John Walker's Electronic House


by on Jul.19, 2006, under The Rest

My earlier train journey was far more interesting. All the delays were as nothing when compared to the individual I met on the way to Guildford. She looked mid 20s, reasonably attractive but far too much make up, pretty olive skin. The conversation started when she asked if I knew what time the train arrived in Guildford. I showed her my scribbled piece of paper, and she mentioned the hot. I concurred that it was indeed hot, and she told me some nonsense about how it would be 39C the next day breaking records. She asked me how I was to be not working, and then in return I asked about her job.

“I’m a life coach.”

I really had no idea what a life coach might be. I assumed it was a service designed for those with too much money and not enough friends, such that someone could give them some common sense advice. Her description matched up to this, but without the cynicism. And then she said,

“…and TFT.”

Oh lord. I enquired. TFT is the practise of treating psychological conditions with… tapping!

I want to explain that as much as it might appear below that I was very rude to this person, I really was not. I asked permission before every challenge, and checked that I wasn’t upsetting or offending her throughout, and thanked her very much at the end for being prepared to be so frank, and listen to my being so frank. She did 90% of the talking, while I listened. And as harsh as my sentences appear typed out, they were delivered in a friendly manner, always polite (apart from the bit about mediums).

TFT “gives immediate relief for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD ), addictions, phobias, fears, and anxieties by directly treating the blockage in the energy flow created by a disturbing thought pattern. It virtually eliminates any negative feeling previously associated with a thought.”

In other words, it’s a magical way to deal with trauma that requires no effort or therapy! Hooray! It’s obviously instituted throughout the NHS, and has replaced therapy and counselling worldwide! Oh wait, hang on.

It is, of course, the work of con-artists, preying on the desperate or grieving and stealing their money while they’re vulnerable.

She explained it to me in all its complexity (you tap and the bad feelings go away!), and I informed her that I am a sceptic, and I’m interested to ask her questions. She said she was up for this and interested to play. I was given permission to be straight with her. So I said that I cannot give any credence to TFT since there’s no such thing as “energy” flowing in the body, and there are no “acu points” (as demonstrated conclusively in a major study last year). I asked her why she didn’t want to see scientific proof for the practise before being prepared to charge people money for it. (All the sites that have attempted to make scientific justifications for TFT refer to “as yet unpublished” studies, that were conducted a decade ago, etc – all the usual obfuscatory bullshit). She told me that she didn’t need scientific proof, because she sees “results”. Her clients are all the proof she needs, because they have “miraculous recoveries”. I asked whether any apparent results could be a placebo effect, and she said the results were too powerful for that. I told her of the recent placebo studies performed for a new arthritis operation, where some taking part were only given incisions and no operations, and were able to walk afterward, when formerly wheelchair bound. She said, excitedly, that yes! Isn’t it amazing how the power of the mind can heal you, and that TFT channels this mind energy… She appeared unaware of this, and many, many other immediate contradictions in her logic.

So I asked about energy. What is it? “It’s a flow of universal energy in your body.” That clears that up then. Is it like blood, I asked somewhat rudely. “Yes! The oxygen being carried around your body is a part of it.” So it’s my circulatory system then? And I promise she replied, “I’m not really interested in the science.”

She told me at great length how science is overrated, and that these things may not be proved in our lifetime, but there are millions of people involved in alternative therapies, and so on. I pointed out that things being disproved somewhat precludes their being proved rather conveniently after we’re dead. She nodded. She did that a lot. When I said something that diametrically opposed her last assertion, her response was to nod in agreement. It was cleverly disarming. At one point I lost my composure and laughed out loud, which was rude. She was once more explaining how testing and so forth wasn’t necessary when her clients were instantly getting better, and then dismissed the alternative, making air quotes with her fingers, as “science”. I managed not to say, “I think ‘science’ is the term that makes those air quotes flitter away.” (I’m doubly proud of myself, as later in the day a lady selling me a cold drink at a stand said, “Oi’ve ga oran’, aa’le an’ wah’er, wha’ canna ge’ya?” and I didn’t reply, “A consonant?”) But I did giggle at this excellent moment.

When I suggested that TFT was hard to think of as anything but rubbish, with so-called results appearing from both placebo and the simple therapy of sharing a problem with a friendly stranger, she immediately personalised it with her uber-proof. The process claims to remove the emotion from a memory. And her father had died a couple of years ago, and she was so devastated and couldn’t cope for so long, but then she had TFT and now she can talk about him without bursting into tears. “I still have the memory, I can remember every single detail of his death, everything that was said, but I can talk about it without that awful knot of emotion inside me – the pain is gone.”

It’s a common practise amongst such con-artists (unwitting or not) to attempt to personalise something into a territory one must not question. But I’m a prick, so I carried on. I pointed out that what she’d described was the grieving process, but with someone tapping her at some point. That’s what happens when someone you love dies – you can’t cope for ages, and then slowly you come to terms with it, always miss them, but the memory becomes less raw and you move on. “Ok. That’s true,” she replied, “But it doesn’t explain how I can cure phobias.”


I have been noticing recently that when people believe in one of these “alternative therapies”, they tend to believe in all of them. I explained this to her, pointing out that I was likely being very rude, and she was welcome to tell me to shut up at any point. She again insisted that she was enjoying the conversation and happy to go on. So I asked if I could name some other flim-flam and see if she believed in it.

First, astrology.

We’re living in an Aquarian year! That’s why everyone’s so inquisitive, so keen to learn more about themselves this year. “As opposed to last year when everyone said, ‘Who gives a shit who I am?! Let’s go swimming!'”. “Yes,” she said. “And next year it will be more powerful.” I was told how the position of Jupiter and Mars make a difference. The military planets. I asked her how they were inherently military, when they’d only been named after humans in the last few hundred years. “I know!” she said. “I just don’t know!”


She’s a tarot practitioner. She can tell people things about them that she couldn’t possibly know! “I know how to do that too,” I replied. She was excited. “No,” I said, “I mean, I know how to cold read. I can do that trick. I know how you’re tricking people, and how you make it appear that you’re revealing that information.” At last she didn’t nod in agreement. After a couple of beats she went back to the magic of the universe, and the nature of energy, and how the cards can channel this. “No,” I repeated, “It’s cold reading.”

She then did a little bit of cold reading, not very subtly, as I brought up the next subject. Mediums.

It was fairly obvious I wasn’t about to be very tolerant of this one. She began slowly. “I do… I don’t… I have some. I have quite a few friends who are mediums, but I… I… I don’t believe in it.” I felt like this was permission for me to say, “Good, because it’s the most wretched, inhuman foulness I’ve encountered, preying on the recently bereaved to make money out of their grief. It disgusts me.” This was in no small part a reference to something she’d said earlier about how her clients are often, “Willing to try anything when they’re bereaved so will consider alternative therapies”. She said this as if it were a wonderful thing. I was then told about how she believes that once we “move on” we are completely moved on, and that you can’t speak to the dead. “I mean, I don’t need a medium to do it. I can speak to my dad. Not have a conversation!! But I can talk to him at any time, and he’ll reply. You know, a sign, a really clear sign.”

And then she mentioned angels. Angel therapy! We all have two! Two guardian angels each. Because, you know when you see a little kid laughing to themselves, or talking to nothing, or seeming like they’re listening? You know imaginary friends? They’re not imaginary! That’s guardian angels. But as we get older we are taught that we mustn’t believe in such things, and we lose contact. But she hasn’t – she talks to her guardian angels. And there are arch-angels too! Raphael, Gabriel, etc. “But those are Judeo-Christian angels,” I said confused. “How do you get those names?” “That’s right,” she said in her insane agreeing way. “And there’s Hindu gods too,” and went on to list a few.

And reiki too!

So like I thought, everything.

More than anything she informed me that she has no need for “science, or tests, or such things,” and what amazed me most was her absolute disinterest in learning how her own treatments worked. I asked, “Assuming you genuinely believe in your therapy, why don’t you get it scientifically examined, a solid double-blind test to prove that you are right, and encourage this treatment for others?” She told me that she wasn’t interested. She just knows it works. She doesn’t think it matters how, or why, but she sees those “miraculous results” in her clients. “We’re not allowed to say ‘cure’, but we see amazing change.”

I finished explaining that I worried that her clients would be harmed by not receiving the long-term therapy that someone with severe trauma might need. She agreed with me. It was like an “AWAY FOR LUNCH” sign had been hung across her brain. And now she was off to “meet one of your scientists!” “One of mine?” I asked. “Yes.”

“Well say hi from me then.” And she hopped off the train, accompanied by two angels and an awful lot of energy.

PS. Here is an excellent Q/A about TFT by NPR with Scott O. Lilienfeld, co-editor of Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology.

39 Comments for this entry

  • Mrs Trellis

    The body does have energy running through it. It’s called electricity. You should have demonstrated this by wiring her up to the mains.

  • Leo

    I went rock climbing with a friend for the first time last year. When I got to the top I suddenly remembered that heights scare the shit out of me. I was paralysed and refused to let go of the grips. Eventually, about ten minutes later, I’d made my way back down a ten metre wall. When I got back down my friend said “I do TFT, let me cure you of your height fear.” He then explained what it was. After pissing myself laughing I agreed to subject myself to the ‘treatment’. When he’d finished, only two minutes later, I scrambled back up the wall. I really genuinely wasn’t afraid of falling down there anymore. I’m not sure if that was anything to do with the tapping or the singing, though.

  • admin

    You managed to climb most the way without remembering your fear with no tapping at all.

  • DAT500

    Enough of this mumbo-jumbo, was she painted just like a whore

  • Steve W

    I can’t remember if you’ve ever mentioned you’ve seen Penn and Teller’s cable show, “Bullshit” which makes a point of debunking these things. One-sided and inconsistent, I am still a fan. They have covered such diverse subjects as alternative medicine, ouija boards, feng shui and, um, recycling. Oh, those pesky life coaches get a kicking too. Good.

    The first episode is one of the best; an excellent deconstruction/assassination of mediums and cold-reading. John Edwards is truly the biggest douche in the universe.

  • Roy

    What was it on Brass Eye? “There’s no proof for any of this, but it is a fact…”

  • admin

    I’ve season most of season 1 of Bullshit, and yes, the first episode is the best.

    I like the one on passive smoking, as it makes Nick’s brain fizzle and stop working. Yes, they’re anti-smoking, but no, passive smoking in no way causes lung cancer and the so-called evidence that it does in fact states the exact opposite. It’s funny how some people normally so passionately anti-bullshit like to let one lie through when it agrees with their agenda.

  • Nick Mailer

    If you remember, I stopped trusting them when they did that terrible anti-environmental episode: a confused amateur tree-hugger on one side and the PR company representatives from all the oil companies on the other. Wow! Thanks P&T, you twatty simpleton libertarians, you.

  • Martin Coxall

    Goodness. We have a Christian lecturing others on Idiot Belief Systems. Now there’s a turnup for the books.

  • admin

    peter – fixed, thanks.

    Martin – I’m disappointed that it’s you to be the one to make that dumbass argument. Tell me of the time when I’ve attempted to argue irrational, anti-scientific concepts with you, and told you that your science is wrong, and I’ll respond. If I haven’t, then perhaps wait until I do before making that boring comment.

  • Graham

    Nick – she wasn’t a confused, amateur treehugger. They were careful to point out that they weren’t just picking on some innocent teenager – she was a grown woman, and she was the representative chosen by the organisation hosting the event they were at.

    I’m reminded of one Dr. Gregory House’s comment, which applies here. “I’d understand it if they just wanted something to fill the holes, but they want to live in the holes. CLIMB OUT YOUR HOLES, PEOPLE.”

    He was talking about God, of course, but I use it purely in the context of alternative therapy.

  • Paul Black

    Oh wow. We get all sort of self help and stuff books at work , and I always wondered what sort of people ACTUALLY BELIEVE all the gubbins in them.

    And now I know.

    I want to see you meet Dorren Virtue next Please thank you Please.

  • Leo

    I believe it’s the coming down the wall that caused the problems on my first climb. No that I’m claiming there was any science behind the tapping working, which is maybe the point? I obviously don’t know.

    And yeah – Bullshit was, true to form, total bullshit. Selective evidence at best that mirrored the many bullshit processes they were supposedly debunking. Their portrayal of what reflexology is was shocking, and managed to challenge no aspect of actual reflexology. The smoking one was the icing on the cake.

  • admin

    Care to defend reflexology?

  • Enki

    My boss has a crystal ball and takes great delight in reading me my horoscope, despite having the literacy of a 5 year old and so needing me to explain the longer words to her. I have no idea why this is relevant, but it sure makes bizzarro-world more of a reality.

    Oh, but I am prepared to believe in biorhythms, just not that it alters things like your “luck” or that you can still predict the cycles based on when you were born. Scientifically biorhythms make sense to me… which is more than a lot of other stuff does.

    Final point… what’s wrong with people paying for a placebo? I never understand the big issue with it. Usually i’m happier when the distributor outright admits to you that it is a placebo if you aren’t a customer… but if it does genuinely help you get better (which placebos can and do) then I have no issue with it at all. Pay your money for something you believe in and feel better. I just hope you all believe in something cheap :D

  • Steve W

    I believe Leo is actually complaining about what he sees as Penn and Teller’s ill-considered and badly-argued critique of reflexology, rather than overtly defending the practice itself.

    However, from what I remember of the episode in question, Leo is in fact talking nonsense. Penn and Teller merely presented reflexology in its commonly-thought-of light. Reflexology is the massaging of feet to diagnose and cure disease, based upon the unsubstantiated principle that points on the foot are mirrors for other parts of the body, is it not? In what way did they distort this exactly?

    As I said, I am a small fan of the show; Penn and Teller’s obvious passion for some subjects usually makes up for the occasional misstep (of which there are admittedly several; P&T versus The Bible is the worst episode by a long, long shot, lazy and shoddily-researched), but their defence of GM foods, for example, was powerful and eloquent stuff, as was the episode I saw last night attacking the Boy Scouts of America for its official homophobic and anti-atheist policies.

    Penn and Teller are not perfect, and don’t pretend to hold themselves to rigorous journalistic standards, but as long as you keep this in mind, and don’t always take their word for something (you have an internets right in front of you; check things out for yourself) then the show is well worth dipping into.

  • Martin Coxall

    How is your magic invisible friend in the Sky today?

    I have you ‘prayed’ yet?

    Tee hee.

  • Martin Coxall

    And, while we’re on the subject: ‘dumbass’?

    You’re a Jesus-loving whiteboy from Guildford. That’s beyond the pale. Don’t do it again.

  • Richard

    “Final point… what’s wrong with people paying for a placebo?”

    Plenty, when the seller is trying to get them hooked on paying for them long into the future, or otherwise indoctrinate them into a method. A doctor giving someone a sugar pill is a very different thing to, say, a reflexologist turning up every week to manipulate fictional energies and non-existent connections.

  • Richard

    Oh, and biorhythms are just numerology piggy-backing on biology – if you throw out things like predicting luck, you throw out the entire concept. It’s all about bizarre cycles for this, and for that, and for something else, and has been tested to destruction. Hibernation cycles and the like have nothing whatsoever to do with the concept as invented – although its supporters certainly try to muddy the waters with such examples.

  • Log

    Louise L Hay is a massive self-help offender. She starts off believably, with “we define our own truths, and shape our universes” – bullshit for “someone told you you’re a prick, and you believed them”. But she goes on to suggest that cancer and Aids can be cured with affirmations. My ex used to read her books, and break off conversations to do “affirmations”. I’d use this time to text someone about the arsehole I was going out with.

  • admin

    “How is your magic invisible friend in the Sky today?”

    You think I worship Rupert Murdoch?

    Do shut up.

  • Steve W

    “‘Final point… what’s wrong with people paying for a placebo?’

    Plenty, when the seller is trying to get them hooked on paying for them long into the future, or otherwise indoctrinate them into a method. A doctor giving someone a sugar pill is a very different thing to, say, a reflexologist turning up every week to manipulate fictional energies and non-existent connections.”

    Plus, it ignores the fact that placebos do not always work; the sufferer shies away from proven medical treatment, result: causes actual harm to his or her self.

  • bob arctor

    Well actually John passive smoking kills somewhere around a couple of hundred to a 1000 people annually in the UK according to the latest BMJ study I read. I don’t pretend to be cleverer than the doctors who carried out the research, and you are certainly not more of an expert than them, so if I were you, keeping in mind your quite right “Experts>Opinions” policy, I would agree with them.

    I disagree with your religion. However you have not charged me for it, nor try to convert me, so I’m happy with it. You also brought that bastard homophobe whacko Christian guy to my attention, although I forget his name. When he’s on telly I get angry.

    And placebos are good if they are really really really cheap, and used on people who have really minor ailments. Giving pills which contain the memory of water to people with cancer is not right.

    In fact I am so angry that the media gives homeopathy such leeway. It relies on us throwing out the entire science of chemistry for it to work. Must stop. Before rant. Such bollocks.

  • DaveT

    ahh, One of my old phones had an Ace biorhythm tool on it.

    Apparently when I’m 110 years old, I’ll have a day noted not only for it’s luck, but for the amount of sex I have in it.

    Something tells me this information is fishy.

    However, whenever I get into an argument about these things, the answer is always “But you’re a christian, so your opinion counts for nothing” or “You’re a scientist, so your opinion counts for nothing”. And of course the “But you’re both a christian and a scientist, so you’re obviously confused, and so your opinion counts for nothing”

    The answer to the science one is simple, at least. “Try inventing a TV with ‘alternative methods’ then”

  • admin

    Well actually Bob, how many of them died of lung cancer? I think the answer is: none. Certainly smoke can cause other problems and illnesses for people, but I was specifically refering to lung cancer (which is what I said). Why this is worth mentioning is that the WHO deliberately infered that there were in fact tens of thousands of lung cancer deaths caused by passive smoking. But oops – there’s absolutely no medical evidence to suggest it’s even possible, as the WHO’s own document reveals when read. So yes, I believe the experts’ figures, but not their lying about them afterward.

    Also, the study to which you refer was obfuscatory nonsense, and the numbers are so muddled as to be almost meaningless. It relies more on the WHO’s study than any new figures, and presents no evidence for a link between passive smoking and lung cancer. I read it.

  • Nick Mailer

    Good heavens, John. With that B&H sponsorship, you should be able to afford to fly Upper Class on you next Virgin travail!

    And Graham, they picked a small fry confused woman from a small fry confused organisation. I notice they didn’t pick a high-profile main-stream climatologist, an environmental scientist – hell, they didn’t even pick a big main-stream pressure group like Greenpeace of Friends of the Earth. And yet, on the other side, they chose the hard hitters. And then they took selective evidence, distorted it, played ad hominem games and did all the things they were so scathing about others doing. “Bullshit” was a horrible lost opportunity. It was right-wing libertarianism dressed up as scepticism. I await a truly sceptic series with hope and interest.

  • bob arctor

    Really? The one about workplace passive smoking in the UK?

    I thought it was independent of the WHO, it was in fact just a study of UK workers.

    Same one?

    The numbers were varied, that’s because it realistically took the inaccuracies into consideration. And I can’t quite remember them.

    Anyhow the cause of death may be varied, as smoking has many effects, notably arterial and pulmonary. I don’t see why you are completely opposed to passive smoking causing lung cancer though.
    Smoke creates small particles of carcinogens which go into the lungs and settle deep down. They can cause mutations leading to oncogenes which make the cells multiply rapidly leading to a tumour if they are not killed by white blood cells. There is a clear method here, and with stochastic effects there is no safe level, so I can’t see how passive smoking cannot cause some lung cancer. Of course the level of it is up for debate I suppose. Maybe it turns out that as a cause of lung cancer it is beaten by, say, car fumes. But I don’t know. Haven’t read a study on that.

    Mind you does it matter if it’s lung cancer of chronic heart disease? Or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease? There is still resultant morbidity and mortality in workers.

  • admin

    “I don’t see why you are completely opposed to passive smoking causing lung cancer though.”

    Because it doesn’t happen! A person never exposed to smoke is statistically equally likely to get lung cancer as someone who is exposed to smoke. It’s the difference of 1 in 12.5 million and one in 10 million. This difference is so very tiny as to be a statistical anomoly. And yes, you are so much more likely to get lung cancer from exhaust fumes that it negates any realistic method of ever identifying a so-called passive smoking contraction. So let’s stop lying about it.

    And again you’re talking about other ways passive smoking might kill someone. I’m not disputing that. I think smoking is a disgusting and cruel act that harms all around you. But it doesn’t cause lung cancer, and the WHO and affiliates are repeatedly lying about that.

    Nick’s idiotic angle with this debate is to persist in ignoring the figures and announce that I’m pro smoking. It’s a shamefully weak attempt to wriggle out of admitting that he’s wrong.

    The mature and reasoned response is to identify that when people LIE about something, it causes people to suspect that everything they say is a lie. This is immensly damaging when you are supposedly the world authority on health. And since passive smoking can cause problems for people, it’s a subject that deserves honest and serious coverage – not bullshit nonsense like shouting “CANCER! CANCER!”

    Nick can’t move quickly enough to condemn the lying behaviour of Leah Betts’ parents, and the incredible dangers of lying about the effects of drugs to children. But this time, because he made a big display of being right, he will not back down and instead, even after this sentence, attempt to imply that I’m supportive of smoking.

  • Leo

    Reflexology is, in my understanding, one small aspect of the Chinese medical system. It goes hand in hand with acupuncture and various other methods of treatment. To attempt to employ it without first studying the Chinese medical system is like being able to boil an egg and then calling yourself a cook. Or something.

    Anyway, the massaging of the feet is one way to stimulate chi flow to certain areas, which is the most widely-used application I’d known of (and obviously makes no sense to someone who doesn’t believe in the Chinese medical system). I didn’t realise there were idiots travelling around the world telling people that massaging feet was reflexology until I saw Penn and Teller. The show only confused matters further, so it can totally fuck off.

  • Leo

    If the passive smoking thing is true, Penn and Teller did a SHIT job of making their point, thus reinforcing how useless that program was.

  • Richard

    Anyway, the massaging of the feet is one way to stimulate chi flow to certain areas, which is the most widely-used application I’d known of (and obviously makes no sense to someone who doesn’t believe in the Chinese medical system)

    Or in the basic existence of chi, which is the biology equivalent of The Force, and exactly as fictional. If my doctor started talking about the four humours, I’d be a little concerned. There’s absolutely no difference.

    I didn’t realise there were idiots travelling around the world telling people that massaging feet was reflexology until I saw Penn and Teller. The show only confused matters further, so it can totally fuck off.

    PENN AND TELLER confuse matters?! Look, I think we all know how evil quote wars are, so I apologise for this, but I’m going to quote the first entries off Google for the term ‘reflexology’.

    Reflexology is a form of ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ medicine and involves a method of treatment using massage to reflex areas found in the feet and the hands. Most commonly, the feet are used as the areas to be treated.
    — The British Reflexology Association

    Reflexology is the application of pressure, stretch and movement to the feet and hands to effect corresponding parts of the body.
    — Reflexology Research

    Reflexology works on the principle that there are reflexes on the feet and hands which correspond to all organs, glands and parts of the body. By using the fingers and thumbs to stimulate these reflexes, we can achieve balance, improve circulation and relax the client.

    A Reflexologist uses hands only to apply pressure to the feet. For each person the application and the effect of the therapy is unique.
    — The Association of Reflexology

    IT’S A FOOT MASSAGE! Every single explanation of what it is is that it’s a foot massage, and a foot massage is all that remains until someone proves the existance of previously cloaked pathways to every part of the body, the existence of chi, or any of the other cobblers that its practitioners preach. Hell, they can’t even agree on exactly what they’re doing, beyond the foot massage part, and even then, many go with the hands instead. The people pissing in this particular drinking pool are the reflexologists.

    The fact that something is old, the fact that it comes from China, has exactly zero impact on its credibility. Every culture has its charlatans, its fakes, its snake oil salesmen, its miracle cures, and its old wives tales. As an actual technique, it’s no different to a placebo.

    If the passive smoking thing is true, Penn and Teller did a SHIT job of making their point, thus reinforcing how useless that program was.

    How so? The focus of the program was ‘you can’t ban something just because you don’t like it, here is the official report that says It Doesn’t Happen’. They made their arguments just fine, and backed up with more than the knee-jerk ‘passive smoking kills’ argument that you hear time after time. They don’t always. Some episodes of Bullshit are pretty bad. But most of them are just fine, and at least frame the argument in a fun, watchable way, and actively tell you not to take what they say at face value. Which is more than you get for the people who want you to take your body out of the care of modern medical science.

  • bob arctor

    Where are the figures about smoke/no smoke = same risk of lung cancer? Sorry if I sound passive-aggressive or whatever; I’m just interested, and have never come across anything that says that. And I admit until I see a source I remain sceptical. Everyone knows how the internet (among other things…) is full of lies, I find it best to be sceptical at all times.

    And as for chinese medicine: altogether I find it impossible to believe it seeing as it relies on forces unfindable by all scientific means.
    Which also means I don’t believe string theory as fact.

  • Rossignol

    I have to admit that Martin’s comment does have some poignancy to it. As much as I admire your intention to debunk the crazies, the rest of us still think *any* belief in the supernatural is a bit, well, bonkers.

  • admin

    The WHO figures are incredibly hard to find online – I found them once, but lost them again. The EPA’s website is a complete mess, and the search engine is broken beyond use, and they move the article around so old links don’t work.

    However, wherever the hell it is, it contains the line:

    “Our results indicate no association between childhood exposure to ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] and lung cancer risk.”

    And also states,

    “that there was only “weak evidence” for a risk of lung cancer from spousal or workplace ETS.”

    Which you’d think would be enough.

    Once more: passive smoking is linked to many diseases and deaths. It is a bad thing.

    And another thing: were there to be evidence of a link between passive smoking and lung cancer, I would be DELIGHTED. It would strengthen the arguments against smoking, and it would presumably have the effect of helping reduce this phenomenon, should it exist. I simply wish for the truth to be told.

  • admin

    I’m happy for you to think me bonkers, and I’m happy to think others bonkers.

    However, were I to charge others money for something that doesn’t work, I would understand the comparison. I do not. I try to live my life according to Christ, and I understand the world as a place where one exists in communion with others, loving others and God. I don’t see any evidence that God heals by prayer, and as such reject it – it doesn’t happen, so it would be odd to believe it did.

    My belief is a faith, and I cannot evidence it. However, unlike these so-called alternative therapies, I cannot disprove it either. And that distinction is the reason why I don’t see a contradiction between my posting such skeptical comments, and is the reason why skeptic sites do not attempt to debunk faiths. (But instead the untrue claims made in the names of those faiths).

    I’m not unaware of the apparent bizarre nature of my position. And I’m willing to be told I’m wrong, stupid, delusional, etc for my faith. What I cannot see is the purpose of attempting to dismiss my comments above when they are agreed with, because we disagree over something else. It doesn’t seem productive.

  • leon

    I’ve got a friend I’d like to set you on one day. She’s all about the crystals, auras, reiki and so on. We used to have friendly, but increasingly confrontational, arguments about various topics; her as the white witch of Pompey with her fairy army and myself as Dr Mengele, because I studied biology and once dissected a rat.

    Anyway, we agreed to never cross swords ever again after her response to a comment was “research never proved anything”. My role, as a scientific counterpoint, was somewhat buggered by that little nugget. It then basically transpired that she was predisposed to believe only that which could not be validated. Proof was a corruptive influence. It was like trying to argue with gravity after you’d stepped of the cliff.

  • tedi Worrier

    I suppose I could try NOT believing in the supernatural …. but I’d need an ego-transplant. No worries; from what I read there is plenty going spare here.

    I spend hours doing things with sharp pointy whizzy things —– often only to make things better only to have people tell me that it got “better anyway” a few days after they’d seen me.
    Hmmm? Perhaps I should have rubber-hosed their feet instead.

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