Dan's Data letters #167Publication date: 5 June 2006.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
WTF is this guy on?
Not only is he serious about this, but he has invested 30 years of his life and $250,000 into proving it.
It's not even grammatically correct.
He will give $10,000 to the first person to disprove his theory. I'll give him $10,000 to prove it.
You cannot, of course, disprove Gene's theories to him, any more than you can prove evolution to Kent Hovind. But Gene comes in handy as a kind of benchmark measure of nuttiness, both in the extremity-of-nuttiness department and in the creativity-of-nuttiness one. There've been many kooks who've scored as highly as him in both departments over the years, but the Web makes everyone in the world able to experience Gene, rather than having to do it the old-fashioned way and go to the right street corner to be handed some pamphlets.
It's also easier to make fun of Gene with a clear conscience, because he's so darn rude to people who think his theories are a wide, deep river of incomprehensibility. If he ruled the world, hundreds of millions of people would have to be imprisoned (maybe a lot more, actually - pretty much anyone with a university degree, "race-mixers", the list goes on), or possibly put to death (he really doesn't like teachers...). So you don't feel too bad about making fun of the probably-schizophrenic guy, in this case. Remember, just being ill doesn't preclude being a scumbag.
It should be noted, however, that from the point of view of a significant portion of the population of the "developed" world, there is no difference between the sort of thing Gene says and the sort of thing said by, say, the CSIRO or the Surgeon General of the United States.
One can easily identify these people, by showing them timecube.com and seeing what they think. If your favourite Alternative Thinker concurs with you that timecube.com makes no damn sense at all, you can go on to ask them how they reached that conclusion, and whether they feel like applying the same thought processes to the other things they believe.
Don't expect to make too much headway, though. As I've said on previous occasions, you cannot reason a man out of anything he didn't reason himself into.
And here comes a case in point.
I have quick questions for you easy to answer, on this subject you seem knowledgable.
1. I am looking for powerful magnets that does not cost me thousand of bucks, for a specific use. I practice Chi Kung and Tai Chi, and we use what is call the energy from the earth, the elements surrounding us. Naturally, earth's magnetic field has a lot to do with it.
Though, here's my question, I want to create a pad, something I can stand on, that has a strong magnetic field. There is a man out there supposingly doing this, and he seems never to age. And in this combination of Chi Kung - Enchanced Magnetic Field, there seems to be great logic.
I need your recommendations, if I enjoy it and my experiments work, I'll create for you a unique pad of that genre in exchange of my gratitude.
Knowledge is power. We just need not to over-abuse it. :)
I find it very difficult not to rise to the bait when people say things like this to me. Especially people called "Wisdom Myth".
Here's what I said to Mr Myth:
It would appear that you are not a regular reader of my site.
Point 1 (unlike Mr Myth, I'm actually going to follow this "1" with a "2"...): I don't know whether you want a big weak-ish field or lots of small strong fields, but it'll be easy enough for you to make the first by using big ferrite magnets from the back of old loudspeakers, and the second by using lots of little rare earth magnets which can be bought cheaply all over the place these days. You can also get big rare earth magnets, but a pad with a bunch of those stitched into it would be very difficult and dangerous to make, and probably impossible to stand on without losing a foot to a hideous crushing injury.
Point 2: I wouldn't go so far as to say I've never heard such bullshit in my life, because boy, have I heard a lot of it, but I will go so far as to say that I'd be happy to bet a kidney that your beliefs about this "energy" are completely wrong.
Regarding the Man Who Does Not Age: In other news, I have a pet dragon. It's fun flying around on his back.
Regarding the "great logic" to be found in qigong/magnetism, I believe you to be ignorant, delusional or both.
If your supposed powers amount to anything visible in the real world, I cordially invite you to have a go at winning James Randi's million dollars.
Yes, the money is real, and yes, you can win it if you can demonstrate that the "energy" you hold so dear even exists. You don't even have to show that it's useful for something. For instance, "spirit healers" who think they can sense auras could win the prize by demonstrating that they can sense them, not by proving that they can diagnose or treat anything.
You could attempt a similar test in the privacy of your own home, if it is your belief that you can detect the qi of other humans from a few inches away; you could try duplicating Emily Rosa's famous experiment in which she (aged nine at the time, but with some adult assistance...) discovered that 21 practitioners of "therapeutic touch" (during the practice of which the practitioner does not actually touch the patient, but instead claims to manipulate "bioenergetic fields", which are supposed to be quite easy for the practitioner to feel) could not detect a human hand, at close range, when they couldn't see it. They were all quite sure they could do this. Like a number of applicants for Randi's prize, they were not at all happy when they discovered their beliefs were false.
It is indeed easy to feel "qi", or whatever, if you know when you're supposed to be feeling it. "Seek and ye shall find" applies, (in a different way to the one the Bible intends), to all sorts of things when people undertake an unscientific attempt to support a belief without actually testing it for trueness. Seek evidence that planes didn't hit the WTC, or that aliens are abducting people all over the place, or that The Jew is using The Black as muscle, and you'll find it. Test those beliefs and they fall down pretty quickly.
It is not a personal failing to have arrived at an incorrect belief; you're probably pissed off at me about now, but I'm not actually trying to call you an evil idiot (it just tends to come out that way :-). If you're going to spend a significant portion of your life doing things based on a belief, though, it behooves you to test it. Not to make some smartass with a Web site happy, but to avoid wasting your life chasing phantoms.
Regarding "Knowledge is power" - do not assume that just knowing words that refer to physical concepts means you have knowledge about those concepts. People have been making the same sorts of mystical statements you make about magnetism since the first human discovered the first lodestone. Today, there are abundant flim-flam artists making the same 50,000-year-old claims, though admittedly often with the word "quantum" added in various places.
Those people often make a very good living. Don't be a sucker.
And, whaddaya know, I got a reply:
Actually, you are really grounded to your opinion, so am I.
This could turn into a spiritual debate, I agree. I am not shocked.
For that man in Tennessee, I got that info from page 124 of Kevin Trudeau's Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About.
"chi kung is similar to tai chi in that it is a series of movements that stimulate strenght, energy flow, increased energy and many other health benefits. There is a man from Tennessee who is in his sixties. He has the body and skin of an athlete in his thirties. No one would ever guess this man's age. One of the thing he does, which he believes is a major cause of his youthful appearance and incredible health, is chi kung ten minutes a day. Because the earth's magnetic energy is so much lower today than it was thousands of years ago, he does the simple movements (indeed they are) standing on very powerful magnets."
See, I see that belief a way of opening's someone mind and view the other possibilities ahead.
Maybe I am ignorant, maybe you are too. Heck are we all ignorant? This is what science cannot prove I guess.
But I do Tai Chi, I practice Chi Kung, and, there is no doubt I cured myself from many problems.
I had 9 knee surgeries, and each time they failed to fix the problem. This lasted 10 years. You may think I waste my time, but these useless unprovable shits that may make me look ignorant fixed the problems under 6 month. No more pain, no more arthritis, nada.
They told me (doctors) I had not much time left before those knees would actually fail me and that I would need a wheelchair to go on, this is how bad I was.
Now wether you believe the concept of energy or not, I do not really care. At first place, I was not here to put some philosophy into it, the only thing I might have needed to specify is that the man from tennessee is not immortal.
I do not pretend to have supernatural powers. But you cannot disagree that meditating unless you never been meditating, clears your mind, and you get to have a better judgment. I try things, I expiriment, I see if it works, if it does, I don't care, I don't feel the need of proving anything. But if it does, I ain't stopping there because Science tend to disagree to many things, and throughout the years, they're discrediting everyone, and all that, in their own failure to get proper conclusions, hail the word hypothesis.
My main quest here, was to get answers from someone like you, if there was recommendations I needed to follow, not to hurt my heatlh, or even cause death. I hear magnets can be very powerful and harm you. So I believed it would be wise, not ignorant, to ask you.
I plan on doing some kind of matress pad with the proper magnets. And practice chi kung on it and see if it works. I could go to that website you told me about, but never had the chance to look for such a useless website if you ask me :)
I was looking for a magnet that emits a large and strong (if necessary) energy field. without hurting me to a point I could physically harm myself and damage my body.
Looking for professional help, but I feel like the more I write, the more you quote, and the more we are wasting time trying to prove if God exist or not :P
Because I seem to enjoy wasting my time, I replied again:
I genuinely didn't see that one coming. I was expecting the I Ching or something.
Why in heaven's name should you, Mr Myth, take anybody's word for it that some unnamed dude somewhere has any particular qualities, when those qualities are amazing?
Who is that person? Has anybody ever interviewed him? How come nobody else in the world has noticed that standing on magnets keeps you young? People have been dicking around with the things for centuries, and all you've got to do is stand on them?
(Well, OK, there's Alex Chiu, but his magnets are rings, and they make you live forever - why bother with the mere life extension versions? Highly entertainingly, Kevin Trudeau endorses the Alex Chiu rings in his book. Did you not notice that, Mr Myth? Why not join the winning team?)
I suggest you think about what it would take for a claim to not be believed by you, provided it supports your other beliefs. What if this dude was supposed to be able to throw pickup trucks around like marbles, thanks to the power of qi? Would you believe that based on no evidence but the book?
I'm happy to hear your knees got better. Sometimes sick people do get better. They often decide that whatever they did before they got better must have been what did the trick. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're not, and science is the only way to tell the difference.
If the treatments you mention work as you say, it will be easy to prove. You describe a disease with well defined and readily measurable endpoints; there are no problems with patient reports being the only source of information, no need for placebo-controlled trials (which are very hard to do, for many "alternative medicine" practices); just find those intractable cases, treat them, write up your results, then fortune and glory are yours. You don't need to explain why it works. You just need to show that it does, and according to you that's easy.
It is not very hard to find people in the world who believe that "sorcerers" can steal penises with a handshake. The sorcerers are, then, often murdered. After which... the victim HAS A PENIS! What more proof could you need?!
No, I am not kidding.
If you were there, as the "victim" claimed his dick was missing and pointed at the "sorcerer", would you believe him?
Would you ask, perhaps, for him to drop his pants and at least demonstrate an absence of penis?
Or would you rely on your "traditional wisdom", like the mob, and help burn the evil sorcerer to death? If the blighter's going around stealing dicks like that, I'm sure it serves him right.
If you asked for evidence, you'd be practising science. If you joined the mob without evidence, you'd be doing what you're doing now, only in a rather more dramatic way.
Seriously. Stop. Think. For God's sake, just think.
I've received hundreds of spams over the years from people who say they can "cure any disease" (the site mentioned in that column has evaporated now, but there's still plenty of fun to be had with a search for "crocodillin"; and don't forget their competitors who can cure, but not spell, any disease). Their method is faster and more reliable than yours, according to them. So, again, think about why you're doing what you're doing, and not buying stuff from those spammers.
And, actually, yes you do claim supernatural powers, if you think you can perceive qi. Well, "paranormal" powers, anyway. Worth a million dollars, dude. Go for it.
Does meditating clear your mind? Maybe so, but that's not much of a claim. You're claiming cures for disease, not clarity of thought. And I have very severe doubts about the clarity of your thought, anyway.
You try things, you experiment, but you "don't feel the need of proving anything"?
So you feel no obligation to find the truth so that others can be helped?
OK, I guess. Not very nice of you, but OK.
(That million dollars would go a long way towards the construction of a qigong hospital, too. Still, I guess if you can't be bothered, you can't be bothered.)
As regards "But if it does, I ain't stopping there because Science tend to disagree to many things, and throughout the years, they're discrediting everyone, and all that, in their own failure to get proper conclusions, hail the word hypothesis", I have no answer, because I have no idea what that sentence means.
So you believe "magnets can be very powerful and harm you".
Why believe that?
Why believe anything?
If Kevin Trudeau is a valid source of information according to you, and you're happy to believe alt-med types who're always banging on about the corruption of mainstream medicine while, themselves, shamelessly selling what they prescribe, why not ask some guy standing on a street corner shouting at passing traffic? Why not believe that Pat Robertson can leg-press a ton?
If you've any doubt about what to do, then go on, buy a tarot reading on eBay (make sure you get a genuine psychic, though!). Or get yourself a mystically-energised talisman that can predict the future; there's all sorts of those things on sale there.
When you figure out why you believe a rich guy with a book and why you don't believe homeless unmedicated schizophrenics who believe the CIA put radios in their teeth, you're on your way to critical thinking, which can save the life of you and others.
I'm not telling you what to think. I'm asking you to think.
On the subject of which, I'm not sure what "never had the chance to look for such a useless website..." means, either, but you would appear to be saying that Kevin Trudeau's still useful, but my suggestions aren't, because they disagree with your preconceptions and therefore cannot possibly be correct and must not be investigated in any way.
Honestly, you'd insult me a lot less if you just called me names.
Sorry, but further mail from you will not be answered.
His reply to this was:
Seriously, you should go see a doctor and get your prescription already. Practice your Tai Chi, peace.
So, that's it. His vote would appear to be cast for burning the sorcerer, or at least meditating while someone else does the burning. Meditating looks a bit sorcerer-y, of course, so it's probably a good idea to do it where the mob can't see you.
Wisdom Myth Esquire's problem is, at the very least, that he can't think very well. Thinking is a learned skill, after all. I'm not very good at climbing trees, he's not very good at thinking.
Unfortunately, Mr Myth also seems to be trying to actively avoid thinking, which is a different and more serious complaint.
People who're quite determined to avoid rational thought at all costs still do, of course, have to think from time to time, perhaps when evaluating when and how far to turn the steering wheel of their car, or deciding which end of their fork should be pointing towards their plate. But any attempt to show them that one can build upon that kind of thinking to find things out about the world by a means other than sitting with your eyes closed and waiting for inspiration will be met with flat, or at least incomprehensible, denial. They'll take the good stuff that reason makes if you offer it to them, but they'll spit in your eye while they do it; riding the Falkirk Wheel is fine by them, but they'll insist that levitating would have been easier.
Even when it's difficult, thanks to the ceaseless efforts by... oh, let's just call them "evil people" to save time, shall we... to muddy the waters, you can figure out the truth, in time, by using just your own brain. And that brain need not be a particularly impressive one.
An anti-thinker, in contrast, believes there's something wrong with figuring stuff out, and with information that has been obtained in that way.
There's no way you can genuinely be anti-thought, of course, because if you were then you'd have a hard time getting through any door that isn't automatic. But the contradiction is easy to deal with - just don't think about it!
It's flawless! It's perfect! Why does it make me want to cry?
Living like this makes the world look like a dreamy fairy tale, where nothing is necessarily constant from one minute to the next and anything can be as true as anything else at any time. It leaves you hopelessly confused when your psychic assurances about New York City being drowned by a tsunami on May the 25th, 2006 (tsshyeah, like the world's going to end on Towel Day) turn out to have been incorrect. You can't conclude you were kidding yourself, because evidence doesn't matter. So you're left drifting, rudderless, until some other flight of fancy catches your interest.
People who operate this way aren't just making life worse for us; they're making it worse for themselves, too. They vote for people who don't care even slightly about them, they gallantly defend people who've stolen from them, they stop taking the medication that keeps them alive and/or sane because when they take the pills they feel fine - which means they're cured, right?
You certainly can't win an argument with people whose minds work like this, because not only are they immune to reason, but they never clearly state what their position actually is on any subject, even to themselves. This tactic really helps, if you want to avoid being proved wrong.
I have to keep reminding myself that proud members of the "I dunno, faggot" brigade are, in fact, people, and that despite their determination to remove themselves from the category "animal" (they'll settle for "vegetable", but "mineral" appears to be their ultimate goal) and destroy everything good in the world, they should not be used for forced labour, food or fuel by the rest of us.
I'm ready to listen to competing arguments, though.