User:Tmtoulouse/Tracking down a miracle

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A Bunch of Numbers cited a video The Science of Miracles as proof of magical healing on the Talk:Christian Science page. While it obviously isn't a very good example, I am going to look into it a little but mostly as a demonstration for how this woo crap gets started.

I am going to take the first really "weird" claim that purports to be "science" in the video and see whether it really is. I do not know what I will find. Maybe I will find something to convert me, but I doubt it.

Okay, the first weird claim I can find in the first segment is the claim that photons align to DNA and stay that way. He calls it the "phantom DNA experiment." He makes a bunch of claims from it. But let us first explore where it comes from.

Checking Gregg Braden's homepage I find technical references. From that I see that the technical reference is too the published article:

P.P.Gariaev, K.V. Grigor’ev, A.A. Vasil’ev, V.P. Poponin, and V.A. Shcheglov, “Investigation of the Fluctuation Dynamics of DNA Solutions by Laser Correlation Spectroscopy,” Bulletin of the Lebedev Physics Institute (1992), no. 11-12, p. 23-30

Unfortunately, there is no online version of the articles prior to 2007, and I have a feeling that my library doesn't have print copies of the Bulletin of Lebedev Physics Institute. So I will have to find a copy another way.

Foreboding hints[edit]

It looks like Peter Gariaev and Vladimir Poponin are the primary instigators of this phantom effect. Peter popped up on EVC Forums spamming Russian links talking about the "crisis in life science." Poponin is linked to ranting here about quantum healing, and Gariaev seems to be pushing some idea of DNA as a quantum biocomputer. It looks like we might have a case of a couple scientist who published peer review on unrelated topics, going off the deep end and claiming all sorts of crazy shit and trying to use their "credentials" to boost their quantum woo. The question is not, have these guys published, but whether their quantum woo has been published and what it really says.

Cited work has nothing to do with effect[edit]

Well damn...the lead offer Peter Gariaev appears to claim that the referenced article has nothing to do with the phantom DNA effect. What a surprise.

So we know Braden didn't actually read the article, he sources it 3rd or 4th hand.

But let us not give up yet. Peter Gariaev gave several new references:

"However, to publish it, was possible only in 1991 (Gariaev P.P., Chudin V.I., Komissarov G.G., Berezin A.A., Vasiliev A.A., 1991, Holographic Associative Memory of Biological Systems, Proceedings SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering. Optical Memory and Neural Networks. v.1621, p.280- 291. USA.), and then in (Gariaev P.P., "Wave based genome", Ed. Obsh. Pl’za, 279p. In Russian (1994)), where the biggest chapter of the book is devoted to this effect."

I will see what I can do with these.

Okay the Wave based genome is not peer reviewed and not a scientific publication. That leaves us with the Proceedings from SPIE and a bunch of internet forum rants.

While I work on getting a copy of the SPIE paper, there is one pressing problem. Often times these abstracts that are sent into these huge conferences are accepted on mass. They do not go through any sort of rigorous peer review. There is a cursory glance to make sure its not unintelligible dribble and then is "accepted." This is not peer review, as the accuracy or scientific validity of the content is never assessed. However, this isn't true for all conferences. I have sent in an inquiry to the SPIE conference to ask the level of peer review they apply.

For a revolutionary break through, this stuff is hard to find[edit]

Searching around for the SPIE paper shows that it is cited online almost exclusively in woo circles, it has no citation to it in scholarly peer reviewed work. So it was summarily ignored by every other scientist on the planet. A published abstract at a conference is the start of a line of research not its pinnacle. The fact that no actual paper was ever published after the one abstract is a telling sign that the authors abandoned the work or went off the deep end. It certainly appears that at least several have done exactly that.


First off it can not be emphasized enough that Gregg Braden has never read this research. He found it on an internet posting thought it sounded cool and tossed it in his books and videos. He sources a "peer reviewed" journal article that has nothing to do with the claim. This is at best lazy scholarship, and far more likely just out and out lies, and since he uses these lies to sell his products it is verifiable fraud.

As for the claim itself, it appears as if several Russian researchers, with a marginal publication record, went off the deep end of quantum woo. Using their status as "scientist" they claimed to have discovered mechanism of quantum healing and bioquantum computing in DNA. After they went off the deep in none of their work got published in peer review journals. At least one of the authors, Peter Gariaev, has published only in alternative medicine and woo journals, when he isn't busy spamming internet forums with the "crisis in life science." At best, the research was published in a conference abstract that was not reviewed for content validity and accuracy. This conference paper was the end of the line for the "science," as no one, including the original authors, replicated or extended the work at all. In fact, it has received no citations at all in the scientific community.

The internet rants from Gariaev appears to be where this whole thing got started, with Braden picking it up on some forum and then tossing it in his books and videos as "scientific evidence" for quantum woo. From there it spread out in to the altie community, with everyone sure that it is backed by controlled scientific evidence.

Final thoughts[edit]

This is why the Gish gallop is a nasty rhetorical technique. In two hours Braden tosses out several dozen claims like this phantom DNA effect. He refers to them as if they are established respected science, and then derives his quantum woo from that. The time and energy it took to fully debunk one of the multiple dozens of claims makes it prohibitive to do it for every single one. So while the "phantom DNA effect is science" claim has been shown to be bunk, any altie can come in and say "Well, okay, maybe not this example but what about the other 40?" And if I buckle down and do this for all 40 claims and prove them all bunk, all I will get in response is another 2 hours video with another 40 or more claims.