Friday, May 31, 2013

#576: Stephen Co & Eric Robins

Stephen Co and Eric Robins are the authors of Your Hands Can Heal You: Pranic Healing Energy Remedies to Boost Vitality and Speed Recovery from Common Health Problems (with one John Merryman), and that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about them. Prana is the Indian version of chi or reiki, and just as solidly based on anything but reality. What Co and Robins propose is thus a form of energy healing based on the New Age understanding of energy as a form of fuzzy, buzzing cloud of metaphysical vapor, or, in other words, on a less than coherent version of medievalist vitalism, which medieval practitioners believed in because they were stupid, lacked any idea of scientific method, and were severely short on imagination (as Dennett puts it: Vitalism – the insistence that there is some big, mysterious extra ingredient in all living things – turns out to have been not a deep insight but a failure of imagination”). I’ll leave it to readers to determine what that makes of Co and Robins, though it should be noted that their book has sold pretty well among the usual groups of more seriously critical thinking-challenged flapdoodlers. It can indeed be reasonably said that vitalism, in all its fluffy incoherence, is the root of all complementary and alternative medicine” (for instance acupuncture).

Eric Robins (a board-certified urologist), at least, has produced some amazing” anecdotes (though the link is not to his anecdotes) reflecting how his techniques will seem to work to those who don’t understand why anecdotal evidence is problematic, underpinned by how following his beliefs” rather than science seems to have had beneficial effects – as does what he calls having an open mind, which is of course not having an open mind at all (this is what having an open mind amounts to) but being severely rooted in confirmation bias and similar psychological mechanisms bound to lead anyone who cares about truth seriously astray.

Stephen Co’s credentials are less deceptive. Apparently Master Stephen Co is the senior disciple of Grand Master Choa Kok Sui and one of only two Master Pranic Healers in the world.” He and his wife Daphne started the first pranic healing in the US, and apparently he’s got plenty of students.

Their work has been praised by none other than C. Norman Shealy, Carolyn Myss, Iyanla Vanzant, Marianne Williamson, dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, Mark Victor Hansen (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), Gay Hendricks (author of Conscious Love and Achieving Vibrance) – just to situate their contribution.

Diagnosis: Idiots. And though I’m sure their intentions are the best, they are actually rather dangerous (and no, there are no “positive placebo effects” of such crackpottery and bullshit).

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