The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Oldie, 'Cause I've Been Slack

So I've been quite lax with the posting of late. We're painting our house so I have precious little access to the computer. That being said, I thought hey, why not post an old letter I wrote to Randi that got on the Swift newsletter? What a swell idea. So in that vein, here's a bit I wrote in the November 22, 2002 Swift on the retardedness of one John Upledger. I've edited it for continuity just a smidge....

I have to tell you about an article I read today about John Upledger. In case people don't know who he is, he runs the Upledger Institute which is a "complementary care and education" center. Mr. Upledger is the leading proponent of "CranioSacral therapy" — "feeling" the rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid and moving the skull bones to cure illness and aid the sick.

Now there are all kinds of faults with the whole CranioSacral therapy thing, but let's gloss over that for the moment. I'm a massage therapy student at a college in Nova Scotia, and generally the teaching is solid. In scientific and practically useful courses taking 2200 hours, many of these hours are spent in the school-run clinic treating the public under the supervision of our instructors. I am an extremely skeptical person, which comes in handy when the occasional pseudoscientific idea gets presented as fact in the classroom.

We receive at our school a tabloid called Massage Today. It is available free to us in our library. In the November, 2002, issue (volume 2, number 11) on page 4 there is a column called, and I'm serious, My Dolphin Mentor.

Mr. Upledger begins by telling us about his first dolphin experience in 1954. He was in the Coast Guard, he said, and even though he was, "100+ miles offshore," he felt safe because there were dolphins in the water, "even when we had seen sharks in the vicinity earlier." Might I suggest he felt safe because he had huge guns with which his buddies could shoot sharks, on the metal ship?

Fast forward past "many positive dolphin encounters" to 1996, when at the Upledger Institute they started a "dolphin-therapist CranioSacral Therapy (COST) program." They floated a patient in about four feet of water with three therapists — one at the patient's head, one at their feet, and another at the pelvis — leaving one side open for...yes, "any dolphin that desired to join the process" (my emphasis). By his own admission, he never "experience[d] a dolphin's contribution as less than equal to our own."

It gets better. Upledger says that a dolphin named "A" initiated a friendship with him and that the mammal "would often lie very still in the water next to me while I was working with a patient. I could feel his presence even when we were not in physical contact with each other (my emphasis)." Might I again suggest that Mr. Upledger is feeling the water move because there's only four feet of it and he has a five hundred pound mammal breathing next to him. Call me skeptical if you wish....

It continues. Apparently "A" took a liking to Mr. Upledger and went so far as to place his blow hole under his hand ("lore has it that you must never touch a dolphin's blow hole"). I'll quote the rest of this because it's too good to miss:
"A" kept his blow hole under my hand for a minute or so. Then he began moving his body fore and aft again for a while before he left. During our contact, it felt as though his energy went through me. I felt empowered and I had an innate sense that I would be able to tap into this vibrational energy and use it in the future as it seemed appropriate.

He now uses "dolphin energy" on clients at his Palm Beach Gardens clinic. I wish I were making this up. He went to Scotland for a symposium and was working on a patient in front of an audience of other CranioSacral Therapists, and while he was in a "train-of-thought mode" he said, "I'm going to use some dolphin energy here." He said that the "therapeutic energy input increased significantly at this time." What exactly the hell "therapeutic energy input" is, I have no idea.

Apparently, the audio technician for the event told Upledger after this that, "as [he] applied the dolphin energy, the static in [the] recording also increased significantly." The same thing allegedly happened every time the dolphin energy was applied. Also, a lady in the audience ("a conservatively dressed woman who appeared to be in her 60's") told Upledger that, although she was skeptical of things like this, she too had heard the static in her hearing aid. To make things even better, a month after the symposium, Upledger said he got a letter from the lady who said that she "still did not believe in dolphin energy, but she also felt compelled to let me know that four days after the symposium, she discovered that she no longer needed her hearing aid. She said she could now hear a watch ticking in her once deaf ear."

Who needs more proof than that? A converted skeptic in a dolphin energy story! Come on people, what else do you need? Do you think the static would have "significantly increased" if Mr. Upledger had not announced to everyone that he was now using "dolphin energy"?

I'm telling this because it's difficult to maintain some semblance of scientific base in my chosen career. As I have read before, "massage therapy is a profession ripe with pseudo-scientific bullshit." I'm in no position to argue with that, but a difference can be made, one person at a time.

And back to 2006, I still agree with most of that last sentence, provided we ship Upledger off to friggin' Borneo or Afghanistan.

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