'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

October 25, 2010

Quantum intentions and prayers to deities: two sides of the same supernatural coin

Chain The Dogma    July 19, 2010

Quantum intentions and prayers to deities: two sides of the same supernatural coin

by Perry Bulwer

Following my previous post on the BP environmental catastrophe and DreamHealer, the quantum quack who thinks that the collective, focused intentions of his followers will plug the hole and stop the oil gusher, I became aware of other supernatural wishful thinkers who similarly think that prayers, visualizations, intentions, thoughts, energy, light, love, etc., are what's needed to stop the oil. Here is a sample of some of the silliness I came across during the month of June.

On June 6 DreamHealer sent out another email in a series imploring his followers to focus their intentions on the gulf:

Let's optimize an extremely difficult situation in the Gulf. Change emotions of blame, fear and anger into healing intentions of light and love toward the recovery of our beautiful planet.

Visualize all of the healing energy in the Universe being pulled into the Gulf of Mexico. Saturate the waters with the healing energy of light and life.

Visualize your healing intentions rippling outward in all directions. Send streams of laser light to clean the water for sea-life to flourish again.

Remember the power of your own healing thoughts, as focused intention activates your thoughts. Assist in closing and healing Mother Earth's wound. Create a critical mass as we all send our healing intentions.

It didn't take long for Deepak Chopra to add his quantum nonsense to the mix. Thanks to PZ Meyers, the mind behind Pharyngula, who received an email from Evolutionary Leaders, a Chopra cult foundation, we get a glimpse at not only how these people think (or don't think) but also at how the words "intention" and "prayer" have become interchangeable to supernaturalists. Here's their email, without PZ's commentary, which you can read on his site at that link above:

Are you tired of sitting around while our environment is being destroyed?

Do you feel helpless, angry or powerless to make a difference as you watch millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf every day with no end in sight and thousands losing their lives and their livelihoods?

Join The Gulf Call to Sacred Action!

The Evolutionary Leaders: In Service to Conscious Evolution have joined together to be a loud and important voice for all who feel powerless.

The People Need You ~ The Gulf Needs You

We begin by setting our collective intention. Join Deepak Chopra to set our powerful vision and participate in a worldwide Intention Experiment with renowned author and scientist Lynne McTaggart. Explore how our collective intention, our voice and our commitment can impact the cleanup of the oil spill. And then we will be graced by Jean Houston who will share with us why this time matters and why we matter.

Our collective prayers and thoughts have the power to cause a profound shift on the planet. Pray with some of the most powerful spiritual thought leaders -- Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, Joan Borysenko, James O'Dea and more. Together we discover that we have the power to change the world.

Open up and connect to the deeper heart of our planet where we hear our individual and collective call to action. Together with sacred activists Barbara Marx Hubbard, Gregg Braden, and Andrew Harvey, we will take back our power and move into powerful action that will forever change our lives and the lives of generations to come.

It is all just meaningless nonsense. In case you've forgotten, here is some of the craziness Chopra peddles:

Here is some of what Chopra, a former endocrinologist in Boston hospitals, believes and teaches.

That a person is a field of vibrating energy, information and intelligence connected to the entire cosmos.

That this view is substantiated by Ayruvedic medicine of ancient India as well as theories of quantum physics.

That all organs of the body are built up from a specific sequence of vibrations, and that when organs are sick they are vibrating improperly.

That certain herbs and aromas, when applied, can help restore proper vibrations to malfunctioning liver, heart, stomach, etc.

That certain gems and crystals can rejuvenate human skin.

That good thoughts can heal the body and reverse the aging process.

That people can levitate and that he, while sitting and meditating, has flown a distance of four feet.

That one can know God at seven different levels corresponding to physical and psychological reactions in the brain, and that miracles, including visits by angels and reincarnated relatives, occur when a person leaves the material level of existence and intersects a "transitional" level called the "quantum domain."

Chopra and DreamHealer ought to get along great, so I find it a bit curious that neither mentions the other since they both claim to be conducting scientific experiments on the power of intention, with DreamHealer going as far as claiming, on the basis of one flawed experiment, that "our intentions can change the physiology of others". Maybe DreamHealer wants to emulate Chopra's successful cult on his own terms.

Not to be out done by quantum kooks, or mere "mortals" who are actually attempting real-world solutions to the disaster, Christian politicians just had to get their two cents worth of supernaturalism into the act, blurring the already fuzzy line between church and state. On June 20, CNN reported that Louisiana lawmakers propose prayer to stop oil disaster:

While cleanup crews and technical teams continue efforts to stop crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana lawmakers are proposing a different approach: prayer.

State senators designated Sunday as a day for citizens to ask for God's help dealing with the oil disaster.

"Thus far efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail," state Sen. Robert Adley said in a statement released after last week's unanimous vote for the day of prayer. "It is clearly time for a miracle for us."

The resolution names Sunday as a statewide day of prayer in Louisiana and calls on people of all religions throughout the Gulf Coast "to pray for an end to this environmental emergency, sparing us all from the destruction of both culture and livelihood."

And on June 27, the New York Times reported:

The wall between church and state came a-tumbling down on Sunday, as elected leaders from the five states on the Gulf of Mexico issued proclamations declaring it to be a day of prayer. Although days of prayer are not uncommon here — Governor Riley declared one asking for rain to relieve a drought a few years ago — these proclamations conveyed the sense that at this late date, salvation from the spill all but requires divine intervention.

In the two months since the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion began a ceaseless leak of oil into the gulf, damaging the ecosystem and disrupting the economy, the efforts by mortals to stem the flow have failed. Robots and golf balls and even the massive capping dome all seem small in retrospect.

So, then, a supplementary method was attempted: coordinated prayer.

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry encouraged Texans to ask God “for his merciful intervention and healing in this time of crisis.” In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour declared that prayer “allows us an opportunity to reflect and to seek guidance, strength, comfort and inspiration from Almighty God.” In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal invoked the word “whereas” a dozen times — as well as the state bird, the brown pelican — but made no direct mention of God. In Florida, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp asked people to pray that God “would guide and direct our civil leaders and provide them with wisdom and divinely inspired solutions.”

As I mentioned, the words "intention" and "prayer" have become interchangeable. The "coordinated prayer" referred to in that NYT article, is what people who believe in prayers do. They want as many people as possible to pray for the same thing, and even at the same time, if possible, and to continue praying. I guess their god is hard of hearing. But that is really no different than what those who believe in intentions do. They also want as many people as possible focusing their coordinated intentions. Collective prayers, collective intentions. Two sides of the same coin.

Another good example of that blurring of the distinction between intentions and prayers comes courtesy of Masaru Emoto, the Japanese 'scientist' who appeared in the film What The Bleep Do We Know?, promoting his belief in the supernatural properties of water. The Colorado newspaper, Post Independent, published a letter to the editor which included an email message from Emoto:

Yesterday we received a letter from Dr. Masaru Emoto, who many of you will recognize as the scientist from Japan who has done research and publications about the characteristics of water. Among other things, his research reveals that water physically responds to emotions.

Right now, most of us have the predominantly angry emotion when we consider what is happening in the Gulf. And while certainly we are justified in that emotion, we may be of greater assistance to our planet and its life forms, if we sincerely, powerfully and humbly pray the prayer that Dr. Emoto himself has proposed.

“I send the energy of love and gratitude to the water and all the living creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings. To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, plankton, coral, algae, and all living creatures . . . I am sorry. Please forgive us. Thank you. I love you. “

We are passing this request to people who we believe might be willing to participate in this prayer, to set an intention of love and healing that is so large, so overwhelming that we can perform a miracle in the Gulf of Mexico.

We are not powerless. We are powerful. Our united energy, speaking this prayer daily ... multiple times daily ... can literally shift the balance of destruction that is happening. We don't have to know how, we just have to recognize that the power of love is greater than any power active in the Universe today.

Please join us in often repeating this healing prayer of Dr. Emoto's. And feel free to copy and send it around the planet. Let's take charge, and do our own clean up!

There is one way in which the quantum believers and the religious believers differ regarding the oil spill. The quantum believers do not appear to assign supernatural causes to the oil spill, at least not that I could find. Religious believers, on the other hand, are quick to claim that the oil spill is predicted in the book of Revelation, and that God, for various reasons, caused the oil spill as a punishment. For example, here's what the Christian conspiracy website, The World's Prophecy, has to say about it:

Is the oil spill in the bible? Yes it is:

Before you continue reading the verse below where it predicts the oil spill, keep in mind that the Book of Revelations are full of symbolism. One example would be the great whore “Babylon” is definitely not talking about an actual “whore” or “prostitute”. The beast in Revelation 13 is not exactly talking about an actual monster, but a representation of a man with the “number” 666. So when the oil spill in the verse below talks about an angel pouring it out, do not just swallow it in a dumb way interpreting the angel as BP. As you already know, it is not only BP that has the oil spill problem, but also Chevron. The “angel” is only used as symbolism.

Revelation 16:3

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.

From Yahoo! Answers:

What color is the blood of a died man?
I’m doing a little research and I want to know what the color the blood of a died man has. sense it rots would it be black?

The colour of oxygenated blood is shiny red but after the death of a person oxygen supply will be stopped resulting de oxygenation of blood causing the colour changed to darker red and later on it will turn into brown and then black because of the absence of oxygen and due to decay.

So, there it is in black and white, or I should say, black and brown. Oil looks like a dead man's blood, so the Bible predicted the gulf oil spill. And not just the book of Revelation, but the book of Genesis too! The wing-nuts at World Net Daily are circulating a video that claims the gulf oil spill is a fulfillment of a prophecy in Genesis related to Israel:

Is there a spiritual, biblical connection to the BP oil catastrophe?

A new video on YouTube is suggesting a possible link to the disaster due to America's recent treatment of Israel, and at least one well-known Bible analyst, Hal Lindsey, thinks there's a valid correlation.

The video was produced and posted today by Carl Gallups of the Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Milton, Fla.

"April the 19th, Israel celebrates its independence in 2010," Gallups says in narration on the video. "On April the 19th, Fox News reports that the U.S. will no longer automatically support Israel in the United Nations. The next day, on April the 20th, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explodes. Coincidence? Or the hand and judgment of God?"

The minister cites an ancient promise God made to Abraham, the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel, one tribe of which is Judah, from which the Jews derive their name.

In the Book of Genesis, God told him, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse ... ."


Referring to Israel as a "prophetic signpost," Gallups said, "It seems to me we're turning our back on Israel, and that's a very dangerous biblical or spiritual place to be."

Gallups is not alone with the sentiment America could be under a curse from God.

"I believe this is evidence that when you turn your back on Israel, especially when you've been a supporter, you're gonna see judgments come from God," said Hal Lindsey, author of "The Late Great Planet Earth."

So, some Christians believe that coordinated prayers are required to implore God to intervene and stop the oil, while other Christians believe the Bible predicted the oil spill, which obviously means the oil spill is God's will, intended as punishment for the wicked people he created. Still other Christians believe God caused the oil spill specifically to punish one wicked nation. What's a God supposed to do?


The Montreal Gazette  -  October 15, 2010

Desperate people blinded by online pseudo-science

By PEGGY CURRAN, The Gazette

MONTREAL - Joe Schwarcz is sick to death of coffee enemas, macrobiotic diets, Laetrile tablets, raw juices, megavitamins, salt-water cures and urine infusions.

The director of McGill University's Office of Science and Society, Schwarcz has had it up to the eyeballs with distance healers who claim they can treat what ails you by studying a photograph or looking at the whites of your eyes.

"When you are desperate, you will clutch at anything," Schwarcz says of cancer patients who find themselves "at the mercy of quacks and charlatans."

"Desperate people will do anything. So they wind up not just desperate but destitute as well, because these 'cures' don't come cheaply."

Schwarcz, known simply as "Dr. Joe" to the many Montrealers who read his Gazette column and follow his radio show on CJAD, says there's been an explosion in pseudo-science in recent years, as the snake oil salesmen of old give way to the mountebanks of cyberspace.

"There is such a proliferation of nonsense, aided and abetted by the Internet. There is so much quackery out there."

Schwarcz has been asked to be host of the Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium at McGill, where this year's theme is Confronting Pseudo-science: A Call to Action -a fitting choice for someone who sees his mandate as "making sense out of nonsense."

The two-day forum, which is open to the public, takes place Monday and Tuesday at the Centre Mont Royal. Monday's panellists will be Ben Goldacre, the author of Bad Science and a columnist for the British newspaper the Guardian; Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine; and David Gorski, a surgical oncologist in Detroit who has spent the last decade trying to decipher and dispense information about online remedies.

Closing things off Tuesday will be James Randi, also known as The Amazing Randi, a magician and escape artist who now devotes his time to unmasking faith healers and demystifying so-called paranormal events.

Schwarcz will offer a preview today at the Redpath Museum, where he'll discuss the growth of quackery as part of the Freaky Friday lecture series.

As someone who spends a lot of time monitoring cases of suspect science, Schwarcz is troubled by the deluge of email proclaiming that doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have found a cure for cancer (they haven't) or the influence of New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra and Adam Dreamhealer, who are "beguiling people" while "laughing all the way to the bank," Schwarcz says.

Increasingly, he believes it is important for consumers to do a little critical thinking - to read the fine print, become scientifically savvy and show a little healthy skepticism when faced with promises of miracle cures and dietary supplements that contain nothing more than water and sea salt.

Schwarcz has no time for purveyors of alternative medicines who try to brand scientists as hidebound.

"When scientists start raising eyebrows at such mindless twaddle, the pseudo-science champions unleash their usual attacks, claiming that scientists are closed-minded and can only think in terms of limited paradigms. Nonsense," Schwarcz says.

"Science will embrace new ideas when there is sufficient evidence. But if evidence shows that an idea is not tenable, it should be tossed onto the pseudo-scientific junk heap."

This article was found at:



Quakes, Quacks and Kidnappers: Baptists, Scientologists, DreamHealer and Bad Consequences of Good Intentions

Wishful Thinking Won't Stop The Oil Gusher But Nuking It Would


  1. Taking a serious second look at work of Braco the Gazer

    By JOE SCHWARCZ, Freelance
    Montreal Gazette February 25, 2012

    What a clever scheme! There's no overt deception. You don't claim to be able to do anything. You don't preach. You don't offer any sort of philosophy. In fact, you don't even talk. You don't touch anyone. You don't sell any potions. You don't use any sleight of hand tricks. You don't use any sort of equipment. You don't wear strange clothes. However, you do grow your hair to project an image of a certain biblical figure associated with healing. But you don't call yourself a healer, although you do not object if others do. In fact, you do nothing but promise to gaze at people for about seven minutes if they plunk down $8. You are "Braco the Gazer." And you are a phenomenon!

    Picture this. Thousands of people flood into an auditorium, many looking ill, some hobbling with canes, others in wheelchairs, reminiscent of crowds that flock to faith healers, ready to open up their pocketbooks in return for a few miracles. But in this case there are no promises of miracles. Not directly anyway. The proceedings begin with the session's host welcoming everyone to the meeting with "the healer who doesn't call himself a healer." A nice little legalistic "out." Everyone's experience will be different, the audience is told, and "skeptics will become believers." "There should be no specific expectations." But of course there are. People have heard that Braco's silent holistic gift can clarify the mind, vanish pain and wither tumours. It can also repair stalled cars and stop cats from vomiting.

    There are a few instructions before the holy man, who does not claim to be one, appears. Cellphones and other electronic devices must be turned off because they may disrupt Braco's "energy," despite the fact that he himself makes no claim to projecting any such thing. Then a warning. The session is only for people over the age of 18, because for youngsters the gazing energy is too powerful. Ditto for women who are more than one trimester along in their pregnancy. That's a curious one, because developmental problems are most likely to be initiated in the first trimester. An exception is made on Nov. 23, Braco's birthday, when families can bring children. Perhaps on that day he tunes down the energy he makes no claim to have.

    The host's introductory remarks are followed by a video of an unfortunate skeptic who had been diagnosed with "Agent Orange cancer virus" (a befuddling term) and had attended a previous event with the healer who does not claim to be a healer. The skeptic went home, his idea that this was all bunk confirmed. But two days later, a blood test declared him to be cured! Must be some blood test, capable of detecting a nonexistent virus. After a few more words about the importance of being skeptical, and instructions to hold up photos or X-rays of sick people to be cured in absentia by the man who claims no healing ability, the time arrives for the "Silent Gaze."

    Braco, the Croatian nonhealing healer has been enthralling massive audiences in Europe for some 18 years, but only in 2010 did he discover the greenback pastures of America. In Europe, he usually limits himself to just one gazing session per day, but everything is bigger in America. Here visitors can cycle through the lines of "Braco Gazing" all day long, as long as they pay their entry fee each time. And for this all they get to do is gaze at the gazer.

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  2. continued from previous comment:

    Braco struts onto the stage, long hair flowing, face expressionless. You wouldn't be surprised to hear "Jesus Christ Superstar" bursting from the loudspeakers, but all you hear is some New Age music. Body almost motionless, he - well - gazes. That's what gazers do. They gaze. And gaze. Some of the "gazees" snicker, others revel in rapture, curiously with their eyes closed. Maybe the magical gaze penetrates eyelids.

    After about seven minutes, it's over. He glides off the stage, the room empties, ready to be refilled by a new throng, along with some repeaters who feel they need another dose of healing energy from the man who makes no claim to have any. In the lobby, there are testimonials galore about toothaches disappearing, back problems vanishing and bodies being filled with intense heat. But those who came in wheelchairs leave in them. One lady claims to have been overcome by a "big bubble of love." It is not exactly clear what this means, but she seems to have been "satisfied." There are books and DVDs to buy, as well as jewellery that features a 13-pronged star. Again, no claims are made other than that the Sun is the symbol of life and the Sun is the source, which gives us life, light and energy. Can't argue with that.

    Of course, not everyone can get to one of Braco's events. That's no problem, though, because thanks to modern technology you can experience the gaze through live streaming. At $3 per session it seems a bargain. That's a lot less than what one might spend on various dietary supplements, magnets, crystals, pendulums, power bracelets, aerobic oxygen solutions or homeopathic preparations that are marketed with testimonials virtually identical to those heard from people who have been gazed at by Braco.

    I thought I'd give the silent gazer a look. He is a good gazer, I'll give him that. But there was no heat, no infusion of vitality, no sensations of inner peace, no awakenings of consciousness, just some thoughts about what he was thinking about as his gaze delivered its dose of placebo. Maybe I should have stuck with it for the full 20 minutes I paid for. Maybe it's a dose dependent thing. I can't complain though. Unlike detox foot pads, Kangen water, or zero energy healing wands that do not live up to their lofty promises, Braco gives you exactly what you paid for. He will gaze at you for the period of time you purchased. A clever man. A lot more clever than the folks he gazes at.

    Joe Schwarcz is director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society (OSS.McGill.ca). He can be heard every Sunday from 3-4 p.m. on CJAD radio. joe.schwarcz@mcgill.ca