You need a highly refined bullshit detector these days to negotiate the obstacle course of "new age", "alternative", pseudo-scientific claptrap that professional hucksters and well-meaning dupes throw all over the landscape.
In his book The Devil's Chaplain, Richard Dawkins has gathered together some examples that are real gems. They provide a little peek into that magical world, inhabited by many of our fellow citizens, where scientific language, new age hot air, and meaningless but superficially impressive terms are so smoothly blended that bullshit often easily passes for truth.
Well, sometimes the blending isn't all that smooth...
Conduits of Velocity and Energy?
In a lecture on 'Afrocentric healing', the psychiatrist Patricia Newton said that traditional healers
"... are able to tap that other realm of negative entropy - that superquantum velocity and frequency of electromagnetic energy and bring them as conduits down to our level. It's not magic. It's not mumbo-jumbo. You will see the dawn of the twenty-first century, the new medical quantum physics really distributing these energies and what they are doing."
Dawkins weighs in:
"Sorry, mumbo-jumbo is precisely what it is. Not African mumbo-jumbo, but pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, even down to the trademark misuse of 'energy'. It is also religion, masquerading as science in a cloying love-fest of bogus convergence."
Want more? His book's a very good read and I recommend it. Also by Dawkins: The God Delusion.
An Apple a Day
While we're on the subject of hucksterism triumphing over credulity: Did you know that vitamin and "supplement" sales are a mega-million dollar industry in the USA? We're talking about serious money here.
Reading all the sales and marketing hype surrounding these "essentials" makes me wonder how I even muster the energy to roll out of bed in the morning without them.
Golly, how in the world did people managed to live to reproductive age before all this stuff was available? For that matter, why aren't most of the people in the world staggering around in a vitamin deficient daze? How can they function? You'd think they'd be so weak and sick they could barely walk.
Fly Away! Fly Away!
Millions of Americans worried about catching a cold or the flu (eg. on an airline flight) take "Airborne", which they can conveniently purchase at their local drug stores and supermarkets. The manufacturers of Airborne have such faith in the credulity of their customers that they proudly trumpet the "fact" that Airborne was "Invented by an elementary school teacher". Wow, that's proof enough in my book that the stuff works! As any high school student can tell you, most of the significant advances in medicine during the 20th century were made in home labs by schoolteachers...