For right-wing conspiracy theorists, few devices are more prized than a "med bed," a mythical tanning bed-shaped appliance that promises to cure everything from cancer and Alzheimer's to old age itself. Someday soon, they think, Donald Trump will defeat the cabal that controls the world and release med beds to the public, bringing on a new era free of illness.
But now, many supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory and related movements are moving on from med beds. They've found something even better: the Energy Enhancement System, or "EE System," a supposedly miraculous healing device that can cure cancer, cystic fibrosis, and even autism.
To the uninitiated, an EE System device looks just like a couple of computer monitors playing colored static. But EE System's devotees insist it's the real deal-they're willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a few hours bathed in the colored glow of its screens. They line up for blocks for a chance to meet Sandra Rose Michael, the device's inventor.
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For $1,500, they can spend three days in a home run by Michael, soaking up as much time in front of the screens as they need. Some fans even go further, installing them in their home for as much as $120,000 per device.
But EE System's newfound devotees might not know Michael has a history of deceptive trade practices-or that there is plenty of evidence that a couple of static-filled computer monitors cannot, in fact, cure cancer.
Sandra Rose Michael never runs short of metaphors to describe the mysterious process that occurs when someone receives an EE System treatment. In practice, based on YouTube videos posted by EE System fans, it looks like a couple of middle-aged people sitting in recliners or gravity chairs as arrays of computer monitors display colored static. But to Michael, the devices are blasting their recipients with an unique kind of energy wave that effectively jumpstarts their DNA, teaching their bodies how to heal.
"It's like turning the lights back on," Michael said in an April podcast interview.
Michael, who claims to come from a background of "hyper genius" parents, says she got the idea for the "scalar" energy she claims her devices produce from inventor Nikola Tesla, a beloved figure among alternative-medicine enthusiasts. She has hawked the EE System in various forms since the 1990s, and has managed to place her devices in more than 20 alternative-healing centers across the country, with more locations planned abroad.
This year, though, Michael appears to have made a new promotional push with QAnon leaders and New Age conspiracy theorists. She's been embraced by Scott McKay, a pugnacious QAnon promoter known as the "Patriot Streetfighter" who wields a tomahawk on-stage. While promoting her device, Michael sometimes wears a Patriot Streetfighter shirt that includes a reference to the QAnon belief that elite pedophiles are holding children in tunnels deep underground.
But perhaps no one has been as helpful to EE System as New Age internet personality Jason Shurka, who has more than 120,000 YouTube followers. This spring, Shurka interviewed Michael and introduced her as a representative of "The Light System," a thousand-year-old covert network of do-gooders, not all of them human.
That's high praise from Shurka, who has billed himself as another representative of that underground club. In the interview, Shurka claimed the benevolent forces at The Light System had deputized Michael to promote the EE System as part of their plan to save the world. Michael responded with some far-out theorizing of her own, claiming that shadowy forces had tried to assassinate her multiple times to stop her from spreading the technology. (Michael's company didn't provide The Daily Beast with proof of the death plots).
If Shurka's clandestine alien network is real, it's apparently not willing to foot the bill for EE System treatments. From the outside, the devices appear to be some kind of hardware in a black box, attached to a computer monitor. According to Michael, the EE System only works in multiples, increasing the cost to get them installed. Court papers introduced in a Nevada lawsuit involving EE System suggest a comparatively simple 4-unit EE System installation would cost $26,000, while a 24-unit installation would cost a hefty $114,000.
It's not clear what Michael's followers are getting for their money. Independent studies of the EE System's medical effects are hard to find, and Michael's company didn't provide The Daily Beast with scientific proof that they're beneficial.
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Michael's own website lists research meant to show the devices work, though even these are inconclusive. One study of 12 patients, for example, noted one patient died of cancer while receiving treatment-hardly an endorsement of the idea that an EE System will cure diseases. Others stopped receiving their "scalar" doses because they grew tired of paying the steep bill associated with hours in front of the machines.
The cost of a few hours in an EE System center, which websites suggest can range between $20 and $50 an hour, is a common complaint among EE System fans. In a July post on EE System's Instagram page, a Utah believer said they were paying $50 an hour for their father, who was suffering from liver cancer, to sit in front of the screens. Because the poster's father was too sick to move without help, the EE System supporter also had to pay for their own time in front of the screens.
"$100 an hour gets expensive," they wrote.
Still, that's a small sum compared to what other one-time customers say they paid for an EE System. In 2015, Michael began trying to sell a home system to Barbara Pinder, a California woman whose mother was dying of leukemia. In Pinder's telling, Michael insisted a 12-unit system, sold at roughly $60,000, could cure her mother's cancer. Pinder eventually relented, putting down a $20,000 deposit to have the screens installed in her mother's home.
After Pinder paid the deposit, though, her mother decided she didn't want the devices. Michael and her company refused to refund Pinder's money, and demanded Pinder pay them back for time she had spent at Michael's EE System center, receiving free therapy and "salt baths." In 2021, Nevada consumer regulators fined EE System and Michael roughly $30,000 in fines and restitution for deceptive trade practices.
Michael only set her sights higher after the fine. A few months later, she told Shurka that mysterious forces were encouraging her to use the EE System to build medical technology for spaceships.
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But if the aliens have commissioned Michael, they may be disappointed by what they find. There's evidence that, despite what she claims, the EE System doesn't possess any special technology beyond a computer program.
In 2012, Michael became embroiled in a lawsuit with acupuncturist Michael Kaufmann, who began distributing a product similar to the EE System. While Michael claimed that Kaufmann had effectively stolen her product and renamed it the "Synchronicity Wave System," Kaufmann countered that he had licensed it from another man, Robert Religa.
In Religa's telling, the device that Michael found so similar to her own wasn't based on any kind of wave technology. Instead, it was just a computer program that generated different kinds of colored static screens-a sort of color therapy, at best, but nothing that could cure leukemia. Kaufmann and Michael eventually settled the lawsuit.
It's not clear that monitors themselves are especially high-tech, either. According to Pinder, Michael's employees told her they would use part of her $20,000 deposit to buy the black-box hardware that made up the system. The monitors, they said, would just be purchased at a local Best Buy.
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