Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ORMUS to the rescue

Ever heard of ORMUS?

I hadn't, until a loyal reader of Skeptophilia sent me a link.  And when I got it, my first thought was that ORMUS sounds like the villain from a cut-rate 1960s science fiction movie.

But no.  ORMUS stands for "orbitally rearranged monoatomic elements," even though that spells ORME and not ORMUS.  The whole thing was supposedly discovered in 1975 by healer and erstwhile Arizona cotton farmer David Hudson, who claimed that he was drying out some minerals in the sunlight, but they exploded and disappeared completely, thus leading him to the discovery of "an exotic state of matter, where the metals do not form any bonds or crystals but exist as separate single atoms" and disproving the First Law of Thermodynamics simultaneously.  Even though ingesting stuff that explodes violently is generally speaking a bad idea, Hudson said that said exotic matter was good for damn near anything.  According to RationalWiki, here's a "non-exhaustive list" of things that ORMUS can allegedly do:
  • Cure all forms of disease, including cancer and AIDS
  • Correct errors in the DNA
  • Act as a superconductor
  • Emit gamma radiation
  • Partially levitate in the Earth's magnetic field
  • Read a person's mind
  • Have a "weigh-ability" different from mass, which probably means an inertial mass different from the gravitational mass
  • Be fused into a transparent glass
  • Act as a flash powder, causing "explosions of light"
  • Make severed cat tails grow back
Notwithstanding that several of them seem mutually exclusive -- such as "correct errors in the DNA" and "emit gamma radiation" -- Hudson and his followers have insisted that the stuff is real.  This is despite the fact that Hudson himself gives every evidence of having failed 8th grade physical science; for example, he repeatedly says thathere are 1018 ergs in one gauss, which is odd because an "erg" is a unit of energy and a "gauss" a unit of magnetic flux density, which are not even close to the same thing.  So this statement is a little like trying to figure out how many minutes there are in a kilogram.

After reading the RationalWiki  article I thought, "Okay, this claim is so obviously wrong that no one could possibly fall for it."  So I did a search for "ORMUS products."

And turns out, I was the one who was wrong.  About people falling for it, at least.  I got 425,000 hits, which made me want to weep softly while banging my forehead on my desk.

First, no idiotic alternative medicine claim would be complete without an equally idiotic article in Natural News supporting it.  And this one is a doozy -- it claims that ORMUS is the "Philosopher's Stone," thus vindicating not only David Hudson but the medieval alchemists.  But here are a few of the products I found featuring ORMUS:
  • "Monatomic [sic] Gold Platinum Fortified ORMUS Elixir," which "quickly delivers trillions of monatomic particles connecting you to your subtle energy body thereby opening up a person's many acupuncture points and restoring the proper flow to these starved locations, thus bringing the body back into ease and providing the correct energetic template for future cellular regeneration."
  • "SunWarrior ORMUS Peppermint Supergreens," which appears to be dried grass flavored with mint, but which was "nurtured... in a fertile, mineral-rich volcanic soil" and thus is "enriched with trace minerals."
  • "Crown Chakra ORMUS," which allows you to "Connect with Spiritual Energy to Live by Divine Purpose and Will, Be Tranquil, Complete, Compassionate, Empathetic and Self-aware, [and] Help Illuminate the Path for Others," and thus blends the ORMUS nonsense with chakra nonsense for a nice woo-woo mélange.
  • "Mountain Manna," which combines ORMUS with homeopathy for double the fun, and claims that ORMUS has something to do with the manna from the bible.  Oh, and "Their unique energy frequencies tend to bring a holistic balance to the nervous, and cellular systems, as well as the subtle bodies," because a claim of this sort would not be complete without a mention of "frequencies."
  • And finally, "Gaia Thera ORMUS Gold," which at a whopping $530 will cure what ails you, and comes with the selling point, "Does nuclear radiation, EMF damage, Chem-trails, tumors, E. coli in your gut, some yet unnamed disease or any other uncontrolled environmental toxins scare the xxxx out of you?... Gaia Thera ORMUS Gold could be the answer... Some call it the Fountain of Youth."
And on and on and on.  Each one is laden with testimonials, meaning that there are people who are actually falling for this nonsense, and spending their good, hard-earned money on it.

Of course, "This product is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any human disease."  Because that's not what telling people that ORMUS "could be the answer" to "tumors... and some yet unnamed disease" amounts to.

Yes, I know the caveat emptor principle.  But preying on people who evidently didn't do well in public school science classes just isn't nice.  And when you add the fact that some of the people being ripped off are probably desperately ill, it really pisses me off.

It makes me wish that there was a new arm of the FDA called the "Prove It Department."  When people make claims like this, a couple of guys would show up at their door and say, "Okay, you say that your product contains unique quantum energy frequency wavelengths.  Prove it." And if they can't, they have their business license taken away.

But that's a forlorn hope, I'm afraid.  There's a sucker born every minute, and that means that we'll never see the hucksters like these run out of business. 

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog. A nice dose of rationality in a seriously stuffed upworld. Here in Australia, we do have a "prove it" department, known as the Therapeutic Goods Administration. They have passed orders to make people like this refund money to all who ask for it. Most fanously, they did this to the manufacturers and distributors of the Powerband, which is a local quantum energy balancing frequency wavelength scam, after a study verifying it as a fraud.