Dec 19 2014

Universal Medicine Uses Google To Silence Critics

An Australian based company called Universal Medicine (UM) has been criticized by various skeptical blogs and groups as being a new age alternative medicine cult. Looking through their website, this seems like a reasonable observation. (The term “cult” is fuzzy, but many of the features seem to be present.)

In response to this criticism, UM has apparently issued many complaints to Google, claiming defamation. According to the site Chilling Effect, Google has responded at least in some cases by removing the sites from Google searches, effectively censoring those websites.

Doubtful News was one of the sites censored by Google.

This type of action represents a serious threat to the skeptical mission. Part of that mission is consumer protection, and the primary method of activism is public analysis and criticism of dubious claims, products, services, and organizations. Essentially, we expose charlatans.

Charlatans, it turns out, don’t like to be exposed. They don’t like bad press.

The best response to attempts at censorship through abusing policies against defamation or copyright violation, or through legal thuggery, is the Streisand effect. That is why I make a specific effort to amplify and skeptical criticism that others are attempting to censor.

The actions of Google, however, should also be examined in this and similar cases. It certainly seems as if they cave too easily to such complaints. I think it can be reasonably argued that free access to information is a critical right and resource for our society. It should not be surrendered lightly. Giving people the ability to so easily silence legitimate criticism in the pubilc interest is also highly problematic. Google needs to review its policies.

But let’s take a look at Universal Medicine. Doubtful News notes that in 2012 it’s founder claimed:

“I know more than any scientist in my inner heart … I know everything about the universe and how it works. I can answer any question about any mystery in the world, any mystery in the universe.” – Serge Benhayon’s message for the “New Era”, January 1, 2012

If you say such things you have to expect that some people will question whether or not you see yourself as a religious/cult leader.

Universal Medicine (demonstrating what many of at SBM have said for years – that there is a close connection between much of alternative medicine and new age religious beliefs) also offer a variety of “healing services.” Their signature service is called “Esoteric Healing.”

In a concise description, it can be said that Esoteric Healing brings the arrest of the ill energy that is causing the ill Will. It is the Will or, range of choices that one makes, that needs to be healed, if what lays at hand is a condition that needs healing. But, no Will can be changed or altered if the energy entering the body is not changed.

This is fairly standard new age nonsense – vague references to “energy” and the notion that your mind creates reality, therefore magic.  They also offer “body work,” “Chakra-puncture,” “connective tissue therapy,” and “breast massage.” What do these kinds of interventions do? Most of you can probably make up equivalent claims just by shuffling around common new age terms. “Chakra-puncture,” for example;

…allow the body to configure back to a true energetic and physical harmonious state, and thus clearing the ill energetic and physical energetic state that the body is in.

What is their philosophy?

The   esoteric principle is that we are love – innately and, unchangeably.   The principles of the esoteric way of life date back to the oldest forms   of knowledge and wisdom. Whilst ancient in their heritage, the   principles of the esoteric life in human form have not out-dated   themselves in relation to what is required of mankind to live in harmony   and thus arrest any wayward conduct that does not build brotherhood   within and amongst our communities everywhere.

But don’t worry. They’re not a cult. Apparently their love and brotherhood does not extend to their critics. For them they offer censorship and alleged bullying,

There are serious accusations against UM out there. Given the public information available, even on UM’s own website, such accusations need to be taken seriously. It seems a formal investigation is warranted. I am not in a position to judge the accusations here, but neither is Google, in my opinion. I’ like to see an official investigation.

There is also an issue of responsbile journalism here, something which has certainly been eroded by the ease with which anyone can create a blog. There can be a fine line between litigating an offense in the court of public opinion, and responsible journalism. I don’t pretend this is easy. Activist skeptics have to walk that line.

However – if you are in the public domain, by offering medical services, or making scientific or health claims, then you open yourself to public scrutiny and you are fair game for critical analysis. In the case of mystical and pseudoscientific claims, harsh and no-nonsense skeptical analysis and criticism is necessary and arguably in the public’s interest.

If you don’t agree with the criticism – then defend yourself with logic and evidence, not by silencing the criticism.

12 responses so far