And This Passes For Education? PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Randi   

The Community College of Rhode Island [CCRI] has proudly announced that this fall, a “reiki master” will be holding a seminar on “crystal and mineral healing” at the college. This, we’re told, is

…a type of alternative therapy that involves laying crystals or gemstones on the body. Each student will experience a crystal therapy session and get a really good idea about how it changes your energy and rebalances you.

This instructor at CCRI also does “Cranio Sacral Therapy,” and uses such advanced quackery as “Bio Magnets,” “Light Life Tools,” “Dowsing,” and “Pendulums” She assures students that she is also a teacher and practitioner of many other alternative healing methods, and says that crystals have their own “intrinsic energy,” and will “interact with points on the body’s energy field, known as chakras, to promote balance and well-being.” “Each crystal has its own properties and attributes when laid on the body with a specific chakra,” she says. This collection of talents puts her well up in the tree with the top woo-woos, but she’s teaching at CCRI.

This is all unmitigated nonsense. Reiki is a mystical system of hand-waving, blowing, tapping, and other useless gestures. It has never passed any medical testing procedures, it has never been shown to have anything but psychological effects, and it therefore poses a distinct danger to persons who may choose to depend on it for curative results and ignore proven therapies. It is simply advanced quackery that consists of laying crystals or gemstones on the victim’s body, followed by gesturing.  Yes, hard to believe, but The Community College of Rhode Island will accept $50 for 5½ hours of a “Healing with Crystals/Minerals Workshop,” designed to “deepen [the students’] understanding of it.” Myself, I already have a very deep understanding of this flummery; it brings money to CCRI and re-establishes their dedication and embrace of such silly notions.

Chuck Doherty, a reader, also took exception to CCRI offering this to the public, and he made a formal complaint, askingsw

Should I expect the school to next offer courses in Tarot reading, phrenology, and dowsing?  The fact that this course is offered on a “non-credit” basis does not change the fact that this sort of pseudoscientific claptrap has no place at all in any legitimate learning institution.  Please leave this sort of nonsense to the likes of The Learning Connection and other such outlets.

A response to Mr. Doherty came from Richard H. Coren, Director of Marketing, Communications and Publications for the Community College of Rhode Island, saying

Students told us they wanted to further their knowledge of alternative healing methods, and the course was designed to introduce students to the practice of crystal and mineral healing.  By offering the class, the college and its noncredit arm, CWCE, do not endorse the practice as science; we are simply responding to demand in the community for personal development courses such as this.

That was enough to prompt me to write Mr. Coren thus:

Sir, just where you would draw the line on offering courses in “personal development” to "further [the students] knowledge of alternative healing methods"?  How about chanting with tom-toms around a camp fire? Would CCRI consider looking into blood-letting?  Or sacrificing lambs?  Both Reiki and "crystal healing" have zero bases in science. ZERO!  Those who claim expertise in either of these notions, are - and always have been - eligible for the JREF's million-dollar prize if they can produce ANY effect resulting from their efforts, and there has been NOT ONE APPLICATION from any "reiki master" or "crystal healer" in the almost ten years now since that prize has been offered, though we've challenged them repeatedly...!  They know the prize is there, but they also know that they can't produce any evidence for their flummery, so they don't even try. And you, Mr. Coren – the appointed Director of Marketing, Communications and Publications for the Community College of Rhode Island, could, yourself, earn the JREF one-million-dollar prize if any of the students or the instructors at CCRI show just ONE demonstration of either discipline. And you agreed to promote this nonsense in the name of education?

Shame on CCRI, I say.  They take money from students in return for total nonsense and laugh all the way to the bank. And the students have learned nothing...

Here's an idea: I have metaphysical proof that children can bend spoons by just looking at them.  Can I be permitted to teach a course in this subject at CCRI...?

I await a response.