopathy (or whatever) is not Remunerated? Or what this Western medicine is intrinsecally suspicious because you have to pay for it, and that it should come free for all? Because the first is certainly not true, and the second brings forth some issues in a capitalistic-based society.

    “[nanoparticles and RF]. I don’t understand why those of you who are MDs, MD/PhDs and scientists are not all over this.”
    We are. Some teams are busy trying to create new molecules you can inject and deliver into a tumor, from nanoparticles to rise heat locally to new “classical” drugs up to viruses.
    But the delivery of these things is not a trivial matter. An issue your guy on Youtube did not address.

  58. #58 phoenixwoman
    March 27, 2010

    Oh and Taylor please explain how Kanzius cured his cancer given that he died at age 64.

    Beat me to it!

    Pro Tip – before linking to something check to see if it actually supports your case. If it doesn’t maybe you should reconsider your position.

    But that’s how world-class bullshitters like Ann Coulter (and their B-Team analogues slugging it out in online chat rooms, message boards and blog threads) make their arguments: Post dodgy citations and pray nobody actually looks them up.

  59. #59 Brian Morgan
    March 27, 2010

    There’s a Professor Woo who has written an editorial in the BMJ about risks of infection from acupuncture and been, on balance, pointedly condemned.

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/340/mar18_1/c1268

  60. #60 Dangerous Bacon
    March 27, 2010

    Digitaldoc:“I can’t address all of your arguments, but you seem to be stuck in a Newtonian scientific worldview.”

    It’s worse than that – we’re stuck in this evidence-based mindset, and the woo makes us cranky, when we’re not laughing our collective asses off.

    “Yes, there are a lot of quacks and charlatans out there, but the concept of homeopathy could be explained”

    We’ve had a number of highfalutin explanations of how homeopathy could work, from various academics including the incomparable Lionel Milgrom, but once you sift through all the airy concepts you’re left with the problem that the quality research out there shows homeopathy to work no better than placebo. There is only one substance that seems to follow the principles of homeopathy – you can dilute homeopaths’ bullshit with facts ad infinitum, and it maintains its potency for the gullible.

    The idea of “toxicity” as a cause of disease is VERY REAL, however it is not linear, it is more than can be studied in vitro”

    Another restatement of the common dodge “My woo can’t be measured by your science, no wonder the research doesn’t back me up!”

    Of course there are real toxins – but the ones the alt med enthusiasts are always going on about don’t exist, are present in amounts too minute to have any physiological effect, cannot be removed by the “cleanses” they promote, and/or their removal has not been shown to result in any health benefit.

    “A mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open”

    “A mind that is so open that one’s brains fall out and spatter on the floor is of no use to anybody”

    Note: I’m an humble MD too, and my humility gets added to anytime an MD who should know better falls into the trap of justifying and using woo in their practice.

    I’m tired of wearing a virtual bag over my head whenever I go online, thanks to people like Digitaldoc.

  61. #61 Bob
    March 27, 2010

    I keep thinking about this phrase ‘Eastern Medicine’ and I really don’t like it. Surely all the real medical professionals in Asia aren’t chi-manipulating crackpots, charlatans, and True Believers, hunting rhinos and tigers to extinction for their alleged mystical powers to create boners. Surely Samuel Hahnemann and Hulda Clark are evidence enough that the Orient does not have a monopoly on mysterious pseudo-medical bullshit.

  62. #62 Militant Agnostic
    March 27, 2010

    @digitaldoc

    Linear

    You keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

    The same with Newtonian

    New rule – any time a woo uses the words linear (or non linear), quantum, or Newtonian – they must explain what they mean by them.

  63. #63 AnthonyK
    March 28, 2010

    Hey -what’s with the Brit bashing? Just because we have the Best Health System ™in the world, and are all so fabulously healthy that we can afford to supplement it with woo when we’re feeling “a bit hurty”….
    (Ahem)Prince Charles.
    Well, if not, at least we have Ben Goldacre.
    http://www.badscience.net/
    You’re all just jealous.

  64. #64 Tracy W
    March 28, 2010

    Or what this Western medicine is intrinsecally suspicious because you have to pay for it, and that it should come free for all? Because the first is certainly not true, and the second brings forth some issues in a capitalistic-based society.

    Or in any real-world society. Resources are not infinite so there is always an opportunity cost to the provision of medical care.

  65. #65 Mom and MD
    March 28, 2010

    OMG!!!!! This is some true guanophrenia, if I too may steal a great term from you! I read your Generation Woo and activation of DNA posts, also. People out there really believe this stuff, too; I know, they end up on my couch.

  66. #66 Calli Arcale
    March 28, 2010

    kalki @ 15:

    Orac, we know placebos work, has anyone done a study to see if the placebo effect is mediated by the degree of expectation?

    There was a study a while back (I think Orac blogged about it even) that did indeed test that. One group was told they were getting a generic antibiotic, and the other group was told they were getting an expensive brand-name one. The latter group reported better outcomes, though both had identical sugar pills (if memory serves, that is). It shouldn’t really be surprising, since the same basic effect is observed in taste tests. If people *think* it’s fancy, they expect it to have special powers, and this colors their observations.

    It is not a real effect, though. Their objective measures generally do not change. What changes is their perception of their condition. In other words, the placebo effect is really just a form of observer bias.

  67. #67 Chris
    March 28, 2010

    Calli, that research earned the researchers a very coveted Ig Nobel Prize!. His book is a good read on expectations and effects.

  68. #68 Marcus Hill
    March 29, 2010

    “The central storage container and sender of this coherent biophoton emission in the cell is the DNA. The spiral shape of the DNA is an ideal light storage arrangement, because through rhythmic contractions it can store and emit light”

    I’ve undertaken some experiments to push this concept further into the macroscopic scale and can reveal that, through careful modulation of the rhythmic contractions of the appropriate sphincter, I can cause the sun to shine from my arse.

  69. #69 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 29, 2010

    It is not a real effect, though. Their objective measures generally do not change. What changes is their perception of their condition. In other words, the placebo effect is really just a form of observer bias.

    This is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately. There are effects that are generally referred to (at least colloquially) with the term “placebo effect” where objective measures do change. They don’t represent some magical power of mind-over-matter, as confused people think; they reflect the fact that people do alter their own behavior in response to their beliefs and expectations.

    I’ve been tempted to call this version “the stone soup effect,” after the old folktale about stone soup. (For those who don’t remember it: a clever traveller goes into a town and asks for some food, and everyone claims they have no food even for themselves. So he gets a pot and a stone and water and starts boiling the stone in the pot. Soon he’s telling the curious townsfolk that he’s happily anticipating a delicious bowl of stone soup, which he’ll be quite willing to share, but which would be even more delicious with some garnish. One by one, the villagers find something they can add to the soup as a “garnish”, and by the time they’re done, there’s a full and rich soup bubbling in the pot.)

    I believe this is the effect that is responsible for the story we so often hear from parents who insist that this or that “protocol” had the effect of “recovering” their child from autism. They insist that it is absolutely proven that the protocol “recovered” their child, because they started using the protocol and after following it for X weeks/months/years their child passed delayed developmental milestone Y.

    Implicit in their claim is the assumption that the child could never have passed that milestone with only their own efforts and the parents’ efforts. It’s not unreasonable to think that such parents were making the same assumptions before beginning the protocol: “Well, maybe there’s some supplement we can feed him, or a cream we can rub on his skin, or some sort of special audio tones we can play in his ears, that will fix his brain, and then he’d have the potential to start talking. But there’s no point in trying to get him talk without doing something to fix his brain; we know that won’t work!” The result: these parents, when they think that some special intervention is “recovering” their autistic child, try with their child in a way that they wouldn’t do if the intervention was not there.

    The same thing often happens in depression. (With depression there is the additional complicating factor that depression involves loss of hope, and so if the prospect of an intervention gives that patient hope, they have just received relief of symptoms, which makes it difficult to figure out if the intervention itself is having effect.) Depressed patients tend to “know” that no matter what they do, they’ll still feel terrible inside, and so they don’t bother to do anything. Tell them “well, we think there’s a good chance that if you take this pill, you’ll start to feel better” and frequently they’ll say “wow, wouldn’t it be great if I was able to enjoy life again? It’s a beautiful sunny day out; maybe if the pill works, I could go for a walk and I’d actually enjoy a nice sunny day, like I haven’t done in a long time.” So the patient goes out and enjoys the sun and doesn’t think that maybe the reason it’s been so long since they enjoyed a nice sunny day is not because they didn’t have the pill before, it’s because before, when sunny days came around, they said “what’s the use?” and pulled the covers over their heads and stayed indoors.

    The relevance of the folktale to the effect is this: the villagers already possessed what they needed to make the success (the soup) occur. But they didn’t think they had it, and so they didn’t bother putting forth their contribution until they believed that someone else was contributing the main ingredient. In the same manner, people may be positive that a particular intervention made a drastic improvement in their condition (or that of their child) and be utterly unaware that the prospect of a successful intervention caused them to behave differently, in ways that brought about drastic improvement.

    I’m not sure if the “stone soup effect” would be properly considered a subset of the placebo effect, or as something separate. But either way, it does need to be taken into consideration when trying to evaluate whether a particular intervention is “effective”.

  70. #70 Calli Arcale
    March 29, 2010

    I would argue that if the “objective measures” changed, one has to consider the possibility that they’ve picked the wrong measures. But there are definitely cases where subjective measures improved a lot, but objective ones hadn’t budged.

    You’re right that expectations alter behavior, and altering behavior can alter outcomes. I wonder how many people, given a sugar pill and told that it’s an appetite suppressant, will eat less for a week or so as they gamely try to demonstrate that with just a teeny bit of help, they have enough willpower to do it? Even an objective measure of total body weight could go down without the pill having done a darn thing.

  71. #71 bill miller
    January 26, 2012

    I lump you with the AMA and the FDA. What incentive do drug companies have to find a cure for anything? They would be out of business. So to keep you coming back they provide a drug that resolves one symptom and produces other multiple symptoms that require more drugs and produce more symptoms that require more drugs ad infinitum. I do believe we have a physical body and a spirit and that physical health is dependent on curing both. I went to a traditional MD for three years only to have my condition stay the same. After two or three visits, one per month, to a homeopathic MD, I was completely cured. And you know what is sad about it, my insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of the visits because it wasn’t “traditional” medicine. So go ahead and pooh pooh and woo woo these non-traditional physicians, but they garner wisdom from truly traditional practices that go back thousands of years.

  72. #72 Leslie
    February 10, 2012

    The author’s ego overwhelms the content of his argument. It screams out in the first sentence, only progressing thereafter to a level that should be embarrassing if he had any self-awareness. Instead he rationalizes his need to brag about his credentials, undermining his own credibility before he has even made his argument.

    Ignorance is completely independent of a formal education. In fact, sometimes, as is made evident here, it is heightened by it.

    Revolutionary thinkers are always condemned by their peers. It is inevitable. Having vision is, by definition, something that makes a person unusual, separate from the rest, unintelligible. It is exceedingly threatening to those who don’t have it, which is, by definition, almost everyone except the visionary.

    Science today is hijacked by close-minded ignorance and a complete misunderstanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. Welcome to the world of mediocrity.

  73. #73 Chris
    February 10, 2012

    Leslie:

    Science today is hijacked by close-minded ignorance and a complete misunderstanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. Welcome to the world of mediocrity.

    Interesting comment to post on an almost two year old article. Did it take you that long to think that up?

    Perhaps you should spend the next two years actually learning how science works, starting with basic biology.

  74. #74 Narad
    February 10, 2012

    Welcome to the world of mediocrity.

    And thank you for heading up the Reception Committee.

  75. #75 Beamup
    February 10, 2012

    I note that Leslie apparently is unable to actually refute the substance of the post, or she would have done so.

  76. #76 Olle Kjellin
    February 13, 2012

    As this blog and its entertaining discussion has been revived, and as Kirlian photography is mentioned, I’d like to invite you to this forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/korotkov/ where I’m undressing the strange claims by a Russian quack, Konstantin G. Korotkov, about “aura photography” with his GDV camera (Gas Discharge Visualization technique).

  77. #77 Kelly M Bray
    February 26, 2012

    Bill Miller, maybe you were hypoglycemic. The sugar pills your homeopath was giving you made you feel better.

  78. #78 Banana101
    March 10, 2012

    You wanna see something truly wacky about Dr. K? Drug addicts/people dependent upon benzos are now talking about Dr. K.

    I was “banned” from this website at http://www.benzobuddies.org for being skeptical of those who become “automatic addicts” after taking benzos for a *week* (Ativan, Valium, Xanax, etc. and telling people to stop talking about “iatrogenic addiction” and stop blaming all of their “symptoms” on benzo withdrawal. I brought up Scientology fronts once and was automatically banned. Coincidence?

    I, along with many others, believe it’s a cult. Suicides have occurred (multiple ones), people have been told that the benzos were “eating their brains” and there is SO much talk of “criminal doctor poisoning me”; it’s truly ridiculous. All they talk about is being “drugged by Big Pharma, fear of fluoride, MSG, fear of darn near everything. It’s an open/public forum, and here’s just a snippet of what lies there:

    http://www.benzobuddies.org/forum/index.php?topic=50326.msg677079#msg677079

  79. #79 Delores Fischer
    March 16, 2012

    Obviously you have never been sick enough or had a medical Dr. who didn’t know what he or she was talking about and could only perscribe pill after pill whcih caused many side effects. People like you listen to medical Dr.s I would rather listen to a holistic Dr. because i believe God provided us with different herbs and foods to heal us not like some drs. who give you cumidin for heart attack patients to thin there blood to find out they are actually giving them rat poison. So get a life and quit causing trouble.

  80. #80 Chris
    March 16, 2012

    Ms. Fischer:

    So get a life and quit causing trouble.

    Learn how to use punctuation.

    Also learn that not all herbs are wonderful. I know several that can kill you just as well as help you, like foxglove.

  81. #81 Chris
    March 16, 2012

    And I might add, people who post comments on two year old blog posts should not be telling others to “get a life.”

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