Therapeutic and other hoaxes
12 more current suspected hoaxes
Some of the belief and therapy systems that we suspect to be hoaxes (or partial hoaxes) are listed
below. Please read our disclaimer before going
- Thought Field Therapy (TFT) This is a relatively new therapeutic
technique which is a close cousin to EMDR. TFT attributes emotional problems to blockages in energy fields within he
body. Pseudo-scientists often talk about energy fields or power centers in the
body that cannot be detected by any instruments known to humanity.
"In order to correct these perturbations,
clients are directed by the TFT therapist to tap on the body's 'energy meridians' in specific sequences,
called 'algorithms,' which vary based on the particular problem being treated.
For example, the client may be instructed to tap at the corner of the eyebrow
five times and then continue tapping on other parts of the body in a specific
sequence as instructed by the therapist. In addition, the clients are told to
roll their eyes, count, and hum a few bars of a song at various points during
the treatment." 1
There are two positive features of TFT and EMDR therapy:
- These treatment methods seem to have little opportunity to
seriously damage the client, except financially.
- Many therapists and counselors have switched from RMT therapy, which
is profoundly dangerous, to TFT and EMDR
It will probably take another decade before these a consensus is reached that two therapies are useless.
We hope that EMDR and TFT are around for a long time, because the new untried, experimental therapies that
will eventually replace them may have greater potential to injure clients.
The Skeptics Dictionary reports that Monica Pignotti was trained in thought
"...and became a believer but then did a controlled experiment in
which she treated half her patients with taps on the places taught
by Callahan and the other half by tapping at random places. She says
she got the same (good) results with both groups, which suggests
that the power of suggestion (the placebo effect) is what is really
at work here."
A similar study performed on acupuncture produced the same
turns out that the most effective form of trauma counseling is the
old-fashioned, private, unprofessional, unpaid kind -- the kind delivered by
your mother with a pot of chicken soup, or the folks next door who offer to look
after your kids or drive you to the hospital or cut your grass, or the friend
who just hangs out with you, and takes you for a movie and a beer, and isn't
trying to debrief you."
To this, we might add volunteers at Distress
Centers, (a.k.a. Crisis Centers, Suicide Prevention Bureaus).
"...the grief industry has trivialized grief. It has turned it into a pathology, then
promised us the cure. It has infantalized our culture, and cheapened mourning,
and encouraged us to lose our collective sense of what genuine tragedy is, and
how time heals if we let it." 2
Prayer, a practice that might possibly be ineffective at assessing the will of God:
Most theists pray to God. Sometimes, the purpose of their prayer is to assess the will of God. Opinions differ greatly about this specific activity:
- Atheists, who have no belief in the existence of deities, generally assume that there is no God to which one can pray.
- Agnostics, who are undecided whether a deity exists, are generally undecided.
- Jews, Christians, Muslims, Wiccans and other theists, who believe in a God or Goddess or a pantheon of deities are typically certain that one or more deities exist to which one might pray.
Near the end of the 20th century, we noted a strange phenomenon occuring during a few national religious assemblies. Various liberal and mainline Christian denomonations in the U.S. were debating what position their denomination should take about marriage equality: should loving, committed same-sex couples have the right to marry? This was typically a very controversial topic with many delegates holding strong and opposing opinions. Often, the moderator of the assembly would stop the debate and ask the delegates to go off by themselves and attempt to assess the will of God on the matter. It appeared that when the delegates returned from prayer, that few, if any, of them had changed their beliefs about same-sex marriage.
This observation triggered a pilot study by the people at this web site to determine whether visitors to our web site who had an active prayer life could assess the will of God on this very controversial topic. We found that, initially, all of the 85 subjects had an opinion:
- 65% of the volunteer subjects initially favored marriage equality.
- 35% were initially opposed to equality.
After praying to God:
- The vast majority felt that they had assessed the will of God during prayer.
- Those who personally favored SSM found that God also favored it.
- Those who personally opposed SSM found that God also opposes it.
- God did not appear to disagree with any of the participants' beliefs, even though they are in total conflict.
We concluded that prayer was not a useful technique to detemine the will of God, at least on this topic. We had hoped that other groups might be inspired by this pilot study to conduct a study of their own with a larger number of participants, and better design and control. During late 2017-JUL, some 17 years after our pilot study, a Google search for:
assess will of God through prayer
found about 25 million results.
- Results 1 to 3 linked to the menu and two essays that described our study.
- Result 4 was John Tyrrell's 2014 article titled: "Meditation 1124: Prayer and the will of God" 7
Sadly, as of 2017-JUL-26, nobody had commented on John's article. Nobody recommended it, so I clicked on the heart, and added my own comment. Also, to my knowledge, nobody has replicated our study or conducted a similar one.
The following information sources were used to prepare the above
essay in 1997 and update it more recently. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Brandon Gaudiano & James Herbert, "Can We Really Tap Our Problems
Away?: A Critical Analysis of Thought Field Therapy," Skeptical
Inquirer, Volume 24, #4, 2000-JUL-AUG. Online at:
- Margaret Wente, "Big business: the trivializing of trauma," The
Globe and Mail, Toronto, ON, 2002-SEP-7.
- Jason Frenkel, "Witches win converts," Herald Sun, 2002-JUL-1, at:
- "KNOW...The Autism - Vaccine Connection," KNOW, at: http://www.know-vaccines.org/
- Jessica Berman, "Lancet Disavowal of Autism Vaccine Connection May Lead to More Immunizations," Voice of America, 2010-FEB-11, at: http://www1.voanews.com/
- Tod Neale, "Autism risk linked to maternal age," MedPage Today, 2010-FEB-08, at: http://www.medpagetoday.com/
- John Tyrrell, "Meditation 1124: Prayer and the will of God," 2014-MAY-23, at: http://apatheticagnostic.com/
Copyright © 1997 to 2017 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original postedg: 1997-SEP-05
Latest update: 2017-JUL-26
Author: B.A. Robinson