Article ID: CBB001201055

The Science of Automatic Precision: The Rise and Fall of Spectro-Chrome Therapy (2014)


“Spectro-Chrome,” an alternative healing method based on the application of colored visible light to the body, was practiced by more than ten thousand Americans over the half-century following its introduction in 1920. It was the invention of Dinshah Ghadiali, a charismatic inventor and popular science lecturer, who used the rhetoric and tactics of contemporary popularizers to discredit orthodox medicine’s claim to scientific authority, and to advance his own on behalf of his followers of the “Science of Automatic Precision.” Practitioners, who mostly treated themselves and their immediate families, were encouraged to think of themselves as scientific researchers. Dinshah’s students presented their findings at local and national meetings, engaged in continuing education, critiqued one another’s work, and articulated an ethos of science that repudiated the obscurantism and greed that they believed had infected scientific medicine. Beyond its perceived value as a healing practice, Spectro-Chrome’s inclusive, pragmatic, and straightforward nature appealed to Americans excluded from a scientific establishment that had begun to seem remote and arcane, and from a medical culture they perceived as oriented more toward commercial ends and professional consolidation than traditional patient care. Keywords:chromotherapy, popular science, popularization, Dinshah, alternative medicine, American Medical Association

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Authors & Contributors
Gooday, Graeme J. N.
Goulden, Murray
Souza, Eduardo Frederico Alexander Amaral de
Luz, Madel Therezinha
Zeman, Scott C.
Haller, John S.
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Science in Context
Science as Culture
Journal of Popular Culture
Nova Acta Paracelsica: Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Paracelsus-Gesellschaft
Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism
Rutgers University Press
Random House
University of Exeter (United Kingdom)
University of Exeter
University of Chicago Press
Popular culture
Science and culture
Alternative medicine
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Mass media
Paracelsus, Theophrast von Hohenheim
Freud, Sigmund
Schnitzel, Arthur
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Sheen, Fulton J.
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
21st century
United States
Soviet Union
Great Britain
Vienna (Austria)
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Royal Society of London
British Association for the Advancement of Science
Royal College of Surgeons, London
Hunterian Museum (London)

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