My aunt has recently been into an alternative medicine practice called "earthing". It's apparently based on the idea that you'll be healthier if you keep your body electrically grounded at all times.
She asked me, since I know something about electricity, whether there's any scientific basis for it.
"Earthing" advocates talk about the ground as being a reservoir of free electrons; they say your body needs these electrons to neutralize free radicals, and they say that wearing rubber-soled shoes insulates modern man from the ground, cutting off your electron supply.
There's something psychologically appealing here - the modern world does make us feel cut off from the earth, so along comes a claim saying that being cut off from literal physical contact is literally damaging your health, for reasons that sound vaguely scientific. So I can see why people would fall for it.
Look, I totally believe that people who walk around barefoot outside a lot are healthier. But they're healthier because they're getting exercise and fresh air and sunshine and feeling carefree and feeling connected to nature, not because they're electrically grounded. Grounding yourself isn't going to hurt anything, but it's not going to give you "more electrons" than you would pick up from touching random objects all day.
If you're worried you're not electrically grounded, just touch a metal doorknob and you'll find out pretty fast! Getting the electrons you need to neutralize your charge isn't some gentle field of healing energy - it's literally a shock. That's all being grounded means: you're prevented from building up a static charge. In a circuit that uses A/C power and/or delicate electronics this is an important safety measure. But there's nothing special about the earth in this regard; it's just a large neutrally-charged object. Saying that the earth contains a limitless supply of free electrons is technically true, but that makes it sound like an energy source, which it isn't. (If it was, we'd be getting free electricity by plugging into the ground, not burning fossil fuels.)
And finally, if your body contains free radicals but is neutrally charged overall (which it is!), you're not going to pick up any extra electrons from being grounded. (As if extra electrons in your the skin of your feet could somehow find the free radicals in your body to neutralize them, which is extremely unlikely.)
There's a thorough takedown here which points out that neutralizing free radicals isn't even necessarily good for your health.
Earthing fans claim that it's been scientifically shown to reduce blood viscosity, but the abstract of the research paper shows a sample size of ten and it's not clear they even used a control group.
The people pushing "earthing" appear to be profiting from the sale of sleeping pads that plug into a wall socket so you can be grounded while you sleep. So yeah, this is yet another pseudoscientific fad designed to sell people expensive stuff that does nothing (see also crystals, magnetic bracelets, "orgone energy" emitters, homeopathic medicine, etc.)
The lesson here is that anybody can take any random harmless activity and claim it has health benefits, and as long as the claims are vague enough ("reduce aches and pains, sleep better, have more energy") the placebo effect will be enough to convince some people it's working.
And I'm mad at people who peddle this shit, because they're rip-off artists, taking money from people who don't know enough science to be skeptical.
But you know who else I'm mad at? The United States health care system. For failing so many people so badly that those people feel like they're better off believing in fucking magic than in modern medicine. If our health-care-slash-insurance-company system wasn't such a huge, uncaring, impersonal, bureaucracy, if it treated people as individuals deserving of empathy instead of interchangeable parts on an assembly line, maybe fewer people would be driven into the arms of pseudoscience.