Weekend Woo

Well it looks like it’s that time of the year again. The bees are out in force, the birds are attempting to have sex with them, and the new-age mumbazoids are descending upon Stockholm for their annual orgy of crystals, hand-peering and badly out-of-focus magical photography.

Yes it’s the Body and Soul expo, the high point of the year for middle-aged women who believe that they can talk to their cats and that water remembers what they put in it but only if they rough it up a bit first.

The joys awaiting us this year include:

  • Aura photography
  • Crystals
  • Dream analysis
  • Alternative medicine

Oh damn it I can’t go on, learn Swedish if you want to read the rest, it’s just too depressing to list. You know what’s in there anyway – every rubbish half-arsed idea that any idiot has ever dreamed up.

All complete and utter bollox, a fact easily uncovered by even the most mediocre of web searches. This just doesn’t work people. Any of it. I don’t care what your friend’s friend said, or what you want to be true, or how many crystals you’ve just wasted your money on.

It. Just. Doesn’t. Bloody. Work.

At least Catholicism has the fancy outfits and the drama and the whole living forever thing. What does new-age have? Dim ladies manipulating each other’s energy fields, without having the slightest grain of an idea what energy actually means?

Now I am waiting for the nay-sayers among my readership to come up with the usual reply when I bring up stuff like this. “But what’s the harm?” they will bleat.  “If it makes them happy, and it isn’t illegal, then let them do it, the poor dears. It isn’t hurting anybody.”

Bollox to that, I say. First of all, the people organising this are making money from it. The last time I looked, making money from stuff that isn’t true is called fraud, and that sure as hell hurts a good many people.

Second of all, if we allow people to present things that are clearly not true as fact, and leave them unchallenged, then we are laying the groundwork for a very dangerous society. We are in fact opening ourselves wide for the worst abuses of power, whether it be from authority, church, or general nasty ideas.

And why? Because once we start accepting some bullshit, we will accept any bullshit.

We need to treasure reason and proof, and allow nothing – nothing – to slide past that filter. A population of sceptics would be very hard to lead down those murky roads where humans have been led in the past. We have to start here, with bollox like this. Prove it or lose it lady.

Woo on this level is criminal, pure and simple. Unless those people at the Body and Soul expo are giving away their fucking crystals for free, then this is fraud and should be dealt with as such. If one single person is sold something over the weekend in the belief that it will have an actual measurable effect on them, perhaps even cure them of something, then the people doing the selling are criminals as well as idiots.

Finally, has anybody else noticed a similarity between the poster above and a famous series of books? Or is that just me and my twisted little mind..?

/ paddy (still sharp ‘cos he sleeps in a fucking pyramid)

24 thoughts on “Weekend Woo

  1. Anybody claiming there is no harm in selling so called healing crystals to cancer victims, who then suddenly decide not to be treated by traditional medicine any more and begin treating themselves with said crystals, only to promptly die, is not only a complete moron but a dangerous one to boot.

    No, I am not making the above up. The doctor (Per I., but I will refrain from giving his full surname) telling me about the case of his patient with ovarian cancer, *that could have been operated*, opting out of her treatment in order to treat herself with crystals and some other such new age-rubbish instead, only to die some time later, was my employer (and good friend) for six years, since he – apart from being a surgeon – was also one of the owners of a small publishing house where I worked. I trust him. And he told me that although not common, this is a recurrent scenario – people who are seriously or even terminally ill seeking out mumbo jumbo, new age-alternatives to traditional treatment and thus get ripped off totally, not only losing their money but sometimes their lives as well.

    Drive a hard,

    All the best,

    • “Drive a hard,

      All the best,

      Upon closer inspection and thinking the matter through thoroughly, I think I’ll settle for either one of those, but not both at the same time.

      You can have your pick.

      Drive a hard,

      • Oh, my.

        Very interesting and very frightening.

        Good eye-opener for non-skeptics, I would say.

        I’ll forward the link to anyone I encounter who believes in any of these various kinds of (somteimes flat out dangerous) nonsense.

        All the best,

  2. I’m all in favour for science and things having to be proven before executed, so to speak. But think of all those studies about all those subjects that ALWAYS friggin differ with five years interval. Blood fats kill you, blood fats doesn’t kill you, salad gives you cancer, salad doesn’t give you cancer, humans caused the global warmning, humans didn’t cause the global warming etc etc etc etc etc. With science always having different outcomes, it’s really hard to just rule out anything.

    People say they miracously healed from crystals, people take medicins that just does not work. Some people argue that acupuncture is a load of crap, but if people “get better” from it and return to work and achieve life quality from it, it’s alright in my book. There’s always frauds everywhere and pure science cannot heal or treat everyone.

    I say “bullshit” treatments and alternative medicins is a part of a society that encourages people to go their own ways instead of “THIS is right, this is the only thing you will have access to even if it doesn’t work for you”, and that’s more of a society that I want to be a part of. Choices.

    • Don’t agree with you. At all. “Science cannot heal or treat everyone,” true. But this new-age stuff heals NOBODY. And a placebo effect is used in real medicine too. This stuff causes much more harm – MUCH more – than it does accidental “good”. People spontaneously get better, and if they attribute that to some strange “treatment”, then it may cause others to do the same and harm themselves by avoiding real medicine. There are hundreds of cases about this. Read them!

      Choices are great, but not teaching people how to make a good choice is a terrible way to do things. And this is what new-age does – teaches people to not think and not analyse and only do what they “feel” is right. This is dangerous. Let the idiots take treatments that don’t work, fine, but if people try and make money from other people’s trusting/stupid nature then they are FRAUDS. Just as the pope is a fraud, for almost identical reasons.

      “It does no harm” is a rubbish reason. Start reading.

    • About contradictory science studies about what kills you and doesn’t, I think if you looked past the newspaper headlines and went to the actual scientific studies, you’d find less contradiction and confusion than you seem to expect — mostly because scientific papers don’t containt he sort of hyperbolic claims that the news media wish they did. But even so, the point is that science actually moves on and discards false notions. Sometimes it takes a lot of time, but we get there, eventually. Hence claiming that science always has “different outcomes” is simply patently false.

      As for global warming, the vast majority of scientific papers on the subject are very much in agreement that it’s partly caused by humans. The controversy, much like the controversy about evolution, mostly exists in the media. Not in science.

      So in the end, what you should be attacking is the media, which are inherently sensationalist, as they make a profit on playing on people’s fears.

    • Expanding on what Bellis said (and this is based on a certain amount of personal experience), science doesn’t say “salad gives you cancer” or “salad doesn’t give you cancer. Instead scientists say rather more boring things like “In a double blind study, X people ate salad with salad dressing A, and Y people ate salad with salad dressing B every day for a year. Subjects were randomly assigned to each group…..The appropriate statistical analysis showed that a small but statistically significant increase in the incidence of some type of incredibly rare cancer that almost nobody gets anyway was found amongst the group eating salad with dressing A. However, there were a whole bunch of limitations to our study, which we now discuss in depth, and also we compare the results to similar studies and posit reasons why, largely on the basis of different experimental designs, these studies gave different results”

      Journalists, who are generally the bridge between science and the public, will, depending on how good they are, write anything from “A study has shown that a certain type of salad dressing might slightly increase your risk of a very rare form of cancer, but probably not enough for you to be worried about it relative to the chances of getting killed crossing the road” to “BOFFINS ANNOUNCE THAT SALAD GIVES YOU CANCER!”

      The fault, perhaps, isn’t entirely to be laid at the feet of the journalists. For years scientists have been terrible at communicating their (our!) results to the general public, the biggest failure being, that on a fundamental level, science isn’t about the truth, but about testing hypotheses in a systematic manner. Even when we teach science at school, we teach it as a collection of facts, which is leaves the impression that science is about the search for the truth, rather than an iterative model building process. In Ireland, maybe we could replace all the religious indoctrination classes Paddy and I sat through with a series of classes that explain how science really works!

  3. I have to agree completely with Paddy and Melliferax, and I will add that journalists are not scientists. Most often, the scare stems from some journalist having gotten hold of a scientific dissertation or the reported results of some scientific investigation, but lacks the education to properly understand what they actually say. The journalist will quickly read the abstract and then, basing his article on imperfect understanding, write some sensationalist article that makes the headlines.

    There is a very interesting article, that might be published on the Internet, where somebody took it upon him- or herself (I can’t remember which) to trace ten of these sensationalist claims by the media back to their sources, interviewing the scientists in question and having them explain what their results actually meant. Somebody more Internet-savvy than me might find it on the net, if it is published there as well. Unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember in what magazine I read it, but I can dig the magazine out when in Stockholm.

    In any case, most astounding were two of the cases, where the journalists had actually gotten the reported results exactly 180 degrees wrong! They claimed the exact opposite of what the paper they were citing claimed!

    Quite eye-opening stuff, that.

    Let this be a good rule for the future: *never ever* trust the daily papers like Expressen or Aftonbladet and others of their ilk. Never. Check the facts yourself and just ignore what they have to say about practically anything.

    This works if you happen to be interested in what is really the case as opposed to what these rags claim in order to sell copies.

    Drive a hard,

    • The article I am referring to might have been published in the rightfully renowned Swedish, scientific magazine Forskning & Framsteg. I am not certain, but this might have been the case. It might also have been published in the somewhat less renowned, popular science-magazine Illustrerad Vetenskap.

      In any case, the article was quoting the scientists in question themselves, and thus obviously trustworthy, I would say.

      Drive a hard,

      • Are you really going to have one? An Irish Catholic, unbaptism party, that is?

        That is brilliant. Probably a first for everyone attending.

        Some party, mate. Some party.


        All the best,

    • Brilliant. Catholicism for Dummies!

      Since all of them are dummies, you really need this book in order to become one!

      A dummy, that is. And a Catholic.

      Since it amounts to the same thing.

      Drive a hard,

  4. Wynn:

    “With science always having different outcomes, it’s really hard to just rule out anything.”

    There is another way to look at this. Enter the French science fiction-author Jules Verne:

    “Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes
    which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to
    the truth.”

    All the best,

  5. I’m surprised no one has asked you if you’re seen the series Penn and Teller’s Bullshit? Every episode is about bullshit and why people shouldn’t fall for it. The New Age healing episode is fantastic.

    And they swear a lot. You’d love it.

    • Victoria! You have returned! I feared you had been taken by the goblins. Good to have you back!

      (And yes, I have seen a lot of P+T. They swear a lot. I like that.)

      • Yes, here I am!

        Had to take a break from humanity for a bit there, but I have returned.

        Did you see the one on New Age healing? They had some real wack-jobs on that episode. Man…the lady with the lights…

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