WooWriter’s Template

Just to prove it exists

The offending article

There seems to be some template ‘health’ journalists (particularly those at the Metro) use to write about alternatives to medicine. It goes something like this:-

1. Profess scepticism about the latest woo

2. Give it a try anyway

3. Woo practitioner performs some jiggery-pokery and claims to have found a problem previously un-noticed by the journalist.

4. Wooster claims to have cured the ‘problem’.

5. Another, self-limiting, problem clears up shortly afterwards

6. Journalist is converted to belief and writes a gushing piece of advertorial for the new woo.

Certainly the offering from Helen Croydon on “divine straightening” in the 26 September issue of the Metro ticks all these boxes. I am afraid I cannot link to it as it does not appear on their website so I have included a scan of the article just to prove I am not making this rubbish up.

The woosters, Alexander & Carolin Toskar, claim that we store memories in our spines, bad emotions create shocks which are absorbed into the spine and that their treatment re-aligns the spine and restores good health. Absolutely no evidence for this is offered and Croydon swallows it uncritically.

She lies down and Alexander Toskar pulls her legs (literally) then announces that one is 2cm shorter than the other due to a twisted spine. Actually, the apparant difference in length will be due to a slight rotation of the pelvis caused by the leg-pulling. If one leg is pulled down by just 1cm, the rotation of the pelvis will raise the other by a similar amount and account for the seeming 2cm difference in length. The rotation will not be much. If we assume 30cm between hip joints and that the point of rotation is midway between them, then the angle of rotation is the inverse sine of 1/15 or a little under 4 degrees.

Croydon does not think of this. Nor does it occur to her that she would notice every time she took a step if her legs were different in length. She lies back and Toskar does his thing. When she sits up at the end of it, surprise surprise, her legs are the same length. It does not occur to her that the movement would have caused her pelvis to revert to its normal position. It could even have happened while she was relaxing during the ‘treatment’.

She mentions occasional eczema she gets on her eyelids. Toskar does his thing again and next morning the red eczema traces have gone. The fact that she describes it as “occasional” and as “traces” suggests to me that it is a problem that comes and goes and was on its way out when she had the ‘treatment’. In other words it would have got better if she had gone to the pub.She wouldn’t have spent £80 either.

She is now a believer and writes a shameless piece of pimpage for the technique.

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10 Responses to “WooWriter’s Template”

  1. Alan Henness (@zeno001) Says:

    Come off it! You’re the one doing the leg-pulling, surely? Divine straightening? Don’t be so stupi…Oh! http://www.divine-straightening.com/

  2. Alan Henness (@zeno001) Says:

    Ah! It’s OK. Even though they are only in London for a few days, they can still sort you out:

    Distant treatment
    With the intitation of the will to heal to strengthen the self-healing power potential for acute issues, mental or emotional stress.

    Distant treatment includes heavy metal eradication and further activation of the healing energy.

    If required it also includes a spiritual eye treatment.

    (Monday and Wednesday from 9pm.)
    And I think I need this:

    Divine alchemy
    Home interference suppression – radiation protection

    For transformation of energies that are out of balance and whose effects on people are stressful. These include mobile phone waves, television waves, computer waves und microwaves, earth veins and watercourses, electromagnetic fields, chemicals and toxic thoughts, to mention just a few.

    How it all happens:

    Send us a photo (exterior) of your house, apartment or office by mail or e-mail. We shall arrange a time for distant house interference.

  3. Ben Bawden Says:

    “it would have got better if she had gone to the pub.She wouldn’t have spent £80 either”

    Depends which pub she went to – some of them are pretty expensive!

  4. Brian Says:

    It’s pretty much the same template used by the mainstream media, except in that case the gushing conversion will be replaced with a cautious acknowledgement of success. I assume this is because, like TV sitcoms, it’s important that the article end with the protagonist in roughly the same state as they began.

  5. azmith Says:

    I read this article too – it was actually more irritating than the daily lame Neil Sean “gossip” column. I wonder how much Croydon was paid to peddle this nonsense?


    Neil bleeding Sean. It can’t be just me but everyone realises that his so-called gossip pieces are incredibly inane, right?

    They usually go a bit like this:

    “Brad Pitt was in town – walking with his two naturally occurring legs.”

    Holy crap – he must have some serious blackmail on someone at the Metro/Sky. There can’t be any other explanation!

  6. Neuroskeptic Says:

    So it’s basically chiropractic – but even sillier? Someone call the BCA to congratulate them – they’re no longer the most ridiculous spine-based “healers”!

  7. jdc325 Says:

    1. Profess scepticism about the latest woo

    This is something I’ve noticed too. One journalist (at the Daily Mail, stablemates of the Metro) actually wrote of body wraps “I’ve always been the biggest sceptic around”, listed celebs that used them (saying she could never understand why) and then the next para began: “But it seems I was completely wrong.” She then mentioned some unpublished research and told readers of her own experience of the body wrap (as per item 2 on your list). At the bottom of the piece, not only was the the treatment centre that went to advertised, but there was also an 0845 number you could ring for details of other salons around the country offering the body wrap. Funny, that. I wondered if the bogus skepticism was an extra effort to convince even the doubting reader of the merits of the body wrap.

  8. A Fourth Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] health quackeries examined were divine straightening, the Daily Mail’s continued assault on the HPV vaccine and the return of the detox […]

  9. Alan Says:

    Absolut utter bullshit

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