On the back of this little book someone enthuses that it "should be in the library of any serious, scientifically minded researcher in the Paranormal". The author himself seems keen to invoke science to "back up" his claims, so it is only reasonable to read the book in this spirit.
On the second page, we are in trouble already:
"The atoms of animate life [sic] are more active and vibrant than those of inanimate matter."
Thus, we seem to have mysteriously mislaid an entire field of science, called chemistry.
Still, accidents will happen, and perhaps we should hurry on to consider the meaning of our personal experiences, by answering Ted's questionnaire on the third page, where he states that "if you can answer yes to any of these questions, you have experienced the interplay of an outside energy field upon your own aura." As any of his questions will suffice, here are two:
7. Do certain sounds, colours and fragrances make you feel more comfortable or uncomfortable?
12. Are some rooms more comfortable and enjoyable to be in than others?
Admit it: your bedroom is more enjoyable to be in than a dentist's waiting room. Why? Auras, that's why. Nothing to do with the fact that your bedroom has a nice bed in it, whereas the waiting room is full of nervous people suffering from toothache. And if you happen to prefer roses to burning tyres, that's auras, too.
The aura turns out to be very inimately related to our well-being, since it is weakened by, among other things:
You see, these things are bad for you because they harm the aura, which leads to ill health. Andrews has somehow failed to notice that these things are already known to be just bad for your health anyway.
More research needed? Back to the laboratory:
"Modern science teaches that the human body is composed of energy fields. These energy emanations from the body include electrical, magnetic, sound, heat, light and electromagnetic fields." (p.8)
Nothing remarkable about glow-worms, then, because we're all doing it. And we don't make noises, we emanate sound fields. What would they be?
More technical stuff:
"Auras may have sound, light and [sic] electromagnetic fields within them, but the strength and intensity of these will vary from individual to individual. Each person has his or her own unique frequency." (p.12)
Unfortunately, we are not shown how to arrive at this frequency, which may have something to do with the fact that (leaving aside the different nature of sound and light) sound frequencies range from about 10Hz (infrasonic) to the order of about 1010Hz (ultrasonic), whereas light is of the order of 1015Hz, so that adding (who knows what he imagines?) the frequencies would be like adding an inch to a light-year. If we take into account the physical difference between sound and light, then somehow combining their frequencies is about as meaningful as adding an ounce to a light-year.
It may not then be such a surprise to read, on the facing page, this:
"We have all had days in which we thought we were going a little bit crazy."
Later, Andrews teaches us about the human eye and how to improve our vision. This advice is somewhat undermined by the fact that he seems to think that the eye is focussed by means of the iris, offering a chart,
"which helps to strengthen the muscles of the iris. It helps to strengthen depth vision..." (p.43)
A peep at a 100-year old copy of Gray's Anatomy would tell him that focussing the lens of the eye is the job of the ciliary muscle, not the iris, which controls the amount of light entering the eye. Andrews continues his remarkably clueless account thus:
"The more speed you develop in your eye movements, the more you will be able to detect things that are not as readily apparent. The quick eye movements stimulate greater cone and rod activity within the retina [where else?]. The faster you become, the easier it is to detect colours." (p.53)
Rods don't detect colours, but they are used particularly for seeing movement, unlike cones.
One final piece of opthalmic wisdom:
"It is believed [by Ted Andrews?] that you only use about 15 to 20 percent of the cones and rods within your eyes, so it is no wonder that most of us do not detect the subtle light energy of the aura." (p.42)
Further on, we get to the ideal tools for detecting auras: dowsing rods and pendulums. As usual, the choice of materials is quite inexplicable, so we may have the "traditional wood or [?] willow branch", or a bit of a wire coat hanger (whatever that's made of), or we could use copper:
"Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and is thus even more sensitive to subtle energy fields and to the signals being sent from your own nervous system." (p.68)
If that's why copper is so good, then wood, a very poor conductor, must be useless, yet it's traditional.
Both dowsing and pendulum dangling are subject to what is called the "ideomotor effect": small, involuntary arm movements that make the rods or pendulum seem to move independently of the user. Put simply, it is impossible to hold things still for a long time, so they will move. It's not mysterious, and it is familiar enough to psychologists to have been given a label. Andrews actually uses this term himself!
"The swinging of the pendulum is an ideomotor response. It is caused by involuntary muscle action stimulated by the subconscious mind through the sympathetic nervous system of the body. The subtle messages received through the aura are lodged within the nervous system." (p.75)
If you twitch, it just shows you have an aura!
The pendulum can be used to help answer questions, and one of Ted's examples is:
"Should I start a new study?"
How about logic?
PSYCHOLOGY OF BELIEF AND SUPERSTITION
© Paul Taylor 2002