The crystal industry generates over $1 billion per year. But what exactly do crystals do? Some have said they store energy. Others say they have healing powers. But what does the science say?
Welcome to Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where Jordan and fact-checker, comedian, and podcast host David C. Smalley break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up, and debunk common misconceptions.
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- Over the last five years, the number of Google searches for “crystal healing” has more than doubled — fueled, in part, by celebrity endorsements from the likes of Katy Perry, Kate Hudson, and Adele, who has been known to clutch one during performances to combat stage fright.
- A Himalayan pink salt lamp — marketed as having mood-boosting properties — was one of Amazon’s best-selling home-improvement products over the 2017 holiday season among its Prime subscribers.
- Different crystals are said to possess certain powers — from bloodstone (which purports to improve circulation) to citrine (for enthusiasm and creativity bolstering) to sapphire (to prompt prosperity).
- According to Pew Research, whether you’re the most staunch Christian or consider yourself “religiously unaffiliated,” there’s a 62% chance that you believe in at least one New Age belief —including crystals storing energy. This probably accounts for the crystal industry raking in more than $1 billion per year.
- Is this all a load of poppycock, or does science lend any credibility to claims that crystals are anything but pretty rocks imbued with perfectly normal rock powers?
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know!
- Connect with David at his website, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and make sure to check out The David C. Smalley Podcast here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts! If you like to get out of your house and catch live comedy, keep an eye on David’s tour dates here and text David directly at (424) 306-0798 for tickets when he comes to your town!
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
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Miss our two-part conversation with Jack Garcia, the undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family of Cosa Nostra in New York for nearly three years? Catch up by starting with episode 392: Joaquin “Jack” Garcia | Undercover in the Mafia Part One here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Health & Balance Resource Center | WebMD
- Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition by Stuart A. Vyse | Amazon
- ‘New Age’ Beliefs Common Among Religious, Nonreligious Americans | Pew Research Center
- Magnetic Field Regulates Plant Functions, Growth and Enhances Tolerance against Environmental Stresses | Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants
- Effects of Presowing Pulsed Electromagnetic Treatment of Tomato Seed on Growth, Yield, and Lycopene Content | The Scientific World Journal
- Crystal Healing: Stone-Cold Facts about Gemstone Treatments | Live Science
- Stanford Scholar Tackles the History of People’s Obsession with Crystals | Stanford News
- What Are Chakras? Meaning, Location, and How to Unblock Them | Healthline
809: Crystal Healing | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:08] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where fact-checker and comedian David C. Smalley and I break down a topic that you may have never thought about. Open things up in debunk, common misconceptions — topics such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, toothpaste, chemtrails, recycling, expiration dates and tipping, banned foods a whole lot.
[00:00:29] Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers.
[00:00:47] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show — topics like persuasion and influence, China, North Korea, negotiation, communication, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:10] Today, on this episode of Skeptical Sunday, the crystal industry, words I never thought I would have to say, generates over a billion dollars per year, but what exactly do they do? Some have said they store energy. Others say they have healing powers. But what does the science actually say? On this Skeptical Sunday, let's get to the bottom of it with comedian fact-checker, David C. Smalley.
[00:01:30] David C. Smalley: I'm excited, Jordan. This one's going to rock.
[00:01:33] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, starting already with the puns, eh?
[00:01:35] David C. Smalley: Already.
[00:01:35] Jordan Harbinger: All right. A billion dollars, a billion dollars, I can't imagine people spending that much money on crystals.
[00:01:43] David C. Smalley: Well, you've clearly never done standup comedy for drunk hippies in San Francisco. I've seen a billion dollars worth in a single night. So many people have crystals, and for the most part, those people are like positive, loving, friendly people who just talk about like inner peace and yoga.
[00:02:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:02:01] David C. Smalley: Like they're not terrible people. I want everyone to know we're not insulting anyone here today. You're lovely people. But we are fact-checking the claims surrounding crystals. Let's just be clear about what we're doing.
[00:02:13] Jordan Harbinger: I think we're going to accidentally insult people, but we're not doing it on purpose. And I know that—
[00:02:18] David C. Smalley: A great way to put that.
[00:02:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Because with reiki, we were like, "Oh, we're going to kind of make fun of you." And people were like, "You're terrible and I hate you now." And I thought, "Ooh, maybe, we've went over the line. But also what you think is real is totally fake."
[00:02:27] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:02:27] Jordan Harbinger: All right, so let's start with the healing — see I already did it.
[00:02:31] David C. Smalley: Already, already.
[00:02:33] Jordan Harbinger: Let's start with the so-called healing aspect of crystals. What does the medical community have to say about this?
[00:02:39] David C. Smalley: Okay. So they're being forced to talk about it because so many people are doing it and they're getting really popular. So WebMD finally addressed the medical use of crystals in 2018. And they went beyond just like facts of science versus belief and things like that. They actually explored the cultural aspect and they write, and I'm quoting from WebMD. Google searches for crystal healing have more than doubled in the past five years, fueled by endorsements from celebrities like Katie Perry, Kate Hudson, and Adele, who clutches one during performances to fend off stage fright.
[00:03:13] Jordan Harbinger: Ah. That makes me go, ah, because she's amazing. Who doesn't love Adele? The fact that she has stage fright is very strange to me, but I guess it doesn't matter.
[00:03:20] David C. Smalley: I know. Right. And by the way, I haven't fact-checked that portion. I don't know if it's true, but that's what they say that she clutches that.
[00:03:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Interesting.
[00:03:28] David C. Smalley: Himalayan salt lamps marketed as mood boosters and magnetic bracelets build as pain relievers are easily found on Amazon and at Walmart. A Himalayan pink salt lamp was one of Amazon's bestselling home improvement products over the 2017, yes, home improvement, over the 2017 holiday season among the company's prime subscribers.
[00:03:51] Jordan Harbinger: I want to know how crap your home is when a home improvement addition is a Himalayan pink salt lamp. Like usually that takes things down a peg in my opinion but it depends on the circumstances of your dwelling.
[00:04:04] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:04:04] Jordan Harbinger: All right, so what you're saying is I might have gotten a big-money Joe Rogan deal for this podcast if I had just decorated my studio with some overpriced stalactites. Got it.
[00:04:14] David C. Smalley: Yep, yep, yep. Or stalagmites. I think no matter which way they're pointing, I think—
[00:04:18] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:04:19] David C. Smalley: Rock it.
[00:04:20] Jordan Harbinger: We are agnostic about which way these things grow.
[00:04:23] David C. Smalley: No, it's the Joe Rogan deal that I want.
[00:04:25] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:26] David C. Smalley: Yeah. They go on to say alternative healing centers from San Francisco to New York City are bursting with well-educated millennials from the real estate, finance, and tech industries, and they pay big bucks per hour for a session of crystal healing.
[00:04:41] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Well-educated folks going to a crystal healing center. Okay. Does WebMD think there's anything at all to this concept?
[00:04:50] David C. Smalley: Um, sort of, but not for the reasons the crystal healers want to hear.
[00:04:55] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:04:55] David C. Smalley: Psychologist Stuart Vyse, who is the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition says that he believes that placebo effect is almost certainly at play here. And WebMD quotes him is saying, and this is a very important distinction, he says, the mere act of doing something to take control of your destiny can often boost hope, brighten your mood, and improve your ability to cope with a chronic condition. And by the way, the same is true for prayer, meditation, or even just a self, you know, pep talk. And it can definitely help the situation to get your mind right and take control of your own destiny. So let's explore it and just see where the evidence leads. It's obviously a thing that could work for some people.
[00:05:37] Jordan Harbinger: So I've heard that different crystals are supposed to do different things. Did you come across that in your research or are all crystals created equally, stalactites or stalagmites aside?
[00:05:46] David C. Smalley: Yeah. So I have a list here that I want to read for people in case you've ever wondered what the crystals are supposed to do and what we're going to kind of be fact-checking today. So there's a clear quartz, which is just a clear crystal considered a master healer believed to support the entire energetic system, which we'll get into. Jasper, which is a nurturing stone, said to provide support during times of stress. A side note that I believe weed and whiskey are also said to do the same thing.
[00:06:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:16] David C. Smalley: Obsidian believed to help process emotions and experiences and aid in letting go. Also a function of whiskey.
[00:06:23] Jordan Harbinger: Indeed.
[00:06:23] David C. Smalley: Yeah. My dad was on whiskey and let go when I was about six.
[00:06:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, dark.
[00:06:29] David C. Smalley: Amethyst used for healing, purifying, and enhancing willpower. I mean, enhancing willpower, sounds like a good replacement for methamphetamines.
[00:06:38] Jordan Harbinger: Depends on the price. Please tell methamphetamines part was actually on WebMD though.
[00:06:43] David C. Smalley: No. That one is all mine.
[00:06:44] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay.
[00:06:45] David C. Smalley: I did have to sneak that in. But bloodstone is one that's said to improve circulation and provide support to blood-related issue. And then there's a whole section of healing crystals for wealth. And it's interesting that they use the word healing, but they're talking about wealth.
[00:07:00] Jordan Harbinger: Healing crystals for your American Express card. Yeah.
[00:07:04] David C. Smalley: Or no, you're like, man, my bank account is sick right now. My bank account got COVID. Need a little wave of crystal over it.
[00:07:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, man.
[00:07:13] David C. Smalley: So these are tiger's eyes. It's said to provide motivation and reduce fear. Citrine believed to spark enthusiasm, creativity, and concentration. Turquoise thought to soothe emotions and attract good luck.
[00:07:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:26] David C. Smalley: Sapphire known as a stone of prosperity. And then Jade, which is another one well known for prosperity and luck.
[00:07:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:34] David C. Smalley: And then, there are healing crystals for love, the last category, so rose quartz, these are really the most popular. A lot of women have these, like pinkish, dark red, really beautiful crystals. That's the super popular one, rose quartz. It's sometimes referred to as the stone of love and believed to encourage love and trust. Then, you've got the moonstone said to prompt feelings of inner strength and growth. And then finally the ruby, which is believed to support sexuality and sensuality.
[00:08:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:04] David C. Smalley: I believe the kids call that Molly.
[00:08:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yes. The kids call that MDMA. All right. So these certainly sound like a panacea. So they just work naturally. Is that the idea?
[00:08:15] David C. Smalley: Oh, no, Jordan, don't be silly. You have to charge crystals or they won't work.
[00:08:19] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, okay.
[00:08:20] David C. Smalley: So you got to, yeah, you got to wash them. You got to burn some sage. Some people leave them in the sunlight or the moonlight overnight to absorb the energy. And then, of course, high-vibration tones like humming on your crystals or playing loud tones can also charge them.
[00:08:35] Jordan Harbinger: So you're telling me to hum on my crystals.
[00:08:38] David C. Smalley: Yeah. That's my new — go hum your crystals, Jordan. That's my new favorite insult. I don't want somebody to leave me alone. Go hum your crystals.
[00:08:45] Jordan Harbinger: People are spending a billion dollars a year on this. I suppose that's no longer a fringe thing. I got to say, if I go to a barbecue and we can't use the fricking back deck because some turd is charging their crystals on it, I'm out of there. I'm taking my brisket with me.
[00:09:01] David C. Smalley: Well, the good news is I don't think there's a lot of crossovers between the crystal and brisket communities.
[00:09:06] Jordan Harbinger: It's vegan brisket. Okay.
[00:09:07] David C. Smalley: If it's vegan brisket, you might have a fight on your hands. Yeah, but I doubt they'd give a damn.
[00:09:13] So according to Pew Research, whether you're the most staunch Christian or religiously unaffiliated—
[00:09:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:19] David C. Smalley: —there's a 62 percent chance that you'll believe in at least one new age belief, including the idea that crystals can store energy. If you're an atheist, that plummets to 13 percent.
[00:09:31] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:09:31] David C. Smalley: So it's very low, but there are still a significant number of atheists who also believe that crystals can store energy. Crystals seem to be, for the most part, for those who are energy-based, spiritual but not religious, or somehow in tune with the universe.
[00:09:47] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so for those who claim that crystals have healing powers, how do they say it works?
[00:09:52] David C. Smalley: So, the basic concept is that all things in the universe have a specific energy frequency, right?
[00:10:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:00] David C. Smalley: We could probably agree with them that everything's got some level of energy, even if it's just atoms or molecules or whatever.
[00:10:07] Jordan Harbinger: By moving around, yeah.
[00:10:08] David C. Smalley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But they claim that everything has a specific frequency.
[00:10:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:10:13] David C. Smalley: And that crystals have a stable and strong frequency that can help other frequencies realign if it gets out of whack. So like let's say if something is vibrating in a certain frequency and then it gets damaged or broken and the frequency is off, you can put a certain crystal next to it and the crystal is extra strong. So it can help kind of realign that specific energy.
[00:10:33] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:10:34] David C. Smalley: So let's say that happens with a person. The idea is that human beings have what they call chakra points throughout your body that can affect different ways you feel. And then by placing a crystal near that chakra, it can be realigned and your problems go away.
[00:10:47] Jordan Harbinger: That's okay. I can see why — I know I'm going to regret this, but what's a chakra, exactly?
[00:10:53] David C. Smalley: Okay. Yeah, you're definitely going to regret it. So, oddly enough, Healthline actually covers this in detail. In Sanskrit, the word chakra means disk or wheel.
[00:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:06] David C. Smalley: When I say chakra, imagine a little wheel or a little spinning circle inside your body, and the idea refers to an energy center in your body. Different aspects of your body, you're going to have these little wheels spinning. They're spinning energy that corresponds to certain nerve bundles in major organs, and to function at their best, your chakras need to stay open or balanced. They kind of use both terms. Sometimes, they'll say your chakras are out of balance or in balance, or open or closed or damaged, or something like that. And if they get out of balance, you may experience physical or emotional symptoms related to a particular chakra. So depending on what your symptoms are, when you go in to see one of these, they'll be like, "Oh, that's your whatever, whatever, gallbladder 21 or 21 gallbladder, whatever." And they'll be able to know what your problem is because you said, "I'm sad about this, or I'm anxious, or I have stomach problems, or my foot hurts, or whatever." And they can assign that to a certain chakra and that's how they know where to place the crystal. There are seven main chakra points or chakras that run along your spine. They start at the root or the base of your spine and they extend up to the crown of your head. So imagine seven wheels in between the base of your spine and the crown of your head.
[00:12:21] Jordan Harbinger: Is it like metaphysical, or are people thinking they're actually in your body? Like, if you disassemble somebody, which sounds really gross, can you see it? Or is it just like it's metaphysically in your body but not really?
[00:12:32] David C. Smalley: So there's a little bit of argument about that—
[00:12:35] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:12:35] David C. Smalley: —as far as what would be considered it, perhaps we don't recognize it. Some will say it's metaphysical, and that's the easy way. You know how when you talk to more staunchly religious people versus more liberally religious people and be like, "I don't think the Bible, literally, I just have a personal relationship with God." That type of mindset in the chakra world immediately goes, "Oh, it's all metaphysical." But there are some hardcore fundamentalist type people who will be like, "No, they're in there. We just haven't found them yet. Or they're microscopic," or, you know, some other argument.
[00:13:03] Jordan Harbinger: You can only see it in the fourth dimension or something, right? I don't know.
[00:13:05] David C. Smalley: Yeah. You know, with the third eye—
[00:13:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:07] David C. Smalley: With the third eye, only if you're open to it, and if you're not, then it's not going to be visible to you things like that.
[00:13:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:13:12] David C. Smalley: Now, so there's seven but some people believe you've got 114 chakras in the body.
[00:13:18] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:13:19] David C. Smalley: So they've got to be tiny if that's the case.
[00:13:21] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:13:21] David C. Smalley: But we don't take those people seriously. They're crazy. Everyone knows there's only seven.
[00:13:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So these chakras, David, can we see them? Are they in the room with us right now?
[00:13:31] David C. Smalley: Of course, but you can only see them with a spiritual eye.
[00:13:33] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:13:34] David C. Smalley: Which means just imagine it, bro. And there it is.
[00:13:36] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, with the magic eye that sees things that we wish were there. Okay, I need an example. How can my chakras become out of balance and what happens when it does?
[00:13:47] David C. Smalley: Okay, so the main seven are the crown, the third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and root. The root chakra is located at the base of your spine. It provides you with a base or foundation for life. It helps you feel grounded and you're able to withstand challenges if that's in balance. Your root shocker is responsible for, let's say, your sense of security, your stability, things like that. So if you're feeling uneasy or you're anxious, it's not because you have something to worry about or an important meeting coming up, it's because your root chakra is out of balance. That's the whole concept.
[00:14:21] Jordan Harbinger: Uh-huh. And how did it get out of balance?
[00:14:25] David C. Smalley: Too much cheese? I don't know. I'm trying, Jordan. I'm doing my best over here. Healthline says it like this. They say that personal habits such as poor physical alignment or posture.
[00:14:36] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh. As we both straighten up in our chairs. Yeah. Okay.
[00:14:39] David C. Smalley: Eating unhealthy food or self-destructive behavior may cause a chakra to be imbalanced. Then, I think, at that point, it's like a wobbly tire. You're just thumping down the road like a maniac, and you need to pay a specialist to realign and unblock your wheels.
[00:14:53] Jordan Harbinger: Like the reiki people we covered a few episodes ago that everyone got mad at us about.
[00:14:57] David C. Smalley: Yes.
[00:14:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:14:58] David C. Smalley: Yes. Yeah. They love crystals, and that's part of what they do. It's that realignment of the chakras using crystals. Oftentimes, they'll lay crystals on people as they wave their hands over, and it's supposed to be like a twofer, you know?
[00:15:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, why not?
[00:15:12] David C. Smalley: Anyway, the idea is to restabilize that energy field and realign your wobbly wheels and then you're good to go.
[00:15:20] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:15:21] David C. Smalley: Although it really doesn't address why there would be crystals for wealth, unless some of your chakras are also crypto miners and getting knocked offline or something. I don't know. It just doesn't make any sense.
[00:15:30] Jordan Harbinger: I get it. Look, I'm tempted to start shredding this already, but first, what do scientists have to say about this?
[00:15:36] David C. Smalley: Okay, so I came across Dr. David Hamilton who explains the science behind how crystals actually work.
[00:15:42] Jordan Harbinger: Uh, okay. So doctor?
[00:15:44] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:15:45] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Like a medical doctor.
[00:15:47] David C. Smalley: Oh god, of course, not.
[00:15:48] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so PhD in of something.
[00:15:51] David C. Smalley: Nailed it. Okay. So PhD of what? And no bullsh*t's not acceptable.
[00:15:56] Jordan Harbinger: Crystal, geology, that's the logical—
[00:16:00] David C. Smalley: Were you trying to find the word [crystalogy] for a second?
[00:16:03] Jordan Harbinger: I was like, crystal, wait, there's a word for somebody who studies rocks and things in the earth. What is the name of that person? You know, like the American Crystal Logical Survey, the guys who look for volcanoes and stalagmites and stuff. Yeah. Geology.
[00:16:20] David C. Smalley: If like a legit geologist came forward with evidence of crystal healing, we're doing a follow up episode filled with apologies.
[00:16:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right where I'm eating every hat in my closet. Yeah.
[00:16:30] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. Dr. Hamilton's website says he holds a PhD in organic chemistry and that he worked in research and development. But when people list their degrees on their websites, they tend to include the university that they attended as well, right? Which makes it easy to verify. Like people say, "Oh, I've got a PhD in, you know, whatever, whatever from Columbia University," and you can verify that, especially if you're doing a report or something.
[00:16:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:16:54] David C. Smalley: Dr. Hamilton did not include that on his website, so I actually just emailed him and I asked him which university he attended to get the PhD as well as which company he worked for doing R & D. He replied this morning and he said he got his PhD from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, and that he worked in R & D at AstraZeneca. I haven't had the time to go verify, but if that's true, he definitely sounds legit. So I would think what he has to say on this issue should matter.
[00:17:23] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah, that's certainly a respectable field, but for those who didn't make any attempts at applying to medical school, what is organic chemistry in the first place?
[00:17:31] David C. Smalley: So according to the American Chemical Society, organic chemistry is defined as the study of the structure, properties, composition reactions, and preparation of carbon-containing compounds. Most organic compounds contain carbon and hydrogen, but they may also include any number of other elements like nitrogen, oxygen, halogens, phosphorus, sulfur, et cetera. So it's the study of all those elements, right?
[00:17:57] Jordan Harbinger: This is the chemistry involved in biological reactions and things we see occurring in nature and a whole lot more. So that is legitimate. This guy has a PhD in a field that is not kookie.
[00:18:09] David C. Smalley: Definitely. So Dr. Hamilton's focus on organic chemistry probably makes him the most qualified expert to discuss any real science surrounding crystals and the storage or displacement of energy or magnetic fields resulting from chemical reactions. So I did my research on him, and here's a description he gave on a web interview with Guy Lawrence about the science behind how crystals work. And I quote, "One of my main goals in my book—" oh yeah, I forgot to mention he's selling a book about this stuff.
[00:18:38] Jordan Harbinger: Well, of course, he is. Yep. It almost goes without saying, probably of course or something too.
[00:18:43] David C. Smalley: "—is to be really credible and make sure the science is absolutely solid."
[00:18:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:49] David C. Smalley: And then a few sentences later, he starts to say that he uncovered an astonishing amount. and he pauses, he's almost about to say like evidence or studies or something. He stops himself and says, "Well, not medical studies, because those haven't been done."
[00:19:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:19:06] David C. Smalley: And then he launches into a scientific-sounding explanation about diamagnetism.
[00:19:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Good thing he covered his ass in the first 12 seconds of that podcast.
[00:19:17] You know what's better than an overpriced rock? One of the fine products and/or services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:19:24] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. Trying a new workout is like learning a new skill. It can be overwhelming, and the uncertainty can be a major barrier to actually getting started. Peloton's approach to convenience is very helpful for people who are looking to take on a new fitness skill or routine. Everything is designed to be as simple and streamlined as possible. From the easy-to-use touchscreen interface to the wide range of class options and personalized recommendations, you can access a variety of live and on-demand classes, including cycling, running, strength. Now, there's an incredible rower, which I really enjoy, all from the comfort of your own home. Rowing is great as a full-body workout, which means you'll be engaging multiple muscle groups at once, including your legs, core, arms, and back. This will help you burn more calories, of course, it'll help you build more strength especially, and improve your overall fitness. Correct rowing form isn't intuitive, at least it certainly wasn't for me, and doing it correctly is harder than it sounds, especially once you start getting tired because, of course, your form always breaks down when you get tired. Form Assist shows you a figure of yourself as you row, and when you screw up a portion of the body, your body turns red. That's a good way to avoid getting super, super injured or tweaking something and not being able to work out, which stops a lot of people who are diving in either for the first time or getting back into it after a long. So try Peloton Row risk-free with a 30-day home trial. New members only. Not available in remote locations. See additional terms at onepeloton.com/home-trial.
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[00:21:04] Now back to Skeptical Sunday.
[00:21:08] I'm going to go into this more later probably whenever people who should know better, or I should say do know better, are trying to shill some nonsense. They are very careful about the disclaimers because what they don't want to do is actually end up with an even worse reputation than they already have. I mean, I would imagine this guy's not invited to the American Chemical Society's annual keynote—
[00:21:28] David C. Smalley: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:29] Jordan Harbinger: —talks and meetings because they know that he's the guy who's bringing their entire reputation down. But anyway, what is diamagnetism? What is that?
[00:21:35] David C. Smalley: Well, and to your point though, that tends to fuel a lot of conspiracy theories.
[00:21:39] Jordan Harbinger: Sure, of course.
[00:21:40] David C. Smalley: Because then they see that things are being silent. And this is what big pharma doesn't want you to know, because if you could be healed by a crystal, why would you ever need this and this and this. So, okay. So you asked what diamagnetism is.
[00:21:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:53] David C. Smalley: And see, this is how it works, right? We're already chasing a rabbit down a hole because of this one little—
[00:21:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You know, it often goes like this. One claim leads to another and leads to another and it takes 10 minutes to debunk a single freaking sentence from these people. This is the Gish gallop fallacy/method of disinformation, and we see this with online trolls. We see this with disinformation around everything from medicine to the war. In Ukraine to politics, someone will just unload a bunch of absolute nonsense. It's like Alex Jones with his info war stuff. He's just saying so many nonsense things that by the time you debunk one or two of these things, you're already at the same time limit he's done to unload a hundred of them. And it's frustrating. It's a very common tactic. Of course, that quote that I butcher every single time I bring it up, which is a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.
[00:22:42] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And I think this last study I saw fake news spread six times faster—
[00:22:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:22:47] David C. Smalley: —than true stories.
[00:22:48] Jordan Harbinger: That's right.
[00:22:49] David C. Smalley: And I did a podcast where I was fact-checking Ben Shapiro, and it took me about a solid 25 or 30 minutes of one episode to address two sentences he said because I had to sort of prove why it was incorrect, and then play the evidence, and then describe the evidence, and then talk about where the conspiracy came from. You know, if he's got an hour to ramble, I mean, it could take days to address all of that. So you're right, the Gish gallop is definitely a problem. It's also known as fire hosing or machine gunning, things like that. You get so many statements that it's impossible to track them all down, and then as you're fact-checking, you get lost in the weeds and sometimes you never get back to the original claim. So, this is why shows like this are so important and why I'm so glad we're doing this is that we get to have a long-form deep dive o of these things, so they can be challenged.
[00:23:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:40] David C. Smalley: Okay. So I don't want to get too distracted and branch off and do another claim and forget to come back to an original challenge. So, it is though important for people to know what's going on here, so I'll at least dip a toe in. So, sciencedirect.com defines diamagnetism as, "A very weak form of magnetism that is induced by a change in the orbital motion of electrons due to an applied magnetic field."
[00:24:08] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:24:09] David C. Smalley: And that is a very real thing, but Dr. Hamilton explains it like this when he's connecting it to crystals. He says, "Diamagnetism is like when it's pouring down rain, and someone standing next to you opens an umbrella," right? And then, what that would do is that would cause more rain to fall on you than normally would have while they remain protected.
[00:24:30] Jordan Harbinger: Because of the rain bouncing off the umbrella.
[00:24:32] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:24:33] Jordan Harbinger: Got it. Okay.
[00:24:33] David C. Smalley: Or bounces or it sort of collects and then flows and he sort of redirects it into other places. That's the mental image he wants—
[00:24:42] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:24:43] David C. Smalley: —in your head. And he says that diamagnetism is when an object doesn't deflect rain, but rather deflects or bends the earth's magnetic field, causing more energy to be dispersed around the crystal. But I mean, he holds up a crystal in this interview and talks about, he's pointing, showing that like the earth's magnetic field is coming down to the crystal, but it deflects away from there. So anything, you set the crystal next to is going to get more magnetic field-ish stuff—
[00:25:14] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:25:15] David C. Smalley: —than it normally would have. So it can affect that. So that's kind of the idea. But I have to say, there's already a contradiction here because the arguments are that crystals store energy, but his scientific explanation explains that they deflect it. So there would be no point in charging crystals because you just be bouncing energy all over your patio. So nothing he says has anything to do with absorption and storage. But then he claims this can lead to what's called an acceleration of growth of plants, including increasing the amounts of chlorophyll and iron and plants by deflecting more energy away from the crystal.
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: So the crystal somehow redirects the magnetic field around itself to boost the growth in the plants.
[00:25:55] David C. Smalley: That's the idea.
[00:25:56] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:25:56] David C. Smalley: And that's the claim people make when they tell you to keep one in your pocket or sleep with some next to your pillow or in your pillow or something like that, but they can't seem to make up their mind if the energy is being deflected off the crystal into you or if it's soaked up in the energy and stored like a battery with some perfect kind of time-release so you can micro-dose magnetism all day. And I'll get back to his ideas and plants in a second, but if this is verified somehow that this actually somehow works, it would at least prove some sort of functionality for crystals other than something for white girls to put on that square shelf they bought at Target.
[00:26:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, yes. Something has to go on that shelf.
[00:26:34] David C. Smalley: It's that stupid square shelf.
[00:26:36] Jordan Harbinger: Right. In the background of your Zoom calls.
[00:26:38] David C. Smalley: Yep.
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:38] David C. Smalley: Yep.
[00:26:39] Jordan Harbinger: You know, by the way, tangent, but did you see the woman who was doing an interview in the UK and she had a giant plastic dildo in the shelf in the background?
[00:26:47] David C. Smalley: No, but I saw a screenshot of it.
[00:26:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:50] David C. Smalley: I didn't know there was a video.
[00:26:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Oh, I don't know if there's a video. The screenshot is everywhere though.
[00:26:53] David C. Smalley: Oh, okay.
[00:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: The whole world is like, I feel bad for this woman because it's just sitting there. It's like, oh, how did you miss it? Probably, she's had that there for so long that she just didn't notice it was there on camera. Oh my gosh.
[00:27:04] David C. Smalley: That's so good.
[00:27:05] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:27:06] David C. Smalley: That's so good.
[00:27:06] Jordan Harbinger: Fogarty, find that image and put that in the show notes for this. So our website can get blocked in the Middle East.
[00:27:12] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:27:12] Jordan Harbinger: So, you know, statistically, there are a handful of women who fit that description listening right now. I mean, people with the shelf, not the dildo on the shelf, but the crystal on the shelf with an actual square on their wall that they bought at Target or Ikea, and they feel personally attacked. Or maybe there's somebody with a plastic penis on their shelf too. I guess I shouldn't judge.
[00:27:32] David C. Smalley: Isn't that awesome though?
[00:27:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's statistics, man.
[00:27:34] David C. Smalley: It's like personally attacking people indirectly is becoming our brand at this point.
[00:27:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:40] David C. Smalley: Now, let me just kind of back up and do a quick skeptic section where I fact-check myself within a fact-check in the middle of a stupid joke about white women having a square shelf with crystals on it.
[00:27:49] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:27:50] David C. Smalley: And look, you can enjoy it if you like, but I said it because I knew it would get a cheap laugh.
[00:27:56] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:27:56] David C. Smalley: And honestly, that fuels my soul.
[00:27:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:58] David C. Smalley: That I don't believe in. But according to Pew Research, yes, women are more likely to believe in new-age spirituality than men.
[00:28:06] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:28:07] David C. Smalley: But interestingly among women who are black, white, and Hispanic, whites are the least likely to believe.
[00:28:13] Jordan Harbinger: And the worst dancers, not science, sorry. Continue.
[00:28:18] David C. Smalley: Their study from 2018 shows that 38 percent of whites believe in spiritual energy being located in physical things compared to 45 percent of blacks and 55 percent of Hispanics.
[00:28:30] Jordan Harbinger: Hmp.
[00:28:31] David C. Smalley: And it follows a similar trend with whites being the least likely to believe in psychics, reincarnation, and even astrology, which—
[00:28:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yikes.
[00:28:38] David C. Smalley: —really shocked me.
[00:28:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:39] David C. Smalley: Because I thought that was like a white girl sport.
[00:28:41] Jordan Harbinger: Me too.
[00:28:42] David C. Smalley: Can't tell you how many times they've walked up to me after a comedy show and been like, "What's your sign?" And no matter what answer I give, they're like, "I knew it."
[00:28:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:51] David C. Smalley: You know, you've been there?
[00:28:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. But you should lie about your sign. And then, when they're like, "I knew it." You're like, "Just kidding. I'm a Pisces."
[00:28:56] David C. Smalley: I have.
[00:28:56] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:28:57] David C. Smalley: I have. They've literally yelled it from the stage, like as I'm doing stuff before and I'm like, I'll be like, "I'm Pisces." And they're like, "I knew it." And I'm like, " I'm just kidding. I'm Capricorn," and then everybody claps because—
[00:29:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:07] David C. Smalley: —I go, "See," and I prove the point. But then, if you don't shut it down, just prepare yourself from a whole bunch of unsolicited life advice from the solar system.
[00:29:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:29:15] David C. Smalley: Because it's just going to head your way. So anyway, Pew Research even shows that the profile, for some reason, that makes you the most likely to believe in crystal healing specifically, is you're under 65, a racial minority who have not graduated from college and a Democrat.
[00:29:33] Jordan Harbinger: Huh.
[00:29:34] David C. Smalley: If you hit those marks, you're extremely likely to believe in crystal healing.
[00:29:39] Jordan Harbinger: Is there an explanation for why racial minorities are more likely to feel connected to crystal? Because I would get it if it was like, hey, this is an Asian cultural thing, so a lot more Asians believe in it because it's from Buddhism, but that's not what we're talking about here.
[00:29:53] David C. Smalley: Mostly, it's the archeological ties of amulets and important stones to ancient humans in Africa.
[00:29:58] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So it is kind of like that then.
[00:30:01] David C. Smalley: It kind of is. Like some people claim to have evidence of early humans putting like special elements or rocks aside as early as 10,000 years ago, which means you're talking very early humans, and we have evidence of historical crystal healing by the ancient Sumerians in the fourth millennium, BCE—
[00:30:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:30:18] David C. Smalley: —who live in like modern-day Iraq. So you're talking Middle East, Sudan, Egypt. Many of the pharaohs used crystals in their crowns, necklaces, and other headpieces, they're scepters, thrones. If you think of the things that they've found, things that are in museums, a lot of them have really bright, pretty colored crystals in them, and even in the statue. So crystals have long been a part of African and Middle Eastern cultures, and despite what many Americans choose to believe, not a lot of ancient white folks around there.
[00:30:43] Jordan Harbinger: True that. Okay. In Hispanic culture?
[00:30:45] David C. Smalley: Oh yeah. So in South America, there are pre-Columbian gemstones and evidence dating back to early Mayans who wore jewelry with crystals. And around 1100 CE in the Aztec Empire, we have evidence of mosaics and statues and even masks containing crystals. So when you see Mexican art or necklaces with turquoise and crystals, it's all part of that same tradition.
[00:31:07] Jordan Harbinger: You know, that makes sense. There's nothing manufactured back then, so brightly colored stones were kind of the most standout amazing things that anyone had ever seen at that point.
[00:31:17] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I'm going to get into that. I'm going to get into why some people have an obsession with it.
[00:31:20] Jordan Harbinger: Gotcha.
[00:31:21] David C. Smalley: There's a researcher who did a whole write up on that.
[00:31:23] Jordan Harbinger: So did you then, I'll jump to this then, did you fact-check Dr. Hamilton's diamagnetism stuff?
[00:31:29] David C. Smalley: Jordan, I did. And—
[00:31:31] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh.
[00:31:31] David C. Smalley: —the things I do for you. I read a 10,500-word peer-reviewed white paper from the National Institute of Health—
[00:31:39] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:31:39] David C. Smalley: —on how magnetic fields regulate plant functions.
[00:31:43] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. That's a big paper to say nothing. So there's probably something in there.
[00:31:46] David C. Smalley: Well, I was really trying to figure out why people are saying their science behind it, and I wanted to understand this idea of magnetic fields and how it could actually help. And it turns out magnetic fields have a lot to do with plant function.
[00:32:02] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:32:02] David C. Smalley: So the NIH says that the magnetic field therapy, and for plants and animals, has been found to be an effective and emerging tool to control diseases and an increased tolerance against an adverse environment. And they say that the magnetic field interacts with seeds and plants and accelerates metabolism, which leads to an improved germination. So their explanation is that the earth is a giant magnet, and its geomagnetic field has a huge impact on the productivity of crops. Specifically, the electromagnetic radiations coming from the sun stimulate growth and development of plants to the process of photosynthesis. And another paper from the NIH in 2014 titled The Effects of Pre-sowing Pulsed Electromagnetic Treatment of Tomato Seed on Growth, Yield, and Lycopene Content. I think half the word count is in the title. The researchers write magnetic and electromagnetic treatments are being used in agriculture as a non-invasive technique—
[00:33:03] Jordan Harbinger: Huh.
[00:33:03] David C. Smalley: —to improve the germination of seeds and in increased crops and yield. Researchers consider that the prospect of using cheap magnetic energy to improve the properties of soil and plant growth and development may be of great practical importance. Magnetic fields have been found to improve food reserve utilization and help for better absorption and assimilation of nutrients by plants and photosynthetic activities. So the research does show that an electromagnetic field can boost the growth of plants.
[00:33:35] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. But they also one, they didn't say they used crystals to do the magnetic fields. And also they said pulsed in the title of the article.
[00:33:42] David C. Smalley: Oh, you caught that, huh?
[00:33:43] Jordan Harbinger: I did. And I'm guessing crystals, if they do anything at all, they don't pulse also.
[00:33:48] David C. Smalley: And you would be correct. And if they did promote growth, I'd strap a hundred crystals to my legs and be 6'5" by Tuesday.
[00:33:55] Jordan Harbinger: I wouldn't strap them to my legs, but I get where you're going with it.
[00:34:01] David C. Smalley: Well, some of us need help in different areas.
[00:34:05] Jordan Harbinger: Touche.
[00:34:06] David C. Smalley: These scientists are talking about using machines. That's what that whole paper is about. It's about putting machines in the soil to pulse electromagnetic fields into soil and plants. So what Dr. Hamilton and many of these other folks are doing is they're taking an actual scientific principle that works with provable and demonstrable results, and they're using that same verbiage to justify crystal's being or bending some sort of magnetic field to boost organisms.
[00:34:35] So even though the idea behind earth's magnetic field having an effect on living organisms, Is demonstrable with science, the effect that any crystal would have on it is just negligible. You'd have to get hundreds of thousands, if not millions of crystals together to properly test that. And even if that did yield a positive result, it wouldn't be evidence that tossing an amethyst in your pocket would boost motivation like an energy drink. And it certainly has nothing to do with drawing wealth toward your soul.
[00:35:03] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:35:04] David C. Smalley: The psychologist I mentioned, Stuart Vyse, says there is no evidence to support the medical effectiveness of any of these remedies, but there is the possibility that they might have an indirect psychological benefit.
[00:35:18] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. Okay.
[00:35:19] David C. Smalley: When people receive that psychological benefit, that then solidifies their belief.
[00:35:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:35:25] David C. Smalley: And as we all know, belief is a very powerful thing. There is zero scientific evidence that natural crystals emit any sort of energy or special magnetic field, but that doesn't mean it's all bad, because if someone believes it's helping, it's possible that that belief actually does some good for them unless they're making life-changing decisions based on the crystals, which creates a whole new problem.
[00:35:48] Jordan Harbinger: Why did you say natural crystals?
[00:35:50] David C. Smalley: Well, because there was a recent discovery and invention, I guess I should say, in 2021 of a crystal that does exhibit something called the exotic spiral magnetism, and it's written about in the National Institute of Standards and Technology, but it's made in a lab and it'll probably just be used or stuffed into a Tesla for additional fart noises.
[00:36:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. That sounds about right. Is there anything at all that hints towards crystal's doing any good for the human body at all?
[00:36:20] David C. Smalley: No, livescience.com says, "Despite the fact that crystal healing has seen an upsurge in popularity in recent years, this alternative treatment is not popular with most medical doctors and scientists, many of whom refer to crystal healing as pseudoscience. Specifically speaking, there is no evidence that crystal healing can be used to cure diseases because diseases have never been found to be the result of a so-called energy flow in the body. Furthermore, no scientific studies have ever shown that crystals or gems can be differentiated by chemical composition or color to treat a particular ailment."
[00:36:58] Jordan Harbinger: I remember you mentioning before that you covered this on your podcast, you had a crystal healer in studio. Am I remembering it correctly?
[00:37:06] David C. Smalley: Yeah. We've done it twice actually. The first time someone had, she had heard an episode we did where I'd mentioned crystals or I made some sort of joke about crystals not working. And she wrote into the show and was like, they definitely do work. And I just didn't respond. And then, she connected with one of my co-hosts and was like, "I want to come on the show and prove that they work." So we were like, "Okay." So we talked to her ahead of time and I was like, "I want to get your consent ahead of time to basically blindfold you and put crystals up next to you, or have you hold them or whatever. And you tell us if you feel the energy." And she agreed. And the idea behind being blindfolded, and we got her consent for her to roll up her sleeves and to touch her arm with the crystals because I didn't want her to hold them in her hand because she could feel to see if it was a crystal, right? So we had her hold her palms up and just like flat out, and she rolled her sleeves up and we would touch her arms or hands with different objects and she would tell us what it is, and it turns out the most, I'll just go ahead and do the spoiler here. The most powerful crystal that she felt was a plastic bottle cap.
[00:38:17] Jordan Harbinger: Wow, interesting.
[00:38:19] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And she was actually wrong about 65 percent of the time. And when we revealed the results to her and she watched it back and saw what was happening, she then immediately started blaming herself. And that sounded very, it reminded me of the way a lot of fundamentalist religious people sort of beat themselves up over things. Like I talk about on my show a lot. She was immediately like, "Well, I must not have charged them properly. Maybe I didn't charge them enough."
[00:38:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:38:43] David C. Smalley: "Maybe, my energy is off today. Maybe I'm not right. Or maybe I'm destructive, or maybe my chakras are misaligned. Maybe I'm out of balance." And she started to blame herself. So then, someone heard that episode and was like, "I know for sure I'll be able to do it." And it was almost the exact same result. She was right about half the time and also, partially blamed herself, but then really focused on the positive and kind of made herself sound like she had a total victory. And it was bizarre. Just listening to the—
[00:39:12] Jordan Harbinger: Cognitive dissonance.
[00:39:13] David C. Smalley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Kind of her talk herself into victory, even though we all just saw what happened.
[00:39:20] Jordan Harbinger: Now that you're going to be saving a bunch of money on healing crystals, you can pick up something from one of our sponsors. We'll be right back.
[00:39:25] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. As I'm getting up here in age, I've been paying a lot closer attention to my health, and one way is by being more active, especially because all I need to exert for work are my vocal cords, which is more tiring than it seems, folks. I'll have you know. But it is tricky for my schedule because I'm often on back-to-back calls, or I'm reading, researching, I'm preparing for my next interviews. I don't want to waste time getting in a car and look for parking just to get some movement in. I want to get the whole family to be more healthy and active, and I got to work around everybody's little schedule issues. That's one of several reasons why I love Peloton. First of all, one membership is good for the entire family, so I don't have to lie to them about sharing like I do with other streaming stuff. I'll leave it at that. You can have a friendly competition with each other. Also, the convenience factor can't be beat. Peloton makes top-notch machines and the classes are taught by world-class instructors that are really fun, entertaining. Pelotons known for their amazing bikes. We have one of those, but they also make an incredible rowing machine, which is something I frankly wasn't sure I would enjoy at all. But I find it great for a full-body workout. It's good for improving your cardiovascular endurance. It's actually a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be and I prefer it now. I love that I can get my heart pumping in the morning before the kids wake up. I can get in a quick class if somebody cancels or flakes on a call, which unfortunately seems to be a thing now. Come on, people, get your ish. What's unique about the Row is that it gives you real-time form feedback. You can really screw up rowing, you can screw up any movement, but the seat and handle contain sensors. And during setup, you go through a roughly, let's say, five minutes-ish calibration process that enables a feature called Form Assist, which is a little collapsible window on the left-hand side of the screen where you can monitor your technique. Correct rowing form for me at least, was not intuitive, and doing it correctly can be a little bit harder than it sounds, especially once you start getting tired and your form takes a dive, which is true with any movement or exercise. Form Assist shows you a figure of yourself as you row, and when you screw up, that portion of your body turns red. And it's a good way to avoid getting super injured or tweaking something or over-exerting something and then not being able to work out at all, which actually stops a lot of people who are diving into working out for the first time or getting back into it after a long time, or just learning how to row. And at the end of the workout, you get a readout of how well you did and a breakdown of your most common mistakes so you know what to correct for next time. And also, like me, some people may feel comfortable working out at home or more comfortable working out at home rather than in a public gym setting. And not that I think other people are judging me, but there is a little bit of that depending on the dude bro level that day. There's no waiting for a machine. There's no dirty, gross, broken equipment. I'm not freaking wiping off other people's sweat and/or sneeze or drool that they've somehow slathered all over the place. Also, you can really go for it. You can be gross yourself, which is kind of the hallmark of a great workout anyway. I'm also often working out with my trainer and I have an online trainer. We actually incorporate the Peloton gear into my workouts, even with my online trainer. It's always a little bit weird doing that at a gym, even if the Wi-Fi's decent enough to make it work. That, and bringing my laptop to a gym can be a little awkward, not just because I'm setting it on this gross ground, but because somehow knuckleheads have managed to step on my laptop before, which I don't understand how they do this, but I guess if you're just staring, trying to make your abs stick out and looking at yourself all the time, you're not watching where you're going. Last, but not least, if you're one of those people who makes loud-ass grunts when you work out, and you know who you are, home is a great place for you to do your workouts. In fact, never work out in public again. Please do stay home. We don't all need to hear that. Try Peloton risk-free with a 30-day home trial. New members only. Not available in remote locations. See additional terms at onepeloton.com/home-trial. Once again, thank you for supporting the show and thank you for listening all the deals at jordanharbinger.com/deals or search the website. Please consider supporting those who make the show possible.
[00:43:10] Now for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:43:14] Like, okay, well, we could also flip a coin and we don't need you because it's going to be the same level of right and wrong.
[00:43:19] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:43:19] Jordan Harbinger: And in the case of the first one who thought she didn't charge her crystals correctly, actually a coin flip is going to be more right than she was—
[00:43:27] David C. Smalley: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:27] Jordan Harbinger: —at any given issue. But it makes sense. This is probably a different episode of this show, but that totally makes sense that they started to blame themselves, right? Because otherwise, it's the belief system entirely, and that there's no merit to it. It's much easier to say, "I'm off, or, "This is wrong," rather than, "Oh, I've believed in this thing that's clearly got no merit to it for the last 20 years and I'm built a whole career around it," or whatever.
[00:43:50] David C. Smalley: Right. Yep. Yeah. Yep, for sure.
[00:43:52] Jordan Harbinger: So why do so many people believe it? You were talking about huge chunks of the population earlier.
[00:43:57] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so this is that Stanford scholar I was telling you about earlier. She did a study on that exact concept. Her name is Marissa Galvez. She explains that the physical qualities of crystals make it stand out among other stones. So she's talking about like ancient people.
[00:44:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:14] David C. Smalley: Why did people care so much? Why do they stand out? Why did people start collecting them and treating them like they're special? And she says its ability to refract light and remain transparent, yet also dark or be transparent, but also have a dark appearance are partially the reasons why so many different cultures and societies ascribed magical powers to the stones.
[00:44:37] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so basically because it looks cool. It's like what we were talking about before where there's no manufactured stuff around. This is just the most amazing thing and you dug it out of the ground, or whatever found it in the lawn.
[00:44:47] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I mean mostly, and if you think about it, if you were alive back then and had limited knowledge about the world and cultures, I think I'd probably be the same way. Just like I would look at thunder and lightning and pretty much assume there was a God or somebody up there throwing lightning bolts around. And so yeah, they stood out and that's all it took early on. I mean, they're pretty mystical-looking rocks. And in an article about her research on the Stanford website says that Galvez found some poets even, and authors during the Middle Ages who used imagery of crystals in their writing in an unexpected manner. So it sort of helped it to come into sort of pop culture, even in the philosophical realm, even for those people who weren't like on the front lines looking at them and using them for magic spells. They were sort of embraced in culture to be a meaningful thing to reference. So aside from being commonly viewed as an embodiment of purity and perfection, crystals were also used by some medieval poets to examine desire or the uncertainty of love.
[00:45:49] And when she was asked what her biggest takeaway for the crystal obsession was, she said, "The most ancient writings that mention crystals include the accounts of the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, who describe different precious stones, their origins, and the physical qualities. The word "crystal" comes from the Greek [krystallos], meaning coldness drawn together, or a kind of ice or something frozen. And in Western Christianity, crystals were often mentioned in writings and used to decorate important religious objects, as it was thought that crystals manifested transcendence and the light of the heavens. And for the religious, the stone symbolized purity, faith, and perfection. For example, it was used to describe the purity of the Virgin Mary."
[00:46:35] So clearly they looked cool, they looked otherworldly, and the way they refracted light was like no other stones people had ever seen. So it was natural to think they were special, but thousands of years later and tests after scientific tests should be enough for people to just resolve to see them as decoration, but that doesn't seem to be happening.
[00:46:55] Jordan Harbinger: I would imagine also, look, you've run into a cave and the walls are covered in crystals, crystals hanging from the ceiling, crystals on the ground, you're just like, "This place is magical."
[00:47:03] David C. Smalley: Right. Yeah, absolutely.
[00:47:04] Jordan Harbinger: Because it is full of these things.
[00:47:06] David C. Smalley: Absolutely.
[00:47:07] Jordan Harbinger: So this all sort of makes sense when you think about early human history and how we ascribe meaning to things and patterns, so things that are just not there. I'm seeing some decently respected medical sources talk about crystals in a non-ironic way, and are they buckling to social pressures? Is it a grift? What's going on here?
[00:47:24] David C. Smalley: So the reputable ones basically just admit that they are a placebo effect.
[00:47:29] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:29] David C. Smalley: And they say if you want to use crystal healing to do so in conjunction with medical treatment as well.
[00:47:35] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:47:35] David C. Smalley: The argument comes when patients want insurance to pay for it. The scientists say it doesn't work, so it shouldn't drive up the cost of treatments. While nurses and doctors actually sometimes argue on behalf of the patient and say that the placebo makes the patient happier, and that can actually result in better recovery. So even if the crystal itself doesn't work as proposed, it can have a positive result in the patient's mind. So insurance should pay for it after all and that's the basis of the debate.
[00:48:04] Jordan Harbinger: So the argument is just let the person believe it's good so that it, so it's kind of good.
[00:48:09] David C. Smalley: Well, WebMD also mentions a quote from Ted Kaptchuk PhD and he's the director of placebo studies program at Harvard Medical School. And so again, the perfect guy to address this and what he says actually kind of changed my mind about how I view placebos. He says that placebo effect is often wrongly assumed to be all in your head, or a fake response to a non-medical substance. But his quote is that brain imaging studies have shown that when a patient performs an action such as taking a sugar pill or getting an acupuncture session, it activates very specific regions in the brain and can trigger the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and even natural pain painkillers. So it's not all in their heads, but their minds are creating an actual biological change in the body based on the belief combined with the action. So the belief itself wouldn't do it, but the person actually taking the action combined with the belief can actually help them feel better, even if the thing itself doesn't work.
[00:49:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We actually did a whole episode recently on the placebo effect with Jo Marchant. That's episode 716. In that episode, we dove deeply—
[00:49:22] David C. Smalley: Gotcha.
[00:49:23] Jordan Harbinger: —into how all that works in the brain and the body, as well as the limitations of the placebo effect. Because a lot of people are like, "Yeah, placebo effect so it cured this thing." It's like no placebo effect basically only works for pain. There's probably limits, very limited use in other areas, but it's pain start to finish and that's it, or full stop, I should say.
[00:49:41] David C. Smalley: Nausea. Nausea.
[00:49:42] Jordan Harbinger: Nausea. Yes.
[00:49:43] David C. Smalley: It can also work with nausea.
[00:49:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. And there was some other stuff like that, like nausea, pain, things like that, full stop. It can't actually get rid of a condition. It can only sort of mitigate things. That you control, which is your response to things, yeah, pain, nausea, et cetera.
[00:49:55] David C. Smalley: Right.
[00:49:55] Jordan Harbinger: That's episode 716. Okay. So there's kind of something real happening, even if it's not caused by the crystal itself. So in theory, you could swap that crystal out with something that felt like a crystal or was the same shape as a crystal and people would, as long as they don't know it's going to have the same effect.
[00:50:11] David C. Smalley: Right. Which is really interesting. And it means we should pay attention to it. In fact, on Dr. Hamilton's website, when you click to contact him, then he's got a notice that says, "Please note I have a PhD. I'm not a medical doctor. I'm unable to dispense medical advice." And then he says, "With regards to visualization, it's not a substitute for medical advice, but something we should practice in addition to medical advice." And then, in his bio it says that he is inspired by the placebo effect and how some people's conditions would improve because they believed a placebo was a real drug. "I left the industry to write books and educate people on how they can harness their mind and emotions to improve their mental and physical health."
[00:50:54] Jordan Harbinger: On one hand, I appreciate the honesty.
[00:50:57] David C. Smalley: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:58] Jordan Harbinger: On the other, it's kind of a way, it's definitely a way for these people to make money by selling books, classes, courses, or talks, pushing pseudoscience while staying out of legal trouble by riding the fence between fact and fiction. So I won't say it's a loophole, but there's certainly a gray area here that these people are exploited.
[00:51:16] David C. Smalley: Yep. A hundred percent.
[00:51:17] Jordan Harbinger: So, final thoughts on crystals?
[00:51:19] David C. Smalley: Well, I mean, my final thought is, look, if an adult says they feel better when they say cuddle a teddy bear or have a special blankie, I suppose there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that. It's the dependency that becomes the problem, right? Like refusing to make life decisions because you don't have the right crystal in your pocket.
[00:51:43] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:51:43] David C. Smalley: Or avoiding moving because mercury is in retrograde, or not buying the car because tonight has a full moon. That means these things are having more of an effect or impact on your life than they should. And by the way, I know people like that. I know people who have done it. I've had people refuse to do things either with me or come to a show because of these sort of superstitious things. And that's when I have the discussion, right? That's when I feel the need to actually say something. It's like, it's like moderation. It's any sort of like, I guess managing like an addiction, right? Having a drink, having a cigar, if it starts to impact your life, it's no longer minor.
[00:52:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:20] David C. Smalley: It's the critical thinking that gets me. So if you need to have diet and exercise along with your miracle drug, guess what? It's not a miracle. Just do the diet and exercise and go from there. I mean, studies have shown that talking to your dog is both good for you and it's good for your dog and it strengthens your bond. But you shouldn't consult with your pets when it's time to do taxes. So if your teddy bearer makes you feel better, fine. That's great. But when you tell me it has magical powers and that I have to buy one, or my life's going to go to sh*t, now, we have to have a conversation. But what do I know? I'm just a comedian.
[00:52:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. As long as people aren't replacing their actual medical treatment with crystal healing, I suppose. What's the harm? Other than some maybe wasted money in charlatans taking advantage of vulnerable people.
[00:53:02] David C. Smalley: Right. What's the harm? Other than that.
[00:53:04] Jordan Harbinger: Thanks, David.
[00:53:05] David C. Smalley: Thanks, buddy.
[00:53:07] Jordan Harbinger: As usual, I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a preview with a former undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the Gambino crime family in New York for nearly three years, resulting in the arrest and conviction of 35 mobsters and get this, he's not even Italian. Here's a bite.
[00:53:26] Jack Garcia: Jordan, I've done everything. I mean, I have posed as a money launderer. I've worked as a drug dealer. I have worked as a transporter for drug dealers. I have worked as a warehouse guy, the whole gamut. My career was 24 out of 26 years was solely dedicated, working undercover. If I wasn't working for the FBI, I would've been investigated by the FBI.
[00:53:49] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Yeah.
[00:53:50] Jack Garcia: I walk in, I'm in the bar now. There's a barmaid there, good-looking young lady. She's serving me. "What would you like?" Usually, my drink was, "Give me a Ketel One martini with 3 olives, a glass of water on the side." I finished the drink. The guys come in. I'm going to go. Go in my pocket, take out the big wad of money, that knot with the rubber band on it. Bam. I give her a hundred dollars. You're not a guy who takes out a little leather wallet and he's going through the change or he is doing it.
[00:54:19] Now, can you imagine four gangsters sitting around going, "Let's split it up. I had the soup. You had to sandwich the french fries. Well, what about the tip?" Sometimes, we get into bidding war that goes, "Hey, your money's no good here." "What are you doing? You're embarrassing me over here." "What do you mean? You paid a lot." "Let me get this. Forget about it." "You pay for it." If I would've gone in there and became a guy who had never a penny, never went into his wallet, never picked up a tab, never had a dime, never kicked up money, never gave tribute payment, I'd be on my ass. They throw me out.
[00:54:51] If you're with the mob, I say, "Hey, Jordan. You are on record with us. That means we protect you. Nobody could shake you down. We could shake you down, but you're on record with us.
[00:55:01] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including tricks wise guys use to know who's legit and who's not, mob culture and the rules that govern the always upward flow of money, and how Jack became so trusted by the highest levels of the organization that they offered him the chance to become a made man, check out episode 392 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Jack Garcia.
[00:55:24] Thanks again to everybody for their suggestions. This topic, I'm sure is going to make some waves. It was a suggestion from listener. Again, if we get something way off, well this one is pretty confident on this one, email@example.com. Better to email us suggestions if you don't believe in magical rocks.
[00:55:41] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on LinkedIn. You can find David Smalley at @davidcsmalley on all social media platforms, at davidcmsmalley.com, or better yet, on his podcast, The David C. Smalley Show. Links to all things David will be in the show notes as well.
[00:56:02] This show is created in association with Podcast one. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own. And I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer or your geologist. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode, please share it with somebody else who needs to hear it, somebody who believes in crystal healing and has spent a lot of money on it instead of on things they actually need. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:56:38] Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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