Friday, October 24, 2008

My Body Talks

It seems that I’ve irritated the BodyTalk community. Last week two supporters of this rubbish wrote to criticise my description of BodyTalk as “pseudoscience”.

They claim in their letter that BodyTalk is based on Quantum Physics. They said “Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating.” To their credit one of them had the honesty to say that “I am not a physicist so do not think I am qualified to go into the nitty-gritty of what this is all about.”

Never has a truer word been written.

I’m afraid that their letter shows that they indeed know precisely nothing about physics and, if it were possible, even less about quantum physics.

For the record physicists discovered nothing of the sort. Quantum physics is simply a model of reality at a truly miniscule level. It describes the way in which particles and energy at the smallest possible levels behave and it had a remarkable impact on our understanding of the way the universe works. Without wishing to sound even more pompous and patronising than usual, unlike Ms Gilbert and Ms Cadfan-Lewis, I do know a little bit about the subject. However, like them I can’t claim to be a specialist but I do know what the theory is and, more importantly, what the theory is not.

One thing that is true about quantum physics is that because it’s quite difficult to understand it’s very often used by woo-woo, New Age, alternative, mantra-chanting, crystal-waving, alien-abducted, energy-medicine groupies to support the latest health fad they’ve heard about, or invented to scam the naïve. Saying that your new energy treatment is based on quantum physics may persuade the gullible but that doesn’t make it real. In fact it’s usually a warning of impending nonsense.

They make some claims about the miraculous effects of their silly technique. Apparently an occupational therapist in Hamburg could revive coma patients using this magic. In South Africa another was apparently able to improve the physical appearance of a child with Down’s Syndrome. However, and very strangely, they neglected to tell us when or in which hospitals these miracles occurred. They neglected to say which real medical journals published these astonishing findings. They neglected to tell us when the medical world started exploiting these findings to help humanity and when when the wicked pharmaceutical industry started making lots of money from it.

I wonder whether this is because these miracles simply didn’t happen. I suspect that this is just more fakery designed to give credibility to an incredible idea. As Carl Sagan famously said, “incredible claims require incredible evidence”. The BodyTalkers offer us the claims but don’t deliver the evidence.

So is BodyTalk a pseudoscience? Well, it’s not based on those old-fashioned but useful scientific ideas of plausibility, double-blinded experiments, peer review and not being silly. But it’s dressed up using clever-sounding scientific terms. Pseudo means “false”. It IS a pseudoscience.

One last thing. Isn’t it curious how they didn’t deny my report that BodyTalk involves pressing on a so-called “energy point”, lightly tapping the top of the head to “stimulate the brain center” and then “tapping the patient’s sternum to announce the corrected energy flows to the rest of the body”. Maybe they didn’t want people to read that bit again. Perhaps because it’s embarrassing and deeply silly? Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it again.

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