The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #4

That’s What I’m Talkin’ ’bout!

The new single-paragraph paradigm for the W^5/2 seems to have worked: there were 13 Waluations for the paragraph submitted in W^5/2 #3, every one of ‘em good. Several themes emerged; I’ll discuss them in no particular order.

  • When did you stop beating your wife? The passage charges that the “biomedical model,” by which is apparently meant modern medicine, does not consider anything other than “disturbances in biochemical processes.” “Holistic medicine,” on the other hand, recognizes the Complex Interplay Between Multiple Factors. DVMKurmes, pmoran, and wertys each exposed the ahistoricity of this claim.
  • Back to the Future. Speaking of ahistoricity (is that a word?), two readers, wertys and Falx, noticed a paradox: the proposed “paradigm shift” of “medicine today” always involves the resurrection of discredited, pre-scientific notions of yesterday.
  • Dr. Feelgood. Several readers, including DVMKurmes, Michelle B, rjstan, wertys, Stu (m’man!), Calli Arcale, and overshoot, alluded to the preference of at least some Woo-Seekers for feeling good (“a healing model”) over being good (“the curative model”). I admit that my shorthand description of the point is oversimplified, but there is truth in it nonetheless. The “feelgood” phenomenon is not to be confused with the similarly named
  • Feelings…Very Special Feelings. Alotta people just want, well, their feelings to be validated. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if it’s at the expense of competent medical care, as rjstan, Stu, and Falx noted, they could be Takin’ Trouble by the Tail. Or at least Losin’ a Lotta Lettuce.
  • It Takes a Worried (wo)Man to Sing a Worried Song. Both rjstan and DBonez called attention to the current societal obsession with “health,” frequently called “wellness,” which is an indispensable part of the “CAM”-scam. As rjstan and pmoran pointed out, many of the obsessed have nothing wrong but a surplus of funds. Why don’t those people just getta life?
  • By Hook and By Crook. Tools honed on Madison Avenue are in the kits of sCAMsters, say DVMKurmes, Michelle B, Stu, and ShawnMilo. That they are.
  • Mastering the Art of Zen Cooking. A lotta “reduction” makes my eyes glaze, so I was pleased that at least one reader, overshoot, cited the passage for its tired misportrayal of the “scientific reductionist view.” One o’these weeks we’ll discuss that at some length.
  • The Well-Hewn Tune of Thomas Kuhn is misrepresented by those we impugn, as asserted by wertys and implied by Joe. Another topic to discuss at more length some time.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X…prophecies that…his…brother…Michael X…will…one day…rail…against…so-called…integrated…medicine.

This Week’s Entry:

A shaman is a type of spiritual healer distinguished by the practice of journeying to nonordinary reality to make contact with the world of spirits, to ask their direction in bringing healing back to people and the community. The journey is a controlled trance state that practitioners induce by using repetitive sound (drums, rattles) or movement (dancing) and occasionally by consuming plant substances (e.g., peyote or certain mushrooms). Characteristically experiential and cooperative, shamanic healing is found worldwide. It is fundamental to much traditional European, African, Asian, and Native American Indian folk practice and is rapidly gaining popularity among nonnative urban Americans, in which setting it is sometimes called neo-shamanism.

Happy Waluating!

The Misleading Language and Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo series:

  1. Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Integrative Medicine’
  2. Integrative Medicine: “Patient-Centered Care” is the new Medical Paternalism

Posted in: Humor, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (14) ↓

14 thoughts on “The Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #4

  1. mmarsh says:

    Translation: “A shaman is someone who doesn’t know anything about how the body works, but will claim to heal you nonetheless. He’s schizophrenic, and actively solicits the voices in his head. Or he’s dreaming, or maybe stoned. He’ll put on a good show, so you think something must be happening; this puts people in the mood for selective recall and confirmation bias, which is all you’ll get out of this. Yeah, people used to believe in this stuff, and you know the mantra: ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.'”

  2. reechard says:

    My sister engaged in what I call “drug-fueled ethnic partying” in Peru. I suppose I should let her know she is a neo-shamanist.

  3. Michelle B says:


    A shaman is an entertainer whose special talent is to encourage an audience to escape from reality. Shamans fool gullible audiences to think that the shaman’s use of ordinary objects and actions–like dancing and musical instruments–causes something extraordinary to happen.

    Shamans have flourished worldwide since ancient times because there are alway gullible people to fool. The Shaman is skilled in making the audience feel that they are part of something bigger and better than all of them (with a little help from narcotic and mind-altering substances). In giving up their individuality and conforming to the group desire and expectations that something magical is within their grasp, the gullible fools believe that magic is happening.

    Therefore, the Shaman is completely left off the hook and has no need to present the normally expected extraordinary evidence needed for their extraordinary claims. In return for their escapist entertainment value, they are given a place of prestige, honor, and access to food, shelter, etc. It is much easier on the wallet to just go and see a blockbuster action movie or read a Danielle Steel novel, but such leisure pursuits don’t have the exotic appeal of “neo-shamanish” to urban dwellers.

  4. Stu says:

    There is no way to parody this. I mean, really. Read the thing. It’s self-parodying.

  5. David Gorski says:

    I have to agree with Stu here. It’s so amazingly ridiculous that it takes my breath away.

    It makes me wonder, however, if I can come up with even better examples than Kimball. After all, I have delved deeply into “alt-med” websites over a rather long period of time…

  6. “It makes me wonder, however, if I can come up with even better examples than Kimball.”

    Have at it, young Skywalker.

  7. overshoot says:

    At the risk of repeating myself,

    “I have given up the search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy.”

  8. overshoot says:

    David Gorski:

    It makes me wonder, however, if I can come up with even better examples than Kimball. After all, I have delved deeply into “alt-med” websites over a rather long period of time…

    Doesn’t that qualify as a step along:

    The journey is a controlled trance state that practitioners induce by using repetitive sound (drums, rattles) or movement (dancing) and occasionally by consuming plant substances (e.g., peyote or certain mushrooms).

    That kind of stuff is dangerous. Yeah, I know — you tell yourself that just a little won’t hurt, you can quit any time …

  9. DVMKurmes says:

    Holy cow! I live close to Sedona, so I guess I should not be surprised by this, but jeez. I recommend an NSAID for the stone-age hangover.

    “If you can’t find anything better to do, induce hallucinations and then pretend the spirit world or something is telling you something. Maybe if you call it “healing”, the judge will be lenient. If you are lucky, the experience will scare some common sense into you and “heal” you of some stupidity.”

  10. Michael X says:

    I’m with Stu. I’m having trouble condensing such vacuous nonsense into an even more potent form. This is either a perfect storm of inanity, or a sly excuse to do drugs and get a pat on the back for it.

    (But screw that I’ll condense it anyways.)

    A shaman is … nonordinary … [P]ractitioners … consum[e] … peyote or … mushrooms. THE END!

  11. wertys says:

    That is superb. Neo-shamanism indeed. That must make me a celtic neo-druid, as like my Irish ancestors, I frequently journey into nonordinary reality (my hospital of employment) to commune with higher spirits who tell me how to fix things (the other consultant physicians). I freq

  12. wertys says:

    Sorry, fat finger error there. Premature consummation.

    I frequently use plant substances (mainly barley and hops) and a repetitive rhythmic pattern (banging my head against the wall) to help me cope with the responsibility of being a neo-druid.

    If something is experiential and co-operative, does this mean that the patient is obliged to believe whatever shit the neo-shaman comes up with and not criticize it? That would be unco-operative, I guess.

    I will pass over the argument from antiquity in the final sentence without comment.

  13. Stu says:

    Just to elaborate a little on why I gave up: I actually did start in on it without reading it all the way through first (I try not to lose too much smoke-break time over these, thank you), and was going the “contact with the world of spirits (provided the peyote is fresh)” route…

    Then the next sentence actually included my snark. Game, set, match.

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