How big a sucker are you?

Abstract: Think you can spot pseudoscience? Then take the test... Craniosacral therapy is at the very frontier of a branch of neurology that hopes to find cures for many of the debilitating neuromuscular diseases that still challenge medicine; including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and multiple sclerosis. Except it's not. It's actually a non-scientific, so-called 'alternative' form of 'healing' that believes that gently massaging the skull and the sacrum - the large triangular bone at the base of the spine - will align harmony within the body. It'll make you feel good - as any good massage would - but it can't cure you of any neuromuscular disease. The proof is in its own claims: "[it] works with the whole person and changes may (my italics) occur in body, mind and spirit during and after sessions". And there's that key phrase: 'mind, body and spirit' -

Coning? Are you a barbarian?

Abstract: Ever thought of candling to remove 'negative energy'. Then you need a smack to the head. Or to read this... Few things catch my eye in store windows nowadays. Blame it on old age and my perfunctory disregard for all things fashionable. But not so long ago I did a double take when walking past a health shop near my apartment in London. In the window was a picture of a woman lying on her side with a candle sticking out of her ear. It was an advert for a procedure they offered called coning, and which it claimed could cure all manner of ills. I thought it looked rather medieval, even barbaric. That's because it is, and modern science can prove it. Coning, sometimes called 'ear candling' or 'auricular candling' (to try and sound like a proper medical procedure), involves sticking a candle

Why you don’t howl at the moon

Abstract: Why claims of lunar-induced lunacy are bollocks... One of the most fascinating people I ever met when I started in radio was the station's late night presenter. He was something of a wistful, so-called New Age character. When I first met him his head was buried in his hands as he bemoaned the fact that it was a full moon that night. "What difference does that make?" I asked him. He gave me a tired smile and shook his head, "'Cos it brings out the crazies." I remember thinking, "Hey, it's the 1980s! Do people still believe that rubbish?" [I may have used another word.] It seems they did - and still do. And not just in a silly, breathless Twilight-Saga-kiss-the-werewolf-and-he-turns-into-a-strapping-young-hunk kind of way. But rather in a furiously nodding, yes-there's-definitely-something-in-it kind of way. So I'd be failing in my duty as Sceptic