Guru Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Think you can’t be fooled by pseu­do­science? Our Scep­tic Guru Daryl IIl­bury tests your abil­ity to spot fraud­u­lent ‘science’ by see­ing if you can sep­a­rate the quack­ery from the re­al­ity. Good luck, fel­low scep­tic. An­swers on page 24.

Cran­iosacral ther­apy is at the very fron­tier of a branch of neu­rol­ogy that hopes to find cures for many of the de­bil­i­tat­ing neu­ro­mus­cu­lar dis­eases that still chal­lenge medicine, in­clud­ing Parkinson’s dis­ease, Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease, and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. Ex­cept it’s not. It’s ac­tu­ally a non-sci­en­tific, so-called ‘al­ter­na­tive’ form of ‘heal­ing’ that be­lieves that gen­tly mas­sag­ing the skull and the sacrum – the large tri­an­gu­lar bone at the base of the spine – will align har­mony within the body. It’ll make you feel good – as any good mas­sage would – but it can’t cure you of any neu­ro­mus­cu­lar dis­ease. The proof is in its own claims: “[it] works with the whole per­son and changes may (my ital­ics) oc­cur in body, mind and spirit dur­ing and af­ter ses­sions”. And there’s that key phrase: ‘mind, body and spirit’ – the ring­ing bells that warn that scep­ti­cism need to be em­ployed. But don’t feel em­bar­rassed if you did be­lieve – even if only for a minute – that cran­iosacral ther­apy was a de­vel­op­ment within neu­ro­mus­cu­lar medicine. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Af­ter all, pseu­do­science wouldn’t be called ‘ pseudo’ science if it didn’t take on the ap­pear­ance of science in some way – and the eas­i­est way to ap­pear sci­en­tific is to use a sci­en­tific-sound­ing name. That way only a trained – or scep­ti­cal – eye would dig deeper and find the cracks in the claims. For ex­am­ple, declar­ing that a per­son’s char­ac­ter can be de­ter­mined by ex­am­in­ing the con­tours of their

head is pre­pos­ter­ous. But if you were to hear that ‘phrenol­ogy’ could do the same, you might be more open to the idea. You’d as­sume that it was sci­en­tific, per­haps even a de­vel­op­ment within psy­chol­ogy. Per­haps you wouldn’t, be­cause your scep­tic radar would have picked it up. Or would it? If there was a quiz in which you were pre­sented with, say, 20 sci­en­tific-sound­ing terms – a mix of real science and pseu­do­science – would you be able to spot which were pseu­do­science? Good, be­cause that’s just what we’ve put to­gether. And be­cause we know that ev­ery­one loves a quick quiz (ex­cept those who don’t!), we’re con­fi­dent you’re go­ing to have a lot of fun test­ing your­self. We’re also pretty con­fi­dent that we can fool you. All you need to do is ex­am­ine the 20 terms we’ve listed on the next page. Write down the num­bers 1 through to 20 on a piece of pa­per (or on a smart­phone, you tech-heads), and put ‘S’ if you think the term is science, or ‘P’ if it’s pseu­do­science. Once you’ve done that, look at the an­swers and score your­self out of 20. Then check out where your score puts you on our scep­tic-o-me­ter, and find out what your scep­tic ti­tle is.

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