I get periodic emails from the man himself, Dr. DeepaK Chopra. They are almost all advertisements which is fine with me. Everyone gets to make a dollar. This one is for an Inner Space Zero Gravity Grounding chair and I can have it for only $1,899. That’s $1,600 bucks off the normal price of $3,499. What a deal! Why am I not excited?
Mostly because, and I don’t care who you are, a couple thousand dollars is a lot to pay to sit somewhere by yourself. True, I spent much more on my couch, but we can get a whole raft of people on it and it comes apart into two pieces. And it looks great after ten years of use and four moves.
I’m generally agnostic about grounding or earthing. The claim is that there are lots of free electrons floating around on the earth’s surface and we can grab some of these for free through grounding tools (body bands, socks, shoe strips, etc.). These free electrons combine with our inner free radicals (a charged molecule that is missing an electron) and wash the whole thing out. Purveyors claim that users have less pain, less stress, and less fatigue when they are connected to the earth and absorb these electrons. There are enough dubious, unsubstantiated claims about the whole process to fill a state fair. I see grounding like I see most things from the naturopath: a way to make money from normal junk with an inexpensive attachment of some sort. And how is this chair grounded? Your house is grounded (doesn’t that count?) and what if you put the chair on a wooden, non-conducting, floor? With a carpet per the photo here? Unless you are somehow hooked to the house electrical, you aren’t enjoying the ‘special’ (there is nothing special or unique about it) characteristics of earth’s free electrons.
To be fair, I did find a meta-paper (a project that looks at the result of many papers), funded by the NIH here. However, I remain unimpressed. Most of the papers have a ridiculously low number of research subjects which should make them suspect to any scientist. I also note that Chevalier, the lead author, is employed by the Chopra Center, which is fair. Anyone has the right to chase down what they are interested in. But there is a potential self-interest there that shouldn’t be hidden.
Here’s an interesting read for those so inclined: Earthing: The Silliest Health Scam Ever?
I did learn something from my little bit of research. I learned that ‘zero gravity’ doesn’t mean that you float but that you assume the position of one floating in zero gravity. Think of a body in space. You don’t float upright, like a pen in a desk-top holder, but in a laying down position. In other words, the chair reclines. Here is a much cheaper zero-gravity chair at Amazon if you really want something that will support you laying down. At $35.00 bucks a piece, I might buy a couple. One for the misses and one for myself to use while we watch the girls play soccer. I need a cup holder for my Starbucks, though. In any case, at least you can explain that ‘No, I didn’t just buy a new recliner: I bought a zero gravity grounding unit.’ That’s got to go over better with the neighbors!
The paper reminds me of a paper that I wrote as an undergrad. I submitted a writing topic to my psychology professor which I thought was pretty hip: the neuroscience of smell. She had a bit of hippie hangover from the sixties and recommended that I focus instead on aromatherapy. I took the hint and smelled a good grade. I went to the library and picked out a handful of books on the topic. I was surprised to learn that many were highly annotated and included many references, almost like they were science books. When I ran down one of the references, I saw that I already had the book that the other book referenced there on the table. It had references too: to the book that referenced it. All of these books referred to each other and none referred to any real research. As far as I could tell, the authors were all a bunch of true believers – none was a scientific researcher – so they just referenced each other in an effort to make their books appear academic.
The advert comes complete with a video of a very serious and good-looking old guy who was introduced to grounding by the Cheyenne Tribe. Of course, he was. I was taught how to sharpen my pocket knife with sandpaper by a member of the Puyallup Tribe in Washington state. It never worked. This man talks about how normal shoes are non-conductive. That’s weird because I bet none of these guys would step on a downed power line in a pair of running shoes. I’m pretty sure that they’d be shaking a leg. Or dead.
Here’s my guess: when you spend a couple thousand bucks on a leather and wooden chair, well…it does everything. Either that or it is a classic made by the Great Dane himself, Hans Wegner.
I would love to be proven wrong on this. Do any of the readers have experience with grounding?
Note 1: The greater the number of research subjects you have , the more universal the finding. Many of these have four to eight subjects which makes me want to throw the paper out as not applicable. Human studies are especially prone to bias with such small numbers. We too easily figure out what’s going on and tell researchers what they want to hear. That’s one reason that animals are used for studies.
Some people, and I’m inclined to be one of them, believe that the scientific method is mankind’s greatest achievement, offering the greatest power to understand the world that we live in and to harness much of it for our benefit.
Be just as skeptical of nutrition sales. See here.
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