Amazing pseudoscientific rationalisation of Hindu traditions…

Be less gullible...

Every so often, I come upon online articles suggesting that Hindu rites, rituals and traditions are scientific. That’s to say, the loony stuff they do all the time has lesser to do with their latent lunacy than to do with science. It’s extremely easy to call bullshit on those claims and their explanations; they reek of scientific illiteracy. That’s exactly what’s not happening though. Those articles are shared in the millions and it’s not all in jest. The majority of them actually believe it.

If there’s one thing Indians like more than anything else, it’s the sense of superiority. It doesn’t matter to them where this comes from as long as it strokes their ever-inflating ego. Taking pride in the endeavours of their ancients seems to be the latest fad – not an exaggeration; one only needs to read the comments on those articles to see it. Even funnier is watching them cite those articles to justify this misplaced pride. I don’t know if they’re being serious or not – a dilemma one faces when offered a look at a self-parodying piece.

But, that’s enough loathing for now. I’ll let my systematic deconstruction do the rest. Not all will be debunked. The ones which are factually wrong will be supplemented with the truth. Many of them, however, are complete fabrications – not even an atom of truth in them – that can be dismissed without further thought.

Let’s have a look at how they choose to introduce it.

Indian Customs ‘Vs’ Scientific Reasons Traditions in Hinduism were considered mainly as superstitions but with the advent of science, it is becoming evident that these traditions are based on some scientific knowledge and moved from generations to generations as traditions. Though the common people did not know science in it, they were following it very faithfully over the years. This blog is an attempt to being forward the science involved in these traditions and rituals…SpeakingTree

They’ve put ‘vs’ within quotes. It first made me think they were being sarcastic. Sadly, that isn’t the case. This was from SpeakingTree. Many other sites have introduced their pseudoscience laden article in a similar way. At the very least, it’s a brilliant click-bait. Unless otherwise mentioned, they’re all pieces taken from SpeakingTree.

Let’s get started, shall we?

  1. Wishing rivers

    Many cultures around the world have had wishing wells or a variation of that concept. They throw coins into one and wish for something. They’re not efficacious in the slightest and rationals simply shrug it off as superstition. Rationalisers, however,

    The general reasoning given for this act is that it brings Good Luck. However, scientifically speaking, in the ancient times, most of the currency used was made of copper unlike the stainless steel coins of today. Copper is a vital metal very useful to the human body. Throwing coins in the river was one way our fore-fathers ensured we intake sufficient copper as part of the water as rivers were the only source of drinking water. Making it a custom ensured that all of us follow the practice.

    The deconstruction

    It seems convincing for that brief moment before common sense kicks in. That’s a very problematic explanation for the following reasons:

    • Foolish ancestors: On the one hand, they believe their ancestors were intelligent enough to know about the importance of copper in one’s diet. On the other, they have no trouble knowing their ascendants had to be tricked into consuming copper – a ‘vital’ metal. It would be the easiest thing in the world to just tell your children that a certain dose of copper would keep them healthy and so they should throw copper coins into the river for their own well-being. It’s still a foolish thing to do, but they would do it for their health and not for luck.
    • Lack of insight: If they indeed knew about the importance of copper, they could’ve simply made utensils out of copper. That way, one could fill it with water and drink from it. People do that today; it’s not unheard of. I assume coins then weren’t just disposable collectibles and they actually traded with them. What was the point of throwing actual money into rivers when there did exist an obvious cheaper durable alternative?
    • Copper undergoes oxidation, as do most metals. Unlike iron, which can rust forever, oxides of copper form a protective film around it, ensuring that no more than the surface stays in contact with its surroundings. The coins won’t continue to dissipate copper and is thus a complete waste of… well, money. Acknowledging that your ancestors were irrational is good. Trying to cover for them is idiotic.
    • “Into a river”?! How exactly does one expect to reap the benefits of the copper enriched stream of water when the copper itself would’ve flown downstream. I mean charity is fine, but are they really suggesting that they decided to waste all that money in improving the health of those who shared their rivers after them?
    • Copper is always present: It varies geographically, but copper is always present in groundwater. It doesn’t need additional intervention as is evidenced by the fact that humans evolved from species that didn’t trade with coins (far as we know). Copper has a cycle of its own and it always finds its way back into the ground after we’ve consumed it via the plants and animals that were nourished from that ground.

    It’s pretty clear, that the whole thing is just superstition.

  2. Palm palm

    Every culture has their own way of greeting their fellow human. To most it’s about manners, but to Indians, it’s apparently acupressure for germaphobes.

    In Hindu culture, people greet each other by joining their palms – termed as “Namaskar.” The general reason behind this tradition is that greeting by joining both the palms means respect. However, scientifically speaking, joining both hands ensures joining the tips of all the fingers together; which are denoted to the pressure points of eyes, ears, and mind. Pressing them together is said to activate the pressure points which helps us remember that person for a long time. And, no germs since we don’t make any physical contact!

    The deconstruction

    • Acupressure isn’t real: There is no reason to believe that applying pressure at certain points on the body would ease an illness especially when the points are too far away from the parts that are ailing. Systematic reviews of studies conducted to determine the efficacy of acupressure have revealed that the studies, which conclude that it works, are significantly biased in favour of acupressure.
    • Palms aren’t forced together: A Namaskar doesn’t involve pushing the palms together enough to affect someone as described in acupressure. They’re just held against each other. One needs to apply a significantly larger force on a smaller area for it to work (which it doesn’t anyway).
    • “No germs”?! Indians barely knew about germs. To them every disease was either caused by an imbalance of one’s internal forces (the explanation in Ayurveda) or due to spirit possession. Secondly, the very article later mentions charansparsh, which is touching people’s feet to show them respect. They clearly have no problem touching the feet of others. Germaphobes are hardly ever that selective.
  3. Feet fingers

    This usually comes later in the article, but I’ve moved it up for contiguity. It reads,

    Usually, the person of whose feet you are touching is either old or pious. When they accept your respect which came from your reduced ego (and is called your shraddha) their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy (which is called their karuna) which reaches you through their hands and toes. In essence, the completed circuit enables flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connect between two minds and hearts. To an extent, the same is achieved through handshakes and hugs. The nerves that start from our brain spread across all your body. These nerves or wires end in the fingertips of your hand and feet. When you join the fingertips of your hand to those of their opposite feet, a circuit is immediately formed and the energies of two bodies are connected. Your fingers and palms become the ‘receptor’ of energy and the feet of other person become the ‘giver’ of energy.

    It’s so stupid, it burns. They’ve frequently use of scientific-sounding terms to entice the gullible. But, I’m here to rescue you.

    The deconstruction

    • Improper use of energy: Energy is a real thing, but it isn’t as described in the snippet. You absolutely cannot absorb energy by mere contact, much less “positive” energy.
    • Circuits?! You’re not in a circuit – electrical, mechanical or otherwise. A circuit always requires a closed loop; there clearly isn’t any here.
    • Energy is subjective: There isn’t really such a thing as positive or negative energy. Energy is absolute for the most part. In science, the use of the terms positive and negative while describing energy is a matter of convention. It massively simplifies math calculations. It’s done because it works, not because it exists.
    • Hearts don’t radiate: The heart is a muscle; it pumps blood and nothing more. It doesn’t think and it can’t process emotions; that’s all done in your brain. There cannot be a connection between hearts by mere touch. (It’s not impossible, though. You’ll have to physically connect the two, perhaps using refined goat intestines.)
    • Circuits don’t even work like that: Circuits need a potential difference, regardless of its nature. To suggest that there is a flow from the giver to the receiver is to say that you’re at a lower potential than your elder (whatever that means). A flow also means the source gets depleted; think about it the next time you touch someone’s feet.That kind of explains why TV mothers-in-law pull back their feet when their daughters-in-law ask for their blessings.
    • The current is insufficient: The mind is just a result of electrochemical processes. The current produced is just not enough to jump into a body exterior to your own considering your skin is a massive resistor.

    I know! It’s getting pretty ridiculous now, but that’s because it is.

  4. Uterus rings

    Wearing toe rings is not just the significance of married women but there is science behind it. Normally toe rings are worn on the second toe. A particular nerve from the second toe connects the uterus and passes to heart. Wearing toe ring on this finger strengthens the uterus. It will keep it healthy by regulating the blood flow to it and menstrual cycle will be regularized. As Silver is a good conductor, it also absorbs polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body.

    The deconstruction

    • Uterus nerve?! Every nerve in the body terminates at the part it ought to control. It disperses from the central nervous system and while it might wrap around an organ it hasn’t any relation to, they don’t pass through an organ. (Humans have nerves like that. The nerve, responsible for utilising our vocal flaps, wraps around our lungs before it terminates.)
    • How nerves work: Nerves, even if they actually pass through an organ, do not disturb or enhance their function. A nerve that passes through the uterus wouldn’t affect it in the slightest.
    • Conduction: Anyone who understands the basics of electricity would know that adding a conductor in cascade wouldn’t improve a circuit; if anything, it’ll only add to the resistance. If one really wanted to absorb energies from the ground, they could do so without any appendages. Wearing copper slippers isn’t going to increase your chances of getting electrocuted if you’re standing on a wooden chair.
    • Lack of understanding of circuits: Circuits, again, require closed loops. One cannot expect to absorb energy from the ground without also allowing for the possibility to give it back.
    • Magnetic fail: There is a possibility that the “polar energies” they’re referring to is about the magnetic field of the earth. If that’s the case, choosing silver is beyond idiotic. They’d find much better ferromagnetic metals in iron, cobalt and nickel, if that’s what they were actually going for.
    • Lack of empathy for bachelorettes: Okay! Maybe, bachelorettes isn’t an apt word to describe Indian women – they’re “unmarried” if anything, though that’s a discussion for another time. It appears the ancients didn’t seem to care for unmarried women enough to have them wear toe rings too. Don’t they deserve strong uteruses too?
  5. The sniper’s target

    “Indians anticipated the existence of snipers and decided to confuse them by placing red dots on their foreheads. It’s very effective. Have you ever heard of a pious Indian assassinated by snipers? I thought not.” Wouldn’t that have been a great story? Sadly, they’ve disappointed.

    On the forehead, between the two eyebrows, is a spot that is considered as a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. The Tilak is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”, the red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. While applying kumkum the points on the mid-brow region and Adnya-chakra are automatically pressed. This also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.

    The deconstruction

    • Energy loss through forehead?! From what I’ve seen until now, your hands absorb energy and your feet and forehead dissipate it. I can’t believe I have to spell it out to show how ridiculous that sounds. Again, energy doesn’t work that way.This gets me thinking though. Shouldn’t the process of applying the kumkum, drain you of energy? I mean, someone is going to apply it with their hands, aren’t they?
    • The forehead is devoid of nerves: Well, not really. The forehead has nerves. It’s just that none exist where the kumkum is applied. The nerves that do exist are used to control the facial muscles responsible for twitching your eyebrows and, in some extreme cases, moving your scalp.
    • There is no magic button: It takes a fool to believe that pressing a button on your forehead will make your face flush.
    • Not enough pressure: As mentioned earlier with the palm-palm, one simply does not apply enough pressure long enough to have any acupressure like effects. It just doesn’t happen.
    • Third eye?! The Adnya-chakra is sometimes referred to as the third eye. It’s a purely philosophical concept and has no basis in anatomy. Some apologists also think it refers to the pineal gland. However the pineal gland is almost at the centre of the brain – it’s about equidistant from the forehead and the back of the head. It’s quite literally the centre of curvature of the head. You’ll have to drill through a lot of matter to get there.
  1. Bells

    People who are visiting the temple should and will Ring the bell before entering the inner sanctum (Garbhagudi or Garbha Gruha or womb-chamber) where the main idol is placed. According to Agama Sastra, the bell is used to give sound for keeping evil forces away and the ring of the bell is pleasant to God. However, the scientific reason behind bells is that their ring clears our mind and helps us stay sharp and keep our full concentration on devotional purpose. These bells are made in such a way that when they produce a sound it creates a unity in the Left and Right parts of our brains. The moment we ring the bell, it produces a sharp and enduring sound which lasts for minimum of 7 seconds in echo mode. The duration of echo is good enough to activate all the seven healing centres in our body. This results in emptying our brain from all negative thoughts.

    The deconstruction

    • The bells aren’t pleasant: The argument is invalid. Hearing those bells doesn’t make we want to stay there and pray. It makes me want to get the hell out of there. I’m sure your god would like to join me but they can’t, being made of mud.
    • Misuse of ‘force’: First of all, the word ‘force’ like energy is blatantly misused here. Force is a physical term, not a metaphysical one. In science, it’s a very specific thing – an interaction which causes change in the motion of an object with mass. That force and this “force” aren’t the same. This one isn’t science at all.
    • “Evil forces” don’t exist: There doesn’t exist such a thing as evil. There is no proof of it and the overwhelming majority of scientists deny the concept. Besides, the most evil people I’ve ever met are those who stay at the temples so your bells don’t really do anything more than make noise.
    • Clearing the mind: I have no doubt the ring of the bell clears the mind. They’re so annoying, one cannot keep focus. But there are many things that can do that, so the bell doesn’t really stand out in this aspect.
    • About vibrations: The fact that the bell can be heard for more than 7 seconds tells more about the limited hearing capacity of humans than about the vibration of the bell. Technically, the vibration never ends. It just dims down over time and becomes inaudible to the human ear. Also, bells don’t all sound the same. Even if a few manages to hit a sweet spot by chance, there would be thousand others that don’t. Every bell is bound to be different as its sound is based on various factors – mostly the metal it uses and it’s density.
    • Brain lateralisation: The default state of the two hemispheres of the brain is to work together and not separately. Sure, there are things at which one hemisphere is slightly better than the other, but it isn’t significant. Does the bell force both parts of the brain to work together and make you get the hell out of the temple? If that’s it, then I believe you.
    • Healing centres?! The brain doesn’t have healing centres. Besides, sounds are simply mechanical vibrations. There is nothing a bell can do that literally everything else cannot.
    • What about deaf people? Do deaf people enjoy the benefits of the bell or is it just for those who can hear? How can the sound of a bell clear a deaf person’s mind?
  2. Our living style has drastically changed if we compare it to the society hundreds & thousands of years ago. The traditions which we follow in present are not establishments of today but of the past. Ever thought, why do we have Navratras twice a year unlike other festivals like Deepawali or Holi? Well, both these months are the months of changing seasons and the eating habits of both the seasons are quite different from each other. Navratras give enough time to the body to adjust and prepare itself for to the changing season. These nine days were marked as a period when people would clean their body system by keeping fasts by avoiding excessive salt and sugar, meditate, gain a lot of positive energy, gain a lot of self confidence & increase the self determination power (fasts are a medium to improve our will power and self determination) and finally get ready for the challenges of the changed season.

    The deconstruction

    • Again with the energy: Like it has always been, energy in this context is a purely fictional concept and has got nothing to do with reality.
    • On bodily adjustments: India mostly lies in the tropical zone which means the change in seasons doesn’t affect the land and its inhabitants as intensely at is does elsewhere. The summers and the winters weren’t much different from each other. There wasn’t a lot the body had to adjust to.
    • The seasons: The seasons change gradually in tropical regions. It just simply isn’t fast enough to put a human in a digestive shock.
    • What will cause digestive shock: Suddenly changing one’s food habits is what will put them in a digestive shock. It won’t be significant. The body has its way of bouncing back. Navratras are and have always been nothing but celebrations. The “scientific explanation” is just bullshit.
    • Moving to a new diet doesn’t require preparation. One simply has to start eating differently. The body doesn’t need to reboot. Fasting is unnecessary.
  3. Basil bull

    Hindu religion has bestowed ‘Tulsi’, with the status of mother. Also known as ‘Sacred or Holy Basil’, Tulsi, has been recognized as a religious and spiritual devout in many parts of the world. The vedic sages knew the benefits of Tulsi and that is why they personified it as a Goddess and gave a clear message to the entire community that it needs to be taken care of by the people, literate or illiterate. We try to protect it because it is like Sanjeevani for the mankind. Tulsi has great medicinal properties. It is a remarkable antibiotic. Taking Tulsi everyday in tea or otherwise increases immunity and help the drinker prevent diseases, stabilize his or her health condition, balance his or her body system and most important of all, prolong his or her life. Keeping Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the house. It is said that snakes do not dare to go near a Tulsi plant. Maybe that is why ancient people would grow lots of Tulsi near their houses.

    The deconstruction

    • The return of stupid ancestors: Wouldn’t it be more prudent to actually tell people that Basil is an extremely medicinal plant and they’d do well if they had at least one of them in their household? How hard is it to do something like that? What’s with deifying everything that doesn’t move?
    • Insect repellant?! Basil doesn’t repel insects as strongly as is implied. Dried leaves of basil can be used to protect grains in storage, but it has to be thoroughly mixed enough that it’s essence is evenly spread throughout. It cannot prevent mosquitoes from entering houses as a live plant from a distance.
    • As for snakes, that part is untrue. It’s anecdotal and not factual. There is no reason why snakes would shy away from basil. Snakes aren’t really averse to the chemicals composed in basil.
  4. The Peepal tree myth

    ‘Peepal’ tree is almost useless for an ordinary person, except for its shadow. ‘Peepal’ does not a have a delicious fruit, its wood is not strong enough for any purpose then why should a common villager or person worship it or even care for it? Our ancestors knew that ‘Peepal’ is one of the very few trees (or probably the only tree) which produces oxygen even at night. So in order to save this tree because of its unique property they related it to God/religion.

    The deconstruction

    • It’s a myth: The idea that the tree produces oxygen at night is severely misleading. That’s simply not true. Oxygen can only be produced by photosynthesis. There is no photo that can help synthesise at night. Then again, we’d not be having this discussion if it weren’t for some nut trying to find science where there isn’t any.
    • The truth: The tree uses a mechanism called Crassulacean acid metabolism. The tree will shut the stomata in its leaves for most parts of the day. Most of the oxygen it produces continues to remain within. The tree respires with better efficiency due to the abundance of oxygen. At nights, the stomata are opened so that the tree can take in as much carbon dioxide to photosynthesis for the next day. The opening of the stomata releases all that trapped oxygen.
    • The peepal tree is no saint: On an average, the tree releases about as much oxygen in one day as does any other tree. The oxygen that the tree inadvertently releases when it opens its stomata are all back into the atmosphere in a couple hours. So, the plant doesn’t produce oxygen nor does it release it all night. The fact that its stomata are closed during the day means the tree doesn’t give out oxygen during the day like every other tree. I think its pretty reasonable and not divine for a tree to release what it’s due at night that it doesn’t during the day, don’t you? What’s with the god status then?
  5. Questionable diets

    Our ancestors have stressed on the fact that our meals should be started off with something spicy and sweet dishes should be taken towards the end. The significance of this eating practice is that while spicy things activate the digestive juices and acids and ensure that the digestion process goes on smoothly and efficiently, sweets or carbohydrates pulls down the digestive process. Hence, sweets were always recommended to be taken as a last item

    The deconstruction

    • Flavour doesn’t enable digestion: It’s the act of eating itself that plays a role in digestion, regardless of the flavour of the food.
    • Spices aren’t good: Spices evolved their pungency to deter consumption. They want not to be eaten. It’s human evolution that has made them able to tolerate spices. While we can do that, spices are pretty useless in that it doesn’t amount to anything nutritionally that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Those who avoid spices are doing it right.
    • You should never start with spicy: Consuming spicy food after hours of consuming nothing can put one in a mild digestive shock. It is not advisable to start with something spicy. Even when spicy food is consumed it must be done with significantly less spicy food.
    • Digestion isn’t immediate: One does not start digesting the moment they put food in their mouth. It starts after a few minutes. Most people will have already eaten their fill before it begins. So, the part about calming the process of digestion is utterly false. Of course, that’s discounting the possibility of extremely slow eaters (who take hours to empty their plates).
    • It’s actually the other way round: Carbohydrates are those that have to be broken down to simple usable sugars. The process of digestion has to work its hardest there. If anything, digestion has to be more intense for sweet stuff.
  1. The special ponytail

    Sushrut rishi, the foremost surgeon of Ayurveda, describes the master sensitive spot on the head as Adhipati Marma, where there is a nexus of all nerves. The shikha protects this spot. Below, in the brain, occurs the Brahmarandhra, where the sushumnã (nerve) arrives from the lower part of the body. In Yog, Brahmarandhra is the highest, seventh chakra, with the thousand-petalled lotus. It is the centre of wisdom. The knotted shikhã helps boost this centre and conserve its subtle energy known as ojas.

    The deconstruction

    • Chakras are fictional: Like almost everything described in Ayurveda, the concept of chakras is fictional. They don’t exist. They don’t map onto anything anatomically true and real.
    • There isn’t a wisdom centre: The brain doesn’t have a central wisdom component. Wisdom isn’t even a thing in neuroscience. While there are parts of the brain that specialise in certain activities, the whole of the brain works together at all times.
    • Energy here doesn’t mean anything: The article misuses the word ‘energy’ very often. This is no different. Knotting the hair doesn’t serve a higher purpose.
    • Sensitivity: The area isn’t particularly any more sensitive than the rest of the scalp.
  2. Calming doodles

    Besides lending color to the hands, mehndi is a very powerful medicinal herb. Weddings are stressful, and often, the stress causes headaches and fevers. As the wedding day approaches, the excitement mixed with nervous anticipation can take its toll on the bride and groom. Application of mehndi can prevent too much stress because it cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense. This is the reason why mehndi is applied on the hands and feet, which house nerve endings in the body.

    The deconstruction

    • A total lie: This is a clear instance of forcibly trying to look for science where there isn’t any. Why can’t they just admit that doodling on one’s arm is just for fun.
    • There is no evidence suggesting Henna has any effect on the body besides staining it. It does nothing to calm one down.
    • Henna isn’t medicinal. It doesn’t cure or suppress any ailment. It’s perhaps the only plant dedicated to decorations.
    • Nerve endings: You know what has far more nerve endings than one’s hands and feet? It’s the genitals. I bet painting those regions with henna would be much more effective, if it were, in calming them down. Other than that you could try applying henna on the neck, the armpits, the cubital and popliteal fossa (the face of the arm and the leg opposite to the elbow and the knee) and the sole. It would be just as effective.
  3. Diwali

    Diwali usually falls in October or November which marks the start of winter season and end of rainy season. Rainy season wasn’t a good time for everyone back then; many homes needed repair and renovation after a heavy fall. That is why time before diwali was considered the period during which everyone can indulge in cleaning and beautification of their home. And also take out their winter clothes and pack the summer ones.

    The deconstruction

    • The train of thought: I don’t understand what possessed them to start lighting lamps when they had far important things to attend to – like cleaning and beautification and packing their clothes.
    • Again, seasons don’t change suddenly. While we’d like to mark a specific day as the start of a season for our fancy calendars, seasons are rarely that fickle. They don’t change overnight; it’s gradual. Like every other celebration it has a cultural significance and not a scientific one.Celebrating Diwali isn’t particularly beneficial to Indians in ways that others miss out on. That makes Diwali a culturally significant custom. Your customs are culturally significant when they’re practised by those of your culture alone. Culturally significant customs tend not to give you an edge over others. You can boast about them all you want, but they’re non-essential to your existence.
  4. Eating on the floor

    This tradition is not just about sitting on floor and eating, it is regarding sitting in the “Sukhasan” position and then eating. Sukhasan is the position we normally use for Yoga asanas. When you sit on the floor, you usually sit cross legged – In sukhasana or a half padmasana (half lotus), which are poses that instantly bring a sense of calm and help in digestion, it is believed to automatically trigger the signals to your brain to prepare the stomach for digestion.Desinema

    The deconstruction

    • Dangling legs?! Do they honestly expect us to believe that they had anticipated the existence of chairs and the dangling of legs that was to ensue?
    • Digestion is involuntary. Movement of legs is voluntary. One does not interfere with the other.
    • Digestion continues long after one has finished ingesting. Do they continue to stay in their half lotus poses until their digestion is complete four hours later? I don’t think so.
    • The body has mechanisms to adjust circulation when performing different activities. Trying to voluntarily aid those processes isn’t going to help.
    • One cannot trigger digestion. It cannot be done with touching spicy foods to your tongue and neither can it be done by sitting a certain way. Besides, the half-lotus and the decent poses aren’t always used while eating. Thus, it cannot be linked with digestion.
  5. Magnetism woo

    Myth is that it invites ghost or death but since says that it is because human body has its own magnetic field (Also known as hearts magnetic field, because the flow of blood) and Earth is a giant magnet. When we sleep with head towards north, our body’s magnetic field become completely asymmetrical to the Earth’s Magnetic field. That cause problems related to blood pressure and our heart needs to work harder in order to overcome this asymmetry of Magnetic fields. Apart from this another reason is that Our body have significant amount of iron in our blood. When we sleep in this position, iron from the whole body starts to congregate in brain. This can cause headache, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cognitive Decline, Parkinson disease and brain degeneration.

    Now, isn’t that just pure unadulterated bullshit?

    The deconstruction

    • First of all, the earth doesn’t have a strong enough field to disturb us.
    • On magnetic fields: Humans don’t have a magnetic field. That’s about it. The flow of blood through our vessels don’t really do anything on a microscopic level to induce magnetism. If anything, humans are mildly diamagnetic which means they’ll ever so slightly repel magnetic fields.
    • Lack of understanding: It appears they don’t know what it mean to be asymmetrical. Asymmetry is the property of an object that isn’t capable of being divided into mirror images. That has nothing to do with magnetic fields. It’s possible they were referring to misalignment, and not asymmetry.
    • Indians knew nothing about those diseases: Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s have no parallels in any Indian literature. It’s unlikely they devised a prophylactic treatment to ailments they didn’t know about.
    • How magnetic fields work: There are two concepts at play here – linear contraction and lateral pressure. Linear contraction is very significant at the poles, while there’s more lateral pressure in the tropical regions. If the magnetic field of the earth were strong enough to force all of the iron to congregate, the worst time for a person would be when they stood up. Lateral pressure would force the iron up to your brain. That effect would in fact drop when you’re in the sleeping position.Stop and think for a moment. Shouldn’t people at the poles have all their iron pulled down to their feet when they stand?
    • Here’s the thing though. The ‘iron’ in our body is mostly in the form of the protein called haemoglobin – the carrier of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It is paramagnetic. If the earth’s magnetic field did indeed pull all that into our heads, facing our head north would actually be a good thing. The brain metabolises more than the rest of the body in sleep than while awake; it would certainly do better with more oxygen.This doesn’t happen because, again, the earth’s magnetic field is not strong enough to affect us. I’m just pointing out that even if it did, they got it completely backwards.
    • Ever heard of MRIs?! MRI machines – the ones that use magnetic resonance for imaging the insides of one’s body – contains strong electromagnets. The kind of electromagnets that would rip out jewellery and other pieces of metal (including non-magnetic ones) from the body inside and outside the machine. It’s at least 10000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field and it doesn’t affect its patients one bit.

    Verify it yourself

    Drop a cornflake in a bowl of water and see if it moves towards the north or south. Repeat it a few times. When it doesn’t do either, conclude that this was bullshit.

  1. The Surya Namaskar

    The following is an example of a paragraph that is grammatically correct (if you ignore the run on sentence) but semantically null.

    Hindus have a tradition of paying regards to Sun God early in the morning by their water offering ritual. It was mainly because looking at Sun rays through water or directly at that time of the day is good for eyes and also by waking up to follow this routine, we become prone to a morning lifestyle and mornings are proven to be the most effective part of the day.

    The deconstruction

    • Sun rays: There is absolutely no benefit to having the rays of the sun hit one’s retina.
    • We never directly look at the sun anyway. It’s always through the filter of over twenty kilometres of atmosphere.
    • What’s the point? The light reflected by objects at noon is far more intense than the direct rays of the sun in the morning.
    • The most effective part of the day?! For what exactly?
    • The important part: I would have absolutely no counter-argument to the one who told me that the Surya Namaskar stretches one’s body and make them better prepared for the day. That’s somewhat true. How did they miss that?
    • Where’s the love for blind people? Does this thing work for blind people too?
  2. Pierce thy earlobe

    Piercing the ears has a great importance in Indian ethos. Indian physicians and philosophers believe that piercing the ears helps in the development of intellect, power of thinking and decision making faculties. Talkativeness fritters away life energy. Ear piercing helps in speech-restraint. It helps to reduce impertinent behaviour and the ear-channels become free from disorders. This idea appeals to the Western world as well, and so they are getting their ears pierced to wear fancy earrings as a mark of fashion.

    The deconstruction

    • Deepak Chopra alert!!! “Talkativeness fritters away life energy.” – doesn’t it sound exactly like something Deepak Chopra would say?
    • Impertinent behaviour?! The only way I can see it reducing impertinent behaviour is through the fear that if they piss off someone, they’ll have their earlobe yanked off using that hook.
    • No evidence: There is absolutely no evidence that suggests having one’s ears pierced makes them intelligent or prevents ear disorders. It doesn’t undo speech impediment, nor does it improve one’s thinking or decision making faculties.
    • Indians are not the only ones to have the concept of ear piercing. It was practised worldwide in many cultures. The western appeal to ear piercing hasn’t at all been inspired by India. When they pierce their ears, they aren’t following Indians.
  3. Meat restrictions

    Hindus do not eat meat on particular days – not limited but including: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The reason is that as a human being we need only a little amount of meat to fulfill the requirements of our body such as iron, vitamin B12 and other vital nutrients. But we often get addicted to eating meat which is not good for health. It can cause diseases like piles, kidney stones, colon cancer etc. Therefore, Hinduism has placed some restrictions by assigning days to particular deities.

    The deconstruction

    • The real reason: Jainism and Buddhism condemned consumption of meat as their doctrines specify non-violence against all living beings. Those faiths emerged as extremely attractive and the medieval version of Hinduism was losing followers. This is when they decided to bend their own dogma to cork the outflow of followers. Of course, they couldn’t eliminate meat consumption altogether which is why you’d find them avoiding meat on specific days.
    • Other lies: Humans are natural omnivores and they’re closer to carnivores than herbivores – they digest meat better than plants. Humans can, in fact, live on meat alone. Meat in itself isn’t bad for one’s health. It isn’t causally related to any of those diseases. Piles, kidney stones and colon cancer is about as common in vegetarians as everyone else.
    • Addiction: Meat is just as addictive as water. Humans are predisposed to wanting meat. It’s a necessity and not an aberration. This is not to say one cannot choose to give up meat. However, if you’re a vegetarian you ought to know that you are the aberration.
    • Stupid ancestors strike again: The bothersome thing here is that people had to be deceived into doing things that were supposedly for their own good. “Please don’t make it a habit to eat meat everyday. It’s not good for health.”, would’ve been a better thing to tell your children than, “Don’t eat meat on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You’ll piss off god.”, don’t you agree? How can you say your ancestors knew it all if they were this foolish?
  4. Snort some vermillion

    It is interesting to note that that the application of sindoor by married women carries a physiological significance. This is so because Sindoor is prepared by mixing turmeric-lime and the metal mercury. Due to its intrinsic properties, mercury, besides controlling blood pressure also activates sexual drive. This also explains why Sindoor is prohibited for the widows. For best results, Sindoor should be applied right upto the pituitary gland where all our feelings are centered. Mercury is also known for removing stress and strain.

    Hey! Remember that time when the guy applied a dab of vermillion on his newly wedded bride and she took him right there? No?! Yeah, me neither.

    The deconstruction

    • MERCURY IS EXTREMELY POISONOUS: Mercury is a neurotoxin. It’s one of the many heavy metals that are extremely dangerous even in the smallest of quantities.
    • What’s really interesting is that none of these life-hacks are ever used by men. Wouldn’t men benefit from an activated sex drive? Oh! I see. Men are always active, is that it?
    • Why can’t widows have some fun? Why does Hindu culture hate widows so much?
    • Why only married Indian women? It seems to imply that Indian women do not have an active sex life before marriage. Believe it or not, they do. It might well be that they’re far more active before marriage than after.
    • Right up to the pituitary gland? Do you even know where the pituitary gland is? The closest you can get to the pituitary gland without surgical instruments is by snorting the vermillion. Even then, it is protected by a few millimetres of bone.
    • Mercury does remove stress and strain. Of course, you’ll be dead, but that’s besides the point, isn’t it?
    • Sexual drive?! Mercury can have adverse effects on people. It damages the central nervous system and severely impairs motor function and brain function. Symptoms include impaired senses, lack of coordination and slurred speech. Oh! “Sexual drive” – I get it now.
    • Vermillion is used by married women even when their husbands are far away from home. With whom are they trying to get it on?
    • A deduction: I strongly feel the author of that article must have had a bit of a background in science. They likely pursued mechanical engineering but dropped out to start profiting from misleading the gullible. I say this because of the words ‘stress’ and ‘strain’. No one else would use those terms together in the same sentence.
  5. Astrological fasting

    The underlying principle behind fasting is to be found in Ayurveda. This ancient Indian medical system sees the basic cause of many diseases as the accumulation of toxic materials in the digestive system. Regular cleansing of toxic materials keeps one healthy. By fasting, the digestive organs get rest and all body mechanisms are cleansed and corrected. A complete fast is good for heath, and the occasional intake of warm lemon juice during the period of fasting prevents the flatulence. Since the human body, as explained by Ayurveda, is composed of 80% liquid and 20% solid, like the earth, the gravitational force of the moon affects the fluid contents of the body. It causes emotional imbalances in the body, making some people tense, irritable and violent. Fasting acts as antidote, for it lowers the acid content in the body which helps people to retain their sanity. Research suggests there are major health benefits to caloric restriction like reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, immune disorders etc.

    The deconstruction

    • Ayurveda isn’t real: Ayurveda is a severely flawed concept in that it has no basis in reality. It’s theoretical model contradicts basic anatomy and the concept of diseases in Ayurveda doesn’t anywhere mention the existence of pathogens.
    • Gravity: The gravitational potentials of an object on earth with respect to the sun and the moon are just not as significant as required to sway one’s bodily functions. The maximum theoretical amplitude of a tide when the sun, the moon and the earth are lined up in that order is about 93 centimetres. The average depth of the oceans is 3682 metres. On a person, 180 centimetres (5’11”) tall, the effective tidal pull would be about 0.455 millimetres. Your gut moves a hundred times more than that when you breathe. It can handle enormous amounts of junk and an arguably strong punch; I’m sure it will survive the attack of Sol and Luna.Sol is the star at the centre of earth’s star system. We generally refer to it as the sun. Luna is the earth’s natural satellite. We usually call it ‘the moon’.
    • Digestive shock happens here: Fasting after weeks of regular consumption would actually put your system into digestive shock. The digestive system doesn’t simply wait for food to get itself started. That’s dependent on a variety of other factors – one of which is regularity of consumption. A person who is regular in their food habits will only suffer from fasting. It is, in fact, not consuming food that might cause an increase in the acid content of the gut. How on earth did they manage to get it completely backwards?
    • Removal of toxins: People just keep throwing that term (toxins) around like it’s supposed to mean something. An unmanaged build-up of unwanted materials in the body could turn toxic and that definitely should be avoided, but fasting is not the best way to remedy it. Fasting is simply a stopper. The only way to bring oneself to a better average health is to flush out that unwanted build-up by eating healthy. A day-a-week juice cleanse would work better than fasting.
  1. Idol worship

    Hinduism propagates idol worship more than any other religion. Researchers say that this was initiated for the purpose of increasing concentration during prayers. According to psychiatrists, a man will shape his thoughts as per what he sees. If you have 3 different objects in front of you, your thinking will change according to the object you are viewing. Similarly, in ancient India, idol worship was established so that when people view idols it is easy for them to concentrate to gain spiritual energy and meditate without mental diversion.

    The deconstruction

    • Misuse of energy again: While the concept of spirituality may have some merit to it, although that is debatable, spiritual energy and the act of gaining it is utter fiction.
    • Prayer has a calming effect and that has been well documented in scientific literature. However, prayers don’t work. Not one claim of prayers having been answered has ever been proven true in a controlled environment.
    • Meditation is independent of dogma: Meditation doesn’t need one be spiritual or religious. There needn’t be a devotional component to it. It can be performed by anybody regardless of those variables. Fixating on an idol is just a device and is not essential; one could fixate on any object and meditate successfully.
    • There is no research that suggests the purpose of the idols were to improve one’s concentration.
    • Misuse of psychiatry: Psychiatry doesn’t concern itself with metaphysics. It is a scientific discipline – a study of mental disorders. It aims to use its knowledge of the mechanism of the brain to diagnose, treat and prevent illnesses. It doesn’t serve as a validator of nonsense. Psychiatry doesn’t endorse idol worship even though it can explain its effects.
  2. Chewing basil

    It is a popular belief that Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu; therefore, chewing it will be a mark of disrespect. However, botanists, in the course of their research, found that Tulsi plant has the maximum of mercury. If raw mercury is applied to teeth, they fall immediately. That’s why in Hindu religion, Tulsi leaves are not chewed but swallowed.

    The deconstruction

    • I’m confused. We’re not to chew a basil leaf but we can swallow and let our stomach acids pulverise it? Won’t Vishnu be disappointed in you for not affording her a humane release?
    • Wait?! So they do know mercury is dangerous but only for the teeth? It seems they aren’t aware that once ingested, mercury can impair neural and motor functions and can permanently damage the brain, lungs and kidneys. But since you care about your teeth more than your vital organs, it seems the damage is already done.
    • Mercury in basil is tolerable. While basil generally does contain a lot more mercury than other herbs, it’s not enough to harm anyone. It’s not sufficient to cause any distress and isn’t potent enough to damage one’s teeth. Mercury can, however, be dangerous when it is consumed faster than it’s eliminated – it’s called bioaccumulation.
    • Basil is extensively used in Ayurveda. Basil paste is a very common ingredient in “Ayurvedic medicines”. Many recipes of Ayurvedic tooth whitening pastes use basil. These pastes had to be rubbed on one’s teeth – that would’ve been far more impactful than chewing basil leaves. Unless your ancestors all lost their teeth by their thirties, you really have nothing to worry about.
  3. Delude Sesame…

    Tilgul is a very colorful and excellent sesame candy made of sesame seeds and jaggery. Til means sesame seeds whereas gul means jaggery in Marathi/ Hindi. Since Makar Sankranti is celebrated in mid winter ideally Tilgul recipe is a combination that helps keep the body warm due to these heat generating ingredients making it a healthy sweet to enjoy. In Ayurveda, Sesame is considered to be an extremely beneficial and strong medicine. Sesame laddu’s are beneficial for those children who normally have the problem of bed-wetting in winters.

    The deconstruction

    I must admit, this is the only one that checks out. There are no factual errors about the effects of sesame. However,

    • The use of sesame wasn’t unique to India. It’s perhaps the oldest plant cultivated by humans. It’s use is prominent in almost every culture that goes that far back. It’s medicinal benefits were common knowledge for the past 5 millennia.
    • Fatty stuff is warming. That’s not a secret. The best way to get warm is to eat something with a lot of calories. Getting warm from sesame isn’t that much different to getting warm from literally anything else.
    • Ayurveda is still bullshit. Sesame was known for its medicinal qualities in spite of Ayurveda and not because of it. It has had no contribution to the knowledge of the oilseed.
    • Ex post facto rationalisation: Having used something and benefitted from it doesn’t automatically mean its mechanisms were known. Dogs consume grass to induce regurgitation; it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.
    • Foolish ancestors again: I bet revealing to your children that sesame candies kept them well and healthy would’ve made them appreciate them for what they were. Of course, you can only reveal what you know, so there’s that.
  4. Bangles

    Normally the wrist portion is in constant activation on any human. Also the pulse beat in this portion is mostly checked for all sorts of ailments. The Bangles used by women are normally in the wrist part of ones hand and its constant friction increases the blood circulation level. Further more the electricity passing out through outer skin is again reverted to one’s own body because of the ring shaped bangles, which has no ends to pass the energy outside but to send it back to the body.

    The deconstruction

    • On circulation: The only way one’s blood circulation could “be increased” (whatever that means) is if the heart itself beats faster. There is not much one can do to force more blood to a specific area (except perhaps restrict the blood supply everywhere else). It’s simple fluid mechanics really. Localised friction does nothing to change one’s heart rate. At best, it makes the area sore, which is why it might appear more flushed than normal. It’s the body’s way of fixing damage from repeated assaults to an area. That effect subsides over time.
    • Electricity doesn’t work that way: The body is on an average, at the same electric potential throughout. That’s the main reason you aren’t spontaneously electrocuted by everything out there.
    • About the pulse: The pulse of a person describes nothing more than one’s heart rate. Even experienced physicians cannot deduce any more than that from a pulse alone. It isn’t a good diagnostic device for detection of diseases.
    • The return of electricity?! The bangles are in contact with the body at all times. They’re at the exact same electric potential as your body and hence there is no flow of current into the bangles or back from it. The ring shape of the bangles is irrelevant. A square bangle would’ve been just as useful.
  5. Visit temples, goddammit!!!

    If you’ve somehow come this far, you’ll probably also like this article involving a complete debunking of a pseudoscientific article about temples. The following is an excerpt of that article that is often quoted.

    Temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust. The main idol is placed in the core center of the temple, known as “Garbhagriha” or Moolasthanam. In fact, the temple structure is built after the idol has been placed. This Moolasthanam is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum. We know that there are some copper plates, inscribed with Vedic scripts, buried beneath the Main Idol. What are they really? No, they are not God’s / priests’ flash cards when they forget the shlokas. The copper plate absorbs earth’s magnetic waves and radiates it to the surroundings. Thus a person regularly visiting a temple and walking clockwise around the Main Idol receives the beamed magnetic waves and his body absorbs it. This is a very slow process and a regular visit will let him absorb more of this positive energy. Scientifically, it is the positive energy that we all require to have a healthy life.Desinema

    You’ve got to see their illustration for that one.

    The deconstruction

    • Positive energy isn’t a real thing. As it is made abundantly clear here, there is no such thing. There, thus, cannot be a concentrated source of positive energy that one could tap into using an idol.
    • Magnetism has no effect whatsoever on the human body as I’ve mentioned repeatedly. Anything that tries to link magnetism with health or spiritual well-being can be demonstrably proven false.
    • Temples aren’t placed strategically. They’re placed at random. Someone places an idol where they like and because people fear disturbing their deities, temples are built around it. It’s as simple as that.
    • Copper is diamagnetic. It is for all intents and purposes as good as a block of cement. It does not do as well as ferromagnetic materials in concentrating magnetic lines of force and thus cannot skew the earths magnetic field. A block of iron would do a better job of it.
    • Absorption and radiation of magnetic fields is a fictional concept. It has been a science fiction device for quite a while now. It seems appropriate for Hindus to use a concept like this to promote their religion.
    • Walking clockwise isn’t going to help at all. Since magnetism doesn’t affect us, moving a certain way wouldn’t make any difference. You’ll look silly though. If that’s what you’re going for, you can continue.
    • The healthiest life one can have is by keeping away from nonsense like this.

I believe that’s enough myth busting for now. If you think I was wrong to tackle it all in one post and I should’ve done it in parts, don’t. Hinduism is a goldmine that never runs out of such nonsense. There will be more, I promise. There are hundreds of articles like these scattered all over the internet on dedicated Hindu sites, alternative medicine webpages, and nationalist forums. It’s usually just a rip-off of the most prominent sources of this nonsense and many don’t even bother to refine or rewrite the content.

Do let me know if I should up the ridicule or take it down a notch. (I’m not experienced at this.) If you find factual errors in anything I’ve mentioned, let me know about that too. Like many of my kind, I love to be correct and being corrected. Point me to similar articles you’d like me to deconstruct. If you’ve authored articles like these, mention them in the comments and I’ll be sure to cite them in the future. I have a vast online presence. If there’s anything you’d like to say, I won’t be more than a click away.