After years of research* and development, I have finally worked out the details for the treatment of the viral NAWHS (New Age Woo Hoo Susceptibility) syndrome: GWT or Gullibility Whack Therapy. And I’m going to found my own institute: The Whack-a-Wacko Institute of Common Sense Therapy. I stand to make millions.
It works like this: Every time a client utters a comment about the healing benefits of any flavour of New Age woo hoo including homeopathy, who avoids vaccinations, gluten and GMOs, who quotes Dr. Oz, Dr. Mercola or Gwyneth Paltrow, who confesses to using ear candling, magic crystals, reflexology, reiki, feng shui or aromatherapy, who professes a belief in astrology, guardian angels, auras, psychics or tarot cards, who prefers “alternative medicine” or ayurveda instead of real medicine, or goes to a “medical intuitive” instead of a real doctor has precisely 30 seconds to cite scientific research that validates their claims or get whacked.
I’ll come to your home, your workplace, your favourite restaurant or pub and stand behind you. Every time you utter some pseudoscience or New Age codswallop, I’ll whack the back of your head and shout “bullshit!” for everyone to hear. I’ll stand with you in the grocery store line and if you dare pick up a Goop, Dr. Oz or Oprah magazine, you’ll get a whack. If you tune into Gwyneth Paltrow’s new Netflix TV show, I’ll whack both you and the TV set. If you stop in the mall to look at the display of essential oils, I’ll whack you.
I’ll offer various levels of treatment with graduated scales from Gentle Reminder using a feather duster to Are You Off Your Freakin’ Rocker? using a dog’s latex squeaky toy — a loud one, so everyone also hears it. I’ll have rates by the hour or by the whack. Given the raging amount of woo hoo online and the susceptibility of people to the babblings of poorly-educated glitterati, I will have no shortage of potential clients.
GWT was inspired by the New Age pseudo-psychiatry of “tapping therapy,” more formally called “Emotional Freedom Technique,” or EFT. (Or, as I prefer to call it: New Age woo hoo. You, however, may simply call it bullshit). That in turn comes from, among other things the”alternative” practice of acupressure which the Scienceblogs in 2008 described as,
…based on prescientific and mystical concepts of how the body works through some unmeasurable “life force” that flows through certain “meridians.” Moreover, like most “positive” studies of woo, it demonstrated a small effect that’s at the edge of significance.
And in a 2016 article as,
…based on the same concepts from traditional Chinese medicine that acupuncture is, it’s just as much a load of prescientific mystical BS as acupuncture. It’s popular, though, probably because it promises the benefits of acupuncture without all those nasty needles. I know I’d rather just hold pressure on a couple of acupoints than have some guy (or woman) whose dedication to sterile technique is questionable stick several needles into my body.
And Quackwatch warns that acupressure practitioners, “…may also use irrational diagnostic methods to reach diagnoses that do not correspond to scientific concepts of health and disease.”
Neurobollocks succinctly describes EFT as,
…a kind of psychotherapy, developed in the 90s, that draws on a variety of pseudoscientific bollocks, including accupressure, our old friend NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), various kinds of laying-on-of-hands-type ‘energy’ therapies and a good dose of very confused neurobollocks.
Not to mention it generates gazoodles of money for its practitioners because of the seemingly endless supply of the gullible and naive online. People just line up with their credit cards ready to buy into this stuff.
As it says on Skeptophilia, “…the true brilliance of this scam is that because the book and DVD teaches patients to perform their own tapping, there’s no chance of a malpractice lawsuit — if someone reads a book and then thinks he can fix his bee-sting allergy by thumping away on his “energy meridians,” well, sucks to be him.”
GWT works like that, just with a bigger bat. Poke someone with a finger? Gentle tapping while muttering self-congratulatory epithets? Pah! Common sense requires a resounding thwack on the back of the head in company with loud invective in order for enlightenment to be transmitted properly. You don’t shake off NAWHS with just a poke (think of this as my very own, un-Zen-like kyosaku, or encouragement stick).
I only recently came across EFT and after a few quick reads realized that it fits comfortably in the claptrap basket as another way to cure the ailment of having too much money, too little common sense, and an internet connection. But don’t take my word for it: I’ll let the quacks speak for themselves. Here’s what a tapping website itself says about the magical practice:
Tapping provides relief from chronic pain, emotional problems, disorders, addictions, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, and physical diseases. While Tapping is newly set to revolutionize the field of health and wellness, the healing concepts that it’s based upon have been in practice in Eastern medicine for over 5,000 years. Like acupuncture and acupressure, Tapping is a set of techniques which utilize the body’s energy meridian points. You can stimulate these meridian points by tapping on them with your fingertips – literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power.
Wow. A magical panacea for pretty much every ailment. I know: the quackery warning lights always turn on when anyone uses phrases like “the body’s energy meridian point” as if you’re a nighttime landing strip at an airport. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that revolution. It ain’t coming anytime soon because your doctor wants you to get well, not to buy some self-help woo off the internet then sit at home trying to cure your cancer by poking your head or arms.
Alex Langford, who is a real psychiatrist, medical doctor and has a BSc in psychology writes that,
…I sat in lectures at medical school for 5 years. I’ve assisted in countless operations, looked at hundreds of scans, and studied physiology and neurology, but I’ve never seen anything resembling a meridian line in a human being. There is nothing special about the parts of the body “tapping therapy” chooses. In real life, there is simply no rational basis why tapping on arbitrary parts of the body would have any effect – apart from giving you a sore finger if you did it hard enough.
But since some of you remain gulled by the promises of miracles and money, and yet have an obsessive need to spend your savings on harebrained schemes and expensive courses ($199 USD!), you’ll need my services to whack you back into common sense. GWT to the rescue!
Here’s another site that promises tapping will “..transform your life in just minutes… Fortunately, Tapping can dissolve any limiting belief system, so you can be hardwired for happiness, success and abundance…” How does it achieve this magic? Yep: by unblocking “…energetic points on your body that may have been holding you back from success and abundance.” It also unblocks “…the energy of subconscious fears in a meridian point, it interrupts the neural pathways. Which means you now have a clean slate to rewire positive new pathways that serve you with specifically targeted positive affirmations.”
And like so many of these sites, there’s a greasy focus on making money and boosting your income by tapping yourself into wealth: “Fortunately, Tapping can dissolve any limiting belief system, so you can be hardwired for happiness, success and abundance…” At only $129 US, it will “…empower you to overcome the fears sabotaging your abundance.” By which I suspect it will encourage you to sell the same diaphanous piffle to your friends and family for a small consignment. Oh wait, isn’t that called a pyramid scheme?
EFT, we’re told on Skeptophilia, is
…the brainchild of Gary Craig, a realtor with no medical training whatsoever, who apparently studied some books about “neurolinguistic programming,” a counseling and therapy method now generally considered to be pseudoscience, and decided to go one step further and create a pseudoscience of his own.
But wait, there’s more — in fact there’s more all over the Net. So much I can’t begin to give you more than a sampling of how this has spread. This site promises tapping will:
- Free yourself from excessive Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
- Find that you can Forgive where you thought it was impossible
- Eliminate the shadows of past Relationships
- Destroy Lazy Feelings that stop you exercising
- Wipe away Food Cravings
- Finally understand Procrastination and develope the habit of doing things
- Become someone who falls asleep quickly, Sleeps Soundly and wakes up easily
- Open yourself to Money and Wealth, whatever that means to you
- Learn how to Achieve any Goal
(Yes, the bizarrely incorrect capitalization is in the original. Tapping, apparently, can’t make you more literate.)
And for all that miraculous woo you need only pay $39.95 US for the e-book that reveals, “all you need to know about the nature of your conscious and unconscious mind.” Plus you get a “…unique Tapping Guide that will help you remove your internal barriers to wealth.” We’re told here that “Tapping removes Negative Beliefs.” Geez, the woo hoo meter just shot off the scale with that. Poor Sigmund Freud: all those years wasted psychoanalyzing patients when he could have just been poking them with his finger.
Although it’s supposed to be revolutionary it’s also 5,000 years old! Pretty good since the oldest Chinese medical treatise is just over 2,000 years old and doesn’t mention acupuncture or any of its later derivatives.**
Okay, some folks claim that tapping works for them. Well, the research says it doesn’t do any more for your health and wellness than homeopathy (which being just water and sugar can’t do anything medical). The reason for the appearance of positive effect even when the treatment is ineffective is, however, well-documented: it’s called the placebo effect:
Placebo effects are a combination of non-specific effects of the therapeutic interaction, and an illusion of biased perception. Measured placebo effects are generally subjective and short-lived. They result from things like having an improved mood at the expectation of being treated, a positive therapeutic interaction, getting medical attention, and being compliant with treatment. These are non-specific effects, meaning that they derive from the medical interaction, not from any real physiological effect of the treatment itself.
As Bob Park noted in his book, Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud,
Once we are convinced of the healing power of a doctor or a treatment, something very remarkable happens: a sham treatment induces real biological improvement. This is the placebo effect. Healers have relied on the placebo effect for thousands of years, but until recently, it was usually referred to as the “mysterious” placebo effect. Scientists, however, are beginning to understand the complex interaction of the brain and the endocrine system that gives rise to the placebo effect.
Well, I promise you GWT won’t be a placebo effect. I’ll keep whacking until my clients see the light. I’ll turn Whack-a-Wacko into the institute that brings back science and common sense from the brink of internet stupidity we’re all teetering on. I expect a Nobel Prize in my future.
* I looked up stuff on the internet. Okay, I also read a few books.
** The first definitive proof of acupuncture in use is from the 15th century. Claims to anything older is really just speculation. But more to the point: acupuncture was tossed out of Chinese medical schools in 1822, and even outlawed in China in 1929! It was the Communist leader, Mao Tse Tung, who brought it back, in 1949. And it remains a Communist-approved practice. Science-Based Medicine says rather clearly in an article titled, Acupuncture Doesn’t Work, that, “…results of acupuncture trials are variable and inconsistent, even for single conditions… Since it has proved impossible to find consistent evidence after more than 3000 trials, it is time to give up.”