I first became aware of chiropractor Eric Pearl through the reprehensible movie The Living Matrix. Several months ago I reviewed that movie and described its segment featuring Pearl as follows:
A 5 year old with cerebral palsy was allegedly healed by “reconnective healing” by a chiropractor who is shown waving his hands a few inches away from the child’s body. Problem: There was no medical evaluation before and after to determine whether anything had objectively changed, and video of the child after treatment shows that his gait is not normal.
I have since learned that Pearl is far more than an eccentric oddball. He is a whole industry. He is teaching his “reconnective healing” methods to others worldwide through seminars in several languages, he engages in aggressive marketing, he offers practice-building advice to his many disciples, and he even foists his beliefs on groups of impressionable young children. I use the word disciples intentionally because there are strong religious overtones to this healing method.
What is Reconnective Healing?
“The Reconnection” is similar to therapeutic touch, but goes much farther. He does not need to physically touch patients because they can feel his touch without any contact. They close their eyes and he moves his hands around their bodies but several inches away. They feel a presence, see colors unknown on Earth, and often see angels (one particular angel is George, a multicolored parrot). Afterwards, they report miraculous healings of “cancers, AIDS-related diseases, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, birth disfigurements, cerebral palsy and other serious afflictions.”
How Did He Learn to Do This?
He discovered this new ability after a “Jewish gypsy” (!?) read his cards at Venice Beach and “Almost as an afterthought she said to me, ? [sic]There’s a very special work that I do through the use of axiatonal lines. It reconnects your body’s meridian lines to the grid lines on the planet that connect us to the stars and other planets.” She told him he could read about it in the Book of Enoch. (I couldn’t stand to read that book, but I skimmed it and didn’t notice anything that seemed pertinent to healing; if readers can find the pertinent sections, I’d appreciate it if they would point them out to me.) He returned for a couple of healing sessions; her fee was $333. Later, at home, a light by his bedside turned on by itself and he thought there were people in his home, that he was not alone and was being watched. He began to have other unusual experiences such as strange sensations and vibrations in his skull and legs, and he started hearing music and sounds. (In psychiatric parlance, the word for this is “hallucinations.”) Then his chiropractic patients started reporting similar unusual experiences, seeing angels and experiencing miraculous healings.
He learned that “God is the healer.”
Not only did the energy know where to go and what to do without the slightest instruction from me; the more I got my attention out of the picture the more powerful the response. Some of the greatest healings occurred when I was thinking about my grocery list.
Then he discovered he could transmit these abilities to others.
He teaches you how to activate and utilize this new, all-inclusive spectrum of healing frequencies that allow us to completely transcend “energy healing” and its myriad “techniques” to access a level of healing beyond anything anyone has been able to access prior to now!
So what is it? Something he does, or something that a mysterious energy spontaneously does when his attention is elsewhere? A spectrum of healing frequencies, or God, or angels, or axiatonal lines connecting us to the stars, or what? It doesn’t appear that he has even tried to think this through or form any coherent hypothesis.
What About Evidence?
His website is full of miraculous testimonials. These amount to what the courts call hearsay. For all we know, he or his patients could have made these stories up. He offers no medical documentation. The only attempt at any objective evidence is a ridiculous, meaningless pair of Kirlian photos of his hands during and prior to healing mode. He has never even tried to do a properly blinded, controlled test to see if patients really can sense his hands without contact. He’s not about evidence, he’s about belief.
According to the philosopher David Hume’s guidelines for determining whether reported miracles have really occurred, it seems more probable that Pearl’s testimony is misguided than that the phenomena he reports are real. It is far more likely that his claims are explainable through a number of well-documented human foibles: delusion, illusion, hallucination, imagination, fantasy, suggestion, misperception, misinterpretation, and inaccurate reporting. If he wants us to believe there is anything more substantial going on, the burden is on him to test his abilities and offer meaningful evidence. He’s not likely to do that: he has no motivation to test the reality of something he believes in, and he’s garnering far more fame and fortune than he ever could have as a chiropractor. It’s ironic that the etymology of chiropractic implies “hands-on” and that he is now practicing “hands-off.” I’m guessing he’s not a deliberate fraud, but merely self-deluded and lacking in critical thinking skills. His intellectual level is revealed by his own statement that
Books and I never got along. By this point in my life I had maybe read two books, and one of them I was still coloring.
He offers his patients false hope: he is probably harming at least some of them by keeping them from getting real help with their medical problems. Buyer beware!
This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog