Monday, May 20, 2013

Liveblogging of quackassery! Part 1

I live in one of the lands of rampant woo. One of the things I do weekly happens to take place in a facility that also rents to purveyors of bullshit. We also have at least 1 monthly paper dedicated, apparently, to utter nonsense. Apparently the faces I make when reading this crap are hilarious, so I am going to read these...alternate views on reality and post my reactions to them. Expect profanity and gross simplification of science, as my immediate reaction tends towards "explaining to someone who hasn't had a science class in over a decade".
Today I am going to be liveblogging the May issue of "Natural Awakenings" (subtitled HEALTHY LIVING HEALTHY PLANET). The cover promises that I can go lean and green on a bike, which probably has some credibility. It also tells me we now know how to age gracefully (as opposed to clumsily? Does this mean 'look young forever'? I've got that one down...) and it offers a 'natural, gentle cleanse' for spring detox. I think that has to do with a weird diet and probably pooping.

I open it up. WOW THERE ARE A LOT OF ADS. I might make a list of advertisers for my own personal use, businesses to be wary of supporting. The first page is a full page ad for a dentist, Dental Designs who appears to not take insurance, but they do take credit cards. Very important to make sure your card will cover your...full service, mercury free dentistry. Yep, they are a mercury free office with an amalgam removal protocol! Because your fillings are giving your nephew teh autisms. Or are going to give you dementia. Or something. THEY ARE TOXIC, that's the important thing to know. They're also a latex free office, which is actually important for some people, but I just can't get past the filling removal thing. They're also making a very big thing about their "advanced cosmetic dentistry" which is, again, nice I guess. Bet this guy opposes fluoridation-gotta get those nice expensive amalgam free fillings into as many teeth as possible.

Next page: letter from publisher. There's a picture of him. Ohmigosh. I just won hipster bingo. He's got that "I'm a lumberjack, but greener" look going on. Apparently this month is on "women's wellness", hence...anti aging? Because only women get old? Oh I see, men can 'learn something'. We're all going to learn to nurture our inner beings with this issue. But I don't want my inner being to get out =( It can languish in a cage of autism & I'm cool with that. He also plugs for the advertisers, obviously-they're experts on green living and health and wellness. What is this wellness thing? I mean, in theory it should be just a word but it's a quack flag...

OH WOW this dental ad, for Aesthetic Dentistry totally puts the other one to shame as far as advertisement of bullshit goes. They're all "yay nature...btw porcelain veneers", which, while not exactly quacky, is hypocritical. I suppose it's ok to augment your natural smiling smile as long as it has no toxins. Or fluoride. Bet these folks are against fluoride too. They're a holistic dentist, you see. Does that mean they look at the whole...jaw? mouth? face? skull? patient? bank account? I don't even know. They're a top dentist according to Portland Monthly Magazine, which is an appeal to popularity if I've ever seen one. Apparently these folks also remove your mercury fillings (mercury! toxins!) and do metal free tooth restoration in just one visit! So. Um. I am unsure if there's anything you can put in your mouth that's as strong as teeth other than metal. Or diamonds, which I don't want in my mouth for many many reasons. I'm not a dental nerd, but just seems unlikely. They use bioidentical dentistry, which is written up on quackwatch as a big steaming pile. They have a fancy name and equipment for it, though, so it must be SCIENCE.  I'm also unsure what this Nu Calm is. It says natural sleep sedation. Sounds unlikely. Their website is not changing this assessment. Apparently snoring and sleep apnea are also within the purview of this dental practice. I'm pretty sure that's not actually how it works...

Wow. This is more painful than I'd expected. Imagine if I was really digging deep, eh?

Next page is just table and content, a Habitat for Humanity ad, and a small ad for one of the many opticians in town. Ok. Whew. Can breathe a bit.

Page 7 is more table of contents, how to advertise...and yet another mercury free dentist who will remove your amalgams safely! Holy shit Portland, maybe if we fluoridated our water like sensible people we wouldn't need so many damn dentists. AAdvanced Dental not only will help you demercuryfy yourself (because apparently we have a toxicity issue?), they also use low radiation digital x rays-there are things about this that sound not right, somehow, probably because x rays by definition are radioactive-and they will even coordinate with natural health professionals! Oh boy! The fine print is nice and not eyebrow raising at alllll, either: their healthy office environment has purified air, because all that natural outside shit? No thank you. They offer 'immune system support' as part of their healthy office environment but that doesn't even make any damn sense. Are spare antibodies just floating around to give you a hand? This one does take insurance, but also wants you to know about their interest free financing. Also that they use lasers to find caries and on the gums. Cuz lasers are SCIENCE.

Oh boy, the next page is newsbriefs...which look to be more ads to me. There's a new chiropractor at a place, replacing one who chiropractic on animals. Oh my god no. Don't do that. They can't consent to that shit. Apparently New Dude "integrates therapies" (don't they all?) and treating standard musculoskeletal pain is listed rather like an afterthought. Post surgical scar tissue removal? Really?

Beneath that is an ad for sunglasses-apparently they can prevent crow's feet. Ohkaythen. And next to all this? The community college wants to help you start a career in holistic health! Oh yay! See the whole wallet! Er, patient. An online herbalism program? I'm sorry, I just can't trust any health professional who got their certification online, no matter how much of me they see. That sounded wrong. But. Yeah.

Turn the page...more ads...I mean community I mean ads. This new yoga instructor who is also a Five Bodies Therapist (this is a new one on me. But apparently we all have five bodies we need to work with for healing? I wonder where I am storing the other 4) calls herself an integrative therapist and holds planetary tea parties. This is another new one to me. Do the planets have a tea preference?

Beneath that is an ad for a class I would actually consider attending if it wasn't in Bullshit Monthly. It's a Pilates & Ballet Barre workout, which doesn't have any magic powers and is exactly the kind of thing that benefits me, except if it's surrounded by so much bullshit in advertising, how do I know it isn't full of unadvertised nonsense ideas?

The sidebar of this page is letting me know about one of many acupuncture/massage/chiropractic clinics in town that does "pain, injury management, and more". I am not sure what "more" entails, since there's not any other appropriate scope for those things. And then? Oh god.

Beneath that is an ad for Quantum Touch workshops. Manipulate your Life Force Energy. As I recall these workshops are obscenely expensive, and the word "touch" is misleading, as is the word "quantum". I can't bring myself to open the URL posted on the ad. But it's

This just keeps getting better! The next page is also ads, er, newsbriefs, and a big ad on the side as well. Let's start with the ad. It's for Ahara Rasa Ayurvedic Centre, which is the first Ayurvedic center in my city & the first supply store in the Northwest. Horray? They offer, in addition to Ayurveda (which is a traditional Indian system, and therefore white people like it because of the Secret Eastern Wisdom trope), acupuncture (other Secret Eastern Wisdom), yoga (more Secret Eastern Wisdom...), massage, and cranialsacral therapy (homegrown bullshit). Their ad is littered with "holistic" and "wellness: and herbs, oh my. They also advertise prenatal and postpartum specialists, which worries me because a growing fetus does not need your veta, pitta, and kapha to be balanced. They need you to eat damn food and be getting really real prenatal care.

You know how sometimes ads don't sound quacky, per se? But they have dogwhistle words that are highly associated with woo? That's what's going on in one of the "newsbriefs". On the surface, a couple's workshop to get past combative dynamics before they come habit sounds pretty sound. Then you read closer: it's called Creating Mindful Relationships, which could go either way. The therapist is going to bring "freshness and purpose" to your relationship. Purpose? Ummm...keep reading..ENHANCE PRESENCE AND *RAISE THE VIBRATION*. WHAT? Raise. The. Vibration. No. That doesn't mean anything, or if it does, it doesn't mean anything people tend to do in a group session with a therapist present. Raise the vibration at home, if that's your thing, and if you need couple's counseling go to someone who can reality.

The last ad on page 10 is where I am going to stop for now. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry or shake my head. It's for a workshop "Communing with your Moon Cycle". People who menstruate, learn to love your period! Tantric Yoginis and Taoists and other Ancient Wise People knew the mystic secrets of bleeding! It's not a curse! Don't take Midol, celebrate dammit! I don't care, K, that you have endometriosis that makes you want to die, you just aren't in touch enough with your moon cycle! There's a yoga teacher happy to teach you how to love it! Just give her money and this lady will teach you how to not cramp and how to unleash the potential of your womb! Pay attention to your girlbits and they won't cramp and demand attention! This magic--er, ancient wisdom--uses aromatherapy (smells nice, does not actually do jack for the addressed issues) and energetic sharing (pass your aura this way! Let's trade them for a while. Oh shit I got someone else's energetic arm) and yoga (do yoga! cure endometriosis! Maybe that gynecologist had been to one of these workshops?). Surely the small group bonding is just a small part of feeling better? It's the spendy workshop part that's actually effective.

Aromatherapy, yoga, and energetic sharing for cramps and PMS? Really?

Yeah ok I can't do any more. My reality based brain is hurting. More. Later. But ohmigawd WHY? The credulity, it burns...


Specs said...

"Do the planets have a tea preference?"

Well of course they do! Pluto (which my state still considers a planet) is a fan of Earl Grey, and Mercury loves anything lemon-flavored.

In all seriousness, though, I'm one of the people you'd probably classify as "woo," and even I find all of this ridiculous. From what you're describing, it seems like the magazine is by/for a specific type of woo people: the type a lot of the rest of us don't take seriously.

A lot of these types (who I'll just call super-woo, just 'cause), are the ones who will talk you ear off about chakras, qi, auras, etc., despite the fact that they only know the words from self-help books (usually written by white, upper-middle-class Americans), and don't actually know what they're talking about. They are, in the eyes of a lot of us woo-folks a hell of a lot less credible than people who actually go out and learn their shit before they start talking about it.

As for the "moon cycle" thing, I have a whole rant about that, but I'll spare you that and just leave this: moon =/= feminine. In fact in a lot of cultures moon = masculine.

And on that note, you get mad props for this post.

Tl; dr: This kind of woo gives normal woo a bad name. Also, K is awesome.

Chickenpig said...

I nearly laughed coffee out my nose. :) Woo! I wonder what that would do for my aura, or my chakras, or whatever.

Years ago I had a fibroid the size of a grapefruit. All the funky moon yoga in the world wouldn't help that. Thank the all mighty moon goddess for modern medicine and a good surgeon.

Austin Wallace said...

I found this post inspiring:

Like a tangelo
I unpeel my inner woo-
funky moon yoga

Neurodivergent K said...

Ok so that last spam comment is staying for sheer hilarity.