Radionics is an alternative medicine that claims disease can be diagnosed and treated with a kind of energy similar to radio waves. The concept behind radionics originated in the early 1900s with Albert Abrams (1864–1924), who became a millionaire by leasing radionic machines which he designed himself. Radionics contradicts some principles of physics and biology and so is commonly considered pseudoscience. The United States Food and Drug Administration does not recognize any legitimate medical uses for such devices.
According to radionics practitioners, a healthy person will have certain energy frequencies moving through their body that define health, while an unhealthy person will exhibit other, different energy frequencies that define disorders. Radionic devices purport to diagnose and heal by applying appropriate frequencies to balance the discordant frequencies of sickness. Radionics uses "frequency" not in its standard meaning but to describe an imputed energy type, which does not correspond to any property of energy in the scientific sense.
In one form of radionics popularised by Abrams, some blood on a bit of filter paper is attached to a device Abrams called a dynamizer, which is attached by wires to a string of other devices and then to the forehead of a healthy volunteer, facing west in a dim light. By tapping on his abdomen and searching for areas of "dullness", disease in the donor of the blood is diagnosed by proxy. Handwriting analysis is also used to diagnose disease under this scheme.
Having done this, the practitioner may use a special device known as an oscilloclast or any of a range of other devices to broadcast vibrations at the patient in order to attempt to heal them.
Albert Abrams claimed to detect such frequencies and/or cure people by matching their frequencies, and claimed them sensitive enough that he could tell someone's religion by looking at a drop of blood. He developed thirteen devices and became a millionaire leasing his devices, and the American Medical Association described him as the "dean of gadget quacks," and his devices were definitively proven useless by an independent investigation commissioned by Scientific American in 1924.
Modern practitioners now conceptualize these devices merely as a focusing aid to the practitioner's proclaimed dowsing abilities, and claim that there is no longer any need for the device to have any demonstrable function. Indeed, Abrams' black boxes had no purpose of their own, being merely obfuscated collections of wires and electronic parts.
Radiesthesia is the claimed paranormal or parapsychological ability to detect "radiation" within the human body. According to the theory, all human bodies give off unique or characteristic "radiations" as do all other physical bodies or objects. Such radiations are often termed an "aura".
A practitioner of radiesthesia claims to detect the interplay of these radiations. Thus radiesthesia is cited as the explanation of such phenomena as dowsing by rods and pendulums in order to locate buried substances, diagnose illnesses, and the like. Some radiesthesia practitioners like Israeli mentalist Uri Geller or German astrologer Alexander Rostamí claim that they can help oil companies to find crude petroleum reserves and other natural resources by using paranormal abilities, but this claim has not been proven.
The term "radiesthesia" first entered English in the 1930s and was borrowed from the earlier French radiésthesie. The English word is a compound of the prefix radi(o)-, referring to radiation and the rare term aesthesia meaning "perception by the senses", or "the capacity for feeling or sensation", which comes from the ancient Greek aisthesis "a perceiving".
Dr. Solco W. Tromp (1909-1983) wrote about radiesthesia in his 1949 book Psychical Physics. This reference has a bibliography of over 700 titles relating to dowsing (radiesthesia).
The Pendulum is a monthly publication devoted to radiesthesia. There are other periodicals, publications, books, societies and numerous websites on the topic.
The claims for radionics devices contradict the accepted principles of biology and physics. No scientifically verifiable mechanisms of function are posited. In this sense, they can be described as magical in operation. No plausible biophysical basis for the "putative energy fields" has been proposed, and neither the fields themselves nor their purported therapeutic effects have been convincingly demonstrated.
No radionic device has been found efficacious in the diagnosis or treatment of any disease, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recognize any legitimate medical uses of any such device. According to David Helwig in The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, "most physicians dismiss radionics as quackery."
Internally, a radionic device is very simple, and may not even form a functional electrical circuit. The wiring in the analysis device is simply used as a mystical conduit. A radionic device does not use or need electric power, though a power cord may be provided, ostensibly to determine a "base rate" on which the device operates to attempt to heal a subject. Typically, little attempt is made to define or describe what, if anything, is flowing along the wires and being measured. Energy in the physical sense, i.e., energy that can be sensed and measured, is viewed as subordinate to intent and "creative action".
- George de la Warr
- Royal Raymond Rife
- Sympathetic magic
- Hieronymus machine
- Alternative cancer treatments
- The Secret Life of Plants
- List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
- "Electromagnetic Therapy". American Cancer Society. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Helwig, David (December 2004). "Radionics". In Longe, Jacqueline L. The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Gale Cengage. ISBN 978-0-7876-7424-3. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- Fishbein, Morris, The New Medical Follies (1927) Boni and Liverlight, New York Pages 39-41
- Smith, Crosbie (1998). The Science of Energy - a Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76420-6.
- Article on Royal Rife at Quackwatch
- Pilkington, Mark (2004-04-15). "A vibe for radionics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-02-07. "Scientific American concluded: 'At best, [ERA] is all an illusion. At worst, it is a colossal fraud.'"
- Catching Geller in the Act, C. Eugene Emery, Jr., Providence Sunday Journal, 1987
- S. W. Tromp, Psychical Physics; A Scientific Analysis of Dowsing, Radiesthesia and Kindred Divining Phenomena (New York: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1949).
- "Energy Medicine: an overview". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved 2008-02-09. "In the aggregate, these approaches are among the most controversial of CAM practices because neither the external energy fields nor their therapeutic effects have been demonstrated convincingly by any biophysical means."
- Franks, Nick (November 2000). "Reflections on the Ether and some notes on the Convergence between Homeopathy and Radionics" (PDF). Radionic Journal 46 (2): 4–21. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- Scofield, Tony. "The Radionic Principle: Mind over Matter" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- Radionics in the Skeptic's dictionary
- British Radionic Association
- Further Information About Radionics