Articles

Closing out 2012 with a bit of fun: Do you want some quantum with that pseudoscience?

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.

And, of course, if all else fails, there’s always Quantum Doctor (QDr™) or Quantum Chiropractor (QChiro™), while you can also detoxify. Quantumly, of course:

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.

Lovely.

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!

And ya might not believe this little fella, but it’ll cure your erectile dysfunction too.

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.

Don’t even get me started on Bill Nelson’s EPFX/QXCI Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface. Maybe later in 2013. Or, if that’s not bizarre enough, there’s always DNA Activation.

Maybe later in 2013, between my usual oh-so-serious SBM epics.

Posted in: Basic Science, Health Fraud, Humor

Leave a Comment (28) ↓

28 thoughts on “Closing out 2012 with a bit of fun: Do you want some quantum with that pseudoscience?

  1. GerryC says:

    Good news, David.
    They CAN do things remotely.

    This is what their guarantee page says:

    “NOTICE: QuantumMAN™ realizes that there will be certain people who may take advantage of this guarantee by requesting a refund despite receiving benefit from one of his products. Therefore, anyone granted a refund will have any and all benefits realized from QuantumMAN™’s products immediately reversed. This reversal is done remotely by ZAG’s quantum computerization.”

    Are we sure that this is not an elaborate POE? It is just TOO absurd!
    Gerry

  2. Therion2012 says:

    Well that’s even crazier than all those self-claimed “digital drugs/therapies” using binaural beats.

  3. David Gorski says:

    I thought about whether this was a POE, but I doubt that it is. It’s way too elaborate, for one thing. More importantly, as I mentioned, the company selling this stuff is renting a booth at the CES International conference next month, which would make it a very expensive POE for the average skeptic.

  4. DevoutCatalyst says:

    Yeah, it will help with erectile dysfunction, but only if you set your phone on vibrate.

  5. BillyJoe says:

    …um…vib…brate…tor…isn’t that for vagin…ah…er…women.

  6. windriven says:

    “[J]ust how gullible some practitioners must think their clients are.”

    Proof positive that sCAMsters aren’t wrong about everything. They might not understand physics, medicine, chemistry, biology or logic but they surely do understand the human propensity for self-delusion.

    My wife and I drove past a newly built building on a high traffic corner in an upscale neighborhood last weekend. The building, perhaps 3500 square feet of ultra prime commercial real estate, is occupied exclusively by a dietary supplements retailer. I don’t know what the cost of retail space in that area costs but a friend who is a restauranteur suggests perhaps $3 per square foot per month. Then there are the costs of staff, inventory, insurance and so forth. Given that supplements can be purchased in any grocery store or pharmacy or warehouse store the sales volume must be breathtaking.

  7. dchamney1 says:

    Zurich Alpine Group is supposed to be located in Zurich, but when I did a search of the name, I came up with only one name, a self proclaimed director, Michael H Uehara, who resides in Honolulu, and has Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter accounts, but isn’t active on any of them. As he is located in the US and cannot actually do what he claims – teleport medicine into your brain- is he not committing fraud?
    I’m really curious as to just what he sends to anyone purchasing his products.

  8. joemcveigh says:

    I’m uploading this to the Pirate Bay. The world can thank me later. And the CAMIAA (CAM Industry Association of America) can sue me for billions later as well.

    Don’t forget to seed the woo.

  9. Quill says:

    Like all fictional super heros, QuantumMAN needs a theme song. How about:

    Take a nostrum of quantum, ol’ chum,
    And measured by angstrom,
    Why, it’s awesome!
    Produces gladsome pablum
    With nothing over your transom–
    Just click, PAK it in and succumb!
    Oh summum quantum we love some,
    That full-spectrum scam from
    A sciency nostrum.
    We make it sound Swiss
    And all evidence dismiss
    And get mighty rich on the dumb.

    Chorus:
    Quantum, quantum all is quantum
    It explains everything head to bum!
    We got it from ET
    So of course it’s not free–
    Sign up now while Big Pharma’s all mum!

  10. UncleHoot says:

    Hopefully, QuantumMAN attaches the following disclaimer:
    http://meyerweb.com/other/humor/disclaim.html

    ;-)

  11. lilady says:

    Dr. Gorski…you missed other presenters at the CES conference. See the dynamic duo from the Ho-Po, Ariana Huffington and Depak Chopra:

    http://cesweb.org/Conference-Program/SuperSessions.aspx

    I’m *interested* in the downloadable “Supercillin (TM)”….indicated to *cure* every bacterial and viral infections Taking tetracycline and clindamycin drugs (allergy to penicillin and cephalosporins), is a b!tch.

    Happy New Year.

  12. Janet says:

    Happy Woo Year Everyone!

  13. Marlinman says:

    What makes people so gullible about utilizing CAM therapies? Which CAM therapies; All of them? Is a nutritionist a CAM practitioner? Is a physical therapist a CAM practitioner? What makes someone a CAM practitioner?

  14. Chris says:

    What makes them CAM practitioner is making claims that they cannot deliver on because it is not supported by evidence. A physical therapist is licensed medical health provider and does not practice CAM, unless he/she decided that cranial sacral therapy was valid and offered to give a head massage that barely touched your head.

    A nutritionist is not a dietician. Nutritionists are usually self-taught and make claims about food that are not supported by evidence. A dietician has gone through great deal of post-secondary education to become certified. You can get a gist of the difference in this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMMCnBoSJzs

  15. Marlinman says:

    CAM practitioners are those that make claims which are not supported by evidence? By evidence I assume you mean a Double blind study/randomized controlled trials? Nutritionists are self taught? That is just completely inaccurate. You cannot simply make claims and have them be substantiated because you’ve stated it. There are many licensure programs for a variety of nutritional degrees/certifications, etc… A licensed medical professional? There are many CAM practitioners which need a license to practice, i.e. chiropractic, acupuncturist, naturopathic doctor (in some states). They are all licensed medical professionals. So I ask again. What makes one a CAM practitioner? To simply say that it is not substantiated by evidence doesn’t suffice. There are medical procedures not backed by evidence, i.e. (giving medication designed for a particilar illness/effect being utilized for other reasons which have yet to be studied), does that make them CAM? Please do not misconstrue as an attack on medicine, I am a proponent of both medicinal styles. The best way to go about things is to educate oneself but looking up your own information and making your own judgements, not to read blog posts, such as this, or others. Trust but verify information you read, see or hear and that goes for much more than just alternative medicine.

  16. Harriet Hall says:

    Marlinman is apparently new to this blog. If he went back and read through the archives he might learn why he is wrong.

  17. David Gorski says:

    Indeed. We’ve addressed each and every complaint he has numerous times over the last five years, including the “licensure” of quackery by states, exactly why evidence doesn’t support CAM, discussions of “conventional” medical therapies for which the evidence is lacking, why CAM is a false dichotomy, how CAM uses a double standard in evidence, and many more. We’ve definitely got a newbie on our hands.

  18. David Gorski says:

    Dr. Gorski…you missed other presenters at the CES conference. See the dynamic duo from the Ho-Po, Ariana Huffington and Depak Chopra:

    http://cesweb.org/Conference-Program/SuperSessions.aspx

    Wow. Since when did CES start featuring quacks?

  19. weing says:

    “Please do not misconstrue as an attack on medicine, I am a proponent of both medicinal styles.”
    Huh? There is medicine that has been shown to work. That is science based medicine. There is medicine that has not been shown to work. That is CAM. Once something has been shown to work, it becomes part of SBM.

  20. Chris says:

    Marlinman, choose a CAM, then use the search box to see where it is discussed. I see you did not bother to that, nor watch the video I posted. Perhaps you should open your mind a bit more to science.

  21. Amalthea says:

    Marlinman mentions self education and research. This is very reasonable and can be quite informative. It can also end up in a VERY silly and totally hilarious situation. Like hundreds, if not thousands of sites and blogs making a claim and every single one of the pointing to exactly the same source.

    A few months ago I had one of those. Someone at work had gotten an email claiming that honey and cinnamon could cure almost any disease. I decided to try and find the origin of that claim. I ended up playing a game in which I was trying to find a SINGLE site making that claim which DIDN’T lead back to an article in the January 17th, 1995 edition of the Weekly World News. I was laughing after a few pages of google hits an I gave up the search after 18 pages.

  22. lilady says:

    @ Marlinman: Your claim that nutritionists have the same qualifications as a “Registered Dietician” which is a :protected term here in the United States (and in the U.K.), is ludicrous…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietitian

    Here, Dara Obriain contrasts and compares *toothiologists* with dentists and *nutritionists* with dieticians. Enjoy the YouTube video and get in the effin’ sack if you don’t understand the differences.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRqB5-egs1s

    @ Dr. Gorski…I only report the news about the CES 2013 Conference. As you well know, I am totally and utterly NOT an expert in computer technology

  23. BillyJoe says:

    MarlinMan,

    “CAM practitioners are those that make claims which are not supported by evidence?”
    Unfortunately,yes, by and large, CAM practitioners make claims not supported by evidence.

    “By evidence I assume you mean a Double blind study/randomized controlled trials?”
    There are other types of evidence.

    “Nutritionists are self taught?”
    Not sure, perhaps there are courses, but they give advice that is largely not evidence based or contrary to the evidence.

    “They are all licensed medical professionals.”
    That’s probably stretching the definition of medical.

    “There are medical procedures not backed by evidence”
    Yes there are, and they are not part of science based medicine.

    “giving medication designed for a particilar illness/effect being utilized for other reasons which have yet to be studied”
    There may be logical reasons why it should work in these other conditions. Not as good as direct evidence though.

    “I am a proponent of both medicinal styles.”
    Here we use evidence and plausibility. What is the basis of your choice of treatments you will accept?

    “The best way to go about things is to educate oneself but looking up your own information and making your own judgements”
    You will need sufficient intelligence, critical thinking abilities, awareness of bias and logical fallacies, lots of background knowledge, and lots of practical experience, if you are to understand what you read. Otherwise the relevant experts can come in handy. Pick those who practice science based medicine.

    ” not to read blog posts, such as this, or others.”
    Yet here you are reading this blog. But there are blogs and there are blogs. And you have come to the right place – a science based medicine blog written by experts in the relevant fields.

    “Trust but verify information you read, see or hear and that goes for much more than just alternative medicine.”
    Good advice. Now you just need to be able to recognise who to trust because, really, you cannot do it all yourself.
    You owe it to yourself to explore the information and advice collected on this blog.

  24. BillyJoe says:

    “Here, Dara Obriain….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRqB5-egs1s

    Ah, laughter and sarcsasm!
    Good pick, lilady.
    If you don’t bust your gut laughing, MarlinMan, there’s something wrong.

  25. nybgrus says:

    I love Dara O’ Brian and watched that clip… again… absolutely died of laughter. Especially the “rubbing a cat on your head” part, since it reminded me of the homeopathic “head on” commercials.

  26. BillyJoe says:

    I suppose Dara O’Briain should have chosen an easier name to spell. |:
    And it seems MarlinLittleFella was just a hit and run type of guy.
    Oh well…

Comments are closed.