A Skeptical Look at the Spooky2 Rife System
Spooky2 is an array of devices based on the theories of Royal Raymond Rife (1888-1971), an American inventor. This report describes the history of these devices, the theories associated with their use, and what happened when I tested a Spooky2 system on myself.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Rife claimed that his specially designed optical microscopes could reveal microbes that were too small to see with previously existing technology. He also claimed to have identified a viral cause of all cancers and to have developed a "beam ray" device that could destroy all microorganisms by vibrating at their "resonant frequency." The concept that diseases could be cured by radiofrequency energy was originally proposed by Albert Abrams, M.D. (1864-1924), whom the American Medical Association labeled the "dean of gadget quacks." The resultant practice—called "radionics"—has been thoroughly debunked but still has adherents. A book published in 1987 asserted that Rife had cured cancer only to have his work buried by a powerful conspiracy among the medical establishment .
Spooky2, which is billed as "the affordable Rife device for every home" , represents a revival of Rife devices updated for the iPhone era. The product line is sold by the Nanjing Clean Energy Electronic Technology Co., Ltd of China (also called CLEN) and promoted by Cancer Clinic (NZ) Ltd of New Zealand with the declared mission "to eliminate cancer and all illness."  Proponents claim that Spooky2 devices "generate resonance waves that destroy harmful pathogenic organisms without doing any harm to the users," but they also claim that "healing" frequencies can heal virtually every part of the body and that "detox" frequencies help rid the body of nonspecific toxins. The centerpiece of the system is the Spooky2 frequency generator , which is controlled by proprietary software that runs on a Windows computer . The software can be downloaded at no cost, and up to 126 generators can be controlled by a single computer . The devices and software are said to be developed and maintained by "an international team of electronics engineers, technical designers, software developers and Rife practitioners" who describe themselves as volunteers working without pay for the good of humanity . Some of the profits are said to accrue to "The Rife Trust for Mankind," or "Spooky2 Trust," but I was unable to locate any details of either of these online.
John Seakins White, who leads Spooky2 software development, is regarded as the central figure in the Spooky2 community. White is the sole registered director and shareholder of Cancer Clinic (NZ) Limited, which was incorporated in 2010 . Before that, he co-owned the New Deli & Cafe Limited in Auckland . Echo Lee operates the Nanjing Clean Energy Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. David Bourke of Ireland, who wrote the Spooky2 User Guide, is a retired writer, producer, and composer whose interests include Rife therapy, quantum physics, and cosmology . Bourke maintains a blog called "Delusional Insects," where he asserts that two top Irish dermatologists and a psychologist have incorrectly diagnosed him with "delusional parasitosis."  White and Lee now form the core of what is often referred to as "Team Spooky" and are active in Spooky2 online forums. Bourke appears to have left Team Spooky as of September 11, 2017 .
Spooky2 products are marketed online and shipped directly to individuals. The slogan "take control" appears in most marketing materials, along with the image of a smiling ghost dubbed "Spooky." The ghost logo also appears on every accessory with enough space for a logo. During an interview in which White described the use of Spooky2 devices over long distances, he said that it is apt to use the name "Spooky" because "it is a friendly name, it is nothing threatening, but it's something we don't understand." 
Along with an affordable price point, this focus on approachability sets Spooky2 apart from other Rife products. Throughout most of their history, Rife machines have cost thousands of dollars. Today, Spooky2 buyers can get an attractive, much less costly device that would not look out of place in a physician's office, shipped directly to the house, with a nice letter of thanks and a glossy brochure that provides links to online support and customer-service resources.
The typical Spooky2 customer is middle-class, middle-aged or older, chronically or acutely ill, and distrustful of the medical establishment and mainstream media. Customers typically learn about the product through online social media, a naturopath, or a chiropractor.
The Spooky2 commercial Web site states:
"Spooky . . . systems are not approved by the FDA. They intended for use as experimental electronic devices only. They are not intended for the diagnosis, prevention, cure, treatment, or mitigation of any disease or illness in human beings. Neither are they designed or intended to affect the function or structure of any human body system." 
However, health claims abound in a large online community which includes a discussion forum with over 9,000 members , a YouTube channel, with 7,500 subscribers and more than 1.8 million viewings, and several closed Facebook groups, including ones for general discussion , beginner assistance , and "success stories."  These outlets attract people suffering every conceivable affliction, real and imagined, most of whom appear to believe that the Spooky devices can solve their health problems. In the forums, moderators surface to issue a winking correction when a user asks whether the system can cure or treat a given condition; the claims are always couched in terms of "restoring health" or "tackling problems." People who post about not seeing results are typically advised to use more frequencies, which often requires buying more devices, a proposition that can add up to thousands of dollars. Other actual suggestions I have seen in these forums include Gerson therapy; eliminating dietary gluten and yeast, removing the smart-utility meter from the house, and relocating to a part of the world less impacted by "chemtrail" fallout. With such a diversity of experiences and opinions freely offered, members of Team Spooky rarely need to discuss efficacy or science.
|The basic Spooky2-XM generator device is a two-channel direct digital synthesizer that has outputs governed by built-in controls or a USB interface. Its purpose is to output direct current (DC) signals with a frequency specified in a large database included in the Spooky2 software. The common accessories include Spooky Boost (to split and "boost" the generated signal), Spooky Remote (to transmit the generated signal to remote subjects via "quantum entanglement"), Spooky Pulse (to monitor a subject's heart rate for minute fluctuations in a "biofeedback scan"), and Spooky Central (to modulate the generated signal through a plasma or pulsed electromagnetic frequency [PEMF] attachment). The picture to the right shows a Remote attached to a Boost that is attached to a generator.|
This diagram, from The Spooky2 Whole Health Catalog shows how the components may be connected:
The Spooky2 system can be used for "killing," "healing," "detox," and "biofeedback," three of which may be combined to some degree. All involve delivering "frequencies" to the subject's body via some transmission system, but each has a different goal. In the "killing" application, common to all Rife machines including Royal Rife's originals, the goal is to destroy pathogens. "Healing," which was not part of Rife's original vision, is claimed to support, enhance, or complement the body's own regenerative mechanisms. The "detox" application, also of modern origin, is claimed to dislodge nonspecific toxins from the cells and to support the liver and kidneys in the elimination of this foreign matter. These three approaches differ only in the frequencies chosen; some frequencies are said to kill, some to heal, and others to detox. "Biofeedback" combines frequency delivery with heart-rate monitoring for diagnostic purposes.
Spooky2 supports four main transmission modes for delivering frequencies: plasma, contact, PEMF, and remote. Plasma mode requires a Spooky Central and a plasma gas-discharge tube . Contact mode uses direct current delivered through hand-held electrodes, TENS pads, or another conductive medium . PEMF mode modulates frequencies through a PEMF coil, and also requires a Spooky Central. Remote mode requires a Spooky Remote "DNA transmitter." The Spooky2 Web site claims that remote treatment subjects can be far away from the Spooky2 system because the frequencies are transmissible via "quantum entanglement" using the subject's DNA as an "antenna":
Because DNA has two strands helically coiled around one another, it acts as an antenna that's capable of transmitting and receiving information encoded on energy signals via nonlocal space. Spooky sends audio frequency energy to the nail which is received by the DNA it contains, then relayed instantaneously via nonlocal space to the parent DNA—you. . . . We've added the enormous power of scalar waves to the equation. Scalar waves are so powerful that they can be used to control weather, destroy whole cities, or even cause earthquakes and tsunamis. Thankfully, they can also be put to more constructive use. . . . With Spooky Remote, scalar wave "bubbles" are formed right where the DNA is sitting. The waves are difficult to measure by orthodox means, and act as a signal supercharger both for the audio frequency energy and for the DNA's own transmission capabilities .
Note: Although scalar field is a legitimate mathematical concept, scalar "waves" and "bubbles" are pseudoscientific concepts .
To use the system in contact mode for killing, healing, or detox, the generator is connected via USB to a computer. The subject applies electrodes to the body and connects these via wires to the indicated outputs of a Spooky Boost, which is connected to the generator. The user selects one or more "programs" or "presets" (combinations of programs) from the Programs or Presets tab of the software, then selects the desired generator and starts the treatment running from the Control tab. Plasma and PEMF modes follow the same steps except that instead of using electrodes, the user connects a plasma tube or a PEMF coil to a Spooky Central and holds the tube or coil near the area of the body to be treated. In remote mode, a Spooky Remote is connected to the generator via a Spooky Boost and a DNA-containing tissue sample from the subject (typically a fingernail clipping) is placed into the remote. While the treatment runs, the user can monitor its progress in the Control tab.
When running a biofeedback diagnostic scan, only contact mode and remote mode are available for frequency transmission. The generator is connected to the computer, and the subject either connects electrodes via a Spooky Boost (contact mode) or inserts a DNA sample into a Spooky Remote connected via a Spooky Boost (remote mode). A Spooky Pulse unit is also connected to the computer via USB, and the subject wears either an earlobe clip or a fingertip sleeve connected via leads to the Spooky Pulse. The user selects a transmission mode-appropriate biofeedback preset from the Presets tab, then selects the desired generator and starts the scan running from the Control tab. Upon completion, a window displays a list of frequencies during whose transmission the subject's heart rate variability (HRV) was observed to change the most. These frequencies are termed "hits," and the user can look them up in the Spooky2 frequency database to see what conditions the scan has diagnosed. The hits from a biofeedback scan can also be saved as a custom program in the Spooky2 frequency database, after which they can be applied as a killing or healing treatment. The user guide suggests running such treatments daily or continuously (with repeated scans every four or seven days to update the program) and says that "biofeedback scanning is like peeling an onion, layer by layer."  The diagram below shows some of the screens that the user may see. For a more detailed look at what appears, click here.
The July 2017 version of the Spooky2 software includes 20,659 "programs" purported to cover everything from abdominal cramps to Zymomonas mobilis. The claims tend to fall into four main categories: killing disease-causing organisms, "detoxifying" the organs and systems, healing / supporting the organs and systems, and diagnosing conditions. The "How Rife Works" chapter of the July 2017 Spooky2 User's Guide states: "Depending on what it's being used for, Rife therapy works in a number of different ways" that it describes metaphorically.
Page 193 compares the killing claim is compared to the cracking of a whip:
If you've chosen a wave with abrupt direction changes in energy, the rapid and repeated "whip-cracks" will cause electrical state changes that can damage, disable, or devitalise the pathogen.
Page 193 compares "Detox" to a jackjammer:
For detox, the repeated application of energies serves to "bump" pollutants out of cells and tissues to where they can enter the blood or lymph and be removed by the liver and kidneys. The frequencies work pretty much like a jackhammer, and the result is the dislodgement and mechanical movement of materials foreign to the body..
For healing, the process is completely different and works on the principle of frequency entrainment. Take two grandfather clocks and stand them against the same wall. Now set their pendulums swinging out of sync with each other. Within a few days, both pendulums will have come back into perfect sync with each other, and will remain that way until they're disturbed again. That's entrainment.
Another example is a little more mysterious and is seen only in girls' boarding schools and university dorms. At the start of the term, the girls' natural cycles are all out of sync with each other. Within a few months, they will all have synchronized to within a couple of days of each other. That's also entrainment.
So if you take the frequencies of a healthy liver, or a robust immune system, and you transmit them into a body where these are not so wonderful, within a few days frequency entrainment will have taken place, and things will start looking much better.
Some experienced Rife researchers also maintain that since life itself is frequency, the simple act of transmitting beneficial frequencies into the body—any beneficial frequencies—will act to "wake up" the immune system, "remind" it of its function, and set it to work again properly.
Page 110 makes "biofeedback" scanning claim this way:
Biofeedback scanning requires a frequency sweep to be input to the body, plus a system to monitor the results of this. As this sweep is being transmitted, it will kill or injure pathogens—this makes every scan a treatment, and you may experience a Herxheimer Reaction. Your body registers these events as stresses, and each one is clearly reflected in your heart rate.
On page 119, the guide also explains how Spooky2 treatment can identify and deal with health problems without making "diagnoses":
Spooky Pulse was never designed to be a diagnostic tool. A diagnosis is useful only to a health professional, not to me or you. Most doctors require it only to look up drugs in their directories which can be used for it. In other words, a diagnosis is a stepping-stone to a written prescription for a medication or treatment. Spooky Pulse skips this step altogether and provides the prescription directly, written by your own body—the frequencies found by your scan .
Analysis of Claims
Examining all the claims made by Spooky2's promoters is impossible, since is marketed as a cure-all system. But here is my concise analysis of principal therapeutic claims listed above.
- Killing microorganisms by the application of special "frequencies" may sound superficially plausible, but Royal Rife's trials have never been duplicated and his ideas were discredited during his lifetime. Furthermore, most electrical delivery methods claimed by Spooky2 could not penetrate the body deeply enough to reach the supposedly targeted organs. Low-voltage direct current applied to the skin flows along the the outer surface of the skin. Plasma gas-discharge tubes emit visible and ultraviolet light, which do not reach beneath the skin due to reflection and absorption. The "quantum entanglement" effects said to underlie the "remote" mode of operation are reliably observed only with individual subatomic particles. Objects the size of DNA molecules have exhibited entanglement in lab conditions, but only on timescales and at distances far too small to support this claim. PEMF has some recognized medical uses, but these are limited to long bone fractures and depression [21,22].
- The ways that the human body detoxifies are well known: The lymphatic system, liver, and kidneys work together to excrete foreign substances whose buildup would be toxic to the body. If they can't handle the job, medical intervention is needed. The notion that Spooky2 "detoxes" by "jackhammering" foreign matter out of cells through any external mechanism is absurd.
- Healing or "supporting" the body by inputting "beneficial frequencies" is not supported by science, or even by the chain of argument laid out in the Spooky2 User Guide. Entrainment is a real phenomenon observable in mechanical and some biological systems. However, the pendulums in the clock experiment became synchronous only when suspended from the same beam and not through some force that travels through the air. And menstrual synchrony (the notion that in human women who live together synchronize their menstrual cycles) is not a real phenomenon . Furthermore, organs and systems do not have characteristic "frequencies."
- Spooky2's claimed "biofeedback" mechanism is unrelated to established medical procedures with the same name. It merely combines the "killing" claim with the fanciful notion that nearly instantaneous changes in heart rate accompany every "kill." The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction appropriated to support this claim is a response to antimicrobial treatment of syphilis and a few other infections but takes hours to occur, not seconds .
My Test Results
In 2016, I paid a total of $260 plus about $70 for shipping for a Spooky2-XM generator, a Spooky Boost 3.0, a Spooky Remote v1.1 BN, a Spooky Pulse, and several accessories. The literature that came with them included a letter of thanks from the Spooky2 team (with the recipient's name handwritten in a blank), a two-page quick start guide, a one-page insert for the Spooky Pulse accessory (not included in the kit), and a pair of instructional booklets. The first booklet was titled "Using 2 Generators for Cancer"; the second, "Using 4 Generators for Cancers." The first moments of a new customer's experience thus involve encouragement to purchase accessories and more generators. The language in these booklets is similar to the "Which Kit To Choose" article on the Spooky2 commerce web site .
In July 2017, I ran two sets of "biofeedback scans" on myself to see whether Spooky2 would produce consistent results or plausible diagnoses. On July 6, I did a "full system scan" (covering frequencies from 76KHz to 152KHz) in remote mode. About an hour later, a Scan Results window appeared with list of frequencies that represented 42 diagnoses: allergic granulomatous angiitis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, amniotic band syndrome, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, avitaminosis, bladder exstrophy, candida hipower, Chlamydia infections, Churg-Strauss syndrome, conjunctival diseases, deglutition disorders, fistula, hookworm infections, HSAN type 1, hyperhidrosis, hyperpituitarism, labyrinthitis, lassa fever, mediastinal cyst, MELAS syndrome, meningioma, miller fisher syndrome, mite infestations, muscle cramp, mutism, mycobacterium infections, optic neuritis, parasites roundworms, pilonidal cyst, porphyrias, proteinuria, respiratory hypersensitivity, rubella, schistosomiasis, seasonal affective disorder, shock septic, simian virus 40, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, thrombasthenia, tonsillitis, and zearalenone. Tonsillitis was perhaps the most noteworthy because my tonsils were removed during my childhood.
About 22 hours later, I repeated the the full system scan and got 30 more diagnoses: Aldrich syndrome, ascaris megalocephala all stages, cancer gestational trophoblastic tumor, cancer gestational tumor, cancer osteosarcoma, cataract, cranial nerve diseases, Cushing syndrome, diabetes insipidus, diplopia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, dyspepsia, filariasis, funnel chest, hendra virus disease, homocystinuria, hydatidiform mole, hydronephrosis, infertility, keratosis actinic, lacrimal duct obstruction, Landau-Kleffner syndrome, molluscum contagiosum, multiple chemical sensitivity, parasites turbatrix, pharyngeal diseases, prosopagnosia, Romberg disease, shock, and sterigmatocystin_2.
To demonstrate that a device is capable of measuring something, it is necessary to validate its accuracy and consistency with repeated tests. In these tests, the validity was zero because I do not have any of the 72 conditions and consistency was zero because no condition listed in either scan was found in the other scan.
To further test consistency I ran 16 "quarter scans" at the rate of four per day for four consecutive days. Quarter scans cover one-fourth the frequency range of the full system scan and take about 15 minutes. I chose the third-quarter scan, which covers 114KHz to 133KHz. It should be obvious that if Spooky2 could rid the body of problems, the number of problems should decrease with repeated testing. But my results showed no such pattern. The number of conditions found in the 16 scans, in the order in which I did them, was 68, 56, 26, 18, 58, 18, 12, 36, 6, 29, 48, 44, 77, 32, 58, and 19, for an average of 38, and no decrease over time. The reported "frequencies" represented 302 unique conditions, 264 of which appeared only once in the 16 tests. The table below shows the distribution of those that appeared twice or more. I do not have any of these conditions.
Spooky2 is not a single device, but a platform for all kinds of energy-based quackery. None of its purported mechanisms has a scientific basis, and all science-based challenges are countered with arguments from ignorance: either the energies used by the system are "difficult to measure by orthodox means" , or "we don't understand why it works but we know it does."  Its purveyors support their claims of working at a distance by hijacking terminology from quantum physics and invoking well-known historical figures, down to the very name of the product.
Spooky2's "killing" claim is a simple repackaging of the claims of Royal Rife (themselves a repackaging of Albert Abrams' "radionics"), which were discredited during his lifetime. Its claims of "healing," "supporting," and "detox" rest on the same non-evidenced foundation. The healing and excretory mechanisms of a healthy body do not require stimulation or "support" beyond appropriate nutrition, exercise, and rest. Healthy organs and systems do not exhibit characteristic frequencies, and even if they did, these frequencies would certainly vary from person to person.
The findings of the system's biofeedback diagnostic scans are wildly inconsistent. Advocates try to explain this away by suggesting that either the scan has destroyed the pathogen in the process of identifying it (so that it fails to appear in the next scan), or the results program has destroyed it and a new pathogen that was present all along has moved up the leaderboard. It is also claimed that the body may be hosting a set of "nesting doll" parasites or microorganisms, as explained on a thread in the Spooky Pulse discussion forum . The Spooky2 User's Guide 2 asserts that the biofeedback mechanism "was never designed to be a diagnostic tool" but on the next page rationalizes an unlikely finding of a sample scan . But it appears to me that the biofeedback scan is intended to diagnose and, even worse, will always report some findings. Serious harm can occur if a false diagnosis arouses unnecessary fear or drives a patient to pursue unnecessary treatment or seek medical reassurance that a nonexistent condition is present. Harm can also occur if the user abandons or fails to seek medical care because the device says the condition is absent or has been cured by the device.
Any apparent benefit derived from the use of Spooky2 should be evaluated in the context of Barry Beyerstein's seven reasons why bogus therapies often seem to work . The self-limiting and cyclical nature of most diseases, along with the placebo effect, will account for most perceived relief. People who "stack" this system on top of science-based treatments and experience improvement may attribute the relief to the wrong factor, and the distraction and mood improvement from following the Spooky2 motto, "take control," might take a patient's mind off the condition long enough to perceive some relief. People inclined to buy into the claims of this type of system may be especially prone to selective recall and to reshaping their own perception and memory in order to defend their strongly-held beliefs about how the world works. Finally, especially in the case of Spooky2's "biofeedback" diagnostic mechanism, mistaken or completely unfounded diagnoses might lead to belief that the system cured the patient of a condition that never actually existed.
Government Regulation Is Needed
The Spooky2 Rife System is not cleared or approved by the FDA, which classifies Rife machines as a subset of radionics devices. The generators and accessories are manufactured and sold directly to consumers by a company based in China, which lacks a meaningful legal regime for consumer protection. The Spooky2 User's Guide states that the system is "intended for use as an experimental electronic device only" and is "not intended for the diagnosis, prevention, cure, treatment, or mitigation of any disease or illness in human beings", nor "designed or intended to affect the function or structure of any human body system."  Despite these disclaimers and Team Spooky's studious avoidance of hot-button terms, "intended use" depends on the context in which a device is actually used.
Two criminal cases illustrate that enforcement action is possible. In 2009, James Folsom, who claimed that the Rife machines he sold were for "investigational purposes," was convicted, fined, and sentenced to prison . In 2011, Randy Frager and his company CNGI, Inc., pleaded guilty to introduction of an adulterated device into interstate commerce. Court documents indicate that they had sold a Rife-like device ("The Detox Box") plus a manual with digital settings for treating Alzheimer's, cancer, and many other specific diseases. Frager was placed on one year of supervised probation, and the company was assessed $130,000 and placed on probation for five years . At the very least, the FDA could prohibit the sale of Spooky2 devices and institute an import ban. The FTC and state attorneys general have jurisdiction over device operators.
Jay Frost is a career technology consultant and lifelong science enthusiast. His experiences during a family member's terminal illness led him to take up scientific skepticism as a cause. He writes under an alias for personal reasons. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article was revised on September 17, 2017.