WTF Modality

Finding weird stuff on Ebay is a hobby of mine, and my friends know me as a person who is good at sourcing the right thing for a project. So I get asked “where can I find X?” for many X. Sometimes I get stared at, like the time a guest mentioned that they wanted to make a kill jar for insect-collecting and I asked “how are those made?”  Apparently it’s a jar with a base layer of plaster of paris that you can pour ethyl acetate into, so the vapors release into the jar and kill insects without damaging them much. So I hopped up, went to the kitchen cabinet, and came up with a Weck jar, some hydrocal and a 500ml bottle of anyhdrous ether. What, don’t you have that sort of thing in your kitchen?

I also suggested acupuncture needles for mounting things. They’re very fine, flexible, attractive, conveniently packaged, and very inexpensive. Apparently they worked great but the supply ran out – my inbox this morning had a query, “where did you get those…?” So off to Ebay I ‘run’, punch in a query and …. WTF?    There’s a whole new alternative woo woo medical modality that has snuck up on us without my noticing: ear seeds.

Ear seeds are not something you plant that produces a crop of ears (that’d be cool)  It appears to be a variation of reflexology fused with some acupuncture woo-ology.

“Auriculotherapy” [faq] is when “it is believed” the ear is a “microsystem of the entire body” and you can stimulate the ear and magic something something something. The principle appears to be that your body is a self-voodoo doll.

“If you are pregnant please consult your doctor before using Ear Seeds”

Why? They don’t do anything.

Ear Seeds can be used in conjunction with herbs and other ingestible medications without concern for contraindications.

So, some ear seeds and a couple of shots of Jack Daniels might induce a feeling of dizziness or mild disassociation? I bet if I took some Ambien supplements with my ear seeds, I might feel drowsy.

Back when I used to waste my time arguing with acupuncturists, I’d ask them things like, “if it can make me lose weight, can I use it to silently kill someone?” or my favorite which was: “if acupuncture can do all this stuff, can it get me high?” Oddly, I never found anyone who could trigger a trip-trance or heart attack with acupuncture. If you can get wasted with acupuncture, it’d be more popular than alcohol! This all must mean that a voodoo doll is more powerful, too. If you think about it, you’ll notice a shocking absence of acupuncture-related crime novels. Think about it: the guy bumps his boss off by poking him in the ear accidentally with a needle then waits 29 years, then he eventually dies “apparently” of old age.

I see, however, that the wretched assholes who are promoting this pseudo-therapy are trying to encourage people to use it for real-world problems. Weight control? Well, that also implies you might be able to use it to reduce your chance of some cancers, heart attacks, gout, or diabetes. Do you see “antidepressant point”? Who needs SSRIs when they can just tape a little metal bead to their ear? What if someone goes off their meds because they believe in this crap, and they go into a tailspin and commit suicide by sticking a needle into their foot’s reflexology zone that maps to their heart?

Looks like the ‘diet control’ configuration

My mad photoshop skills simply aren’t up to the task, nor is my patience, but I used to want to make a reflexology pistol target. You know those targets you see that have the “kill zone” marked? I want a foot-shaped target that marks the reflexology zones that map to brain and heart, so I can practice quick-aim foot hits that’ll drop someone instantly.

I have a great big gold ring right through my ‘Master Sensorial’ region on my ear. Is that why I’m so opinionated?

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I have the ether for legitimate reasons. I used to do wet plate photography, and made/poured my own collodion, which entails making your own nitrocellulose and dissolving it in ether. It’s getting hard to get stuff like that now, so I laid in a goodly supply back when I had access.

“Traditional Chinese Medicine” is a great big continuing scam. For one thing, new ‘traditional’ elements are added all the time – like electrified acupuncture needles, or magnetic nostrums. They’re not traditional at all!

One of my acquaintances used to use the “Bach flower remedies” (some kind of aromatherapy hooey) as a sleep aid. I suggested Benadryl. We went back and forth about it until I finally just chugged the entire horrible gack of ‘Rescue Remedy’ and suggested that they not eat an entire bottle of Ambien because that stuff actually works.

Here is a fun argument against Traditional Chinese medicine, if you ever need one: consider 3,000 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a public health experiment. Then consider life expectancy in China versus the rest of the world. Like in the rest of the world, life expectancy shot up pretty quickly once sulfa drugs were invented in the 1930s. [stderr] If Traditional Chinese medicine worked, we’d observe life expectancy in China to be slightly(or more) higher than the rest of the world for a thousand years or so. We don’t observe that, therefore Traditional Chinese Medicine probably has no impact on public health outcomes. The usual come-back is that, “of course not everyone used it, it was primarily the wealthy, so the average wouldn’t come up much” or “there are many stories of very long-lived people…”  both of which may be due to the wealthy’s fondness for tea, which is made from boiled water. There is also a question as to whether or not Traditional Chinese Medicine is really traditional at all – some sources argue that it was a creation of post- Cultural Revolution Maoists who wanted a sop to offer the population after they had purged the population of modern medical practitioners – thereby plunging China back toward dark age medicine.

Bring back Phrenotherapy!!


  1. says

    You have to tape them on? I would have thought the smart scammer would have gone magnetic, after all, two ear seeds would be better than one, yeah?

    Fuck, even if they worked, I couldn’t cope with making my ears look like Trump’s tie.

  2. says

    You have to tape them on?

    Well, they’re state of the art – they come with their own stickums. So you can just stick them on. I saw some scammers sell them with swarovski crystals glued on. Maybe there’s a market for Polonium-210 ear seeds!!

  3. komarov says

    When I first started using them, contact lenses were fiddly, painful and bloody infuriating to put in. But at least there was a tangible benefit to wearing them. Who on Earth has the patience to learn how to tape tiny beads into precise patterns in their own ear? Maybe that’s the get-out clause for the salesman when it doesn’t work: “Sorry, but that bead there is .3 mm too far to the left, so of course it didn’t do anything for you. No refund, but perhaps you’d like to try again?”

  4. says

    You could probably find an acupuncturist who would claim he could kill someone with his craft if you looked hard enough. There have long been claims of martial artists who could kill by attacking the right pressure points on the body. The evidence that this is anything more than wishful thinking, or out and out BSing, is lacking. An American martial artist and eccentric named Count Dante claimed to be a practitioner of such a technique, called dim mak, For years in the late ’60s and ’70s his Black Dragon Fighting Society ran ads in comic books and magazines for a manual that supposedly taught such techniques.

    Reiki’s another healing method that some people claim is ancient. Yet in reality it only dates to the early 20th Century, being the creation of Japanese Buddhist monk Mikao Usui. And it didn’t do Usui all that much good, since he died of a stroke in 1926 at age 60.

  5. fusilier says

    Way Back When, as an undergrad and then grad-student entomologist*, we made killing jars using sodium cyanide**. The wet plaster-of-Paris dissolved the crystals. A double layer of adhesive-backed fabric tape protected the jars from shattering if dropped.

    James 2:24

    *in 1978, a graduate degree in entomology, plus 75 cents, bought you a lousy cup of coffee.

    **no NaCN under our cupboards.

  6. timberwoof says

    Several years ago someone rescued a wolf from a creek in Italy. He had been shot; x-rays showed pellets all over him. The vets at the rescue shelter inflicted a number of treatments on him, some of which restored his health. The acupuncture he put up with as he put up with everything else, but I’m not sure it’s what helped. I have not been able to find any acupuncture maps of the Lupine Chakras, so I don’t know how the acupuncturist was able to stab him in the right paces. Say it with me now: WoooooooooooOOOOOooooooo!

  7. says

    Well played sir!

    You could have just thumbnailed the plot of a horror movie: wild wolf gets black acupuncture from an illegal underground vet using human chakras and turns into a were human, goes on rampage, movie ensues.

  8. invivoMark says

    “making your own nitrocellulose and dissolving it in ether”

    Dear god, I hope you keep that far, far away from your home-made incense (and other open flames) when you have that out!

  9. says

    I hope you keep that far, far away from your home-made incense (and other open flames) when you have that out!

    Oh yes! I have a convective ventilation system I devised in my darkroom, consisting of a long black-painted vertical duct from my minimalist fume-hood, through the wall, and up the outside of the building; it sucks the vapors out without a chance of a spark from a fan motor.

    It’s volatile but it’s not that volatile. The place where people used to get killed is when the collodion bottle gets hot and you open it and it boils all over the place and you’re in your own little cloud of vapor waiting to be ignited. The first part happened to me once but obviously it didn’t ignite.
    What really scares me is the cadmium bromide (used with tincture of iodine to sensitize the collodion) compared to that the potassium cyanide used to clear the emulsion is positively benign…

  10. says

    no NaCN under our cupboards.

    The sad thing is that, due to shipping costs, stuff like cyanide is prohibitively expensive so you may as well buy it in larger quantities. When I was buying it, shipping was about $400 for 500mg, which was about $25. Shipping was $500 for 5kg which was about $100. So shipping costs encourage stock-piling, which is definitely bad.

    All the really nasties live in a safe in a different building, and the local volunteer FD know that if that building catches fire they should stay upwind of it and let it burn.

  11. Peter B says

    I used KCN in a killing jar because I had access to a college chem stockroom. My sister and I put a layer of sand in the middle. (Somewhat later a chem major who worked in some fats and oils business called KCN potassium coconut. Apparently CN = coconut in that business.)