Saturday, July 19, 2008

JJNN Saturday: Pseudoscience - 02

Welcome again to JJNN for Saturday July 18th, 2008. Today I will be looking at something that really stinks.

Well I guess it doesn't stink for everyone. I will be talking about feet. You may be asking yourself what feet have to do with pseudoscience, but there is a connection. I come across this connection at least once a week and it always annoys me.

On my walk to go to work on certain days I have to walk in front of a store with a picture like this posted on its front door.

Well, as you can see, they are feet. But, notice that the feet are separated into many different areas. All of the areas have some sort of symbol on them. Those symbols are the Japanese symbols for other parts of the body. For example the tips of all of the toes have the symbol for the nose or the 3rd area down under the big toe is the symbol for the heart.

So, why are the feet separated into different areas that have symbols for different parts of the body? Well, apparently, those parts of the feet are magically connected to those parts of the body. For example, if you find you can't smell as well as you used to (or your nose hurts) all you have to do is have someone massage the tips of your toes. Or, if you find that your heart is not working as well as it should all you have to do is have someone massage that part of your feet. After that massage your suppose to end up in perfect health (for the part of the body connected to the part of your foot that got massaged).

Before I tell you exactly what I feel about this I want to talk about how it is suppose to work. Well, one way it is suppose to work is by activating lymph nodes. Well, there are lymphatic vessels in the foot, but it doesn't look like there are any real vessels at the bottom of the foot. On top of that there are no lymph nodes in the foot. The closest ones seem to be near the crotchal area (it's a real word...look it up). I am not a doctor so if I am wrong about this call me out on it. This all means that the lymph system does not make this work.

Another reason people give for this to work is energy. A certain part of the foot is connected to a certain part of the body with a flow of energy. If the flow of an energy gets blocked it can be unblocked by massaging that area of the foot. This in turn will make that area of the body better. This energy flow can not be found scientifically. There is no way that anyone can prove that it actually exists, so I have to say that energy can't be the answer either.

Now, let's look at this though the glasses of a scientist. Energy and the lymph system are thrown out the window. What does that leave? Well in my own humble point of view I think that it is probably a form of a placebo effect. If you go into a place and pay some money (sometimes a lot of money) to get some relief for a symptom of some sort you want to get that relief. You will convince yourself that you will get the relief and because you do that you will actually get it for a little while. This is all because the person that gives you the massage will show you a chart and explain things to you. That along with the relaxing atmosphere of the office and the massage itself will set up a series of events in your brain that will lead to perceived relief.

Well, if that's true, why is going to one of these places bad? Well, for one, it is expensive. You are basically handing your wallet over to a con-man that will give you nothing in return. Also, if you have something really wrong with you (like cancer) and you go to that place to get cured it could lead to your death. How could it lead to your death? Well picture this, a man has severe headaches all the time. Instead of going to the hospital to find out what is really wrong with him he decides to go to one of these massage places instead. The headaches may go away because of what I explained above, but they eventually come back. The man decides to keep going to the massage places because it gives him temporary relief, but unfortunately a foot massage does not destroy a brain tumor. The man ends up dead, his family ends up very sad and the foot massage specialist ends up rich. Fair? I think not.

I really don't want to talk about this any more because it does make me mad. Seeing as I have a date later tonight (yay!) I don't want to be mad, I want to be happy. But, I will leave you with this. How long do you think people train to become one of these massage specialists? Three years in university? Two years in vocational collage? No. In most countries it is less than 6 months of study. It is all just a big scam. The "university" that trains the practitioners gets money, the practitioners get money from the patients, and also there are a lot of people that made devices for home massage that cost a lot of money. I really hate to see people getting duped out of their hard earned money.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 足つぼ(あしつぼ). It is pronounced ashi-tsubo and means pressure point on the bottom of the foot. There are pressure points everywhere, but lately the ones on the bottom of the foot are the ones that are in vogue. I really don't get it. I mean the only reason I would go in for a foot massage is if I had sore feet.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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