“Quantum quackery” (Energy healing)


Energy healing is presented as affordable, absolute, painless, and free of side effects. The problem for a practitioner, therefore, is how to distinguish one’s self from fellow peddlers of medical magic.

For Quantum Touch clinicians, the strategy is to stress that patients get multiple energies from various Chinese and Japanese techniques. Extending this thought, I wonder if it would be a better idea is to have energy from an original source. Eastern ideas are always said to come from China, Japan, or India. How about some love for Mongolia, Sri Lanka, or Guam?

At any rate, Quantum Touch proponents claim their powers come from exercises focusing on breathing and body awareness. Founder Richard Gordon emphasizes that “all healing is self-healing,” which would seemingly make Quantum Touch unnecessary. Gordon also trumpets its ability for post-surgical patients, though the better solution would seem to be bypassing surgery since Quantum Touch puts a panacea literally at your fingertips.

Like most alternative medicine, Quantum Touch makes liberal use of pseudoscience language. For readers new to the blog, pseudoscience refers to using science terminology incorrectly or using terms that sound scientific, but are not. An example from Gordon’s website includes “spontaneous structural realignment,” which sounds to me like throwing your back out. Then there’s this goodie: “Quantum Touch is a method of natural healing that works with the Life Force Energy of the body to promote optimal wellness. Quantum Touch helps to maximize the body’s own capacity to heal.” Or this one: “Given the right energetic, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual environments, the natural state of the body is perfect health.” Apparently Quantum Touch clinicians have yet to find this proper balance, since they also die.

Other pseudoscience giveaways are fantastic claims not backed by evidence or testing, such as Gordon saying that five minutes of Quantum Touch cured a child’s bowed legs. The claims are also wide-ranging, asserting it can cure traumas, burns, poison oak, and virtually any other pain or illness. For this far-reaching healing ability, no one summoned a Quantum Touch clinician when the train derailed in Philadelphia. Gordon’s website list several patients who reported pain reduction, a good time for my monthly recitation that the plural of anecdote is not data.

Here’s how we know energy healing claims are without merit. As seen earlier, Quantum Touch proponents claim it can cure anything, at least if conditions are right. But it cannot cure or mitigate ALS or Laughing Sickness, which are always fatal. Conversely, some sicknesses such as a runny nose are never fatal and are always followed by complete recovery. It requires magical thinking to credit Quantum Touch with healing someone who was already headed to recovery. The maladies in the middle, such as mild arthritis, are cyclical, so Quantum Touch will eventually “work,” for the same reason treating it with Crunch Berries and strawberry milk will.

Gordon offers workshops, which include, “A series of breathing and body awareness exercises to help you focus and amplify life-force energy.” This is begging the question. It assumes life force energy exists, then uses exercise results to affirm it.

The workshops also teach “how to amplify the power of your sessions by work with chakras, toning and vortexing the life-force energy.” Students also are taught “how to use the Amplified Resonance Technique to turbo charge your own sessions so they have a power similar to a group sessions.” This mix of ancient mystic terms with modern vernacular is how energy healing adapts. Gordon uses “amplified,” “resonance,” “turbo” and “vortex” to sound impressive, but also mixes in New Age buzzwords like chakra and life force energy to toss a cosmic salad.

Energy healing was called animal magnetism by Franz Mesmer in the 1700s. The Chinese invented meridians to explain the flow of something else made-up, chi. This pretend energy has gone by many names, including prana and ki. The alleged source of this energy evolves, with modern incarnations crediting biofields or subatomic vibrations. For those preferring to stay more New Age, we have astral bodies and transcendent beings as the power source.

In advanced training, Gordon teaches physiological happiness, exploration of a new paradigm, and a portal to wisdom. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a glossary to explain what any of that means.

Whatever students get out of it, they are supremely unlikely to come away with a useful skill. Emily Rosa tested 21 energy healers who claimed they could detect her life force energy. For her test, she placed a partition in front of the Quantum Touch practitioners, who were unaware if she was behind it. They had a 50 percent chance of being correct by guesswork, and still hit just 44 percent in 280 attempts. Her results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association when she was 9 years old. Yes, they were schooled by a 4th grader.

Not that this was a fatal blow. While Gordon started the idea, you can’t copyright quackery. One person who copied the idea was Daniel Metraux, whose website gloats that he is “one of the top 10 Psychic Surgeons on the West Coast.” I was unaware there was such a poll.

The website also notes that his “revolutionary alignment techniques heal and rejuvenate from within.” He provides it, but it’s from within, somehow.

As to how the treatment goes, “The number of sessions that you will need depends on your current level of discomfort, your reception to Daniel’s techniques, and your dedication for becoming healthier.” So if you’re not made healthy, you’re not trying hard enough!

If you’re not sick or hurting, the Holistic Wellness Institute still says come on in. “If there are no specific issues a full body treatment can be given. In this case, a series of hand positions will be used until something comes up to be treated.”

To summarize, you’re not sick, you could heal yourself if you were, pay up.

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