Monday, September 08, 2008

Talk to your body? - Botswana Guardian

There’s been yet another outbreak of pseudoscience in Botswana.  Sorry, I should correct that.  This example isn’t even worthy of the term “pseudoscience”.  Judge for yourself.

I recently received an email inviting me to “Botswana’s first BodyTalk Day”.  According to the invitation this is “a revolutionary new approach to healing that has become the language of health in over 30 countries”.  Wow.  Notice how that claim actually means precisely nothing?  It doesn’t say that millions of people are using it and it cures diabetes, AIDS and asthma.  No. it’s just become the “language of health”.

The invitation goes on to say that BodyTalk “utilises state-of-the-art energy medicine to optimise the body’s internal communications”.  Again, a statement that means precisely nothing.  Note the use of terms like “state of the art”, “energy medicine” and “optimise”.  All very vague don’t you think?

So off I went to the internet to do some Googling.  One of the first web sites I found described in detail how BodyTalk works. 

After a series of paragraphs explaining how our bodies are full of energy circuits, how the atoms we consist of are talking to one another and how we need to be resynchronised it explains what actually happens when you get yourself BodyTalked.

I hope you’re sitting down.  Trust me, I’m not making this up.  This is exactly what it says.
For every malfunctioning energy circuit found, the practitioner or client contacts the corresponding “points” with his or her hands. The practitioner then lightly taps the client on the top of the head, which stimulates the brain center and causes the brain to re-evaluate the state of the body’s health.”
“The practitioner then taps the client on the sternum to “announce” the corrected energy flows to the rest of the body.
So let me get this straight.  This “practitioner” who is presumably either deluded, deranged or depraved gets to touch you, pat you on the head and then tickle your tummy and you’re cured? 

I’m tempted to suggest a modified version of BodyTalk. I think I’ll call it BodyThump.  Come to me with your health problems, I’ll stroke whichever part of you looks appealing, perhaps for quite a long time if it’s VERY cute, smack you on the back of your head, punch you in the stomach and charge you P500. 

So you think I’m joking?  Well, I am, but so are BodyTalk, surely?  Do they really expect us to take them seriously when they are talking such palpable gibberish?

Of course there is no science behind BodyTalk or any of the other ludicrous so-called alternative therapies that abound.  There’s no real evidence that they do anything because they simply DON’T do anything.  OK, forgive me, they do so something.  In fact they do two things.  Firstly they allow the placebo effect to demonstrate itself.  That’s the effect you often see in medicine where simply doing something, even it’s just giving a sugar pill, has a slight effect.  It’s to do with positive thinking, optimism and taking a bit more care of yourself.  The second thing it does is to help you lose weight.  From your wallet.