The Kymatika K-test and… oh, look at that: LBC. Updated.

February 17th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre Tags:
in bad science, Global Radio, LBC, onanism | 86 Comments »

Just briefly (because my hair looks terrible in it, and they made nerdy stickboy here look chubby) I was on Watchdog last night, talking about some ridiculous magical diagnosis machine.

The video is here:

www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/02/food_intolerance_test.html

And there are three things to note here. One is that Julia Bradbury is weirdly hot, in a sanctimonious kind of way. The second is that they wanted to film in a sciencey laboratory (sigh). Last is that the manufacturers of this machine, Kymatika, are proud to boast on their website about mainstream media puffs: and here, bright star among them, we find none other than the mighty LBC 97.3FM:

www.kymatika.com/lbc-radio-interview

Kymatika even paste up a whole clip from the LBC show on 27th January (I think 2008), which stars company representatives Huw Griffiths and Jonathan Welbeck-Pure in the studio with Bill Buckley, generating almost half an hour of pure, unabashed, pseudoscientific product promotion. “This sounds like real high level science here.” It certainly does. Again, it is beyond parody. Again, almost every ten seconds contains a winning quote.

Although it seems that unlike me, Kymatika have not heard from LBC’s lawyers, despite posting a full 22 minutes of extremely enjoyable content. I guess it’s all about context. Must have been something I said.

Update 22:50 17/2/09:

The Kymatika website and clip seem to be unavailable due to excessive traffic.

Dear Jonathan and Sophie [their lawyer who contacted me last time],

I would very much like to share with my readers the broadcast made on LBC on the 27th January promoting the Kymatika K-test diagnostic test for food intolerances. I think most people would agree it’s an excellent example of how the media promote pseudoscientific health products, potentially, ultimately, causing harm to health.

I think we’d agree it’s unlikely that people will take out an ongoing subscription to your service just to hear this 22 minute excerpt, and it is my intention to discuss its merits. However, as an individual, I am unable to pay lawyers fees on my side and yours for a court case in order to use the “fair dealing” exemption to copyright law. Please can you therefore tell me what licensing fee you would consider appropriate, so that I can pass the hat around online, we can pay you for the material, and everyone can freely hear and discuss this clip online.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ben

dr ben goldacre
ben@goldacre.net
www.badscience.net/

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this email, you agree, on behalf of your
employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from
any and all NON-NEGOTIATED  agreements, licenses, terms-of-service,
shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure,
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entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and
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are anything other than a friend or an institutional professional colleague and
you are writing to me about Bad Science stuff then it is reasonable to assume
that I might quote our discussion in my writing, usually anonymously.

Update 18:30 18/2/09:

No reply from LBC as yet on my request for a license to re-post the audio, other than yet another intemperate email from Jonathan Richards, their Programme Director (which once again he insists is not for publication!). I can only say I find this all slightly puzzling and inappropriate for such a large corporation. Does anybody have any opinions or advice on how to proceed?

I think it would be useful if people could hear and discuss this example of mainstream media promoting something that is very obviously a pseudoscientific medical device, because that’s such a common problem. I’ve no great interest in LBC specifically, but it is amusing to note, given recent history, from searching the archives, that LBC really are the only people to have given this magical machine any credibility in mainstream media at all. Other than that, it has received a brief puff in the Scotsman, and a critical article actively debunking it in the Daily Express (of all places).

Perhaps LBC will find a way to make a mountain out of this molehill again.


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86 Responses



  1. chatsubo said,

    February 17, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I’ve been trying to get my mum to read the Bad Science book as I despair to see an otherwise intelligent woman waste money and time on homeopathic remidies, but after seeing sexy Dr Ben on TV, her (slightly suspect) mothering instincts have kicked in, and she’s picked up the book again.

    Still, its shocking that nurses and pharmacists are peddling this sort of crap – anyone up for a boycott / naming and shaming of Superdrug

  2. yarrah.goffincher said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Do OFCOM do premises raids? I would happily tune into the LBC NewsRoom Webcam to watch a crack team smash the soundboards and cordon off the mikes.

    These people need stopping, and fast. Before somebody tunes in and mistakes them for a serious broadcasting company.

  3. rumleech said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I wonder if Kymatika will post the Watchdog? After all, if you’re a rogue there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  4. zeno said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Do Kymatika have a blog, by any chance?

  5. pseudomonas said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Zeno: they have a “forum” – does that count?

  6. EleanorC said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Watchdog are very fond of their taps for some reason, and those rubber tube things. It was quite distracting.

  7. mlambert said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    The company’s refutation at the end of the segment is brilliant – no two results are the same because the body is in a state of flux! How on Earth is that an argument in favour of their product? If anything the company admits that their own product is completely ineffective. Gotta love the mental acrobatics of the pseudoscience crowd.

  8. vertigo93 said,

    February 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    For some extra woo, here’s a press release:

    www.responsesource.com/releases/rel_display.php?relid=36268&hilite=

    My favourite highlight is this:

    “During the development of the K-Test, Kymatika tested over 500 people, of whom 68% were women and 32% men. In trials conducted during 2007, each person was tested with 40 foods. On average, the red ‘avoidance’ scores were about 8.5% of the total of foods tested, 28% were amber ‘monitoring’ food scores, with the majority of foods scoring around 60%, deemed fine for those tested. Of those who retested on a monthly basis to monitor changes, after having slightly adjusted their own personal diet, a marked improvement in the overall feeling of well-being was reported.”

    Ummm. Doesn’t that prove that a) changing your diet can be a good thing, and b) the placebo effect is alive and well?

    Also, the product – from that press release – is endorsed by a Dr N Mohan of the Ascot Medical Centre. Please find much woo here:

    www.ascotclinic.co.uk/

    Why does the word ‘holistic’ make me want to stab forks in my eyeballs?

    Ooooh. Can I get me some Reiki on the NHS?:

    www.ascotclinic.co.uk/ascotclinic_therapiesandservices.php

    “Complementary Therapists embrace a ‘whole person’ approach to health and healing.
    This means we focus on treating the person, not the symptom.
    Central to this philosophy is our acceptance and understanding of the body’s innate healing ability. Thus, when the body is given the right conditions, life energy – chi, qi or prana – can flow freely, which in turn helps to create good health.”

    Glorious, innit?

    Can someone tell me how a proper quote box function works here please?

  9. xinit said,

    February 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    I’m not sure if the LBC vs. Goldacre suit is going forward, but in the event it IS, examples of those out there who are not being threatened with lawsuit might be something to provide to the court…

  10. tialaramex said,

    February 17, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    No I don’t think LBC are actually suing (a lawyer letter and an actual lawsuit are not the same thing).

    In any case copyright holders are entitled (unlike trademark owners) to enforce their rights entirely according to their whim. It’s legal to e.g. let people called “Barry” copy your work but sue anyone named “Steven” who makes copies. So the most you could try is if there’s evidence that LBC is normally aware of such posting of their clips, and does nothing about it, and if you could show that you reasonably relied on them to treat you the same then you might try Estoppel as a principle forbidding them from enforcing their rights.

    But I’m dubious about the chance of success. You’d really want to show that normally LBC not only doesn’t sue people for this, but they actively know about it and perhaps even encourage it. If they’re merely unaware of other copyright infringers (even if you suspect that they’re turning a blind eye but can’t prove it) then it’s not going to hold up as something a reasonable person could “rely on”.

    IANAL

  11. Terrible Al said,

    February 17, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    EleanorC: I guess they’re a bit of a short-hand for “Science is done here”. To be fair, it’s pretty common on taps like that to have a bit of rubber tube attached, it’s dead handy.

    Vertigo93: the reason the word “holistic” makes you want to stab your eyeballs out is pretty simple: it’s a handy warning that anything that follows will be utter bull.

  12. Fortis said,

    February 17, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Alt Med is rarely “holistic”. They all have their own little bit of the body that they use to solve all medical problems.

  13. biggerpills said,

    February 17, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    @vertigo93: Ah, Fuel PR… I back in the days when I didn’t know any better they interviewed me for a job. I remember they didn’t have much storage space and the office was packed to the rafters with assorted woo. Check out the clients and note that they include a certain charity run by a certain Mr Holford:

    fuelrefuel.com/food_for_the_brain.html

  14. Ian said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    RE: “I wonder if Kymatika will post the Watchdog?”

    I’m guessing we’ll soon see “As seen on (BBC) TV” on their ads/website

  15. pv said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/02/food_intolerance_test.html
    It’s not available in my area, I expect rather ironically for “copyright” reasons. What’s to do?
    Is it on youtube?

  16. pv said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    vertigo93 said,
    February 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Can someone tell me how a proper quote box function works here please?

    If you use SeaMonkey or Firefox there’s an extension called bbCodeXtra: Firefox, SeaMonkey
    It will insert BB, html or xhtml code from a context menu.

  17. bald_rob said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Bet the machine is a based on random number generation – would be nice to take one apart. Perhaps you’d need their source code to prove it was random. Anyway, even if it’s not purely random, if it gives totally different results for the same person at different times, what use is it? How can they possibly try to defend it?

  18. biggerpills said,

    February 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I think they got the idea from Nathan Barley:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFzCEfNoTCM

    “It’s what your finger’s chosen”

  19. Fortis said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    The Kymatika site seems to be down. Hmmmm….

  20. Pro-reason said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    We can’t see the videos outside the UK. :-(

  21. dreamsinjava said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    “Nerdy stickboy”? “Chubby”?! I thought you looked rather dashing.

    I found the “sciencey”-looking interview setting amusing though; it reminded me of Brainiac’s chemistry-lesson props.

  22. Sarah_D said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    interesting sideys ;)

  23. Dr Aust said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Re “Dr N Mohan of the Ascot Medical Centre” (comment #8 above), a dig around on their site reveals:

    Dr Neesha Mohan

    Qualified from St Georges Hospital London in 1989. Has an interest in integrated health and Ayurveda. She is an advisor for The Prince of Wales Foundation of Integrated Health. Her approach to her patients is holistic, incorporating nutrition and mind-body techniques to improving health. She runs the antenatal clinic and baby clinic.

    “..advisor for The Prince of Wales Foundation of Integrated Health.”

    Hmm. ‘Nuff said. Though I would have thought even a “holistic GP” would stop short of recommending a “test” that is clearly bogus, and likely frankly illegal under Trading Standards Legislation.

  24. Dr Aust said,

    February 17, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    PS It gets better. The Kymatika K-Site may have been KO-ed, or have disappeared into a Virtual K-Hole, but it turns out that getting a K-test report entitles you to consult an online “Virtual Nutritionist”. I shit you not.

  25. scotslawstudent said,

    February 17, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    It looks like the site’s still up but it’s really struggling.

    I’m currently downloading at 0.05kb/s (seriously).

  26. biggerpills said,

    February 17, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    It looks like someone’s now doing a hasty re-edit of the Virtual Nutritionist site. There’s always the Google cache if anyone fancies a look round the old site.

  27. The Biologista said,

    February 18, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Ho-hum, video not available in my location. I’ll just assume without evidence that ass was firmly kicked.

  28. kerledan said,

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 am

    The Kymatika site has a forum, which could be somewhere to politely remonstrate with them*, (or not if they don’t like doubters), I don’t know as the site is so overloaded at the moment (0400).

    *split infinitive, yes I know lol

    It’s quite naughty of Watchdog to have two tests in one day, I mean, Kymitaka have *said* in their manual that you shouldn’t do this, and say that Watchdog were advised not to. So *why* did Watchdog do this? It only got them a lot of different results each time. What’s the use of that? Weren’t they happy with one result? Is Julia happier now that she knows she’s not only a bit iffy about onions (first test) but definitely iffy about garlic and so on, although not onions (second test)? Is she?

    No. She isn’t. She…is…not.

    People will just get confused having more than one test a day. Kymitaka told them not to, but they just wouldn’t let it lie and now look what’s happened! People are all confused. The results for Julia were very clear first time ‘iffy about onions’. But she just wouldn’t let it lie. Are Watchdog trying to gauge the extent to which readouts from this system are repeatable or something?! What’s the idea with playing around trying to repeat something just to see what results you get the next time?!

  29. Paulsc said,

    February 18, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Watched the Watchdog video and then went off to work yesterday. I am currently reading Bad Science and reached page 116 which contains a description of Gillian McKeith taken from the Radio Times. I have to say that reading that Ms McKeith was “posing in laboratories, surrounded by test tubes” made me laugh out loud when I compared it with Ben’s water taps and an electrical socket.

    Incidentally Terrible Al, the proper name for a rubber tube is a Jane Grey’s pipe. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCWA7uevo_Q. Recommend you watch it all but the relevant bit is at approx. 6 min 30 seconds in.

  30. Fortis said,

    February 18, 2009 at 7:14 am

    The podcast for this one doesn’t sem to want to download through iTunes. Ben hasn’t been blacklisted, has he?

  31. amarkwest said,

    February 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

    @biggerpills

    And you can ‘enjoy’ other, earlier incarnations of the web-site by visiting the Wayback Machine:

    web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.kymatika.com/

  32. flup said,

    February 18, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Ben, you have done more for the public understanding of science than Dawkins or du Sautoy. Awesome, awesome stuff.

  33. stunt_girl said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

    It’s childish, but I can’t help but giggle at this guy’s name: Jonathan Welbeck-Pure. It’s almost Dickensian in its appropriateness for peddling ‘natural’ and ‘holistic’ health gumbo.

    Nominative determinism in action?

  34. JamesM said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Re ‘Ben’s water taps and an electrical socket”

    That segment was filmed in a teaching laboratory of a medical school in London. It’s a real lab. That’s what they look like.

    I’m sorry it didn’t look enough like the Tardis for you. I’ll have a word with them.

  35. Julia said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Here’s a link to an article I posted on BadPsychics/BadHomeopathy last month:

    badpsychics.com/thefraudfiles/modules/news/article.php?storyid=928

    I wonder why Kymatica tell people not to have more than one test per day? Could it be because even the dimmest individual might find it a wee bit strange that the tests were giving random results?

    As has already been pointed out, it was very disappointing to see nurses and pharmacists endorsing this claptrap. Worthless electrodiagnostic devices like the K-Test have been with us for fifty years now, you’d think that anyone with medical training would be able to recognise such outrageous fakery!

    It will be interesting to see if Superdrug withdraws the K-Test from its branches – I e-mailed the company twice last month and didn’t get a reply. Nor did I get a response from The Mole Clinic (www.themoleclinic.co.uk/), which for some reason is responsible for supplying the K-Test to Superdrug.


    Addenda from Ben:

    The Mole Clinic are innocent! Someone has posted here to say that they were unimpressed that The Mole Clinic are involved in distributing this test, that they contacted the Mole Clinic, and that they did not reply on the issue. The Mole Clinic have got in touch to point out that despite appearances they are not involved in the K Test, and it looks like several of the Superdrug nurses that MoleClinic have trained have simply been using their @moleclinic.co.uk email addresses inappropriately.

    I certainly don’t think the Mole Clinic are involved in this product, but I can understand why somebody would, and I think this is an excellent illustration of how the K Test has penetrated into the nursing world (sadly), and also of how easily products such as Kymatika can come to be perceived as authoritative, medically endorsed, and evidence based, by these small steps and shifts.

    The Mole Clinic say:

    “Our company trains Superdrug nurses to carry out skin cancer screenings and permits them to provide that service – and that service only – under our name. We provide permitted nurses with @themoleclinic.co.uk email addresses specifically to contact us and their skin cancer screening patients and for no other purpose.
    “We do not employ Superdrug nurses and our email addresses have been used without our consent. Superdrug have just advised me that they will have Kymatika remove all reference to our addresses immediately.

    “I confirm again that The MOLE Clinic has absolutely nothing to do with the K Test.”

    I believe them.

  36. BigEoinO said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    My favourite bit from
    www.ascotclinic.co.uk/ascotclinic_therapiesandservices.php

    “Cranio-Sacral Therapy
    This refined and subtle osteopathic treatment is particularly well-suited to babies and children due to the gentle manipulative techniques that are employed. By subtly working on the joints of the skull and attuning to the deep pulsing energy within, the”

    That’s it! At least you can’t say that they promise too much!

  37. danielr said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

    BigEoinO: my wife took our 2-year-old daughter to cranio-sacral therapy. She’s convinced it got her to sleep through the night.

    Of course, me getting up half a dozen times a night to put her back to bed and get used to the idea of staying there had nothing to do with it…

  38. pseudomonas said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Does Superdrug or anyone have any leaflets about this? The ASA will take notice of that sort of thing, as they have with the Vega tests

  39. Nick Bland said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I liked the sideburns, but I also have proud face furniture. I liked Julia Bradbury’s hair more though.

  40. Sarah_D said,

    February 18, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Face furniture, love it!

  41. The Biologista said,

    February 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    “If you have ever felt jaded or below par, without being able to identify what is wrong with you, food sensitivity or intolerance could be a contributing factor. The Kymatika K-Test is a new, non-invasive test that is the culmination of three years of rese”

    What is this, the Candlejack meme? Or just a half-assed websi

  42. vertigo93 said,

    February 18, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    @Julia:

    “Worthless electrodiagnostic devices like the K-Test have been with us for fifty years now”

    Quite – surely the Scientologists are up for a lawsuit, what with the K-Test infringing their E-Meter (and of course being just as…*cough*… effective)!

  43. lyndonius said,

    February 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I wonder if there’s any similarity between the K-test device and the $cientology E-meter?

  44. vertigo93 said,

    February 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    They’re both boxes with important looking wires protruding from them?

  45. Rich said,

    February 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I haven’t been able to find a picture of K-Test but I’ve seen something that sounds similar. Essentially it measured the customer’s electrical resistance, took the electrical noise that appeared at the electrodes and did a FFT analysis of it, displaying the frequency bands on a screen. It wasn’t real-time but accumulated the numbers for a short time then displayed a bar graph. Had it been real-time then even the most foolish would have noticed that the values changed constantly. The “therapist” identified certain frequencies with certain foods.

    You could duplicate this on your PC with a bit of home-brew software and a piece of wire into the sound socket. It may even make you feel better!

  46. Steve Page said,

    February 18, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Who ate all the pies? :)

  47. Andy Graham said,

    February 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I note that, in addition to mentioning the lack of scientific evidence, Watchdog’s arguments against the K-Test include an amount of “expert” worship (i.e. experts think this is crap/important/dangerous/morally wrong, so should you). This was disappointing. As was their failure to point out that diagnosing digestive misfunction through your fingers is just plain weird. Well it is.

    As an aside, I also sport facial topiary but I was impressed to see such well developed hedging on a professional man.

  48. biggerpills said,

    February 18, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    An acquaintance of mine swears by sublingual testing, which told her she had a gluten intolerance. She now denies herself cake. Bwahahaha.

  49. Ennui said,

    February 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I agree with no. 47.

    The report didn’t really go for the jugular, and neither did Ben.

    It was called pseudoscience without getting into the nitty-gritty of it.

    Why no mention or critique of the “sequences” they said were being beamed into the body?

  50. pseudomonas said,

    February 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I disagree – they showed it being tested multiple times with a (admittedly small) sample of people. If it’s entirely non-replicable then it doesn’t work.

    There’s no need getting into whether their weird theoretical justifications make sense or not – empirically, it just doesn’t produce useful results.

  51. yobim57 said,

    February 18, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    The K-test is not only being promoted on-line by other “health” sites, such as this one: www.medick.com/newsletter/2007-12/is-food-intolerance-slowing-you-down. (Note that the “How does it work?” topic, under the chart of symptoms, doesn’t actually tell you how it works ie the mechanism).

    In a Google search, I noticed a result for the Southern Railway site. They have a “DIY Medicine” feature (www.southernrailway.com/main.php?page_id=505) where they discuss this test, along with other self-diagnostic methods.

    I used their contact form to alert them to the dubious (I’m being kind there) nature of this device and of the ill-advisedness of recommending such things without evaluating them. I informed them of the Watch Dog item and referred them to this blog.

  52. lawrabbit said,

    February 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    It might be worth saving all files from web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.kymatika.com/ as they can always ask archive.org to take them down or delete them.

  53. T said,

    February 18, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Ah yes I saw this…it reminded me of the machine that sciencetologists use. I just can’t believe that they can get away with this it’s so blatantly rubbish.
    Was that a real nurse?

  54. Mikebo said,

    February 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    On the medick.com site, linked to in comment 51, the operation of the machine is described as follows:

    “Based on forensic science…the Kymatika K-Test measures the change in the body’s resting voltage when it is stimulated with electromagnetic waves corresponding to the molecular fingerprint…”

    Now I understand! EM waves and food sensitivity, it was so obvious!

  55. Dr Aust said,

    February 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    “Electromagnetic waves”, eh?

    Can we assume use of the device is contraindicated for those convinced they are electrosensitive?

  56. julie oakley said,

    February 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Do tell, is hair testing for food intolerances also a load of woo? A family member spent a small fortune sending samples of their three children’s hair to the US to be given the most complicated different dietary sheets for each of them. I was very cynical about it at the time (especially as having them round for lunch was a bleedin’ nightmare) but as a scientific simpleton I need one of the cleverer readers or Ben to tell me where/how to find out whether these hair tests have any merit.

  57. HolfordWatch said,

    February 18, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    #56, Julie Oakley – See: Pulling my hair out.

    Woo of the finest.

  58. julie oakley said,

    February 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks very much. HolfordWatch – crikey all that money wasted. Good news is I can now give them all the same meal and tell them to take it or leave it.

  59. P.W.Mitchell said,

    February 18, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Ben, you asked for some advice on whether to publish emails you receive. For the past few years I have subscribed to medialens.org – a small group of journalists who critically appraise the media in the UK. They have a great deal of experience in dealing with angry media corporations. They publish their correspondence and encourage readers to write to those who might make a difference. They are always thoughtful and polite. I feel that they might be able to offer you some good advice on how to handle some of the problems that the LBC incident has brought up. All the best, Paul

  60. helenh said,

    February 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Re ‘Ben’s water taps and an electrical socket”
    That segment was filmed in a teaching laboratory of a medical school in London. It’s a real lab. That’s what they look like.
    I’m sorry it didn’t look enough like the Tardis for you. I’ll have a word with them.

    hmm. I say it’s still FAR TOO TIDY to be a real lab. but teaching labs do *probably* count as real labs. people just never stay put in them long enough for entropy to really wreak havoc.

  61. FishNChimps said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Never mind the woo gadgets, when’s someone going to invent a plug-in Julia Bradbury? I’d buy one.

    Thanks for the linky BTW, Doctor.

  62. stephenray said,

    February 18, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    ‘Weirdly’ hot?

    Wow, that’s harsh. I suppose with all those nubile nurses rushing about in hospital you have a whole different set of criteria to your audience…

    ;0)

  63. brainduck said,

    February 19, 2009 at 2:44 am

    I have successfully downloaded the LBC clip, however it took about 20 hours all-in (try using this – will stil time out a few times, but keeps stuff running in background across multiple sessions: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/201).
    Not really worth the effort, except perhaps as a cure for hiccups.

    brainquack at gmail dot com

  64. Paulsc said,

    February 19, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Re: JamesM (34)

    I am glad to hear that it was a genuine laboratory. I wouldn’t want Ben to be party to the visual embellishments that he, correctly, mocks when perpetrated by others. It did amuse me though that he was interviewed in a laboratory, presumably in an attempt to add gravitas to his comments, and that we were subjected to bizarre shots featuring mundane pieces of equipment. Although I did find these shots amusing, I did feel that they detracted from Ben’s message which, incidentally, appeared to me to be heavily edited.

  65. JamesM said,

    February 19, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I suppose if you are going to set up people for some expert worship in a tidy (and most empty) teaching lab, the director is likely to take some liberties to make it look ‘sciencey’. The presenters probably have little say over how it is filmed and edited. You can’t get around the ignorant media preconception of what science ‘is’ (clearly plug sockets and rubber hoses this week).

    It would have been far better to take said device to the school electronics workshop, have the engineers (technically quite good, but not ‘experts’ to the media) take the lid off and explain to the audience (and the experts) why it can’t possibly do what it is claimed.

    But then you’ve got to get your hands on one, and it probably wouldn’t make ‘good TV’ anyway.

  66. mrstrellis said,

    February 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I’m fondly disposed towards the K-test because I once got a chocolate lollipop out of it. Listen. My colleague informed me one afternoon that she was leaving early to go to Superdrug for a food intolerance test. I had a look at the site and told her that she would be wasting her money and that she’d be much better off going to her GP with any niggling health concerns (she eventually did and was diagnosed with a hormonal disorder). She was so pleased to have saved the £50 or whatever it was that the next day, she bought me a chocolate lollipop.

  67. gazza said,

    February 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t think this piece of woo is the same as the ‘K test’ nonsense highlighted by Ben – but it looks to be a kissing cousin at the very least;

    www.allergytest.co.uk/whatisallergy.aspx

    Obviously, woo allergy tests are going to be the big thing this year!

  68. droid said,

    February 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I wrote to Superdrug Customer Relations about their offering of the K-Test and received the following in reply:

    ——————————
    Dear Ian,

    Thank you for your patience.

    We have received correspondence from the Buyer concerned.

    Every product or service that Superdrug offers its customers goes through a rigorous quality control process before the decision is taken to stock it.

    Kymatika provided us with evidence and testimonials from an extensive trial carried out using over 500 people. We have also been provided with subsequent studies as they’ve been completed.

    750 people have been tested over the last year and they have received only 2 complaints about the service.

    I hope this information helps.

    Kind Regards,

    Superdrug Customer Relations

    ——————————

    Amazing how I guessed the gist of the reply before it even landed in my Inbox….

    Ian

    (my first post on this excellent site)

  69. John said,

    February 19, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    On the upside these quacks are managing to keep the software enginers somewhere they can do very little harm.

    You wouldn’t want these guys working on aviation or nuclear power applications would you.

    Best if they stick to quackery and parting fools from their money (apologies to the contributors who shelled out for this drivel but the very fact you post here means YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER).

    Maybe the product is crap and gives wildly disparate results because food intolerance is a moveable feast.

  70. cebolla said,

    February 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Ben, Bradbury had you at ‘expert’. You were playing with your hair like a girl.
    She is hot though.

  71. Dr Aust said,

    February 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Re. post 66, there is a vast range of “Bio-electro-Woo” quack devices out there – K-test is just the latest example. You can read some of the history here.

    For easily the most flamboyant of the modern electro-woo con-men, see Ben’s column from last Summer on Bill Nelson aka Desiree Dubounet (sic), who you can also catch in the flesh on Canadian TV here – has to be seen to be believed, BTW.

  72. David Jones said,

    February 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    1. “Kymatika provided us with evidence and testimonials from an extensive trial carried out using over 500 people” – is it reasonable to call a trial of this size (~500) “extensive”?

    2. Kymatika website is currently experience. The response is “Service Unavailable”. Not sure if this is a web server error or a press release though :)

  73. David Jones said,

    February 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Last comment should have read “experiencing problems”. I tried to make a link but it didn’t work out. www.kymatika.com/kymatika-k-test

  74. mikewhit said,

    February 20, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Ben, Sorry to hear Julia Bradbury’s in the doo-doo … news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/7901764.stm .

    Must be your voodoo jinx effect !

  75. mikewhit said,

    February 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Wouldn’t a better test have been to take people with known diagnosed a) intolerance(s) and perhaps b) allergies to see if it spotted them.

  76. Dave The Drummer said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Anyone know why the podcast won’t download ?
    Or where I can get a copy of the audio ?
    Cheers. DtD.

  77. cumbrian said,

    February 21, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Speaking as one myself, I am horrified that pharmacists would buy into this rubbish. Watchdog should have sent along a coeliac patient to try it out – that would have sorted them.

  78. Matt of Clinical Research Land said,

    February 24, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Step right up, step right up! This reeks of snake oil and phrenology. I’m mildly surprised that they didn’t claim machine doesn’t test for disturbances in the ether. Once again, nonsense talk of “toxins”. Let’s see this compared to ELISA or RAST. These people are claiming that it can detect “imbalances” or other health problems. Sounds like a medical device to me. As such, it should be regulated under Directive 93/42/EEC. My UK associates – has the MHRA approved this as such? I highly doubt the FDA here in the states would ever this device to be marketed as such.

  79. krog said,

    March 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

    I’ve only just got round to listening to the LBC clip. Has anyone else realised that the LBC presenter Bill Buckley was once a presenter on the famous BBC consumer affairs programme (and odd-shaped vegetable showcase) That’s Life? I can’t help but think that this K-test would have been prime fodder for them.

  80. bf said,

    March 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Why not publish Jonathan Richards’ unpleasant emails? Just because he says they’re not for publication, doesn’t mean you have to agree. What’s he going to do – sue you for breach of copyright on his emails?!

    If he doesn’t want you to publish them, perhaps he shouldn’t send you them.

  81. Mary said,

    April 18, 2009 at 12:05 am

    The top of the list; how does a computer mobile phone or K-test and other devices based on new technology work: Its not spelt out how the components work and interact. The government used to say it did not know how mobile phones worked and what effect they have on us. Its gone on to use the HSE and the NRPB to allow manufactures to encourage us to buy the next toy. Call it another name and it becomes safe.. Or all in the mind if we find we might get sick on exposure. Its also all in the mind if we get better.

    I contacted all government departments and have been ignored.

    The MoD can close technology down:If it does not comply to BSI.(However the government is now challenging the MoD) BSI standards are being ignored poor measurement and understand.
    Governments letting industry do as it likes.
    Under the guise of security on one hand and the public wants; or thinks it wants.
    Trading Standard will not cause they have not the ability to measure it nor can they produce any experts. (The law has like to do with science and likewise the government, turning a blind eye with regard to real safety)

    The basic components in technology are the basis of
    RADAR and nuclear energy.
    Ion Drive systems are part of how it can effect the body`s cells. In both a helpful as well as a harmful way.

    Keely.net.com tried to bury this info that practitioners who used these biofeedback devices end up having strokes or heart attacks. Because long term use basically over cooks them.
    Its very debatable if the patient is helped long term either.

    As far as I can observe is the whole of computer technology perimintaly changes the natural polarity. On initial exposure the reverse polarity
    helps clean the body like de-polarisation. However even if we`ve not been using K-test our cells have been locked in the wrong polarity.

    Naturally the body reverses it being North/ South polarity:

    The basic component that makes computers and not only that non-lethal weapons has many names.
    “Reverse Polarity Motor” best describes it.
    They are set to produce Scalar Waves where the power is not confined to the immediate place.
    Dr Henry Lai said that Tasar Guns interfere with the T-wave in the heart resulting in heart attacks.
    What are Tasars just another version of a K-Test.
    If we start thinking in terms of that`s what technology is and that`s what we are playing with:
    If we think our mobile phone as a Tasar Gun and yes our computer is a Tasar Gun.

    Something might just get done.
    I am sure if some just might still reading this they might do a search on Dr Lai and Tasars.

    There was a British consultant used to combat Dr Lai`s concerns: Who said that “But Tasars are only Low Level Radiation”

    Low level radiation is confused with low powered:
    Like High Level Radiation must equate to high power. The MoD, industry and past governments have allowed science to be confusing.

    Low Level Radiation referrers to not only low frequency but nuclear radiation. It nothing to do with low power. The confusion about low power has come in part from misreading the meter in the wrong phase or polarity. Modern technology works on REVERSE POLARITY. Hence power should be read from the South not the North….

    The power output of your mobile phone might be 4 Herts if read on the North Scale. Reversing the phase or polarity to the South Changes the output to non-hertz and that energy at a particle level moves very fast; not slow as some experts think low frequency works on.
    If the polarity was set to a North polarity the speed of particles might be slower.

    However computer technology works on a multi phase system and “Standing Wave” The Scalar/non-linear
    allows the energy to not decay over any distance and The MoD found this as reported in the times online.

    We have reached a very dangerous situation:
    The legislations there… Except the government and industry are not going to act or tell us what their doing.

    BBC Horizon GOD and the Brain with Michael Persinger: Applying currents to peoples brains.
    The Secret KGB Paranormal Files Narr by Roger Moore DVD 1999

    Some of this appeared in Horizon in 1995

    The Secret KGB Paranormal Files if your can find the original ITV version has a few extra bits in it. In the 1930`s the Navy Russian used microwaves to talk to voleenters at the bottom of the sea.

    Later in the 1960`s the US government was concerned about the Russians using microwaves to listen into their conversation in the Embassy in Moscow.

    They used various experts to find how much radiation the Embassy staff were exposed too.
    Included one British expert Alf Riggs (Whose a dowser and electrical engineer)

    He did not workout that in fact the Russians were generating their microwaves in the reverse polarity
    what might appeared to be microwave; was low frequency…. (But not low frequency) The output was set lower on the oscilloscope if misread from the North polarity. So the UK and USA experts only thought it was low level radiation.

    Despite this… It seems no one could work out the effects on staff through mathematics. These staff were getting head cancers.

    I would of thought a Hospital Radiation expert might of been brought in…?
    Instead the words we don`t know or, better still keep echoing around its all in the mind a placebo effect. Sue Blackmoore to name a few.

    That`s burnt my skin and still is; never mind madam
    we will not help only laugh at you as we can`t see or feel it.. Look at the whole street no one else knows and that`s the way we like it.

    In recent years we`ve had several cases related to hospital X-ray departments where patients have been over exposed to radiation treatments for cancer. Its obvious there is something wrong with the understanding of what that technology is and how to calculate and measure.

    I`ve not found an adequate explanation as to what maths is supposed to be applied to new technology
    Its much more powerful than loglinear…
    As scalar waves are non-linear they are thought to be 4X`s the power of linear.(BIG Questions)
    But if they don`t decay over distance that answer has to be a load of rubbish.

    The Earth only occasionally produces scalar waves having devices continually producing Scalar waves or Standing Wave.

    Noise Consultants and a electronics expert have not a clue and they get very nasty.

    They hardly know how to wire a plug.
    They know nothing about Star Trek and quantum physics. The quantum Physics people say its theoretical science and not real.

    As its not real we shall forget it!
    The Nuclear industry has kept its secrets how that energy is made.. Its all made out of computer/Tesla
    systems with a very cheeky little number are all part of how wind power works really.
    fURTHER READING:
    Zeropoint Energy by Nick Cook
    The Field By Lynn Mctaggart

    I`ve personaly contact all UK government department
    these jobs worth`s don`t think it real.
    OR IT DOES NOT MEAN THEM MORE LIKE THE CASE.
    Our eye`s have been distracted on many falsehoods all to easily.

    In which we don`t wish to know technology is already manipulating us from top to bottom.
    Some people think they can heal with these devices.

    OUR POWER SYSTEMS ARE PRODUCING DIRTY ELECTRICITY
    AND ARE OVER POWERED.
    THE ELECTRICITY COMPANIES HAVE NO EQUIPMENT TO MEASURE IT. BESIDES THE GOVERNMENTS TOLD THEM NEW TECHNOLOGY (WHAT SAFETY )

    SOME PEOPLE KNOW BUT NOT ENOUGH.
    POLITICAL IGORANCE IS GIVEING A RED LIGHT TO INDUSTRY TO USE NON-LEATHAL WEAPONS ON US AND DRESS IT UP AS NEW AND BRIGHT!

    IF WE SEE ITS ONLY IN THE MIND!

  82. Mary said,

    April 18, 2009 at 12:15 am

    SO IF SOMEONE CAN HELP AND PERHAPS BEN WOULD HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH ME.

    HE NEEDS AN ARTICLE ON HOW ENERGY REALLY WORKS WITH DIAGRAMS…???????

    IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT LAWS THERE ARE GOVERNMENT IGNORE LIKEWISE EXPERTS DO AS WELL.

  83. Mary said,

    April 20, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Dear Ben,

    I need help with this:

    asianvictimsassociation.ning.com/profiles/blogs/fw-white-house-dod-officials?xgs=1

  84. Mary said,

    April 27, 2009 at 2:32 am

    www.bsim.org.uk/healthcare_commission.htm
    The healthcare commission investigated here and little was done GP`s and maybe someone from the HSE
    they know evenless how a mobile phone works.
    Let alone a devices the interferes potentually with T waves in the heart.

  85. Severs said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Well, “Mary” certainly needs help. Do we start with her understanding of electricity generation, the concept of polarity, or english spelling and grammar?

    Sorry, that sounds too self-superior. after all, the closing comment from “Mary” is as follows: “IF WE SEE ITS ONLY IN THE MIND!”.

    Ben, I’m very concerned that you don’t have the ability to understand how energy works unless you have access to diagrams. Say it isn’t so?

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