According to the International College of Applied Kinesiology, the therapy “is based on chiropractic principles and requires manual manipulation of the spine, extremities and cranial bones as the structural basis of its procedures.” However, Goodheart and his followers unite chiropractic with traditional Chinese medicine (among other things); not only do they accept the notion of chi and the meridians of acupuncture, they posit a universal intelligence of a spiritual nature running through the nervous system. They believe that muscles reflect the flow of
chi and that by measuring muscle resistance one can determine the health of bodily organs and nutritional deficiencies. These are empirical claims and have been tested and shown to be false (Hyman 1999; Kenny et al. 1988). Other claims made by practitioners are supported mainly by anecdotes supplied by advocates.
Nevertheless, AK has some formidable proponents, such as psychiatrist David Hawkins. He claims, among many other things, that he has proof that AK is a reliable “lie detector” and can be used to determine the truth or falsity of any statement. He claims AK is also a reliable way to determine a person’s motives. Like many other New Age gurus, Dr. Hawkins believes he has not only found a way to tap into the unconscious mind but that therein dwells an unlimited database full of amazing truths. There is little doubt that the muscle movements detected by AK are unconsciously triggered (Hyman 1999), but there is scant evidence that they are triggered by amazing databases of truths. In short, AK practitioners are deluding themselves and mistaking ideomotor action for access to hidden truths.
Applied kinesiology should not be confused with kinesiology proper, which is the scientific study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.