Pyramid power

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Pyramid power refers to alleged supernatural or paranormal properties of the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape. With this power, model pyramids are said to preserve foods,[1] sharpen or maintain the sharpneses of razor blades,[2] improve health (some people "were so energized that they could not cope with the dynamo effects they experienced"[3]), function "as a thought-form incubator,"[4] trigger sexual urges,[5] and cause other dramatic effects.

Pyramid power is one of many pseudoscientific theories regarding pyramids. Such theories are collectively referred to as pyramidology.

History[edit]

A French hardware-store owner[6] and pendulum-dowsing author, Antoine Bovis, developed the idea that small models of pyramids can preserve food in the 1930s. Unverifiable[7][8] stories persist that Bovis stumbled across a paranormal force while standing inside the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. According to this legend, he saw a garbage can inside the chamber which had been piled with dead animals that had wandered into the structure. Bovis noticed that these small carcasses were not decaying, and inferred that the structure somehow preserved them.[9]

Contradicting this popular version, an account discovered by Junior Skeptic magazine[10] has Bovis denying visiting Egypt.[1] In this self-published French-language booklet[11] Bovis off-handedly ascribes the discovery of pyramid power to armchair reasoning and to mystical experiments in Europe using a dowsing pendulum:

I have supposed that Egyptians were already very good dowsers and had oriented their pyramid by means of rod and pendulum. Being unable to go there to experiment and verify the radiations of the Keops Pyramid, I have built with cardboard some pyramids that you can see now, and I was astonished when, having built a regular pyramid and oriented it, I found the positive at the East, the negative at the West, and at the North and the South, dual-positive and dual-negative.[1]

Despite the legend, the idea that pyramids could preserve food was not a result of a chance discovery made while standing inside the Great Pyramid, but followed from Bovis's previous convictions regarding dowsing:

A new supposition: since with the help of our positive 2000° magnetic plates we can mummify small animals, could the pyramid have the same property? I tried, and as you can observe with the small fish and the little piece of meat still hanging, I succeeded totally.[1]

In 1949, inspired by Bovis,[12] a Czechoslovakian named Karel Drbal applied for a patent[2] on a "Pharaoh's shaving device": a model pyramid alleged to maintain the sharpness of razor blades. According to the patent (#91,304), "The method of maintaining the razor blades and straight razor blades sharp by placing them in the magnetic field in such a way that the sharp edge lies in the direction of the magnetic lines."[13] Drbal alleged that his device would focus "the earth's magnetic field", although he did not make it clear how this would work, or whether the device's shape or materials exerted the effect.[14]

Drbal's contention that razors could be sharpened (or have their sharpness maintained) by alignment with the points of the compass or the Earth's magnetic field was probably not original to him. Junior Skeptic magazine discovered[15] exactly similar claims published decades earlier. In 1933, The Times of London carried letters claiming, "if I oriented my razor blades…N. and S. by the compass…they tend to last considerably longer"[16] and "The idea of keeping razor blades in a magnetic field is not quite new. About the year 1900 I found this out…."[17]

In 1968, paranormal authors Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder visited Czechoslovakia, where they happened across a cardboard pyramid manufactured commercially by Drbal.[18] They met with Drbal,[19] then dedicated a chapter of their popular 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain to pyramid power. This book introduced to the English-speaking world both the concept of pyramid power and the apocryphal origin story about Antoine Bovis.

Origin of term[edit]

There is debate over who coined the term "pyramid power." Author Max Toth has claimed he coined the phrase,[20] as has Patrick Flanagan.[citation needed] In the 1970s, both authors released books entitled Pyramid Power.[21][22] This led to a lawsuit by Flanagan against Toth, according to Toth.[20]

However, the term in the context of its current usage first appeared in print in Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder's 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain.[23] They claim the term was coined by "Czechoslovakian researchers" in the 1960s.[24]

Claims[edit]

According to Flanagan, pyramids with the exact relative dimensions of Egyptian pyramids act as "an effective resonator of randomly polarized microwave signals which can be converted into electrical energy." [25]

These claims gained little credibility, even within the alternative science community.[citation needed]

Impact[edit]

Flanagan’s book was featured on the cover and in the lyrics of The Alan Parsons Project album Pyramid. "Pyramania", a song from the album, mocked the idea of pyramid power.

Pyramid power was the subject of a famous spoof by Martin Gardner in his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American June 1974, featuring his favorite characters Dr. Matrix and Iva Matrix.

The theories behind Pyramid Power convinced the Onan Family, hotel and condo developers in Gurnee, Illinois, to build the "Pyramid House" in 1977.[26][27]

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia built a 4-story replica of the Great Pyramid, alleged by the winery to improve the quality of wine aged within it.[28]

A religion founded in 1975 called Summum completed in 1979 the construction of a pyramid called the Summum Pyramid in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Terry Pratchett's fantasy novel Pyramids incorporates many elements of the Pyramid Power theory; in the novel, an industry develops based around pyramids' ability to stop time.

It is common in New Age magazines to see advertisements for open metal-poled pyramids large enough to meditate under. The New Age group Share International, founded by Benjamin Creme, practices a form of meditation called Transmission Meditation in which they meditate under an open metal-poled tetrahedron; they believe that by doing so, they are tuning into cosmic energy radiating from a cosmic entity known as Maitreya.

MythBusters[edit]

In 2005, an episode of MythBusters was aired on the Discovery Channel in which a basic test of pyramid power was performed, using pyramids built to the specifications found in pyramid power claims, such as using the location of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Several scenarios were tested: perishables (in this case food and a flower) rotting, and razor blade sharpening, with a test subject and a control subject for each scenario. In all but one case there was no appreciable difference between items in the pyramids and items outside. It was theorized that the chopsaw used to cut the apple in that case may have had a significant microbial content on one side of the blade which could have transplanted bacteria from itself onto one half of the apple that was cut. A second test was conducted, in which three subjects matched to three control groups were tested. In this last test, there was no appreciable difference between items at the macroscopic scale. Adam Savage stated several times that the episode "Pyramid Power" was a mistake because:

"I'm still ashamed we ever went near pyramid power as a story to test. All of those mystical things. …We're not going to try to prove a negative. We are always going to look for something that we can actually get our hands on and do tests toward the goal of coming to a conclusion." [29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Bovis, Antoine. "Excerpt from Exposé de M.A. Bovis au Congrès International de Radiotellerie à Nice".  (Nice: Bovis, c. 1935). Translation by Jean-Paul Buquet. Skeptic.com. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Drbal, Karel. Patenti Spis c. 91304. (Prague: 1959).
  3. ^ Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 165.
  4. ^ Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 177.
  5. ^ De Mattia, Joan Ann. “Enjoying the Fruits of Pyramid Energy.” Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 198.
  6. ^ Drbal, Karel. "The Struggle for the Pyramid Patent." Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 143.
  7. ^ Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power".  (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 81–83
  8. ^ Laigaard, Jens. "excerpt from Chapter Eight of Pyramideenergien – kritisk undersøgelse".  (1999). Translation by Daniel Loxton and Jens Laigaard. Skeptic.com. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
  9. ^ Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 340.
  10. ^ Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power".  (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 83
  11. ^ Bovis, Antoine. "Exposé de M.A. Bovis au Congrès International de Radiotellerie à Nice".  (Nice: Bovis, c. 1935.) PDF scan of original hosted at Skeptic.com.
  12. ^ Drbal, Karel. “The Struggle for the Pyramid Patent.” Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 141.
  13. ^ Drbal, Karel. "Patenti Spis c. 91304. (Prague: 1959).".  English translation hosted at www.amasci.com. Retrieved November 2008.
  14. ^ Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power".  (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 88.
  15. ^ Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power".  (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 82.
  16. ^ Coleridge, Gilbert. Letter. The Times. 7 Oct. 1933.
  17. ^ Grange, William D’Oyly. Letter. The Times. 19 Oct. 1933.
  18. ^ Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 339-340.
  19. ^ Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 342.
  20. ^ a b Loxton, Daniel. "A Conversation with Max Toth". Skeptic.com. Retrieved 1 December 2008. 
  21. ^ Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976).
  22. ^ Flanagan, Patrick. Pyramid Power (Santa Monica: Pyramid Power – V, Inc, 1975).
  23. ^ Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 339-348.
  24. ^ page 431
  25. ^ William G. Bailey, Frank Hoffmann, Mind & Society Fads, p. 225 (Haworth Press, 1992)
  26. ^ Pyramid House website
  27. ^ (Satellite via Google)
  28. ^ (Summerhill Winery Pyramid Story)
  29. ^ Savage, Adam; Karen Stollznow (2010). "MythBusters’s Adam Savage". Volume 34.6 (in English). The Committee For Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 

External links[edit]