• Carmen Marie Fabio

If it quacks like a duck…


What’s fascinating about siblings – at least in my immediate and extended family – is that even though they’re all genetically of the same origin and raised in virtually identical environments, the differences in their respective personalities and beliefs can vary exponentially. And even though it makes no mathematical sense to say three or more family members can have 180-degree differing personalities, hey, we’re talking about family. They often defy logic.

The conversation at a recent lunch with my brother had us sparring on the validity of topics like Feng Shui, chemtrails, naturopathy, and aligning your bed in a north-south direction to easily allow earth’s magnetic energy to run through the axis of your body while you sleep, among others. I like facts and peer-reviewed data. He’s a little more open to esoteric and obscure practices with dubious claims related to either physical or mental health. The conversation can get heated but we always manage to walk away from the meal with mutual love and respect more or less intact.

Chemtrails are thought by some to contain toxins deliberately placed in the white vapour trail that remains after an airplane passes, designed to affect everything from climate to human population control. It’s not so much that he believes this as he’s open to the idea of the possibility of their existence. I, on the other hand, am not. While I recognize that history contains valid examples of horrible tests carried out on humans by government, I’m less apt to believe that meteorological anomalies are conspiracies in everything from mind control to organ harvesting. While a common mantra chanted by many in the online community is ‘seeking truth’ they’re very quick to embrace what has been proven as medically and scientifically unfounded.

At the risk of offending my siblings, I don’t believe spaghetti sauce, made from tomatoes, causes arthritis, despite what my sister’s naturopath says. Yes, tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, not to be confused with deadly nightshade. And, if the claims were true, wouldn’t the bulk of tomato-consuming populations be crippled with bone disorders? Incidentally, the top consumers of tomatoes per capita are Libya, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, but I digress.

I don’t believe that ‘Rescue Remedy’, a tincture comprised of extreme dilutions of flowers dissolved in brandy and water, is able to relieve anyone in times of extreme stress or trauma. Not unless the brandy content is upped a bit.

I don’t believe in chromopathy (healing with coloured lights), geotherapy (treating disease with little pads of earth), iridology (diagnosing ailments based on one’s eye patterns) or that there are conspiracies afoot in the medical community to suppress natural cancer cures.

As outlined in the extensive website Quackwatch.org, “There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking.” And while proponents of everything from homeopathy to aura patch therapy may glean a modicum of hope and comfort from incorporating unconventional medical practices into their daily routine, it’s reprehensible that charlatans touting bogus products sell their snake oil paid for by the hopes of the desperate.

These are just some of the arguments that punctuate our lunches. Sometimes I win – he agrees reflexology sounds like quackery, and sometimes he wins – I actually found acupuncture helpful for a spinal issue.

As far as aligning your bed north-south, research of Google Earth images has shown that photos of herds of cows, sheep, and deer reveal they tend to graze and sleep with their bodies aligned with Earth’s magnetic poles. It’s more likely they were using the magnetic fields to navigate rather than get a good night’s sleep but at least some research went into it. I grudgingly gave him that one.

At the end of the day (and of the lunch) we’re able to agree on the physical and vocal attributions of a duck. If it quacks, stay far away.

For more information, consult quackwatch.org