Getting Ready for the Whole Life Expo – Toronto, November 25-27

Those of us who attended the Whole Life Expo last year were sorely disappointed to find that our efforts to explore the alternative reality of holistic health were circumvented by eagle eyed holistic gatekeepers. None too happy with our intended presence, the people running the show had some of us followed as we perused the booths, publicly warned the exhibition hall about our presence and eventually decided to kick us out and take our pictures after we had independently decided to leave.

In an effort to make our visit this year as non-problematic for us as possible, this year our group will be taking some precautions. By now each one of you who have been recruited to attend should have your instructions and a gift bag graciously provided by our sponsors. This year’s bag includes fluoride drops for the whole family and medication samples galore!

Blending In

Just a small sample of the skeptics recruited to attend!

The primary problem with last year’s visit was that we were detected early. This year’s visit will depend on how well we fit in with the other show attendees. We should make every effort to look and behave in a non-threatening way. If we do our job well, the organizers should not be able to tell the difference between us and the other attendees.

We have been able to recruit a large and diverse group of people this year to attend, both older and younger. We’re very excited to hear that many of you will be bringing your children as well. Infants and toddlers in strollers are not likely to be met with much suspicion by Expo staff, but if you can dress your kids in the muted tones of naturally dyed organic fibres, you’ll blend in nicely.

Whatever you decide to do in order to blend in, be careful and don’t express doubt about any of the dubious claims you will see. Be polite, smile and compliment the vendors handing out free samples. Please do this even if their granola bars taste like sawdust held together with light sweet crude. 

Taking Photos

During a visit to the Whole Life Expo two years ago, skeptics were able to purchase their tickets and freely explore the booths in the exhibition hall, had friendly conversations with exhibitioners and were able to openly take photos. Last year we found that the organizers had abruptly changed their policy, no longer allowing show attendees to take photos as they wished.

Yet, there are things at the Expo that really do need to be seen to be believed, and so we encourage everyone who attends to take photos and/or video where and when they can. While you might not be able to take regular photographic equipment with you, you should have no problems snapping pictures with your cell phones. Just try to make it look like you’re texting someone. We’re hoping to get some great photos this year, so as an incentive we’ve decided that the person who sends us the best photo from the expo will win free flu shots for life.

What to Anticipate

There is really quite a range of vendors, booths and presentations at the Expo. Below are some of my personal favourites.

Booth 98 – Eradicator There are quite a few exhibitors that sell products that purportedly protect you from electromagnetic frequencies, but this vendor sticks out from the pack. If you visit their website you’ll find instructions on how to test yourself and your household devices for harmful radiation using dowsing rods. Really. The website recommends that you test your bed and your shoes using dowsing rods for evidence of “geopathic stress”.

Booth 104, 105 – Meridian Energies Group Ever heard of a “Biontologist”? Neither have I. At this booth you can find out how to become a certified practitioner.

Booth 77 – Institute of Soul Healing and Enlightenment For $70, you can purchase “1 Million Layer Divine Soul Mind Body Transplants of Divine Removing Stress”. A “treasure” you can get for yourself or your pets.

Booth 94 – Sound Reiki Institute I believe that the lady that runs this booth basically claims to be able to treat health problems by singing at you.

You can see the entire list of exhibitors here. From organic food, to dowsing rods, karma diagnosis, healing pyramids and beyond; there really is something to interest anyone that will be attending the show. This year will see the largest skeptic presence at the show yet. We can’t wait to hear about everyone’s experiences.

10 Responses to “Getting Ready for the Whole Life Expo – Toronto, November 25-27”

  1. If I was closer, I would definitely join you.

  2. Mike says:

    Here’s something to wash down those fluoride drops with. Enjoy!

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21255877

  3. While not obvious from the summary, the paper is about the effects of Fluoride in areas of high concentrations due to industrial contamination or the naturally occurring element. This effect is most pronounced where the levels are extremely high.

    The conclusion in the summary is a bit different from the conclusion in the full paper.

    From the Summary
    “Therefore, it is important to be aware of this serious problem and avoid the use of toothpaste and items that contain F, particularly in children as they are more susceptible to the toxic effects of F.”

    From the full paper
    “in areas where the fluoride concentration exceeds 0.7 mg/L, to
    avoid the intake of the drinking water, fluorinated salt, and
    the use of toothpastes and articles containing F.”

    Of course, those opposed to fluoride in drinking water will not care.

    • Mike says:

      John, it sounds like you’re trying to imply that the paper is showing that toxic effects from fluoride are only a concern when the concentration exceeds 0.7mg/L. Care to hazard a guess as to what the WHO would recommend as being a “safe” level for drinking water?

      I believe the correct skeptic response to that article is that even though it’s a peer-reviewed paper published in a medical journal, it’s still garbage, which I believe is the point Kim was trying to make.

      • Cameron says:

        “In 1984,WHOconducted an extensive review and found that there were insufficient data to conclude that fluoride produces cancer or birth defects. In addition, WHO noted that mottling of teeth (i.e. dental fluorosis) is sometimes associated
        with fluoride levels in drinking-water above 1.5 mg l–1 and crippling skeletal fluorosis can ensue when fluoride levels exceed 10 mg l–1. A guideline value of 1.5 mg l–1 was therefore recommended by WHO as a level at which dental
        fluorosis should be minimal (WHO, 1984).
        The 1.5 mg l–1 fluoride guideline value that was set in 1984 was subsequently re-evaluated byWHOand it was concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that it should be revized (WHO, 1996, 2004). The 1.5 mg l–1 guideline value of
        WHO is not a “fixed” value but is intended to be adapted to take account of local conditions (e.g. diet, water consumption, etc.).”

        Here’s the link – it’s really long but interesting.
        http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/fluoride_drinking_water_full.pdf

  4. Steve Thoms says:

    Given what happened last year (http://www.somecanadianskeptic.com/2010/11/there-are-skeptics-in-building-dressed.html), I don’t know if I’ll be in attendance. I might be in TO this weekend anyway, so what would it hurt me to take the TTC downtown? In attendance will be Rodney Palmer’s company (the same man who threatened to sue me a year ago) and Bryce Wylde (who once suggested that I “get back to my piccolo, Music Man!”), so perhaps it would be fruitful to see if these people are as rude in person as they are online.

    My appearance has changed a great deal from last year’s event, so I doubt the photos the event and convention hall staff took of me will be of much use.

  5. Steve Murphy says:

    (Booth 98 – Eradicator)

    Could not help but think of the KITH sketch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJjMAeJxdYw

  6. Hanna says:

    Even though I am a supporter of health food and herbal supplements in general, I must agree with the skeptics as far as some “spiritual” exhibitors at this Expo go. Some of them are really intrusive and persuasive, trying to sell their “services” overpriced, for example the “spiritual healing”, which does not do anything. One “healer” gave me wrong information about her service. I had asked for a relaxing head and facial massage with the essential oils she had built up at her booth, and she said yes, she would do it, but it turned out that she just waved her hands over my head, and I could not even smell the oil, for 15 minutes and she had charged me $20 for this nonsense. She did not return me the money.
    On the other hand foot reflexology and shiatsu was really good at the Expo 2011.

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  • Dianne Sousa

    Dianne holds a degree from the University of Guelph in criminal justice, public policy and social psychology. She became involved in the skeptical movement after becoming disillusioned with the addictions counselling field. Skeptical topics of interest include alternative medicine and it's regulation in Canada, pseudoscience and the law and skeptical activism. She also crochets extensively and enjoys bad film, usually at the same time. Follow me on twitter: @DianneSousa. All views expressed by Dianne are her personal views alone, and do not represent the opinions of any current, former or future employers, or any organizations or associations that she may be affiliated with.