Sliding back

Shannon Rupp went to a “Wellness show” in Vancouver.

The Wellness Show — or as I think of it, Current Trends in Snake Oil — attracts an audience of about 30,000 to see a disparate collection of businesses hoping to find new customers in the demographic that’s chasing wellness…

Office assistants act like barkers pulling in the punters, and on hearing I have no back problems one swears her boss can cure my allergies with a spinal adjustment. On hearing I have no health problems at all, another assures me chiropractic is about prevention. It’s like going to the gym, she says: it’s how you prevent illness!

Then there’s the guy selling “transnasal light therapy” – a new gizmo that shines a light up your nostrils and promises to heal everything from diabetes to dementia along with a variety of viral infections.

It’s funny, in a Duke and Dauphin sort of way, but then there’s

Dr. Divi Chandna, a licensed medical doctor and a “certified medical intuitive”…

Last year Dr. Divi billed the Medical Services Plan $294,290.53 for services rendered to patients in her conventional medical practice. Simultaneously she runs a user-pay business peddling the sort of magic and mysticism usually associated with the dark ages. She runs The Bridge Health Center with husband Ed Light, an energy healer, and she offers readings based on her “gifts for intuition.” She explains that this includes being clairvoyant and “clairsentient” — she gets messages from spirit guides…

Dr. Divi doesn’t mention what her very own six week long “holistic” program for treating depression and anxiety costs, but the brochures list her medical intuition readings at between $99 and $199 a session. The deluxe reading comes with a written report and a little energy healing.

Dr Divi peddles woo, and she uses her genuine medical training for extra credibility. Regulators are leery of messing with “anyone’s spirituality” so generally nothing is done.

Ironically, the American Association for the Advancement of Science is sharing space with the Wellness show at Vancouver’s convention centre, and they’re discussing climate change and its deniers. President Nina Fedoroff is widely quoted as saying she is “scared to death” by the anti-science movement that is sweeping North America and most of the western world.

“We are sliding back into a dark era,” she tells The Guardian. “And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.”

I’d like to say something optimistic here, but I got nothin.


  1. Sastra says

    I have some friends who are strong proponents of alternative medicine. I’ve never been to one of these fairs, but they have. When I pointed out that, apparently, none of the people in any of these booths ever argue with each other over whose therapy or nostrum or approach is better, they didn’t seem to get my point. What was the problem? The complete lack of criticism was a feature, not a bug. They were much more comfortable and confident with a Holistic Wellness Fair which brooked no dissent, no debates, no disagreement.

    Among each other, that is. There is plenty of criticism against mainstream medicine, they reassured me. So I didn’t have to worry about them having an ‘anything-goes’ mentality. No, indeed.

  2. A. Noyd says

    I stay well away from businesses that mention wellness because, rather than being something so basic and desirable as “good health” or “physical well-being,” it is a thoroughly religious concept. It is sinlessness rebranded: a mythical state of total physical and spiritual perfection. You must spend your whole life trying to attain it, but you can never succeed because the degrading effects of modern living constantly impede you and set you back. No fucking thank you.

  3. says

    … on hearing I have no back problems one swears her boss can cure my allergies with a spinal adjustment. On hearing I have no health problems at all, another assures me chiropractic is about prevention. It’s like going to the gym, she says: it’s how you prevent illness!

    I have to wonder how far you could take this with ’em. See if you can find a situation for which they finally give up and cannot allege chiropractic has a use.

    I suspect they’d be pretty stubborn about it…

    (Fade to dream sequence…)

    SALES: Hey Mister! Want a chiropractor? Great for back problems!

    ME: I have no back problems.

    SALES: Well, it can also help your allergies.

    ME: I have no allergies.

    SALES: Oh. It can also help prevent illness.

    ME: I can’t get sick. Truth is, I’m actually an AI, and this is my robot body.

    SALES: It’ll prevent… computer viruses?

    ME: I don’t run on a particularly common OS.

    SALES: It’ll prevent people writing them anyway!

    ME: See, the thing is: there are no possible exploits. Really. My creators were very thorough. Checked every buffer, every return condition. It’s crazy, really…

    SALES: It’ll prevent your batteries running down!

    ME: I run on a fusion reactor. Enough fuel for a billion years.

    SALES: It’ll prevent… umm… you developing a short circuit like that robot AI in the Disney movie and falling in love!

    ME: Honey, you can’t fool me. There ain’t no cure for love.

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    “transnasal light therapy”

    Is that anything like “up your nose with a rubber hose”?

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