Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
Be Healthy - If You Want To

In Russian the prefix "bio" gives any word a surprisingly favorable subtext. For example, call the most awful plastic box a "biotoilet" and it is already no longer shameful to put this crap on city streets. But if you attach the prefix "bio" on any technical term it becomes yet more twisted: where there was energy, it has become "bioenergy". Where there was resonance, it became "bioresonance". Where there was information, it became "bioinformation".

The latest rage has seized Moscow and St. Petersburg, "bioresonance diagnostics". Dozens, if not hundreds, of private doctors' offices today boldly offer a hitherto unprecedented service, a complete diagnosis of all of a patient's organs in one hour for $30-100. What is interesting is that no official comments have been heard in all these months from the organizations responsible for monitoring the medicine market and we had to investigate this problem independently.

One of the businessmen promoting the new service on the St. Petersberg market invited us to a municipal clinic located in the Admiralty Region of St. Petersburg. This disturbing person is simultaneously a municipal deputy but has not rejected his medical past - an accredited doctor, with pleasure Aleksandr Butenko showed us his institution and the surprising instrument which Aleksandr Vladimirovich called "Oberon".

In the doctor's words, patient diagnosis with the aid of a small box and two electrodes takes one hour and costs the patient a total of 840 rubles. Dr. Butenko's clinic is not equipped with complex and expensive medical equipment but, as it turned out, this modern Aesculapius does not need them:

- Today we present a principally new approach to patient testing. This approach based on the bioresonance method allows the doctor to identify the pathologic location of any illness at a pre-clinical stage and help the patient with the formulation of a diagnosis with a high probability, above 90%, a diagnosis as a process of perception.

- You're reading the wrong literature. The method is well-known and allows the pathologic location to be determined without inserting any probes, without collecting blood, and without any additional methods. It is based on the collection of voltages from certain points on an organism and processing with special computer equipment.

- What about the instrument you're showing me?

- This very complex and expensive instrument, a development of the military-industrial complex [VPK], was designed for cosmonaut diagnostics. But we have lived to a time when ordinary people can use it, too.

- If this instrument was intended to measure a difference of voltage or resistance as you yourself have just told me, then it is called an ohmmeter, developed 200 years ago and it costs a dollar delivered to your home. What did the VPK and cosmonauts to do with it?

- It's not all so simple, so the best minds of Russian science handled the development of the instrument.

We were not able to get any other details about the operation of the instrument from Mr. Butenko, but his colleague, Mr. Kokorev, also representing himself as a doctor, obligingly conducted a diagnosis of your correspondent with the aid of the wonder equipment.

Two wires at whose ends dangled metal prongs came out of a square box the size of a small book.

- What about the bulbs - they obviously have no connection to the measurement of voltages?

- Uh, generally yes, actually the bulbs are here for no reason. Although it can be called color therapy - the patients like it when many colored bulbs blink on the instruments; it calms them down.

- But what is this terrible sound - is it also for the patients' pleasure?

- You see a column on the computer screen - sometimes it increases, sometimes it decreases, depending on the difference of voltages at the point being tested. The sound changes tone depending on the value of the column.

- But why?

- It's more convenient for the doctor - he listens to whether the column gets bigger or smaller.

- So it would seem. It's good, but what about the metal disk with holes attached to the top of the box?

- This is a place for a test tubes with medicine.

- But why does medicine need to be forced into test tubes and, what's more, put in these holes?

- It's more convenient for the doctor.

- What are you measuring right now in my little finger.

- We're testing your heart.

- But why do you think that you're testing my heart - it's not at all in my little finger.

- But a special meridian passes there which corresponds to the heart. You need to read special literature.

Of course, after testing I was given a diagnosis - I turned out all the same to be "on the whole, healthy, but there are some anomalies in the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system". Alas, I heard nothing more specific but when I asked the respected diagnosticians who were able to examine pathology even in the heart, liver, or brain to inform me which of my two legs I had broken 10 years ago I encountered a categorical refusal. They explained to me that "the instrument records the overall condition of the organism, the metabolism in its organs, the blood supply, and nutrients" and nothing more. So then my "metabolism" is in order and were I a client of this institution I would have had to lay out 840 rubles for this joyful information.

However, all the same we managed to find something out beyond what was given us - the businessmen mistakenly left the instrument in our possession for 10 minutes and we found out that the resistance value, the size of the columns on the computer screen, does not even depend on the part of the skin where the electrode is attached, but only on the pressure on the skin - the stronger the pressure, the higher the column. That is, one can also poke a mannequin with electrodes and the diagnosis will be the same anyway; it is depressing for a mannequin if its conductivity is higher than that of human skin.

We managed to find a unique document - a complaint by the very first inventor of the above little instrument, the director of a certain "Institute" of Applied Psychophysics from Omsk, V. I. Nesterov. The inventor of the ohmmeter complained to the Moscow Directorate for Economic Crimes about other swindlers who, we cite, "use instruments in their diagnostic work that have deficiencies or which are openly phony":

"From 2000-2002 requests from users have repeatedly come to the Institute and law enforcement bodies about the use of Oberon devices in various regions of the Russian Federation which do not perform the functions and do not correspond to the technical characteristics described in the device's certificate, and the accompanying software was hacked.

These organizations employ doubtful and careless advertising in their activity. Without the consent of the Institute these organizations offer their own devices to various institutions posing as a development of the Institute.

The devices being sold by these organizations have substantial deficiencies or are phony devices, the use of which in accordance with the stated purpose is impermissible. By their actions these organizations deceive consumers about the properties and the quality of the instrument and also discredit the developments of the Institute. We request steps be taken with regard to the above facts".

One ought to compare this letter with an advertisement for the instrument placed on the Internet by the "Institute":

"Russian scientists have accomplished a real revolution in the creation of computer systems capable of independently finding defects and pathologies of human organs and tissue. A diagnostic apparatus has been created without like in the world which permits all anomalies in the condition of a person's health to be traced by changes of the wave characteristics of the tissue and cells of an organism. This apparatus permits a diagnosis of the very earliest forms of illness to be made and to identify susceptibility to illnesses. The systems of non-linear diagnostics based on spectral analysis of the vortex magnetic fields of living organisms give an excellent opportunity to obtain the fullest information about the state of health at the very beginning stages of the onset of illness. It is impossible to make such an early and accurate diagnosis with any other means: not with the aid of ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, computer tomography, or any other methods of diagnosis equipment which can detect a pathological process only after it has already completely formed. The "Oberon" hardware and software package which we have developed permits not only the information of the electromagnetic fields of living organisms to be identified and understood but also represented in specific colors on a computer monitor screen in the form of a virtual dynamic model of the organs. Such realistic images of a person's living organs produce an opportunity not only to conduct an extremely early diagnosis but also to actively manage homeostasis. Making a computer comparison of the corresponding diseased organs by spectral characteristics at the same moment with all the spectral characteristics of medicines in computer memory, the "Oberon" system immediately identifies the most effective means for each specific illness".

It is curious that the manufacturing firm of the instrument shown us was mentioned in Mr. Nesterov's list - it turns out that from the very beginning the charlatan's apparatus was overgrown with a whole handful of swindler intermediaries. It is a shame that they have not begun to deal with this curious topic in the capital's Directorate of Economic Crimes.

And here's one more characteristic document which we managed to get - the inventor's description of the operating principle of the voltmeter mentioned above and proposals for the sale of a "cosmic miracle" for $1700, $5000, and even $9900:

"The 'Oberon' diagnostic telemetric data processing apparatus for nonlinear analysis is designed to assess the condition of an organism, perform dynamic monitoring of the condition of homeostasis, and forecast the stages of treatment and the development of complications. From the physical point of view the apparatus is a system of electronic oscillators resonating on the wavelengths of the electromagnetic radiation whose energy is proportionate to the energy of disruption of the predominant bonds supporting the structural organization of the object. Information about the condition of the organs is taken without contact with the aid of a flip-flop sensor collecting the barely perceptible fluctuations of signals isolated from the statistical average noise characteristics of the fields and transformed into a digital sequence, and processed by a microprocessor for transmission to the computer through an interface cable".

These scientific-sounding phrases indeed are a senseless collection of words, but are many patients capable of understanding this? And the main question is – why are professional doctors silent?

Of course, everything that you have seen and heard requires professional commentary. We turned to specialized city clinics in which modern medical diagnostics are conducted. As they say, feel the difference.

Candidate of Medical Sciences, a doctor of the highest category, Marina Uspenskaya, Chief of the Functional Diagnostics Section:

- In spite of its complexity, modern medical equipment, operates on the basis of well-known physical and chemical laws. Ultrasonic sensing probes, gas and biochemical analyzers, blood analyzers, immunoassay analyzers, and centrifuges - the operating principles of these instruments are described not only in the product's certificate but also in chemistry and physics textbooks. Let's say that an instrument for ultrasound diagnostics uses an ultrasound emitter and a receiver analyzing the reflected signal. The result is put up on a monitor screen and the doctor can see the condition of the organs being examined in real time.

- Is 60 minutes enough for you to conduct a "full patient diagnosis"?

- Even 60 hours isn't enough time for this - for example, the diagnosis of several infectious diseases requires a great deal of time.

- How much does a complete examination cost in private clinics - can $30 be enough?

- No, this costs 10 times more at a minimum - starting at 10,000 rubles. And this is talking about a fairly superficial examination; a complete one takes several days and is even more expensive.

- Why are charlatans in such demand in St. Petersburg and Moscow?

- Probably due to hopelessness. Our free health care is not able to cope with the load which has developed in practice; people despair of receiving any aid at all. And here suddenly well-meaning, courteous people, also in white smocks, propose deliverance from all problems for a comparatively small amount of money. And one doesn't need to spend 6 hours for a number; everything is convenient and quite convincing, in any case, scientific-sounding.

- How do you personally regard such doctors?

- If such people actually have a doctor's diploma and have taken the Hippocratic Oath, they need to be tried for fraud since they know exactly that they are being deceitful and this is dishonest with respect to patients. But if these are magic healers, let them work. Their clients simply should know precisely that they are not going to doctors but to quacks, although they're using scientific-sounding terminology.

We tried to find representatives of the public or the government in St. Petersburg who were able not only to establish the existence of medical swindlers but who are also prepared to solve an obviously urgent problem. Alas, we in the St. Petersburg Consumer Society could only sympathize with clients who had been deceived.

Tatyana Suetova, chief of the St. Petersburg Consumers Society's expert center for support to consumers and entrepreneurs.

- Consumers have an opportunity; we simply call the Society on the phone and find out whether it is generally worth it to turn to a specific doctor, quack, or in general to a person who is performing a treatment. We have a database, although it is true that it is not very large. We can advise whether or not there have been complaints about the quality of services and whether or not to recommend that one go there. That's the support to the public which we can offer. We cannot as yet prosecute swindlers judicially as consumer societies do in the West - we have no such basis, neither material, technical, nor legal.

Official representatives of the Health Committee who deal with the adoption of professional medical equipment turned out to be more specific but, alas, no less powerless:

Yury Kudryavtsev, Chief of the Scientific Innovations Department of the GUP [State Unitary Enterprise] "City Medical Equipment", commented on the situation thus:

- The City Health Committee has no such leverage and our legislative basis is incomplete. Therefore I think it is difficult to hold charlatans criminally liable for bad faith advertising. Citizens need to look at reality more critically. The feverish demand for fashionable innovations in medicine is not determined by the fact that a great number of clever people have appeared in Russia who have created inventions of genius in a moment. Rather this boom is explained very simply - there is a certain popular skepticism toward official medicine. And it is explained by the conscientiousness of official medicine and its high level. Yes, yes, it really is so, don't smile. The problem is that a good, respectable doctor is responsible for his work and his words. A doctor does not promise a patient miracles. He understands how difficult the paths to diagnosis and recovery are. A patient hearing bad news rushes to places where they promise miracles - to charlatans. Therefore, finally, officials can be held guilty for the outbreak of charlatanism. First, let patients finally recognize that there are no miracles on Earth - not even for money.

It ought to be noted that the respected specialist of the Committee somewhat underestimates the role of the officials of the licensing bodies - it is the officials of the Ministry of Health who give a start in live to all dubious instruments, correctors, pulsators, and resonators with and without the prefix "bio". A health certificate was also issued for the ohmmeter described above and even several findings about clinical tests.

And although the health certificate only confirms the apparatus' safety from the point of view of fire or electricity, the officials could not have known what it would lead to. As regards the so-called "clinical tests" we didn't need to confirm the reality of these tests - in the organizations mentioned no one could be found who could have recalled that in fact they had been conducted.

However, could all the above really change the opinion of consumers?

A belief in miracles is the motivating force of any fraud, be it a financial pyramid or a swindler's office.

Citizens, decide for yourselves what you'll finance - either strange miracles or your own health. You won't get both.

Yevgeny Zubarev

//Further reading on similar devices outside Russia//:

http://www.skeptics.com.au/features/qakatak/a-eajan98.htm

http://www.skeptics.com.au/features/qakatak/a-elec2.htm

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/deviceindex.html

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/electro.html

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