I’m very happy to have had an article published on the website of the New Zealand Science Teacher, the official publication of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators.
My article is about applied kinesiology, I’ve embedded the introduction below and you can read the whole thing on the NZST website: Finding Power and balance: proving and disproving claims
When reading a story about someone who has been scammed, it’s very easy to think ‘that could never happen to me’. From the outside, warning signs always appear obvious and the conclusion often seems untenable. It’s easy to assume that people who fall for scams or are otherwise misled must be unintelligent or gullible. The reality is less comfortable. We can all be fooled, even the best of us.
One historical example of someone very intelligent falling for what now seems to be clearly false, involves author and doctor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Despite obviously understanding the principles of scepticism, Doyle became convinced in the early 20th century that fairies were real, based on a series of photographs of the “Cottingley Fairies”, which were revealed decades later to have been faked using paper cut-outs. Intelligence is no failsafe against being fooled.
More recently, many people, including Shaquille O’Neil and Bill Clinton, have been fooled by a plastic wristband: the makers of which claim it can improve a person’s strength and balance.
The ‘theory’ behind the tests used to promote these wristbands is also employed by various alternative health practitioners in attempts to evaluate treatment effects and to diagnose illnesses, allergies, and intolerances, despite the fact that there is no scientific proof behind it.
It’s known as ‘applied kinesiology’ and, if you don’t know any better, it can be very convincing.