MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

One thing that has often irritated me – alright, I admit it: sometimes it even infuriated me – is the pseudoscientific language of authors writing about alternative medicine. Reading publications in this area often seems to me like being in the middle of a game of ‘bullshit bingo’ (I am afraid that some of the commentators on this blog have importantly contributed to this phenomenon). In an article of 2004, I once discussed this issue in some detail and concluded that “… pseudo-scientific language … can be seen as an attempt to present nonsense as science…this misleads patients and can thus endanger their health…” For this paper, I had focussed on examples from the ‘bioresonance’- literature – more by coincidence than by design, I should add. I could have selected any other alternative treatment or diagnostic method; the use of pseudoscientific language is truly endemic in alternative medicine.

To give you a little flavour, here is the section of my 2004 paper where I used 5 quotes from recent articles on bioresonance and added a brief comment after each of them.

Quote No. 1

The biophysical control processes are superordinate to the biochemical processes. In the same way as the atomic processes result in chemical compounds the ultrafine biocommunication results in the biochemical processes. Control signals have an electromagnetic quality. Disturbing signals or ‘disturbing energies’ also have an electromagnetic quality. This is the reason why they can, for example, be conducted through cables and transformed into therapy signals by means of sophisticated electronic devices. The purpose is to clear the pathological part of the signals.’

Here the author uses highly technical language which, at first, sounds very complicated and scientific. However, after a second read, one is bound to discover that the words hide more than they reveal. In particular, the scientific tone distracts from the lack of logic in the argument. The basic message, once the pseudoscientific veneer is stripped away, seems to be the following. Living systems display electromagnetic phenomena. The electromagnetic energies that they rely upon can make us ill. The energies can also be transferred into an electronic instrument where they can be changed so that they don’t cause any more harm.

Quote No. 2

A very important advantage of the BICOM device as compared to the original form of the MORA-therapy in paediatry is the possibility to reduce the oscillation, a fact which meets much better the reaction pattern of the child and gives better results’ [3].

This paragraph essentially states that the BICOM instrument can change (the frequency or amplitude of) some sort of (electromagnetic) wave. We are told that, for children, this is preferable because of the way children tend to react. This would then be more effective.

Quote No. 3

The question how causative the Bioresonanz-Therapy can be must be answered in a differentiated way. The BR is in the first place effective on the informative level, which means on the ultrafine biokybernetical regulation level of the organism. This also includes the time factor and with that the functional aspect, and thus it influences the material-biochemical area of the body. The BRT is in comparison to other therapy procedures very high on the scale of causativeness, but it still remains in the physical level, and does not reach into the spiritual area. The freeing of the patient from his diseases can self evidently also lead to a change and improvement of conduct and attitudes and to a general wellbeing of the patient’ [4].

This amazing statement is again not easy to understand. If my reading is correct, the author essentially wants to tell us that BR interferes with the flow of information within organisms. The process is time-dependent and therefore affects function, physical and biochemical properties. Compared to other treatments, BR is more causative without affecting our spiritual sphere. As BR cures a disease, it can also change behaviour, attitudes and wellbeing.

Quote No. 4

MORA therapy is an auto-iso-therapy using the patient’s own vibrations in a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Strictly speaking, we have hyperwaves in a six-dimensional cosmos with two hidden parameters (as predicted by Albert Einstein and others). Besides the physical plane there are six other planes of existence and the MORA therapy works in the biological plane, a region called the M-field, according to Sheldrake and Burkhard Heim’ [5].

Here we seem to be told that the MORA therapy is a selftreatment using the body’s own resources, namely a broad range of electromagnetic waves. These waves are hyperwaves in 6 dimensions and their existence has already been predicted by Einstein. Six (or 7?) planes of existence seem to have been discovered and the MORA therapy is operative in one of them.

Quote No. 5

The author presents an overall medical conception of the world between mass maximum and masslessness and completes it with the pair of concepts of subjectivity/objectivity. Three test procedures of the bioelectronic function diagnostics are presented and incorporated in addition to other procedures in this conception of the world. Therefore, in the sense of a holistic medicine, there is a useful indication for every medical procedure, because there are different objectives associated with each procedure. A one-sided assessment of the procedures does not do justice to the human being as a whole’ [6].

This author introduces a new concept of the world between maxima and minima of mass or objectivity. He has developed 3 tests of BR diagnosis that fit into the new concept. Therefore, holistically speaking, any therapy is good for something because each may have a different aim. One-sided assessments of such holistic treatments are too narrow bearing in mind the complexity of a human being.

The danger of pseudoscientific language in health care is obvious: it misleads patients, consumers, journalists, politicians, and everyone else (perhaps even some of the original authors?) into believing that nonsense is credible; to express it more bluntly: it is a method of cheating the unsuspecting public. Yes, the way I see it, it is a form of health fraud. Thus it leads to wrong therapeutic decisions and endangers public health.

I could easily get quite cross with the many authors who publish such drivel. But let’s not allow them to spoil our day; let’s take a different approach: let’s try to have some fun.

I herewith invite my readers to post quotes in the comments section of the most extraordinary excesses of pseudoscientific language that they have come across. If the result is sufficiently original, I might try to design a new BULLSHIT BINGO with it.

16 Responses to Who wants to join in the fun and play BULLSHIT BINGO with me?

  • “Enhance is a homeopathically activated combination of natural paramagnetic and diamagnetic mineral elements which can neutralize the effects of electromagnetic field radiation, heavy metals and other toxins on human DNA. ”

    Sometimes I just go read this product info for a laugh: http://www.donotlink.com/www.energeticnutrition.com/aulterra/aulterra_enhance.html

    This was a real winner too: “The pathologies to which glyphosate could plausibly contribute, through its known biosemiotic effects, include inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations. Glyphosate works synergistically with other factors, such as insufficient sun exposure, dietary deficiencies in critical nutrients such as sulfur and zinc, and synergistic exposure to other xenobiotics whose detoxification is impaired by glyphosate.”

    They also talk about “exogenous semiotic entropy”. http://www.donotlink.com/www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416 I think Aulterra can cure your exogenous biosemiotic entropy though.

    • thanks – a very good start of the bingo!

      • I have to admit that you, sir Edzard, are very good to translate this. I mean, for me, it’s just pure non sense. I’m impressed, how many years it take to read this foreing language…?
        I liked the “we have hyperwaves in a six-dimensional cosmos with two hidden parameters”. Woah, what, really ? Please let the poor Einstein alone, he never said something remotely close to this.

        I got one piece here, about … I’m not sure… I think it’s about that science can’t explain everything without spirituality. It come from a paper (retracted for putting to much bullshit talking in it) publied in a physics journal. Author is M. Sivasubramanian.

        “Gödel’s incompleteness theorems put an upper limit to scientists in knowing the ultimate reality of the nature. The theorems express and explain that mathematics cannot solve everything. The problems will remain and remain for ever. Taking this logical fact into account both possible and impossible dominate mathematics. The one side of the coin states that a particular statement is valid but the other side demands and deduces that the same statement is invalid. This is a peculiar truth. Both science and spirituality came from space. Science is based on equations and experiments whereas spirituality relies on beliefs. The spirituality promises that everything in this universe was created in pairs but in opposites. For example, origin and end, man and women, light and dark, day and night, sorrow and pleasure, loss and gain, God and devil, ugly and beauty, good and bad and so on. Similarly, possible and impossible are consistent in mathematics.”

        Note that both science and spirituality come from space ? ? And poor Godel theorem that quack are fan… without understanding it.
        I remember another piece about quantum homeopathy posted on Orac blog :

        “Quantum theory’s notions of non-locality and entanglement have previously informed attempts to model the therapeutic process. Of these, Weak Quantum Theory (WQT) and Patient- Practitioner-Remedy (PPR) entanglement are developing into mathematically- based models of homeopathy. Objective: The present study attempted to identify fundamental concepts within quantum field theory (QFT) that could be used to broaden the scope of PPR entanglement models, prior to constructing a more rigorous mathematical treatment. Methods: In QFT, particles and forces are considered as fully interacting relativistic quantum matter and force fields, respectively. These interactions are visualized graphically as spacetime Feynman diagrams. Further, these interacting field systems can have ground states with broken symmetry; the so-called Higgs field being responsible for this symmetry breaking. In the new model, patient, practitioner and remedy are imagined as fully interacting quantum-like fields; patients and practitioners in terms of quantum matter-type fields, and remedies and diseases as quantum interaction-type fields. Results: Disease manifestation by the Vital Force (Vf) could be an event similar to spontaneous symmetry breaking in QFT: the curative remedy acting to restore the broken symmetry of the Vf field. Entanglement between patient, practitioner, and remedy might be representable as Feynman-like diagrams. Conclusion: QFT demonstrates that quantum properties can be physical without being observable. Thus, an underlying similarity in discourse could exist between homeopathy and quantum theory which could be useful for modelling the homeopathic process. This preliminary investigation also suggested that key elements of previous quantum models of the homeopathic process, may become unified within this new QFT-type approach.”

        This bullshit at is purest form. With a magnificent ‘QFT demonstrates that quantum properties can be physical without being observable. ‘ yeah yeah ‘i’m here but you cannot see me’ gimmick. But the entanglement ‘patient-remedie-practitionner’ is quite fabulous too.

  • You probably know Ed that the New Scientist regularly publishes what they call ‘fruit-loopery’ on their back page.
    Good to read your examples. Mary’s example of such bullcrap caught my attention as a gardener who regular uses glyphosate and promotes it’s use on my blog!

  • Bingo!!
    This chiro in Australia is in the running, Adjustasaurus Rex:
    http://www.donotlink.com/timshakespeare.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/96-4/
    Its all due to the 96% of dark matter!

  • Constitution of the ‘College of Medicine’ sets out ‘the rules which govern our organisation’:
    “Setting standards and promoting excellence in the fields of health and care
    Leading, representing, training and supporting stakeholders so they are better equipped to serve the public in improving the health of the public; [Ignoring the numerous existing professional associations, colleges and institutions].
    Establishing an evidence base for integrated health and for individual complementary modalities [Without actually defining what the ‘College’ means by ‘integrated health’].
    Promoting, fostering and advancing an integrated approach to health care [That is, creating an insurgency of pseudoscientific nonsense into conventional practice].
    Raising public, professional and political awareness and cultivating a sentiment in favour of an integrated approach to health and care by publishing and distributing material on any media. [That is, taking as a given that CAMs have a value, rather than determining whether they do. Promoting CAM nonetheless].

    Sentences in brackets […] are mine.

  • Combining homeopathy, detox, vaccines, and anti-pharma for a the B-I-N-G of BINGO. Top that.

    “Drainage remedies promote the eliminative functions, particularly kidney, liver, skin, digestive and lymphatics. They are equivalent to opening the doors and windows so that when a toxic burden needs to be eliminated it can happen without aggravation.

    Commonly used drainage remedies are Berberis and Solidago, in low potencies, to promote kidney elimination, and Carduus and Taraxacum to promote liver support and elimination. In addition there are many complex remedies from the German pharmacies (e.g. Pascoe, Heel, Kern,) that are very effective in promoting lymphatic, kidney, liver and skin functions. As a part of a remedy programme to reduce toxic burden, especially when there are multiple toxic residues, they can be a very cheap and effective way of targeted eliminative improvement and they can make a critical difference in a patient’s ease of recovery. Toxic Residues (see link at end of this article) are often the blocking factors to a patient’s ability to call on their own resources to heal themselves, and as such they perpetuate chronic conditions. They include vaccination stresses, unresolved previous infections even though the original symptoms have disappeared, lymphatic toxicity linked to childhood sore throats and tonsillitis, inappropriate use of suppressive pharmaceuticals and many other historical factors in a person’s biography that are still having an impact now.

    When a patient is poly-medicated the drug residues often affect the effectiveness of constitutional homeopathic remedies, and therefore it is always helpful to use drainage remedies first in order to promote the elimination of the drug residues. It is often the case that some of the symptoms are iatrogenic and the patient will soon feel the benefits of these drainage remedies “

  • Distance Reiki is still my favourite. This example must be the epitome of retarded reiki ridiculousness:

    The 2-hour (and 20 min.) Cancer Cure
    by Mark Brown
     
    As a regular on the Usenet newsgroup alt.healing.reiki, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to practice distance healing. This led me to the Gateway Center Healing Network, and I sent Reiki to one person who had mouth and throat cancer.

    However, when I sent Reiki to this person, it barely trickled. So I sent an email to get more information and learned the request had been posted by a friend. I realized I did not have the receiver’s permission to send Reiki.

    The next night I sent Reiki to his higher self, and asked for permission. With this intention set, the connection was made and Reiki flowed.

    Over the next two weeks, with periodic progress reviews with the recipient’s friend, I sent Reiki and did psychic surgery for a total of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

    I received a message that the tumors on the tongue and throat were completely gone. The conventional cancer treatment plus Reiki had rid him of what is a difficult cancer to treat.

    Once again I am in awe of the power of Reiki. This has deepened my trust in Reiki and my ability to be a clear channel. Every time Reiki is used, the chance of miracles increases.

  • Here’s Ben Johnson, MD, explaining how his drinkable sunscreen works. Most people would say it’s just water, but Ben has a different opinion. He claims he’s added FREQUENCIES to the water:

    “My understanding of what is occurring at the molecular level of water is that the frequencies are being imprinted by a radio-frequency generator (and other devices) which result in the water acting as a carrier without any change to the chemical obonds themselves and without an ongoing excited state. While the H2O molecule itself gets excited in the process, I would agree that it recalibrates in milliseconds. However, it is my contention that the frequencies remain within the water molecule after the structure itself is no longer excited and our own testing suggests that they remain at least 5 years. How did we test the presence of frequencies? We have yet to find a device that can read or show their presence, unfortunately. However, we sent our anti-bacterial frequency enhanced water to a lab that uses a specific process to test it. They have proven that it is anti-bacterial and have also proven that it is still anti-bacterial 5 years later.”

    And then Ben goes on and on about “Dr Imoto” (the late Emoto of course, who bought his PhD in India), homeopathy, quantum mechanics, NASA, frequency medicine and the “scrambling waves” he adds to his products because they are “proprietary”. Ben Johnson, of course, is a quack.

    http://www.essentialdayspa.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=45623
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Harmonized_H2O

  • I liked Rhonda Byrne’s (The Secret) assertion that the law of attraction is what holds atoms together and causes all chemical reactions, is the force that causes gravity to work, is in fact gravity, is also love and also causes magnetism (like attracts like). It also keeps your tires on the road. (This is from her book The Power, which is the stupidest book ever written.) (Don’t argue unless you have read it!)

    I was also impressed with Bob Procter (from The Secret) who asserted that receiving social benefits alters your DNA.

    But the best is the convicted 3x homicider from The Secret, James Arthur Ray, who, after studying quantum physics “for 10 years” stated the following:
    “Physicists have proven that there are 11 dimensions. Now, 3D is only one of them…”

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