A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing


Just in time for Halloween, we bring you a terrifying pseudoscientific YouTube video, courtesy of a 2007 Wellness Seminar in Bozeman, Montana. (h/t: PZ Myers of Pharyngula — perhaps you know him by his hip-hop moniker, P-Zeddy.) The woman is attempting to "explain" the "scientific" basis for homeopathy by invoking the name of Albert Einstein, among other luminaries. Her (highly disjointed and rambling) argument appears to boil down to this:

[pseudospeak on] Einstein said that light times mass is energy in his famous equation, E=mc<2>. But how much mass are we, really? Compress all the mass in the universe so that there is no space at all, and you'd get something the size of a bowling ball. So, really, our body's mass is an infinitesemal amount! Which means we can just cancel out that pesky "m" expression in Einstein's equation to conclude that light is energy. How amazing is that? And since our bodies have almost no mass, really, that means we are made of energy. Energy can't be created or destroyed, only transformed from one state to another state. That is the definition of disease: we have transformed our healthy energy state into a diseased energy state. Homeopathy just transforms one form of energy to another to "heal" disease.

And hey, speaking of vibrations, there's a physicist name Stephen Hawkings who invented the string theory that says the particles in the universe are tiny strings that work by vibration — those very same vibrations picked up by our eyes and ears. If none of us having any real mass, and everything is energy, that means everything has a vibration to it. We just need to encase some form of energy for later use! Homeopathy is teh awesome! [/pseudospeak off]

Sigh. Really, there's so much wrong or misguided here, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Seriously, would it have killed her to look up "Stephen Hawkings" on Wikipedia to learn that there is no "s" in his surname, and that he actually works on general relativity? And that string theory was invented in the 1970s by numerous theorists, including Gabriele Veneziano and Leonard Susskind, among others? (Veneziano is the one who first unearthed a long-forgotten equation by Leonhard Euler 200 years earlier, and Susskind found the equation could describe not just the strong nuclear force, but also vibrating elastic particles.)

This is a prime example of how well-meaning but misguided people learn a few cool-sounding physics terms — thermodynamics! string theory! relativity! — and try to twist otherwise perfectly valid science around to justify their personal beliefs. But that isn't science, people; it's the classic definition of pseudoscience. Watch the whole scary thing… if you dare! Don't be surprised if your head goes all 'splodey.

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