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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

applied kinesiology This is a claimed diagnostic technique also known simply as AK. It consists of having the subject stand with a test substance in one hand, while the other arm is stretched straight out from the side of the body. The operator places his palm upon the outstretched arm and presses down with a certain force, attempting to depress the arm and judging the degree of the force required to accomplish this effect. He then compares it with the amount of force needed to depress the arm when the test substance is not being held by the subject in the other hand, or when a “bad” substance is held.
      It is claimed that when a harmful substance is being held, the arm depresses easily; when a beneficial or harmless substance is present, the force needed is much greater, since the body is now not weakened by the vibrations of the negative substance.
      The effect observed is entirely due to the expectations of the operator, and this can clearly be shown by appropriate “blind” testing procedures, in which the operator is kept ignorant of the expected result. As evidence that the AK idea is pure sympathetic magic, it is enough to know that promoters claim that while refined sugar can be clearly shown in a very dramatic manner to be a “bad” substance by this method when actual sugar is placed in the hand, the same strength of effect is also brought about by simply having the subject hold a scrap of paper with the word “sugar” or the chemical formula C12H22O11 (sucrose) written on it in place of the actual substance. Believers in AK have no problem rationalizing the absurdity of such a claim.
      In the United States, in response to our increasing demand for nonsense, expensive courses are now being offered to doctors and dentists in which AK is taught to them as a diagnostic tool, and many otherwise sensible medical professionals have taken these courses and have accepted the effect as genuine.
      AK has been tested thoroughly, and has always been found useless.

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