Blogging “The Power”: A Critique of Rhonda Byrne – Part 6: Gregg BradenJune 7, 2012
Welcome to the second last installment in the series on Rhonda Byrne’s Secret follow up, called The Power.
So far, Ms Byrne has informed us that positive poles of a magnet attract each other, that love is literally the same force as gravity, and that a glass of water can get angry with you. What does she have in store for us today?
The inside of your body is an exact map of the solar system and the universe. Your heart is the sun and the center of your body system. Your organs are the planets, and just as the planets depend on the sun to remain in balance and harmony, so do all the organs in your body depend on the heart to remain in balance and harmony.
An exact map. Not just a metaphor, or a “you might like to think of it as-“, but an exact map. Not even a schematic map, or a badly drawn map from 300 years ago which got some ram’s blood spilled on it and made all the lines run together so the distances aren’t exact anymore…. No, the inside of your body is an exact map of the solar system and the universe.
It’s no surprise that someone who thinks the entire universe is a vast conspiracy to make her rich, should fail to distinguish between metaphor and reality. Rhonda Byrne has been doing this all the way through the book: taking a traditional mystical idea that would sound familiar to most of her readers, and then calmly asserting that the idea is literally true and is now an established part of science.
And then of course, following it with some work by a qualified pseudo-scientist. Cue Gregg Braden, qualified pseudo-scientist….
Scientists at the Institute of Heartmath in California have shown that the magnetic field of the heart is 5000 times more powerful than that of the brain.
Surprisingly, the heart’s magnetic field is indeed greater than that of the brain! Ok, it’s only 100 times greater, and not 5000 like Braden claims, but still this is quite an event. Braden has exaggerated it by a mere order of magnitude, making it one of Rhonda Byrne’s closest approaches to a fact in the entire book! Congratulations to both of you!
Byrne then babbles on for a while about how the heart organizes your world for you by the force of its almighty magnetic field. Everything has a frequency, she claims, radio stations and words and dogs and cats and caterpillars and subordinate clauses and zebra-crossings. And they radiate their frequencies out into the ether where you can attract them if you truly love them. She’s a bit more wild eyed than Gregg Braden on these things, because although Braden likes to build up systems too, he also likes to base his distortions on at least some content which is at least tangentially connected to reality.
Gregg Braden and 9/11
Braden has written a lot on frequencies and magnetic fields. He sees all that stuff as the “field of consciousness”, the “ether” which connects all things and surrounds the earth in dense layers. In a particularly effective piece of pseudo-scientific research, Braden looked at data from satellites which measure the earth’s geomagnetic field and found that on September 11 2001 a distinct spike in measurements was recorded!!!
Satellite reading from September 2001, showing dramatic spike on the 11th
As can be seen, the readings usually hover around 100 nT (nanoTeslas), but then suddenly leap up to an unprecedented high of 153 nT before dropping down again. Is this clear evidence that the emotions of masses of people can affect the earth’s magnetic field so much that it can even be measured by scientific instruments?
Braden has gotten a lot of mileage out of this compelling statistic. The data are real, and most importantly for Braden, it all fits into a preconceived framework of energy fields and human consciousness. Readers who are either well versed in pseudo-scientific method, or those who read the previous post about Masuro Emoto’s humbuggery, will already have some ideas about what Braden might be up to….
Astrophysicist (and skeptical blogger) Stuart Robbins, who has been on Braden’s case for years, dug out the raw data from the GOES website, and also contacted the GOES satellite station. As well as confirming the validity of the above reading, he checked some other months at random.
Satellite reading from June 2011, showing even bigger spike on the 18th
Satellite reading from November 2007, showing massive spike on the 20th
(All GOES graphics reposted from the PseudoAstronomy blog*)
Clearly, it’s perfectly normal for measurements to spike above 150 nT at least once a month. November 19 2007 shows a spike up around 190. But, exactly in accordance with standard pseudo-scientific practice, Braden has found a single result that supports his hypothesis and, as always, run off with it immediately to the PR department.
Gregg Braden’s pseudo-science, however, is superior to that of Masuro Emoto, who simply tweaked an experiment to force it to give him the results he wanted. Braden on the other hand, conducted authentic pseudo-scientific data-mining, using real data as the foundation for an ideological superstructure that has over many centuries proved to be completely and reliably marketable. No doubt it took a lot of digging to find the right piece of data, but now that he’s found it, it will continue to be used for decades to come.
Braden in his pre-pseudo-scientific days
I want to add Braden has mastered another effective pseudo-scientific tool. This one is especially important for ambitious practitioners who want to integrate data from authentic scientific research in their work:
Stuart Robbins in a podcast about Gregg Braden:
“I will note that in many of Braden’s interviews, he references papers and authors in the scientific journals, but in all of the ones that I’ve heard, he has always made mistakes. In one, in fact, I could not find the paper by the authors or the subject matter within a year of when he said it was published.”
Long time readers (like, um, me for example) will remember a post showing how Dean Radin gave four different sources for one paper, each time talking about it as if it were a different study; and never gave the source correctly.
Byrne continues blabbering on about love until the end of the book. And that’s it. The last part of this series will be a general summing up.
Stuart Robbins’ excellent blog, Exposing PseudoAstronomy and his regular podcasts cover plenty of good science clearly explained, and plenty of poor science like Gregg Braden’s and plenty of others, including coverage of 2012 hysteria.
Previous episodes in the Rhonda Byrne series: