Rhymes with Sewage, Part 5: 2010

[In Parts 2, 3, and 4, I told you about my continuing adventures at the 2004 New Living Expo. It’s now 2010. Time for me to go again!]

They held the 2010 New Living Expo in San Francisco last month. As I previously mentioned, I hadn’t been to one of those in at least six years, so I was overdue. I also mentioned before that there can be the occasional real or interesting thing at these newage fairs, buried in among all the woo. I like ferreting out the real. I also enjoy looking at the crazy.

As is typical every time I go up to San Francisco, the adventure begins as soon as I step off of BART. The newage fair was being held at the same venue that hosted the SF Green Festival the prior month. As you’ll recall from that tale, I encountered some graffiti on the hike there. Somebody had spray-painted “Fear God” on an overpass support. This time, I noticed that somebody had appended some additional graffiti:

Don't fear the non-existent

Why indeed?

When I arrived at the Concourse Exhibition Center, I saw that a few groups had set up tables out front. Several of them were petitions to get initiatives on the ballot or to sign up for protests against one large corporation or another.

But there was one other thing out front. A stripper! Yes! A stripper!

Well, not a human stripper. A canine one. And she already had some dollar bills stuffed in her collar:

For an extra five bucks, she'll remove the collar, too!

I don’t know where that Tex Avery character came from. I’m sure he wasn’t there when I snapped the picture.

When I got inside, I saw a large sign advertising one of the big speakers of the event, David Icke. Here is just part of what the sign said. I’ve marked a few things for you to note:

'Ick' is somehow appropriate.

If you want to know more about David Icke, just search Bing.

There were lots of vendors, of course, selling all sorts of stuff. Books, for example:

Looks real to me!

One of those authors claims to have a PhD. Since they’re giving PhDs to creationists now, that degree is clearly worthless.

I wandered around looking at the various offerings. I went up to one booth to look over their stuff, and the woman there took a plastic wand and waved it over me. This wand was pink. Barbie-pink. It was battery-operated and flashed different colors.

I was trying to be undercover. My intent was to just listen to what people had to say and then move on. Somehow words were coming out of my mouth unbidden. I heard myself say to her:

What’s that? That looks cheap. Is that a toy? That looks like some cheap plastic Barbie toy! What’s it supposed to do? Am I supposed to feel something? I’m not feeling anything. I don’t think it works!

Clearly the wand had taken control of my mind! It was making me say rude but truthful things to the ignorant! I must get away before the effect becomes permanent!

I staggered away from that booth. I can only hope I got away in time.

I continued my wandering. Thanks to that gullible creduloid Oprah, The Secret is still wreaking havoc on the minds of the fleeceable:

Oprah attracts crazy. Maybe it does work!

That sign has an obvious misprint, though. The spacing is wrong. It’s supposed to say:

Law of attraction inaction.

If you wanted, you could always stick your feet into some nasty goo:

How crazy do you have to be to fall for this stuff?

I didn’t stick around to watch that. Looking at the full-sized version of this photograph, I can read some of what is on those banners on the wall. I guess you can tell what is wrong with you by which particular nasty consistency and color this nasty goo becomes.

Orange Sticky Substance
• Tissue Acid Waste
• Joint Toxins
White Cheeselike Particles
• Yeast/Fungus
Light Brown
• Cellular Debris from Lungs
Black Brown
• Colon Backup
Reddish Brown Glue
• Cardiovascular Toxins
Dark Green
• Gallbladder
Black Flecks
• Heavy Metals
Red Flecks
• Blood Clot Material
Black
• Liver
Smells
• Metals
• Nicotine
• Ammonia from Kidneys

I did go to a few seminars. Most of them I couldn’t sit through for more than five minutes. I did make it through about 30 minutes of one of them, but that was mostly because it took the guy so long to get to the crazy stuff:

This guy needs someone to teach him not to be gullible.

I think he was saying something about UFOs being more common now or something. Anyway, what he was really getting at is he claims there is some super-ancient being living among us. He has been here thousands of years. He previously sent his proxy, some dude named Jesus Christ. Any day now, he’s going to come out publicly by his real name, Maitreya. As you can see in the photograph above, he is a “world teacher”. He’s going to solve all our problems for us, or something. Wikipedia has more about this whole thing, if you want to read about it. I’ve already wasted too much time on it.

No healing above the neck, please.

The funny thing about these seminars is they all have something to sell. It’s usually books, sometimes DVDs or CDs. This guy was selling a handprint. It was Maitreya’s magical handprint. Even though Maitreya hasn’t identified himself publicly yet, this guy managed to get a handprint from him. He said we could buy a copy of it for only $10. Ten bucks! That’s cheap! And what can it do for you? Why, it’s a magical healing handprint, of course! All you had to do was stick your hand on it, tell Maitreya what you wanted healed, and it would happen! This guy told us that he has used the magical healing handprint to get healed lots of times.

Apparently Maitreya’s healing powers don’t extend to baldness.

The local skeptics’ group had actually infiltrated this event. They had planned to set up a table out front for the first two hours, to talk to people as they waited in line to buy tickets. I’m not sure what they hoped to accomplish with that. Anyway, around noon, the plan was to abandon the table and actually go inside and talk to the vendors. I was there for kicks. I’m not sure what they hoped to accomplish.

I had arrived too late to see their table out front. I did see this guy inside. He might have been part of that group:

The bigger fish eventually wins

My advice to them is to stay away from the lady with the Barbie wand. They might say something inappropriate.

There were posters hanging in the seminar rooms listing the upcoming speakers, what time their talk would be, and which booth they were in if you wanted to go buy their crap. Here’s a detail from one of the schedules (Sorry for the back-lighting. It was hanging on a window.):

Nobody here is crazy!

I think if the people in Booth 1017 just take a look at Booths 715 and 118, they’ll have their answer.

Wrap-Up

Overall, I was severely disappointed. This newage fair just wasn’t as fun as the last one.

For one thing, I couldn’t find anything that had any legitimate value. One of the hypnosis vendors who was there last time used to sell CDs for relaxation and the like. This year, all they were selling was hypnosis CDs for astral projection and past-life regression. The legitimate, clinical uses have been replaced by illegitimate and worthless mumbo jumbo.

It also seemed like there were more scientific buzzwords in use. “Quantum” and “tachyon” and “neutrino”, etc. I guess the public has gotten wise enough to not fall for snake oil when you call it snake oil. But if you invoke some scientific words that most people don’t know the meaning of, they’ll just accept on faith that there is some science behind it.

The place was lousy with “psychics”, maybe even more than last time. I was unable to get any free readings, though. Very few booths offered them. The few that did had a line (I hate lines. I wouldn’t stand in line for the first coming of Christ.).

So it wasn’t such a fun time. Are these people beginning to bore me? Or has my underlying disgust with what they’re doing overwhelmed my sadistic ability to laugh at the self-deluded?

I may not return.

14 Responses to “Rhymes with Sewage, Part 5: 2010”

  1. Ahmed Says:

    It’s too bad you couldn’t find something useful out there, although I’ve run into odd applications of hypnosis. Someone made a video out there that is supposed to put you through the best videogame ever according to your preferences.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUhOUaWglqI

    Another is supposed to be the multi-player version. Skeptical about this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUhOUaWglqI

    Also, are the captcha codes case sensitive?

  2. Ron Britton Says:

    Ahmed:

    I didn’t listen to much of those. If it’s trying to implant a post-hypnotic suggestion, I don’t know if that works. I’ve never been successful with that part myself.

    The telepathy thing is unlikely to work, since there is still no credible evidence that such a phenomenon exists.

    As far as I can tell, the captchas are not case sensitive.

  3. Jeff Eyges Says:

    I’ve said it here before – they’re fundamentalists. They’re as badly wounded, as rigidly married to their beliefs, and anyone who offers them contradictory evidence has to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. In fact, most of them, in my experience, are refugees from repressive forms of Christianity. And, of course, it’s largely about money. About the only charitable thing that can be said of them is that they don’t think we’re all going to hell.

    The telepathy thing is unlikely to work, since there is still no credible evidence that such a phenomenon exists.

    I thought I heard some encouraging results came out of the research at Duke, once upon a time?

  4. Ron Britton Says:

    Jeff:

    I thought I heard some encouraging results came out of the research at Duke, once upon a time?

    If you heard it in the mainstream media, you almost certainly heard wrong. Mainstream media almost universally get scientific reporting wrong.

    Back in the 90s, I did read a report about a telepathy experiment that showed a positive result. It was never replicated.

    The way that happens is the way statistics works. They usually use a 95% confidence level, which means one time out of every 20, they will get a false-positive. I’m guessing that is what happened in that case.

  5. J. A. Baker Says:

    My advice to them is to stay away from the lady with the Barbie wand. They might say something inappropriate.

    You mean like how the Barbie wand has a better use as a sex toy?

  6. Jeff Eyges Says:

    I thought the Russians also, supposedly, had some positive results in paranormal research.

    Of course, this all falls under the heading of “stuff I heard”.

  7. Ahmed Says:

    The US thought the Russians had positive results for that during the cold war, and both employed psychics to wage a sort of telekinetic war.

    Your tax dollars at work.

  8. Joker Says:

    Ahmed, look at it like this, I would rather they fight with things that don’t cause any real harm if the alternative is nukes and such. Back then they threw money at anything that might win the war, the same sort of thing is going on now too. I remember reading a few years ago that they were using dowsers in Iraq to look for IEDs

  9. Another Steve Says:

    Ahmed,

    I saw The Great Randy visit the Russian facility where the “positive results” had been achieved. It turns out that the guys doing the experiments had used exactly zero scientific rigger.

    One of the techniques used was that an experiment was set up to test for result X. Once the data was collected, the analysis revealed that in fact result X had been observed. Never once did they use a double blind study, or any real statistics to actually test the test.

    During the cold war, all of this worked because they had pulled the wool over the eyes of some rather gullible generals and/or party officials. The testing was classified, and no one ever exposed the fraud. Under the Soviet/Communist system once you had the patronage of a higher up, no one could touch you for fear of making the patron mad.

    Subsequent with Randy supervising the test, re-running of the experiment revealed shockingly…nothing. Researchers were unable to detect any psychic effects within the confines of a double blind study.

    Cheers

  10. Ahmed Says:

    @Joker
    Bad example: that was the Iraqi police force bought those. A better example would be the gay bomb.

    @Another Steve
    Thanks for the info. Although I know about double blind studies. Pretty much the only way to test the effects of something.

  11. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Isn’t this what that Men Who Stare At Goats movie was about? I haven’t seen that movie yet, so I’m not sure.

    You know, it’s fun to make fun of now, but actually studying the paranormal in a rigorous scientific fassion is not a waste of money. Well, now it is, but before it had been, it wasn’t. After all, many centuries of accounts of paranormal need to be tested at least a few times. If it’s real, it would be a fundamentally new way of looking at the universe in one of those “holy crap we’ve had it all wrong” ways that shake up the scientific world from time to time. And if not, well, at least you have evidence that the BS is actually BS.

    In the cold war, it was definitely a worthwhile long shot. A true psychic or remote viewer would obsolete many field agents and save many lives (on your side anyway).

    But, as we all know here, it’s all crap so now we laugh about it. Good times.

    Just as long as no MORE tax dollars are spent on this garbage.

  12. Lindsay Says:

    If it were me and I was confronted with grafitti that said “Fear God” I would tack “zilla” on the end for “Fear Godzilla.”

  13. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Lindsay FTMFW!

  14. alex a Says:

    I guess the public has gotten wise enough to not fall for snake oil when you call it snake oil.

    Ah, come on. That would be organic snake oil!