A SCENAR-ite gets excited…

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A few posts ago, I wrote about SCENAR tangentially, as part of a piece on the pathology of scams.

Well in a case of delayed reaction, I received the following response from a reader, and rather than hide it and my response way back in the comments on that piece, I’ll put it and my response here.  In a dazzling display of Churchillian wit and grace, my correspondent writes:

person permalink

your an idiot!

I’m a fully qualified physio and scenar is by far the best treatment going around! Its used throughout europe – has been around 20 years! I have treated and healed chronic back pain to chronic headaches!

Why dont you do some real research before you write your blogs!

OK ‘Person’, I’ve published your insulting comment, even though it’s against my policy to do so. Obviously those ‘full qualifications’ did not extend to the scientific method and dealing rationally with criticisms, since you moved straight to an ad hominem attack. Nor did your training extend to some basic grammar it seems.

How about using your real name too – tell us what your qualifications are, and where you got them, and what your evidence is. I’m sure it would be most enlightening for all my readers to see your particular evidence, since I could find none in the usual scientific journals.I’d be keen to publish any research to which you have access.

In fact, based on the supplied email and IP address, I suspect this comment to be from one of our friendly SCENAR salesmen, much like tactics the Elmore people employ. However, I’ll bite, and treat it like a real comment, just in case.

Firstly, I’m not interested in the ‘I’ve been using it for 20yrs” argument, nor the ‘throughout europe” one. Every pseudo-science and scam uses those old ones, and it does not lend any credence to your claims at all. They are the basic logical fallacies of argument from authority, and argument from the exotic. Secondly, I’m not impressed by comments like ‘by far the best treatment going around” – compared to what? and for what ailments? for everything? or just those unspecific pains and aches you listed. In fact the way you state it, it raises all the red flags for me on SCENAR, especially the ‘best treatment’ one.

So here’s your challenge: enlighten me by responding to the following, and I guarantee I’ll publish your response:

1. Show me the ‘real research’ which demonstrates efficacy. I mean real studies, not ‘I’ve treated 47 people and they’re all happy’. Preferably the studies should have been published in a relevant and reputable peer-reviewed journal.

2. Explain to me why the Therapeutic Goods Administration has censured purveyors of scenar for misleading claims, which sound not unlike yours. And I don’t want to hear about how ‘big Pharma’ is trying to suppress this magical treatment.

3. Explain to me and the readers your understanding of the way scenar works. What is the mechanism of action, in terms of what we know about physiology, and without reference to mysticism, energy fields or quantum babble.

4. Please provide your qualifications, the institution from which you received them, what (if any) your specialties are, and what (if anything) you’ve published by way of research.

I look forward to hearing from you on this. But somehow, I doubt you’ll respond, because:

a. you’re probably not real, and,

b. if you are real, you won’t be able to answer my questions.


11 thoughts on “A SCENAR-ite gets excited…

    From the archives: SCENAR Challenge « rationalbrain said:
    November 23, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    […] invented, but about which we are blissfully ignorant . After my rant in this piece, I featured and excited response by someone going by the well-thought out pseudonym of ‘person’, who, in defending the […]

    Kezss said:
    July 14, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I challenge you to experience scenar therapy for pain relief – if you have no pain, ask someone you know & trust to assist you.

      rationalbrain said:
      July 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      I never said SCENAR would do nothing for pain – after all, rubbing a sore spot with your hands also relieves pain.
      What I dispute are all the claims made by purveyors of SCENAR of all the healing claims made. The original article was about how there is virtually no real testing of any of the claims made.
      As for all those anecdotes by ‘scenarites’ – they’re worthless as evidence.
      And in relation to the second half of your sentence – it doesn’t make sense, sorry.

    Joss said:
    February 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    May I respond to this please?

    1) There are a few but not many good studies yet in English speaking countries. Most research is done in Russian, because that is where it was developed, same way China does most of the world’s research into acupunture. Asia, Europe and America share scientific information in English but not with Russians as their work is in the Russian language. Research takes time to acumulate!!! For example: There is huge volume of good evidence for herbal medicine now but that wasn’t the case 20 years ago.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20879466 yes this is just a case study of 3ppl not enought to be statistically relevant etc but this is how new therapies are first anlaysed, big studies come later based on the direction provided by case studies.

    2) TGA has censored ppl making extraordinary claims about Scenar because they have – not good but it doesnt mean the whole thing is junk! There will be unscrupulous ppl in any field.

    3) Scenar’s biological mechanism of action is very sophisticated & would take far too long to explain properly especially to ppl that haven’t studied physiology. Lets just say for way of summary that your whole body is held in homeostasis by biofeedback communication. Scenar helps to restore normal communication between body and mind by interacting with the body in its own language: electrical frequencies. By entering a dynamic dialogue with the body using computerised biofeedback loops it can help break repetitive pathological cycles in the body. It also helps to stimulate the bodies natural healing response and neuropeptide release (these have pain killing and immunostimulatory properties.) In addition, it gives useable biological energy to the cells, improves blood flow and has other mechanisms of action too.

    4) I am a qualified physiologist and biochemist from the University of Western Australia. I have not published research because that is not my job

      rationalbrain responded:
      February 2, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks Joss.
      I appreciate your enthusiasm, and believe your are earnest about your support for scenar.
      Re 1), I would ask why? It is the Russian sites which have made the most outlandish and extraordinary claims about scenar, right? So why are they the world’s experts? Or did this ‘therapy’ originate there and they’ve run with it? I don’t buy your claim that Russian research is not shared – for example, they have cooperated on space exploration with the US for years. In reality, the language of biology, medicine, engineering and all of science is universal, so please don’t tell me that for this one therapy there’s a language barrier. Nor do I buy that it’s too early for research to have accumulated or it’s too expensive to do. It’s been around long enough, and while people are making money out of it, what is the incentive to actually test? It’s certainly not a new therapy. Oh, and by the way, there is also zero clinical evidence for the efficacy for acupuncture, and some very recent and good studies showing it’s no better than placebo, so, not a good example to bring up.
      Again, I don’t want a summary or techno-babble on how it works. I’m afraid the paragraph you’ve supplied is just that – techno-babble. Yes, the body works by homeostasis (the bio feedback is implied, it’s not the method – homeostasis by definition involves feedback. So, nothing new there. Then you imply that scenar helps ‘restore normal communication between mind and body…etc’. Where do I start with this?
      Firstly, communication between body and mind? Mind is something emergent from the operation of the brain, so I gather you are talking about the brain. Secondly, when I injure my shoulder, what communication exactly has been interfered with that scenar ‘helps restore’? I think that concept is nonsense, and not an accepted concept of physiology. If instead you told me that scenar will heat up the tissue a bit and stimulate blood flow, helping repair the damaged site, then I might buy that.
      Secondly I find the notion of ‘electrical frequencies’ a nonsense. Frequencies are not a thing. Frequency is a property of electromagnetic waves (or anything which fluctuates or changes on a cyclic basis). It is a property of electricity. Electricity propagates around the body via the firing of synapses, and while these can be cyclic or wave-like, I don’t believe any real communication takes place via this property alone.
      Thirdly, what are these ‘repetitive pathological cycles’? I bet no-one has ever measured such a thing. If I’m wrong on this, please point me at the relevant research.
      Fourthly, as per the first point, I will grant the stimulation of a natural healing response – something I’ve conceded for scenar from the outset.
      Lastly, I’ll accept the blood flow thing, also as per above, but giving ‘usable biological energy to cells’. Nope. You can’t just inject ‘energy’ into a cell. If you’re saying that scenar increases the stock of ATP in the cell, please explain how this happens.
      Joss, again, I won’t question your credentials or motivation, but from my point of view so may of the claims, and so much of the justification of scenar is on shaky ground that it will require extraordinary evidence to convince me. Just like ‘energy lines’ in the body, I think the mechanisms you describe are largely imaginary and not demonstrable in the real world, otherwise someone would have done it, and all hospitals and doctors would be equipped with the device. But they haven’t and they aren’t.

    Joss said:
    February 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Thankyou for your good reply.
    I agree with you on many things especially extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary evidence.
    This evidence is lacking for the big claims of Scenar. But I suppose I am just sharing my experience when I say I have found them to be very useful for treating muscles and injuries. Having been a massage therapist for a long time I like to think I can tell thedifference between rubbing something and what Scenar does. It is a qualitatively different effect.
    There is actually heaps and heaps of physiological research done on acupuncture that suggests there is something to it and also an anatomical basis to traditional meridians. I use to be very sceptical about acupunture but I just kept coming across more and more research along the way that I could not deny. I still think it is a flawed system and needs to be ‘modernised’ with scientific scrutiny. A lot of animal & human experiments have been done measuring physiological reactions to needle stimulation, contols were used. There is no one study that can prove acupuncture is useless – rather some studies find no effect for certain things. I have read dozens and dozens of studies showing clinical effects for a variety of conditions. Many scientific studies are published in acupucture related journals that anyone can look up (I really haven’t the inclination to record references for everything I have read). In China all TCM practitioners are also qualified in modern medicine ie as Doctors and so acupuncture trials are common in Chinese hospitals.
    The latest anatomical theories are that meridians channels are actually fascial planes in the body that carry small electrical currents. This system is thought to be a more ancient/primitive (evolutionarily) form of body communication. It is like an analogue system that complements the digital nervous system. Dr Becker discovered this current to be vital for regenerative tissue healing and a lot of what he found is still taught in medical schools on the topic of fracture repair.
    It is also interesting to note that some of the most promising research into limb and spinal cord regeneration has invloved electrical stimulation ( along with other therapies). For example, recently lab mice were induced to partially regrow spinal cord lesions with the help of electrical stimulation. This was all over the news here.
    Also if you look up all the research done on TENS machines (TENS are 50yo junk technology that predated SCENAR) it is proven that at certain frequencies, the cells are able to absorb the electrical energy and turn it into useable (& measureable) biological energy ie ATP. This is proper scientific research!
    I also think you might be underestimating the importance of frequency generally. Frequency defines our universe – sounds metaphysical but it is just physics (yes this is a broad statement, not an argument for scenar) . But frequency is so important electrically, it surprises me that you say it is not a thing when it is almost everything!
    Regarding the Russia thing unfortuneately it is true, the west does not recognise their research. It is hard to translate and thats why you never see Russian research in prestigous western journals. Its just the way it is, most Asian schools teach English, most Russian do not.
    And lastly Scnear is relatively new to the West, it is a different idea and so does take a long time to be accepted by the establishment. As i said on another post, herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years but it is only in the last 20 that we have accumulated good biochemical/physiological evidence for some of the therapeutic effects of herbs.
    I enjoy debating you because we are not being too emotional or personal!

      rationalbrain responded:
      February 3, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Joss. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on the efficacy of acupuncture, and the existence of meridians, for which there is absolutely no physical evidence. Also, I don’t believe the nervous system to be digital, in fact an analogy to a digital computer is somewhat fallacious – but that’s an interesting discussion for another time.
      I do want to debate ‘frequency’ though, since physics is my thing really.
      When I say frequency is not a ‘thing’, I mean you can’t touch a ‘frequency’, like you can a table. It is a property, like taste, or colour, or temperature.
      It is ‘things’ that vibrate at given frequencies, ranging from atoms through to stars. This property is certainly important to the existence of our universe.
      But the frequency to which I presume you refer – electrical frequency – generally refers to the frequency of an alternating current, in which electrons (which have their own intrinsic frequency) flow back and forth in different directions along a conductor.
      Having clarified that, I don’t really accept that ‘frequencies’ as such, provide any magical healing property, beyond what the alternating current does. It is clear that the AC provides some heating effect in tissue, as the current increases the kinetic energy of atoms in the tissue, which apparently promotes healing. That’s fine. But beyond that, there is no real effect of which to speak.
      That is why, when Todd or someone insists that scenar will cure various maladies, I ask: how does an alternating current do that? From my understanding of physics, I don’t see any plausible mechanism being put forward by proponents, other than some ‘techno-babble’ as I like to call it. This, combined with the lack of any substantive test results, results in my scepticism.
      Hope that makes some sense.

    Joss said:
    February 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Scepticiem is healthy and I admire that.
    I feel like I too am highly sceptical, scientific and discerning. Just because you haven’t come across the research yourself does not mean it doesn’t exist. You would really have to be reading the right physiology journals to find this stuff, but you would also have to be interested enough – and I am not sure you are.
    By saying you dont think specific signals can have healing effects beyond thermal you are ignoring the well know mechanism of fracture repair which relies on specifc currents running between the break. Thats just one example
    I am sure you understands physcis and chemistry well but I think you estimate the importance of electrical frequency when it comes to neuro-physiology which I just wrote about on the related page. This precisely how your body communicates with itself and this self-communication is essential for homeostasis and healing

    whatworks? said:
    January 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    This thread is meaningless. There is no proof. Why have you wasted valuable time on this thread (which could have been used to ACTUALLY move science forward seeing you are obviously an intelligent guy) only to upset the people who are misunderstanding your original question relating to the claims made about Scenar. I am a biomedical scientist and I find it quite disturbing that you would sit on here and go round and round in circles with laymen, basically getting no where fast with this line of discussion. You will find no evidence – end of story.

      rationalbrain responded:
      January 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Well Pat, your email has me bewildered.
      What exactly is meaningless?
      Is it meaningless to identify a bogus therapy and alert others to it?
      Or is it meaningless to have a discussion about such things?
      You identify as a scientist – and it therefore disappoints me that you are so dismissive of the value of discussion, given that one of science’s biggest weaknesses is communicating with the layman – just look at the climate change issue.
      You may be as dismissive of scenar as I am, but I’m also interest in WHY people believe in it, and utlimately how society can move on from voodoo and wishful thinking to a more science-based footing.
      By your logic, no-one would try to convince climate skeptics that it’s a real problem, or anti-vaxxers that they are seriously mis-guided, or cancer-sufferers that using homeopathy to treat cancer is crazy.
      If the conversation has no meaning to you, then please, don’t read it – your views won’t be missed.
      Alternatively, if in your professional capacity you can re-inforce and clarify some of the issues, I would welcome your input.

    whatworks? said:
    January 23, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I am referring to your other thread which went on for 2 years also..

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