By Mark Crislip
I knew that Jann was thinking of writing about reiki and fraud, but did not know the details of her most excellent discussion from yesterday until I had finished my penultimate draft for today. Think of them as a match set, two perspectives on the same elephant.
Fraud: a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
There are numerous activities that one human will offer another in exchange for money that are completely divorced from reality.
Astrology. Total bunkum.
There is no force, known or unknown, that could possibly affect us here on Earth the way astrologers claim. Known forces weaken too fast, letting one source utterly dominate (the Moon for gravity, the Sun for electromagnetism). An unknown force would allow asteroids and extrasolar planets to totally overwhelm the nearby planets…
Study after study has shown that claims and predictions made by astrologers have no merit. They are indistinguishable from chance, which means astrologers cannot claim to have some ability to predict your life’s path.
Although 48% of Americans think astrology is a science, as best I can tell astrology is not part of the curriculum at any astronomy division or program. Astronomers know it is bunkum and avoid it.
Alchemy. Total bunkum. Outside of a nuclear reactor, you cannot turn base metals into gold. And, as best I can tell, alchemy is not part of the curriculum at any chemistry division or program. Chemists know it is bunkum and avoid it.
Parapsychology. Total bunkum. There is no ESP, no ability to read minds, talk to the dead, move objects with thought etc. etc. While as many as 75% of Americans believe in one form of parapsychology, as best I can tell, parapsychology is not part of the curriculum at any psychology division or program. Psychology departments know it is bunkum and avoid it.
Offering astrology or alchemy or talking to the dead for money seems to me to not quite meet the dictionary definition for fraud since I assume for most practitioners there is no intent to defraud. But they do anyway. Just not intentionally.
The legal definition of fraud? Those are waters I will not swim in. Why there are palm readers and astrologers and psychics who perform their services for money when there is no basis in reality for their services is beyond me. Like the lottery, those practices are for entertainment value? The law has limited resources and has to pick and choose?
What about pseudo-medicines? Isn’t that fraud? Jan Bellamy has a nice discussion of the issue. It is a complex issue under the law. Whether pseudo-medical providers taking money from the sick and desperate for therapies that have no basis in reality is legal fraud, I leave to lawyers. In my moral-ethical calculus, offering pseudo-medicines, such offerings may not be legal fraud, but are no different from astrology or talking to the dead.
I don’t see NASA joining up with the American Federation of Astrologers. While astronomers avoid astrology, psychologists avoid parapsychology and chemists avoid alchemists, how does the medical field respond to magic? They form Integrative or Alternative Medicine programs.
One would think that leading medical institutions, major hospitals and universities would know better. What hospital wants to offer imaginary therapies to their patients? Quite a few, evidently.
Take, for example, reiki. An energy ‘therapy’ that is nonsense has no effect on any disease in well done studies. It is, like homeopathy, 100% pure bunkum.
Much to my surprise, while I have done a Quackcast on reiki, I have never written on the topic. A quick summary of the pertinent features.
1) It was just made up. So many SCAMs have a origin story that is on par with gamma ray exposure or being hit by lightening when bathed in chemicals. In this case reiki was created, not unlike the works of Stan Lee, by Mikao Usui as part of a midlife crisis.
2) Its precepts are:
There is a universal and inexhaustible spiritual energy which can be used for healing purposes.
Through an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master, any person can gain access to this energy.
This energy will flow through the Reiki Master’s hands when he/she places his/her hands near the patient.
As this energy has human-like intelligence, there is no need for diagnosis — the energy will automatically judge the disease and heal the patient.
This energy is, like all energy in SCAMs, has nothing to do with the concept of energy as understood by reality-based sciences like physics. Unmeasured and unmeasurable, this energy is not Kinetic, Potential, Mechanical, Mechanical wave, Chemical, Electric, Magnetic, Radiant, Nuclear, Ionization, Elastic, Gravitational, Intrinsic, Thermal, Heat or Mechanical work. And I suppose Dark, whatever dark energy may be.
This energy can only be detected by the reiki or other energy practitioner unless, of course, they are being tested by a fourth grader. Odd. We can detect the Voyager spacecraft transmitting with the power of a refrigerator light bulb from 10 billion miles away but cannot measure the human ‘energy’ field.
Watch the videos. The reiki practitioners sometimes touch the patient and sometimes they wave their hands over the patient. At least when the patient lays down, relaxes and is touched by a practitioner, you get a bit of the social grooming. It is probably why people feel good with a Reiki treatment. But hand waving the ‘energy’ away? Really. They are serious. And taking money from people to do it.
And what is kind of creepy, and I did not look at every video on the YouTubes, but every person being reiki-ed is female. Someone should do a survey of SCAM videos on the YouTubes. I bet 95% of those being SCAMed upon are thin, young females and most of those performing the SCAM are older males. Or maybe that’s a touch of confirmation bias on my part.