today is the last day of 2012. As I contemplated what I’d write for my last post of 2012, I wondered what to do. Should I do a “year in review” sort of post? Naahh. Too trite and too much work. Should I just do what I normally do? There are, after all, many topics that are out there, some of them still holdovers from before the holiday season. I can’t get to them all, even between this blog and my not-so-super-secret other blog. I thought about it a minute, but then rejected that possibility. So I decided just to cover one of them. After all, when years begin and end are human constructs, and there’s nothing special about today other than that society has decided that it is the last day of the year, and tradition mandates that a significant proportion of the population will gather before midnight to get drunk and stupid. I’m boring that way, rarely doing anything on New Years Eve other than sitting in front of the TV with my wife and watching the ball drop in Times Square. Then I thought: Oh, what the heck? Why not take on something a bit…different for a change? Maybe even get a bit silly? At least I can finish off the year with a bit of fun. Who knows? I might even be able to be far more concise than usual? (Actually, that might be asking too much.) Besides, the topics I tend to take on here are almost always serious; so a little amusement would be good before diving into the science and pseudoscience that will certainly pop up in 2013.
If there’s one thing about “alternative” medicine, “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or “integrative medicine” that’s always puzzled me, it’s just how gullible some practitioners must think their clients are. In some cases, they might know their customers every bit as well as a car salesman knows his clients or an author knows his readers, but in actuality most people who fall for alt-med are no more gullible than average. However, some words seem to impress more than ever, as promoters of alt-med scramble to appropriate impressive-sounding science terms into their woo. I’ve seen a lot of them. So has Mark Crislip.
Among the favorite real science term that quacks love to appropriate is “quantum.” I blame Deepak Chopra. Although I highly doubt he was the first promoter of alternative medicine and various New Age thought to use and abuse the term “quantum” as a seemingly scientific justification of what in reality is nothing more than ancient mystical thinking gussied up with a quantum overcoat to hide its lack of science, Chopra has arguably done the most to popularize the term among the science-challenged set. In Chopra’s world, the word “quantum” functions like a magical talisman that explains ™everything because in the quantum world anything can happen. Actually, I should clarify. While it’s true that many bizarre and wondrous things can be explained through quantum theory (such as quantum entanglement), it is not, as Chopra and his many imitators would have you believe, a “get out of jail free” card for any magical thinking you can imagine, and quantum effects do not work the way people like Chopra (say, Lionel Milgrom, who seems to think that homeopathy works through quantum entanglement between practitioner, remedy, and patient) would like you to think.
As much as the term “quantum” is used and abused in alt-med, I can’t recall seeing anything as impressively silly as QuantumMAN™, which bills itself as the “world’s first downloadable MEDICINE.” I’m guessing that spelling “medicine” in all capital letters just emphasizes that it’s, like, really “MEDICINE, MAN.” (Yes, the “MAN” in “QuantumMAN™” is also in all caps. Of course.) If you visit the main page of the QuantumMAN™ website, you’ll also see that QuantumMAN™ is apparently much more than just the world’s first downloadable medicine, but that apparently it represents this:
Treat disease with data not drugs!
Simply open a portal with your purchased product’s Portal Access Key™ (PAK™). Data then transfers from a remote quantum computer to your brain’s neural network for the benefits desired.
Holy Matrix, Batman! Actually, it sounds as though QuantumMAN™ is going one beyond The Matrix movies. After all, in those movies, human beings were connected to the Matrix through a giant cables that were plugged directly into connections implanted into the brain through what looked like a giant Ethernet jacks on the backs of their heads. That’s obviously far too primitive for QuantumMAN™, which eschews such primitive physical connections for, apparently, quantum connections. You don’t believe me? Well, it helps that QuantumMAN™ is apparently based on extraterrestrial technology, which is referred to as a “game changer.” No doubt. If QuantumMAN™ were truly based on extraterrestrial technology, it would truly be a game changer!
But how—how?—you ask, does QuantumMAN™ work? Well, the Zürich Alpine Group, which is what the group promoting QuantumMAN™ calls itself, has an acronym (ZAG) that rather closely resembles another acronym beloved of cranks everywhere, ZOG. The jokes about this write themselves; so I won’t bother to. I will, however, take a peek at how ZAG describes itself and QuantumMAN™
The Zürich Alpine Group (ZAG) is a private humanitarian medical research group of scientists and physicians working cooperatively and quietly around the world in the quest to improve the quality, efficacy and costs of medical care. Working with those goals in mind, the group has developed a radical new quantum information technology derived from its discoveries utilizing quantum physics that has thrust it into global leadership in quantum computing. This technology offers solutions to previously insurmountable medical problems….solutions without the slightest possibility of adverse side effects from treatment. The team at ZAG has long understood the toll the drug industry has taken on the populace as it treats medical issues symptomatically with a chemical based approach. However, the universe including the human body and conditions that afflict it all operates according to the principles of quantum physics. Chemical based treatment systems do not operate according to those principles and, as such, are not compatible with the human host as evidenced by their toxicity. ZAG understands that quantum problems require a quantum solution and has found a way to transfer bioinformation from its quantum computer via quantum teleportation to the brain, also a quantum computer, to reprogram the brain to effect positive medical changes within the body and mind. These technological advancements have thus given birth to the world’s first downloadable medicines.
Naturally, ZAG is flying below the radar in order to prevent Big Pharma from crushing its technology, appropriating it for its own, and then charging exorbitant sums for it:
For several years, ZAG has quietly conducted clinical trials around the world testing its new developments for efficacy and safety. ZAG has shunned reporting its research and trials in the traditional medical literature because it believes this venue is heavily influenced by Big Pharma and politics. Finally, after years of testing, it has decided to arrange the creation of a web presence as the venue for the presentation of its numerous products developed from its technology.
I guess that explains why my searches of PubMed have failed to turn up a single reference supporting the use of these “quantum medicines.” Unfortunately, as much as I searched the site, I was unable to find even a description of this research outside of being published in peer-reviewed, PubMed-indexed medical journals. Go figure. What I did find were some nifty videos that purport to explain everything. For instance, here’s an introduction:
For having such an elaborate website and videos with fairly high production values, other than the robotic-sounding voice narrating them, ZAG sure isn’t very creative when it comes to how it introduces itself. There are the usual broadsides against “conventional” medicine, prescription drug deaths, and the like. Boring. I do like how ZAG claims that these quantum medicines are going to replace those primitive old “chemical-based” medicines. Of course, even if these “quantum medicines” worked, they’d still somehow have to alter the chemicals that make up the macromolecules that make up the cells that make up our bodies in a way to correct whatever dysfunction is being treated, which would in the end be a chemical effect, but I guess admitting that is just not as sexy as claiming that you can use some sort of digital “key” to “upload” various “quantum medicines” directly into the brain and body using—of course!—your computer, tablet, or smartphone:
And here’s a hilariously off-base description of why ZAG’s “technology” is allegedly so superior to what exists in medicine:
The entire universe including the human body and maladies that afflict it operates on the principles of quantum mechanics. Chemical based treatment systems do not operate according to those princicples and, as such, are not compatible with human physiology as evidenced by their adverse side-effects. Conventional pharmaceuticals are chemicals that act only on the physical level. On the other hand, QuantumMAN™ delivers medicine on a quantum level to the multiple realms within the human body with an efficacy unmatched by primitive drug delivery systems. Moreover, QuantumMAN™ delivers his quantum treatments without the slightest chance of collateral damage to the host.
I’m sure it would be news to Richard Feynman (a.k.a. the real Quantum Man)—were he still alive of course—that chemical-based treatments (which are basically nothing more than chemicals whose reaction with chemicals in the human body, such as proteins, DNA, RNA, carbohydrates, and the like determines their activity) don’t operate according to the principles of quantum physics. In fact, come to think of it, I bet it would be news to Professor Feynman that quantum effects are not on a “physical level.” Seriously, though, if ZAG could find a single drug that somehow violates the principles of quantum physics and convincingly demonstrate that it did, there would be a Nobel Prize there for whoever did the research! Not surprisingly, there is the usual misunderstanding of quantum entanglement as somehow affecting large, macro-level objects that woo-meisters of many stripes routinely demonstrate. None of this is particularly surprising. It is, however, rather amusing. Or it would be, if these charlatans didn’t apparently charge a fair amount of money for their PAK™s.
In fact, there’s seemingly nothing that QuantumMAN™ can’t do! Apparently, you can vaccinate yourself against malaria, influenza, and even the common cold! You can even protect your children from becoming addicted to meth by downloading some ZAG goodness into them, or, failing that, cure them (or yourself) of meth addiction.. If you have an infection, you can treat it with a quantum antibiotic, and if you’re in pain, you can take Zaxis™, which promises 24 hour pain control. Why only 24 hours if quantum medicine is so much more awesome than regular medicine? Who knows? Then, of course, there are a wide variety of ZAG products designed to help you lose weight because, well, you know, all that dieting and exercising is just so “chemical” compared to the quantum goodness at the heart of QuantumMAN™. You can even undergo a form of “quantum gastric bypass surgery” by reprogramming your brain, if you want. Even more amazingly, if you’re a female going through menopause, you can provide yourself with quantum hormone replacement therapy.
ZAG, the private humanitarian medical research group that employs QuantumMAN™, developed Quantum Detox™ as a bio-weapon against disease for QuantumMAN™’s exploits. Quantum Detox™ is one of the many developments derived from ZAG’s radical new quantum information technology based on quantum physics. Quantum Detox™ is biosoftware that utilizes a set of PAKs™ that are downloaded to your personal computer, smartphone or tablet. When you click on the desired amount of PAKs™ you wish to dose, quantum bioinformation linked to their activation codes is uploaded directly to your brain’s neural network via quantum teleportation. This quantum bioinformation consists of physiologic directives that program your brain to the specifications of Quantum Detox™’s master programs. QuantumMAN™ is the personification of this quantum data which consists of repeater programs that deliver quantum bioinformation several times a day for 30 days.
But what about evidence? I managed to find ZAG’s “clinical trial” page. When I looked at the “clinical trials” described in the various links on the page, what did I find? If you guessed that I found actual clinical trial results, you’d be so very wrong indeed. If you guessed that I found anecdotes and testimonials, give yourself a PAK™ on the back! You’re a winner. For instance, in this case of back pain (re-evaluated with applied kinesiology, of course), using ZAG’s methods fixed her “alignment” issues, and apparently ZAG can even cure urinary tract infections and can fix your sex life (or at least let you download orgasms). It’s even good for horses!
You know, after reading enough of this site to melt my brain in a quantum fashion, a question comes up. If QuantumMAN™ technology is so awesome, why does it require a smartphone, tablet, or computer to get the PAK™s to your brain? Why the intermediary? After all, if QuantumMAN™ is really using quantum teleportation, why can’t it just upload the PAK™s to your brain directly from its amazingly awesome extraterrestrial computers, when you need them? In fact, why does ZAG even need PayPal to collect its fees? Inquiring minds want to know!
There’s so much material on the QuantumMAN™ website, that I could easily have fun with it for multiple posts, but such is not the purpose of my taking this on. The thought also crossed my mind that the whole thing could be an elaborate hoax by skeptics designed to mock the use and abuse of the term “quantum” by quacks. I’d actually be fine with that, but I doubt that’s the case. There’s too much salesmanship going on, and there is an actual checkout for the store selling these “downloads.” I doubt skeptics would risk fraud charges by actually collecting money from the credulous for the sake of a joke or parody, but I suppose I could be wrong. I also tend to doubt skeptics would go to the expense of renting a booth at the 2013 International CES conference in Las Vegas next month for a company it calls Extraterrestrial Technology based in Honolulu. That’s unfortunate, because I was just in Honolulu a little more than two weeks ago. If any of our readers are going to CES next week, do drop by the booth. I’d love to hear a report of what sort of goodies ZAG has for CES attendees. It’s Booth 35853.
I also realize that some readers might ask why I’m bothering with a site that is so obviously full of pseudoscience that is even more nonsensical than the usual pseudoscience we encounter on this blog, and I do promise to start 2013 out by going back to my usual topics. In the meantime, however, my answers this question are threefold. First, I wanted to have a little fun. Second, I wanted to show an example of just how far quacks will abuse legitimate scientific terms in order to sell nonsensical products. And, third: Reductio ad absurdum. Except that I don’t have to do the reductio ad absurdum myself. The quacks have already done it for me.
Maybe later in 2013, between my usual oh-so-serious SBM epics.