Guru Magazine - - SCEPTICISM -

Here’s the scor­ing:

1–5 ‘Pseu­do­science Sucker’ – You as­sume the best in ev­ery­one. That’s very nice of you, but it does mean you’re eas­ily fooled. We sug­gest you ex­am­ine all the past edi­tions of Guru and start ques­tion­ing more. 6 – 10 ‘ Wob­bly Scep­tic’ – Oh dear, you need to se­ri­ously sharpen the scep­tic in you. You’re still quite eas­ily fooled, and there are forces of de­cep­tion that will find the chink in your ar­mour. 11 – 15 ‘Se­ri­ous Scep­tic’ – To para­phrase Yoda, “The science in you, strong it is… aah­mmm.” You are com­mit­ted, and have the mak­ings of a Jedi Knight Scep­tic, but you some­times rush to judge­ment. You still need to be wary of pseu­do­science. 16 – 20 ‘Jedi Knight Scep­tic’ – The dark forces of pseu­do­science bet­ter be­ware, for you have the power to seek them out and de­feat them with your light sabre of science.


1. Rhi­nol­ogy (S) – the branch of medicine that ex­am­ines dis­eases as­so­ci­ated with the si­nus and the an­te­rior skull base.

2. Rumpol­ogy (P) – sim­ply put: the art of read­ing some­one’s butt to de­ter­mine his or her per­son­al­ity. Ap­peal­ing, but com­pletely un­sci­en­tific.

3. Al­phabi­otics (P) – the re­align­ing of ‘Life En­ergy’ by neck ma­nip­u­la­tion… all in ap­prox­i­mately 15 sec­onds.

4. Cran­iom­e­try (P) – the mea­sure­ment of cra­nial fea­tures on the be­lief that it can be used to clas­sify peo­ple ac­cord­ing to char­ac­ter­is­tics such as crim­i­nal in­tent, in­tel­li­gence, etc.

5. Me­to­poscopy (P) – in­ter­pre­ta­tion of wrin­kles, es­pe­cially on the fore­head, to de­ter­mine a per­son’s char­ac­ter.

6. The Quadro Tracker (P) –a box that, ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s blurb, con­tained “tuned fre­quency chips” that could help lo­cate just about any­thing that was lost. Thou­sands were sold, in­clud­ing those to var­i­ous US en­force­ment agen­cies. None of them worked, ap­par­ently.

7. Neuro-Lin­guis­tic Pro­gram­ming (P) –a

sci­en­tif­i­cally un­proven, sup­posed per­sonal im­prove­ment/train­ing pro­gramme that claims to link think­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and be­hav­iour to do ev­ery­thing from cur­ing per­sonal pho­bias to trans­form­ing multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions. For a fee, nat­u­rally.

8. Dermo-op­ti­cal per­cep­tion (P) – the al­leged abil­ity to see with­out us­ing the eyes; pre­sum­ably, given its name, through the skin in­stead. Il­lu­sion­ists with du­bi­ous blind­fold­ing tech­niques use it.

9. Iri­dol­ogy (P)– a form of ‘al­ter­na­tive ther­apy’ that claims pat­terns and colours in the eyes of a sub­ject can be used to get a clearer pic­ture of his or her sys­temic health. There is no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to sup­port it.

10. Pre­cog­ni­tion (P) – the ap­par­ent psy­chic knowl­edge of fu­ture events, ob­vi­ously be­fore they hap­pen. Science has an­other term for it: co­in­ci­dence.

11. Mor­phic res­o­nance (P) – the ap­par­ent

telepa­thy-like con­nec­tion be­tween all liv­ing things on the planet, and the col­lec­tive mem­ory of en­tire species. Ba­si­cally, when you cut a flower, the flower knew be­fore­hand that you were go­ing to do it.

12. Reiki (sorry, but it’s

a P) – a quin­tes­sen­tial New Age ‘ther­apy’ that claims prac­ti­tion­ers ex­ude univer­sal ‘en­ergy’ – called reiki – through their palms and into a sub­ject, from whence it can be cor­rectly chan­nelled. Think Star Trek’s Spock. It has, how­ever, been claimed to treat ev­ery­thing from can­cer to brain dam­age and di­a­betes.

13. Psy­chom­e­try (P) – The sup­posed abil­ity to make as­so­ci­a­tions sim­ply by hold­ing an ob­ject. TV pro­grammes about psy­chic de­tec­tives will have you be­lieve that it’s real. This is not to be con­fused with psy­cho­met­rics – a field of psy­chol­ogy that ex­am­ines the mea­sure­ment of fac­tors such as per­son­al­ity traits, abil­i­ties and at­ti­tudes.

14. Bio­har­mon­ics (P) – yet an­other New Age con­cept that jug­gles ‘en­ergy’, ‘en­ergy fields’, ‘har­mon­ics’, etc. within a vague wash of other such terms, then sells the ‘meth­ods’ or equip­ment nec­es­sary to cor­rect it; be­cause, re­mem­ber, it al­ways seems to be bro­ken.

15. Ec­to­plasm (P) – the oozy, sticky stuff that ghosts are sup­posed to be made of. Pos­si­bly now avail­able in a can at your lo­cal nov­elty store.

16. Psy­choki­ne­sis (P) – the move­ment of ob­jects

us­ing, sup­pos­edly, thought alone – or the ‘power of the mind’. The bread and but­ter for many il­lu­sion­ists, but with­out any ver­i­fi­ca­tion by science.

17. Nosode (P) – a type of home­o­pathic so­lu­tion with a patho­log­i­cal sam­ple as its base – such as pus, blood or tis­sue – taken from a dis­eased per­son. Nice one.

18. Graphol­ogy (P) – the use of hand­writ­ing to de­ter­mine a per­son’s per­son­al­ity or char­ac­ter; not to be con­fused with foren­sic doc­u­ment ex­am­i­na­tion that looks for ev­i­dence of forgery in hand­writ­ing.

19. Anoma­lous cog­ni­tion (P) – A term used by SAIC – an Amer­i­can de­fence com­pany that toys with in­te­grat­ing science, en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy to pro­vide ‘so­lu­tions’ to the mil­i­tary – for ESP (ex­tra sen­sory per­cep­tion). You see, the com­pany also dab­bles in the para­nor­mal, and this sounds more sci­en­tific and there­fore more suit­able for at­tract­ing fund­ing. If you’ve seen the film The Men Who Stare at Goats, this will all sound won­der­fully fa­mil­iar.

20. In­tel­li­gent De­sign (P) – the claim that all life was made pur­pose­fully – by de­sign and by a supernatural be­ing – as op­posed by ran­dom mu­ta­tions (evolv­ing) over long pe­ri­ods of time. It is an at­tempt by cre­ation­ists to in­voke some sem­blance of science in or­der to de­rail the the­ory of evo­lu­tion. That’s right! With the ex­cep­tion of the first term – the rather quaint-sound­ing Rhi­nol­ogy – all the oth­ers are forms of pseu­do­science!

Daryl Il­bury is a multi-award win­ning broad­caster and op-ed colum­nist based in South Africa. He has a pas­sion for science that has burned since he was a child. You can see an ar­chive of his work on his web­site www.darylil­bury.com or fol­low him on Twit­ter at @darylil­bury.

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