There’s another bit of quackery associated with bare feet, and that’s reflexology. Now, before everybody goes nuclear on me, let me say that I’m not talking about foot massage, but the belief that various body organs are reflected on, and can be affect by, specific parts of our soles.
The human mind is endlessly inventive in coming up with ways to fool itself. It is only with using something like science that we can sort out the wheat from the chaff.
Back on my entry on grounding, vas asked:
The passage on “reflex points to every part of your body” in the feet looks doubtful to me to. I think acupuncture has never been really scientifically defined and verified, has it?
He is absolutely right.
If you go to a reflexology website, you will see pictures like this one:
On it you can see how each part of the body has been carefully mapped to a part of the sole.
But think about how such a map was made originally. Did they take people with tuberculosis and only massage the “lung” part on some of them, but also ran controls where they massaged the “bladder” part on others, and kept careful statistics on which were cured? Nope. (And, somehow, tuberculosis was never cured by reflexology, but by the development of anti-biotics.) And they never even kept track of real cure rates. It was just the subject saying things like, “Oh, that feels good,” or “Oh, I feel better.” Purely subjective.
In fact, if you go to such reflexology websites, you’ll see the “support” is always only such testimonials.
In addition, there is really no evidence to support such connections. If such connection really existed, it ought somehow to be reflected in our physiologies and anatomies. There is no hint that it is.
But, some claim, it reflects the wisdom of the ancients.
There is all sorts of stuff from the ancients that is utter bunk. They had no procedure for testing, so they could not cull the good from the bad. The four humors was ancient, too, and completely wrong. People thought various plants were good for sex simply because the plants were shaped like sexual organs.
But without a systematic procedure, like science, to sort it all out, you get people believing that things work because they want to believe that such things work. As I said, the mind is really, really suggestible.
Acupuncture is similar (and vas also asked about that).
It is supposedly based on the qi that aligns and runs through our body, except that there is no way to detect qi. It’s just ancient Chinese superstition.
There have been a whole series of experiments with acupuncture, and they’ve come up empty. In acupuncture, the needles are supposed to be inserted into the special locations of the body that align with the qi. So, in one experiment, they deliberately put the needles in the wrong places and compared the results with controls in which the needles were put in the “right” places. No difference. (There were some short-term positive effects reports for both instances, but that was just a standard placebo response.)
So then it was claimed that it was just the inserting of the needles that was important, not hitting the alignment spots. (However, the idea of the magic of the location of qi had already been shown to be bunk at this point, right?)
So the experimenters came up with a clever cup device so that the subject could not tell if the needles had actually been inserted into their skin. And then ran their experiment in which some subjects were actually acupunctured and others weren’t. The results?
Take a wild guess.
Yup. No difference.
It’s just people believing what they want to believe, but neither acupuncture nor reflexology do anything but fool their subjects, just as placebos do.
Now, again, don’t get me wrong. Foot massage feels good. Feeling good is good. If you go to a reflexologist for the foot massage, fine. But if you think it is doing you some special treatment for your internal organs, you are fooling yourself.
Foot massage can also help loosen up and stretch muscles, tendons, and the like, just as massage in any other part of the body. As I wrote about earlier, in The Message of the Massage, massage can reduce inflammation and help healing. And it works through what we have learned about our physiologies from science.
But that is a far cry from the outlandish claims made by reflexologists.