New age therapy flowchart

By Phil Plait | October 15, 2010 10:34 am

I love Crispian Jago. It is that simple. Why, you ask?

Because he’s created a New Age therapy treatment flowchart. And he’s British, and funny, so you know what to expect:

jago_newage_flowchart

[Click to dehomeopathenate and see the whole chart.]

That’s just one part; the complete version has NSFW language, but it’s really funny. The thing is, Poe’s law reigns supreme amongst alt-medders. I wonder how many chiropractors will put this up on their office wall as a guide for their patients?

Tip o’ the subluxated spine to Fark.


Related posts:

- Metrocontextual science map
- I am a skeptical chipmunk
- Easy-reading chiropractic libel for young readers
- Taking the P out of pseudoscience
- Reservoir skeptics

MORE ABOUT: Crispian Jago, New Age

Comments (41)

Links to this Post

  1. New Age Flowchart | October 15, 2010
  1. Oh, I am printing this out and hanging it in my office. The new-age whackadoodle is strong in New Hampshire. Should be fun! :D

  2. Mike

    While the chart is funny, and I’m going to share it with my friends, there are more than one mistaken generalizations in it.

    Just one example, chiropractic – while heavily influenced, especially in the states, by nonsense – is not all bogus: http://www.chirobase.org/

  3. uudale

    Never having heard of it before, I decided to google alphabiotics.

    To quote Frank Barone, “Holy Crap”.

    The site I was on looked like it was generated by a random new-agey word generator. I pretty much stopped at the part where it said alphabiotics was grounded in quantum physics.

    Now my bwain hurts.

  4. Jason

    And if you want to appear High-tech AND keep the alt-med folks happy

    http://www.inewidea.com/2010/06/22/31684.html
    I thought I was being funny when I thought of that. THen I googled USB therapy and I couldn’t believe I FOUND a product.

  5. Sam

    Wow. Few things make me laugh hysterically when I’m alone. This did the trick.

  6. Jim

    Too funny! The sad thing is I can write friend’s names in at various “treatments!” At least the ones still alive!!

  7. Just above this chart was the branch reading “Preferred method of viewing reality: Empirical or Magic Based” you only get this set of options if you chose poorly =)

    Great chart Phil, thanks

    ~Rhaco

  8. Matt

    I was not aware that Shiatsu was considered an alternative medicine. I thought it was just a style of massage, like Swedish or Hot Rocks or something.

    I’m sure there’s some mumbo jumbo about how it opens up your Ki/Chi/Chacras or whatever…but damned if shiatsu isn’t a hell of a massage.

    I don’t generally think of massage as a medical or clinical experience, though…it’s just something I do on occassion to relax or get rid of a little back pain.

  9. Dr.Sid

    This will hardly convince anyone .. don’t be a Richard, Phil.

  10. Barbara

    That’s good stuff. I laughed extra hard at ear candling. I actually saw those at the health food store once and found the idea so amusing I bought some. They were only $3. The instructions say you need somebody to help you not set yourself on fire so I went to my mom’s house. She read the instructions and said, “Let’s do this! But I need to get a glass of wine first.” Something about me lying there with holding a flaming tube of beeswax coming through a paper plate really tickled her. I’m sure we both had a significant improvement in our mood judging from the hysterical laughter. I guess that’s how ear candles are supposed to work — the woo-woo labeling is just part of the build up of the joke.

  11. Gary Ansorge

    Hey, don’t go knocking my mega vitamins, they may be the only thing keeping my feet from falling off,,,

    Just a note about gorillas ingesting 5000 mg/day of vitamin C from their regular diet, vs about 30 mg for humans,,,of course, gorillas ARE mostly vegan. Vitamin deficiencies will show up in meat eaters who cook their meat, because the heat destroys Vitamins B and C stored in the meat.

    Frankly, I can’t stand raw chicken(my cheapest source of high quality protein).

    Gary 7

  12. Josie

    printed and stuck up on the office wall –next to a small collection of stem cell paranoia clippings.

  13. Renee

    I love this, very funny.

  14. Hey, does anyone know a skeptical website that has a QA or a forum about alternative medicines?

    I ask because my girlfriend’s stepdad is a physical therapist who was trained in craniosacral therapy. He is a licensed PT, but he’s also all about the craniosacral stuff. Not sure if there’s a craniosacral therapy physical therapy licensure or what, honestly. Learning about CST makes it pretty obviously a crock. However, the other day I had a HORRIBLE headache, and he like… pressed really hard on my head in a few places, one by one. Each place hurt like heck, but after he finished, my headache was gone.

    I really want to know what actually made my headache go away. I’m fairly certain he didn’t manipulate my skull, so I want to know other possibilities. :p

  15. Merijn

    Brilliant, I had a good laugh at some of the choices :)

  16. @Shadmere (#15)
    I’m certainly no expert about such things, but a few ideas come to mind:

    1) When you bump you elbow, you rub it and it feels better. This may have something to do with giving the local nerves something else to “think” about in that area besides the pain, or an actual neuro-chemical release that helps dull the pain, I can’t recall… (where’s Steve Novella when you need him?). Is it possible that his prodding of your head that “hurt like heck” had a similar effect without actually manipulating your cranial bones? When I was a kid, I stubbed my toe once and was complaining about it. My big sister punched me in the arm as hard as she could and made me cry. When I asked her why she did it, she said “does your toe still hurt?” and I had to admit it didn’t.

    2) Knowing that he is a licensed PT and trained in this technique, is it possible that just having him do *something* to you that he said would help did in fact help? The placebo effect is a funny and powerful thing, and if he had been a trained chiropractor, maybe a spinal manipulation would have also helped your headache symptoms feel better if he told you it would?

    3) Is it possible that your headache would have gone away on its own about that same time if you hadn’t been there getting your melon squeezed? I think many of us, myself included, sometimes experience strong headaches that come and go quickly and unpredictably. Maybe if you had been driving your car at that moment, the headache would have subsided on its own?

    There are any number of other possible explanations too. Remember that correlation can imply causation, but does not have to mean that one thing directly caused the other. I applaud you for asking the questions and not just assuming that because it seemed to work for you one time, it must be real. Maybe it is, but one event isn’t enough to base any conclusions on.

  17. J

    Ear candling? Why is that on there? I’ve tried it and it works great if you get good ones. Totally clears out your ears and you can actually hear better afterwards.

  18. I just have to say, Gear Head Skeptic (#18), well done.

  19. Naomi

    Man XD Okay, there is actually one thing there that disappoints me, and that’s herbal medicine. It is… vastly abused by people who keep claiming it’s an OMG MIRACLE – I’m as skeptical as anyone, and I’m doing a Medicinal Plants senior-level class at uni, and once we got past the background stuff (Aryuveda and Chinese Traditional Medicine), it’s actually quite interesting. Getting into the chemistry of it… there are a lot of plants that have medicinally active compounds (secondary metabolites). The best-known one, of course, is Salix alba – the white willow, which, of course, gives us salicin, and then salicylic acid – aspirin. Another fascinating one is Taxol, which is derived from the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia. It’s now used as an effective cancer drug.

    The problem? There isn’t anything at ALL in the US that’s actually regulating this stuff. For every plant-derived medicine that’s approved, there are hundreds that fly under the radar. America’s laws don’t actually allow herbal suppliments to claim to have curative effects, but the language they use certainly implies that they do (for instance, they can’t say they cure heart disease but they can say they improve cardio health), so people will take them anyway. Where there’s a demand but no regulation, you can get all sorts of dodgy stuff happening – cocktails of pharmaceuticals mixed in, ingredients swapped for others (after Ephedra was banned, Bitter Orange was substituted in – which, quite frankly, doesn’t do anyone any favours), all sorts of stuff.

    I’m all in favour of research on medicinal plants, because yes, there are many, many good medicines to be derived from them. But there HAS to be some sort of regulation! Just slapping some plants in a capsule and saying it improves your Total Wellbeing is NOT good enough.

  20. 1. I have thought about that, and so far it’s my “winning theory.” Though he did find three spots on my head that hurt a lot more than the rest of my head (when pressed on), that isn’t too strange. He’s been doing this for years, so he’d likely have picked up on a few things here and there that kinda worked, regardless of cause.

    2. I doubt it. Mostly because I was absolutely surprised it worked. He is a physical therapist contracted for work by the air force, and he does a lot of “normal” physical therapy as well. If he had given me a list of exercises to do for a few weeks to try to help lower back pain, I’d have thought it fairly credible. But I really didn’t even consider the possibility that his pressing on my head could help my headache.

    3. That’s . . . possible, but I think it’s unlikely. I had woken up with that headache, and it had stayed with me regardless of medicine throughout the entire day. By the time he got all jabby on it, it was about thirteen hours old. So it’s very possible that it would have gone away, but it seems pretty coincidental. Also, it just disappeared. There was no period where it gradually felt better.

    I want to stress that I don’t think that he got in touch with my cerebrospinal fluid and called forth some sort of deep healing energy, or something. :p It just seemed to work so instantly and well that it seems like he must have done *something*, even if it was just your number 1 explanation.

    This was the first time I’ve let him near me, but from what my girlfriend and her mom have said, his “help” tends to hurt like hell. Which I can attest to, in this case. (The pain from the jabs was much worse than the headache, momentarily.) This seems to be very different from the “relaxing, gentle touch” that all the pro-CST websites seem to spout off about. So I also don’t know if he’s actually doing something more useful, that isn’t what is normally called CST.

    I’m afraid to ask him about it directly, because if he says something like, “Oh, well it has to do with fairies,” then I’m screwed. I don’t want to reply, “Oh, I had no idea fairies existed. Neat.” But I also don’t want to be like, “Fairies? Huh. I’ll just back away slowly now.”

  21. MaDeR

    @9: This is not for convincing. This is little parody. In other words, we make fun of your little favorite supersitions.

  22. Thomas Siefert

    @Shadmere
    Placebo works, even if you don’t believe in it ;-)

  23. Brian Too

    Love the Stabbing = Acupuncture!

    Wot’s a Wibble?

  24. Tom

    @25 ‘Wibble’ refers to the final episode of ‘Blackadder goes fourth’

    In an attempt to avoid going into battle, Capt Blackadder fakes insanity by putting a pair of underpants on his head, a pencil up each nostril, and starts saying wibble

    It’s on youtube, watch it, its some of the funniest TV ever

  25. Please excuse any typos–I’m still convulsing. That was the funniest thing you’ve posted in a long time!

    - Jakc

  26. Buzz Parsec

    @26 Tom, I have to disagree. It’s not “some of the funniest TV ever”. It is the best single episode of the best TV comedy series ever. And the saddest, at the end when they go over the top.

  27. JB of Brisbane

    I’m confused – craniosacral therapy sounds like it’s for someone who can’t tell his head from his behind (I’m keeping it polite and G-rated).

  28. Gary Ansorge

    For those into home remedies, if you ever have an abscessed tooth and have to wait thru the weekend for treatment, slosh some tequila around the tooth for a few minutes. THAT will kill the pain,,,for a little while.
    Caution: it’s a good idea to expel the tequila and save it. Ingesting will also work but after a while you run out of tequila.

    For some reason, whiskey doesn’t work nearly as well.

    Gary 7

  29. Jeffersonian

    @19 J

    Then your challenge is to explain the mechanism and provide the (missing) proof.

    quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html

  30. Daniel J. Andrews

    @ J. Ear-candling doesn’t work. It’s a quack therapy. The wax they say is drawn from your ear is just wax from the cone. The wax cone doesn’t produce enough suction to draw wax or anything liquid out of your ear–which is a good thing. Anything strong enough to draw out wax or liquid will be strong enough to pop your eardrum. I believe quackwatch.com has an article on it.

    Re: headaches. I’ve had my head squeezed a few times when I was back in university, and it does seem to work depending on the type of headache. It wouldn’t help my tension headaches that crept up my neck into my skull, but it did help the pounding-behind-the-eyes headaches–I suspect it had something to do with the pressure and release allowing blood vessels to dilate (a vasodilator to offset the vasoconstriction of headaches)??????? Bet there’s a paper on this treatment method somewhere…I’m mildly curious as to whether it is a placebo effect or something more.

    Edit: Jeffersonian beat me to it.

  31. Damon

    A clown Brit trolling about something nobody cares about? Color me shocked!

  32. Theramansi

    I will never scoff at chiropractic medicine. At 10 years old I feel asleep on my parents bed for a nap. Sleeping with my neck bent to the left got me ‘stuck’ that way for hours. I was completely unable to move my head back to a normal posture without incredible pain. After a visit to the family doctor (who also practiced chiropractic medicine) cracked my neck , I was instantly back to normal without any side affects.

  33. My partner and I are doing parenting ed classes at the moment for expectant parents. The latest lesson was on labour and specifically inducing labour if required. After taking the drugs apparently, according to the midwife, there are a couple pressure points that may help speed things along. Pressure points on the wrists, the soles of the feet and the boney point of the ankles. Hmmm. So if you’re pregnant keep your fingers away from your ankles and take care getting a foot massage.

  34. Nigel Depledge

    J (19) said:

    Ear candling? Why is that on there? I’ve tried it and it works great if you get good ones. Totally clears out your ears and you can actually hear better afterwards.

    Pardon?

  35. Nigel Depledge

    Naomi (21) said:

    . . . the white willow, which, of course, gives us salicin, and then salicylic acid – aspirin.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but aspirin is an ester of salicylic acid – acetyl salicylic acid – not the free acid itself.

    I’m all in favour of research on medicinal plants, because yes, there are many, many good medicines to be derived from them. But there HAS to be some sort of regulation! Just slapping some plants in a capsule and saying it improves your Total Wellbeing is NOT good enough.

    Hear, hear!

  36. Nigel Depledge

    Gary Ansorge (30) said:

    For those into home remedies, if you ever have an abscessed tooth and have to wait thru the weekend for treatment, slosh some tequila around the tooth for a few minutes. THAT will kill the pain,,,for a little while.
    Caution: it’s a good idea to expel the tequila and save it. Ingesting will also work but after a while you run out of tequila.

    For some reason, whiskey doesn’t work nearly as well.

    Whisky is, however, very good for treating sore throats.

    I sense a much-needed research project here. Care to collaborate on the grant application?

    Let’s see . . . we’d need lab space in a reputable university (that’s the most expensive part of any research, BTW!), much whisky and tequila (I suggest one of us needs to be sited in Mexico, and the other in Scotland, in order to ensure consistent quality of our raw material), a couple of PhD students to do the grunt work, and a ready supply of guinea pigs – er, I mean undergraduate volunteers.

  37. Chrispy

    Theramansi (34) said:

    “I will never scoff at chiropractic medicine. At 10 years old I feel asleep on my parents bed for a nap. Sleeping with my neck bent to the left got me ’stuck’ that way for hours. I was completely unable to move my head back to a normal posture without incredible pain. After a visit to the family doctor (who also practiced chiropractic medicine) cracked my neck , I was instantly back to normal without any side affects.”

    At around a similar as Theramansi was, I also got the same kind of kink in my neck. Theramansi is right, it really is very painful. I remember after Sunday school one day the parent of one of the other kids sat me down to try to help. He would slowly rock my head and then suddenly give it a sharp jerk, repeating this for I don’t know how long. I don’t know if this is chiropracy or not but it was a painful and horrible experience for me. I remember everyone around watching while I somehow managed not to cry despite being terrified that he would break my neck. At the end of the experience I was absolutely no better off. Luckily there were no side effects and eventually the problem went away on its own.

    Sorry for the anecdote but Theramansi’s post brought up these memories and I had to share them. :) ~|-<

  38. Bill Stewart

    Moxibustion is another good woowoo+fire energy balancing technique. It’s like acupuncture, only you wave burning herbal cigarettes over the acupuncture points to heat them up instead of sticking pins in them.

    And while my chiropractor does occasionally believe in woowoo stuff (sigh), she’s also pretty good at things like “your shoulder’s hurting because your infraspinatus and superspinatus muscles are both irritated, I’m going to massage them and then put ice on them, and after that let’s talk about how you sit while you’re typing.”

  39. sheoll

    I read your flowchart, and I want to ask for permission to translate to spanish and send to this page

    http://c.microsiervos.com/

    thanks

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