Is Vibration Therapy Pseudoscience?
Is Vibration Therapy a Pseudoscience?
A 100 Year Old Vibration Chair in the Science Museum
In a Saturday afternoon summer of 2019, my wife called me with an exciting voice "Come to see! There is a vibration chair in the science museum! Quick!" She was with the kids in the Science Museum of Minnesota.
I immediately rushed to the museum, so excited to know that the science museum is also promoting vibration therapy. This would definitely be something strong to put into my vibration therapy blog...
I only laughed at what I saw after I arrived at the museum.
A new exhibition section just opened in the museum to display pseudoscience medical devices. Vibration chair was one of the display items. Kids played on it for fun.
This definitely sends a negative message to people about vibration therapy that I have been passionately promoting :-(
The vibration chair was invented in Michigan in 1895 by the famous medical doctor, nutritionist, health activist, eugenicist Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Its purpose was supposedly "to improve general health, and to treat constipation in particular".
Besides the vibration chair, there were several other types of vibration fitness devices in the exhibition.
Other display items in this exhibition section, as I could remember and later on searched out their names, include phrenology psychography, electropathy, McGregor Rejuvenator, etc. Some items appeared very pseudo-scientifically fancy. They are designed with many buttons, switches, and meters...almost like an airplane control panel.
Is Vibration Therapy Pseudoscience?
Well the Science Museum of Minnesota did not actually label vibration treatment as a pseudoscience. The statement was "There isn't sufficient scientific evidence to support whole body vibration as a treatment for constipation", which is a right statement. However, the museum had an almost negative attitude about using vibration for health improvement.
In my view, vibration, as a type of mechanical stimulation, can certainly be considered and studied as a physical medical intervention.
Minnesota Science Museum was kind of contradictory in another exhibiting section which is about electricity stimulation. The exhibiting literature, on one hand, denies that TENS machines would "do any good to the body"; on the other hand, it states that pacemaker, which uses electricity stimulation, is "scientifically proven to safely and effectively regulate heartbeat".
Some marketers tend to promote their products in pseudoscience approaches. They tend to abuse science vocabularies to spell out a seemingly reasoning but no actual logical consequence. They like to use quantitative statements without the support of quantitative studies. An ads like "5 minutes exercise on the vibration machine equal 30 minutes of regular exercise" is a good example you often see. They know people love quantitative statements.
Pseudoscience ads are misleading, but they often work well for their purpose. They are designed to hit the soft spots. Their audience tend to believe pseudoscience more than the real science.
Who doesn't like a medicine that cures 96.45% of diseases.
A Unique Medical Intervention
Regardless how vibration therapy is perceived. The simple truth is that vibration can create a special mechanical stimulation to human body. It is can be used as a unique medical intervention.
Scientific studies on vibration therapy have also achieved great results. More and more scientists and medical professionals are interested in studying vibration therapy and learning its mechanism and applications.
Now there are millions of people using all kinds of vibration machines. The evidences of their effectiveness are solid.
Back to the Topic Question
Vibration stimulation itself is a scientific exist. Vibration therapy is to apply such a stimulation as a medical intervention to make biophysical changes. It does influence our body.
The pseudoscience is just about the approach that some marketers promote their services and products related to vibration therapy. It is not about the therapy itself.
Therefore, for the topic question, my answer is that it is not a well defined question.
I have about 8% return rate for the vibration plates I have sold, not including the returns because of quality issues. Therefore, I would say about 92% customers consider using my vibration plate are somewhat beneficial.
This is an example of a valid quantitate statement.a valid quantitative statement
- Jay Tang
Interpreting life science from a mechanical engineering perspective.