Skeptic » eSkeptic » June 22, 2016

The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Barefoot by Tim RT is licensed under [CC BY-ND 2.0].

Could it be that shoes are the world’s most dangerous invention and the cause of health problems ranging from autoimmune diseases to premature aging? In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall, M.D. examines the claims of “grounding” or “earthing” — the idea that shoes are the most destructive invention ever and that maintaining health requires direct contact with the earth. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 17.4 (2012). Read Harriet Hall’s bio at the end of this article.

Barefoot in Sedona:
Bogus Claims About Grounding Your Feet to Earth Promote Medical Pseudoscience

by Harriet Hall, M.D.

There is a website that reveals “The world’s most dangerous invention.” Care to speculate what that invention might be? I might have guessed nuclear weapons. Others have incriminated guns, cigarettes, genetic engineering, religion, The Web, The Large Hadron Collider, and automobiles. But this website was not talking about any of those, but about a far more destructive invention. Would you believe…shoes?

Skeptic magazine 17.4 (Alternative Cancer Cures)

This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 17.4 (2012)
Buy the print edition
Buy the digital edition

Watch out for those malicious moccasins, horrific high heels, fiendish flip-flops, beastly boots, and sinister slippers! They’re all out to get you. Not just shoes. Anything that comes between us and the bare earth: houses, clothes, tent floors, pavements, doormats, cars, skis, and so on.

It’s called “grounding” or “earthing”— the idea that maintaining health requires direct contact with the earth. Shoes are the most destructive invention ever, we are told, because they allegedly cause inflammation and autoimmune diseases, circadian rhythm disruptions, hormonal disorders, cortisol disorders, heart rate variability problems, arthritis, herpes, hepatitis, insomnia, chronic pain, exhaustion, stress, anxiety, premature aging…pretty much anything that might ail you. A one-cause-of-all-disease explanation invokes inflammation as the culprit. Grounding is supposedly the best defense against inflammation and aging; it represents a whole new treatment paradigm. Among many other benefits, grounding also “promotes calmness in the body by cooling down the nervous system,” thins the blood, eliminates jet lag, and protects the body against potentially health-disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields.

A book expounds these concepts: “Earthing: The most important health discovery ever?” by Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra MD, and Martin Zucker, with a foreword by James Oschman Ph.D. Who are these people? Ober, the inventor of earthing, is a layman from the cable TV industry. Of course. Dr. Sinatra is a cardiologist who encouraged Ober, who specializes in so-called “integrative medicine” (which integrates superstition with science) and is a “certified bioenergetic psychotherapist.” Naturally. Zucker is a writer. Oschman is a notorious proponent of energy medicine who believes there is a scientific basis for it; most reputable scientists disagree. […]

Read the full article

MISSED SCIENCE SALON # 6?

The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe

For those who could not make it to Pasadena, California for the Science Salon with physicist and jazz saxophonist Dr. Stephon Alexander, we have made a video recording of the event available to you.

Watch the Salon for free

Watch previous Salons

Learn more about Science Salon

2 Comments »

2 Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    Having lived in Africa for several years I can tell you that walking barefoot there would foolishly make you susceptible to numerous diseases– some of them possibly fatal.

  2. Allen says:

    The same applies to any city. I recall seeing a cartoon from the ’60s where a hippy was looking at his battered feet and saying that being barefoot is great except for the dogs!t and broken glass. Yup. That summarizes it quite well.

Get eSkeptic

Science in your inbox every Wednesday!

eSkeptic delivers great articles, videos, podcasts, reviews, event announcements, and more to your inbox once a week.

Sign me up!

Donate to Skeptic

Please support the work of the Skeptics Society. Make the world a more rational place and help us defend the role of science in society.

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

Copyright © 1992–2017. All rights reserved. The Skeptics Society | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. Privacy Policy.