Respectful Insolence

The boneyard of forgotten woo, but better

A fascination with quackery was one of the things that inspired me to start this blog. Some of it was disbelief that anyone could take some of the modalities that I write about seriously. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples of this reaction was when I first learned that there were people who are actually antivaccine. I’m sorry (well, no I’m not), antivaccine views are utter hogwash, and there’s no good evidence that they they cause autism. There aren’t fetal parts in vaccines, nor are there deadly toxins. What chemicals that are there are not dangerous. Moving on to the broader area of quackery, supplements and coffee enemas will not cure you if you have cancer, nor will high dose vitamin C. Cancer is not caused by a liver fluke, and you can’t cure it by using a device that looks like an e-meter to zap it. And, really, people, if you fall for detox foot baths, your gullibility knows no bounds.

Some quack devices, though, are amusing enough that I rather enjoy taking a look at them. For instance, do you remember Rejuvenique? No? Well, it has been well over three years since I first wrote about it. Basically, it’s a face mask with sensors and electrodes in it that the wearer hooks up to a nine volt battery in order to exercise the facial muscles and “rejuvenate” the face. I called that post The Boneyard of Forgotten Woo. Consider the topic of today’s post to be The Boneyard of Forgotten Woo, part II. I say that because I think I’ve found the precursor of the Rejuvenique. It operates on similar principals, but even more so. It predates the Rejuvenique by around 30 years, and it’s called the Relax-A-Cisor, and it’s being sold on E-Bay by Strange Vintage (note the a couple of the pictures from the manual scanned in might not be safe for work; however if you click on the links those pictures are there too, and I also think that the pictures are essential to convey just how nutty this device is):

The Relax-A-Cizor is an Electrical Muscle Stimulator. They date from the late 1940’s to the early 1970’s, and sold for $200- $400. It claims to reduce girth by giving electric shocks to the muscles. Wet pads are strapped or placed on the body, attached by cords to a power source. Pads can be placed on the stomach, thighs, arms, etc., even the face. Then you just lie there and electric shock yourself into a fabulous figure, yay! Sounds scary, huh?

In 1971 the FDA declared the Relax-A Cizor to be dangerous, causing or aggravating medical conditons. This is after selling thousands of units for decades! The FDA ordered the destruction of units, or for them to be made inoperable. They also banned the resale of already purchased units. So, given all that information, this auction is for the purpose of Collecting Medical Quackery Items only. This Relax-A-Cizor is not being sold as an excercise or fitness machine.

The seller also notes, amusingly, how the only warning in the documentation is not to store the moist pads inside of the Relax-A-Cizor case, warning the consumer that to do so could void the warranty.

And you really have to love the pictures in the brochure, which the seller was kind enough to include in the listing, particularly the pad placement charts. I couldn’t resist cherry picking a few such images for your amusement:

i-b73a8d3088e4fe0959d47950bb721853-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-2-thumb-450x337-72971.jpg

i-d9765ab9ca82ae1b2f0eeee677295f70-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-4-thumb-450x337-72974.jpg

Then, shades of Rejuvenique, we have the face electrodes. Yes, I know they call them pads, but, really, what are they but electrodes? Take a look:

i-8d08a8cb01e7d6af7f6db1bb0c3d8d11-relax-a-cizor-vintage-strap-on-face-thumb-450x337-72977.jpg

And, in order to have a more shapely figure, there’s the…well…harness. That’s about all I can think of to call it. It’s a harness with electrodes. I must admit, the choice of location for these electrodes is somewhat puzzling. Is it supposed to contract the pectoralis major muscle to give an illusion of a bigger bust? Who knows? Only the designers of the device know for sure, and, given that the Relax-A-Cizer first went on sale 63 years ago, they’re probably all dead (or at least really, really old):

i-c1a18a079011c8782835c8076654ab65-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-7-thumb-450x337-72980.jpg

i-538299b3f791b4a6dbfcfdea81dc1ccb-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-8-thumb-450x337-72983.jpg

But, best of all, you have to hook up the electrodes to pads that must be soaking wet. The instructions are very explicit and insistent about that, as you can see here:

i-ec76b2e962a86f059468eea7146a4d81-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-9-thumb-450x337-72986.jpg

i-2fb220e9bc68c81b147c273de0840d79-relax-a-cizor-strange-vintage-14-thumb-450x337-72989.jpg

I tell ya, ya can’t make stuff like this up. Basically, here we have a device that requires its user to hook herself up in a harness with wet pad electrodes on it and then hook herself up to electricity, all in order to stimulate muscles and allegedly zap that cellulite away. Even more amazing, this device was sold for over 20 years, from around 1949 until the FDA finally shut the company down in 1970. According to Quackwatch, more than 400,000 of these devices were sold during that time period. At the hearings about this device, forty witnesses testified that they had been injured while using thos bizarre machine. (I can only marvel that it wasn’t many more.) In the end, the judge concluded that the device could cause miscarriages and aggravate preexisting medical conditions, including hernias, ulcers, varicose veins, and epilepsy. In actuality, reading this I tend to doubt that the device could do any such thing, with the possible exception of aggravating hernias (if the pads are in the right location to cause muscle contractions near a hernia) and possibly epilepsy. Be that as it may, the device is utterly ridiculous and can’t possibly do what was claimed for it. And it sold for over 20 years, and apparently sold well.

Finally, I found it rather amusing when my Googling turned up the fact that the Relax-A-Cizor had been featured on Mad Men. Oddly enough, I didn’t remember that episode at all. Then I realized that the episode (Indian Summer) aired during the show’s first season, and I didn’t start watching Mad Men until the second season. Hmmm. One of these days I have to rent the first season on DVD and watch all those episodes that I missed. In any case, the device as described in the episode doesn’t sound quite as elaborate as the real Relax-A-Cizor. Still, I can’t think of a better advertising agency than Sterling Cooper to promote a quack device like this, along with Lucky Strikes.

In the end, though, is the Relax-A-Cizor really that ridiculous? Why, yes. Yes it is. Even by the scientific standards of 1949 it was thoroughly ridiculous. But it’s no more ridiculous than the Gerson therapy, which says that placing coffee into an orifice where coffee does not belong can cure cancer or that vaccines can cause autism. In terms of plausibility, there really isn’t that much difference. So much quackery is so ridiculous, but for some reason quackery like the Relax-A-Cizor becomes popular (and no doubt would still be selling today if the FDA hadn’t shut the company down), while other is dismissed. In any case, I’m sure the Relax-A-Cizor lives on in the form of other quack devices. Indeed, Rejuvenique was nothing more than a modification of the face attachment of a Relax-A-Cizor-like device. One wonders what the quacks will think of next as a variation on this theme.

Comments

  1. #1 Graham
    March 5, 2012

    That thing reminds me of something I saw in a book of quackery a long time ago. It was a ‘rejuvenator’ device designed to ‘give thrust’ to a mans activities and from memory the electrodes had to be attached to, well, nowadays you’d end up facing a war crimes tribunal if you tried it…

  2. #2 delictuscoeli
    March 5, 2012

    Forgotten? These still exist (albeit in a less elaborate form) and are heavily marketed on late night television.

    http://www.amazon.com/AB-Sonic-Electronic-Massage-Belt/dp/B000MVKVBA

  3. #3 Lawrence
    March 5, 2012

    I saw an episode of Storage Wars on AE this past weekend where they uncovered a “bleeder.” Of course, designed to help get a patient’s “humours” in balance by bleeding them. It was mentioned that this process was what killed George Washington.

    We’ve come a long way baby (and I wish people would remember that).

  4. #4 Daggerstab
    March 5, 2012

    I’ve seen similar devices marketed with similar claims on Bulgarian TV. Google “Abtronic”, though they periodically resurface under a new name. Another confirmation that “no woo ever truly dies”?

  5. #5 DLC
    March 5, 2012

    Some of these old quack devices are absolutely hilarious.
    I just wish it had not caused people to waste their time, money and health on these things.

  6. #6 Agashem
    March 5, 2012

    As a physical therapist who graduated a few (ahem) years ago, we played around with devices similar to this for muscle stimulation. We did have to use wet felt or sponge to conduct the electricity but I think the units we used were slightly safer. However, the uses of muscle stimulation have slowly dropped off the map; yes you can get a paralyzed muscle to contract but it won’t make it work again.
    I have always said, if these stimulators worked as well as they claim, then all of us physical therapists would be buff as hell.

  7. #7 Todd W.
    March 5, 2012

    I’m surprised that burns were not listed as an injury, as I seem to recall that modern variations on this device can cause burns at the sites of the electrodes.

  8. #8 Matthew Cline
    March 5, 2012

    I don’t get it. Surely you could get just as much exercise by fidgeting and twitching, without having to pay any money.

  9. #9 Unre9istered
    March 5, 2012

    Gah! Not safe for work warning please! I was reading this at work and suddenly realized I had pictures of breasts on my computer. Fortunately, neither of my office mates noticed.

  10. #10 kurt youngmann
    March 5, 2012

    David, you’re in luck. Here’s what (at first glance, anyway) appears to be a free source for “Mad Men” seasons 1 -4:

    http://tv.blinkx.com/show/mad-men/PZ_Kvpx9gbue3Y2zFbmUdsyx0Ww#s1

  11. #11 Andreas Johansson
    March 5, 2012

    Matthew Cline wrote:

    I don’t get it. Surely you could get just as much exercise by fidgeting and twitching, without having to pay any money.

    According to ads for a device similar to the one delictuscoeli links to at #2 (which I saw on Swedish television in the late nineties or early naughties), the clever part is that while you may forget to fidget, this marvelous piece of hightech keeps you contracting and relaxing your muscles as long as it’s on, leaving your mind free to do whatever undubitably sophisticated things you generally do that caused you to put on a few extra pounds in the first place. Basically, it promises a great body without the need for thought or effort.

    Me, I’d think having your stomach (or wherever you put the unholy thing) musculature constantly stimulated would be horrifyingly distracting, but, to be honest, I haven’t tried.

  12. #12 Daniel J. Andrews
    March 5, 2012

    As a physical therapist who graduated a few (ahem) years ago, we played around with devices similar to this for muscle stimulation. We did have to use wet felt or sponge to conduct the electricity but I think the units we used were slightly safer. However, the uses of muscle stimulation have slowly dropped off the map

    They’re still in use. A couple of months ago the physiotherapist, who was freshly graduated, placed electrode pads on my badly bruised back muscle. I felt nothing, then a slow build-up to skin crawling, then nothing, and the cycle repeats. Don’t know how crawling skin sensation helps with a deep muscle bruise. The hot pad felt great though. I didn’t go back as she missed diagnosing the full injury and the breathing exercise (breathing against a towel around lower ribs) resulted in crippling pain for the next four or five days.

    The clinic itself is supposed to be highly regarded, but I noticed a few woo brochures (they offer reiki, for example). I’ll have to ask my sister, a well-practiced physiotherapist now studying for her MCATs, if electric pads are still widely used in her province and what other physios think about them.

  13. #13 Beamup
    March 5, 2012

    Chiropractors do this sort of thing routinely. Supposedly it “improves circulation” and that “eliminates accumulated lactic acid” from the muscle.

    So yeah, definitely not a relic of the past.

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    March 5, 2012

    But where are the magnets? Aren’t you aware that magnets’ nearly miraculous powers can do wonders for healing and re-juvenation? There was a Dr Philpot… enough said.

    I imagine this is one of the earlier weapons in woo’s ever-increasing armatorium to combat aging**- actually, the *appearance* of aging. This is the often un-spoken message in woo-vertisements: you’ll look better- younger, thinner, less wrinkles, and one of my absolute *faves*: you can grow ( more/ thicker/ less grey) hair. There is hilarious material about vegan diets, nutrients, B vitamins, Chinese herbalism, woo-tinged alternatives to androgen-blockers( phyto-estrogens etc).

    But some woo aims higher: to attack the hidden causes of aging via de-tox and wait for it…. ways to increase telemere length through diet and exercise. Then there’s the *anti-aging medicine* brigade( the A4) who meet and present their ‘research’ yearly.
    (btw- I *like* her toga!)

    **there’s only one way to stop aging.

  15. #15 24fps
    March 5, 2012

    My ex’s mother had a device like that in the latter half of the 1980s. The whole family was into it. Her brother is a quack (iridologist, “lemonade” purge-fast type of thing, total loon) who talked her into it. They all used to take turns “toning” their muscles with the damn thing, including my ex. I don’t recall it having much of a discernable effect on any of them, but they swore up and down that it did.

  16. #16 Les Lane
    March 5, 2012

    It’s difficult to overestimate primal human fears. The fear of fluoridation in NJ (see today’s NYT) is a classic example. We’re a adapted to the stone age when neither vaccination nor fluoridation were concerns.

  17. #17 Shay
    March 5, 2012

    the clever part is that while you may forget to fidget, this marvelous piece of hightech keeps you contracting and relaxing your muscles as long as it’s on

    I have a cat who does this for a lot cheaper. And she purrs at the same time so you get that nice soothing aural effect as well (plus she’s self-heating).

    Now if she’d only take care of those claws.

  18. #18 JayK
    March 5, 2012

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are used in a lot of areas for various reasons. Do a pubmed search for TENS stimulation and you’ll get a ton of results.

  19. #19 Sastra
    March 5, 2012

    In any case, the device as described in the episode doesn’t sound quite as elaborate as the real Relax-A-Cizor. Still, I can’t think of a better advertising agency than Sterling Cooper to promote a quack device like this, along with Lucky Strikes.

    In the Mad Men episode, it turns out that the ‘Relax-a-Cizor is not really a quack device. That is, the weight-loss claims are bogus, sure — but they’re only a cover. Peggy discovers that the real point of the machine is female masturbation. She then tries to figure out how to market this without, you know, actually saying that this is what it’s for.

    The ad men who had given a free sample to their wives are very much discomfited when they finally grasp the reason their wives are so pleased with “the results.”

    Looking at the actual ‘Relax-a-Cizor, I can’t tell if this off-label use would actually work. Maybe. People can be ingenious when they want to be. Where there’s a will …

  20. #20 ConspicuousCarl
    March 5, 2012

    I might need a Spirograph to make a Venn diagram of all of the things intersecting here. Nudity, ad nostalgia, fraud, bondage, technology, and even some Greek architecture. Sexy.

  21. #21 Woomeister
    March 5, 2012

    I guess Orac doesn’t support orgone products either. Or Rife machines. Technically the only way to really lose weight is by diet, exercise and HGH.

    Orac is wrong in some cases. High doses of vitamin C directly injected into some tumors cause the tumors to vanish. The same thing goes for baking soda.

    Did you know that in some patients of Parkinsons disease thepatient has high levels of lead in the brain. My guess is to chelate the lead out the the patient will get better. Perhaps not entirely cured, but better than having a lead brain.

    Orac again is somehwhat wrong again. There are toxins in vaccines. Aluminum is a toxin.

    While there may not be any real fetal parts in vaccines, I guess Pepsi bought the rights for that. I can forsee our future being bright. Example:

    Flouride water to reduce IQ levels and make people more less suceptible to rebelling against order. GMO foods only being available, no real food for consumption as raw milk and homegrown non hybrid non GMO vegetables will be outlawed. Everyone required to recieve some type of aluminum laced death vaccine. Scientists unleashing new superbugs. The banning of colloidal silver for the use of killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi as only it can.
    And to top it all off, fetus Pepsi.

    I WILL NOT CONFORM! Death to teh new World Order.

    Camp FEMA here I come. Hope the guards like filty little half crazed contitutional conservative madmen.

    Oh, and tell HAARP I have my own 5mhz transmitter now. Let the war games begin. Hope they like earthquakes and tornadoes in alaska.

  22. #22 lilady
    March 5, 2012

    @ unre9istered: NSFW Warning: http://www.flexmini.com/

    And, more good news…Mad Men season premiere (2 hours!), Sunday, March 25 on AMC TV.

    I actually worked in trade magazines advertising years ago, and the salesmen were very much like Don Draper…he’s such a cad.

  23. #23 Alia
    March 5, 2012

    These devices still exist. My mother-in-law gave me such device (called Abgymnic, as far as I recall) at the turn of the century. I might still have it in the depths of my wardrobe – I haven’t even opened the box.
    Oh, and I think they recommended using a USG gel to wet the pad before putting it in place.

  24. #24 Roadstergal
    March 5, 2012

    Some of these old quack devices are absolutely hilarious.

    My favorites are those urns that would make your water radioactive. I mean, my favorites up until the point that you remember people took that stuff seriously and got hurt doing so. :(

    I hope I can be safely amused by these, though?
    http://www.retronaut.co/2011/07/vintage-exercise-machines/

    I don’t get it. Surely you could get just as much exercise by fidgeting and twitching, without having to pay any money.

    That’s my preferred method. I need to find a way to market it. Also, to re-grow my fingernails.

  25. #25 JN
    March 5, 2012

    Orac has fornicated his “science” blob with dirty pictures of boobies. All hail orac.

    Rather dissapointing. I thought there would be pictures of coffee enemas. maybe NJ can give us a demonstration.

    NJ is easily recognizable. All ya gotta do is recognize his style, out him and prod him a little bit. And out comes a torrent of looney. The truly funny thing is that he doesn’t realize that he’s making a permanent record of his being unhinged.

    Viewed objectively, it’s a sad testament to the failure of his mother and father to teach him wrong from right.

    He has a few obvious tells – aka Robin Hood is one, as are discussions of SB, Orac, (my personal favorite) puppeteered socks and underwear.

    Once outed, he tends to rant a bit (search SB for examples) in dazed flouridated confusion, so if our gracious host has a policy against such behavior, he may want to keep an eye out.

    FIFTY.

  26. #26 LADave
    March 5, 2012

    Do these things send current across the heart? Could it interfere with the electrical signal that causes the heart to beat?

  27. #27 Agashem
    March 5, 2012

    TENS units may cause muscle contractions, but that is a side effect and not usually intended as the first effect. I have used muscle stim on the back, although now that I work in acute care, I had forgotten that. I tended to use it more for trying to relax an overactive muscle (I hate to use the term spasm as that is a term overused, incorrectly).
    For LADave, we were warned not to use across the heart for the reasons you state but I think it is a precaution that has not been tested on humans as the IRBs look dimly on research that may cause potential heart attacks.

  28. #28 Obumbles
    March 5, 2012

    Orac has fornicated his “science” blob with dirty pictures of boobies. All hail orac.

    Rather dissapointing. I thought there would be pictures of coffee enemas. maybe NJ can give us a demonstration.

    NJ is easily recognizable. All ya gotta do is recognize his style, out him and prod him a little bit. And out comes a torrent of looney. The truly funny thing is that he doesn’t realize that he’s making a permanent record of his being unhinged.

    Viewed objectively, it’s a sad testament to the failure of his mother and father to teach him wrong from right.

    He has a few obvious tells – aka Robin Hood is one, as are discussions of SB, Orac, (my personal favorite) puppeteered socks and underwear.

    Once outed, he tends to rant a bit (search SB for examples) in dazed flouridated confusion, so if our gracious host has a policy against such behavior, he may want to keep an eye out.

    FIFTY.

  29. #29 Vicki
    March 5, 2012

    When I had PT for a rotator cuff injury, a TENS unit was one of the things involved, along with icing, I think manipulation, and some stretches and exercises that I am supposed to keep doing for the rest of my life. (It’s tedious, but surgery would be worse than tedious.) They didn’t suggest that this was a weight loss technique; I know someone who is using one of these long-term for pain relief, and again, no suggestion that it might cause weight loss.

  30. #30 Newman Jr.
    March 5, 2012

    Orac has gone too far. he has fornicated his site by showing dirty pictures. I only see boobs, but perhaps NJ will give us the coffee enema demonstration …

    NJ is easily recognizable. All ya gotta do is recognize his style, out him and prod him a little bit. And out comes a torrent of looney. The truly funny thing is that he doesn’t realize that he’s making a permanent record of his being unhinged.

    Viewed objectively, it’s a sad testament to the failure of his mother and father to teach him wrong from right.

    He has a few obvious tells – aka Robin Hood is one, as are discussions of SB, Orac, (my personal favorite) puppeteered socks and underwear.

    Once outed, he tends to rant a bit (search SB for examples) in dazed flouridated confusion, so if our gracious host has a policy against such behavior, he may want to keep an eye out.

    FIFTY.

  31. #31 magista
    March 5, 2012

    My mother had a TENS-type device for some years, though I don’t recall whether she got it from a reputable or a woo-ish souce. She used it to help relieve spasticity in the muscles of her left hand (she was hemiplegic after a cerebral hemorrhage). Anecdatally, it seemed to do the job.

  32. #32 NJ
    March 5, 2012

    Woomeister@26:

    Aluminum…flouride (sic)…new World Order…Camp FEMA…HAARP

    If this isn’t Rob Hood, the undertreated mentally ill character who skulks around SB, its doing a pretty good imitation!

  33. #33 Chris
    March 6, 2012

    NJ, I assumed it was a Poe.

  34. #34 Witch
    March 6, 2012

    Where does it say that such devices were advertised by CAM practitioners?

  35. #35 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 6, 2012

    Once you’ve said that the device is quackery and was obvious quackery even when it first came out, it’s pure semantics whether you call those who would employ obvious quackery “CAM proponents” or not.

  36. #36 Chris in Cape Town
    March 6, 2012

    Sorry Shay but you asked for this…. maybe you should start a clinic?
    http://www.intmedtourism.com/en/news/187.html

  37. #37 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 6, 2012

    Where does it say that such devices were advertised by CAM practitioners?

    So you agree that CAM is quackery and/or woo? ‘Cause your comment is the first mention of CAM or its cognates in this thread. Woo and quackery, on the other hand, appear in double digit quantities each.

  38. #38 Shay
    March 6, 2012

    Chris@33: Oh, my sainted aunt. I wonder how much money these charlatans are making off those poor moggies?

    (Enough to keep them fed, one hopes).

  39. #39 dreamer
    March 6, 2012

    Another tale of historical major-woo, complete with a sex-obsessed pastor and “naturalistic” remedies is revealed when the science fiction site I09 takes a look back at 19th century:
    http://io9.com/5890703/the-worst-science-fiction-novel-of-the-19th-century

    quote:
    “The Social War’s author, Simon Mohler Landis (?-1902) , certainly has a record to match his novel. A Pennsylvanian clergyman, Landis claimed to be a doctor, although no proof of this could be found. He […] seemed to be prospering, through a combination of lectures and selling products like Dr. Landis’ Celebrated Patent Compound Electro-Magnetic Hot and Cold Air Bath and the Patent Compound Male and Female Magnitude Syringe and Organic Bath.

    In 1865 he founded the “First Progressive Church of Philadelphia,” and as its pastor wrote and A Strictly Private Book on Marriage: Secrets of a Generation (1870), a sexual education book that was so explicit (by the standards of the era) in the ensuing trial for obscenity the book was described as “so lewd and filthy, and obscene that it is unfit to be spread upon the records of this court…and hence to read in the presence of a public audience.”

  40. #40 dreamer
    March 6, 2012

    THANKS: kurt youngmann #10, that link you posted seems like a great site, now I can watch Dr. Who and other shows I can’t find on hulu or anywhere online!

  41. #41 cervantes
    March 6, 2012

    Dreamer — The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle is a fictionalized account of the Kellogg Sanitorium in Michigan, where the wealthy went in the early 20th Century to be quack healed. IIRC Dr. Kellogg had an electrical stimulation device, among other gadgets. A customer gets electrocuted. There is also a doctor who uses vibrators on his female patients. It’s funny and tragic at the same time. Orac would enjoy it if he ever has time for recreational reading.

  42. #42 Andre J. Daniels
    March 6, 2012

    chris, the person with no chromosomes, assumed wrong.

    Chris is no longer my stalker, but NJ (Willie Flowers) has done a prety good job trying to keep up. Too bad that coffee enema will slow im down significantly. It may even chealte some flouride out of his stupid canadian brain.

    NJ is easily recognizable. All ya gotta do is recognize his style, out him and prod him a little bit. And out comes a torrent of looney. The truly funny thing is that he doesn’t realize that he’s making a permanent record of his being unhinged.

    Viewed objectively, it’s a sad testament to the failure of his mother and father to teach him wrong from right.

    He has a few obvious tells – aka Robin Hood is one, as are discussions of SB, Orac, (my personal favorite) puppeteered socks and underwear.

    Once outed, he tends to rant a bit (search SB for examples) in dazed flouridated confusion, so if our gracious host has a policy against such behavior, he may want to keep an eye out.

    FIFTY.

  43. #43 David N. Brown
    March 8, 2012

    As far as “pop culture”, I can remember seeing an ad (I don’t recall for what) in which a device like this was portrayed as a joke (ending with the buyer wearing it while eating junk food on the couch). Then there’s something I was surprised wasn’t mentioned already, the “Dead Like Me” episode “Reapercussions” revolves around such a device, dubbed the “Absolver”.

    The ironic thing is, this device doesn’t seem completely useless, to the extent that it might, plausibly, burn off a few calories. And (notwithstanding “Dead Like Me”) there’s no obvious way it could actually electrocute someone; as long as it runs on batteries, it just won’t have the power.

  44. #44 Witch
    March 8, 2012

    Whenever “quackery” is mentioned by those who accept only one true discipline of medicine – i.e. theirs – they infer that the practitioner is one from the non-orthodox camp.

    However, it’s been shown time and again, that the real botched jobs in medicine are (nearly) always doctors. And clearly specifying what kind of practitioner was practising the sham medicine is in not just a matter of semantics.

  45. #45 Chris
    March 8, 2012

    Witch:

    However, it’s been shown time and again, that the real botched jobs in medicine are (nearly) always doctors.

    Really? Why should we believe someone who posted an article about the Cervarix vaccine not being able to treat women who already had an HPV infection and claimed it showed that showed that Gardisil did not prevent HPV? You have proven multiple times that you neither understand nor even read the scientific literature.

  46. #46 Julian Frost
    March 8, 2012

    @Witch:

    However, it’s been shown time and again, that the real botched jobs in medicine are (nearly) always doctors.

    Thank you Captain Tautology. Given that doctors practise medicine for a living and that there are literally millions of them, who did you expect would be responsible for most medical mistakes? Carpenters, perhaps?

  47. #47 g724
    March 8, 2012

    Darn it!, I was hoping someone would post a link to somewhere I can buy an orgone box!

    Yes, it’s plausible that certain types of electroquackery and quacktronics might have actually been intended as masturbation machines. But all of those things were merely trying to catch up with the good old-fashioned motorized vibrator, that can be sold openly and with no medical claims, as a “massager.” The ones that …how to say this nicely?…. were shaped like bulbous flesh-toned rocket ships… were sold as “portable facial massagers” including through classified ads that showed drawings of women’s faces looking very happy as they applied the rocket-shaped devices to their cheeks.

    TENS is legit, and CES (cranial electrical stimulation) is legit. Anecdotally, I knew someone who was a chronic pot head, who successfully quit smoking pot with the aid of a little CES device with electrodes that clipped to her ears. I will admit to having tried it on myself, in a spirit of utter and total skepticism, and discovered that _yes_ it did get me “high,” and _no_, that was not a placebo reaction (presumably placebo reactions don’t occur when the subjects think the “treatment” is utterly ridiculous). So if CES gives you a little buzzy-buzz that can wean you off over-indulgence in stinky green herbs, wonderful! (Only later did I find out that these things are in fact FDA-approved, with prescription required.)

    Bottom line for me about this stuff is: as long as it only causes risks to the person who does it to themselves, *fine.* The world is overpopulated, and voluntary reductions are always welcome. The thing that I have zero tolerance for, is anti-vax quackery, because anti-vaxers don’t only put themselves at risk, but everyone else in the community as well, and that is beyond the pale.

    I’ll uncharacteristically close this post with a quote from song lyrics, seeing as they’re relevant:

    “I’ve got an orgone accumulator
    and it makes me feel greater
    I will see you sometime later
    when I’m through with my accumulator…”
    -Hawkwind.

  48. #48 Witch
    March 9, 2012

    Chris:
    The Gardasil vaccination study showed there was no evidence of viral clearance and, hence, the vaccine was ineffective for the prevention of cervical cancer, that’s if you’re going along with the theory that HPV directly causes cervical cancer….

  49. #49 Beamup
    March 9, 2012

    Clearance and prevention are not the same thing…

  50. #50 MI Dawn
    March 9, 2012

    @Witch: I know others have explained this to you, but here I’m going to try:

    the vaccine does NOT help someone who has the virus get rid of it (also known as TREATMENT).

    The vaccine DOES help those who have not been exposed to the virus prior to the vaccine to not GET the virus if exposed to it after they’ve had the vaccine (Also known as PREVENTION).

    The vaccine is for PREVENTION of the problem, not the TREATMENT.

  51. #51 Witch
    March 9, 2012

    Too right: Prevention is about nutrition and lifestyle, not woo-science, such as vaccination. Orthodox science is increasingly shooting itself in the foot with ever more findings that assumptions made are false and that drugs / vaccines prescribed are ineffective and, worse, dangerous.

    An example about a false assumption: Vaccination is based on the false assumption that vaccines trigger a cellular immune response (antibodies).

    See article on ScienceDaily.com, “Antibodies Are Not Required for Immunity Against Some Viruses”, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301143426.htm, a new study turns the well established theory that antibodies are required for antiviral immunity upside down and reveals that an unexpected partnership between the specific and non-specific divisions of the immune system is critical for fighting some types of viral infections. The research, published online on March 1st in the journal Immunity by Cell Press, may lead to a new understanding of the best way to help protect those exposed to potentially lethal viruses, such as the rabies virus.

    “Our findings contradict the current view that antibodies are absolutely required to survive infection with viruses like VSV, and establish an unexpected function for B cells as custodians of macrophages in antiviral immunity,”

    Moseman et al.: “B Cell Maintenance of Subcapsular Sinus Macrophages Protects against a Fatal Viral Infection Independent of Adaptive Immunity.”

    http://labs.idi.harvard.edu/vonandrian/Pages/_Moseman%20Immunity%20online%20'12.pdf

  52. #52 Witch
    March 9, 2012

    MI Dawn – Let me explain to you:
    Gardasil is marketed as an anti-cervical cancer vaccine. It does not prevent cervical cancer. Further, studies have shown is also does not clear HPV viral infection which is presumed to cause cervical cancer. Ergo the vaccine is sham medicine.

  53. #53 Witch
    March 9, 2012

    MI Dawn – Let me explain to you:

    Gardasil is marketed as an anti-cervical cancer vaccine.

    It does not prevent cervical cancer.

    Further, studies have shown is also does not clear HPV viral infection which is presumed to cause cervical cancer. I haven’t come across research to show that the vaccine prevents HPV infection, nor any proof that HPV infection causes cervical cancer. Is Gardasil another sham vaccine?

  54. #54 AdamG
    March 9, 2012

    Witch, you must have read the Moseman et al. paper by now or else you wouldn’t keep bringing it up. I’d be happy to discuss the findings of the paper with you, but first you need to demonstrate that you actually understand the article. Would you mind explaining in your own words the hypothesis that the authors were testing, how they tested it, and what their conclusions were based on the data? This should be very clear if you’ve properly read the article.

  55. #55 lilady
    March 9, 2012

    @ MI Dawn: Could it be Thingy’s sock puppet or, Thingy’s identical twin or, Thingy on some new medication?

  56. #56 MI Dawn
    March 9, 2012

    @lilady: no, I think the English is too good for Witch to be related to It-who-must-not-be-named. And, Witch doesn’t *seem* to have a thing about precious bodily fluids. Xe does seem to think that doctors don’t push for good nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation – all parts of a healthy lifestyle. (And where are all these doctors who don’t do that? I’ve never met any. I want to go to one who DOESN’T bother me about my lifestyle…NOT).

    Xe also doesn’t seem to understand that doctors don’t make much money, if any, from vaccines. They’d make a LOT more money if they had to treat flu, measles, mumps, pertussis, etc, and so would the drug companies. So why on earth would they push something that PREVENTS them from making a lot of money?

    And, Witch still does not apparently understand what vaccines are supposed to do. Sad, actually. At first, I thought Witch would give some intelligent arguments, but all xe does is twist research. Sad, really.

  57. #57 herr doktor bimler
    March 9, 2012

    The Gardasil vaccination study showed there was no evidence of viral clearance

    What Gardasil vaccination study?

  58. #58 Chris
    March 9, 2012

    herr doktor bimler:

    What Gardasil vaccination study?

    The one that was apparently really about the two strain HPV vaccine, Cervarix. I can’t believe she has still not read it!

  59. #59 Lawrence
    March 9, 2012

    I think Witch is using Gardisil as a generic descriptor (like Aspirin or Tylenol)….because she can’t be so stupid as to not realize the study she keeps referencing is about a completely different product.

    (oh wait, of course she can)

  60. #60 Molly
    March 9, 2012

    We had a Relax-a-Cizer when I was a teen in the 1950s. My mother bought it from an ad in a monthly astrology magazine she faithfully read.

  61. #61 Molly
    March 9, 2012

    We had a Relax-a-Cizer when I was a teen in the 1950s. My mother bought it from an ad in a monthly astrology magazine she faithfully read.

  62. #62 herr doktor bimler
    March 10, 2012

    Witch @ 50:
    I haven’t come across research to show that the vaccine prevents HPV infection, nor any proof that HPV infection causes cervical cancer.

    Have you *looked* anywhere (for instance in the medical literature, or in Orac’s archived posts)? If the expression “come across” is any indication, you could be aimlessly reading newspapers and collections of photographs of cats with amusingly misspelled captions, on the off-chance that you might stumble on a research report placed there by mistake.

    Kai Lung’s reminder that “It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in looking for the sacred Emperor in the low-class tea-shops” seems particularly apt.

  63. #63 Surflover
    March 12, 2012

    MiDawn,

    Doctors know very little about health, & lots about drugs & suppression of symptoms. I don’t know where you live but where I’m from the only lifestyle advice you get is lose weight.If you’re male, your advised to wear a condom. Their understanding of nutritional science is shameful.Every symptom you get is given a drug.

    The average time in medical consultations is 10 minutes. How much can you get across in 10 minutes, even if you know what you’re talking about? It takes 10 minutes to at least ask a few pertinent questions on lifestyle, let alone educate & motivate.

    The idea that you go to your doctor for good health advice is laughable. The doctors I know personally,know less than I do about healthy living & I’m not in the healthcare profession.I personally know 6 doctors, 4 of whom are decidedly unhealthy & delude themselves & their patients by advising them. My wife & I have a big chuckle at that. 4 of them are on medication, imo unnecessarily, if they really knew about health & applied it. But they tell me it’s being “managed” by drugs. My family would never go to a medical doctor for health advice. Sure, if I break a leg or need other emergency treatment they are great, but if I wanted advice on healthy living , which I don’t, I would prefer a naturopath, thank you.

    Years ago my doctor friends strongly advised me to stay out of the sun ( I surf a lot) because the sun was bad. Look who’s wrong now & 2 of them have had skin cancer.

    No wonder the drug companies subsidise medical education, they get a nice little return don’t they? Doctors are glorified salesmen for the drug companies & should never promote themselves as health experts.

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