Healing magnets, water dilution, and other pseudosciences contributes to lethal trends
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
I believe if you sell spiritualism as a science, you are a bad person, and should be considered a criminal.
Healing is complicated. For some, it’s a precise scientific process backed by the global medical community and peer-reviewed data. For others, it’s a spiritual process with rituals and traditions honed by generations of practitioners. It’s not a strict divide—after all, a lot of modern medicine comes from traditional practices refined over the years. However, they are separate concepts, used for different things. When you pretend that a spiritual tradition is a science, people can—and do—get hurt.
I’m not here to disparage Indigenous healing methods, pagan rituals, or the power of religious prayer. Those are all extremely important things to the people that practice them, and if you believe any of these practices can heal the soul, the more power to you. Many traditional healing methods really do help people heal physically too, with the use of certain herbs which contain certain chemicals. If these are used for emotional or spiritual well-being, that’s awesome and should be encouraged. That’s not what kills people. The use of these traditional remedies (or reinterpretations of them) and presenting them as peer-reviewed, provably-effective medicine does.
Take magnets, for example. How do they work? Scientifically, it involves electric currents being pushed through materials that react by generating a field, with that field increasing in strength with more magnetic material. So, it’s no surprise pseudoscientific products advertising the science-proven healing power of magnets over the iron in your blood would pop up. Magnetic bracelets, rings, necklaces, and other ornaments are found in shopping malls across Vancouver, covered in very science-y terms like “ferromagnetic” and “realignment.” Only one problem: The amounts of iron in human blood is so sparse, it generates no magnetic field. At all. The most powerful magnet on Earth would have basically no impact you. Those magnetic healing bracelets are as legitimately scientific as Magneto, but people will wear them instead of seeking help for depression, or getting antibiotics, or talking to a doctor. It’s an entire industry built exclusively on encouraging fear and offering total non-solutions.
This kind of emotional exploitation has no place in a society like ours, where we at least try to care about the health of other Canadians. Slapping a picture of a smiling man in a doctor’s lab coat on a bottle of plain water and claiming it’s been “ionized to empower the immune system” is more than just a cynical business plan; it’s outright lying to people. A pill containing a statistically negligible amount of nightshade should not be sold next to actual antidepressants that—unlike the invisible amounts of nightshade—have a verifiable impact on brain chemistry. I’m not just saying that it’s immoral to present these things as science—it should be illegal. If I sold real steak at a restaurant but advertised it as vegan soy steak, I’d be shut down and facing fines in a day. The idea that medication should be a near free-for-all for the best-advertised products is ridiculous.
The poor understanding of science is something we on the West Coast should feel strongly about. It’s not a coincidence whooping cough has reappeared in towns with large anti-vaccination movements like Chilliwack and Abbotsford. It’s not a coincidence that our province, with its resurgence of preventable disease, also has some of the worst mental health care in the country. These products pretending to be scientifically-proven are feeding a culture that has already killed people in our community. This is not a culture our laws should be allowing to fester.