Skeptic News: Crystals, Black Holes and Dark DNA

NZ Skeptics Newsletter


Crystals, Black Holes and Dark DNA

I told you all three weeks ago that I was going to visit the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosicrucians, and I can report that I survived the meeting intact. My friend Tim and I had a great chat with three of the group’s members about their beliefs, and about the history of the organisation. Much of what we heard sounded very familiar, with an organisational structure that reminded me of Scientology (making your way up the “Bridge”) and a belief in visualisation that was akin to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”, where if you imagine something enough it will come true for you.

After this event, we decided to visit a Hemi-Sync event (binaural beats) and a Share International meeting about angels. However, both of these meetings fell through, and so instead I woke up yesterday morning and jumped into my car to visit our local Wellington chapter of the Builders of the Adytum for a Qabalistic Service. Unfortunately, contrary to the assertion on their sign, the doors to the temple were firmly shut.



So my fellow intrepid explorers from Wellington Skeptics in the Pub and I walked up the road and joined Kirtan at the local Sikh temple, followed by driving to nearby Arise Church where we took part in an evangelical Christian service with a rock band, stage lighting and cheering crowd:



All in all it was a good morning, and we’ve promised the Sikh temple that we will visit them again soon as they are keen to sit down and chat with us.

Mark Honeychurch

We have our own Monolith

In the news this morning, it’s been reported that our very own New Zealand monolith has appeared at Adventure Park in Christchurch. I’d love to think that this monolith could stay until I get a chance to visit it, but given that the original monolith mysteriously disappeared, and that a bunch of young Christians destroyed a similar monolith in California and replaced it with a cross, I worry that our version may not last long.

I have to assume that this proliferation of monoliths, rather than being a carefully planned stunt, is more likely to be the work of copy cats who want to add to the mystery. My understanding is that the monoliths are rather simply constructed, and that the hard problems are getting them to their destination and digging a hole to place them in.

Crystal Healing that works?

In one of our Facebook groups this week there was a recent discussion started by Donald Pettitt about his visit to a “crystal healer” to help with issues he’s been having with his balance:

“I've been having balance issues due to a head injury on my bike ride about 4 months ago.
I went to a crystal healer a few days ago. Turns out there is real science behind it!”

The post linked to a Mayo Clinic article explaining exactly what this healing is. In the ensuing conversation Jonny Grady, a committee member who I’m sure many of you have met, wrote a very nice summary of what this is all about:
There is some genuine science here, but also a lot of misinformation. The ‘crystals’ talked about here have absolutely nothing to do with the ‘traditional’ crystal healers (as I’m sure you all figured).

There are ‘otoconia’ (calcium carbonate crystals) in your vestibular portion of the inner ear which act to help detect linear acceleration of your head and your head’s general orientation in space in relation to gravity. The cavity they reside in acts a bit like a ‘snow globe’; if you tip a snow globe on it’s side, the ‘snow flakes’ inside will shift towards the bottom of the glass bulb under the force of gravity. If you tip your head on its side the otoconia will shift in a similar way, like sand cascading towards the lowest point in relation to gravity. Tiny sensory ‘hair cells’ (stereocilia) lining the bowl of the cavities (utricle and saccule) detect this change in the alignment of these otoconia, which corresponds to your head position in relation to gravity or linear head motion.

There are also special fluid-filled loops in the vestibular organs with stereocilia (the Semi-circular canals), which are evolved to detect rotary head motion (head turns). They operate a little differently. If you turn your head in a certain direction, the fluid in your semicircular canal lags behind the head motion, causing it to brush past the stereocilia, triggering them to indicate that your head is turning. There are three of these semicircular canals in each ear, each corresponding to a different orientation in head rotary head movement.

Now, if the otoconia from the utricle and saccule get out of those spaces and get into the semicircular canals, they can sit on or brush past those stereocilia sense organs, triggering them to tell you your head is turning, even when it isn’t. This mis-match between what your vestibular/balance organ is telling you (you’re moving) and what your vision and proprioception are telling you (you’re not!) is what makes you feel dizzy. This can happen if you get a traumatic hit to the head; the otoconia can get into the semicircular canals, causing the dizziness. We also get more prone to this as we get older (it’s pretty common in retirees).
If this happens, there are manual head-rotation exercises that can be done that help the otoconia travel from the semicircular canals back into the utricle and saccule.

So yes! This is the only time in medicine that you can legitimately go to a clinician to “have your crystals realigned”!
Nice work, Jonny - thanks for helping us to be a little smarter.

Does anyone know what Dark DNA is?

Retraction Watch have written a nice summary of the year in retractions for The Scientist magazine. Unsurprisingly many of the scientific articles that have been retracted this year are on the topic of COVID-19, but there was one that caught my eye from the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences titled:

“A black hole at the center of earth plays the role of the biggest system of telecommunication for connecting DNAs, dark DNAs and molecules of water on 4+N- dimensional manifold.”

The abstract for the paper reads like the back-story for a trashy sci-fi book written by William Shatner (and yes, I’ve read Shatner’s TekWar - it’s not very good):

“Recently, some scientists from NASA have claimed that there may be a black hole like structure at the centre of the earth. We show that the existence of life on the earth may be a reason that this black hole like object is a black brane that has been formed from biological materials like DNA. Size of this DNA black brane is 109 times longer than the size of the earth’s core and compacted interior it. By compacting this long object, a curved space-time emerges, and some properties of black holes emerge. This structure is the main cause of the emergence of the large temperature of the core, magnetic field around the earth and gravitational field for moving around the sun. Also, this structure produces some waves which act like topoisomerase in biology and read the information on DNAs. However, on the four-dimensional manifold, DNAs are contracted at least four times around various axis’s and waves of earth couldn’t read their information. While, by adding extra dimensions on 4 +n-dimensional manifold, the separation distance between particles increases and all of the information could be recovered by waves. For this reason, each DNA has two parts which one can be seen on the four-dimensional universe, and another one has existed in extra dimensions, and only it’s e_ects is observed. This dark part of DNA called as a dark DNA in an extra dimension. These dark DNAs not only exchange information with DNAs but also are connected with some of the molecules of water and helps them to store information and have memory. Thus, the earth is the biggest system of telecommunication which connects DNAs, dark DNAs and molecules of water.”

The paper’s author, Dr Massimo Fioranelli, mentions on his website (in Italian) that:

“Ho studiato varie discipline a connotazione “naturale”: la medicina fisiologica di regolazione, la nutrizione, la medicina low-dose, la fitoterapia, l’agopuntura, il microbioma, le tecniche psicologiche, la mindfulness, la meditazione, lo yoga e molte altre.”

Thankfully google translate makes a good effort at making sense of this for me, given that my grasp of Italian is non-existent:

“I studied various disciplines with a "natural" connotation: physiological regulation medicine, nutrition, low-dose medicine, phytotherapy, acupuncture, microbiome, psychological techniques, mindfulness, meditation, yoga and many others.”

So it looks like Dr Fioranelli has taken the Kool-Aid of alternative medicine, and as so often happens this has likely led him down the path towards believing in all kinds of unproven nonsense, and even now making up his own novel (read: daft) ideas.

(As a side note, I was going to be clever and mention that at Jonestown the cult used Flavor-Aid rather than Kool-Aid in their massacre, but I’ve now learned that the cult had both brands of flavoured drink mix at Jonestown, and it’s unclear which was was used on the fateful day)

Weirdly this article was published in a special “Global Dermatology” issue of the journal, which makes me wonder whether it just bypassed peer review all together - after all, it’s hard to see how a black hole in the centre of our planet which allows communication between our DNA and a higher dimension DNA has much of anything to do with skin, hair or nails. And it turns out that this isn’t the only recent dermatology slip up - Retraction Watch mentions that one of the paper’s co-authors, Uwe Wollina, has written a huge number of other papers that appear to be pure pseudoscience. This debacle has been documented by Der Spiegel in Germany (although the article is unfortunately both in German and behind a paywall).

I suppose we can at least be thankful that this paper was eventually retracted. Who knows how many other nonsense papers are flying under the radar, being cited by alternative medicine practitioners as proof that their dubious therapies are “proven” by science.

Glittery Just Desserts

As Skeptics we're not very fond of scammers, and we often try to protect the public from those who would rip them off with dodgy devices and ineffective products. The video below documents a feat of engineering, a device that targets the problem in the US of people who steal people's parcels - and it targets them in a pretty funny way. Although theft is not really a scam, it's still enjoyable to see unethical people get their comeuppance - and it's mentioned later on in the video that this device has also recently been used against scammers. And to be honest, I needed a good excuse to share this video!
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