Despite being one of the oldest substances on the planet, crystals have a futuristic sci-fi look and this may partially explain some persons embracing them as an elixir, though gullibility is a more pronounced factor.
Good Morning America profiled persons who believe crystals are imbued with healing properties. This included Taryn Toomey, whose New York City studio features crystal-lined floors intended to “clear the energy and renew balance and confidence.” Unexplained were what type of energy it is, what it is being balanced with, and how standing on them raises one’s self-esteem.
Energy means “measurable work capability,” and Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning suggests replacing that definition with the word “energy” to see if a claim makes sense. When saying “Measurable work capability equals mass times the speed of light squared,” it’s understood what is being asserted. By contrast, “Clear the measurable work capability and renew balance and confidence,” takes a meandering sentence and leaves it even more muddled.
I once stopped by a mall kiosk once where two ladies were hawking healing crystals. It was a learning experience for all, as I was told amethyst works for backaches, anxiety, and rosacea, and they learned what a double blind study was. There have been many such peddlers over the years, but new spins are still being put on the notion of crystal power. For example, the GMA piece featured Mariah Lyons, who is likely the first person to imbed these structures in shoes. She did so after getting tired of carrying crystals in her pocket. Yes, I could see how that would get annoying.
But regardless of the method of transport, what is the owner getting out of possessing apatite and citrine? Lyons told GMA, “Crystals balance your energy.” Oh that’s right, Toomey already explained that. Me and my spotty memory, maybe there’s a gem to help with that.
Then there’s the question of how crystals access the energy and transmit it to a biological entity. For that, we look to crystalline.com, which states: “How do we access it? Crystals and other tools of transformation are just one way to get that rock star centeredness. They’re just waiting to be put to use to help us create the life of our dreams and our spirits to GLOW!” That didn’t even attempt to answer the question they posted – although the exclamation point and all caps shows that what they lack in evidence they make up for in enthusiasm.
With that, let’s go to the third crystal consumer connoisseur interviewed by GMA, Jennifer Salness, and she if she can explain how crystals transfer energy to people. She said, “Having the energy of the crystals around you transfers the vibrations of the stone to you. The longer we have it around us, our bodies can retain that same vibration as the crystal.” That wasn’t any better and we didn’t even get distinctive punctuation and lettering out of the deal. Salness just said crystals transfer energy by having the energy transferred. She prefers bottles that are embedded with crystals, saying, “I think because the water gets infused with the crystal energy and then you’re drinking that, it comes into our system.” I won’t drink to that.
Next, she said, “I think if you believe it will have some effect to it, then it will. I’ve seen the results in my life and others.” But no amount of belief makes anything true and she is also falling prey to subjective validation and preferring anecdotes over data, which is rife in the alternative medicine community. For instance, another crystal merchant, Colleen McCann, told GMA, “I had to experience a whole bunch of really mystical things to get on board with this.”
But a whole bunch of things does not equal one piece of data. Perceptions are prone to error, people experience good, bad, and indifferent days, and most illnesses fluctuate. Because of this, double blind studies are required to find out what is effective. Without any guidelines, certification, standards, or reliable data, there’s no way to determine what crystal would work for what malady, or whether they work at all.
McCann, who is releasing a book this fall entitled Crystal Rx, described herself as skeptic who fought the notion of healing crystals “tooth and nail.” In that case, she would have been better off buying dentures and metal fasteners than quartz and jasmine.