Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

The Telegraph and Woo sitting in a tree

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 22, 2009

What is it about woo-woo and the Telegraph, the (in)famous british paper, that makes them stick together like wet farts and but cheeks? Why is the Telegraph so woo friendly? How can they even half-seriously entertain the idea that a lock of hair can hold the key to health?

First cut a strand of hair from your head. Next, fill in a questionnaire about your state of health and send it, with your hair, to an address on the other side of the country.

Then sit back and, while not exactly by return of post, you will in due course receive relief from whatever ailment is troubling you. It could come in the form of a pill or a potion, but it’s just as likely to come in the form of healing vibrations, transmitted from the person to whom you’ve sent your hair.

What is it? Magic? Witchcraft? A load of twaddle? No, it’s radionics, the largely unexplained art of healing someone you’ve never met, who is hundreds, even thousands of miles away.

Oh shoot, I actually, for a brief moment, thought they were going to call bullshit, but nope they do not. Radionics is an art alright, just not of the kind the Telegraph wants you to believe.

There are only 80 or so practitioners of radionics in Britain and Rebecka Blenntoft is one of them. She’s also the secretary of the UK Radionic Association and, like her colleagues, she gets to the root of her patients’ problems by holding a pendulum over their hair sample (or “witness”, as it’s called), and seeing what happens.

I knew the ideomotor effect was going to come in at some point! Well, actually no I had no idea, it just feels like the right thing to say. So they hold  a pendulum over a hair sample and see what happens? I suspect the pendulum will swing, and that’s about all that will happen. I wonder if it makes any difference where the hair sample comes from???

“We get the information by interrogating the witness,” she claims. “I will ask question after question, some looking for a yes or no answer, some looking for an answer that will quantify the health or otherwise of the patient’s various physiological systems [aural, visual, skeletal].”

Wow, that’s some tough sounding words no? Interrrogating the witness, sounds like some pretty conclusive stuff will come out of this “interrogation”. How can one doubt the acuracy of the information? They’re interrogating the witness for god’s sake.  Do they put the hairball on a table underneath a table lamp and play the good-cop-bad-cop routine on it?

So, as well as rotating in a clockwise direction for “yes”, and anticlockwise for “no”, the pendulum also gives scores out of 100 when placed over a sort of healthometer chart.

“It’s quite a time-consuming process, because you have to go through every part of the body,” says Blenntoft. “It’s also quite tiring, because you have to stay very tuned in and focused on the person you are treating.”

Sure, making shit up takes time and effort, I can agree with that. And they go through every part of the body by interrogating a few strands of hair? Sounds mightly wooful to me!

Once she’s identified the problem area, she enters an eight-digit numerical code into a black-box-like radionics machine (they prefer the word “instrument”), either via a digital keyboard or a set of dials. Followed by the relevant treatment instruction (restore, rejuvenate, elasticise, for example). Almost simultaneously, it is claimed, the patient will experience some form of improvement in their condition.

You don’t believe it? Neither did Blenntoft, until she saw the effect a radionic diagnosis had on a dog in her local village (the treatment can be used not just on humans, but on animals and even crops and soil).

This is coming full circle. On top of the vibration, interrogation, mumbo jumbo we get an actual woo-machine, distant healing through some sort of waves or vibrations and it also works on pets. Folks, welcome to the Land of Woo. Michael Jackson has got nothing on these people.

For the Radionic Association’s chairman, Geoffrey Bourne, the proof came in two-footed form. “A local farmer had a very bad recurring kidney infection but had become allergic to penicillin,” he recalls. “There was nothing the doctor could do, but the radionics practitioner traced the problem back to a tetanus injection the farmer had been given at the age of 10. It took a year of treatment, but that farmer, who was in his seventies, went on to live till the age of 96.”

There is nothing more pathetic than a testimonial from the chairman of the woo organization itself. Couldn’t they find a deluded person to testify on their behalf? And notice how after “a year of treatment” we are not told that the farmer was cured of this bad infection, instead we’re told that he lived to 96. It’s a testimonial that doesn’t even testify to the effectiveness of the woo in question! That has got to be the lamest anectodal evidence ever. It’s a Guinees world record of crappy woo testimonials. Pop that champagne open!

So how exactly does it work again? Best guess is that we all plug into some kind of universal energy grid and radionics constitutes a kind of battery recharging rescue service. From afar.

Sure, why the hell not?

“Believe me,” says Blenntoft. “There’s not a single person involved in radionics who hasn’t gone into it thinking ‘This can’t possibly work’.”

Oh, I belive you Blenntoft, I believe you!

One Response

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  1. red rabbit said, on July 1, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    The Torygraph has always been a haven for the credulous. There’s something about the right wing that seems to make them susceptible to this sort of nonsense.

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