Sunday, October 20, 2019

#2255: Matthew Silverstone

His book. B.M. Hegde
is a legendary promoter
of quantum woo whose
career seems mostly
devoted to claiming that
Ayurvedic medicine is
superior to science-based
medicine. It is perhaps
 indicative of something
that they managed to
spell his name wrong
on the book cover.
Matthew Silverstone is a self-styled “serial entrepreneur” and possible poe. Silverstone has apparently, through spending “two years researching amongst other things the property of water”, made “discoveries that prove very simply how acupuncture works.” And it “is nothing whatsoever to do with chemistry but it is all to do with the unique properties of water and vibrations.” Right. Vibrations. And properties of water that have nothing to do with chemistry (one is forgiven for suspecting that Silverstone doesn’t really know what chemistry is). 

And how come Silverstone made such an amazing discovery that had thus far eluded science? “Western science ignores things that it does not understand, and energy flow is one of those subjects.” Scientific progress is hardly characterized by ignoring things science doesn’t yet understand, but according to Silverstone “If you ask most scientists with a western trained background they will look at you blankly when talking about energy flow.” Well, scientists tend to understand thermodynamics, but Silverstone's ideas are of course not about energy but about shimmering, magical spirit-stuff, like the Force. Admittedly, we have no doubts that Silverstone is able to confront scientists in ways that leave them baffled. Despite his contempt for science, though, “I have managed to provide overwhelming evidence that acupuncture works on simple scientific principles; namely vibrations and the unique properties of water. It is through water that the energy is transferred throughout the body.” Wanna bet on whether his scientific explanation and “overwhelming evidence” involve more than vague handwaving?

Silverstone is, however, more famous for his book Blinded by Science, which advocates tree hugging. Which is fine. We are sympathetic to tree hugging. But not for the reasons Silverstone thinks tree hugging is a commendable practice. According to Silverstone, he has scientifically validated that hugging trees is good for you, and his research shows that you don’t even have to touch a tree to get better, you just need to be within its vicinity to obtain a beneficial effect. Of course, Silverstone does not have the faintest idea what “scientifically” could possibly mean – nor “validated” or “research” – but apparently his conclusion is based on public health reports concluding that children function better in green environments and that “access to nature can significantly contribute to our mental capital and wellbeing”. Silverstone doesn’t go for “access to nature” as the causally efficacious feature here. No, Silverstone’s project is “proving scientifically” that it is … the vibrational properties of trees and plants that give us the health benefits: “everything vibrates in a subtle manner, and different vibrations affect biological behaviours,” claims Silverstone. The exact mechanisms are left as nebulous as the evidence he purports to have, of course, but you need to have a pretty closed mind and be pretty Big Science brainwashed to think that exactitude, detail, evidence or accuracy has anything to do with anything. The whole thing is really pretty much a variant of some branch of Taoism, just peppered with random assertions that things are “scientifically proven”.

Diagnosis: Mostly spam. Dressed in the garb of New Age pseudoscience. But still spam.

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