Respectful Insolence

Well, I’m back.

It’s been a long week away, and very enjoyable, although I must say that such long trips tend to drain one. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for something to restore lost energy and vigor, sucked out of me from long hours cramped on an airplane and holed up in airports, just trying to get to a vacation and then later to wend my way home. Of course, as a physician and skeptic, I know that just taking a rest, going to bed on time and getting up on time, and waiting for my body’s clock to reset to the new location and cure me of jet lag would work, but that’s just too slow. Besides, in the world of alt-med—cough, cough, excuse me, integrative medicine—we all know that wishing makes it so, and I wish to be back up to full capacity instantaneously upon touching down in my home city. Fortunately for me, I found a way to do just that. Well, not really, but it is fun to fantasize that something like Advanced Cell Training (ACT), which tells me that my body “can heal itself.”

Of course, every physician knows that the body can heal itself from an amazing array of injuries and illnesses. However, every physician also knows that, as amazing as the self-repair and renewal capabilities of human body are, there are definite limits to what it can heal itself of. Not for brave mavericks are such limits! Oh, no! For instance, the purveyors of ACT (formerly known as Immune Response Training) take the ridicule that flows their way for saying they can train you to cure yourself of almost anything by “training” a part of the brain that “governs” immune function and telling it to fix the body. Indeed, the sellers of this particular nostrum are even prepared with two quotes, one from Arthur Schopenhauer:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Of course, whenever I see this quote, I know I’m dealing with some high grade woo, because not only is it unclear whether Schopenhauer ever said such a thing, the quote itself is so mind-bogglingly stupid and misguided that it still irritates me whenever I see. No wonder it’s so beloved of cranks, to whom it gives comfort that they are only in the first and second Schopenhauer stages but will soon achieve wide validation of their views and reach the third stage. Just you wait and see! Of course, one thing about this particular quote, even if you accept its validity, is that quackery never progresses past stage two, and rightly so, although in general I prefer stage one for most quacks.

The next quote comes from Albert Einstein himself:

Do you remember how electrical currents and “unseen waves” were laughed at? The knowledge about man is still in its infancy.

This, too, is a quote much beloved of cranks. Indeed, if you Google this quote, at least three quarters of the first few pages of hits are crank sites repeating this quote to justify woo. It is rather amusing, because Einstein was certainly not meaning to claim that just because scientists used to be very skeptical of ideas such as “unseen waves” means that any sort of pseudoscience should be taken seriously. After all, scientists came to accept the existence of electromagnetic waves after sufficient experimentation and evidence made it impossible not to. Somehow cranks never reach that level of evidence.

So what is ACT?

It begins with a blanket, general statement that Geneticists Determine Cellular Behavior As True Cause Of Human Disease (Exposure To Pathogen Not Guarantee Of Contraction):

The realization that sent the scientific community reeling (and got the research foundations funding expensive genetic research) was the observation that the human body is actually able to kill AIDS pathogen. They found that some people who used HIV infected needles did not contract the disease, although exposed. “What was the difference?” they asked. “Cellular behavior”, was the answer. So, the geneticists now hope to isolate the genetic coding responsible for proper immune behavior. They hope to transfer this information from those who are immune to those who suffer with HIV and other serious diseases as well.Prior to this discovery, it was believed that the cause of disease was simply exposure to pathogen. This belief supported the notion that the human body is not able to kill certain pathogen. The inability of the immune system has become an unspoken cultural belief and is reinforced every time we take a remedy for a cold, flu, or pneumonia. The implication is that “My body can’t fight off this disease, but the antibiotic can.” We know antibiotics do kill some pathogen. But according to geneticists, the body can kill all pathogen—including pathogen antibiotics can’t kill, like HIV! If you are sick, it is because your body is under-reacting. Your body can kill pathogen, but it is not “pulling the trigger.” The proper belief, if you are ill, is, “Though I am ill, I know my body can kill these pathogen. What do I need to do to improve its performance?”

Good question. Unfortunately Gary Blier, the man responsible for ACT, is more than happy to tell you. It doesn’t start well, unfortunately. Why do I say this? Because in multiple places Blier mentions Hulda Clark and her Zapper and Royal Rife and his device as examples of the sorts of interventions upon which his ACT is based. I’m sure you recall Hulda Clark and her Zapper. Clark was a woman who preached that cancer (not to mention AIDS and pretty much all other disease) is caused by a liver fluke and that she could cure cancer (not to mention AIDS and pretty much every other disease) by using what she called a “Zapper,” a device that looks, more than anything else, like a Scientology E-meter to me. Ironically enough, Clark ultimately died of cancer. Rife, on the other hand, was an inventor who claimed that he could use a special microscope to see microbes that caused cancer and invented a “beam ray” device that he further claimed could weaken or kill these organisms by vibrating them at what he called a “mortal oscillatory rate,” thus curing cancer.

Then, supposedly, ACT works like this, “skills” that Blier teaches you through teleconferences:

You must become your own ‘clinical diagnostician’ in that you must chart and record your own symptoms; when and where they occur, what makes them worse and better, etc. Secondly, as we listen to you during the Advanced Cell Training teleconference setting, we help you focus on the behavioral errors your body is making (ie:If you sneeze for pollen or if a doctor has found Lyme in your body we know the body is not performing properly). Then, we teach you how to train (Focus, Intent, Physical Meditation ) towards your body for enhanced immune performance. We simply get you to focus your attention on the area of cellular errors occurring and employ physical techniques to transfer knowledge from mind to body. In typing, you would focus your attention on the keyboard and practice with your hands to transfer knowledge from “mind to hands.” After a time, the body is able to incorporate new behavior with minimal mental involvement (ie:hopefully typing would be mastered, pollen would be tolerated, and malevolent organisms the Lyme Disease pathogen would be overcome).

One method by which Blier determines what’s wrong with you is through “muscle testing.” Whenever I hear “muscle testing,” I think applied kinesiology, because it’s pretty much the same thing. It basically involves giving a person something to hold that is either thought to be causing his problem or that might cure it, telling the person to keep his arm straight, and then pressing down on the arm. If the herb is something the patient needs, supposedly he’ll resist the downward pressure and hold the arm rigid. If it isn’t, he won’t. The same idea is used to test for allergies, thoughts, colors, sounds and emotions. Applied kinesiology is pure quackery invented by a chiropractor named George Goodheart. Oh, sure, proponents of muscle testing will claim that it’s not the same thing as applied kinesiology, even though if you look at both of them carefully you’ll be hard-pressed to find differences. It’s the same quackery with different glitter sprinkled on it.

Yet it’s what Blier uses:

This effort is about helping our clients change the behavior of their brains. How do we influence the function of the brain? Through communication. We have developed, through nine years of muscle testing, a “transitional language” we call “codes” that seem to reach the part of the brain which governs immune function. Just as the cognitive brain can be influenced by language, we have found the autonomic brain can be influenced by IRT codes. It is a way to identify under- reactions towards the Lyme pathogens, so the body can change immune behavior and thereby eradicate the infection.

Muscle testing, though controversial, has been pivotal in not only creating the codes, but also in developing this process. Those who know and understand this alternative technique may have more confidence in IRT. Those who know little to nothing about muscle testing need to determine if the results are real by contacting our Lyme clientele.

And what does Blier do with these codes? Silly one, he uses them to generate codes to fix what ails you:

Once the codes are read, participants then listen to a CD. This CD has more instructional codes embedded in music at a faster rate of speed. This locks in the intent of correction toward Lyme pathogen or other inflammatory agents. After the CD is heard, participants call in for an outside thought of intent which we call a “prayer.” Though controversial, many scientific studies have shown prayer to be effective for many serious illnesses. The NIH determined, through its study of complementary and alternative medicine, that 62% of 32,000 adults surveyed employed prayer as a healing modality. Then participants listen to the CD once more. They are asked to watch for symptom changes in the following days and chart those changes for future review with us.

So basically, Blier uses quack modalities like muscle testing, generates a code, and then embeds them in music at a higher rate of speed. One wonders why he doesn’t embed them backwards, like so many backward masked messages in Led Zeppelin albums. At least that’d be cooler. It’d be consistent with the whole prayer thing, you know, kind of like using the tools of the enemy against him.

But how does the brain do it? Not according to any mechanism known by science, but then that’s the appeal of ACT, isn’t it? According to Blier, ACT can somehow recognize pathogens and he can train you to think away the disease:

Once we understand that the brain is using a “current of electricity” to essentially electrocute pathogen, we can begin to understand why the human body can kill pathogen in cartilage. These brain generated frequencies are not dependent on blood for access to tissue. The brain is “hard wired” to the entirety of the human organism and therefore, able to penetrate cartilage and kill any and all pathogen. The antibiotic in the blood may not kill pathogen safely nestled in cartilage, but the brain, once properly activated, can. Advanced Cell Training™ has been proven effective to help the brain recognize and kill pathogen previously ignored within a person. The evidence for this is found within the notarized testimonials for those who state they are no longer victims of Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and other pathogenic diseases. Relatively little is known about the human brain, as scientists admit we use only about 2 to 3% of our capacity. Perhaps what science does not yet know about the brain can be utilized to restore health today.

Uh, no. It’s a myth that we use only 2% to 3% of our brain’s capacity. Also, Blier says his method has been “proven effective” to help the brain recognize and kill “previously ignored pathogens. But how does Blier know ACT works? How does any purveyor of woo “know” his treatment works? Certainly, it’s not randomized clinical trials. Note how he mentions “notarized testimonials.” Hint to Mr. Blier: This is not acceptable medical or scientific evidence, although he seems to think it is:

How can Lyme symptom reductions be verified without scientific study? Just as people are learning about and using other Lyme Disease therapies such as Rife, salt/c and ozone therapy. It is participants’ results with these therapies and not double-blind studies which demonstrate whether or not they work. Speaking with our post and present attendees would be one way to ascertain the effectiveness of IRT.

And, of course, there are lots of testimonials consistent with placebo and nonspecific effects.

All in all, ACT is a cornucopia of pseudoscience and mystical beliefs, as summarized in this little video:

There’s a lot on this website, and in particular on Blier’s YouTube channel, so much so that I might end up revisiting this topic. Basically, ACT appears to fuse muscle testing with “intent”-based therapy in which wishing makes it so and the patient can think away disease just by wanting it badly enough. It’s nothing more than faith healing gussied up to sound scientific. He even claims that his method, despite its apparently being based in prayer, is able to treat “people of no faith, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Bahai, Jehovah’s Witness, Quaker, and Agnostics.” And he promises to do it all for a mere $40 for materials and %55 per session. Righteous bucks if you do a teleconference with enough people, and you don’t even need a classroom or office.

Comments

  1. #1 elburto
    December 18, 2012

    saying they can train you to cure yourself of almost anything by “training” a part of the brain that “governs” immune function and telling it to fix the body.

    [Morbo voice]

    Foolish humans!

    Immune response does not work that way.

    [/Morbo]

    You pretty much destroyed my lobes with this one. From the Random Capitals Of Unwarranted Importance, to the “Antibiotics for pneumonia? Weakling!”, all the way to “Random numbers and a prayer or two cured people of a ‘disease’* that isn’t

    I’d love to see his citations for proof of the power of prayer. Didn’t one study recently show that patients in the prayer cohort actually deteriorated? The whole horrible mess is a big [citation needed].

    A nice early festive gift of terriblosity, thanks!

    *I’m betting dollars to doughnuts, pounds to pasties, euros to urinal cakes, that he means ~~Chronic Lyme~~. Beloved of medical anxiety sufferers and snake oil peddling quacks. Why not add $Deity-bothering and magic CDs (old skool eh, no MP3? ) to bizarre regimens like central line antibiotics, Rife, MMS, Asea, etc.

    I wonder if magical immune training works on Morgellons too, or any of the functional. disorders that share stable-space with ~chronic~ Lyme and DOP?

  2. #2 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 18, 2012

    It’s the perfect set up to “blame the patient”. Perhaps I’m getting jaded but anyone who would fall for this might be better off keeping their germ line to themselves. A whole other ball game if children are subjected to this folly.

  3. #3 Krebiozen
    December 18, 2012

    I propose another axiom:

    All woo passes through three stages. First, it fails clinical trials. Second, it is marketed by Mercola and Adams. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident by idiots.

  4. #4 Lizard
    Indiana
    December 18, 2012

    As I recall, in the 1970s “Hulk” TV series, there was someone who tried to cure herself of cancer through hypnosis and guided imagery, which is pretty much the 70s version of the woo noted above. She also tried to cure Bruce Banner with the same methods. How well did it work? Well, she died by the end of the episode and Bruce kept on being green. :)

  5. #5 Tony Mach
    December 18, 2012

    Train your brain to improve your health? What evolutionary advantage would such an trait offer? What an anti-evolutionary idealistic hogwash.

    As and advise for Gary Blier: He should simply exchange his self-made gobbledygook for psychosomatic/somatoform terminology, then he would seem much more respectable and catch much less flak.

  6. #6 Tony Mach
    December 18, 2012

    Yes elburto, he should use terms like ” functional disorders” – much better.

  7. #7 Shay
    December 18, 2012

    Though controversial, many scientific studies have shown prayer to be effective for many serious illnesses

    Speaking as a card-carrying Christian, this is cr*p. Prayer can be an effective coping mechanism to help people get through a number of crises, including serious illness. It is no substitute for medical treatment.

    People like this make me want to hurl.

  8. #8 Mu
    December 18, 2012

    Note the careful verbiage:
    he NIH determined, through its study of complementary and alternative medicine, that 62% of 32,000 adults surveyed employed prayer as a healing modality.
    It says employ, not are healed by. Big difference.

  9. #9 Shay
    December 18, 2012

    The whole concept is so…Victorian.

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    December 18, 2012

    Though controversial, many scientific studies have shown prayer to be effective for many serious illnesses

    The word in that sentence that I disagree with is “scientific”. There have been several such studies, some of which have been published in reputable journals. But that does not guarantee that they are correct, only that the referees didn’t spot the flaws. I have read papers in my own field where my reaction was, “How the $EXPLETIVE did that get past the referees?” I’m sure Orac would have a similar reaction to the studies that report a significant effect of prayer.

  11. #11 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 18, 2012

    What is it with woos and grammar? This assclown seems oblivious to the concept of plurals at least regarding the word pathogen.

    All nonsense passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed by people who object to con artists who take advantage or the vulnerable. Third, it is rejected as being self-evidently wrong by everyone except for a few con artists and gullible fools.

    @mu – that argument from popularity is such transparent weaksauce that it is astonishing that anyone falls for it.

  12. #12 Edith Prickly
    December 18, 2012

    OT, but an important story: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1303751–5-polio-vaccination-workers-killed-by-gunmen-in-pakistan

    Apparently the Taliban also subscribe to anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. I wonder if the usual suspects know what kind of company they’re keeping.

  13. #13 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 18, 2012

    @Edith Prickly

    Apparently the Taliban also subscribe to anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. I wonder if the usual suspects know what kind of company they’re keeping.

    Given the company they already keep, I doubt if they care.

  14. #14 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    December 18, 2012

    Those who know little to nothing about muscle testing need to determine if the results are real by contacting our Lyme clientele.

    Yes. Don’t look for scientific literature. Instead, talk to our satisfied customers.

    Once we understand that the brain is using a “current of electricity” to essentially electrocute pathogen

    So killing the herpes varicella zoster virus should be a cinch!

  15. #15 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 18, 2012

    He even claims that his method, despite its apparently being based in prayer, is able to treat “people of no faith, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Bahai, Jehovah’s Witness, Quaker, and Agnostics.”

    I guess Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Pagans, or followers of any other non-Abrahamic religions are SOL.

  16. #16 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    December 18, 2012

    @MA

    Don’t forget Pastafarians.

  17. #17 RogBoy
    December 18, 2012

    I am quite sure that those who believe in this ACT stuff are only using 2% of their brain.

  18. #18 evilDoug
    December 18, 2012

    Just exactly how is the brain supposed to be “wired” to cartilage? Am I wrong in believing that cartilage not innervated?

  19. #19 madder
    A little to the left
    December 18, 2012

    In typing, you would focus your attention on the keyboard and practice with your hands to transfer knowledge from “mind to hands.”

    Hmmm. For most of us, this route would not yield such fecal contamination. Charitable interpretation: maybe he’s putting his hands somewhere he shouldn’t. Slightly less charitable interpretation: he does his thinking with a different, more aromatic, organ.

    After a time, the body is able to incorporate new behavior with minimal mental involvement…

    And as evidence for this amazing discovery, he offers the rest of his feces-bestained oeuvre.

  20. #20 Calli Arcale
    December 18, 2012

    Edith:

    Apparently the Taliban also subscribe to anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. I wonder if the usual suspects know what kind of company they’re keeping.

    Actually, it isn’t just anti-vax nonsense. The five women were accused of being US spies. That fear goes back a ways, but the CIA certainly didn’t help assuage it when they used a vaccination drive to locate Osama Bin Laden.

  21. #21 LW
    December 18, 2012

    @evilDoug: “Just exactly how is the brain supposed to be “wired” to cartilage? Am I wrong in believing that cartilage not innervated?”

    Acupuncture meridians.

  22. #22 S
    December 18, 2012

    Excellent blog post, Orac.

    I am quite sure that those who believe in this ACT stuff are only using 2% of their brain.

    I must say though, I am shocked I tell you, simply shocked! You know the saying, ‘It takes a village’. Woomasters rarely work alone; they have plenty of help luring in their prey by others associated with the patient-victim.

  23. #23 Grant
    http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/
    December 18, 2012

    [Off-topic]

    Quick update to Roberts case in UK – mother ordered by judge to offer her child cancer treatment:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/8098052/Surgery-ordered-for-cancer-stricken-boy

  24. #24 S
    December 18, 2012

    So basically, Blier uses quack modalities like muscle testing, generates a code, and then embeds them in music at a higher rate of speed.

    There seems to be a variety of offbeat religions (cults?) that believe in the power of light frequencies and sound as being a Life Force. One can alter your Life Force by using different frequencies of light and sound.

    http://www.eckankar.org/FAQ/index.html#eckdef

  25. #25 flip
    December 18, 2012

    Those who know little to nothing about muscle testing need to determine if the results are real by contacting our Lyme clientele.

    That says it all really. Why publish data when you can just go straight to the useless anecdote?

    The brain is “hard wired” to the entirety of the human organism and therefore, able to penetrate cartilage and kill any and all pathogen

    Two thoughts: what happens if you try too hard and you accidentally shoot electricity so much you die? Second, how does this work given we already have electro shock therapy?

    %55 per session

    Normally I overlook your typos Orac, but this one could be misleading – surely you meant to put a dollar sign there?

    @Krebiozen

    All woo passes through three stages. First, it fails clinical trials. Second, it is marketed by Mercola and Adams. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident by idiots.

    Where can I buy the bumper sticker of this?

  26. #26 S
    December 18, 2012

    There is also the belief in ‘muscle memory’. The body holds the memory of all trauma and illness, which it has endured throughout it’s lifetimes, past and present. These memories can manifest in physical symptoms resulting in chronic illness. Fatigue, vomiting, skin rashes, all can be excused as manifestations of past, repressed trauma. Until the patient can address the root of the problem, (the trauma), they will not heal and thus require extended treatment facilitated by the quackmaster. You will not recover, until you remember…

  27. #27 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.ca
    December 18, 2012

    If there is one thing I am starting to find tiresome (especially in light of last Friday’s events, which I will not speak of further here) is the tendency to substitute slogans, catchphrases, or “deepity phrases attributed to famous people” for argument.

    The quotes attributed to Schopenhauer and to Einstein by the quacks discussed in the OP are a case in point.

    Who cares what Schopenhauer or Einstein said about random things unrelated to the quackery the quacks are marketing? Where’s their evidence?

    If all they have is “deepities” and anecdotes, I dare say they’re a bit short in the evidence department.

  28. #28 elburto
    December 18, 2012

    Tony – problem? Are you suggesting that Chronic Lyme and Morgellons/DOP are not functional disorders?

    I’d say anyone who receives instant cures from zappers/Rife/MMS/mental woo like the “lightning process” or today’s featured bullsh¡t, is clearly not suffering from a physical issue* such as cancer, MS, Crohn’s, endometriosis, or a viral problem like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, even something short and severe like c. diff, or self-limiting, like norovirus etc.

    If woo could cure even something as short-lived as norovirus, it would change everything.

    *Obviously mental illnesses and thought disorders are physical in nature too, no dualism here, it isn’t 1840. But they’re still stigmatised add viewed as “in the head”. Obviously problems like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and issues that render people non-neurotypical cannot be wiped out by incantations of magic numbers The same goes for dodgy wiring that leads to things like seizure disorders or neuropathy.

    However, there are thought and mood disorders which can be influenced cognitively, rather than chemically. I’m sure the “$number + $Deity” guided imagery will work for some patients. Patients with “phantom limbs” after amputation can be helped with the simplest and most accessible tool – a mirror,and some CBT.

    I know my PTSD has been helped by some improvised CBT. Not by much, but enough to see a difference.

  29. #29 Driver Robbie
    December 18, 2012

    [i]Once we understand that the brain is using a “current of electricity” to essentially electrocute pathogen…[/i]
    Eureka! Having understood that current of electricity will kill pathogen, I have come up with a brand new Holistic treatment modality that I can guarantee will kill all known pathogen such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungus and liver flukes in the effected individual.

    Harnessing the Synergistic Quantum Energies of life giving water and disease killing electricity, the Driver Method will prove to be the end of all disease and suffering inflicted upon the individual by Big Pharma.

    For the first time ever, I will share the secret of the Driver Method for all to appreciate the life changing nature of this technique.

    The “sick” person who sneeze at pollen or has lyme or morgellons, or ebola can cure themself at home in seconds with the right equipment.

    First they must draw a bath (salts, herbs, crystals are optional) as the Driver Method is a biphasic technique (in many ways) that harness what modern science is only just now learning about the magic of Quantum Entanglement. Humans are made up of nearly 70% water, which is about what the earth is made up of. This can hardly be coincidence! But is a sign that we need to use the resources Mother Earth has provided for us to heal ourselves. We know from homoeopathy that the less likely it is that there is actually any pathogen, the more likely it is that you will have terrible symptoms. Allopathic doctors don’t understand this, so when they find no evidence of pathogen it merely means that they do not understand Holistic Quantum Homeopathy like the Ancient Mayans did. Or something.

    Now that the sick person is in the bath, they utilize the second half of this Amazing Disease Killing Driver Method: pathogens killing electricity. We know, thanks to Mr Blier that electricity will kill pathogen, so now we can boost the bodies Innate Disease Killing Process naturally. With merely the application of my special Patented 240 volt Holistic Healing Cable (only $99.95 plus postage and handling) to the bathwater, I can guarantee that all pathogen in the body will be killed. Those without the means to buy my Holistic Healing Cable may be able to create their own by utilising a hairdryer, toaster, heater or other suitably powered device. The important thing is to combine the Healing Quantum Power of both Life Giving Water and Disease Killing Electricity.

    I have high hopes that this new, Holistic, Quantum, Natural method for curing disease will be taken up with gusto by many in the alt-med community.

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    I am reminded of a long – and possibly tall- tale told by Null of Issels’ cancer patients in Germany, sitting on a verdant hillside, listening to the 1812 Overture and each one imagining a white knight on horseback charging through the “valley of death”( his words) and obliterating their unruly cells with a lance. And EVERYBODY improved!

    Issels’ diverse therapies didn’t work for Bob Marley who probably would have done better to stay at home amongst family and friends, make music and smoke his gang@. And die in peace.

    The idea that intention can remedy all ills is amongst the greatest lies woo-meisters visit upon unlucky patients: it puts the blame on the patients’ own inefficacy- if the so-called treatment fails, takes the focus off the practitioner’s intervention and perhaps, momentarily makes the mis-informed mark feel as if something good will happen because he or she momentariyl feels better and hopeful. The last might be the cruellest of all.

  31. #31 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    @ elburto:

    CBT works because counselling *about* thinking- hopefully- jettisons a person into behaving differently, interacting in a different fashion and changing attitudes that lead to different results… the woo-ish alternative has thinking *alone* transforming external reality ( including bodily ills) , i.e. it leaves out the other important steps. Like magic does.
    People buy into this because they have no clues about how their own mind works.

  32. #32 Krebiozen
    December 18, 2012

    Edith Prickly,

    Apparently the Taliban also subscribe to anti-vaxx conspiracy theories.

    It may not be politically correct to talk about it, but there are some similarities between the beliefs of US extreme right survivalist conspiracy types and fundamentalist Muslims. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli ideas are one area of agreement (just look at some of the utterances of Ahmadinejad), along with widespread belief in the Protocols of Zion. I had conversations with Egyptians in Egypt about Israel a couple of decades ago that surprised me, even to the extent of them expressing admiration for Hitler, something that is also worryingly common in Pakistan, for example.

    Conspiracy theories about 9/11 seem to be quite common in the Muslim communities where I live, as is a general distrust of the American and British governments, and also a belief in alternative medicine, though I haven’t come across antivaccine ideas. A Muslim friend of mine, whose fundamentalist family tried to kill her after she fled an arranged marriage, told me her parents didn’t believe the US had gone to the moon, another unlikely area of commonality.

    I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that fundamentalists of different shades have similar ideas, especially when they revolve around the idea that the US government and Israel are evil. I do suspect that this makes some Muslims vulnerable to the misinformation about medicine we are so familiar with, and that are so prevalent on the internet. This is an area that perhaps needs some attention.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    December 18, 2012

    a long – and possibly tall- tale told by Null of Issels’ cancer patients in Germany, sitting on a verdant hillside, listening to the 1812 Overture and each one imagining a white knight on horseback charging through the “valley of death”( his words) and obliterating their unruly cells with a lance. And EVERYBODY improved!

    This works in science fiction stories but with side-effects.

  34. #34 Krebiozen
    December 18, 2012

    HDB,

    That sounds very like Hamer’s ‘New Medicine’, which I have long suspected is rooted in some sort of Scandinavian occult tradition. Also, don’t forget those Tibetan monks allegedly found in Berlin after WW2.

  35. #35 flip
    December 18, 2012

    @S

    There is also the belief in ‘muscle memory’. The body holds the memory of all trauma and illness, which it has endured throughout it’s lifetimes, past and present.

    It never occured to me til just now but I wonder if this has to do with co-opting ideas from dance or theatre. Muscle memory is often discussed because after rehearsing enough times, the body can learn to do movements without thinking about it; kind of like the old saying about “it’s like riding a bike”, where once you learn it, you don’t forget it.

    They’ve just taken it a few two many steps further…

    @Composer99

    Who cares what Schopenhauer or Einstein said about random things unrelated to the quackery the quacks are marketing? Where’s their evidence?

    Some people don’t realise that argument from authority is a fallacy. Einstein was smart, therefore what he says about important things must also be important *and* right, therefore what he said fits my worldview; whoever agrees with Einstein must also be smart *and* agrees with my worldview too.

    It’s a nice subtle hat-tip to “you agree with me on this, so agree with me on something else”.

  36. #36 S
    December 18, 2012

    Muscle memory is often discussed because after rehearsing enough times, the body can learn to do movements without thinking about it; kind of like the old saying about “it’s like riding a bike”, where once you learn it, you don’t forget it.

    I think remembering how to ride a bike is not the type of muscle memory intended. The type to which I refer is literally an alleged memory of the muscle, and when that thought memory, which is completely repressed, is indeed repressed, then the body’s muscles re-act out the movement. As an example, if they allege you were beaten or sexually assaulted, then they would allege you are also repressing the memory, and you are ill due to the repression of the act. It could be alleged that your refusing to deal with processing the memory is keeping you ill. You are not getting better, because you are not recalling the trauma and until you recall it, you will forever remain physically ill.

    So, for example, if you were beaten or otherwise assaulted, picture what your body would have understandably done during the attack (nausea, muscles clench, sweat, faint, vomit or gag from forced acts, heartbeat racing, etc.) When the patient experiences those same symptoms later in life (regardless of any other rational explanation), they might be told they are experiencing ‘muscle memory’. The problem is that none of repressed ‘memories’ may have ever happened.

    http://www.rogerwoolger.com/pastlife.html

  37. #37 lilady
    December 18, 2012

    Why do all of you *disparage* the testimonials of chronic Lyme disease patients who are *cured* from their chronic debilitating (non-existent) bacterial infection, using mind over matter techniques?

    Could it be that you don’t trust the LUAT (Lyme Urine Antigen Test) that *proves* that Lyme disease has a *chronic stage*…in spite of its lack of specificity?

    Could it be that you don’t trust Dr. Sing Hang Lee’s Serum Lyme PCR test…along with Dr. Lee’s Serum HPV rDNA PCR test?

    Whatever happened to Dr. Lee after he was given the heave-ho from New Milford Hospital, because he was running a side business out of the Hospital’s pathology lab…testing serum for the presence of HPV rDNA through SaneVax for young women *injured* by Gardisal vaccine?

  38. #38 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    @ S:

    You might want to take a peek at the Wikipedia article on flashbulb memories- an interesting controversy.

  39. #39 Alain
    December 18, 2012

    I wish I could train my brain to fight the flu. Didn’t get the vaccine this year (couldn’t pay for it) but then now, I’m down with the flu.

    Today, I went brewing at school and we brewed a mild stout (about 4% of alcohol) which should be ready in 2 weeks.

    I’m off to bed. G’Night.

    Alain

  40. #40 THS
    December 18, 2012

    regarding:

    It may not be politically correct to talk about it, but there are some similarities between the beliefs of US extreme right survivalist conspiracy types and fundamentalist Muslims.

    Oh, we here in the USA make that comparison, politic or not.

  41. #41 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 18, 2012

    Today, I went brewing at school and we brewed a mild stout (about 4% of alcohol) which should be ready in 2 weeks.

    Dear Alain, it would be a terrible imposition of course but you may come see me in two weeks hence. And oh all right, you can bring the stout if you insist.

  42. #42 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 18, 2012

    Alain,

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news. It may be ready to bottle in 2 weeks, but based on my experience it won’t come into full flavour (as you Canadians say) for at least 4 weeks, possibly 6.

  43. #43 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 18, 2012

    I suppose it just might be possible to train the yeasts to ferment faster by application of key sounds encoded in repetitive music (say, something by Philip Glass or Mike Oldfield). It would take a lot of brewing to be able to prove the point; if I could arrange a suitable grant, I’d be happy to perform and write up the experiments.

  44. #44 Narad
    December 18, 2012

    This is why the impatient just make prison wine.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    Glass would certainly be apropo.

  46. #46 S
    December 18, 2012

    I suppose it just might be possible to train the yeasts to ferment faster by application of key sounds encoded in repetitive music

    Silly you. The power to heal is within. Surely your acid/alkaline ratio is off balance as well. Your energy feels acidic. You likely have a chronic yeast infection, everyone does. Go eat some bread and a bowl of ice cream, lay down to some nice music for a few hours and you’ll have all the makings for an MOB special fermentation exclusive. And you won’t even need a glass.

  47. #47 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    December 18, 2012

    The good doktor Bimler beat me to it in linking to the Wikipedia article on Carcinoma Angels. I read the story when it first came out (apparently about 45 years ago) and I misremembered it as authored by Harlan Ellison, rather than being purchased by him from Norman Spinrad. I liked the story right up to the final sentence. That one I didn’t like. It’s a quicker and more entertaining read than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, if you have any interest in the long-ago genre of psychedelic fantasy. It also makes more sense from the standpoint of cancer treatment than most of the modern quackery that is so skillfully skewered here.

  48. #48 herr doktor bimler
    December 19, 2012

    That sounds very like Hamer’s ‘New Medicine’, which I have long suspected is rooted in some sort of Scandinavian occult tradition.

    Spinrad might well have come across the ‘New Medicine’ bullsh1t and decided it deserved to be parodied. Fortunately he is still around for questions on the topic, having opted for surgery and chemo when his rapidly-progressing stomach cancer was discovered a few years ago.

  49. #49 Krebiozen
    December 19, 2012

    S,

    The type to which I refer is literally an alleged memory of the muscle, and when that thought memory, which is completely repressed, is indeed repressed, then the body’s muscles re-act out the movement.

    I have come across that idea in some types of bioenergetic analysis, and other forms of bodywork based on Wilhelm Reich’s work. Deep tissue massage is supposed to result in the repressed memory becoming accessible again, thus resolving the trauma. It’s implausible, since memories are not stored in muscles as far as we know, but I don’t know of any evidence for or against the idea.

  50. #50 Alain
    December 19, 2012

    @ Science Mom,

    Where do you live? I fear I may need to get my passport redone (expired since 5 december this year) to visit you.

    Alain

  51. #51 Renate
    December 19, 2012

    I get the impression there are several forms of woo that are all rooted in the idea that illnesses are never just happening by accident (including genetics) but are allways caused, and possibly cured, by things we do.
    Today I read about a woman who only eats raw food and also feeds her child this way. She also wants to home-school her child, because she is affraid he gets the wrong food at school. (Home-schooling is forbidden in the Netherlands, I think, though there are relegious exeptions.) Her idea is that eating raw food prevents every illness, including cancer and also is able to cure. Her child is under weight and is to small for his age. According to doctors, he looks like an underfeed child from some third world country. Of course his mother doesn’t agree and states he has never needed a doctor in 10 years. His brother, who lives with his dad and has a normal diet, has ADHD, which according to the mother is due to his diet.
    But, to top things off, the dog of this lady had an ear-infection, so she made him fast for 3 days, so he could give all his attention to his ear-infection.

    Some people really seem to be out of their mind.
    Illnesses are caused by what you eat or what you think, or by vaccines and can be cured by diet, mind or something else, but never by medicine.

  52. #52 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 19, 2012

    @ Science Mom,

    Where do you live? I fear I may need to get my passport redone (expired since 5 december this year) to visit you.

    Alain

    Suffice to say, you would need to update your passport. Although my children have been begging me to visit your fair country so there is always that.

  53. #53 Denice Walter
    December 19, 2012

    @ Renate:

    The idea that a person’s diet and actions both cause and cure virtually all illnesses is exempletive of PRN, Natural News and some of the anti-vax sites: it mis-directs people into thinking that they can control what is usually beyond anyone’s ability.

    Like many other memes in alt media, these inflate basic facts that SBM has shown- diet DOES contribute to the development of some illnesses and exercise ( and its lack) are sometimes implicated as well. But, woo-meisters go overboard without stopping to consult data, as usual.

    Obviously these lies are what people would LIKE to believe – that eating correctly and exercising will preveny ALL illness- woo-meisters aren’t just selling mostly useless products, they’re also selling counter-productive dreams. Treatment plans that use supplements, diets,chelation and “biomedical” approaches to autism are based in wishful thinking not research.

    Alt med folk MUST believe this because they scoff at most pharmaceutical products, so what’s left?

  54. #54 S
    December 19, 2012

    Obviously these lies are what people would LIKE to believe – that eating correctly and exercising will preveny ALL illness- woo-meisters aren’t just selling mostly useless products, they’re also selling counter-productive dreams. Treatment plans that use supplements, diets,chelation and “biomedical” approaches to autism are based in wishful thinking not research.

    @Denice, Do you always think that people want to take the easiest way out of their problems or illnesses by believing in the lies and scams? Is there no consideration for people, including adults, who have learning or other cognitive or psychological impairments, however subtle and regardless of the cause, which may impair their ability to parse through medical information and make better decisions?

    Some adults I’ve met have come from family or social backgrounds where questioning others is simply not a tolerated or acceptable behavior, and their doing so could result in undesirable events such as punishment, profound ridicule, parental admonishment and rejection, etc. As they grow older, they seem to carry this fear of sorts to other areas of their life, and perhaps not question authority figures and thus trust medical professionals too much. Their feeling of unworthiness or lack of value and importance seems to become ingrained into their personality, and effects their decision-making throughout all aspects of their life.

    I don’t necessarily think that people are always trying to take the easy way out, find a quick fix, not do the ‘hard work’, or believe the lies, or even that they are stupid or overtly ignorant. Rather, it has become ingrained into them that their opinions and decisions are inherently wrong and not even worthy of consideration, they are a lesser person, a trouble-maker and a burden. They are taught not to question and as a result they are most easily misled and fall into quackery. Additionally, they often seem to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drug or alcohol abuse or eating disorders or other bad habits.

  55. #55 S
    December 19, 2012

    In continuation, I think that some types of dysfunctional family and social histories help to make alternative providers such as Judith more appealing to some people. Judith, for example, comes across as someone who, however wrong, does believe in her energy treatments. I imagine her to generally come across as a warm, friendly, interested, accepting and caring person. Some people may be mislead by the effect, perhaps called placebo effect, of simply being around someone who is so caring and accepting, and instead be misled into believing it is the Reiki* special energy treatment itself, rather than the basic human need for belonging, acceptance, validation, etc.

    *Substitute the scam of your choice for Reiki.

  56. #56 Denice Walter
    December 19, 2012

    @ S:

    Of course. Those who sell the woo take advantage of people who- for whatever reason- don’t know any better. Certain groups are more vulnerable to woo-ing, and it’s not just based on educational level but personality characteristicsas well. I would venture that attributing negative outcomes to external sources might be involved.

    I think the woo-meisters similarly share lower self-esteem ( that they are continuously pumping up) and speak directly – and in solidarity- to those who feel ‘left out’ by the powers-that-be, the EXPERTS. Thus so-called health freedom caters to the invocked rebellious tendency to question ALL authority: we’ll see this displayed in its full glory at some of the sites I cited. They often mention that people sincerely followed the experts, who ‘did them wrong’, betraying their trust.

    I notice that the woos like to present themselves as an every-day person- ” Just like you!”- who then educates the mark about the corruption and wrong-ness of experts ( the “elites”)- and presents an alternative vision. The friendly, caring exterior is part of the package- they also are humanitarians, brave, maverick rebels and leaders of the next wave of innovation- a contrast to SBM, in their eyes. Being privy to such esteemed advisors raises self-esteem.
    They’re part of the club- we’re not. Turn-about’s fair play.

  57. #57 Alain
    December 19, 2012

    @ Science mom,

    Suffice to say, you would need to update your passport. Although my children have been begging me to visit your fair country so there is always that.

    That is a good idea :)
    I will give you my email address for when you visit our province (Quebec).

    Alain

  58. #58 flip
    December 19, 2012

    @S

    I think remembering how to ride a bike is not the type of muscle memory intended.

    Yes, I know. I’m saying that it’s like someone took that concept and went round the bend with it.

  59. #59 S
    December 20, 2012

    I have come across that idea in some types of bioenergetic analysis, and other forms of bodywork based on Wilhelm Reich’s work. Deep tissue massage is supposed to result in the repressed memory becoming accessible again, thus resolving the trauma. It’s implausible, since memories are not stored in muscles as far as we know, but I don’t know of any evidence for or against the idea.

    @Krebiozen, Reich’s work is very close to what I described. Massage therapists promote his concepts as presumably some clients claim to experience an emotional release, such as crying or anger, after a massage. I’ve heard the same claims about emotional releases after craniosacral therapy.

    Some physicians claim that the muscles can recall or re-experience the muscle movement of the original traumatic event even without the provocation of a massage or any touch or external cue. This concept I have not seen described any where. Perhaps it is a blend of Reich with more of the Freudian concepts. In any case, that link you posted is quite interesting and much appreciated.

    @flip, the remembering how to ride a bike example may very well have come from these schools of thought.

  60. #60 T
    CA
    February 24, 2013

    Science is a funny thing…everything is considered false until it is scientifically proven and not just once, but repeatedly. That means that every method that is proven today was not accepted at some point and time in the past. That doesn’t mean it didn’t work, it doesn’t mean it didn’t help people, it just means that science hadn’t caught up to proving it yet.

    I don’t know if ACT works or not but I wouldn’t be so pompous as to think I know all that the mind and body can do and totally discount it.

    There aren’t any double blinded studies for super human strength where people lift cars off of their loved ones…but I bet most people believe that happens and is totally possible.

  61. #61 Narad
    February 24, 2013

    That means that every method that is proven today was not accepted at some point and time in the past.

    No, it does not, as the gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills. For this you necromanced?

  62. #62 dingo199
    February 24, 2013

    blockquote>Science is a funny thing…everything is considered false until it is scientifically proven and not just once, but repeatedly. /blockquote>
    A bit mixed up there, T.
    Science operates on the principle that the best available and most plausible hypothesis can serve as the prevailing paradigm. The idea is then to disprove the hypothesis, and come up with better ones that can better explain the phenomenon. That process, and how it operates, is the scientific method.

  63. #63 dingo199
    February 24, 2013

    duh. blocky fail.

    Science is a funny thing…everything is considered false until it is scientifically proven and not just once, but repeatedly.

    A bit mixed up there, T.
    Science operates on the principle that the best available and most plausible hypothesis can serve as the prevailing paradigm. The idea is then to disprove the hypothesis, and come up with better ones that can better explain the phenomenon. That process, and how it operates, is the scientific method