Edited and revised: June 21, 2002


The Electronic Radio Biola


Ken Raines



The Watchtower Society in The Golden Age magazine promoted numerous highly questionable medical cures and remedies. Some of these were more related to the occult arts than medical science. One of these endorsements was of the electronic theory of disease of Dr. Albert Abrams. Several machines and techniques were developed by Dr. Abrams and by his supporters after his death in 1924. Some of these were used by International Bible Students (JWs) on the recommendation of the Watchtower Society in The Golden Age. These devices supposedly diagnosed and cured diseases of all kinds. One of these machines, the Electronic Radio Biola, was invented by a Bible Student and advertised for sale in The Golden Age magazine.





Automatic Electronic Diagnosis

In the April 22, 1925 Golden Age magazine there appeared the article, "Automatic Electronic Diagnosis" by Dr. R. A. Gamble. At the beginning of the article C. J. Woodworth, the Editor of The Golden Age, inserted this endorsement in brackets:

[THE GOLDEN AGE has the fullest confidence in any representations that may be made by Doctor Gamble. He is well known to many of our readers and we are sure they will read this important article with interest.-;Editor.]

Dr. Gamble was "well known" to Golden Age readers as he was a prominent Bible Student and was the Chairman of the 1922 Bible Student Convention.

Dr. Gamble announces in this article his new medical invention based on the Electronic Reactions of Abrams (ERA). Because of the controversial nature of the ERA at the time, Dr. Gamble introduces his subject in the following manner:

I KNOW that the GOLDEN AGE has hitherto held aloof from saying anything, either one way or the other, about the famous Abrams' Electronic system of detecting and treating diseased conditions; but I feel that the time has now come when it may safely do so. A new discovery in this field has such promise of being an inestimable boon to mankind that I feel it would be a pity to keep it under cover. (p. 451 ¶1)

Actually, The Golden Age had recently published the article, The Power of the Mind by a Bible Student Chiropractor and Osteopath by the name of A. P. Pottle. The article not only endorsed the ERA but many of its psychic and occult methods and connections as well such as telepathy, mind reading, Physiognomy and more.[1] Dr. Gamble was probably not aware of it as the article more than likely came out after he had written and sent his article to The Golden Age for publishing. The two articles were published almost exactly two months apart.

Dr. Gamble, unaware of this recent endorsement spends some time to begin with defending the ERA and Dr. Abrams, saying:

To Dr. Abrams is due, and will always be due, the credit for setting forth the fundamental truths concerning the Electronic theory in its application to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. His method, as taught and applied, has already created a revolution in the ranks of medicine which only the uninformed and the unprogressive will deny. (p. 452, ¶7)

It was an epochal discovery in science and in medicine when the revelations came home to professional men that all substances are to a greater or less extent broadcasting stations, putting signals on the air which vary as do the assembly and rate of the "electrons" of which they are composed. All the sensory organs--nose, eyes, ears, mouth, and touch--are receiving sets. Every nerve tract in the body is a receiving set; and hence the medical profession can not possibly ignore radio, even if it would. (pp. 451-2, ¶9)

Though claiming that only those who were "unprogressive" and "uninformed" would deny that Abrams' methods had already created a "revolution" in medicine, the fact is, by the time this was published, two major scientific investigations of the ERA had determined that is was "the height of absurdity" and worthless in detecting and curing diseases.[2] The ERA as a result was by this time relegated to medical cult status and following.

On the other hand, he may have been aware of the Scientific American investigation for example and simply brushed aside the evidence against the ERA for Gamble admits that the late Dr. Abrams' "epoch-making discoveries" were denounced. He brushed this aside not with any empirical evidence, but to simply note that when X-Ray technology was first developed some "experts on the leading magazine for electrical engineers,... rushed into print denouncing the whole thing as a fake and an impossibility, and reproved the public for being so foolish, so credulous,..." (p. 452 ¶5)

Dr. Gamble, though, claimed to have first hand knowledge that Abrams' methods cured individuals as he "studied" with Abrams in 1922 in San Francisco and saw its effects (p. 452 ¶8). This corroborates Roy Goodrich's claim that J.F. Rutherford himself sent Bethel doctors to San Franscico in 1922 to learn Abrams's techniques or as Goodrich put it, "import" this "demonism" back to Bethel. [3] This includes the Bethel Osteopath, Mae J. Work who used the ERA on Bethelites. She claimed to have been sent to study Abrams's techniques in 1922. [4] Further corroboration of Goodrich's claim comes from the fact that William Hudgings, a prominent Bible Student and one of the three listed publishers of The Golden Age magazine including the one under discussion, claimed to have studied Abrams's methods in San Francisco.[5]

Dr. Gamble spent some time in laying the groundwork for announcing his Biola invention by explaining Abram's ERA methods. Man, Dr. Gamble said, was a machine with 28 trillion wet batteries (p. 453 ¶2, 3) and :

If the electrical "balance" of the cells is correct proper nerve supply, nutrition and elimination will follow as a matter of course.... FROM what has thus far been said, it will be apparent to all that any disease is simply an "out of tune" condition of some part of the organism. In other words, the affected part of the body "vibrates" higher or lower than normal. It has a different vibratory rate than the rest of the body. It is out of "balance". It is dis-eased. Diseased tissues radiate more energy than healthy tissues, and this imbalance can be measured and corrected. (p. 453 ¶4, 8)

Organs that were "unbalanced" electrically were diseased. Since disease was some kind of electrical imbalance and "broadcast" waves or electronic vibrations from the electrons, it could be, in theory, corrected by "sending an electronic current of the right potentiality into the diseased tissues" as two identical waves colliding will cancel each other out (p. 453 ¶4).

Dr. Gamble also quotes a Professor Blackburn in support who said that "everything vibrates or is a broadcasting station" for electronic or radio waves (p. 453 ¶5). Thus, said professor Blackburn (as quoted by Gamble):

Our objective then is to collect those peculiar vibrations which are set up in the body by the many various diseases to which humanity is subject, and then to send into the body exact corresponding waves or vibrations. When these introduced waves meet the diseased waves in the body, both cease to exist and nature restores the balance. Therefore, gentlemen, if we work out machines or apparatus that assure us of a perfect tuning in, we are masters of all disease. (p. 453 ¶7)

In explaining how sending electromagnetic waves with the same "vibratory rate" as the diseased tissue would cancel out the disease "vibrations" Gamble wrote:

Science tells us that when two high radio frequency waves of the same rate meet, they become neutralized; and upon this fact is based the entire principle of treatment by electronic treatment machines. In other words, when an electro-magnetic wave meets in its path a substance vibrating at the same rate of speed or resonance, that wave is stopped; and the energy is absorbed by the medium that stopped it. (p. 453 ¶9)


Electronic Radio Biola

The main point of Dr. Gamble's article was to announce his "Electronic Radio Biola" which he believed solved the problems of incorrect diagnosis and high medical costs:

In trying to find a way to lessen this cost, and to ensure 100 percent correct diagnosis, I have been fortunate enough to discover a new application of the electronic radio principle, which eliminates both the cost of diagnosis and the possible errors of incompetent ERA practitioners, and brings the whole matter of the treatment of disease by electronic methods within the reach of every family. (p. 454 ¶5)

I HAVE named this new discovery, which I believe will be epochal in the history of the treatment of disease, and which I am exclusively announcing in THE GOLDEN AGE prior to its general publication elsewhere, The Electronic Radio Biola, which means new life renewed by radio waves or electrons. The Biola automatically diagnoses and treats diseases by the use of the electronic vibrations. The diagnosis is 100 percent correct, rendering better service in this respect than the most experienced diagnostician, and without the attending cost. (p. 454 ¶6)

Perhaps his "epochal" discovery was first announced in The Golden Age and not medical journals such as JAMA because there was no scientific merit to it - it was never brought up for discussion within the medical field to my knowledge. Also, I don't think the average "diagnostician", i.e., medical doctor, would believe without empirical confirmation that a device just invented based on a discredited theory was "100 percent correct" in diagnosing and treating all diseases. By this time, some in the scientific community did test the ERA theory and devices and denounced them as worthless in diagnosing and curing diseases. Dr. Gamble was someone "familiar" to and trusted by the The Golden Age's readers and they were a better audience to receive this epochal announcement.


The Biola Wave Trap

Dr. Gamble's description of how the Biola catches and stores the "disease vibrations" and restores health is interesting:

THE principle of operation of the Biola is the collection, in suitable media... of the disease vibrations, if any, which have been set up in one's body. The fluid containing the same waves or vibrations enters the body, meets the disease waves and destroys them. The Biola is constructive, the wave trap containing the essential elements needed by the body to recreate and reconstruct the broken-down tissues or cells. This is a great step forward, marking the Biola as the most valuable treatment apparatus obtainable today, and well worthy of notice in the columns of THE GOLDEN AGE, which looks forward to perfect days ahead. (p. 454 ¶9)

In the operation of the Biola the patient's body is the motive power; and the vibrations coming from the earth, harnessed to the body, tunes in to every disease, no matter how small or how great, automatically carries them into the Biola, or radio wave trap, where they are registered, measured and held, and can be returned to the patient at will and used to destroy the very disease that created them. (p. 454 ¶10)

Abrams claimed each disease broadcast its waves at the same "vibratory rate" unique to that disease. If this is true, why not just have two people with the same disease stand next to or hug each other so their identical disease waves could broadcast at each other, canceling out each other, thus curing both their diseases?


Not slippery when wet

Gamble's description of the Biola's use of the disease vibrations becomes even more bizarre and hard to believe:

In operation, the Biola is attached to a ground wire, a radiator, from the heating system, or the like, which is in turn attached to the patient's body. The radio vibrations, carried by the electro magnetic earth currents, automatically vibrate in unison with each and every disease vibration in the body,... (p. 455 ¶1)

The Biola radio wave trap uses water as a medium for catching these disease vibrations; but water being a poor conductor, its conductivity is increased by the addition of the elements heretofore referred to, which not only increase the conductivity, but in addition absorb and hold the vibrations, and also impart to the tissues and organs the medicines or elements nature requires to reconstruct the parts broken down by the disease. (p. 455 ¶2)


Golden Age Advertisements

In the back of this same issue of The Golden Age, they printed the following advertisement for the Biola (for $35.00):

The Golden Age, April 22, 1925, p. 479.

The advertisement said the Radio-Biola would treat you and every member of your family of nothing less than "All Chronic Diseases" in the comfort of your home. You didn't even need to plug it into a wall socket as it "gets its power from the Electro-Magnetic Earth Currents."

Up to this time, The Golden Age ran paid ads for third party products such as the Radio-Active Solar Pad [6], Desmond's Miracle Oil, The Carbur-Aid, etc. Shortly after this article by Gamble and its ad for the Biola, The Golden Age stopped publishing advertisements for items beside the Bible Students' literature. They apparently received complaints from some of those who actually bought the material advertised and believed some were a sham. Woodworth in The Golden Age wrote an article in the December 2, 1925 issue on this apologizing and promising never to run ads for other material again. They said the following regarding this:

In a few issues we have run advertisements of something besides the books of the International Bible Students' Association. In a few instances also we have referred to inventions, books or other items that we judged might be of value to some of our readers... where the information we received at first was based on insufficient data or experience of the party furnishing it, then it occasionally turned out that the announcement was premature. We make no claim to infallibility, but do try to be honest, fearless, sincere and helpful. If we make mistakes forgive us. We repent "seventy times seven". [7]

This did not apply, they said, to the article by Dr. Gamble on the Electronic Radio Biola:

Some six months ago we published an article on Automatic Electronic Diagnosis by Dr. Gamble, explaining the principles of the Biola, a device for aiding the sick along lines somewhat similar to the operation of the radio in carrying the human voice. The explanation as Dr. Gamble made it seem so reasonable that we could hardly forbear publication.

Dr. Gamble has now sent us some concrete evidence that this device has proven what he had hoped it would; and as a vindication of our judgment in publishing the original article from him, and possibly as a benefit to our readers, we publish the gist of these, omitting postoffices. We want to benefit the people; but lest by some publication we unwittingly mislead, our future policy will be:

Hereafter we shall publish no advertisements or articles other than the books of the International Bible Students Association,... [8]

They then printed eleven testimonial letters from laymen on the positive effects of the device.

JWs used and promoted ERA devices for decades including the Oscilloclast of Dr. Albert Abrams and the Radio Disease Killer. I don't know how long JWs used the Biola. M. James Penton, professor emeritus of History at lethbridge, Canada, an ex-JW and author of Apocalypse Delayed on JW history, according to posts on the Jesus' Witnesses email list claimed to have been treated with a Biola by a JW in 1949.




References and notes

1. A.P. Pottle, "The Power of the Mind," The Golden Age, February 25, 19-25, pp. 332-334.

2. Scientific American, "Our Abrams Investigation," March, 1923 through September, 1924: The Lancet, January 24, 1925, pp. 177-181; British Medical Journal, January 24, 1925, pp. 179-185.

3. Roy Goodrich, Demonism and the Watchtower, 1969, Back to the Bible Way.

4. Mae J. Work, "What is E.R.A.?", The Golden Age, April 30, 1930, p. 483.

5. William Hudgings, Dr. Abrams and the Electron Theory, New Century, 1923; William Hudgings, The How and Why of Electronic Healing, Part 1, New Century, 1923.

6. The Golden Age, January 19, 1921, p. 239.

7. The Golden Age, Dec. 2, 1925, p. 140, ¶9.

88. Ibid., ¶10, 11.