Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Quack, Quack

The ad calls it the DR. PUHARICH EMF PROTECTION - NATURAL FREQUENCY TESLA WAVE CHIP FOR YOUR WATCH,  What's a Tesla wave?  I've never seen a description that didn't sound like double talk intended for very, very non technical people and full of denunciations of "Orthodox" science. It's one of the claims having to do with free energy or perpetual motion or the like that got Tesla scorned by serious science, or at least until the Internet and it's faith-based hipsters came around and made him sort of an offbeat hero again.  Anyway the ad tells us it's also an "EMF/ ELF stress shield" which is basically gibberish and a bit pretentious since it's a small square of copper you put into your watch to shield you from things that don't exist. True, a large grounded copper box would shield you from EMF at any frequency if you were inside it, but putting a piece of copper in your watch gives you a watch with a piece of copper inside and nothing else.

In a way it's similar to the "Translator Amulet" which consists of a few randomly selected electronic components: I see some small carbon film resistors,
a ceramic capacitor, a couple of molded Mylar caps, a Germanium 1N34 diode in a DO-1 package all soldered together in a fashion that might make a 4 year old -- or an American new-age doofus think it's a radio.  It isn't. "Natural frequencies" means nothing other than to evoke the modern longing for nature and things natural and the fear of the new. It doesn't do anything  and it doesn't have to, in order to do what the seller claims it does.

"The Translator helps to understand angelic messages, communications from the higher self, your guides, and it helps in channeling. This is the vertical aspect - between the higher and lower vibrational realms. It also works horizontally - around you, on this level and this reality. It helps you to understand what is being said, what is being communicated in this realm, person to person, animal or plant - through words, images, music, sound or otherwise. This Quantum device helps you to understand what is being communicated, with trust, openness and keen intuition".

Ordinarily one wouldn't have to explain to people that this bit of ad captandum vulgus escapes being outright fraud only because the description is gibberish and claims of helping you understand or avoid or rid yourself from what doesn't exist are hard to refute.  At least it's "artisinal"  I can't refute that.

It's called quackery and it's an ancient practice as old as religion and probably older than what we sometimes call the oldest profession. It's also called Shamanism and it's alive and growing faster and faster with the power of the Internet and the decline in scientific literacy and critical thought.  I used to collect late 19th and early 20th century technology which included a few quack-medical items, like "violet ray" and high voltage shock coils.  The  former was sold to cure almost anything and had attachments which would, when turned on, glow in the dark. It regrew hair, cured skin conditions and a certain one could be inserted in various orifices for purposes I don't want to know about. Needless to say it didn't work. Needless to say they sold millions of these things. Needless to say lack of evidence was not an impediment.

 The Electro-Medical Shocking Coil or a "Faradic Battery" was a very popular item a hundred years ago when electricity was still mysterious and frightening (perhaps it still is) and it was sold to cure things like Neurasthenia, a disease of mostly "sensitive" and intelligent people -  or so the health  hipsters of yore titled themselves.  Working stiffs were said to be immune to it. Of course the disorder doesn't exist any more than do Tesla waves or ELF stress fields, so it's hard to accuse the sellers of quackery with fraud and besides all these quack devices had countless customers who swore by them and mocked the "orthodox" and closed minded detractors. There was never a lack of "experts" and studies and anecdotes to reassure them of their elite status.  Some call it the Barnum Effect, others the Whole Foods business plan. Nonetheless, the cultic aspects of consumerism are quite powerful.  Flatter the masses and the masses will follow you with open wallets.

eBay abounds with "detox" machines you put your feet in which remove unspecified toxins you don't have in some pseudo-scientific way.  foot pads, foot baths and pieces of duct tape to remove those "toxins' we love to believe in and rid ourselves of,  as the ancients once performed rituals of purification. Enemas, "cleanses,"  magic bracelets and rituals have evolved to take on the white coats of science while rejecting scientific method with prejudice, fable  and anger.  

Impurity, impiety and sin are made-up things that have plagued us for eons and power and riches have accrued to those who told us we were tainted and sold us stuff to make it go away.  Those who told us the world was in decline from some golden past have shaped the course of history and proof to the contrary be damned.  Nothing has changed.  People are easily frightened in this world of randomness and easily sold quackery in both verbal and mechanical and chemical form and he who can sell the cure will have customers and fanatical followers.  The fear doesn't have to be real the cure doesn't have to be real, such is the power of suggestion and the power of belief.

True scientific tests of medicine and medical devices include a control group given placebos and of course the results invariably show much support for the empty pill and non-functioning device.  Harvard Medical School has a program for placebo studies and so do their hospital affiliates.  The placebo, the suggestion prove that the power of the mind is strong.  People leave faith healers and places of miracles like Lourdes convinced they're cured - at least for a while -  and they will defend such things assiduously.

Billions believe that prayer can effect changes in nature contrary to evidence, People will go to war to defend their tribal name and description of deities who don't exist.  Parents let their children die because scientific medical practices aren't "natural" and don't fit the beliefs the power of suggestion cemented in their minds.  They turn to quack medicine because doctors are bogeymen and Big Pharma is out to poison us.  They vote for policies that have failed to work and repeatedly.

Are we still no more than the upright apes that evolved on the savannas of Africa?  Do we still believe in magic and shamans and mysterious forces even if we've dressed them differently?  I think the ape answers that question every day.

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