Setting up camp in the healing field

July 3rd, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, brain gym, dna, very basic science, water | 3 Comments »

Setting up camp in the healing field

Ben Goldacre
Thursday July 3, 2003
The Guardian

· Doing a New Age Bad Science Glastonbury Special is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Which is not to say I’ve had a change of heart: within five minutes of entering the Healing Field last weekend, I was handed a copy of the “Avalon Rising” leaflet. Pay close attention: “Celtic in your DNA? Cutting edge information has established the possibility that a substrand in our DNA connects us through the energy grid to one of 12 sacred sites, stargates or electromagnetic vortexes to enable the vibrational rate of Mother Earth to be energetically stabilised. Glastonbury is one such site. Its guardians are the time travelling grail lines of Celtic/Gaelic Britain: you!” Pseudoscientists everywhere, please note how easy it is to come across like a white hippy racial supremacist when you splash around with big words you don’t understand.

· Brain Gym has struck a chord with many of you since we covered it last month. You might remember the jargon-heavy “educational kinesiologists” from California, with no peer-reviewed data to back up their grand claims for improving academic performance, who were being employed at considerable expense by UK local education authorities. I was moaning that teachers should be teaching our children how to spot this kind of pseudoscience, rather than peddling it. So I was heartened to receive frontline reports from science teachers of the fun they have teasing Brain Gym tutors visiting their schools.

· One was told that after watching telly your brain goes to sleep for eight hours: “Very precise about that, she was. But don’t worry, as long as you sit with your ankles crossed and make a funny shape with your hands this will ‘protect you from the electro-magnetic rays’. She was even kind enough to post me the handouts detailing the Pace [positive-active-clear-energetic] which ‘increases and balances electrical energy to the neocortex _ allowing reason rather than reaction (choice)’ and ‘increases polarity across cell membranes for more efficient thought processing’,” our source reports. My favourite exercise is Brain Buttons: “While holding the navel area with one hand, rub with the thumb and finger of other on hollow areas just below the collar bone on each side of the sternum.” Why? Because, you heartless cynics, “buttons above carotid artery supply fresh oxygenated blood to brain, helps lung/brain function … and brings attention to gravitational centre of body.”

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3 Responses

  1. Al said,

    January 24, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Though I’m sure you know it already, I should point out that kinesiology is a respectable field of scientific endeavour. However, the stuff that you mention in your article is, as you point out, bunk. It’s sometimes referred to as “applied kinesiology” and holds ideas that have been empirically refuted.

    The scientific version though is simply the study of human movement. See more at Wikipedia ( which also describes some of the bunk too under “applied kinesiology”.

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