Respectful Insolence

It’s been another rather rough week. Grant season is in full swing, and I’m busily writing away. As I get to the end of the week, I wondered: Should I be serious or should I post a bit of fluff? Given the crappy mood I’ve been in on and off (grants added to my usual responsibilities tend to do that to me), I know what I need, and I need it fast. I need it now. I need it bad. I need…some woo. And nothing but the best will do. But what? Over the years I’ve done Your Friday Dose of Woo, I thought I had seen it all. Well, not exactly all. Rather, it thought I had seen most of it, but fortunately for me (and unfortunately for reason, logic, and science), I haven’t, as this week’s installment will show.

One aspect of quackery and woo that I’ve noticed over the years is that, if there’s one thing quacks love, one thing they absolutely can’t resist, one thing that draws them in like the proverbial moth to a flame, it’s the ability to mix two or more different woos and make them into a new superwoo. Perhaps my favorite example is when someone named Karen Rowe decided that acupuncture wasn’t woo enough for her. Her solution? Add homeopathy to produce “acu-point injection therapy.” It was so woo-tastic that one of its practitioners managed to score an appearance on The Dr. Oz. Show. After a “high” point like that, one wonders what new combination woo therapies quacks can dream up next. What else could be combined with acupuncture to make its woo stronger, much the way diluting a homeopathic remedy is said to make it stronger? I think I’ve found just the thing. It combines the joy of acupuncture with…well, something I’ve never heard before.

I hereby introduce to you…Colorpuncture. But not just Colorpuncture, Esogetic Colorpuncture. You don’t know what it means? That’s OK, neither do I. Who cares what it means, anyway? You don’t need to know what it means. All you need to know is this:

Esogetic ColorpunctureTM is a revolutionary evolution in holistic healing and one of Europe’s most popular new alternative healing disciplines. The originator of Colorpuncture is a German scientist and naturopath named Peter Mandel who has conducted over 25 years of intensive empirical research to develop this unique system of healing. Colorpuncture involves focusing colored light on acupuncture (and other) points on the skin in order to energize powerful healing impulses in our physical and energy bodies.

So let me get this straight. Colorpuncture is basically acupuncture without the needles. It doesn’t even qualify as laser acupuncture, which at least could heat the skin, because it doesn’t use laser. All colorpuncturists do, apparently, is to shine colored lights on acupuncture points to do…well, it’s not exactly clear what all this light is supposed to do. Apparently, it’s designed to do this:

It is designed to address the non-physical origins of illness as well as its physical symptoms. Clients report not only changes in their bodies, but improved emotional outlook and a clearer sense of life direction after therapy.

Esogetic Colorpuncture involves colored light, infrared frequencies, ultraviolet frequencies, brain wave frequencies, sound, and crystal treatments as indicated by Kirlian Energy Emission Analysis to gently unlock and release emotional trauma and energetic blocks which often underlie our illnesses.

Of course it does. Alternative medicine is about nothing if not “releasing” the blocks between a mark’s money and the practitioner. Now there’s some energy we could all appreciate. Except that it’s not just the patients being fleeced. Get a load of the stuff that’s being sold to practitioners in the name of “diagnosing” illnesses and abnormalities. At the one end of the spectrum, for a mere $575 (what a bargain!), there’s the Perlux P117 Colorpuncture, which is described as having “a set of 7 glass rods, each infused with natural dyes of different spectral colors (red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue and violet). The rods emit the precise frequencies of colored light that Mandel has deemed most effective for his therapies.” It even has a “patented ‘pyramid tip'” for application to accuports. Nothing like patenting utterly useless devices, eh? If you’re going to be really serious about this, you’re going to need additional attachments and light pens, such as the Soul Spirit Rods or the “shades of gray” set. Not surprisingly, you can get them all as part of a combined package for a mere $470, a steal.

My favorite is the Perlux UV-370 Ultraviolet Light Pen:

Hand-held tool emits ultraviolet light, calibrated precisely at 370 nanometers. UV light is used in Esogetic Colorpuncture to address the information “background” of pain and ill health. It assists the flow of spirit information in the body.

Price? A mere $810.

What I found particularly revealing was how Esogetic Colorpuncture was developed:

Starting in the 1970s, Mandel began integrating theoretical and empirical data on the effects of color, the philosophy of Chinese medicine and the latest findings of modern photon physics. Starting in the 1970s, Mandel began integrating theoretical and empirical data on the effects of color, the philosophy of Chinese medicine and the latest findings of modern photon physics. A lengthy professional association with German biophysicist Fritz Albert Popp provided Mandel with the theoretical basis for his work.

Isn’t this just the typical story of woo? A practitioner of unscientific becomes enamored of a bunch of different modalities and starts looking into them. He then thinks he has a stroke of inspiration to combine them. Inevitably, he will take a cornucopia of woo and dump it into a big pot to stir into a toxic brew of woo. He’ll then season it with a bit of science-y sounding nonsense. In this case, Dr. Mandel obviously used physics and “modern photon physics” to leaven his nonsense. He even has a real physicist to give him the patina of scientific credibility, a guy by the name of Fritz-Albert Popp, who appeared in a quackery-laden movie entitled The Living Matrix. Apparently, Dr. Popp is very much into biophotons, the well-spring of so much woo, including various devices to measure the nonexistent biophotons to biophotonic water. It’s some truly spectacular woo. I doff my cap to Dr. Popp.

We now know who Dr. Popp is, but who is Peter Mandel? First, he’s a naturopath, which should tell you all you need to know about his science. He’s also apparently the person who developed kirlian photography, which is basically aura photography on steroids. Here is how he’s described:

Peter Mandel is an outstanding scientist, a pioneer in the development of new technologies for healing and gifted naturopathic healer. He is the founder of the Mandel Institute for Esogetic Medicine in Germany as well as the International Mandel Institute for Esogetic Medicine in Switzerland. He has developed a complete healing system which incorporates his original assessment system of kirlian photography called Energy Emission Analysis, his system of acu-light therapy called Esogetic Colorpuncture and most recently his new brain wave therapies and holographic crystal therapies. He is also the author of many scientific articles and publications. Over the last 40 years Mandel’s expertise in naturopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage have formed the basis of his research into new diagnostic systems and therapies.

See what I mean? No woo is too woo-ey for Mandel. He’s into just about everything bit of quackery there is; no wonder it all started to blur together. No wonder he felt like combining them. Why not? As I like to say, they are all equally worthless. At least together they are a bit more amusing than they are separately, as we see here in this description of his ultraviolet light therapy:

Since the 1980’s, Dr. Peter Mandel has continued to revise and expand his therapeutic system to find ways to heal illness and pain and to contact our personal information flow. Informing the creation of Mandel’s new ultraviolet therapies is the one of the most momentous discoveries of recent medical research, that the human being has a second brain located in the abdomen. This new area of Neuro- Gastroenterolgy validated for Mandel what had been empirically a fact for quite a while.

Which leads Mandel to conclude:

Based on it’s frequency at the edges of the visible spectrum, ultraviolet light has a higher level of penetration into matter. He has developed a treatment called the “Information Barrier” which uses ultraviolet light to operate as a “door opener” for the head/gut link. This not only activates the flow of information in a person but it is also useful in gut ecology illnesses such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Of course, Mandel already has quite a strong head/gut link, given that his head appears to be firmly implanted in his posterior. I wonder if he thinks shining ultraviolet light up his posterior will help.

Comments

  1. #1 blf
    June 10, 2011

    It’s actually homeopathetic darkton theory. As a reminder, light is just the absence of dark. Dark is carried by darktons; photons are holes where the darktons would be if the dark wasn’t absent.

    Hence, all that this treatment is(besides separating money from wallet) is diluting the darktons thus increasing the effectiveness. And no succussing(easier on the biceps).

  2. #2 Mary Luce
    June 10, 2011

    This guy is citing to the “head/gut link.” Sadly, I can see some parents in the autism community testing yet another worthless alternative treatment on their children. At least it appears to be painless. I wonder how scary and uncomfortable it must be for an autistic child however? And how much time and resources is it diverting from real treatment?

  3. #3 Mary Luce
    June 10, 2011

    He’s citing to the “head/gut link.” Sadly, I can see some parents in the autism community testing yet another worthless alternative treatment on their children. At least it appears to be painless. I wonder how scary and uncomfortable it must be for an autistic child however? And how much time and resources is it diverting from real treatment?

  4. #4 Jamie
    June 10, 2011

    So if you get too much “ultraviolet light therapy” do you get skin cancer?

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    June 10, 2011

    I think that this- like much other woo- has filtred down from Ayurveda which systematically alligns astrological planetary influences, chakras, physical organ systems, and a rainbow of healing gemstones and metals. Really. I am not making this up. The Indian gentlemen who put gas in my car regularly wear the tell-tale signs, like the steel bracelet. Much of traditional therapy involves precious stones: diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires ( hey, what do you expect- it’s from *India*! Maharajas and all)

    Western woo cashes in ( again) on ideas from the “Mysterious East”: there are websites explaining how to heal with gems ( gemisphere.com; healinggemstones.com, etc.) which also sell materials. You may wear the gem, sleep with it, hold it, or put it in your water ( Yum!); feel the energies balance! you may even use them to treat your pets ( healinggemstones.com). Many websites present extensive charts associating illness and curative gem ( at these more “western” sites, most “gems” are semi-precious stones). I have seen tons of this stuff in new agey shops. Consider the merchandising possibilities – crafts gone woo- attractive and healthy too! all truly natural energies from the earth !

    On a more serious note: I came across a Dr George Jacob ( Holisticonline) who uses gem stones to heal heart disease. I’m sure that like Orac’s accupuncture example,it’s an example of wasting both time and money when a serious problem may be involved.

    If you get tired of those healthy green ( or red or purple) powders- or a rainbow of healthy fruits and vegetables in your juicer- why not try a nice gemstone bracelet instead? It’ll fix you right up with no messy cleanup afterward!

  6. #6 DW
    June 10, 2011

    @ Orac- BTW, I don’t think that they shine the UV up the posterior: that .. uh.. distinction is reserved for ozone.

  7. “scientist and naturopath”

    These words are so mutually exclusive that any grammar/spell checker should balk at them being in such close proximity.

    -Karl Withakay

  8. Parallel to Poe’s law:

    Without a clear, definitive indication of the intent of the purveyor or originator of an extreme form of woo, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere belief in an extreme form of woo and pure fraud, especially when money is involved.

    -Karl Withakay

  9. #9 palindrom
    June 10, 2011

    Contrary to Mandel’s assertion, UV light is generally less penetrating than visible or infrared. Other than that, it looks perfectly rigorous to me!

    Just kidding. He’s selling more baloney than Oscar Meyer …

  10. #10 Edith Prickly
    June 10, 2011

    Man, I really am in the wrong line of work! I have a cheap-ass multicoloured disco ball I bought at the dollar store a few years ago – why am I going to a job every day instead of making big bucks charging suckers (sorry, patients) for rotating colorpuncture therapy?

    Oh right, I have scruples (and I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face while explaining the “therapy” either.)

  11. #11 Mike
    June 10, 2011

    Thanks, Orac. Been missing the regular infusions of Woo on Fridays.

    When I saw “colorpuncture” my first thought was color coded acupuncture needles. Which led me to think of an actual, real, “color puncture.” Which most of the world refers to as Tattooing. With needles and color that actually puncture.

    What tattoo came to mind?

    A duck.

    You know, quacking.

  12. #12 Giliell
    June 10, 2011

    Hand-held tool emits ultraviolet light, calibrated precisely at 370 nanometers. UV light is used in Esogetic Colorpuncture to address the information “background” of pain and ill health. It assists the flow of spirit information in the body.

    Guess that nobody would notice if you swapped it with the keyring-light to find the keyhole at night.

    I think our health-care system is too good. People get the real healthcare and then spend their time and money on woo and later they claim it was the accuhomeochiroreiki that did it.

  13. #13 Scott Cunningham
    June 10, 2011

    Colorpuncture? Seriously? Well, at least there aren’t any dirty needles spreading MRSA.

    I remember in kindergarten children pretending to be doctors would make up stuff with stethoscopes and broken bones. What amateurs we were! The grown-up version of pretending to be a doctor involves magic light pens, spiritual ailments, auras and meridians!

  14. #14 LC.
    June 10, 2011

    Eight hundred bucks for a ‘UV-370’?

    I have a a 9 LED 370nm UV torch for making flourescent rocks glow (very pretty) – which cost about 30 bucks. A “Perlux UV-370 Ultraviolet Light Pen” has less LEDs and a 3000 percent markup. And if I bought the components from an electronics shop it would cost about $20.

    Between this and “the Zapper” (a 555 oscillator circuit – value $2, selling for $250), someone is laughing all the way to the bank.

  15. #15 Jane
    June 10, 2011

    I’m sorry this is off-topic, but it is timely. “Health Freedom Expo” is this weekend in Chicago. Local semi-famous Dr. Mayer Eisenstein is hawking the hCG diet (one of the speakers).

    http://www.healthfreedomexpo.com/site/

  16. #16 EJ
    June 10, 2011

    “…a set of 7 glass rods, each infused with natural dyes of different spectral colors (red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue and violet).”

    Does anyone remember the 80s computer game Starcross?

  17. #17 tim gueguen
    June 10, 2011

    It would be interesting to know how many of these supposedly patented woo devices actually are. Getting a patent costs money that could be better spent on advertising to draw in more suckers, and having a patent on file makes it easier for some nasty skeptic to show your gizmo is a load of BS.

    Speaking of naturopaths one showed up in a report on Global’s supper hour news program this week. The report was on sea salt, and it started with some naturopath making all these wonderful claims. But the report then stated that mainstream science thinks such claims are false, and presented details on how sea salt is no better for you than regular salt. I’m often not very impressed with their stuff, so it was nice to see a good anti-woo report for a change.

  18. #18 Jeff Read
    June 10, 2011

    On the alt-med episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! there was a woman who had a “chakra bed” with various colored lights shining through crystals above it.

    This totally evoked what my friend and I call the “crystal disco bed”.

  19. #19 Susan Bebon
    June 10, 2011

    Love this blog! In today’s post under Ultraviolet Light Therapy, you include a quote describing the “momentous discovery of a second brain located in the abdomen”. How could I have missed this? Could you bring your Insolence to bear on this topic, please? Today’s Woo was so bizarre itself that I almost missed this. Thanks!

  20. #20 Harbo
    June 10, 2011

    There is enough information now to say that acupuncture is assault, and charging for it is fraud.
    The practitioners should be collected and transferred to the legal system or health system depending on their degree of delusion.

  21. #21 Turnkey
    June 10, 2011

    I was wondering why I started seeing “head/gut link” from some of the localish woo. They tend to borrow from each other.

  22. #22 palindrom
    June 10, 2011

    Susan Bebon@19 — This brain-in-the-abdomen stuff is nothing new. It’s been obvious since time immemorial that many people think with their stomachs.

  23. #23 Alan Kellogg
    June 11, 2011

    I wonder when we’ll start seeing people combine this colorpuncture malarky with HD lenses.

  24. #24 blf
    June 11, 2011

    It’s been obvious since time immemorial that many people think with their stomachs.

    The basic purpose of the body is to move the stomach to a new foraging location.

  25. #25 Stuartg
    June 11, 2011

    “the human being has a second brain located in the abdomen”

    It would appear that at least one person doesn’t have one located in the head!

  26. #26 Jacob
    June 11, 2011

    @blf – totally agree. Eating, Breading and Migrating. How does a primitive person or animal know the difference between ‘breeding’, and the two separate events ‘Feed the woman with the food the man makes’ then (later) ‘the woman makes food from her lower front mouth’?

    Long term primitive observation would reveal that there appears to be a significant calorific advantage in swapping 20 seconds of rutting and 30 calories of sperm* for ~17,500 calories of human baby**

    *~750MB per sperm, 15MB go toward your 23, what are the other 735MB for? Junk dna?

    **babies are not edible for the first few months, they produce a bad tasting chemical, and the mother will try to kill you. Babies are special food. They grow big and forage or hunt with you ;)

    Thanks to a very special ‘brain’ for that inspired wisdom. I, humble Jacob, cannot take credit in my mind.

  27. #27 lilady
    June 11, 2011

    No no no, you’ve got it all wrong, the second brain is located in the rectum…where you pull all the silly factoids out of.

    I suspect that the new and improved gadgetry with more bells and whistles appeal to a certain segment of alt therapy believers, similar to cell phone users who discard perfectly serviceable cell phones for the latest android phone.

  28. #28 JTD
    June 11, 2011

    About one year ago AIDS Denialist Celia Farber went to Life Vessel in Santa Fe and literally crawled into a box and sat in the box basking in light “the frequency of pure love”! She claimed it helped de~stress her. I just wonder how it is proven that a certain frequency of light can equal “pure love”? Silly Celia; gotta love her!

  29. #29 palindrom
    June 11, 2011

    All this ‘frequency of pure love’ reminds me of Firesign Theater’s parody of a New Age ranch; the crowd chants, on a unison pitch:

    “Ommmmmmmmmmmm ……. ”

    Then, descending a major second in pitch:

    “Ommmmmmmmmmmm …….. ”

    then, another minor second lower:

    “…. Raaaange …. “

  30. #30 Mutant Dragon
    June 11, 2011

    I love it. This stuff is so funny you just couldn’t make it up.

  31. #31 DLC
    June 11, 2011

    Lovely little scam.
    I sometimes wish I had no scruples so I could carry out similar scams. But then, I realize I can’t do that. I may be low, but those guys could ride a unicycle under a snake’s belly while wearing a top hat.

  32. #32 Nicole
    June 12, 2011

    I tend to think that the reason acupuncture is such an effective placebo is the whole needles thing. Increased anxiety, adrenaline, etc. Taking away the needles has to diminish that effectiveness to something more along the lines of reiki.

  33. #33 gdave
    June 12, 2011

    Pedantic nitpick:

    He’s also apparently the person who developed kirlian photography, which is basically aura photography on steroids.

    Actually, Semyon Kirlian developed Kirlian (not “kirlian,” it’s a coincidence that his last name has an ending that is also a common English adjectival suffix) photography, starting around 1939. As far as I know, aura photography was developed from Kirlian photography, and not vice versa.

    Mandel’s “Energy Emission Analysis” may be “his original assessment system for [K]irlian photography”, but the idea of analyzing Kirlian auras is a woo as old as the method itself.

  34. #34 Roadstergal
    June 12, 2011

    Where are the colorpuncture apologists? It has just as much going for it as any other woo – I am very disappointed that we have not yet heard from folk trying to tell us that colorpuncture can cure what conventional medicine just treats, and that there’s a lot physicists can’t understand about color, and there’s this really good paper that my friend’s cousin heard about, go look it up…

  35. #35 Sarah Walker
    June 12, 2011

    Can I patent the Sarah Walker woo generator please?

    It’s a rotating device which juxtaposes at random

    a) garbled term derived from real science too complicated for practitioner and potential clients to understand (milage may vary on how complicated that needs to be) but which they have at least heard of:

    example: quantum physics, chaos theory, string theory…

    b) imported or antiquated woo

    example: qi, Stonehenge, celestial harmonies

    c) sciencey sounded concept which was long ago abandoned by real science:

    example: spontaneous generation, ether, phlogiston…

    d) massively misunderstood biology:

    example: your brain is in your belly, earache is caused by unhappiness in your big toe, acne is a sign of phlogiston deficiency.

    The resulting combination will cure all ills, especially through purchase of a high-tech-looking and -sounding gadget which costs me peanuts to produce but retails very, very expensively.

    The scam is fronted by a person wearing a white coat and a stethoscope for no evident reason, but in a non-clinical setting, possibly accompanied by whale song.

    Buy the SWWoo generator today! Guaranteed to protect you and your loved ones from miasmas in your brown chakra by using the Nazca alignments to combat entropy.

  36. #36 lilady
    June 12, 2011

    So many sock puppets…I’ve lost count.

  37. #37 Orac
    June 12, 2011

    Alright, that’s it. Jacob’s gone. Sockpuppetting is a bannable offense. I’ve been more than patient, but now he’s just annoying the hell out of my readers.

    Jacob, go away and do not come back.

  38. #38 Neil
    June 13, 2011

    It could be worse – they may combine colorpuncture with colonic irrigation and shine a light up your ….

  39. #39 Asa W
    June 14, 2011

    Colorpuncture and randomly shining small UV-lights at people of course doesn’t have any effects.
    UV-light with higher lux values has however effect on chronic skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis, this is wellknown among dermatologist and is used in clinical practise.
    You often combine UV-therapy with psoralenes that form microcrystals in the skin and enhances UV radiation via reflection.

    Theoretically UV-light could have an effect on ulcerative inflammation of the bowel such as ulcerative colitis, one has yet to invent an anal light-probe AND find patients willing to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine ;)
    Pardon if I got some technical terms wrong- me from Sweden.

  40. #40 oblio
    July 23, 2011

    Wow! I finally found a use for my old Lite-Brite. I knew there was a reason to hang onto it. I was going to sell it on eBay as vintage toy but I bet I can get a lot more money for it if I sell as esogetic healing device! I have never laughed so hard in my life!

  41. #41 polished concrete
    October 19, 2011

    “scientist and naturopath”

    These words are so mutually exclusive that any grammar/spell checker should balk at them being in such close proximity.

    That is so funny and yet correct.

  42. #42 Cure toenail fungus
    October 20, 2011

    Colorpuncture?? Never heard of it before. I’ve used acupuncture in the past, very successfully, but somehow this colorpuncture thing doesn’t resonate with me

  43. #43 Cal
    October 24, 2011

    This reminded me a bit of the LiteBrite toy from a the 80s/90s. You would put colored pegs on a pegboard, then turn on a light from behind the board and the colors would RADIATE their therapeutic benefits onto my weary 10-year-old frame. I wonder how many Crohn’s and IBS patients had LiteBrite’s as kids. I would guess not many.

  44. #44 data recovery
    November 3, 2011

    as i know Semyon Kirlian developed Kirlian (not “kirlian,” it’s a coincidence that his last name has an ending that is also a common English adjectival suffix) photography, starting around 1939. As far as I know, aura photography was developed from Kirlian photography, and not vice versa.

  45. #45 Jacob
    March 21, 2012

    Great stuff! I love Semyon Kirlian is my favourite :)

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