Muscle Testing – Applied Kinesiology

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2000
Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon report on the somewhat bizarre practice called Behavioral Kinesiology. This new age technique, not to be confused with scientific kinesiology, was developed by Dr. John Diamond, and has been embraced by a wide range of athletes, medical professionals, as well as new agers.

Muscle Testing
Behavioral Kinesiology

Behavioral kinesiology (BK), an outgrowth of George Goodheart’s applied kinesiology, is the novel brainchild of John Diamond, M.D. Family Circle magazine is one of many popular newsstand periodicals that has carried glowing comments about its alleged “mi­raculous” powers. Famous personalities use it, and many athletes, dentists, artists, and New Agers swear by it.

Dr. Diamond himself argues that BK’s magic is applicable to literally every area of life, which explains its wide appeal:

It provides us with the means of assessing and evaluating the effects of nearly all stimuli, internal or external, physical or psychological, on the body. Furthermore, it gives us a new understanding of the comprehensive action of the entire body energy system. There is no area of life to which BK does not apply. It even sheds light on such diverse topics as instinctive behavior, the creative process, the origin of language, anthropology, ethnology, the aesthetic experience, and modes of communication such as gesture.

BK is established on the basic philosophy of applied kinesiology: “Every major muscle of the body relates to an organ,” and that muscles and organs can be “tested” to determine the condition of the “life energy” flowing through the supposed meridians related to them.

By “muscle testing,” BK claims that it is able to determine the “strengthening” or “weak­ening” effect of a vast array of objects upon a person’s “life energy,” from foods and other items to symbols and thoughts.

The centrality of the thymus gland is Dr. Diamond’s unique contribution to applied kinesiology. His book is subtitled “How to Activate Your Thymus and Increase Your Life Energy.” He calls the thymus gland “the seat of the Life Energy,” and relates the supposed powers of the organ to knowledge derived from expanded consciousness and the ancient “gods.” He even claims that his system “ushers in the Third Golden Age of Thymology.” “A major discovery of Behavioral Kinesiology is that the thymus gland monitors and regulates energy flow in the meridian system.”

The thymus is a lymphoid organ beneath the breastbone at heart level. In infants and children, it regulates the production of the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection. Alter puberty, the gland atrophies and continues to do so until death. Its role in the immune system of infants and children is established, and it retains that function in adults. It might even be a more important organ than we know. Yet, despite Diamond’s claims, it is not known to regulate mystical energies:

I have come to believe that all illness starts as a problem on the energy level, a prob­lem that may exist for many years before it manifests itself in physical disease. It appears that a generalized reduction of body energy leads to energy imbalances in particular parts of the body.

What is the “life energy” that Diamond claims BK can regulate? It is the same old occult energy found in many different cultures:

Our Life Energy is the source of our physical and mental well-being… throughout recorded history it has had many names…. Paracelsus called it the Archaeus; the Chinese, Chi; the Egyptians, Ka; the Hindus, Prana; the Hawaiians, Mana. It is all the same thing.

Dr. Diamond believes we can use our thymuses to properly regulate our “life energy.” Indeed, everything in our personal world—from objects, to emotions and habits, to environ­ments, lifestyles, and even beliefs—can and probably should be tested to determine if they “increase” or “decrease” our all-important “life energy.” For example, we can “test” the effect of the type of music we listen to, how to walk or swim properly, the color to paint our house, which tooth to have pulled, which medicine to use, which foods to eat, and which vitamins or homeopathic treatments to take. Apparently, we can even use BK tests to prevent or detect heart disease or cancer and treat them—the list seems endless. We can even test for individual lifestyles:

For many years I have used BK to investigate the environments, lifestyles, and per­sonal habits of a wide variety of people. My findings have been generally consistent… by all means test them for yourself…. If the muscle goes weak, then you know that the stimulus has interrupted the energy flow to your thymus gland and thereby reduced the energy in your entire body-energy system.

The quack aspect of BK is easy to document. Consider the following claims, as re­ported on pp.74-106 of Dr. Diamond’s book. Thymus tests supposedly reveal that your life energy is:

Increased by:
Decreased by:
Head nods (vertical) Head shakes (horizontal)
Smiling (or merely seeing a drawing or picture of a smile) Frowns (or merely seeing a drawing or picture of one)
Seeing normal faces Seeing “sanpaku” eyes (with three sides of white visible around the eye)
The swastika The Roman cross
Organic foods Synthetic or refined foods (the more foods are processed, “the less, if any, Life Energy will remain in them”)


Life energy is also decreased by:
The musical note C
Electric wristwatches (but only in certain positions)
Most hats
High-heeled shoes
Ice water/cold showers
Police “speed gun” detectors (effective within 100 feet)
Artificial light
And (surprise!) people do not respond well to breathing gas fumes!

If you want to find out whether you are affected by cooking gas, just go over to the stove and see whether the indicator muscle goes weak first before and then after you turn on the front burner. It’s as simple as that Your body’s answer is immediate and direct.

And according to BK, not just cooking gas, but most things in our modem technological world are conspiring against us, depleting our “life energy.” Anyone who believes all this is welcome to his views. But consider the following incredible claims and explanations offered by Dr. Diamond.

Concerning the Nazi swastika (a symbol which BK says will increase our life energy!), “Even Jewish concentration camp survivors test strong in its presence….” Goodness, can the people who survived the torments of Nazi Germany’s death camps really have their “life energy” increased while looking at the symbol of their destruction? And why on earth would the Christian cross supposedly deplete our life energy? Furthermore, the clockwise swas­tika will supposedly have a different result on people than the counterclockwise swastika.

Dr. Diamond also thinks that facial gestures, such as smiles and frowns, are related to the ancient Chinese acupuncture meridians. Smiles or frowns supposedly regulate life energy because “all gestures relate to specific meridians; these gestures of acceptance and rejection relate directly to the thymus, the monitoring center for energy imbalances of the entire meridian system.” Perhaps the National Academy of Sciences should look into all this.

If the previous ideas are not silly enough, consider that people with depleted energy can deplete others’ thymus energy just by being in their presence, even through the televi­sion set!

Somehow the Life Energy of the “strong” person was diminished by his coming into personal contact with someone with a weak thymus. Not only this: If you test various merid­ian (energy system) test points throughout the bodies of the interacting subjects, you will find that a specific imbalance can be transmitted from one person to another.

To be weakened by another person, you need not be face to face or even one to one. Your involvement can, for example, be over television. … If a public figure has a specific energy (meridian) imbalance or an under active thymus, he can adversely affect a large number of people [i.e., the TV audience]. An emotional state, negative or positive, can spread through a community and even a country from its primary source, the television personality, to the viewers, to their neighbors, and to all the people with whom they come in contact. If we are susceptible—of low Life Energy—we can pick up like an infection the emotional attitudes that are “going around.”

A photo of Adolf Hitler will “destroy your thymus” but, remember, the Nazi swastika energizes it. Advertisements can weaken you, and two slightly different portraits of the same person can have exactly opposite effects on your thymus, depending on whether you are looking at the original or a copy. Symbols must also be carefully evaluated. “Through the techniques of BK I have been able to demonstrate the effects of hundreds of symbols on the body. Each affects a specific energy system.” And although most rock music greatly decreases life energy, “In contrast, the Beatles never do.” Amazing. And refined white sugar is always bad. “A poison is a poison! So get out of the habit of thinking: ‘Well, a little sugar won’t hurt me.’ A substance either raises your energy or lowers it. It is one way or the other.”

Occasionally, even Dr. Diamond runs into trouble with his theory. For example, some­times people will test strong with refined sugar and weak with raw honey. “This paradoxical finding is hard to explain,” as are other even more bizarre BK principles than the ones we have discussed.

It should again be stressed again that the use of the term “kinesiology” in muscle‑testing practices involves an entirely different application than in formal kinesiology, which is the scientific study of bodily movements and the muscles which control them. Applied kinesiology, “Touch for Health,” and behavioral kinesiology are a distortion of scientific kinesiology, although they may employ its methods and insights. New Age kinesiology and scientific kinesiology are opposed to one another in the same way that New Age medicine and scientific medicine are opposed to one another. The former is based on mystical en­ergy concepts and various novel, even bizarre, practices; the latter restricts itself to physi­cal medicine regulated by the scientific method. Confusing them will be consequential.

(to be continued)

(Documentation for quotations will be found in The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, pp. 399-407)

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