Woo has patterns. I've learned to see them, and, if you read Your Friday Dose of Woo on a regular basis, perhaps you're starting to see them too. Not that I had originally intended to become so well-versed in woo that I start to notice these things. What really happened is that I just sort of fell into it when one day I happened to come up with the idea for this little Friday feature. Truth be told, it seems to have grown and taken on a life of its own, such that on weeks when I don't do it (like last week), something about the blog just doesn't feel right. On the other hand, it sometimes irritates me, because stuff happens on Friday and sometimes I'd rather blog about that stuff, but every Friday the woo sucks me in.
And, geez, is there a never-ending supply!
This week is no different. The woo that I happened to find has many recurring elements of woo. There's vibration, of course, as all good woo must have. There's a lot of stuff about "intent," too, as if your intent is going save you if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer. Let's not forget energy. There are lots and lots of references to energy, too. It's all capped off (of course!) with an invocation of DNA. So, say hello to the Vibrational Integration Bio-photonic Energizer, or, as its maker likes to call it the V.I.B.E. Machine. Say hello, as well, to the evidence that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is science, maaaan. It's the form of a scientific--yes, scientific--study entitled:
Clinical study on Direct Correlations between Psychotronic and Biochemical Measures of Human DNA by Rein, G* and Moscow, P+
*Quantum Biology Research
+Holistic Philosophy Consultants (or, in the Wayback Machine, as the URL seems to redirect, you can find it here.)
Yes! I forgot to mention that this woo also has not only "quantum" but it's "holistic" as well. Let's see what the V.I.B.E. machine can do:
Human DNA conformational changes have been previously used to measure energetic influences of subtle energy generated by healers. This new bio-assay measures direct resonances with the physical DNA as well as underlying quantum process associated with hydrogen bond formation. Experiments reported here were designed to measure possible correlations between psychotronic and biochemical measurement of DNA in real time as physical DNA rewound following thermal denaturation. Physical measurements of DNA were made in NY using a spectrophotometer and radionic measurements were made in Ohio using the Harmonic Translator. An active phone line created a connection between the two locations and allowed exact timing for simultaneous measurements using both devices.
Wow! They used real phone lines! Such amazing technology! To me all it sounds as though they're doing is denaturing (separating) two DNA strands by heat and then letting it renature (anneal) again as the temperature slowly falls. We do this sort of thing in the lab all the time when we do PCR. We also do it all the time when we're making double-stranded probes for gel shift assays. It's nothing particularly impressive. Of course, if they really could do "psychotronic" measurements on DNA (whatever that means), I suppose that might be mildly impressive. Or not. More likely, it means that the woo-meister is making it up as he goes along. But, hey, let's give him a chance to explain:
The results indicate that both methods show a decreased reading as the DNA rewound. In addition, both methods detected a momentary reversal of the rewinding process, where unwinding occurred for a few seconds. These reversals may represent moments of resonance when the DNA stops rewinding, opens up and absorbs energy in its environment. At these resonance conditions, the reversal measured by both psychotronic and biochemical occurred at exactly the same time. These results demonstrate, for the first time, a direct correlation in real-time between physical and etheric measurements.
Or it could just be that these guys don't know how to maintain a constant rate of decrease in temperature. Yes, that's a far more likely explanation than any sort of "psychotronic" influence on DNA in solution. Of course, given this amazing result, I want to know just what this machine supposedly is. Fortunately, the company selling it has provided a very nice little brochure, but I think I like this description of the machine better:
We at VIBE Technologies are committed to raising the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual vibrations of each living individual on the planet.
Of course they are. On to the woo:
What is the VIBE Machine?
The VIBE machine is an electronic device that brings the vibrational level of your body back to its natural state of being. VIBE stands for Vibrational Integrated Bio-photonic Energizer.
But how--I ask--how does the VIBE Machine accomplish this amazing feat of bringing the vibrational state of your body to its "natural state of being" (whatever that is)? Easy:
Healthy cells, according to Nobel prize winner Otto Warburg, have cell voltages of minus 70 to minus 90 millivolts. Due to the constant stresses of modern life and a toxic environment, cell voltage tends to drop as we age or get sick. As the voltage drops, the cells are unable to maintain a healthy environment for themselves. If the electrical charge of a cell drops below minus 50, a person can become chronically fatigued and may get sick often. If the voltage drops to minus 15, the cell becomes diseased. When the body's immune system gets overwhelmed and cannot fight an abundance of toxins and then we continue to put toxins into our bodies and minds such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, negative fear-based thoughts and heavy emotions, we can experience a physical imbalance.
The cells of a body that are being affected by a negative condition, have an oscillating rate that is lower than it was originally designed to have. After many months or years of this internal dis-harmony, our immune system can weaken and the symptoms begin to show in the form of an actual terminal physical imbalance or disease. All cells have small electrically powered pumps whose function is to bring in nourishment, and take out toxins. Imagine going into a house where the power has been turned off. The plumping wouldn't operate so the toilets wouldn't work. There would be no running water; therefore, no showers or baths could be taken and doing dishes would be impossible. The refrigerator wouldn't work so there wouldn't be any food to eat, and the food that was in there would go bad. Add to that trash strike and now trash is piling up. As you could guess, anyone living in that house would probably get sick.
Noooo! It's another woo-meister invoking poor Otto Warburg. Of course, it is true that Warburg, as a fair number of scientists are wont to do, did drift a bit into woo in his old age, but I doubt that even at his worst he would have endorsed claptrap like this. This is also not the first time we've heard this sort of "electrical" woo before, in which the source of all disease is supposedly due to a "decreased voltage gradient" across your cell membranes. It seems to be another recurring theme in woo, along with abuses of quantum theory, claims that we're full of "toxins" that must be removed, and, of course, vibrations. It's also irritating how woo-meisters always argue by analogy--usually bad analogies. Calling ion channels "electrically powered pumps" is about as simplistic as it gets and not even really accurate, particularly the part about taking out the "toxins." True, there are multidrug transporters that are responsible for chemotherapy resistance, but it's a stretch to link these to the sort of vague, unspecified "toxins" that the woo-inclined like to rail against. Not that these sorts of considerations have ever stopped this sort of woo before, nor have they stopped claims that there is a magic machine that can somehow increase the "energy" levels of your cells:
One way to efficiently and safely raise cell voltages is with a device called a VIBE machine. An earlier type was invented by Georges Lakhovsky in the early 1900's. Dr. Lakhovsky discovered that healthy cells acted like little batteries and discovered how to recharge them (raise their voltages). He found that transmitting energy in the range between 750,000 hertz and 3,000,000,000 hertz raised the cell's voltage. Dr. Lakhovsky had great results with all types of physical imbalances.
Not only was his unit able to return sick cells (and people) to health, but also those who used it regularly noticed that they rarely became sick. He proved the principle that life forms can absorb radio wave energy. The VIBE uses that principle to strengthen the healthy cells of the body, so that they can resist physical imbalances. Knowing the right frequencies and putting them out simultaneously does not necessarily destroy an infection, but we believe it charges the cell making it strong enough to resist the infection.
That's right; all you have to do is to stand in front of this machine, and you can do all this:
Yep, that looks like it can do all the stuff claimed for it, doesn't it? But there is one bummer about the machine. If you read the website, you'll find that this machine weighs 85 lbs.
That's some seriously heavy woo!
Still not convinced? Well, then, let's look at some more science. Here's a "study" (and I do use the term loosely) that claims to examine the effect of the VIBE machine on depression. Oddly enough, it doesn't appear to have been published in any sort of peer-reviewed journal. Obviously those close-minded scientists are suppressing the genius of these investigators, as you will see. It sure does look all "science-y"; so it must be science, right? One thing that leaps out at you is that this is a totally unblinded study, which makes it pretty much close to useless. But, hey, that's just the nasty scientist in me talking. Big surprise, the investigators noted a decrease in all the measures of depression and anxiety that they looked at:
Given this, the suggestion is for a phenomenon we call "entrainment" or conditioned space, the suggestion that the space itself, the office had become "entrained" with the energy of the VIBE and therefore, all who entered that space potentially received the benefits of VIBE sessions with or without actually having VIBE sessions. Further investigation and research into the possibility of the VIBE machines ability to entrain or condition a space is needed, and would require a separate, controlled space in which to collect data from the control group. The implications are enormous.
To which I respond: Huh?
As far as I can tell, this whole VIBE machine thing seems to be another way of "manifesting." According to the seller of the machine:
Have you ever wondered why one person walking down a dark alley at night will get mugged while the previous person goes by untouched? Bad things may happen to apparently "good" people and good things may happen to seemingly "bad" people. This phenomena is all based upon the level of positive or negative energy that they are sending out into the Universe.
You are like a radio tower that is constantly sending out a certain frequency of energy. Your thoughts and feelings together create an "energetic blueprint" that is constantly being emitted out into the world. The interesting thing is that this vibration is always being reflected back to you, showing up as physical results in your life. What you send out is EXACTLY what you get back!
Whatever you continuously focus your attention on, is what you will manifest in your life. Once you learn how to retrain your mind and body to operate at a higher "manifesting vibration" you will consistently magnetize ONLY positive people, situations and experiences into your life. When you start practicing these ancient manifesting exercises for 90 days in a row, you will be able to keep your mind steady on FEELING and VISUALIZING what you want! This means you will be able to start manifesting EXACTLY what you want everywhere you go!
Oh, no! I think I've finally figured it out. I should have seen it coming. After all, I can't plead inexperience anymore. What we appear to be looking at here is a variation of The Secret. Now, there's some serious stupidity. Even more offensive is the "blame the victim" mentality in which people who have bad things happen to them are painted as having brought misfortune upon themselves because of the "negative" energy or thoughts they are sending out to the universe. By that sort of logic, victims of the Holocaust obviously brought the Nazis down upon them. I just can't emphasize enough how vile the whole "Secret" woo is.
Indeed, the only difference between this woo and The Secret is that the Secret emphasizes "intent," while this woo associated with the VIBE machine claims that by getting you up to a "higher vibration" you can have whatever you want, and it admits this:
Just trying to think positive thoughts and have positive feelings won't cut through the negative patterns the mind has created.
Naturally, you need this woo, possibly augmented by the VIBE machine:
You will need a more powerful system that will energetically break through ANY experience a feeling of being blocked or stuck in the situation and fall back into old patterns. By doing our daily manifesting routine to consciously raise your vibration you truly become UNSTOPPABLE at manifesting your heart's desires!
Of course you will.
And, of course, you need to make sure to read just how seriously the makers of the VIBE machine take their device, as evidenced by this blurb in the company's brochure:
The information provided here is to be used as a reference source only. VIBE Technologies LLC does not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this information nor in any way endorse or recommend any specific individuals, medical professionals, or course of treatments listed. In no event shall VIBE Technologies LLC be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or any action taken by you in reliance on this information nor does your use of this information constitute the offering of medical advice from this pamphlet or VIBE Technologies LLC.
Nothing like a company that stants by its products, is there? Of course, how could it be otherwise. This is nothing more than the usual quack disclaimer that's designed to absolve pushers of woo of any responsibility for their actions or recommendations. Whenever you see this, run, don't walk, away!
And remember that you can't increase the voltage of all the cells in your body, nor can you get anything you want just by wishing for it.
Going back to their house with no power analogy - the plumbing would work just fine if was hooked up to a municipal water system (as are most houses in the developed world). They can't even get their bad analogies right.
Even before the quack disclaimer they invoke intent - if it doesn't work for the customer it is the customer's fault for having negative thoughts.
Shh - don't talk about neurons. They can actually get positive membrane potentials. Constantly. We call this disease "being alive."
Seriously, if you're going to make stuff up whole cloth, why bother doing the research? Why actually look up the membrane potential of a typical cell? Just throw a whole bunch of words like quarks and proteasomes in there. It's just as good as what you have now.
Oooo, can I trade in my thermocycler for a VIBE machine? It will look SO much cooler in the lab. Or maybe I just need to stand in the hallway between the thermocyclers and the ephys lab to get the same benefit?
Speaking of woo, I was watching Mythbusters the other night and a commercial came on for some sort of woo that "draws toxins from your body as you sleep." At first I thought it was a joke, but it was a real commercial. For woo. During MYTHBUSTERS. wtf?? I am writing an indignant letter to the Discovery Channel.
I don't know a lot about electromagnetism, but isn't going from -70 mV to -15 mV an increase in voltage?
Woo is wonderful ("woonderful"?): you don't even need to understand the concept of negative numbers. Probably because they're negative and negative is bad.
Calling ion channels "electrically powered pumps" is about as simplistic as it gets and not even really accurate
He doesn't call ion channels electrically powered pumps, he just says that they exist. Which they do. It's one of the important things a cell uses it's membrane potential for. I like to think of them as more like an ionic waterwheel than a pump - the protein uses the force of an ion flowing down it's electrochemical gradient to move something else up it's electrochemical gradient. You're right in the fact that they're not ion channels though, they're called symporters (distinguishable by the fact that they're a couple of orders of magnitude slower, among other things). They only one I can think of offhand is NKCC (sodium-potassium-two chloride antiporter), but I'm sure there's one for things like glucose also.
I'm actually quite impressed that this woo manages a reasonable crack at sophomore electrophysiology. It's the worst kind of lie, the one that's only slightly untrue...
If only I weren't so dang HONEST, I'd patent some Grade-A woo and sell it for truckloads of cash! I've had a few highly inspiring conversations about woo that could be easily produced because of your site. (homeopathic donut water, anyone?) Then again, I've also wondered how ANYONE could fall for some (most? any?) of this utter nonsense. Congrats on not being brain-dead from reading all of these sites, and keep the woo coming, it is the highlight of my Friday!
I don't know a lot about electromagnetism, but isn't going from -70 mV to -15 mV an increase in voltage?
Actually, no. -70mV and 70mV are exactly the same, just heading in the opposite direction. The polarity is outside relative to inside by convention, but that convention is pretty arbitrary. You're talking about a difference of charge across the membrane, so going towards 0 should always be a decrease.
Actually, you'd be surprised how many people who should know better talk about cells becoming more "depolarised" when they head towards +30mV (e.g. an action potential), even though once they pass 0 they're becoming more polar again.
Hey i want one of those machines! it is currently undergoing FDA approval! says so right there on that nice website with the flapping birdies and jumping marine mammals! i think it would be a great lamp for the living room and it is too heavy for the cats to knock over.
"Human DNA conformational changes have been previously used to measure energetic influences of subtle energy generated by healers...."
Does anyone here remember Professor Irwin Corey, the World's Foremost Authority? http://www.irwincorey.org/
Pardon my freshman biology, but if you've got bad cell voltages, shouldn't you just eat a banana? I hadn't realized potassium deficiency was such a difficult concept.
Also, I've seen that foot pad woo on TV too! Those are great, they've got some chemical in them that turns brownish-black in response to your sweat so it looks like there's "bad stuff" being sucked out. Tricky woo.
I think you killed the V.I.B.E Machine. The link to their home page now takes you only to the order page for the Manifesting Manual. Perhaps they aren't as proud of the device as they used to be. The web page does say that "the V.I.B.E Machine is going through FDA approval!! YES!!" I guess we just have to wait expectantly for the FDA to evaluate the clinical data before we can all be saved by the magical 750 KHz - 3 MHz waves (which is coincidentally the same range of the electromagnetic spectrum used by cordless phones).
The V.I.B.E Machine appears to be an improved incarnation of another device, the Body Regenerator Tesla Coil (which was recently touted in my local newspaper as a miracle cure available from the local chapter of The Secret/Law of Attraction discussion group). The Body Regenerator has colored lights (Wow! That's got to be good for you!), but occasionally deliveres painful electrical shocks to the users.
Both devices invoke Otto Warburg who, as you stated, turned into a bit of a crackpot in his later years. I'm not a Warburg scholar, but I do have some specific knowledge of membrane potentials. Normal membrane potentials are undoubtedly better for you than abnormal ones, but I think the makers of the V.I.B.E. Machine are underselling the value of their healing energy rays.
Normal resting membrane potential for most classes of mammalian neurons and muscle cells is about -70 mV. Reduction of membrane potentials to -50 mV would activate every voltage gated ion channel in those cells and cause massive depolarization and instant paralysis, respiratory failure, heart failure, and brain death. This would take milliseconds. If you've been walking around for months with cell voltages of -15 mV, you're in a world of hurt. I'm sure that having your cold, lifeless body propped up in front of neon lights is going to fix all your problems.
"The Body Regenerator has colored lights [...], but occasionally deliveres painful electrical shocks to the users."
You misunderstand, sir. Those were the impulses to recharge the depleted membrane potentials.
And, as the sellers of the device say, the technology has been in use for many a decade. Why, to cure the worst afflicted, some states even have built recharging chairs in which convicted criminals can have their electrically powered pumps re-polarised with a few kilovolt and significant amperage. Let us hope the seller will, for our common weal, test-drive such a chair. (Note to the operator setting the voltage: Lots helps lots.)
Oh yeah, I remember. Thank you very much, Confused.
The actual URL is http://www.vibemachine.com. Anyone can go to this site and see there are no such farcical meanderings or pseudo-scientific, cretinistic descriptions at this site such as what you have published here. What you're doing here is called slander - as if you didn't know.
for which we can thank
for the legal work, and
for examining the patent and finding it worthy
Nowhere in the patent is any mention that using it "brings the vibrational level of your body back to its natural state of being" or "enhances the human body by helping it reach its optimum vibration and energy levels. It has many long-term positive effects on the body, as it automatically eliminates the "unwanted vibrations" on a cellular level."
What the heck do you suppose the lawyers and patent examiner _thought_ they were bringing forth?
The description of the VIBE Machine from vibemachine.com:
"The VIBE Machine is an electronic device that brings the vibrational level of your body back to its natural state of being."
That's a load of poop. Sue me.
Randolph: Just because it's not on the landing page doesn't mean it's not on the site. I found the nonsense Orac was dissecting quite easily by clicking links from the main page.
Randolph, if you want to wrongly accuse people of libel or slander, at least get the distinction between the two right.
Orac wrote: "It's also irritating how woo-meisters always argue by analogy--usually bad analogies. "
Irritating, but not surprising. A lot of woo is clearly derived from the ancient belief in sympathetic magic, like the Law of Contagion -- a belief that arose almost entirely because of bad analogies.
strikes me as a bit of an unfair exaggeration. This "Secret" thing looks to me like no more than a wooish attempt to expand on the "power of positive thinking" riff originated by Norman Vincent Peale, which itself was primarily an attempt to answer the age-old question "why do bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people?" IMX such things are always directed toward the individual and completely ignore larger societal trends. I suspect most of these woomeisters would be properly horrified by the thought of extrapolating their woo to 'explain' such magna-evil as the Holocaust.
Redirected the URL, did you?
Let's see what the Wayback Machine says.
Ooops. It's all there. Bummer for you. And, as has been pointed out, you don't even know when to use the word "slander" or "libel" (neither of which I have committed, by the way).
I also note that you've changed the wording of your hilarious disclaimer:
Very good. You think you've covered yourself against liability, but you haven't.
No, it's not an exaggeration. It's a logical extrapolation from actual statements from The Secret and its "Law of Attraction." Remember, it says that the "law of attraction" works whether you know it consciously or not. The implication the Secretards want you to take away is that positive thinking brings good things, but the inescapable flip side is that if bad things happen to you you must not have a positive enough attitude. Taking that dark flip side to its logical conclusion means that the victims of the Holocaust and other atrocities must, according to The Secret, have at least contributed to bringing the horror down upon themselves.
I don't agree that that's an inescapable flip side, Orac. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs here, but I personally have never gotten the impression that "positive thinkers" really think it's a universal panacea, or that a positive attitude can overcome any obstacle. Oh, maybe some do, but I think they're a minority. I think the use of the term "law" as in "Law of Attraction" is a bit of self-aggrandizement whose consequences they never really considered. I certainly do not believe that everyone who advocates the power of positive thinking is a closet anti-semite or holocaust denier. I think that if you tried this reductio ad absurdum argument on them, most of them would backtrack really quick and find another way to express their claims.
NO! The video of the inventor Gene Koonce being interviewed by Norman Schwarzkopf is temporarily unavailable!
Wolfwalker - Orac is correct. I have seen "The Secret" in its wooful entirety. It is claiming much more than "The Power of Positive Thinking". It clearly claims that thinking about something will alter the universe so that that thing will appear in you life. They give clear examples, such as someone who claims that when he thinks about a parking space then one appears. They also state that the "law of attraction" does work in reverse - they say that for example anti-war demonstrations cause wars etc. Another example is that someone worrying about being late will cause a traffic jam in which they are stuck.
By their interpretation of the "law of attraction" Orac is causing the emergence of more woo but blogging about it.
One of the scumbags appearing in the film who is also a heavy promoter of it is an AMWAY "Crown Abassador" or somesuch (ie one of the few people who is making lots of money in MLM by exploiting the suckers further down the ladder). This film is also promted by other MLM outfits such as USANA - the message works well for these scams because it makes the people at the bottom think that their attitude rather than mathematics is the reason they are not makinghte vast amounts of money that they expected. In short "The Secret" is Vile Bullshit.
Check out http://youtube.com/watch?v=usbNJMUZSwo for a hilarious explanation of The Secret.
Although this has been smacked down by a bunch of people, I thought I'd just point out that while www.vibe-machine.com has been terminally pared down, the version Orac is referring to is still available on google's cache, find it here. What, you're telling us you have nothing to do with that url at all? Maybe you want to find whoever made that site and sue them for slander. Until you realise that it's libel.
Unfortunately, it's fairly easy to catch people who change their sites and claim it was like that all along.
I yield. That is Rupert-Sheldrake-class woo, completely beyond even my ability to suggest a rational explanation for. ;-)
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Will TS commented:
Actually, by the sheerest of coincidences, the blog was posted just as the FDA was sending Koonce a "warning letter" telling him to cease marketing his VIBE Machine because an investigation revealed he violated federal law. That apparently caused Koonce to do two things:
(a) reformulate his long-time website about the VIBE.
(b) continue business as usual by just changing the name of his machine to The Quantum Pulse (tm).
Also, the machine was implicated in a patient death for which the re-marketers recently made a plea deal for a year in prison (source: Northwest Cable News)