The power of vibrations!!

AlexV

New Member
Hey all, my name is alex and this is my first post, wooo! Speaking of woo, I know a person that spouts constant bunk and quackery that needs to be shot down (ideologically).I'll be honest, I'm not a physicist or a scientific scholar in any field so my capacity for arguing against this nonsense is fairly limited..


So a friend of mine's mother, (lets call her deb) always says things like "specific words have power, if you write a word down on a peice of paper and put that paper under an electromagnet, youll see that its vibrating under a specific, powerful frequency", "theyre powerful because the mind creates them and the mind sends out vibrations".She said this yesturday, to whoch I replied by covering my face with my hands and saying "that's mentally retarded".Reminds me of that japanese quack who wrote words next to water and froze the water then looked at the way the ice froze compared to the word and drew a faulty parallel between the structure of the ice and the word.She also claimed that nobody understands what dark matter is, but she does and that some things should not be understood by humanity.When I responded by telling her how scientific she sounded she said "I love math, I love science, I love physics".Guess she didnt read my sarcasm.

Maybe itd help you further understand deb if I mentioned that she buys into "The secret", "indigo children", "magic crystals" pretty much all the pseudoscientific claims out there, she believes them and her only defense is that "science doesnt have the resources or technology to disprove it".

I was raised by christian fundies and even THEY seem relatively logical by comparison.

Help!
 
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
It's a bit of a wide subject. Can you narrow it down? As it is it sounds a bit like, 'debunk my mum's nutty friend' which is a little difficult, but a specific claim she makes might be.
It's probably not really worth debunking something like...
"specific words have power, if you write a word down on a peice of paper and put that paper under an electromagnet, youll see that its vibrating under a specific, powerful frequency",
Did she mean an electron-microscope? Paper's not usually known for it's magnetic properties.

Just try and get her to think a little more thoroughly about what she's saying, by gently questioning each claim a little bit more. Can she define what a 'specific', 'powerful' frequency is?

As far as I know 'dark matter' is just the universe that is not seen by our current instruments.

Maybe just ignore her and change the subject to something you both can enjoy.
 

AlexV

New Member
Im sure that's what she meant. It might not be worth it, but when a person is saying things like "jesus christ existed and he was an extraterrestrial" or "when you die , how do you explain this certain amount of weight you lose, it must be the result of your spirit leaving your body".

I tried telling her that the words that humans have created and our feelings towards each individual word spanning every possible language is arbitrary and subjective and if any other possible outcomes that led us to develop those words were replaces by subtly differant to profound interdependant factors and our languages were entirely differant sounding then you could say the same exact thing about them interchangeably with our own words.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Im sure that's what she meant. It might not be worth it, but when a person is saying things like "jesus christ existed and he was an extraterrestrial" or "when you die , how do you explain this certain amount of weight you lose, it must be the result of your spirit leaving your body".

I tried telling her that the words that humans have created and our feelings towards each individual word spanning every possible language is arbitrary and subjective and if any other possible outcomes that led us to develop those words were replaces by subtly differant to profound interdependant factors and our languages were entirely differant sounding then you could say the same exact thing about them interchangeably with our own words.

Looks as if right there you have two separate topics to discuss. Best NOT to discuss the person(s) who believe these, but address the viability of the specific beliefs, one-at-a-time.

Adding: The discussions you will get a chance to read, on each topic, will be thoughtful and though provoking (...I predict...hey, I'm a "psychic"! ;) ).

These ideas from the MB community will be useful, one hopes, in your "tool box" of rational explanation and engagement in conversation with the people in your life who you encounter, and who have such "beliefs".
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Does she ever discuss the evide for her beliefs? Like actual records of the experiments, not just anecdotes she has heard?

It's best to focus on something specific. Get her to to demonstrate something by performing an experiment herself.
 

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
I'd suggest what Mick said, just start by challenging her to support her stories. You could also say that it is illogical to say that certain things exist and that science just doesn't have the technology to detect them yet. You could make that argument for literally anything and if you can't describe something scientifically (repeatable data) or predict it with a working model then there is nothing to justify it as a possible truth.

Just be polite and use simple reasoning. Here is a decent source for discussions on a broad range of bunk.

http://skepdic.com
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
If it's printed with laser toner or iron gall ink, it's magnetic enough to be dangerous in a hospital's MRI room. Even a good rare earth magnet won't do anything visible to either one, though. Somehow I doubt your friend's alternative medicine requires a million dollar piece of mainstream medical technology, however.

"I love math, I love science, I love physics"... "science doesnt have the resources or technology to disprove it"
These statements are so incompatible with one another I can only assume she missed her true calling in politics.
 

Miles Bloomer

New Member
So a friend of mine's mother, (lets call her deb) always says things like "specific words have power, if you write a word down on a peice of paper and put that paper under an electromagnet, youll see that its vibrating under a specific, powerful frequency", "theyre powerful because the mind creates them and the mind sends out vibrations".

''Vibrations'' is an arbitrary term which corresponds to the new-age intuition and tradition. It is effectively an entirely dubious term as the actual definition of ''vibrations'' is not stated.

The mind does not send out ''vibrations'' in the sense that it transfers energy which is translated into kinetic atomic energy - it does however emit an electromagnetic field as a byproduct of the many electro-chemical translations required to sustain consciousness - however these electromagnetic fields are barely readable 1 mm or so away from the skull - and that aspect only addresses the detection with complex and very sensitive electroencephalography (EEG) equipment.


Conversely, these electromagnetic fields are incredibly weak - a refrigerator magnet emits an electromagnetic field many magnitudes more powerful than the human brain. (For reference, the human brain emits a magnetic field on the order of picotesla. Comparitively, a refrigerator magnet emits a magnetic field on the order of millitesla - three magnitudes more powerful than the human brain's magnetic field.)

Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_(magnetic_field)


She said this yesturday, to whoch I replied by covering my face with my hands and saying "that's mentally retarded".Reminds me of that japanese quack who wrote words next to water and froze the water then looked at the way the ice froze compared to the word and drew a faulty parallel between the structure of the ice and the word.She also claimed that nobody understands what dark matter is, but she does and that some things should not be understood by humanity.When I responded by telling her how scientific she sounded she said "I love math, I love science, I love physics".Guess she didnt read my sarcasm.

You did not mention that she is a physicist - she is in no stance to make such a bold statement.

"I love math, I love science, I love physics"... "science doesnt have the resources or technology to disprove it"

That is a prime example of an antithesis. It is illogical to prove a negative. The scientific consensus operates on the framework of hypothesis, experimentation, observation, and analysis - I'm not sure how the scientific community would go about ''disproving'' something for which there is no evidence.

Maybe itd help you further understand deb if I mentioned that she buys into "The secret", "indigo children", "magic crystals" pretty much all the pseudoscientific claims out there, she believes them and her only defense is that "science doesnt have the resources or technology to disprove it".

I was raised by christian fundies and even THEY seem relatively logical by comparison.

Delusions of grandeur are really not all that uncommon. There is no scientific evidence to substantiate the alleged existence of ''the secret'', ''indigo children'', or ''magic crystals''.

Further reading:
http://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/2008/delusion-of-grandeur/
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Delusions_of_grandeur
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/New_Age
 
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Does she ever discuss the evide for her beliefs? Like actual records of the experiments, not just anecdotes she has heard?
It's best to focus on something specific. Get her to to demonstrate something by performing an experiment herself.
I bet a misrepresentation of the 'double-slit' experiment gets a mention.
 

"They"

New Member
So a friend of mine's mother, (lets call her deb) always says things like "specific words have power, if you write a word down on a peice of paper and put that paper under an electromagnet, youll see that its vibrating under a specific, powerful frequency", "theyre powerful because the mind creates them and the mind sends out vibrations"

Ask her if it only works when written in English or if it works with all the other 6500 languages across the world.
also,
Suggest to her to try using the Scientific Method to prove what she is saying.
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
The "scientific method".

Yeah, I am a "fan" of that process. Let's keep it in mind, going forward in this thread.
 

KAT

Active Member
A lot of woo is not meant to be taken literally. It's allegorical. It gets believed by peopled looking for something to belong to. Or a simple superficial explanation for phenomena ( often psychic or emotional in nature) of which the more scientific explanations are too hard (eg why do they have this need in the first place?) Sounds like she's just parroting words to comfort herself somehow, with no deep belief involved at all.

?"science doesnt have the resources or technology to disprove it".? never has been a reason for believing something. Nor do you have to disprove any of it for her. It is up to the person believing/claiming something to PROVE it, not for the rest of the world to disprove it.

So, next time she says something like this
"specific words have power, if you write a word down on a peice of paper and put that paper under an electromagnet, youll see that its vibrating under a specific, powerful frequency",

JUMP at the chance. Great, good, excellent, why don't we try it RIGHT NOW? hang on, how will we measure the frequency? what do we want this power to achieve? does it matter what word we use? what language? biro or pencil? let's see if different words do different frequencies....

In other words, don't try to debunk her ideas. Show interest, to get her to try explaining her theory to you. She might learn a bit of scientific method in designing her answer, so in future be less likely to accept something uncritically.
 

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