Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Doggerel #78: "Vibration"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

A lot of woos out there like to claim they've gotten a hold on a "theory of everything" and claim that everything is energy, or light, or, for this particular doggerel, vibrations. Now, if String Theory (or, Hypothesis, rather) pans out, they might be right on that one point, but I doubt it'll work in their favor.

A lot of alties who go on about vibrations seem to think that there's some mystical, ideal vibration, and if we set our bodies to it, we'll never be sick, or something like that. Unfortunately, the universe never seems to go along with Platonist thinking: String Theory-type vibrations just determine what kind of particle the string will appear as. If you set your body to one vibration, you'd be turning yourself into a mass of one type of particle, and would probably disperse pretty quickly. An organic body is a messy collection of disparate elements all working in a tenuous balance. Such a system doesn't lend itself to simplicity, no matter how convenient it would be.

Another form of vibration woos seem overly fond of is sound. This particular type of woo is a little bit harder to obfuscate about, since you don't need a hadron collider to observe the vibration in sound. Sound woo often involves a claim that being exposed to some magical frequency will provide health benefits. Unfortunately, most haven't bothered coming up with a mechanism for how this allegedly happens.

One set of questions I think you should ask of any vibration-woo promoter is "What's the frequency? What's the amplitude? What shape is the wave?" The response will often be one of the following: Deference to the ringleader woo, claiming that they don't bother to learn such tiny details (and buy the ringleader's book if you want to know), complaining that we don't need to seek out knowledge, and even claims that they have proprietary knowledge of such a breakthrough and that we should have to pay to know.

(Thanks go to Rebecca of Memoirs of a Skepchick for the String Theory link. I like String Ducky, too.)


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Rhoadan said...

Doncha' know? The frequency is 136.1 hz. I own a New Age store(though not for much longer); I find out about these things. That particular frequency is pretty consistent among purveyors of tuning forks for sound healing. The crystal singing bowl people like to match the chakras to notes of the diatonic scale.

Hey, maybe I should suggest this stuff to Orac for his Friday Woo.

EoR said...

Woo vibrations don't need to be calibrated. The body "knows" which ones are good and ignores the rest.

Now, if we could just build a radiation shield on the same principles...

xiangtao said...

Doncha' know? The frequency is 136.1 hz.

Not to be confused with 6.1 hz