HK Magazine Bullshit – An explanation and some examples

Like most expats in Hong Kong, I’ve been reading HK Magazine pretty much since I arrived in the city. It’s free, it’s readily available, and it contains regular, useful information about where to eat and what’s on, as well as pages of classified ads. My previous apartment was found through HK Magazine, and they are responsible for my awareness of several very acceptable eateries. In short, I rather like HK Magazine.

Even so, there is a bee in the balm and a fly in the ointment, not to mention what I just found in the embrocation. They do have a tendency to propound the most astonishing bullshit (in the Penn and Teller sense) about pseudoscientific and unproven “wellness” techniques, as well as other assorted new age rubbish. I’m not taking a swipe at their advertisers. The magazine regularly carries advertisements for nonsense including (but not limited to) psychics, homeopaths, ear-candlers, and practitioners of “dissolving body fat using radio frequency”. They need advertisers in order to survive, and as with all advertisements the emptor should bloody well caveat. No, I’m referring only to their editorial material.

The first time I was genuinely appalled by such a column in HK Magazine was a few years back, when they ran a piece about applied kinesiology. AK is quackery in its purest form, relying on a combination of ideomotor effect and gullibility on the part of the patient. The HK Magazine “journalist” had both, in spades, and she wrote a gushing piece about the practice without even considering for a moment the desirability of a sceptical counterpoint. The editorial policy of HK Magazine has not changed, so now I intend to use my humble blog as a forum for highlighting these outpourings of bullshit as and when the need arises.

Let’s kick things off with a couple of recent examples.

November 3rd 2006: In the column “Lunch 2.0” Angie Wong and Farah Masters provide suggestions to the readers for alternative lunch break activities. One such suggestion is colonic irrigation. “As unappealing as it sounds,” says the article, “colon-cleansing is very beneficial for your health.” No it isn’t. It’s entirely unnecessary and has no benefit at all. In fact, it may lead to constipation. Dr Stephen Barrett, who investigates quackery, reports that the consensus of the mainstream medical community is that “colonic irrigation […] has considerable potential for harm”, including bowel perforations, serious intestinal infections, electrolyte imbalance and heart failure. At least six deaths are known to have been caused by colonic irrigation. There must be better ways of spending your lunch break than that.

November 17th 2006: In the column “Beads of Wisdom”, HK Magazine intern Hayley Thomas discusses crystal bracelets. It’s overtly a style column, and with the rather well done photos accompanying it, the piece could have been a perfectly decent opportunity to plug some fashionable mineral jewellery. Sadly Hayley feels the urge to start wittering about “programming” the crystals so that they store “vibrations”. Sure, crystals are aesthetically pleasing but, Hayley, they’re just pretty fucking rocks, okay? They don’t enhance healing, or wisdom, or luck, and they can’t “store” vibrations. Look up the meaning of “vibration” if you’re not sure about it.

So there you have it – just a couple of examples. I expect we can count on HK Magazine to keep me well supplied with similar ranting material in the future.