Woo-Woo: When Real Life and Online Collide

David Gorski has a post called "Germ theory denialism: A major strain in “alt-med” thought" up at Science-Based Medicine which includes a section picking apart the woo of a naturopath I went to high school with. Several months ago, I realized what my then facebook friend was doing for a living, and I passed along the website link to my friend Thelma for her to look into. Here's what she wrote, all those months ago:

Naturopathic Woo Woo: We'll Take Your Magic Water and Raise Your "Super Conscience Mind" : Ya Ain't Usin Most of it Anyways

Thelma posted this awhile back on EDHF and has modified it some for reposting here:
We already know that homeopathy is magic water. Nothin in it but the pure-dee memory shaken up right. We know that's woolicious in its own right, but in and of itself, reckon it won't outright kill them misguided folks unless they're stupid enough to substitute the woo for real medicine. What about naturopathy, though?

Accordin to the
 NIH (right disappointin, too):

"Naturopathy, also called naturopathic medicine, is a whole medical system—one of the systems of healing and beliefs that have evolved over time in different cultures and parts of the world. Naturopathy is rooted in health care approaches that were popular in Europe, especially in Germany, in the 19th century, but it also includes therapies (both ancient and modern) from other traditions... Naturopathy aims to support the body's ability to heal itself through the use of dietary and lifestyle changes together with CAM therapies such as herbs, massage, and joint manipulation., the emphasis is on supporting health rather than combating disease."

Alrighty, so it's holistic, it developed over time and it uses woo along with diet and lifestyle changes. We're all down with diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health. No problem there. Massage is something we're all in favor of, as well. Makes a body feel good is what I'm sayin. You can align my chakras any time, as long as we know there ain't any such thing, ifn ya ken me.  And the point is to support folks who are already doin fine and dandy, not in helpin those who are already sick. Ya need to take that in and mind it carefully, is my fine point: 
"the emphasis is on supporting health rather than combating disease."

Alrighty, ya got yourself them folks who like the herbal remedies, and ain't we used em all. Mamma H is always throwing herbs at me. Usually to get me an altered consciousness, but hey, I ain't complainin. So, ifn someone wants to throw the mumbo jumbo woo at healthy yuppies with too much time and money on their hands, and give them some massages along with it, and ain't nobody sick and sufferin thinkin this woo is gonna cure what ails them, then I can live and let live.

Now, the NIH has this to say about naturopathy and it's worth heeding:

"Naturopathy focuses upon treatments considered "natural," but it is not without risk

Education and training in naturopathy vary widely. Ask about a practitioner's education and training, as well as any licensing or certification. 

Rigorous research on naturopathic medicine as a whole medical system  is taking place but is at an early stage." 

Accordin to the NIH, there are various practitioners. 

Ya got naturopathic physicians who get themselves a degree of "N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine)":
"Naturopathic physicians are educated and trained in a 4-year, graduate-level program at one of the four U.S. naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education."

Ya got "traditional naturopaths" who might not know crap about the human body and who ain't regulated noways-nohow:

"Education and training for these practitioners typically consists of correspondence courses, an apprenticeship, and/or self-teaching. Admission requirements for schools can range from none, to a high school diploma, to specific degrees and coursework. Programs vary in length and content. They are not accredited by agencies recognized for accreditation purposes by the U.S. Department of Education. Traditional naturopaths are not subject to licensing."

And then ya got your "licensed conventional medical providers" with a little somethin extra to provide their clients who like a little mumbo jumbo woo on the side.

Okay, now, ya got a feel for this yet? Ya might see a regular doc with some woo on the side. Ya might get one who's got four years of training and a ND degree and who is licensed and regulated. Or ya might get a self-taught or bought naturopath who couldn't tell you where your pancreas is let alone your metatarsal.
The NIH goes on to write about what you get for your money, cuz insurance sure as hell ain't payin for this shit. Maybe the massage. Maybe. And maybe if its your regular doc with a little woo on the side, but not the self-anointed quacks. Nope that's your hard earned money going right on out your pocket. Uh-huh is what I'm sayin.

"Dietary changes (for example, eating more whole and unprocessed foods)

Vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements
Herbal medicine 

Counseling and education on lifestyle changes
Hydrotherapy (for example, applying hot water, then cold water)
Manual and body-based therapies such as manipulation and mobilization

Exercise therapy

Mind-body therapies such as yoga and meditation — such as focusing attention or maintaining a specific posture — to suspend the stream of thoughts and relax the body and mind.
Some practitioners use other treatments as well."
Done bolded the woo for you.

To the main course for ya: say ya wanted to be a naturopath and help healthy folks part with their hard earned money, but ya don't want to go with the ND or the conventional doctor thing, but ya want some
respectability, somethin ta put after your name that gives ya an air of legitimacy. Well, here's something interestin for readers to know. According to 
Education-Portal.com, "No Ph.D. programs in naturopathy currently exist."

Let's say, then, that you've got your hopes pinned on that ND. Thelma's done some diggin, since this is of some fair import. According to the Association of Accredited Naturpathic Medical Colleges, there are 
six places in North America you can get an ND degree. And you can go to Clayton College of Natural Medicine to get yourself a doctorate of education in holistic health and wellness.  Clayton's also got some master's degrees, too.

As for licensing, the 
American Naturopathic Medical Association (can I say I almost did a Jon Stewart) has been around since 1981 and says it's America's largest and oldest and has 4000 members; ain't licensing or accreditation. Ya can go through the licensing with the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board. Or ya can skip it altogether, I reckon, since some states ain't payin no never mind and ain't got no laws governin the woo sellers.

Alrighty then, we've had a whirlwind tour of naturopathy and given you some ideas of what we mean when we talk about naturopathy and what's woo in it and what's not. But that was just the beginning, because it turns out that what the NIH thinks is going on and what the accredited colleges have going on are a damn site different than what you can find boots on the ground. Kim sent me a website, that's it, that's all, and asked me to look at it. See what I thought. See if there wasn't something I wanted to explore while I was alone and bored. I want ya to know, folks, ifn ya ain't figured it out yet, that Thelma and boredom are a powerfully dangerous combination, sort of on the same level with Kim with time on her hands. Ya get the two of us experiencing those states at the same time and woo-ey are ya in for a world of hurt if you get crossways with us, is what I'm sayin.

This here website she passed along is a  couple of 
naturopathic practioners' website. Now, what immediately caught my eye as I got to roamin this site is this here bit: the page on services. Now, remember how the NIH said it was about healthy folks, right, not the fightin of sickness? Well, right here we see these folks going well past those bounds and are offering natural remedies for things like ALS, HIV, MS, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases.

Are ya kiddin me? Ya go right on and put your lives, ifn ya got life-threatenin diseases, in the hands of folks who think the magic water is real, as these folks do and who are gonna diagnose ya, I kid ya not with things like the 
Quantum SCIO and QXCI. Now, you seriously have to go read these two links, I am for reals serious with this, Thelma is. Go and read these two sites and sit and ponder on anyone believin such woo. Ya don't even need to be tipsy to laugh your ass off, either. Comedic relief right there in them two pages is what I am sayin.  It gets even richer on the website itself: "The Quantum is reading your Super-Conscience mind. 90% of your Super conscience mind is not being used."

Nosirreee bob's your uncle, I can all but guarantee 
that ain't happenin on any level whatsoever. The doohickey ain't doin no such thing. Super-conscience mind with a little bit of myth about the 10% of your mind. Now, Thelma would usually say dumbass at this point, but we're softer, gentler, but I don't even reckon this fella is  misguided or with all the tools he needs. Because ifn he were equipped with all the cosmos-given tools, he'd know better. He'd see. But, nope, don't work that way none, I reckon, cuz the site is filled with all sorts of the absolute nonsensical, like the whole idea of electrodermal screening.

It gets better, or worse dependin on your frame of mind. In addition to the body scan and the screening doohickey, they've got a pricy 
memory program to fix everyone of everything. Now, this one is mighty interestin. Of course, the problem is ya ain't usin that 90 percent of your super conscience mind, ya know, so I guess ya go to this program after the scan tells ya what ya need to know about all your issues, like your "brain balances" and your "emotional balances" and every last thing that done ever gone wrong: "The information given is reading information from your entire lifetime. If you have toxins from childhood vaccination shot, they will be detected. If you lived in a house that had or has asbestos, it will be detected etc etc…. Also if you have had an emotional trauma that is hindering your health, that will also be detected."

So what do ya get for partin with a huge chunk of your change (coulda bought yourself a nice new flatscreen tv is what I'm sayin and season three of MacGyver)?

Well, this here memory program is gonna fix ya up. According to the website, "
If you are having a hard time staying focused and on task then this program is for you."

Well, who ain't, now that we know we is only usin so little of our mind, right? What's the program gonna do for me, "doc"?

This program targets the timing circuits in the brain which send impulses for all motor and mental activities."

Oh, hell's bells, that's gotta be why the emperor and I been a little off on our timin, if ya ken me. Tell me more, ya naturopathic doctors who can scan my electricity and know ever livin thing about me. And to think them real medical doctors have them CT scans and MRIs. Shoo-ey.

"There are programs in the brain that make sure that all impulses go to the appropriate muscles at the appropriate time for different functions When these timing circuits are not hitting properly some muscles might move to early, some too late or some not at all."

I am pure-dee amazed at what these folks know! Programs in the brain? We is computer programs gone glitchy, apparently. Not hittin what properly? Where is these programs? These timing circuits?

In other words, these timing circuits are essential for coordination."

I wonder ifn they is talkin bout the cerebellum? Wonder what that's got to do with memory?

The Memory Works program has shown to improve confidence, focus, concentration, memory, academic achievement, mental clarity, social interaction, maturity, musical ability, athletic performance, rhythm and motor skills."

Shoo-ey, that is amazin! It does everythin but say it'll fix your bedroom problems! Mayhap that's the rhythm?

"The one commone thread for all of the areas listed above is that they are based on timing."

Well, I ain't right certain I see how timin is to blame for everythin up there, although I reckon if your timin's off in the bedroom, it might impact your confidence and your concentration. Maybe.

"The timing comes from the timing relationship between the brain and the body."

Sure, sure, Thelma hears you. Right. What I'm tryin to wrap my head around right now is we got two guys claimin to have ND degrees that done took four years to earn on top of their other degrees that don't look like they were complete bunk, although one fella shares the same master's degree that Dana Ullman has, so mayhaps the public health master's ain't a real winner for creatin critical thinkers. Tell me more, boys.

Improving that circuit or timing can only improve any area that depends upon the accuracy of that timing."

Thelma is thinkin that after readin the body scan page and this one, folks gonna need somethin to help improve their mental clarity is what I'm sayin. Well, fellas, bring it home for me.

The Whole Body Healing Center has personally witnessed improvements with young people who had been labeled ADD and/or ADHD and has seen the benefits of the program when used to increase athletic performance and concentration. The program has also been used with autistic children as well."

And that's what ya get for a good sized flat screen tv. Ya get 12 office visits. Mayhaps some of their Memory Works pills or do ya have to pay for that separate? What about the scan? Is that included? Whatch gonna do in them 12 sessions? Notice how they don't tell ya?  And there at the end is, I reckon, the gold nugget. Not only are these folks goin beyond the scope of what the NIH says is naturopathy by dealin with seriously sick people who need real doctors and real medicine, they are preyin on the parents of kids with ADD and autism. Promisin shit they cain't deliver. It's alright, though, they gots their disclaimer:

Information on this web site is not intended to replace any medical treatment prescribed by your physician.
For those with chronic medical problems or taking a regularly prescribed medication, please consult your physician."   

Now, I don't know how Kim finds some of the woo she does, but I know she often finds more than she's got time to debunk. And I can reckon I understand, regardless of how she came across it, why she'd think there was lots to deal with here and why she'd pass this along to me. Kim's a fairly blunt gal, but it's hard to beat Thelma and Louise for comin straight to the point (and Louise will be home tomorrow, I now know, along with Mamma H and her new husband-- that's right, Mamma done hooked up in Vegas. Louise says he's so wrinkled she's not sure he can see a thing).

Ullman is bad enough, but he sticks to the magic water and near as we can tell he leaves the parents of autistic and ADD children alone. This, though, is woo that makes Ullman look easy on the eyes. And Thelma didn't delve that deep into this place. This was just the tip of the woo they are pushin and lining their pockets with.

These folks here ought to be ashamed is what I'm sayin.


Anonymous said...

Or you can just do what I did: Visit Thunderwood College (online), plug in the degree you want, and voila! You're a naturopath! I even have a diploma that says I am "a Doctor of Sciences in Naturopathy."

If not for these pesky ethics an' such, I could make me some easy money. Like the man said, "There's a dumbass born every minute."

KWombles said...

Yeah, I've gotten one of those, too. :-)

David said...

"We already know that homeopathy is magic water."
I disagree: Magic is a field of ongoing inquiry and debate. Also, the effectiveness of certain forms of "magic" is not disputed. "Water memory" is just pseudoscientific jabberwocky.

KWombles said...

Yeah, you can disagree, but neither Thelma nor I mean there's anything magical about the water; it's straight up sarcasm because it's just water and it isn't doing anything that water doesn't do. The placebo effect may make folks believe they're getting better, but that's about as magical as it gets.

And, on an anti-woo site, contending that there might be something to magic without offering substantive evidence that it's anything other than sleight of hand and the magician using the ability of people to be misled by illusions, well, really?

Some people would say that intelligent design and creationism are fields "of ongoing inquiry and debate." Doesn't mean it isn't complete and utter bs, though. After all, we know the AoAers think the vaccine-injury cause of autism is ongoing, and certainly their crackpot researchers are studying it, but again, it doesn't mean it's not utter bs.

Roger Kulp said...

I was vaguely aware AIDS denialists, a big topic in the comments at ORACs post yesterday,but the bigger picture of germ theory denialism was something I really wasn't all that aware of.It makes perfect sense that these people are also antivaxers,and that sites like whale.to have pages and pages devoted to the this crap.It all makes a lot more sense now.These people are even wackier than I thought,I now realize more than ever that you can't reach these people.

This heres some powerful stupid.