Published on October 31st, 2014 | by Rayne24
Woo and Lament Series: Woofest 2014 – Episode 1: The Beginning
For reasons only known to the small dark arsehole-like part of my brain, I decided that going to the Mind, Body, Spirit festival (AKA Woofest) was a fantastic idea.
Because a skeptic among people who believe aura photography isn’t a scam, is a brilliant idea. Search for #woofest on Twitter to find my tweets from the day or read my Woofest: A Story in Tweets blog post.
The idea spawned a few months ago when I was looking for things to do for my birthday and I wondered whether pseudoscientists have conventions.
Turns out they do.
The sadist side of my brain somehow convinced the masochist side of my brain that going to the convention would be a pile of shit and giggles, off I went. I booked flights and accommodation and wife and I went on our merry way. I learned a lot that weekend.
The first thing I learned was: I am the dick on the plane who loves turbulence. While everyone else is white-knuckled and looking slightly green, I’m flailing around with my hands in the air, laughing like a manic. In hindsight, that may explain the glares I was getting.
We approached the convention after a morning flight and rather nice oatmeal biscuit on the plane. The first mystery was this guy who was pissing behind the toilet block. The door to the toilet was right around the corner.
The first of many strange occurrences that day.
The convention hall was lined with stalls from new age wooists to pseudoscientific alternative medicine: Reflexology, iridology, a Christian church with a really creepy guy wanting me to go into a darkened stall so he could pray for me, aura photography, a chiropractor, a vegan stall, aromatherapy, acupressure massages, three reiki healers that looked bored while in the midst of “healing” someone, about 50 psychics – all giving readings (one of which had won the “Psychic of the Year Award”) and a terrifying abundance of women who put crystals in their vaginas as a means to increase their sex drive.
The convention featured not only stalls but many speakers as well. Some of the talks included:
Why personal care products make you fat and affect your hormones and what you can do about it!
Australian flowers, their healing powers
Become your own psychic
Emotional release with lymphatic drainage
Be a ‘medium’
Sick building syndrome and EMF – their effects on the body
Quantum physics and the supernatural realm
Recovering from food intolerances with natural medicines
Become your own psychic
Replenishing your life through cellular regeneration
Are you an empath?
Uncovering the unique gift of the empath, how it manifests in your life and in the world
The moon and you
You can see why I wanted to go, right? This wasn’t just a new age convention, it was a room full of people who want to turn society back into the Dark Ages.
It’s easy to make fun of woo and pseudoscience. Woo especially because it is pure bullshit designed to make people feel elitist and special. The concept of the psychic has been created from equal parts con job and magical thinking – designed to line the pockets of people who feel they have a special gift a very select few have. That select few line their pockets with the money of people who need to feel in control of their lives – if they know what is going to happen next, they have a sense of security. This isn’t inherently a bad thing except when you base your entire life on what a psychic says. You probably shouldn’t be basing life decisions on the words of a person who says they hear voices of dead people.
For those who are scientifically literate, it’s easy to scoff at pseudoscience because we know how and why it’s bullshit – it’s definitely easy to forget the dangers of it. Pseudoscientists turn people away from medicine to get more customers through their door. They spread lies about vaccines and medications to line their own pockets. In the case of the cancer patients at the convention – they line their pockets with the money of vulnerable sick people desperately looking for a cure and who have most likely been scared away from medicine or given a terminal prognosis.
It made me think about how many of the stall holders were sincere and how many were con-artists.
Many had signs with no real evidence to support their assertions and many of those assertions looked plausible to people with no medical or scientific background.
Some of them didn’t make any sense at all but I know how to science, that’s most likely why I was so damned confused. I haven’t been that confused since I got a weird lesbian boner for Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor and the Avengers.
And some places like the one above, sell crystals. Polished gems and minerals for $5 a pop that apparently have “spiritual” properties that somehow do the same thing as medication and doctors.
There was a psychic at the convention whose main selling point was that she had won the “Psychic of the Year Award”, wouldn’t she have seen it coming? It wouldn’t be a very exciting award ceremony. Psychics are the epitome of exploiting gullible people.
There were also chiropractors and reiki “healers”, a few stalls were for iridologists – the peddlers of the quack diagnosis. Several stalls were set up for people selling jewellery that could “balance your chakras”. Chakras as you may or may not know is another term for “vital energy”, if that “vital energy” is somehow unbalanced, it can caused a whole heap of problems mentally and physically. There were people selling jewellery that could balance your chakras which apparently can lead to better health.
I have a necklace at home with a gem in it and it doesn’t do fuck all for my Irritable Bowl Syndrome, what kind of satanic ritual do I need to do to bless my necklace with the power to control my digestive system? If “chakra balancing” worked – one would think they have a moral duty to tell hospitals to help people with illnesses.
I’m going to explore more in-depth about chiropractors, iridologists and reiki healers in later blogs. Chiropractors, much like homeopaths and acupuncturists have attempted to set themselves up as a legit form of treatment even though it has been built on top of pure bullshit. I don’t care if your back pain disappeared when a chiropractor in a cheap lab coat pressed on your spine – the foundations of chiropractic are bullshit. Pseudoscience is still pseudoscience even if someone has had a magic massage from a quack in a coat which made their pain disappear.
I think my favourite stall of the entire day was a tie between the aura photography stall and the MetaTherapy stall:
I didn’t get a chance to be scanned at the MetaTherapy stall but if this explanation of what MetaTherapy is doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what will:
“Metatron is a revolutionary computer-non-linear scanner that provides extremely accurate diagnosis of any energetic disturbance within the person. Once the Metatron locates energetic disturbance, it continues to seek for root cause of the disrupted energy flow to cellular level and even to chromosomes and gene level also. After completing the analysis, Metatron stimulates body’s healing process by using Metatherapy. The Metatron records the condition of the treatments and allows the practitioner to compare the before and after changes.”
At least I had one question answered that day.
For more in the Woo and Lament series, check out
Woofest 2014: The Beginning.
Woofest 2014: Episode 2: Quack diagnosis
Woofest 2014: Episode 3: Psychics playing the “Mystery Card”
Woofest 2014: Episode 4: A story in tweets
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