This is the first of my blog entries taking a look at the therapies offered up on Ireland’s Holistic Directory Website (Link here). Each week I will take one or more existing therapies, address its claims, and hopefully provide some insight for myself and others regarding what crap is being peddled out there. I will give credit to the site for any genuine, scientifically legitimate entries in the directory but it will probably be in the form of a quick list as their presence on the site holds little weight with me when you consider that Fertility Treatment and Food Intolerance Testing are sandwiched between magical nonsense like Feng Shui and Geopathic Stress.
This week is Access Bars, which I happen to find at random one day when I first discovered the directory and I was taken aback by how ridiculous it sounded and amazed that it could ever be taken seriously by any thinking person. Access Bars is the brain child of a man named Gary Douglas who can be found on his site grinning back at you with the intellectually secure, knowing look of the ‘guru’. The website also has the inevitable links to testimonials that always accompany pseudo scientific crap that has either been disproven by scientific testing or is non-falsifiable. These tales, as a lot of skeptics know, unfortunately speak more to people’s daily lives than the cold facts associated with evidence based reasoning and are more convincing as a result. Despite the number of these testimonials and the fact that they come from people probably convinced of their truth, we all know that the plural of anecdote is not evidence.
Mr Douglas – humble black and white photo with
a disarming and knowing head tilt? Sign me up!!!
The core concept behind Access bars is the idea that there are “32 points on your head which, when gently touched, effortlessly and easily release anything that doesn’t allow you to receive? These points contain all the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, and considerations you have stored in any lifetime. This is an opportunity for you to let go of everything!” Activating these bars, it is claimed, will allow energy to flow and open new possibilities for self improvement and the site poses you the question – “As there are Bars for every aspect of your life do you think its possible that you could clear limitations relating to money, healing, body, control, awareness, creativity, communication, hopes and dreams, sadness and joy, aging and money?” (On a personal note, I love the fact that they mention money at the start of the list and at the end of it too. It gives me a warm feeling inside. Also, AGING?) The neurological literature behind these claims is unfortunately not linked to but I would be happy to give it a layman’s look over if somebody can provide it, although I doubt people will consider me cynical if I were to suspect that it doesn’t exist.
Something that concerns me about the majority of sites that are selling the benefits of Access Bars, that I looked at during my research, is that there was a surprising amount of preamble that you had to get through to find out these core beliefs. You are seduced with promises of life affirming changes and great developments using the all too familiar sales pitch of alternative therapies that could easily be whittled down to something similar to “Are you a person? Do bad things happen that you don’t like and want to fix? Have previous attempts at fixing these problems been bad? Well we have the solution”. (NOTE: the previous sentence is to be read in the tone of a QVC shopping channel presenter). The Accessbars.ie site was one of the more transparent sites I found and it begins on its home page with the promising line “Aren’t you just a little curious what Access is all about?” and (wait for the sarcasm) follows it up with some informative, beautifully constructed and easily intelligible sentences such as “Access consciousness is about empowering you to know what YOU know. So that YOU have the life YOU truly desire. What if you’re the creator of your life? And if you’re the creator, you can change any part of it?”. The details of what ‘Access Bars’ are, however, isn’t addressed on this page so you move on to ‘The Bars’, a section on the site which gives you the lowdown on the 32 Bars and provides you with a helpful graph:
Reading more of the details on the site left me scratching my head between the bars for ‘creating life forms’ and ‘money’ (which surprisingly didn’t result in any Leprechauns. Go figure?), and ruminating on a final couple of sentences I read. “At worst you feel like you have just had the best massage of your life. At best your whole life can change into something greater with total ease” and “And if you’re a healer or practitioner of any kind, how excited would your clients be if you were to add this to your list of service?”
The first sentence could apply to a lot of alternative therapies that usually involve a hands on approach (unlike Reiki for instance) but it was the last sentence that I dwelt on most of all. These sites are selling to an audience, not only of prospective customers of ‘Access Consciousness’ but also practitioners who want to add to their repertoire of alternative treatments. AccessBars.ie has a course advertised where you can, for an investment of 160 (80 for repeats), be guided through the first steps of Access consciousness. I can only assume this is 160 euros as it’s not actually stated on the site but it could be space hugs for all I know and I’m reluctant to assume anything when dealing with people so divorced from reality. Likewise the access consciousness site itself has a page with details on how to become an access facilitator for the currency-specific amount of $100 which is to be paid on an annual basis so that you can keep your ‘license’. Access facilitators appear, at least from my interpretation, to be a self regulated group. I suppose doing essentially nothing, for money, could hardly be seen as harmful outside of the financial costs incurred by the credulous but it is this approach that lends a false legitimacy to innumerable forms of quackery and helps them to present themselves as something other than fantasy bullshit. Access Bars appears to just be another form of magical thinking that if believed by its proponents has no real effect outside of head massage. For those practitioners who don’t believe in its claims, it is just a well packaged, self regulating school of crap that you can practice with all the bells and whistles of accreditation for an annual fee and a suppression of your moral instincts.