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And This Passes For Education? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

The Community College of Rhode Island [CCRI] has proudly announced that this fall, a “reiki master” will be holding a seminar on “crystal and mineral healing” at the college. This, we’re told, is

…a type of alternative therapy that involves laying crystals or gemstones on the body. Each student will experience a crystal therapy session and get a really good idea about how it changes your energy and rebalances you.

This instructor at CCRI also does “Cranio Sacral Therapy,” and uses such advanced quackery as “Bio Magnets,” “Light Life Tools,” “Dowsing,” and “Pendulums” She assures students that she is also a teacher and practitioner of many other alternative healing methods, and says that crystals have their own “intrinsic energy,” and will “interact with points on the body’s energy field, known as chakras, to promote balance and well-being.” “Each crystal has its own properties and attributes when laid on the body with a specific chakra,” she says. This collection of talents puts her well up in the tree with the top woo-woos, but she’s teaching at CCRI.

This is all unmitigated nonsense. Reiki is a mystical system of hand-waving, blowing, tapping, and other useless gestures. It has never passed any medical testing procedures, it has never been shown to have anything but psychological effects, and it therefore poses a distinct danger to persons who may choose to depend on it for curative results and ignore proven therapies. It is simply advanced quackery that consists of laying crystals or gemstones on the victim’s body, followed by gesturing.  Yes, hard to believe, but The Community College of Rhode Island will accept $50 for 5½ hours of a “Healing with Crystals/Minerals Workshop,” designed to “deepen [the students’] understanding of it.” Myself, I already have a very deep understanding of this flummery; it brings money to CCRI and re-establishes their dedication and embrace of such silly notions.

Chuck Doherty, a Randi.org reader, also took exception to CCRI offering this to the public, and he made a formal complaint, askingsw

Should I expect the school to next offer courses in Tarot reading, phrenology, and dowsing?  The fact that this course is offered on a “non-credit” basis does not change the fact that this sort of pseudoscientific claptrap has no place at all in any legitimate learning institution.  Please leave this sort of nonsense to the likes of The Learning Connection and other such outlets.

A response to Mr. Doherty came from Richard H. Coren, Director of Marketing, Communications and Publications for the Community College of Rhode Island, saying

Students told us they wanted to further their knowledge of alternative healing methods, and the course was designed to introduce students to the practice of crystal and mineral healing.  By offering the class, the college and its noncredit arm, CWCE, do not endorse the practice as science; we are simply responding to demand in the community for personal development courses such as this.

That was enough to prompt me to write Mr. Coren thus:

Sir, just where you would draw the line on offering courses in “personal development” to "further [the students] knowledge of alternative healing methods"?  How about chanting with tom-toms around a camp fire? Would CCRI consider looking into blood-letting?  Or sacrificing lambs?  Both Reiki and "crystal healing" have zero bases in science. ZERO!  Those who claim expertise in either of these notions, are - and always have been - eligible for the JREF's million-dollar prize if they can produce ANY effect resulting from their efforts, and there has been NOT ONE APPLICATION from any "reiki master" or "crystal healer" in the almost ten years now since that prize has been offered, though we've challenged them repeatedly...!  They know the prize is there, but they also know that they can't produce any evidence for their flummery, so they don't even try. And you, Mr. Coren – the appointed Director of Marketing, Communications and Publications for the Community College of Rhode Island, could, yourself, earn the JREF one-million-dollar prize if any of the students or the instructors at CCRI show just ONE demonstration of either discipline. And you agreed to promote this nonsense in the name of education?

Shame on CCRI, I say.  They take money from students in return for total nonsense and laugh all the way to the bank. And the students have learned nothing...

Here's an idea: I have metaphysical proof that children can bend spoons by just looking at them.  Can I be permitted to teach a course in this subject at CCRI...?

I await a response.

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Comments (26)Add Comment
The Oprah factor
written by babaganouch, August 23, 2011
With TV shows promoting pseudo-healing, psychics, ghosts, UFO and Aliens to bigfoot.
It is not surprising. It would be great to find a TV Network that would want to carry a TV show about debunking the all the spiritual nonsense and help some people understand it is all a scam or placebo. Of course many will fall for these enticing scams as they have for millenia, but some will surely be happy to have the opportunity to see through it and not fall for it and pass their understanding on.
What is up with Bill Maher? Oprah by becoming the uncontested 'Shepard'of so many unhappy sheepos is promoting and legitimating all that. It is spreading like a malignant disease. Of course one can only take a horse to the water but cannot make him drink. No everyone wants to know what is real. Some people are born to follow.
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written by Willy K, August 23, 2011
The "Education" business is now just that, a for profit business. They will offer paying customers whatever they want, as long as their legal council assures the school they can't be sued. smilies/cry.gif

The "Education" business has always been unique in having not even the pretense of customer satisfaction. Once you have given them your money you will never get it back no matter how unsatisfied you are with the product.

Am I unsatisfied with the education I've paid for? Yes indeed. 90% of all the "teachers" I've had were missing one and/or both of the following things:
#1 Knowledge of the subject
#2 The ability to teach!

Randi, this is why teaching Woo is such a boon for the education business, who needs the ability to teach when there is no truth to the subject!

PS. There are a handful of folks I would consider as teachers. They are very rare!
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written by garyg, August 23, 2011
Note that the response was from someone responsible for marketing, as well as communications, i.e. he has a vested interest in expanding the number of students.

If he realls wants to help " further their knowledge of alternative healing methods" then a skeptic should be invited to then tell the students the truth about the nonsense they've just heard
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Fighting the same fight
written by garman, August 23, 2011

I'm fighting the same fight with our Joliet Junior College (the nation's first public community college).

For years they have been offering Parapsychology I AND II, Orbs, Crystal Grids, Spirit Paintings and the like. I wrote to the school's President, the Trustees, the Science Department head, and others to get these classes canned. They indicated that these pseudoscience courses generate money for the school and do not take tax dollars. I responded that offering these courses tarnishes the reputation of the whole institution and runs counter to their mission. Education should empower students and yet these courses serve to make them MORE vulnerable.

As a result of my efforts, they included a disclaimer in their course catalog "Please note this course is for personal interest and is not to be considered part of the JJC science curriculum". Nope, not satisfied. The fight continues . . . .
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Let's go old school!
written by Dustyisgodless, August 23, 2011
The one thing I rarely hear about in skepticism is protest. Not just protesting an action, but an actual gathering of like minded individuals for a peaceful demonstration. Almost all other groups that have such defined causes use demonstrations to further that cause.

I say get some signs made up and picket. Maybe chain yourself to a tree.

If we are really so offended by an action we should be able to organize and risk our comfort to stop it.
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written by ianmacm, August 23, 2011
Some UK colleges have also done this sort of thing in the name of being "inclusive". Although people cannot be prevented from spending their money on woo if they are determined to do it, educational institutions should hang their heads in shame if they offer courses in subjects that refuse or fail peer review. The only reason for offering courses like this is the $ involved. smilies/cry.gif
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And in the UK...
written by ianmacm, August 24, 2011
South Staffordshire College in the UK has a range of courses based on woo, here is one of them: http://bit.ly/o3fB5g . No great surprises here, as anything goes in higher education nowadays as long as the money rolls in...
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Skeptic opportunity
written by sailor, August 24, 2011
If a skeptic was near one of these courses, and if it was not too expensive,it would be a good opportunity to take the course and keep asking pertinent questions -like "what evidence do yo have for that" and "just how do you know this energy exists".
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written by Paul Claessen, August 24, 2011
@Skeptic opportunity: " "just how do you know this energy exists"."

They will tell you that that knowledge was 'revealed' to them after years of intense (and expensive) training. and no, you can't measure the energy, because, er..uh.. well, you see, it's DARK energy, dark QUANTUM energy, yes, that's it!
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written by Caller X, August 24, 2011
Yawn.

Mr. Coren should KNOW that blood letting is a legitimate medical procedure, even now (haemochromotosis) and sacrificing lambs is an important part of a central part of the Muslim religion, the Hajj, as well as the Jewish religion before the destruction of the Temple. Is Mr. Coren ANTI-semitic? His USE of all caps certainly PAINTS a picture of a reasonable person. I don't buy into the idea that it constitutes SHOUTING just because some nerds in the early '90s said so, but it doesn't help SELL his position.

Good to hear one reader is willing to take out time from their busy schedule as a parking lot manager to make signs to protest this great intellectual injustice, though. This may involve some travel for those who don't live in our smallest state, but have at it and report back when it's over. What, never did it? Okay.

Yes, I know, taxpayer funded community colleges are making money hand over fist. You know who doesn't need money? Harvard. They could stop charging tuition entirely and still make a profit. That's the beauty of an enormous endowment (that's what she said!) and compound interest.

How would m'Lord feel about a community college hosting the Pope and charging admission? Or Mother Teresa, or Louis Farrakhan?

There are better uses for Mr. Randi's remaining time.
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written by Brad-in-Reno, August 24, 2011
The Workforce Development and Continuing Education Department of our local community college in Reno, NV has offered the "Nevada Ghost and Paranormal Series" for nine years. In past years, several members of Reno Skeptics attended the full series consisting of eight classroom courses and three "field ghost hunts". Of course, terms such as "science", "scientific research", "quantum", "proven in clinical studies", etc. were plentiful, and our questions were shunned.

Since trying to topple the popular and profitable series would be futile, our organization contacted the series manager and offered to conduct a "Skeptic's Perspective of the Paranormal" or "Skepticism 101" course. We were told that they already had the skeptical viewpoint covered, but would keep us in mind. As you've probably guessed, the "skeptical" instructors are believers and promoters of Woo. We will persevere!
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written by NormalPerson, August 24, 2011
I've spent almost four months contacting UK schools asking if, one day, I can give a talk in their 'Religion' or 'Citizenship' classes. Alas, it appears that this has been to no avail, as I've been rejected by all. This is despite me being 'CBC' checked AND despite (invariably) being significantly higher qualified than their "Heads/Deputy Heads/Dept. Heads/Teachers/Classroom Assistants"! ...Rejected despite a proven track record in being "Inclusive and non-offensive and articulate but difficult to argue against". I offered to man a stall at my daughter's 'School Fete' this summer doing some fully insured (for £10m!) 'Sciencey Stuff'... but, was rejected despite it being a "Christian Skool" and there being two stalls offering (i) Tarot Readings & (ii) Horoscopes (whatever 'THAT' meant!?!)....

Strangely I've also had my (very polite!) accounts blocked on numerous sites/blogs such as those at "godvine.com", and even on (the apparently Liberal), UK Channel Four's "Four Thought". These are despite never swearing nor belittling anyone, but simply posing some simple questions that a well-educated child or UK/US 18yr old may wish to have answered and/or ask nicely for a 'thread/debate' to be maintained!

... Why do 'Site Owners' get so angry? (

p.s. I've even had a few Trojans sent my way from lovely Christian sites!! smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by Steel Rat, August 24, 2011
This instructor at CCRI also does “Cranio Sacral Therapy,”


I think that's a typo, pretty sure is "Cranio-Rectal Therapy".
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written by Dustyisgodless, August 24, 2011
Caller X
How would m'Lord feel about a community college hosting the Pope and charging admission? Or Mother Teresa, or Louis Farrakhan?


Mother Teresa has been dead for 14 years, so I guess that'd be pretty impressive.
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written by Caller X, August 24, 2011
written by Dustyisgodless, August 24, 2011
Caller X

"How would m'Lord feel about a community college hosting the Pope and charging admission? Or Mother Teresa, or Louis Farrakhan?"

Mother Teresa has been dead for 14 years, so I guess that'd be pretty impressive.


That's what I like to call a "Clever Dick" trap. Welcome to my parlor. Yeah, DUH, Mother Theresa's dead. It's all about seeing who's going to be the Clever Dick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...dick&go=Go

How's the parking lot game treating you? How are the plans for the protest coming?
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written by philosaur, August 25, 2011
@Caller X:

That's what I like to call a "Clever Dick" trap. Welcome to my parlor. Yeah, DUH, Mother Theresa's dead. It's all about seeing who's going to be the Clever Dick. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...dick&go=Go

How's the parking lot game treating you? How are the plans for the protest coming?


trollsterbate v.intr. to derive solo sexual gratification through the deliberate provocation of arguments on web sites.

Is there any other explanation for your persistent, bewilderingly antagonistic presence here? Do ya maybe just need a hug? (Put on some pants first!)
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@Dustyisgodless @CallerX
written by FledgelingSkeptic, August 25, 2011
Just a reminder that if Mother Theresa DID show up, it wouldn't be the first time the Catholics have dug someone up and put their corpse on display.
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reluctantly @callerx
written by Dustyisgodless, August 25, 2011
How's the parking lot game treating you? How are the plans for the protest coming?


I know I shouldn't respond to a troll but I can't help myself.

How do you know what I do for a living? Also, why does it matter? Have you been doing some internet stalking?

Yes, I manage a parking lot at a midsize airport. So...what? It pays the bills. I spent four years in highschool doing journalism. I was a journalism major in college. I worked in photojournalism for a local newspaper. However, its not my full-time job, never has been.

Does this make me unable to be a skeptic, or a writer? No. It turns out that people from all walks of life have the ability to think critically.

Obviously I'm not going to organize a protest for a college that is hundreds of miles away. But I would organize one for a local college if the opportunity arose.

So you should probably stick to average trolling. Quit bringing up people's personal lives, which you shouldn't know about in the first place.
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written by Caller X, August 25, 2011
How do you know what I do for a living? Also, why does it matter? Have you been doing some internet stalking?
... Quit bringing up people's personal lives, which you shouldn't know about in the first place.


Maybe you shouldn't, you know, TALK ABOUT IT ON YOUR BLOG.

"I work a full time job as a supervisor of a parking lot cashier team."

However, its not my full-time job, never has been.


"So after the customer left I turned to my private detective, Google."

Have you been doing some internet stalking?
.

You have just boggled my mind.

http://dustyisgodless.blogspot.com/
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@Caller X
written by Dustyisgodless, August 25, 2011
Okay fair enough. Forgot about that blog entry. Yes I did do a bit of internet stalking on the guy.

Your first quote is misleading. I never claimed to be into journalism full-time. I am quite happy with admitting my day job in parking is full-time.

Also, your mind is in a constant state of embogglement. So no surprise there.

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written by Dustyisgodless, August 25, 2011
p.s. I've even had a few Trojans sent my way from lovely Christian sites!!


They must be protestant because Catholics don't use Trojans......Zinger!
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written by Caller X, August 25, 2011
written by Dustyisgodless, August 25, 2011

p.s. I've even had a few Trojans sent my way from lovely Christian sites!!

They must be protestant because Catholics don't use Trojans......Zinger!


To the eternal regret of the parents of a certain internet stalker......Zinger!
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written by Steel Rat, August 25, 2011

To the eternal regret of the parents of a certain internet stalker......Zinger!


That was just HI-larious! HYUK!
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written by Dustyisgodless, August 25, 2011

To the eternal regret of the parents of a certain internet stalker......Zinger!


Don't be so hard on yourself.
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written by Caller X, August 25, 2011
The admitted-it-on-his-own-blog-and-here-internet-stalker said "hard on"......Zinger!
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written by RichardH, August 28, 2011
Wow, to say that I am shocked is an understatement. Reiki massage is not something that has been proven to help people and in addition there are so many seedy establishments that operate under the guise of Reiki massage. I am so shocked that a community college would allow this in but yet, then again there isn't much that surprises me these days.

 

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