Dolphin Chi

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Not only do Dolphins have the ability to use marine sponges as foraging tools, they now also emit Chi according to a BBC article:

Humans do seem to feel a sense of kinship with dolphins, intelligent, playful, talkative creatures that they are. And separate research shows people feel the benefit from getting up close and personal with dolphins, says Dr Dobbs. This is because dolphins are thought to emanate “chi” – the essential life force in Chinese medicine – and the basis of various therapies for clinical depression, autism and brain damage.

I’m eagerly awaiting the discovery that Dolphins rearrange the ocean floor according to the principles of feng shui.


  1. Good find; looks like a decent article up until that crazy sentence. Those in the skeptical community often use the slang “woo” such instances of pseudoscientific nonsense. The sad thing is that many readers of that BBC article will probably take the claim at face value, and start wondering why we in the “West” haven’t started using this amazing cure for autism. Maybe they’ll even conclude it’s another conspiracy like with the vaccines. Sigh.

  2. I knew the author would be a woman, no offense to GNXP’s three female readers. Why is there such a large gender gap when it comes to New Agey crap like this and not Old Agey crap like Christianity?

  3. I haven’t observed that personally, the quack she’s cites is a man. My impression is actually more the opposite: since the promotion New Age stuff is almost always for commercial purposes, it’s more male-dominated, at least at the top level. I’m thinking Kevin Trudeau, Uri Geller, etc. Of course the leading skeptics are men as well: Sagan, Randi, Dawkins, etc.

    Whether the woman on the street is more likely to believe New Age stuff than men is I suppose a different question. Again, I have no strong inkling in that direction. Maybe because a lot of this New Age stuff is presented as left-friendly, and a lot of women identify with leftism through feminism, so they are more open to these sorts of claims. Oprah in particular seems to capitalize on this trend.

  4. There seems to be a common notion that women are more likely to believe in new-age woo than men, but I am not sure this has ever been confirmed in a well conducted study.
    Without taking this TOO seriously, I am going to propose that the real difference between men and women is that women are more “practical” and less likely to go against whatever notions the community has sort of united around. I think women are more likely to go along with commonly accepted notions like religion, astrology, environmentalism or new-agism, rather than becoming all confrontational and arguing for hours about whether this is bullshit or not. Conversely, when push comes to shove, they are also less likely to hold on to these beliefs as if these beliefs are more important than the health of the individuals and community that hold those beliefs.
    I am sure this half-baked theory has been put in more rigorous form somewhere and look forward to someone providing a reference….

  5. The association of New Agey-stuff with women might be a white North American or “SWPL” thing — among East or South Asian immigrants, men and women equally believe in stuff like astrology or herbal medicine. Well that’s the inkling I get.

    Of course for those folks, stuff like chi and chakras is “Old Agey woo”.

  6. Each gender has its own woo. Pop Social Darwinism is mostly male, and it’s plenty woo.

  7. I think your account is a pretty plausible one Omar. IMO, women are less likely to hold strong beliefs about most debatable issues (pro or con), because either has the potential of causing conflict within the group, community, family, etc. The only exception might be views that are themselves pro-social, like religion but also newer stuff like new-age woo that sounds all nice and supposedly helps people.

    In terms of a reference, the psychologist Delroy Paulhus has done some work in this area. Here’s what he says in one article on Alpha (egoistic) and Gamma (moralistic) biases:

    “It may not be a coincidence that Alpha and Gamma are consistent with traditional sex-role distinctions. After all, the traditional male role emphasizes individual achievement outside the home whereas the female role emphasizes maintaining harmony in home, family, and relationships. Not surprisingly, then, the clearest sex differences in traits correspond to these value differences: Males score higher on agency-related values and traits, and women score higher on communal related values and traits (Helgeson, 1997; Schwartz, 1992; Wiggins, 1991). Similarly, men score higher on egoistic biases (Aube & Koestner, 1994; Beyer & Bowden, 1997) and women score higher on Gamma biases (Paulhus, 1988, 1998b).

    From p. 1047, Egoistic and Moralistic Biases in Self-Perception: The Interplay of Self-Deceptive Styles With Basic Traits and Motives. Journal of Personality, vol. 66, 1998.

  8. There’s at least one whopper like that from BBC every week in their science news.

  9. Omar:

    If you think that’s the “real difference between men and women,” I think you’ve got to observe a bit more carefully. Why, I can (usually) tell the difference without askin’ ‘em any questions at all!

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