Why, I bet you didn’t even know about Brain-Fog!

Today, I’ll be offering up another entry in my continuing series of reviewing a company / product that had a presence at the Whole Life [and wallet] Expo, 2009 in Toronto a few weeks ago. This entry is all about the baffilingly expensive and inefective product line to come out of the “Earthcalm” company, and in particular, their “Omega Laptop Protector“.

EarthCalm is a company which claims to (or doesn’t claim to, but makes every connection possible with) be able to prevent electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) from doing whatever it is that magnetic fields do to you.  From their brochure (which clearly states “no part of this brochure may be reproduced without written permission”, but that just means I can’t scan it and show you…I’m still able to pull small quotes from it for educational purposes), their comprehensive line of products can supposedly help you deal with / prevent / lessen the frequency of reasonably serious symptoms like asthma attacks, panic attacks, arthritis and joint pain and blood pressure (all symptoms that might imply a more serious underlying condition), and the less-easy to pin-down symptoms like concentration, school grades for children, “overall well being”, and yes, the dreaded “Brain Fog!” (I’m not making this up)


The Theory:

Its products use what they call “Scalar Resonance Technology”, which I’m pretty sure means “Professor Dumbledore says an incantation in pseudo-latin and your non-symptoms will vanish as quickly as you were told you had them!”  But from their website, “Scalar Resonance Technology is the process whereby each EarthCalm circuit is matched to its mirror circuit, which exponentially increases resonance to the earth.” That sure is a lot of sciencey-sounding words, mixed in with a sprinkle of mother earth-type language.  Their website continues, “A scalar wave is by definition a wave that is exactly matched by another wave, i.e. has the same frequency and the same height or amplitude but has the opposite direction, such that one wave exactly cancels out the other”. Actually, that’s called “phase cancellation,” and it works with any two set of waves.  The problem is that phase cancellation is a process that does the exact opposite what the earth-calm people seem to think it does.  Their notion of this is, “A biological example of the generation of scalar waves can be found in the brain, when the left and right sides of the brain come into balance. A person who has access to both sides of their brain is generating scalar waves and is therefore more in touch with higher levels or higher dimensions of functioning.” No, because when waves do what the EarthCalm people are describing, the output of the waves equals zero:
When I was studying to be a recording engineer, we had to regularly be very aware of phase cancellation because it can result in the sound suddenly vanishing for no apparent reason.  So if you had the left and right hemispheres of your brainwaves “exactly matched”, you would be comatose. Or dead.

Okay,  so the theory behind this stuff is bunk on its face, what about the goods?  Can they deliver what they say?

The Claims:
Before we get get into that, we have to first work out what they’re actually claiming.  Aside from the specific and vague health claims listed above, they also claim that (in their brochure)

Computers, cell phones and most recently, WiFi are generating  untested electromagnetic fields in which we now all have to live….these disruptive fields have created a dangerous form of pollution that diminishes our sense of well-being, increases stress levels and even contributes to diseases, headaches, arthritis and some forms of cancer.

Once again, the peddlers of pseudo-science get to make up a huge number of statements, and the science-based community has to spend time picking it apart piece by torturous piece.  If you listened to this passage, you’d think that your iPhone is secretly trying to grow you a third arm, but the sellers get around this by not actually naming what “field” they’re talking about.  Is it some sort of “Cell-Phone field?” Are cell phones today safer than older ones, or are they more dangerous because you can do more with them, and they’re so much more cell-phoney?  Ostensibly, they’re referring to EMFs here, but I think you know where this is going: no link whatsoever between EMF’s and harm in humans. Sadly, their brochure continues,

The manmade [sic] electrical grid we live in has robbed us of our bioelectrical [sic] connectedness to the earth. EarthCalm revolutionizes protection from EMF pollution by manufacturing products that dramatically enhance a person’s grounding in the electromagnetic field of the earth….EarthCalm products strengthen and restore the body’s nervous and acupuncture meridian systems.  Deeper levels of healing are once again possible as nature designed.

The symptoms of the worried well strike again!  Not only is it highly likely that EMF Sensitivity is a psychosomatic disorder, but this company seems hell-bent on dazzling the reader with as many pseudo-sciences and logical fallacies as they can.  Acupuncture? Check.  Appeal to naturalism? Check. Lying? Check.

Normally, I would refrain from accusing a pseudo-scientific practitioner from being a liar, as it implies intent to decieve, or having foreknowledge of an untruth. But here, I believe I have good cause.  Their characterization of EMF pollution as harmful and “pollution”, and that EMF’s contribute to things like cancer and arthritis is directly contradicted by their own brochure and website (in absurdly small-print, of course).

The most glaring example of this cognitive dissonance can be seen in this passage from their brochure: “Household EMFs are not recognized by the FDA as a health hazard”, and this, from their website, “These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”. These statements seem in stark contrast with this, also pulled directly from their website (and presented without further comment):

The Scalar Home Protection System is recommended for all children and families because it combines maximum EMF protection with the three progressive states so as to minimize any possible discomfort from an adaptation period.  For severe hyperactive or asthmatic children, or severe autism, this is the product of choice.  For mild to moderate symptoms, you might begin with one Home Protector…

The Product:
EarthCalm has all manner of products based in the ancient, time-honored method of thinking that sorcerers are real.  They have the “Infinity Ring“, which is created by multiple coils and a mobius circuit in the form of an infinity sign, which has long been recognized for many special properties“. Why those ‘special properties’ work are never really discussed beyond a “just because” level of explanation.  I would think that the Green Lantern’s symbol would have a little more power than the infinity symbol, but I guess I’m not the one making stupid amounts of money here. There is also the Multi-Phase Shield, which is a metal cord that you wrap around your bed, allowing you to “boost your protection from AC and micro-wave wireless radiation while sleeping” …because of magic.  For some real first-class wizardy though, you need to drop $150 on the Galaxy Gem, which you can attach to the bottom of a metal stick (which they call a “Resonator”), and works by “projecting a double pyramid around you, enveloping you in a diamond of protection wherever you are, whatever you are doing. The pyramid mirrors the phi and pi ratios of the earth”.  Wow!  Projected pyramids!  Phi and pi! I didn’t think Gandalf the Grey worked in the pyramid business, but it’s got all the same earmarks: fancy material (that isn’t actually fancy), and a gemstone that you can put in a socket to give you magical powers!

My favorite item in the company’s arsenal is the Omega Laptop Protector.  It has “Omega” in its name!  To look at it, it resembles a typical 8GB flash drive.  But, thanks to magic, you can Surround yourself with a vortex of protection combining EarthCalm’s proprietary Scalar Resonance Technology with EarthCalm’s Resonant Transformer Technology. When inserted into a USB port in your laptop, the Omega actually transforms the highly hazardous microwave field emitted from the laptop into a powerful healing field of protection around you. So it’s a bit like having your druid cross-train as a sorcerer, allowing you to get both divine AND arcane magic, respectively.

But don’t let that attractive studio-promo photo fool you.  The piece that was brought for sale at the expo looked a little odd to me, see if you can spot it:

Notice anything odd, unusual, special, or downright hilarious about what I’m holding in my hand here?  Because I noticed to two things: 1) The little green thing on the inside is not attached to anything, 2) the USB port is attached to the cork holding it in place  and nothing else!  I noticed this little oddity and pointed it out to the salewoman:

Me: What’s this little green thing made of?
SalesWoman: It’s mostly resin and our patented combination of elements.
Me: But…it’s not attached to anything!
SW: Pardon?
Me: Look!  It’s not hooked up to anything!  It’s just sitting there!
SW: Oh, it doesn’t need to! (literally waving her hand)
Me: Why not?
SW: It doesn’t need to (again, waving her hand)
Me: But….the USB is also not attached to anything!
SW: I need to step over here and help this gentleman.

The price of this little device?  I could tell you, but I think it’s more effective demonstration if I just show you:
$200?  That’s just in my price range….for an ipod
$200 and they get to re-sell $3.45 worth of plastic, resin and metal.  Remarkable how profitable doing nothing at all can be.
Conclusion:
EarthCalm has pseudo-science written all over it, and it has all the red-flags of a scam: science-sounding words, over-priced products that claim to treat vague symptoms, appeals to nature, obvious misunderstandings of even the most basic scientific principles, and even outright lying.  With the kind of quality control that allowed for illegal ear candling to be sold, it’s small wonder that the Expo allowed this kind of naked fraud to operate within its walls.

18 Responses to “Why, I bet you didn’t even know about Brain-Fog!”

  1. aerobones says:

    @Saneskeptic

    Saneskeptic is right to never believe anything the FDA says or does. But the truly funny thing about Earthcalm is that the FDA has nothing to do with EMF… NOTHING!! They regulate food and drugs, which makes their statement really hilarious. The FCC would be the ones to concern themselves with EMF. But yeah Earthcalm is completely bunk, and I agree that the FDA is rife with conflicts of interest and lies, but the FDA has nothing to do with this. It's just a con tactic used by Earthcalm.

  2. The Deanster says:

    Someone here needs to get up to speed on the research. EMFs are a much more serious threat and danger to human health than is being reported. Skepticism can be good or bad, depending on what it does with the facts. http://www.electricalpollution.com, http://www.strayvoltage.org are just two sites. Google Dr. Magna Havas and on YouTube too. Our bodies are run by very tiny Electrical-magnetic signals and fields. It only stands to reason that man-made signals that are now invading our bodies like never before might be playing with human and animal health, and they most certainly are. It's the next big health issue, mega times larger than tobacco smoking ever was, because it's hitting everyone.

  3. Kimberly Hebert says:

    "Our bodies are run by very tiny Electrical-magnetic signals and fields. It only stands to reason that man-made signals that are now invading our bodies like never before might be playing with human and animal health, and they most certainly are."

    That is quite a leap, Deanster.

  4. rh says:

    While the pursuit of solid scientific explanations should be encouraged I am not comfortable with a pure tone of skepticism.

    I tried EarthCalm’s pendant. The impact is very straightforward – my joint pains go away. This impact is noticeable repeatable anytime. I dont understand how this is possible and I’d really like to know how.

    Why not try to explain how it might work even if it helps a minority? Simply dismissive comments can only be irritating for those who are seeking relief from significant health problems.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      I tried EarthCalm’s pendant. The impact is very straightforward – my joint pains go away. … Why not try to explain how it might work even if it helps a minority?

      Pain is not purely a physical sensation; there are also psychological factors. One has to ask why the pain is going away. Is it anything the pendant is doing, or is the brain doing all the work while the pendant is getting the credit? If we do something that we think will relieve pain, and the pain goes away, we will often attribute that relief to our intervention regardless of whether it actually did anything. This is why pain relief products in particular need to be subjected to blinded, placebo-controlled trials to test their efficacy. The brain is awesome, but there are more honest ways to involve the brain in pain relief.

      I could paint a random rock from my backyard and claim that it relieves pain by some vague mechanism. I could then find dozens of people to testify that it works. The irritation you may pick up from skeptics discussing such products is due to frustration that companies make money from selling expensive placebos with vague, unjustified health claims when something as cheap and simple as a painted rock would do the same thing. There’s an ethical debate about the promotion of placebos as pain treatments: Some are in the camp of “As long as the pain goes away, who cares if Product X really ‘works’?” Others object to companies making money off of people’s suffering when the product itself is arbitrary to pain relief (any product would do, as long as it’s believed to work).

  5. Bockmed says:

    I am (and always have been) very skeptical when it comes to just about anything. That said, your blog sounds an awful lot like the skeptics that make claim that supplements as example have not been proven to do anything to improve help, quality of life, life span etc. I work in a high level position for a major Surgical Device/Product manufacturer. We live and breath by the FDA and their “guidelines”. The FDA DOES regulate things regarding EMF and its HEALTH affects. The FDA has stated that TO DATE; they are aware of the affects of EMF, however there is not enough research YET to point to it resulting in any specific health condition. There IS alot of research surrounding EMF, safe levels for EMF, safe levels for Microwave (Cell phone and WiFi) etc. The problem is that the research has been done and policies surrounding the data have only been done in OTHER countries (not the US). England, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Australia have ALL set up standards for safe EMF exposure. The US has the broadest and losest range (and little regulation behind it). The FDA (which I have alot of experience with) is a BUSINESS. Healthcare is a BUSINESS. Our own goverment is a BUSINESS. I state this as we (the public) tend to forget that. It s conspiracy theory, its just a FACT. A fact that serves us (The US population) very well for the most part. Great medical technology, financial opportunity, safe civilization (sans terrorists, anarchy, etc.), freedom of speech; and the list goes on; are all products of the company known as the United States. HOWEVER; it takes money to make money and the FDA, EPA and all goverment agencies have ALOT of people (very powerful companies) that keep Capital Hill a financially profitable place to work. These influences (Lobbiest’s) are part of the business. This directly affects what and who the FDA concentrates on at any given time. History has proven time and again that the FDA will not say or do anything for many years regarding a health safety issue and then 20 years later state “oh, we now know based on enough research that XYZ is harmful to your health, or product XYZ is actually good for you” etc. EMF is dangerous (not a mental state). Our exposure to it has quadrupled since the 1990′s. The affects of this technology explosion (and exposure) may not show up in the US (where anyone puts money behind it) for another 20 years, while the damage is occuring now. Bottom line; there is science behind Earthcalm’s products (they have been in business for 20 years) and if large numbers of people get results from it for a one time $2-400, what is the harm. They also provide a 90 Day money back guarantee. You can try it for 3 months and if it appears to be bunk, return it for a full refund. If it does work, I will be very happy that I had it pluged in to my home protecting myself and my children when the FDA reports in 10-20 years how dangerous EMF has been (and they will, as soon as it makes financial sense). I appreciate your skepticism, but I appreciate true research first before someone starts bashing something that could actually help someone.

  6. steve says:

    Our family moved to a new condo development located under very large powerlines (They’re constantly buzzing) and we have become very sick. We measured the EMF’s and we decided to move…very high! Whether or not science has recognized EMF sickness, or this earthcalm gadget, is beside the point…try living next to powerlines and watch your health and well being come crashing down. Recovery is not quick and “Grouding/Earthing” yourself does help (We have the product that is being reviewed). Suit up as your own subject and then try this technology, I dare you. It’s not fun and the pain is very real…but you’ll see that it works quickly in the end; then do a follow up to this article. It will destroy your body chemistry and the docs will treat you for everything but the root cause. Your article shows that you’ve not done your research; you’re just another “skeptic”. It’s been rough until now.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Did you also happen to check for all other possible sources of illness (mold, for example)? If not, how can you be sure it was EMF and not something else that coincided with you happening to live near power lines? It’s possible that your getting sick was unrelated to the power lines or that your belief in EMF sickness made you hyperaware of symptoms. These possibilities must be seriously considered before drawing a firm conclusion.

  7. Flashman says:

    The biggest part that you’re missing is this though:

    “Their characterization of EMF pollution as harmful and “pollution”, and that EMF’s contribute to things like cancer and arthritis is directly contradicted by their own brochure and website (in absurdly small-print, of course).”

    This is obviously Scalar Resonance Technology at work. They say one thing, and SRT cancels it out!!

  8. Sally says:

    Okay, I am sensitive to EMF, and I know this for a fact. When I sit at the computer too long, my nervous system goes haywire. All of you fucks that sit here and say that there is no connection between health and EMF are assholes and deserve to be blessed with EMF sensitivity. Science is not as cut and dry as you all think it is, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. You can’t always 100% believe something you read in a book. SO FUCKING LAME!

    • Steve Thoms says:

      I wasn’t going to approve this comment because it is childish and way beyond rude.

      But giving you the benefit of the doubt (a kindness you did not extend to me), I have one question:

      How do you know that your nervous system goes “haywire” (what does that even mean?) because of the EMF emitted by your computer. Did you know you’re constantly being bombarded by EMF waves even if you’re nowhere near a computer?

      I’ll ask you to respond in the polite manner I did, despite your initial tone. If you respond in the way you started, I think you will help cement the reputation that the opponents of EMF are alarmist, reactionary, and hysterical.

  9. Tat says:

    We moved to a new house which has a cell tower (repeater) right opposite around 30m away from our windows and started thinking about EMF protection. We found this EarthCalm device advertised online and bought it. I knew we would not be able to measure effect if any, but we decided to try it. It has been with us now for a few months. What is happening? I do not see any positive change. On the contrary, since we moved to this house and started using this device, my kids and I are frequently sick which did not happen before. Is it because of the cold new house in winter? could be.. is it because of the cell tower next to us? we have not been here long enough to be affected that much I guess.. could it be because of the EarthCalm plugged in all the time? I dont know.. At this point in time I think that traditional EMF protection (like RF film for windows, special RF paint, RF shields etc where you can measure the reduced level of radiation) used for eg. in hospitals will be the ones to choose and not something that offers intangible benefits which you cannot measure…

  10. Let’s put the speculation and criticism to rest. EarthCalm has been certified effective by the International Institute for Research on Electromagnetic Compatibility (IIREC). IIREC is a globally renowned authority on EMF research and testing of EMF protection devices. IIREC is a government funded research institute in Austria and comprised of globally recognized scientists of electrophysics, biophysics, environmental medicine and wave genetics. Concerned about the health effects of EMFs, these scientists united to establish EMF protection protocols and methods for testing the effectiveness of protection devices. Its website states, “IIREC offers manufacturers of EMF protection products a reliable quality test and interested parties and consumer protection organizations the ability to distinguish the effective products from the ineffective ones.”

    • Art Tricque says:

      The International Institute for Research on Electromagnetic Compatibility (IIREC) sounds impressive, but it appears to be an office set up by one man, Walter Medinger. He has no Pubmed citations, and the website for the group at iierc.at does not appear to have been updated at all since 2010, and not substantially since about 2005. The site does not have any citations or information about the validity of their certification, and so such a certification is worthless.

    • Art Tricque says:

      For the record, Ms. Epstein’s website, Vibrancy Wellness Products, shows that she distributes Earthcalm products. The firm also offers, I kid you not, “Clayton Nolte’s Natural Action Water Structuring Units” which “that produce hydrating & alkaline water, rich with bio-photon energy, oxygen and hydrogen & free of the memory/energy imprint of toxins” and “Thomson Tech Ionizer for Swimming Pool, Spa or Hot Tub”. Thomson Tech’s website gives only one published journal reference, which I can find on Pubmed along with one by the same lead author. They date from 1989 and 1990. The Thomson Tech firm appears to run from a house in Madera, CA.

      Sources: http://www.holisticexpo.net/profile/LialaEpstein?xg_source=activity ; http://www.vibrancywellness.ca/ ; and http://www.thomsontec.com/research.htm

      • The IIREC is a technical bureau of the Austrian government, and Dr. Medinger and his colleagues are legal experts recognized in the European legal system.

        The ionization technology used by Thomson Tec was developed in the 1960′s by Nasa for use on space vehicles and introduced for pubic use in 1985 by Carefree Clearwater.

        With all respect, you guys should consider updating your education and get some background knowledge in Quantum Physics and Quantum Biology before you criticize technology and matters that are beyond your scope of understanding.

  11. Art Tricque says:

    “The IIREC is a technical bureau of the Austrian government” No, it is not; it is a private company. The status of a legal expert is not a high honour, and does not mean what that person has to say has any merit. The company web site does not list any cases they have helped to win.

    As for quantum science, it may be fashionable in pseudoscience circles to mention it, but I doubt you could teach anyone anything about it, nor how it might be relevant to what you sell.

    • You are misinformed when it comes to the IIREC etc. Quantum Science is psuedoscience? Then the Canadian tax payers must be paying taxes for nonsense research, because the government’s National Research Council has a Quantum Theory Group. The text below is from the government webpage, http://qtgroup.ims.nrc.ca/

      The Quantum Theory Group carries out theoretical research into the electronic and optical properties of low-dimensional and bulk semiconductors, organic materials, graphene, photonic systems, mesoscopic systems, and quantum information. It also examines other aspects of quantum theory which promise scientific and technological potential.

      You might want to seriously consider becoming better educated on a subject before you condemn and ridicule. It’s obvious you lack anything of real value to support your condemnations. Your only interest is in condemning for the sake of it and attacking people while you’re at it.

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  • Steve Thoms

    Steve is a professional music teacher living in Kitchener, Ontario. He studied recorded music production at Fanshawe College, and Political Studies/History at Trent University, where he specialized in political economy and global politics. He is an amateur astronomer, and an award-winning astro-photographer. Steve also runs the blog, Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic." can can be followed on Twitter, @SomeCndnSkeptic.