Reiki versus dogs just being dogs

Let me start right here by repeating yet again my oft-repeated assessment of reiki. Reiki is clearly nothing more than faith healing that substitutes Eastern mysticism for Christianity. Think of it this way. In faith healing, the faith healer claims to channel the healing power of God into the person being healed. In reiki, the reiki master claims to be able to channel “life energy” from what they refer to as the “universal source.” Big difference, right?

Wrong. It’s the same thing.

Let me also point out that, as much as I detest quackery, I’m particularly not a big fan of subjecting innocent animals to quackery. That’s why I’ve been particularly critical of subjecting animals to acupuncture, the way Cesar Milan does sometimes on his show The Dog Whisperer. I also haven’t been much of a fan of reiki masters subjecting animals to reiki. As large animal veterinarian David Ramey puts it, the use of such therapies as acupuncture is a triumph of style over substance. The only good thing I can say about subjecting animals to reiki is that at least it doesn’t involve sticking needles into the poor creatures. The other thing I can say is that frequently it involves some hilarity on the part of reiki masters, particularly “reiki animal shamans.” I found yet another example of this not too long ago at the About.com Guide to Holistic Healing in the form of an article by someone named Phylameana lila Desy, who describes herself thusly:

Phylameana is certified in Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki and the Science of Intuition from the Holos Institutes of Health. She is an energy medicine practitioner, clairvoyant, intuitive counselor, flower essence consultant, and owner of Spiral Visions. Her lifework includes writing, web-publishing, and healing work. Author of The Everything Guide to Reiki, (January 2012). Phylameana’s writing resume includes contributed content published in a variety of healing texts including: The Meditation Sourcebook, Living Well with Autoimmune Disease, and Sacred Stones. Her Chakracises were referenced in an article published in Body and Soul Magazine (March 2006).

As you can see, Phylameana is not exactly what you would call a skeptical person. She embraces all manner of non-science-based woo, as befits a reiki master. This embrace produces hilarious results in an article by her, What if My Dog Prefers Petting Over Reiki?, in which she solicits a response to this very question from Rose De Dan. We’ve met Rose before when she counseled another reiki practitioner who tried to heal a dog who had been hit by a car and a cat with a fatal viral infection. Unsurprisingly, neither worked. The best Rose could answer was to blithely tell this hapless reiki master that “the practitioner does not always get what they want, but the recipient always gets what they need.” Mick Jagger analogies aside, Rose took the hilarity one step further by suggesting that the reiki master “consider sending Reiki back in time for yourself, to the point of origin of your need to make a difference or ‘heal'” and “send Reiki back in time to the situation, the occasion of the passing of each animal, for the highest good of all, thereby opening possibilities for them.”

As I put it at the time, where’s The Doctor when you need him?

But back to the problem at hand. Why would a dog prefer petting to reiki? Heck, why would a dog prefer treats to reiki? Any dog owner would know the answer to that: Dogs love food, and most dogs are pretty food-driven. Most of them also love to be petted. As for reiki itself, in case you don’t know what reiki actually involves, I’ll tell you. Basically, in order to channel the “life energy” from the “universial source” reiki masters sometimes do do an elaborate series of hand gestures. Sometimes they simply hold their hands over the person who is to receive their “healing,” much as practitioners of “therapeutic touch” do, which is not surprising given that, if anything, therapeutic touch resembles various “energy healing” modalities like—you guessed it—reiki. Oh, you’ll sometimes see arguments over whether touching is permitted or whether the woo works if there’s actual skin-to-skin contact, but in the end it’s all basically the same thing: Magic healing based on wishful thinking.

So let’s get to the question:

Is there a right/wrong way, or suggestions how to do Reiki on my dogs? I have been attuned in Reiki 1 (a few years ago) & Reiki 2 (in March). It occurred to me I hadn’t done Reiki with my 2 dogs so I tried to do it. They don’t want me to just hold my hands over them or in one spot as they want to be petted by my hands (of course — they are dogs). So while stroking my dog, I made the master symbol just intended for the higher good; one itches a lot so I’m going to see if Reiki can help with that. But, my hands have to keep moving or he gets annoyed/confused. Any right or wrong way about this (in terms of keeping the movement versus stationary)? Or would it be more effective to do a distance healing?

I’m going to surprise you by saying that “distance healing” would be at least as effective as doing standard reiki. Well, maybe it’s not such a surprise. The reason that both are equally effective is that neither are effective. It is, however, rather amusing, this reiki woo-meister’s dilemma. In a way, dogs are smarter than humans in that they don’t fool themselves into believing that hand motions are anything more than hand motions. They’d much prefer to be petted than to have some silly human making pointless hand symbols over them. I know what my dog would probably do if I were to try to make these hand symbols over him in order to “heal” him. He’d probably think I was playing with him and get very excited. My dog and I sometimes wrestle, and there are few things my dog likes better; he even likes this better than chasing a ball. Of course, big doofus that my dog is, wrestling often results in accidental scratches—to me on my hands and arms. The same thing used to happen with the last dog I had who liked to play this way back when I was a teenager. Alternatively, he might become confused or annoyed (like the hapless reiki master’s dog in the letter) and try to escape, particularly if he’s not in the mood to play or if there’s a distracting squirrel or bird in the yard.

So what is Rose’s advice? This:

I would suggest asking your dog to help you practice your new skills. Approach the session by stating (to yourself), “I ask that this Reiki be offered for your highest healing good, and that if you do not wish to receive it, I respect your desire.” This enlists his support, shifts focus from your need to his, and releases your focus on “fixing” the issue.

Next I would tell him the steps that you intend to take. Imagine yourself going through the steps in your mind, with your hands being still–this will give your dog information about what to expect and how he could cooperate.

Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work, just as it’ll work if you ask your dog “permission” to do anything. Of course, this whole “asking permission” thing is the perfect out if the animal doesn’t get better. Obviously, if the dog (or whatever animal) stays the same, he must not have wanted to be healed! Of course, humans frequently perceive their dogs’ behavior in terms of their own wishful thinking rather than on the more—shall we say?—basic motivations that drive dogs, in essence anthropomorphizing their dog’s behavior and perceived motivations. Reiki is perfect for driving this misinterpretation. You can bet that virtually anything the dog does will be perceived as “giving permission.” Well, anything perhaps, except dying, as the dog unfortunately did in my previous deconstruction of this nonsense.

Rose then suggests:

It sounds like you were trained to do Reiki hand positions above the body rather than making contact as I do. If that is so I would suggest placing your hands directly on your dog since he will understand that better. However, it is not necessary to keep both hands still during a session for it to be effective. One hand can stay in the intended hand position while the other is involved with the expected petting.

In other words, Rose is advising this hapless reiki master simply to pet her dog with one hand. Of course the dog will like it! Dogs love to be petted. Sure, the dog would probably prefer to be petted with both hands, but dogs are adaptable. They’ll take what they can get from their owners. Looking at the hand positions described, I’m even more convinced that, were I to try this with my dog, he’d think it was time to wrestle, particularly because several of the hand gestures shown involve covering the face.

Rose then concludes with advice regarding the dog’s itchy skin, suggesting both reiki, dietary modifications, and “detoxification” (of course!) in order to alleviate the dog’s symptoms.

I must admit that I find this particular article a lot less disturbing than the last foray into animal reiki by Rose that I discussed, not because reiki is any less pure quackery, but because at least in this case the animal getting the reiki is not dying, as the dog hit by a car was. At least in this case, although reiki isn’t doing the dog any good, at least it’s not causing harm by delaying definitive treatment—or at least palliation—of painful injuries. On one level, the owner’s expressed frustration that her dog is in essence just being a dog is highly amusing, but at least the dog isn’t suffering. The danger is that, should her dog develop a real health issue that requires real medical treatment, she might be slow to seek real medical treatment because she wants to try magical faith healing first.

Comments

  1. #1 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    And trust me, the government of Canada would dearly love to save millions of dollars a year on a treatment that would cost so little……

  2. #2 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    @MSII
    James Randi is insane 🙂

  3. #3 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    That’s hilarious Judith. Really, proof please of any of your statements, including this last one.

  4. #4 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 24, 2012

    Good mature, intelligent answer. Just as mature as using smiley faces that makes you seem like you’re 12 years old.

    Hey, the $cientologists also believe in energy healing. They call it “touch assist”. They show up at disaster sites in bright yellow T-shirts (like 9/11 and Haiti), and interfere with the real emergency aid workers. Police usually have to escort them out. Maybe they should start offering reiki at their empty Idle Morgues to raise some more money.

    And why does the reiki industry insist on capitalizing “reiki”? Is it to give it a veneer of credibility? Real scientific fields, like surgery, psychiatry, oncology, etc. are never capitalized (unless at the beginning of a sentence, of course). On the other hand, religions ARE capitalized: Catholicism, Judiasm, Presbyterian, etc. So it seems the reiki industry is trying to align itself more with religion than science.

    Just some random thoughts on energy healing, since Judith is so full of random thoughts (and full of a lot more…SMILEY FACE!!!)

  5. #5 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    @Agashem

    I was punning on MSII’s name.

    @everyone else

    Why healing may be difficult to prove in the lab:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

  6. #6 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    Isn’t there an skeptic rule that as soon as the ‘opposition’ cites quantum physics they lose?
    And to quote Bohr, anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

  7. #7 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    @Agashem
    I think you are thinking of Godwin’s law and it’s not quantum physics but Hitler.

  8. #8 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    Maybe you should read more skeptical literature. I think I am right but it doesn’t have a name. Seriously, you don’t understand quantum physics nor do you understand how the body heals

  9. #9 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    @Agashem
    And you do?

  10. #10 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    @Agashem
    Interesting article on James Randi:
    http://stevevolk.com/archives/952

  11. #11 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    I have an understanding of how the body heals but am quite aware of the limitations of my knowledge. As for quantum physics, I know enough to know I know nothing.

  12. #12 Agashem
    June 24, 2012

    Judith Schutz, is that you?
    Well, nice meeting you. Some interesting reading on the interwebs. Don’t believe a word of it myself, but I can see how long you have been immersed in this stuff so no wonder you are fighting so hard.
    If you ever climb out of the rabbit hole, let us know.

  13. #13 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    Under the golden arches
    June 24, 2012

    MSII –

    Think a Big Mac looks as good in person as it does in a commercial?

    Yes, yes it does. And it smells better in person than on TV as well.

  14. #14 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2012

    Judith,

    Do you really mean to suggest that when energy healing is really tested all the positive results happen in some alternate reality? What makes that any better than not working at all? Does the treatment help, or do you just have to hope you’re on the right timeline?

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2012

    @ Mephistiphele O’Brien:

    Oh come on! Do you expect me to believe that an erudite, sophisticated fellow like you HASN’T ever waltzed around an alternate reality for a day or two?
    Haven’t we all?**
    So to be entirely fair, we must consider that possibility- despite it’s infinitessimally small liklihood of occurence..

    ** actually, I may have been there yesterday for a few hours.
    I’m better now.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2012

    erratum:Shame on me! *ITS*

  17. #17 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2012

    Denice Walter – was that you I saw on Earth 37825 (or “Schwartz” as it is known to the locals) sipping Chateau Lafite Goldfarb – one of the great kosher wines, sadly unavailable here?

  18. #18 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    June 24, 2012

    Judith

    2:34 pm

    @Agashem
    I was punning on MSII’s name.
    @everyone else
    Why healing may be difficult to prove in the lab:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

    See, Judith, this just demonstrates perfectly that you have no clue as to what you’re going on about. The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is just that—an interpretation. Nobody disputes the experimental results of QM, just what kind of picture we should be able to build up of reality based upon them. In the case of Reiki, it’s exactly the “experimental” “results” we dispute. All indications are it’s bullshit. Therefore we are under no obligation to “interpret” its integration into our world-picture.

  19. #19 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.com
    June 24, 2012

    Judith:

    Enough with the meaningless quote-drops, accusations of close-mindedness, and baloney attempts to coopt quantum physics concepts to support your nonsense.

    Where is the large body of rigorously-gathered evidence supporting reiki? It’s not like reiki practitioners have to spend millions of dollars and decades trying to convert some rare plant extract into a pharmaceutical product. If reiki really worked, it should be easy to develop a large, methodologically sound, incontrovertible body of evidence demonstrating its efficacy.

    That reiki‘s apologists and advocates are, after all this time, incapable of providing such evidence, is telling…

  20. #20 Narad
    June 24, 2012
    Think a Big Mac looks as good in person as it does in a commercial?

    Yes, yes it does.

    No, it doesn’t. The patties are far smaller, and the assembly is less than artful. It is a flavor-delivery device, that flavor mainly being salad dressing and beef scraps. (Which is not to say that I don’t like one every now and then.)

  21. #21 Judith
    June 24, 2012

    Do you think anyone with sufficient money to conduct large scale studies is interested enough in energy healing to throw the kind of money at it that proving it would require? Most of the studies out there right now are small mickey mouse efforts cobbled together by interested individuals with very little cash to invest. Everything is preliminary and most of them conclude that more large scale effort is required.

    Aside from money, the problem with setting up these studies is that you are not researching the effect of a substance on matter but the effect of mind on matter. And while belief is not required for energy healing to work, rigid non-belief does effectively stop it from working. BTW IMHO that is the reason why no one has walked away with James Randi’s million dollars yet.

    I may be ignorant about quantum physics (as most of us are) but you are all profoundly ignorant about reiki and its cousins. You equate it with magic, which it isn’t, and faith healing, which it also isn’t, although some forms of faith healing can have energy healing components (e.g., Dr. Issam Nemeh’s). It is absolutely real, it can be absolutely effective, and it does have scientific principles behind it which we do not yet know or understand. (There are two books out there offering suggestions, James Oschman’s _Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis_ and Claude Swanson’s _Life Force: The Scientific Basis_. Both authors have PhDs, one in biology and the other in physics.)

    I have been studying various forms of energy healing for a while now and I’ve seen its effects. It’s not hit-and-miss; most of the people I treat not only feel it but get better. I treat people who have gone as far as they could with their doctors and physiotherapists. I’ve seen chronic injuries clear up, knee surgery averted, people unable to work return to work. Most of them don’t pay me. And I have nothing but contempt for so-called reiki masters who teach levels 1, 2, and 3 in one weekend and use reiki purely as a money generating machine. Yes, there are charlatans out there. Yes, it’s hard to weed them out. But to dismiss the whole phenomenon of energy healing because of that is limiting and short-sighted. How healing happens is not fully known; any doctor will tell you that. They will also tell you that they don’t cure but just help bring about conditions in which the body can heal itself. Energy healers do the same thing, but through different means and from a different angle.

    Until such time as someone comes up with the proper studies, I will continue practicing as I have been, and you should feel free to continue disbelieving. It would be a boring world if we were all the same.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2012

    @ Mephistopheles O’Biren:

    One never knows do one
    – probably one of the cousins- we all look alike.

  23. #23 Sauceress
    June 24, 2012

    “Quantum Mechanics”?

    BINGO!

  24. #24 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2012

    @ Mephistopheles :
    Pardonnez le typo, s.v.p.

    Maybe i should just attribute any errata to my alternate world self… useful idea, that!

  25. #25 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2012

    Judith,

    You might try to find funding for trials at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. You might also try various hospitals associated with universities – I notice that the University of Washington ran one such trial, I think Yale or Harvard would be interested. If couched in the correct terms, schools that have an energy healing tradition – such as Oral Roberts University, perhaps – should have an interest in supporting such research.

    My advice, though, would be to start small and stay focused. Having 1 trial each for 14 different conditions dilutes your efforts and proves nothing. Your goal should be to prove that energy healing works for something specific – and you should be ready to define what work means – rather than attempting to prove it is a broad spectrum cure right off the bat. Start with something common where you can build up a repeatable base. Be sure to follow good protocols for randomization, blinding, and placebo controls. And be sure to report results, both positive and negative.

    Believe it or not, it is perfectly possible to conduct valid experiments to determine the effect of mind on matter as long as you control for all the possible confounding factors that may exist. The claim that it’s impossible to perform proper tests on your technique because it’s so different is, frankly, a red flag that something is fishy.

    It would be in poor taste to publicly doubt your belief you are doing people good. Just remember that even some of the greatest minds have fooled themselves and believed that results followed actions that had absolutely no effect.

  26. #26 Narad
    June 24, 2012

    rather than attempting to prove it is a broad spectrum cure right off the bat

    Well, abscessed feline anal sacs have already been taken out. I’m really interested in the theoretical interpretation here, but I’ve to get it.

  27. #27 Narad
    June 24, 2012

    ^ “yet to get it”

  28. #28 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2012

    Narad,

    I am not an energy healer, so can’t be sure. I suspect energy healing won’t be attempted on abscessed anal sacs because the practitioner would have to visualize them, and that would be icky. However, that is only one view of one incident, and there haven’t been proper studies done.

  29. #29 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 24, 2012

    Narad,

    re Big Macs on TV: I read a fascinating piece recently online about commercial studios that do nothing but food commercials, namely fast food and chain restaurants. The amount of food styling and manipulation is astounding. Each sesame seed is applied to a bun by tweezer. Oil is sprayed on to make meat glisten. Dry ice beds under the food look like steam and smoke. They even invented a food cannon for a Red Lobster commercial so shrimp and scallops could be thrown together and combine in mid-air. Grill marks are applied with mascara.

    I’ll try to find the piece and post the link.

  30. #30 Sauceress
    June 24, 2012

    Narad
    Sadly your cat is presently deceased in another branch of the universe. However, you may take consolation in the fact if your cat were to cease living in this dimension, it will be alive in another branch…

  31. #31 Narad
    June 24, 2012

    I am not an energy healer, so can’t be sure. I suspect energy healing won’t be attempted on abscessed anal sacs because the practitioner would have to visualize them, and that would be icky.

    Nonsense. They’re so inocuous as to be nearly undetectable unless one knows what one is looking for. I mean, sure, the general target region is obvious, but this would also imply that reiki is ineffective for common human sebaceous/epidermoid cysts in the same region. But cancer? Fer shure.

  32. #32 Narad
    June 24, 2012

    I read a fascinating piece recently online about commercial studios that do nothing but food commercials, namely fast food and chain restaurants. The amount of food styling and manipulation is astounding.

    There is the practical matter of working under pretty hot lights. That square of cheese just ain’t gonna hold.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    A German e-mail cafe with the weird keyboard layout
    June 25, 2012

    Also, you know those jokes that you didn’t get, riffing off the notion of “quantum entanglement” between the subject group and control group of mice?

    I had a very funny joke about ‘energy’, Hamiltonians and non-commuting operators, but the margin was too narrow to write it out.

  34. #34 JGC
    June 25, 2012

    Suggestion for controlling healing intent

    Start with a group of untrained potential therapists. Half are trained and attuned by ‘genuine’ Reiki masters, half are trained and attuned by actors playng the part of Reiki masters (coached to get significant portions of the training sufficiently wrong that there’d be no chance of ‘accidental’ attunement). Include a third group of therapists that receives no training whatsoever, but instead are told the study investigates the ‘latent healing ability we all possess’ to get a baseline for natural healing ability. Randomize which group the potential healers are assigned, and of course include a group of subjects that recieve no treatment.

    Then run a standard animal study with a hard (not self-reported) endpoint–something like collagen induced arthritis in mice, with reduction in % paw edema as the readout for efficacy. Compare results across groups.

    Healing intent should no longer be a confounder, since all three healing groups will presumably have the same intent while only the genuinely attuned group have the ability to implement it effectively.

    Mice are relatively cheap–shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive to achieve sufficient subject numbers to get robust statistics.

    Of course, the real question is what out will the Reiki advocates seize upon when it turns out genuinely attuned Reiki practiticioners are no more effective than the untrained or improperly trained healers?

  35. #35 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    June 25, 2012

    I had a very funny joke about ‘energy’, Hamiltonians and non-commuting operators, but the margin was too narrow to write it out.

    Another four centuries of effort to look forward to! Darn you, Bimler! Darn you to Heck!

  36. #36 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    June 25, 2012

    And since sans-serif fonts make “r”+”n” indistinguishable from “m”, my twee little joke was wasted. Seriously, Sciblogs—sans-serif fonts cause brain damage!

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    @ JGC:
    paw edema? I’m trying to visualise mouse paw edema measured by %!

    @ The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:
    … I see the r + n as separate well… HOWEVER… I thought the ” Darn you to Heck” phraseology was funny enough in itself.

  38. #38 JGC
    June 25, 2012

    Typically % edema (relative to baseline) is determined by measuring foot thickness with a micro-caliper, before and after collagen injection. Another objective and quantifiable read out could be substituted.

  39. #39 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 25, 2012

    The tl;dr version of the Steven Volk article Judith linked:

    “James Randi made one statement of judgment that can be interpreted as not being true; therefore he must be written off as never truthful and perhaps even an unstable fantasist who cannot even tell when he’s lying and when he’s not.”

    Well, Judith, thank you for letting us know what standard you want all your idols to be judged by! After all, I’m certain you wouldn’t want one standard for James Randi and a different standard for Doc Bengston, right?

    So according to the standards you chose, we should completely ignore everything Bengston has ever said. The fact that his control group did not suffer death when it was supposed to means he screwed up, and if Randi must be written off as an unstable fantasist, unreliable about anything in the whole world, for his lack of judgment regarding his long-term companion, why then Bengston must be regarded as an absolute washout in science whose “experimental data” is good for nothing more than a sneering laugh at his expense! So, congratulations on the torpedoing of exactly the data you’re trying to argue is of great significance, Judith!

  40. #40 JGC
    June 25, 2012

    Do you think anyone with sufficient money to conduct large scale studies is interested enough in energy healing to throw the kind of money at it that proving it would require?

    If there was credible evidence suggesting that it worked people with sufficient funds would be interested in funding such research, just as they now invest in science based research and development which offers potential returns on their investments. The lack of any real evidence energy healing works at all (much less that reliably enough to be a useful and meaningful addition to existing therapies) is the obstacle to getting studies funded.

    Convince venture capitalists there’s something real there and they’ll come calling with their checkbooks open and pen in hand..

  41. #41 Judith
    June 25, 2012

    @JGC
    The issue for venture capitalists is probably more likely is that there is no money to be made there. How do you get a return on your investment?

    Re: your very interesting suggestion for controlling healing intent, Dr. Bengston published an article entitled “Can Healing Be Taught” in which he questions whether healing is actually taught or transmitted, whether the act of learning gives permission to access a latent ability that was already there. He points out that no one every did a pre/post study. So your control group of untrained healers could easily have people with such latent ability in it.

  42. #42 Judith
    June 25, 2012

    Oh dear. Typed too quickly. That should be “or whether the act of learning” and “no one ever did”.

  43. #43 Judith
    June 25, 2012

    @Antaeus Feldspar
    You are dealing not with a substance here but with mind. Mind, unlike substance, can be non-local. This is not something you inject the mice with, or put in their food. It is much more difficult to limit or control. FYI you are committing a “type 2 error”.

  44. #44 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 25, 2012

    @Antaeus Feldspar
    You are dealing not with a substance here but with mind. Mind, unlike substance, can be non-local. This is not something you inject the mice with, or put in their food. It is much more difficult to limit or control. FYI you are committing a “type 2 error”.

    I’m just pointing out that if we judge Bengston by the same unforgiving standards that you want James Randi to be judged by, the fact that he failed to make his control group an actual control group means we can’t trust him in anything.

    As for your explanation of why Bengston should be forgiven, obviously you didn’t read my June 23 comment to you or couldn’t understand it. If we already had scientific proof that “mind, unlike substance, can be non-local” and can exert healing power that is not limited by distance or even by the fact that the experimenter should be trying like hell NOT to exert that healing power on the control group, there was no reason for Bengston to waste his time on the experiment. If we actually have no evidence for this mysterious healing power that works non-locally and without even anyone’s conscious volition (which happens to be the case in this reality) we sure as hell can’t accept that postulated non-local healing power as the true explanation for events. As I said in the June 23 comment you shut your eyes to, not finding Bigfoot’s footprints in the soft soil does not lead to the conclusion that Bigfoot and antigravity devices are real.

    The purported non-locality of the purported healing power and the purported ability of the healing power to transcend any obstacle except, curiously, skepticism, makes it a non-falsifiable hypothesis. Are you naive enough to think this is a good thing? It is not. It means that no matter how false your hypothesis is, your experiments will keep giving you the same incorrect answer that your hypothesis is supported.

    And if you think that’s a good thing, think again. All unfalsifiable hypotheses are equally supported by the evidence. So if I tell you that my explanation for the results of Bergston’s experiments is that he’s an energy vampire whose powers to drain life energy from helpless victims and transmit it to whichever subjects it suits his purposes to heal is unaffected by distance or contact, and that every one of those mice that lived when it was supposed to have died represents a human victim whose lifeforce was drained by Count Bergstonula, you can’t tell me I’m wrong. My hypothesis fits the data exactly as well as yours does, and is more plausible to boot: we see human beings all the time, but you show me one person who’s ever seen the “universal source.”

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    Oh lordy! Could someone please address the mind/ body issue: I thought we were all through with that dilemma these past few decades…centuries?
    I’m tired.

  46. #46 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    June 25, 2012

    Antaeus: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that “non-locality” is yet another physics concept that Judith uses as an incantation without having a ghost (in the machine?) of an idea of its meaning.

  47. #47 Narad
    June 25, 2012

    Mind, unlike substance, can be non-local.

    That’s a Bose condensate of gobbledygook.

  48. #48 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 25, 2012

    Something that’s been bugging me since Mrs. Woo posted about being able to control her pain, yet not heal her disease.

    How come the miraculous anecdotes of mind/energy/whatever tend to be attributed to gifted healers, but not to the patient? How do you control for the possibility that some of the patients themselves were “subliminally” gifted self-healers, who just didn’t know it until they heard a hint of a rumor that energy healers were around and their brains just went “Shoot, if they can do that”……

    It’s just turtles all the way down. And my head hurts.

  49. #49 Judith
    June 25, 2012

    @Infuriatingly Moderate
    You are absolutely right. It could also be gifted patients. Doctors meet them too.

    @Altaeus
    Love your unfalsifiable hypothesis. Now why did I not think of that?

  50. #50 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    The issue for venture capitalists is probably more likely is that there is no money to be made there. How do you get a return on your investment?

    Same way the people who funded the development of LASIK eye surgery, liposuction, gastric bypass for morbid obesity, etc., generated a return on their investment.

    So your control group of untrained healers could easily have people with such latent ability in it.

    Which is why that group is included as a control. If the principles of Reiki are valid, the genuinely attuned group must perform better than a completely untrained random sampling of the population, even when that sampling includes “latent” healers. If it only performs as well, we cannot assign any positive results the attuned group generates to the Reiki training rather than normally occurring latent healing ability.

    (of course, if it performs worse, we’ll have to conclude that Reiki training inhibited that group’s previously existing latent healing healing ability.

  51. #51 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @Mephistopheles
    Imagine the following scenario. Someone comes to you with a chronic injury condition that has responded in only a limited way to pain killers/physio over a period of months to years. He or she has restricted movement in a joint such as their knee or their shoulder. The person is walking with cane or with crutches; or cannot lift his or her arm; or cannot use his or her hand. You treat this person and as you are treating them they report feeling warmth or heat or pressure, and sometimes they report that they feel something move inside the joint, or they feel a muscle stretching all by itself. After treatment the person is able to walk without pain without using their cane; or is now able to walk using a cane instead of crutches; or they can use their hand to type or write whereas they couldn’t before; or they can lift their arm. They call back later to tell you that their doctor decided not to do laparoscopic knee surgery or a knee replacement after all, or that a fracture that wouldn’t heal for months suddenly healed. After you have seen over a dozen such occurrences, you have to ask yourself what happened. After months or years of treatment by drs or physiotherapists were you the one who suddenly gave the injured person permission to be pain free or to regain their mobility? Great, but why didn’t their doctor or their physiotherapist, over months or years of treatment? What’s different about what you do? Something is. One or two occurrences would point to chance, but multiple occurrences over time point to some kind of underlying mechanism being at work here.

    So do I need to run out to do studies to prove to myself or someone else that what I do works? Not really. Would I participate in studies that explore what is really happening? Yes, if anyone were actually interested.

  52. #52 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 26, 2012

    Judith,

    Just curious: what would you do, as a reiki practitioner, if a client came to you with cancer? Or AIDS? Or rabies?

    The scene you describe above sounds like what Peter Popoff and Benny Hine do. Ever see their healing videos? Do you believe those two men can do the same thing you do?

  53. #53 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 26, 2012

    Sorry, make that Benny Hinn. Although his act is so funny he could be Benny Hill.

    What about John of God, Judith? Do you believe he cures cancer with “invisible surgery”? He claims to channel 25 or 30 entities from history who guide him. Is he a charlatan in the reiki world? Or competition…?

  54. #54 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @MISS
    Rabies — keep away from me. Cancer or AIDS, I would treat you, but I wouldn’t tell you not to have medical treatment. We have treated people with cancer. Their quality of life improves. Many hospitals have volunteer reiki practitioners on-site to treat people who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

    Don’t know about John of God. Oprah had an interesting feature about him in which an MD went to Brazil to investigate him and the MD didn’t come away condemning him as a charlatan. Have you seen Wayne Dyer’s video interview about his experiences with John of God?

  55. #55 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    After you have seen over a dozen such occurrences, you have to ask yourself what happened.

    By what rational argument, after asking yourself “What happened?”, should you then leap to the conclusion that you’ve somehow magically healed them?

    So do I need to run out to do studies to prove to myself or someone else that what I do works? Not really.

    Not to yourself, perhaps, but if you actually do want to prove to others that what you do works then yes: I’m afraid you will have offer something other than anecdotal accounts.

  56. #56 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 26, 2012

    So you don’t actually think you’re curing cancer or AIDS–you’re just offering an adjunct to medication, chemo and radiation? How do you improve their quality of life and how do you know you’ve done that?

  57. #57 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @JGC
    I’m quite content to prove it to the people I treat.

    Also, there can be no rational argument that makes me jump to the conclusion that I magically healed them. I merely observe that they were healed, whereas they weren’t healed before either by medicine or physiotherapy. I would like to know how they were healed and what correlation, if any, there was between what I did and them getting better. I would study that.

  58. #58 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    I merely observe that they were healed

    It is selfish and amoral to charge people money for a ‘treatment’ that is solely based on the premise that your observations are infallible.

  59. #59 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @MISS
    Ask cancer patient prior to treatment what their level pain is from 1 to 10; ask cancer patient after treatment what their level of pain is from 1 to 10. We have seen it go from 10 to 2, with pain relief lasting for about a day and a half.

    One remarkable stage-4 pancreatic cancer patient we treated daily stopped using morphine after 5 days of treatment. Although he was supposed to be dying, he was released from hospital after a week of treatment to go home. His jaundice and the biomarkers of his cancer reversed. He lived ten more weeks, able to take walks and to go to the cottage, where he even barbecued. His doctor and oncology nurses were quite impressed and commented that had never seen anything like it.

    Another pancreatic cancer patient lived for 20 months after his stage-4 diagnosis, and for the first year while we treated him he was able to take walks, do home renovation projects, even go fishing in a remote national park.

    There are many anecdotal reports out there of Reiki helping with the side effects of chemo and radiation too.

  60. #60 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @AdamG
    We’ve covered that in previous posts. Read the thread.

  61. #61 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 26, 2012

    Judith,

    And you have no desire to do what you do better? What you do is as good as it can possibly be? Without conducting some form of study, how do you know which of the things you do have an impact and which don’t, and what can be done to improve your results?

  62. #62 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    Also, there can be no rational argument that makes me jump to the conclusion that I magically healed them. I merely observe that they were healed, whereas they weren’t healed before either by medicine or physiotherapy.

    I must presume no one has yet bothered to explain placebo effects, or confusing correlation and causation to you. Might want to look into that.

    “I would like to know how they were healed and what correlation, if any, there was between what I did and them getting better.”

    I’m confused–I understood you to be insisting that energy healing can be effective, while here you’re stating that you don’t know if there is even a correlation, much less a causative relationship, between what treatment and their reported improvement?

    I would study that.

    Hopefully long enough to have actual proof that your treatment causes the reported improvement, before charging anyone for your services.

    Ask cancer patient prior to treatment what their level pain is from 1 to 10; ask cancer patient after treatment what their level of pain is from 1 to 10. We have seen it go from 10 to 2, with pain relief lasting for about a day and a half.

    And you’ve excluded the possibility that this represents a placebo effect how, exactly?

    He lived ten more weeks, able to take walks and to go to the cottage, where he even barbecued. His doctor and oncology nurses were quite impressed and commented that had never seen anything like it.

    And you’ve established that this was a direct result of the treatment you provided how, exactly?

    <blockquote.There are many anecdotal reports out there of Reiki helping with the side effects of chemo and radiation too.

    Always necessary to recall that the plural of anecdote isn’t ‘evidence’.

  63. #63 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    really need a preview button

  64. #64 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    @AdamG
    Furthermore, neither physiotherapists nor doctors have any compunction about charging people for treatment that didn’t work.

  65. #65 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    I’ve read the thread. No, we haven’t “covered that.”

    You perform a ‘treatment’ that has no plausible biological mechanism and no evidence for its efficacy.

    You are unable to describe how Reiki or other forms of energy ‘healing’ could be falsified.

    In the absence of real, scientific data that validates your preconceived notions of Reiki, you cling to your observations.
    You assume that your observations are infallible.

    When you charge people money for ‘treatment’ based solely on your own perceived infallibility, you are acting in a selfish and amoral manner.

  66. #66 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    Ture–as is often pointed out vaccines aren’t 100% effective at generating protective antibody titers (contributing to the importance of herd immunity.)

    However, the fact that even science-based treatments are not 100% effective in all patients does not justify charging for treatments where there’s no evidence to suggest they have any efficacy at all.

  67. #67 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    Furthermore, neither physiotherapists nor doctors have any compunction about charging people for treatment that didn’t work.

    False analogy.
    What do you think the difference is between medicine and reiki is? One has large amounts of clinical evidence for its efficacy, and the other doesn’t. No one is claiming that medicine is 100% effective always. But through proper study we can quantify the extent to which medical procedures are effective. Reiki, according to you, is immune from such study. How do we know how effective reiki is? Should we trust your ‘observations that patients were healed?’

  68. #68 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    The part we covered is that I don’t charge most of the people I treat. And it is not MY observation that the patients were healed but their own observation that they were a heck of a lot better after I treated than they were before. They couldn’t help but notice that their knee no longer hurt or that they could bend it whereas they could not bend it for months or years before. In fact with some of them even their doctor noticed that for some inexplicable reason they no longer needed surgery or pain killers. Go figure.

    I don’t know how effective Reiki is. I know what happens to the people I treat; whether or not they see changes; whether or not they say they got better. If they do, something worked. Don’t trust my observations to mean that Reiki works because my observations obtain to my own experience and don’t prove anything about Reiki practitioners as a group. Even if you proved in a lab that Reiki worked, it still doesn’t mean that the Reiki practitioner down the street is effective. Just accept that there is something interesting going on that deserves further study, not the kind of study that tests the efficacy of medications, but the kind of study that explores the mechanisms by which they work. I guess I mean the kind of research that goes on when medications are being developed, prior to them being tested.

  69. #69 Narad
    June 26, 2012

    Just accept that there is something interesting going on that deserves further study

    Yah. Again, publish the case study of your miraculous effecting of a remission of pancreatic cancer, and then you can start insisting on what others need to accept.

  70. #70 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    I guess I mean the kind of research that goes on when medications are being developed, prior to them being tested.

    So you’re saying we should do preliminary research on Reiki’s effectiveness, but at the same time you continue to practice regardless of the completion or results of such studies. Why bother to study it at all then if the results won’t affect what you already do?

    I’ll ask again in a different way. What evidence would convince you that your ‘healing’ has no effect on the patients you treat, even when they report an improvement?

  71. #71 JGC
    June 26, 2012

    ..for some inexplicable reason they no longer needed surgery or pain killers

    Exactly –for some inexplicable reason, but for some reason you’re electing to assign the cause as energy healing.

    I don’t know how effective Reiki is.

    Wouldn’t basic honesty require know not only how effective but whether it’s effective at all before you treat clients, even if you’re only going to charge some of them for your services?

    Just accept that there is something interesting going on that deserves further study, not the kind of study that tests the efficacy of medications, but the kind of study that explores the mechanisms by which they work.

    Gladly, as soon as there’s some credible reason to accept something interesting is going on with respect to Reiki. Until then, energy healing gets filed with all the other unsupported potentially interesting ‘things going on’ such as dowsing, remote viewing, alien abductions, reptilian shapechangers, etc.

  72. #72 Denice Walter
    June 26, 2012

    Here’s an interesting parallel:
    I play tennis with many people who have knee, wrist or back problems which usually resolve on all their own sans surgery; sometimes even their doctors are surprised that there is so much improvement. Now I *certainly* would never attribute this to my own beneficial presence or capacity as a channel for divine power – but perhaps I do radiate healing energy .
    One never knows do one.

  73. #73 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    You all should look at the history of the development of penicillin.

  74. #74 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    You all should look at the history of the development of penicillin.

    We’re all well aware of the history of penicillin. Even if we weren’t it has no bearing on the discussion here. Just because something was proven to be effective doesn’t mean all things will be proven to be effective.

    You’re avoiding the point though. What evidence would convince you that your ‘healing’ has no effect on the patients you treat, even when they report an improvement?

  75. #75 Narad
    June 26, 2012

    You all should look at the history of the development of penicillin.

    Penicillin doesn’t work through the making of magic symbols that transcend the boundaries of space and time.

  76. #76 Judith
    June 26, 2012

    My point about the development of penicillin is that it was a very off the wall approach and you can see people rolling and eyes and saying “curing infections with bread mold? tell me another one” and looking for other reasons why the bacteria in the petri dish might have died, because surely it was a mistake.

    Can someone tell me about all the double-blind studies done on heart-transplants before the first heart-transplant operation?

    Science does not progress through rigid adherence to orthodoxy, but through openness to following up on happenstance through experimentation.

  77. #77 Agashem
    June 26, 2012

    Um, I think you need to look at the dogs that were sacrificed in the pursuit of heart transplants.
    Happenstance leads to an idea that needs to be articulated clearly and then defined. Once that is done, you may be able to set up an experiment that can be double blinded. But just because you can’t double blind everyone doesn’t mean you don’t have a viable study, but you need to admit the limitations of that study.
    The problem you start with, is what energy are you talking about? Is it measurable? Is it visible? How do you know when you are in its presence? If you can’t answer that, how do you expect to make an experiment? You need to define what you do. Then maybe you can start.
    So how about defining what energy you are manipulating and how you propose to measure it.

  78. #78 Narad
    June 26, 2012

    My point about the development of penicillin is that it was a very off the wall approach and you can see people rolling and eyes and saying “curing infections with bread mold? tell me another one” and looking for other reasons why the bacteria in the petri dish might have died, because surely it was a mistake.

    Of course, that’s not quite how it went down, now is it? As opposed to, say, being made up out of whole cloth.

    Can someone tell me about all the double-blind studies done on heart-transplants before the first heart-transplant operation?

    This is a non sequitur.

    Science does not progress through rigid adherence to orthodoxy, but through openness to following up on happenstance through experimentation.

    There is no “happenstance.” It’s in the wrong order.

  79. #79 AdamG
    June 26, 2012

    Still refusing to address falsification I see. Just like Marg did.

    What evidence would convince you that your ‘healing’ has no effect on the patients you treat, even when they report an improvement?

    If I (hypothetically) assert “watching TV 2 hours a day improves health,” then I know that if I encounter sufficient evidence to the contrary, I’ll have to reconsider my original idea. Everyone who makes an assertion should be able to answer this question, the question of falsification.

    Why does your idea get special treatment? Why are you unable to answer this question?

  80. #80 Heliantus
    June 26, 2012

    @ Judith

    My point about the development of penicillin is that it was a very off the wall approach[…]

    Maybe, maybe not.
    As the story is told, Fleming was initially more peeved than interested in the phenomenon – he wanted to study the bacteria in the Petri dish, not the mold form inside his nose.
    However, he, and other scientists, did show that their observations were reproducible, and eventually someone isolated the molecule at the origin of the bactericide effect.
    That Fleming didn’t do was to pick up “bread mould” and start selling it as a cure-all.

    According to the Wikipedia entry, it seems that some sort blue mould have been used as folk medicine since medieval time, but of course, records of its efficiency will be difficult to assess, given the distance in time of medical vocabulary. Still, by Fleming’s time, the idea that simple organisms like mould can produce toxic substances was not that far-fetched.
    Getting the substance in a form amenable to human use and proving that it will be effective were the next steps, which the scientists had to do.
    This, and getting people interested in taking care of the mass production and commercialization.

    Can someone tell me about all the double-blind studies done on heart-transplants before the first heart-transplant operation?

    You are talking about surgically moving an organ which working principles are known, using and improving known surgical procedures, to treat life-threatening conditions.
    It’s quite different from using a treatment whose effectiveness is unknown, and is based on concepts which contradict established science.
    We are going into false analogy territory again.

    Plus, if I remember correctly, the first transplants quickly ran into graft rejection issues. In the context of the urgency of the patients’ conditions, it was an accepted risk, but still, it is not exactly a model we would like to apply to any new treatment. Big Pharma regularly run into troubles when they try to cut corners.

    I would also like to point out to the extended training the surgeons got through, on dogs, pigs or the like. Some animals have to survive the operation, before the surgeon is being deemed capable of doing human organs transplantation.

    Science does not progress through rigid adherence to orthodoxy, but through openness to following up on happenstance through experimentation.

    Well, yes. And how do you propose to experiment to confirm the happenstances you believe you witnessed?

  81. #81 Krebiozen
    June 27, 2012

    I came across a blog post on Bengston’s book The Energy Cure which quotes him as claiming:

    Over the past thirty-five years I have successfully treated many types of cancer – bone, pancreatic, breast, brain, rectal, lymphatic, stomach, leukemia – as well as other diseases, all using a hands-on technique that is painless, non-invasive, and has no unpleasant side effects. To my knowledge, no person I have healed ever experienced a recurrence.

    It also relates how Bengston cured a woman of cancer but her doctors wouldn’t believe she was cured and insisted she had chemotherapy and radiotherapy which then killed her.

    In an article he wrote in Edge Science he wrote:

    My history of research has generally followed a two-step process. Each new lab expresses disbelief at my data obtained at other labs, and the researchers there take on a “oh yeah, well you couldn’t get those results here” approach. When the mice get cured in the first experiment at any lab, it is usually taken as a gauntlet by lab personnel that they can thwart future positive results. Then, when the second experiment also produces full lifespan cures, it is often followed by head shaking and proclamations to the effect that this is the most amazing thing they have ever seen. But when I suggest further research, there is always some reason that the work cannot continue at that institution. When I suggest that it is my goal to reproduce the remissions without the healing techniques by using either the blood of cured animals or some correlate to the healing, my suggestion is usually met with intense skepticism that such a thing might be possible. I will, nonetheless, persevere.

    So is Bengston a brave maverick doctor, sorry, sociologist, curing people in their droves while scientists look the other way, unwilling to accept this is even possible? Or has he fallen prey to the same sort of confirmation bias that made Benjamin Rush so certain that bloodletting was curing his patients of pretty much everything when the reality was it was killing them? Or is Bengston simply a huckster cynically making money out of people’s gullibility and desire to believe that miracle healings really occur?

  82. #82 Judith
    June 27, 2012

    @AdamG
    If people start telling me in droves that they don’t feel anything when I treat them and that the treatment has no effect, I will believe them. Right now they are telling me the opposite.

    You all might want to read Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion”.

    One question: do you all read the latest double blind studies on bacon and eggs before you have breakfast?

  83. #83 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 27, 2012

    Just found out that energy healing can be used to keep rice from spoiling:

    https://dragonflyhealing.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/my-rice-experiment/

    This is the problem with the “mystical life force” belief. If it can be co-opted to explain everything we don’t understand, then it explains nothing.

    If anyone’s interested, SkeptVet’s blog is back (must’ve been just a temporary glitch).

    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/

  84. #84 AdamG
    June 27, 2012

    Judith, that’s not an answer to the question I asked. I suspect you know this. Let me repeat it with emphasis.

    What evidence would convince you that your ‘healing’ has no effect on the patients you treat, even when they report an improvement?

    do you all read the latest double blind studies on bacon and eggs before you have breakfast?

    You do not understand how skepticism works. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Energy healing qualifies as such a claim as its tenets violate basic laws of biology, chemistry, and physics.

  85. #85 Calli Arcale
    June 27, 2012

    InfuriatinglyModerate, that reminds me of the old Alan Parsons song “Pyramania”.

    There are pyramids in my head, there’s one underneath my bed and my lady’s getting cranky
    Every possible location has a simple explanation and it isn’t hanky-panky
    I had read somewhere in a book they improve all your fruit and your wine
    It said that everything you grow in your garden would taste pretty fine
    Instead all I get is a pain in the neck and a yapyapyapyapyap.

    I’ve consulted all the sages I could find in the Yellow Pages but there aren’t many of them
    And the Mayan panoramas on my pyramid pajamas haven’t helped my little problem

    I’ve been told someone in the know can be sure that his luck is as good as gold
    Money in the bank and you don’t even pay for it
    If you fold a dollar in the shape of the pyramid that’s printed on the back

    It’s no lie, you can keep the edge of a razor as sharp as an eagle’s eye
    You can grow a hedge that is vertically straight over ten feet high
    All you really need is a pyramid and just a little luck

    I had read somewhere in a book they improve all your food and wine
    And I’ve been told someone in the know can be sure of his good luck
    And it’s no lie, all you really need is a little bit of pyramidic help

  86. #86 Heliantus
    June 27, 2012

    @ Judith

    do you all read the latest double blind studies on bacon and eggs before you have breakfast?

    For most of us, we don’t need to. Bacon and eggs have a long established tradition of being edible. That they are nutritious is a different question, but thankfully tradition got it right.
    For some of us, we may have to. Food allergy is not a trivial matter, and sufferers have to keep up-to-date.
    Take lactose intolerance, for that matter. Not a food allergy, just adult humans losing their ability to digest lactose, with some detrimental effects. A few decades ago, we had no idea what it was. Nowadays, especially if you have Asian ancestry, you will do good in learning about it.

  87. #87 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 27, 2012

    @Denice Walter – Just realized my 6/27 4:53 post was essentially re-phrasing your “G-d of the Gaps” argument on June 14. Should’ve just linked it back.

    @AdamG – I think Judith’s basic premise is that people who pooh-pooh energy healing are TOO skeptical, and/or skeptical of the wrong things. Cold-hearted materialism and the narrow-mindedness of scientific dogma and all that. It’s just the paradigm argument again. I’m not that familiar with Sheldrake, but that seems to be his theme.

    @Calli Arcale: Cool! I didn’t know that one, but now I have to look it up. I’m personally partial to Tim Minchin’s Storm.

  88. #88 Narad
    June 27, 2012

    Just found out that energy healing can be used to keep rice from spoiling

    You know what this means, of course. Reiki can kill. The rice, being long since dead already, was not amenable to healing.

  89. #89 Chemmomo
    Picturing a really messy breakfast
    June 27, 2012

    Judith @4:37 pm 27 Jun

    do you all read the latest double blind studies on bacon and eggs before you have breakfast

    Would that be studies of folks eating with their eyes closed?

    No, seriously, you forgot tell us what the hypothesis would be here. What are we testing the bacon and eggs for? Whether the bacon is crispy and the yolks fully cooked? Or are you going to test if your energy healing can lower cholesterol without dietary changes? Or if it can eliminate salmonella from runny yolks?

  90. #90 AdamG
    June 27, 2012

    @Infuriatingly Moderate

    I know quite a bit about Sheldrake. He’s a woo-peddler of the highest order, been around since the 80s. Of particular note: Sheldrake is the individual who first came up with the nonsense that is ‘morphic resonance’ and ‘morphic fields,’ a hypothesis too blindingly stupid to describe here at length.

    His latest bloviations, including the book referred to above, are all centered around tired old ‘God of the gaps’ style arguments that we’ve seen Marg and Judith espouse here…”We don’t fully understand [insert natural phenomenon here], therefore it’s obvious that [insert particular brand of woo] must be plausible!”

    Whenever Sheldrake and his nonsense comes up, I am always reminded of the words of the late John Maddox, former editor of Nature, who said of Sheldrake’s nonsense:

    It’s unnecessary to introduce magic into the explanation from physical and biological phenomenon when in fact there is every likelihood that the continuation of research as it is now practiced will indeed fill all the gaps that Sheldrake draws attention to.

  91. #91 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 27, 2012

    @AdamG
    If people start telling me in droves that they don’t feel anything when I treat them and that the treatment has no effect, I will believe them. Right now they are telling me the opposite.

    So your argument in syllogism form is:
    1) People never say or believe that a treatment makes them feel better unless the treatment has produced actual, real results.
    2) People tell you that your treatments make them feel better.
    3) Therefore your treatments must actually be doing something.

    The problem is that your premise 1 is false. Really, blatantly false. Like, as in, so false the rest of your argument is beyond repair false. I mean, you know that there are people who still refuse to believe that the earth isn’t flat? That level of false.

    What you have to understand is that people are suggestible. This has been demonstrated over and over again. Show people a movie clip of a blue car smashing into the side of a black car, and ask them what time it was when the
    black car smashed into the blue car. You will get people remembering thereafter that the black car smashed into the blue car, even though it was really the blue car that did the smashing. Ask them how soon after the accident the ambulance showed up, and you will get varying time estimates. Very rarely will you get the correct answer, which is that no ambulance at all appeared in the clip.

    And that is how the power of suggestion tampers with objective facts (which car did the smashing, whether an ambulance appeared at all) which people witnessed with their eyes, generally considered the strongest of the senses. Do you really think that no patient could ever be mistaken about more subjective matters, such as “is my pain better or worse than before?” Really? They can imagine an ambulance where there was no ambulance, but the idea that they might imagine an improvement where there is no improvement is out of the question? Even when they have every reason to want there to be an improvement?

    You all might want to read Rupert Sheldrake’s “Science Delusion”.

    And you really ought to read Martin Gardner’s “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science.”

    One question: do you all read the latest double blind studies on bacon and eggs before you have breakfast?

    Judith, are you saying that you view bacon and eggs as a medical treatment? For what diseases or conditions? If the answer is “none, I just think of it as food” then bringing it up is very bad form, since it’s irrelevant to the discussion.

  92. #92 AdamG
    June 27, 2012

    Do you really think that no patient could ever be mistaken about more subjective matters, such as “is my pain better or worse than before?”

    It’s even worse than that. All of Judith’s observations come from individuals who sought her particular brand of ‘treatment’ and are therefore more suggestible as to its efficacy.

    People who seek out reiki are more likely to attribute any change in their condition, be it physical or psychological, to the reiki ‘treatment’ itself. Why is this so hard for Judith to understand?

  93. #93 Denice Walter
    June 27, 2012

    @ Infuriatingly Moderate:

    I certainly appreciate your recognition. Woo-meisters don’t like to admit that they haven’t a clue about *anything* so filling in the gaps allows them to simultaneously pretend to have all the answers and thus trump real science that admits its current limits and possibility of error: so they confabulate grandiously to the astonished cheers of their enraptured followers.

    Whenever I hear something about ‘spirit” or ‘life energy’ I assume that there’s a big hole to fill in their holism. I believe that I am lucky because I grew up in a farflung, mostly atheistic/ agnostic family that encouraged and sponsored education and other adventures for me.

    Physics and psychology seem often to get mixed up in woo parlance which informs me that they probably studied neither. I have laughed endlessly over the use of energy as a concept to explain human interactions like romantic relationships and education.

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    June 27, 2012

    Infuriatingly Moderate: it’s got a wonderfully loony pace and melody too. It’s from the album “Pyramid” (the third album by “The Alan Parsons Project”, which isn’t exactly a band but more of a collaboration, different each time). The whole album is great.

  95. #95 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @AdamG
    It”s not is “I think my pain better than before”. It’s “gee, I can lift my arm when I couldn’t before”; “gee, I can bend my knee when I couldn’t before”; “gee, my doctor says I don’t need that knee replacement after all”; and “gee, my bilirubin went from 530-something to 37 and I am no longer yellow”.

    And it’s not people who come to me who are already predisposed to believing, it’s mostly random people I spot who are in pain or have compromised mobility, who tend to look at me quite skeptically to begin with but are willing to try what I offer because they are sick and tired of being in pain.

  96. #96 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    Sorry, delete “is” after “it’s not”.

  97. #97 Scottynuke
    June 28, 2012

    Given the available evidence, I’d be more than happy to delete everything after “Judith” in her posts (with no attendant loss of useful information), but alas a) I’m not a moderator and b) Orac is very tolerant of almost any post that avoids sockpuppetry.

  98. #98 Beamup
    June 28, 2012

    @ Judith:

    And why, pray tell, are such miraculous cures not properly documented and published to demonstrate the supposed efficacy of reiki?

    Oh right, it’s because when they’re actually examined properly they don’t actually support the claims being piled on them. Either there was real treatment at the same time, or it’s completely consistent with the normal course of the condition, or the supposed benefit has been exaggerated, or it’s due to reporting bias/selection effects/etc. which disappear when rigorously tested.

  99. #99 JGC
    June 28, 2012

    Judith, consider ibuprofen and other NSAID’s. There’s no reasonable doubt that they’re effective as analgesics and anit-inflamatories, and it’s physiologic effects can be demonstrated and quantified (inhibition of COX I and II, reduced production of arachadonic acid and prostaglandins). The patient doesn’t have to believe that it works–they don’t even need an open mind willing to consider that somehow, some way it might just possibly work. They take the pill, they get relief.

    If energy healing works as well as you claim it can, why isn’t there the same degree of objective evidence that it works that there is for NSAID’s? Why can’t physiologic effects of energy healing be demonstrated and quantified to the same extent tah they can for NSAID’s?

    Let’s face fact; if energy healing worked for cancer, joint pain/damage, or other illnesses as well as you claim we simply wouldn’t be having this discussion. No one would need convincing. After 100 years (it was developed in 1922) there’d be a sufficient body of positive credible evidence that Reiki would possess the same inherent confidence as Ibuprofen, or Enbrel, or Benadryl, or Claritin, or Cialis, or Humalog, or…

    Well, hopefully you get the picture.

  100. #100 AdamG
    June 28, 2012

    Judith, you’re still avoiding the question.

    What evidence would convince you that your ‘healing’ has no effect on the patients you treat, even when they report an improvement?

    This shouldn’t be a hard question to answer. Why can’t you?

  101. #101 Chemmomo
    Still looking for rational evidence
    June 28, 2012

    Judith @9:03 am 28 Jun

    it’s mostly random people I spot who are in pain or have compromised mobility, who tend to look at me quite skeptically to begin with but are willing to try what I offer because they are sick and tired of being in pain.

    And do you follow up on these random people? Or just declare victory that one time?

    Can you understand why it’s difficult for some of us to share your absolute belief in your ability?

  102. #102 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @scottynuke
    No one is compelling you to read anything I write.

    @JGC
    Physiologic effects for energy healing _have_ been demonstrated. The mice Dr. Bengston wrote up in “Resonance, Type II Errors and Placebo Effects” showed increased spleen weight and hemoglobin levels consistent with increased immunological activity as their tumors (which histological analysis showed to be cancerous) healed. You could also take a look at http://www.centerforreikiresearch.org for the most up to date information on Reiki research.

    And yes, people have “inherent confidence [in] Ibuprofen, or Enbrel, or Benadryl, or Claritin, or Cialis, or Humalog”, but they also had inherent confidence in Vioxx, Thalidomide, and Avandia before they died from taking stuff or before their babies were born missing limbs.

    @Chemmomo
    Most of the time I am able to follow up with my random people. I totally understand why it would be difficult for you to share my confidence (not belief) in the efficacy of what I do. Please understand that I started from a place of curiosity and skepticism. When I went to my first Reiki training I plunked my money down figuring that it was money wasted. It came as a big surprise to me that it wasn’t. Not only did I distinctly “feel” the attunement, I also felt the “energy” afterwards, and there was nothing subtle about it. It felt like a freight train. For the first six weeks or so I kept waking myself up at night because anywhere my hands touched my skin they felt like a furnace. I stress that I had no expectation of this; in fact if anything it was rather annoying. Healing effects came later, when I tentatively decided to try to see if Reiki did anything at all. I had no expectation that it would. In fact if you take a course with Dr. Bengston, you will find that he teaches that expectation and belief get in the healer’s way and decrease his or her effectiveness.

    I must also stress that a true skeptic has an open mind. A true skeptic is willing to change their position on available evidence. For all of you the only acceptable evidence is in the form of double blind studies created by other skeptics like yourselves. I submit that first-hand experience also counts. Take a Reiki course as a true skeptic (not as as a an absolute non-believer) and try it for yourself.

    @AdamG
    I responded to your question. I would have to see repeated evidence with my own two eyes that outweighs the evidence I have seen so far. BTW I am no great believer in the infallibility of scientific studies, and I seem to have company:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v483/n7391/full/483509a.html

  103. #103 Shay
    June 28, 2012

    As they say in my former line of work, Judith, if ya didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.

    They were talking about equipment maintenance records but the principle is the same. Don’t you keep case notes on the people who have come to you? If not, why not?

    Repeating over and over again that you believe the evidence of your own eyes doesn’t cut the mustard. That’s what they used to say about cupping and leeches.

  104. #104 Chemmomo
    Experimental Controls Needed (doesn't have to be double blind)
    June 28, 2012

    Judith @ 3:59 pm 28 Jun
    You said:

    A true skeptic is willing to change their position on available evidence.

    I’m not sure that you actually have all the evidence.

    Would you be willing to consider that you are an excellent provider of the placebo effect? Would you consider that some of your success might be people telling you what they think you want to hear?

    Would you be willing to test that out? Would you be willing to spend some time keeping records of all the people you treat – including all who did not respond and thank you – and then handing those records off to a distinterested party who will do the follow up on them?

    P. S. The only way I’d consider taking a Reiki course would be if it were offered for free. I hate wasting money. I suspect you hate feeling like you’ve wasted money too.

  105. #105 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @chemmomo
    If I am an excellent provider of the placebo effect, then the placebo effect needs to be studied more widely & doctors need to stop telling patients that they are going to die in 3 months, because the placebo effect works both ways.

    Yes, I am willing to keep such notes. But as I mentioned before, I do have the lab test results of the stage-4 pancreatic cancer patient we treated, whose family was told he was dying when we began treating him, and whose blood values returned to near-normal after six weeks of treatment. At the time he was not receiving any other treatment, since he was expected to be dying. Alas, the effect was temporary and he only lived ten more weeks. BTW if that was placebo, then we need more placebo in our hospitals.

    And before a bunch of you now come out and say “write it up”, I heard you the last time.

  106. #106 Beamup
    June 28, 2012

    What you DON’T seem to have heard is that, without the careful application of the scientific method, what you’ve seen with your own two eyes proves absolutely nothing.

  107. #107 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    And before a bunch of you now come out and say “write it up”, I heard you the last time.

    How about “your secretiveness and evasion on the subject severely undermines your credibility and is kind of creepy”?

  108. #108 Agashem
    June 28, 2012

    Ah Judith, the strength of your convictions, that you have. Also, what Adam G is trying to get you to see is that you are not willing to see the evidence against your beliefs. You call us close minded skeptics, but we (I think we all, but I should really speak for myself) have looked at all the evidence and are willing to change our minds if the evidence is there. It’s not.
    I bet most of us here – skeptics – at one time had alternative beliefs, I know I did. But as I looked and listened I saw the errors of my ways and became the skeptic I am. You keep seeing the same things in the same way and expect us to change. You actually have the closed mind.

  109. #109 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    Dear All,

    So long as I am helping people, I am unwilling to see the error of my ways.

    Ultimately that counts far more than whether or not a group of skeptics agree with me.

    I invite you to go try it for yourself. There are many reputable Reiki masters out there who will not charge you an arm and a leg for attunements.

    BTW I am in Rupert Sheldrake’s camp. And Larry Dossey’s. And Wayne Dyer’s. Consciousness matters. What I see with my own two eyes matters more to me than any number of double-blind studies conducted by any number of scientists whose consciousness also matters, and affects the outcome of the studies they conduct no matter how objective and unbiased they purport to be.

    So we will respectfully have to agree to disagree.

  110. #110 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    BTW I am in Rupert Sheldrake’s camp. And Larry Dossey’s. And Wayne Dyer’s.

    What, no Koot Hoomi?

  111. #111 AdamG
    June 28, 2012

    So long as I am helping people, I am unwilling to see the error of my ways.

    Selfish and amoral to the core. ‘I assume based only on my perceived infallibility that I am helping people, and as long as I think I am helping people, I am unwilling to consider the possibility that I am fallible.”

    People who are truly interested in helping others listen and truly engage with all the ideas on the table in order to find the one that is most effective at helping people.
    People who are truly interested in helping others are able to admit that they might be wrong about something if the well-being of others is at stake.

    People who are only interested in themselves refuse to engage with and truly understand opposing arguments.
    People who are only interested in themselves do not possess the strength to even consider the possibility they might be wrong.

    On which side does Judith fall?

  112. #112 Agashem
    June 28, 2012

    And does she preface her treatments with any kind of information to allow the patient to give informed consent? I can’t see any patient in the hospital without telling them what I am going to do and making sure they understand. IF I were to engage in some pseudoscientific nonsense, my college regulates that I have to first inform the patient that what I am about to do is considered controversial and is not backed up by medical studies.
    (I know, I wanted a much stronger worded regulation, but the woo-ists won out).

  113. #113 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 28, 2012

    @AdamG: I’m sure you realize that from Judith’s point of view we’re doing the exact same thing.

    @Judith: To my mind, this is the question I wonder about. Are you looking for scientific validation of your experience? If so, why? Or are you looking to reinforce your belief by proving your prior believ that scientists and skeptics are all just blind

  114. #114 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    Consciousness matters?
    Oh, I thought it “loads the dice”.

    Be that as it may, if I had not been burning the candle at both ends this past week and preparing for a flight, I might address the *other* C word.

    Woo-meisters and other mysterians like to toss the word about to instill awe in their audience because obviously NO one understands this most intimate of unknowns: they often treat it as a cherished outcropping of the divine spirit within- gushing power soulfully. Well, it ain’t magick.

    Psychologists study consciousness and its fruits all the time .And not just physiologically but the simple, mundane awareness of awareness. What you think, recall, feel, remember, attend to, how you envision problems, choose a word, see things in your mind’s eye, imagine impossibilities, rehearse your next interaction, learn.

    Infusing the everyday with an air of mystery is a way to convince others that you are someone special, gifted, above the commonplace.

  115. #115 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 28, 2012

    Oops, messed that one up. Actually didn’t intend to post, but cat’s out of the bag now. That’ll teach me to work things out in notepad, not on the actual site…

    …..Or are you looking to reinforce your belief that modern medicine is terribly imperfect (which it is), but doctors, scientists and skeptics are by nature so dogmatic that they simply won’t accept any possibility that subjective experience has anything to do with healing or quality of life?”

    I experience all kinds of things that can’t be scientifically proven or disproven. That doesn’t mean anything other than I’m one of 7 billion people with my own screwed-up brain. I’m simply inclined to go “I dunno” vs “ZOMG – I’ve discovered a magic secret!”.

  116. #116 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @Agashem

    Yes, I do tell people what it is that I am doing and I seek their permission. I tell them it may not work and that they will know in very short order whether it does or not.

    @Infuriatingly Moderate

    I joined the discussion because I felt that people were commenting from a biased point of view based on insufficient information. I tried to provide some. It appears the information I brought to the discussion did not persuade people, even the scientific studies, which were summarily pronounced to be invalid.

    I do not believe scientists and skeptics are blind and I am not looking for scientific validation of my experience. I was trying to get people curious about the phenomenon of energy healing rather than reflexively condemning, as Orac is.

    I watched a video of a talk by Rupert Sheldrake yesterday on his book _The Science Delusion_. In it he says that to some scientists science has become a religion with an orthodoxy that views all dissenting views as heresy. He says such scientists heap great erudite scorn on anyone who does not follow the orthodoxy. Rupert Sheldrake is a scientist with a PhD in biology. James Oschman, the author of _Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis_, is a scientist, also with a PhD in biology. Claude Swanson, author of _Life Force: The Scientific Basis_, has a PhD in physics. The many scientists involved in the Society of Scientific Exploration also have PhDs and day jobs at respected universities, and yet the orthodoxy heaps great scorn on the SSE as a woo organization. Mehmet Oz, Larry Dossey, Depak Choprah, Norm Shealy are MDs. They too get their share of scorn. I would like to see people go past the scorn and begin to ask what it is that these unorthodox scientists/MDs see.

    If one person scratched their head and said “hmm, interesting, I didn’t know that” about anything I wrote here, the discussion from my point of view has been worthwhile.

  117. #117 AdamG
    June 28, 2012

    Judith, if you are truly interested in exploring both sides of the issue, I urge you to give Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World a read.

  118. #118 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @AdamG
    Can do.

  119. #119 ChrisP
    June 28, 2012

    Judith, the scientific studies were pronounced to be invalid because they were invalid. They were essentially a crock. A good meta-analysis of the available studies http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01729.x/abstract;jsessionid=F7BC438D09181C59844A7809CAAAA931.d01t04 find no value in Reiki. That left those of us who like to see evidence, with nothing in support of Reiki except some obviously silly mumbo-jumbo. Hence, I don’t think there is any good evidence in support of Reiki. It strikes me as a bunch of hand-waving and imagination.

    You then fall into the fallacy of Appeal to Authority. I don’t care how many Ph.D.s Richard Sheldrake and others have. That does not trump the evidence. Scientists with Ph.D.s can get things wrong. Even Nobel Laureates have been known to have whacky ideas – Luc Montagnier thinks homeopathy is real!

    It is the ideas we should be interested in. How good are they? What is the evidence base? This is what we should be teaching everyone to look at.

  120. #120 Militant Agnostic
    June 28, 2012

    Judith

    I would like to see people go past the scorn and begin to ask what it is that these unorthodox scientists/MDs see.

    In the case of Deepak Chopra, the opportunity to get rich and stroke his own ego by spouting vacuous crap.

    In the case of Mehemt, Oz the opportunity to have his own TV show and make way more money with less effort than he made from doing surgery.

    For all them, a lucrative market peddling their ideas to a gullible audience who do not ask for any proof beyond stories rather than having to meet more rigorous standards of proof.

    Given the huge number of people with PhDs in Physics and Biology, it is not surprising to find a few kooks and charlatans among them. The tobacco industry has no trouble finding a few PhDs to deny the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and the Fossil Fuel industry has no trouble finding a few PhDs to deny climate science. You seem to place great stock in the scientific credentials of the tiny number of people who share your viewpoint while disregarding the credentials of the overwhelming number of scientists who consider it to be nonsense.

    As for “day jobs at respected universities”, there is this thing called tenure. There was a psychologist or psychiatrist at Harvard who believed that people who claimed to have been abducted and probed by aliens actually had been abducted and probed. He even treated them for the psychological trauma. The university couldn’t get rid of him because he had tenure.

  121. #121 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    John Mack. His book read like a screenplay.

  122. #122 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    I watched a video of a talk by Rupert Sheldrake yesterday on his book _The Science Delusion_. In it he says that to some scientists science has become a religion with an orthodoxy that views all dissenting views as heresy.

    Robert Sheldrake?
    The guy who denies that DNA codes for morphological traits?
    The one who believes…
    From wiki

    …that there is a field within and around a “morphic unit” which organizes its characteristic structure and pattern of activity. According to Sheldrake, the “morphic field” underlies the formation and behaviour of “holons” and “morphic units”, and can be set up by the repetition of similar acts or thoughts. The hypothesis is that a particular form belonging to a certain group, which has already established its (collective) “morphic field”, will tune into that “morphic field”. The particular form will read the collective information through the process of “morphic resonance”, using it to guide its own development. This development of the particular form will then provide, again through “morphic resonance”, a feedback to the “morphic field” of that group, thus strengthening it with its own experience, resulting in new information being added (i.e. stored in the database). Sheldrake regards the “morphic fields” as a universal database for both organic (genetic) and abstract (mental) forms.

    I think I first came across Sheldrake’s “hypothesis” on a Creationist/ID website.

    My memory is a bit vague at present. Judith perhaps you can help me? How does Sheldrake explain away the dramatic (starting with something simple and fairly well known) morphological changes that arise from knocking out genes in flies?

    How does his/this morphological field operate under those circumstances?

  123. #123 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Judith
    p.s. Any explanation wouldn’t need to involve flies. For example, genetic manipulation of plant characteristics could be addressed.

  124. #124 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    There you go all go, heaping scorn again on the heretics.

    Luc Montagnier may be right. Rupert Sheldrake needs to be read more thoroughly than what’s on Wikipedia or creationist websites.

    None of you seems willing or able to look beyond what you were taught in school.

  125. #125 ArtK
    Chasing a White Rabbit named Reiki
    June 28, 2012

    @ Judith

    So long as I am helping people, I am unwilling to see the error of my ways.

    Ah, there’s the rub, as the Bard said. What people are trying to point out here is that you think that you’re helping people. Sadly, we humans are extremely good at deluding ourselves that our personal observations and experiences are the whole of the truth. This is why the scientific method was developed — to get around that strong tendency towards self-delusion.

    One of the simplest delusions (or logical fallacies, to give them their proper name) is the idea that “I did X and then Y happened, therefore X caused Y.” For you it is “I administered Reiki and my patient reported feeling better.” The problem here is that you haven’t eliminated all of the possible things besides Reiki that could have made the patient feel better. Some conditions are self-limiting (they get better on their own, or fluctuate.) People are highly suggestible, so telling someone that you’re going to make them better can have a positive effect.

    Without documenting your cases, and (apparently) without any follow-up, there’s no way to be sure that the effects of your treatment actually last. Or that those effects are even real.

    I understand that you are sincere in your desire to help people, and sincere in your belief that you are helping people. But to convince the rest of us, you have to provide more than simple assertions. This is especially true since there are lot of things we know about the universe (i.e. physics, chemistry, psychology) that tell us that it’s more likely that you’re self-deluded than actually using any kind of healing energy.

    You’ve made extraordinary claims that, if true, would overturn much of what we know about the universe. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Anecdotes and assertions don’t even rise the level of ordinary evidence.

  126. #126 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Rupert Sheldrake needs to be read more thoroughly than what’s on Wikipedia or creationist websites.

    So here’s your chance to explain why that is. Have at it Judith.

  127. #127 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @ArtK
    Please read the thread.

  128. #128 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    None of you seems willing or able to look beyond what you were taught in school.

    Taught in school? No I’m coming from the experimental evidence produced from the number of transgenic experiments I’ve personally conducted…starting back in my first year of uni.

    As I said Judith…have at it.

  129. #129 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    In a trance
    June 28, 2012

    Many years ago, I saw The Amazing Kreskin perform. He convinced a stage full of volunteers (college students in the sciences, primarily) that they could not close their hands until he gave them permission to. It was not hypnosis (by his words), merely the power of suggestion.

    Just sayin’.

  130. #130 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    There you go, @Mephistopheles, the great power of the mind. If we could harness it, it would beat chemo hands down. Just sayin’.

    @Sauceress, you are being lazy : )

  131. #131 Shay
    June 28, 2012

    There you go all go, heaping scorn again on the heretics.

    No, merely heaping scorn on quacks and loonies.

  132. #132 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    @Shay

    … proving my point once again …

  133. #133 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Oh and Judith..
    The reason I cite wiki is because it’s been my constant experience over many years of addressing pseudoscience is that:
    1) its defenders most often do not have the educational background to parse the research papers presented to them, and/or 2) may not have access to reputable studies behind paywalls and/or 3) rarely even bother to read a research paper presented to them. Critical appraisal of “Methods and Materials” Never! Critical appraisal of Results & Discussion?

    FSM forbid…no!

    The usual MO of pseudoscience groupies is to cherry pick an abstract which they believe suits there purposes or, most often, just regurgitate an analysis they read on another pseudoscience website. When anyone (who has objectively read the paper in question) invites the anyone from the pseudoscience cult to discuss pertinent points…just forget it!
    The reaction is to avoid the questions, try to change the subject by throwing out some red herring or non sequitur.

    Just as you have constantly done.
    Everyone here, and no doubt, on every other science blog is nauseating familiar with the tactics of the pseudoscience True Believer (TM).
    When I look at a wiki page, I also look at the citations. Oh my…what a novel idea!
    There are 74 references cited at the bottom of that wiki…pick a couple. Discuss!
    Or perhaps, more simply, you could point out where the wiki on Rupert Sheldrake has it wrong?

  134. #134 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.com
    June 28, 2012

    Judith:

    There you go, @Mephistopheles, the great power of the mind. If we could harness it, it would beat chemo hands down. Just sayin’.

    Your inability to comprehend nervous system function would be touchingly naive if you weren’t an apologist for rank quackery.

  135. #135 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Sauceress, you are being lazy

    Please explain? Hey, it’s your fantasy.

  136. #136 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    Rupert Sheldrake needs to be read more thoroughly than what’s on Wikipedia or creationist websites.

    OK, let’s look at his very own FAQ.

    “According to the Hypothesis of Formative Causation, morphic fields also contain an inherent memory given by the process of morphic resonance, whereby each kind of thing has a collective memory. For example, crystals of a given kind are influenced by all past crystals of that kind, date palms by past date palms, giraffes by past giraffes, etc.”

    Oh, great, it’s a cosmic Dewey Decimal System. Are all coffee cups influenced by all cake doughnuts that have gone before, or is it the other way around?

  137. #137 ChrisP
    June 28, 2012

    None of you seems willing or able to look beyond what you were taught in school.

    Judith, I am willing and able to look beyond what I was taught in school. I am asking you for the evidence in support of Reiki. I wasn’t taught about any of that in school. What you have produced so far does not cut the mustard. So what else is there? What evidence is better than the meta-analysis I linked to? Why should I accept Reiki does what you claim?

    We are 500 posts into this thread and I am still waiting. All that has been produced so far is one rubbish paper full of uncontrolled tests with dubious explanations published in a vanishingly obscure journal.

  138. #138 Judith
    June 28, 2012

    Good night, one and all. Sweet dreams.

  139. #139 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Good night, one and all. Sweet dreams.

    Good night Judith. Don’t forget to do your homework.

  140. #140 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    Hmm.. I left out one of the most common pseudoscience tactics in my comment at #11:10pm..
    (4) Switch to tone trolling.

  141. #141 Heliantus
    June 29, 2012

    From Rupert Sheldrake

    crystals of a given kind are influenced by all past crystals of that kind,

    Ah, so he is a proponent of this crystal thingy?

    I was reading a book debunking this a while ago, it was put in the form of new adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Quite enjoyable and nice scientific vulgarization. How to learn stuff you didn’t get in school.

    Re: crystals influencing each others, the authors of this book were pointing that there was some true in it, as follow:
    Once a chemist or whoever succeeded at crystallizing a specific molecule, he would very likely write letters and send articles and notes to whichever colleague ask details about his experience.
    However, his lab is now contaminated with small fragments of the new crystal, because the crystal has been handled, sliced, crushed, dropped… It’s everywhere, including on the packages he is sending.
    As a result, the people receiving his letters are likely to introduce unwittingly some of these crystal fragments into their own experiment.
    And these crystals will act as the starting point for these people’s own crystallization, accelerating the experiment, resulting in that feeling that the discovery of the first crystal is influencing the creation of the following crystals in other laboratories.

  142. #142 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 29, 2012

    @Judith,

    There you go, @Mephistopheles, the great power of the mind. If we could harness it, it would beat chemo hands down. Just sayin’.

    I’m perfectly willing to believe that, just not on your say so or any of the evidence that’s out there so far. Got any data? You’ve said you have no interest in proving that energy healing works, so I’d guess not.

    I’ve also seen politicians convince people to give them money so that the politician can get a high paying job. I’ve seen people convinced that fortune tellers provide more than a few minutes dubious entertainment. I’ve seen people who think that psychics can talk with the dead and that well known scams are real signs of the afterlife.

    Is that the great power of the mind too?

  143. #143 ArtK
    Riposte in tierce
    June 29, 2012

    @ Judith

    Brilliant rebuttal there Judith. It’s on a par with the rest of your reasoning skills.

  144. #144 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    I know/know of several MDs who offer Reiki or some form of energy healing in their offices as part of their service to patients. More often than not the service is offered out of the recognition that many conditions are caused by stress (I read the statistic that about 80% of medical visits are somehow relatable to stress) and it is offered as an adjunct to regular medical care. Sometimes it is offered if the medical option doesn’t work. How many of you doctors out there can say that a patient walked in to see you bent over with backpain and walked out straight and pain free? Since you are already being scathing in your responses, I will infuriate you further by adding that sometimes I feel sorry for you because you have to rely on your pill kit to offer your patients relief. How long do you talk to them? How quickly do you send them off for diagnostic tests? How many of you give last-ditch chemotherapy or radiation knowing that it will likely not do any good and only hasten the patient’s death? How many of you prescribed Vioxx or Avandia fully ignorant that it could harm/kill your patient? How many of you had a patient die, or know of a patient who died, due to a prescription drug reaction, a drug mix-up, a surgical error, or an untreatable hospital-acquired infection? Medicine is not harm-free, even if about 20 or 25 per cent of what doctors do is backed by science. Just because a medication is shown to act a certain way in a certain number of patients in a handful of experiments, it doesn’t mean that it will act that way in everyone in the population at large once it’s on the market. The effects of longterm use or use in combination with other medications are seldom tested. And I have to laugh every time I hear the side effects rapidly listed at the end of pharmaceutical commercials, especially when I hear that one of the side effects of the drug prescribed is the symptom it is being prescribed for. More chilling are the oft-repeated “kidney failure and death”. The whole system is nuts, and you are the purveyors of it, and you sneer at anyone who tries a different route.

  145. #145 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    PS: I am fully cognizant that you would not visit your nearest alternative practitioner if you had a compound fracture or were lying in a pool of blood on the highway after a car accident. I have the greatest respect for what modern medicine can do for trauma, heart attacks, strokes etc. But there are conditions it doesn’t treat so well where there is room for collaboration with alternative practitioners who might have better solutions.

  146. #146 Narad
    June 29, 2012

    I still want to know what’s up with this Sheldrake “of a given kind” routine. Something tells me he doesn’t mean space groups. Of course, Judith hasn’t answered the coffee-mug question yet.

  147. #147 Infuriatingly Moderate
    June 29, 2012

    I think I’ve found my health care paradigm (warning – do not consume beverages while watching):

  148. #148 Shay
    June 29, 2012

    @Judith.

    You have no point. I’ve been reading this thread since the inception and you’ve said nothing except “I know I’m right, I know, I know! I don’t have to prove anything because I’m right.

    I must say that your footwork is impressive. You must have been great at dodgeball when you were a kid.

  149. #149 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    I still want to know what’s up with this Sheldrake “of a given kind” routine.

    I doubt Judith can help. It seems her awareness of Sheldrake’s musings is limited to: he’s got a PhD in biology and says some cool things I agree with which feed my energy healing fantasy.

    As to his use of the term “kind”, I’ve almost exclusively seen term used as a creationist alternative to “evil evolutionist” taxonomic system of classification. Google “Bariminology” if you’re unfamiliar with creationist idiocy. The terms ‘holon” and “holos” are used interchangeably with the term “Baramin” by creationists.

    Quoting wiki:

    Conditions for membership in a (holo)baramin and methods of classification have changed over time. These include the ability to create viable offspring, and morphological similarity.
    Some creationists have suggested that kind refers to species, while others believe it might mean any animal which may be distinguished in some way from another.

    Most distinctively, originally the term “kind” was used by creationists to refer to “kinds” of animals that were present on the Ark.

    I’m guessing Sheldrake is also a fan of Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in the Machine) who is credited with coining the term “holon”. (philosophical context)

    According to his biography Sheldrake on his website, he is a..

    Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, near San Francisco, and a Visiting Professor and Academic Director of the Holistic Thinking Program at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut

    Rational wiki gives a brief overview of “Noetic Science”:

    The Institute of Noetic Sciences is the primary outlet for this form of woo. It was co-founded by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and former Exxon executive and crank billionaire Paul N. Temple, who is also associated with the fundamentalist Christian organization The Family. According to the Institute:

    “Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the “inner cosmos” of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the “outer cosmos” of the physical world.”

    Then there is his wife’s webpage: The Healing Voice.
    My advice after revisiting all of the above: Be wary eating mushrooms and/or drinking the Koolaid at the Fr Bede Griffiths Ashram.

  150. #150 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    Blockquote fail. Not sure how that happened seeing as the first time I used the tag was when quoting wiki on the Baramin entry!

    le sigh…

  151. #151 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    @Narad
    They are mutually co-arising.

    @Infuriatingly Moderate
    That was hilarious.

  152. #152 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    @Sauceress
    I see you are very adept at mining Wikis. I read Rupert Sheldrake a number of years ago. The reason I proposed that you read him yourself is because he builds an interesting incremental argument. In order to summarize it I would have to re-read the whole thing myself. You were the one who asked the question, so you should be the one doing the work.

    @everyone else
    From http://www.reikicouncil.org.uk/Research/tabid/76/Default.aspx

    “Can you measure Reiki in some way?
    Reiki is often regarded by practitioners as being a ‘hot’ energy. They feel extra heat as Reiki flows. The University of Arizona has used an Extra Low Frequency meter to see if it could pick up heat changes in the body. When practitioners reported that they were flowing Reiki, the ELF (extra low frequency) meter picked up significant increases in emissions from e.g. the palms of the hands. The emitted energy was more marked in people who had studied to third degree/master level. Researcher Melinda Connor said: ‘We have discovered a number of things: First, that master healers seem to be emitting at the same time in the extra low range from 20Hz – 1000Hz, in the ultra violet, the visible light, the infrared, the gamma and x-ray and at the 3 GHz range. I do not have the equipment to map more ranges yet. So it turns out that potentially millions of frequencies are being emitted from a single cell.”
    Arizona University recruited only highly regarded and experienced Reiki practitioners for its research who also were regularly giving Reiki. (Communication from Melinda Connor, 2006)

    This is a response to similar questions to yours from Pamela Miles, a Reiki master who has been working hard for years on getting Reiki accepted by the medical establishment:

    “The problem of sham Reiki is a real problem in research. I was at a 2-day research conference at the NIH on just that question: what is an appropriate control? The answer is…It depends, and there is no perfect study design for multifactorial practices that cannot be realistically reduced to a design that is well suited for an intervention that has a linear action aka a pharmaceutical.
    ….
    the sham practitioner has been used but is also criticized. After all, what we are really doing then is comparing Reiki to touch. The acupuncture studies have also been criticized in that needling itself may have therapeutic value, regardless of the accuracy of the points used.

    Controlling for placebo is a very knotty puzzle when researching practices that elicit complex responses from the body. Additionally, Reiki practice is not complaint or condition-specific. Rather, Reiki practice seems to influence the body toward balance, optimizing its own ability to self-heal, and there is some data to support that. So we could conceptualize the benefit of Reiki being that it reminds the system how to rest effectively and thereby heal itself. This seems to be happening through a vagus nerve activation, but science does not yet have a clue what the mechanism of action for that to occur might be.”

  153. #153 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    I see you are very adept at mining Wikis.

    Rupert Sheldrake doesn’t warrant anything more than quoting wikis. As I said if you can point out the errors in those wikis…please do so.

  154. #154 Narad
    June 29, 2012

    @Sauceress:

    Most distinctively, originally the term “kind” was used by creationists to refer to “kinds” of animals that were present on the Ark.

    I very nearly settled on this analogy before settling on the Dewey Decimal System, and I do not follow creationists in any way, viz., I hadn’t heard it before.

    I’m guessing Sheldrake is also a fan of Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in the Machine) who is credited with coining the term “holon”. (philosophical context)

    I’m pretty sure I still have a copy of The Roots of Coincidence lying around here, and of course Wholeness and the Implicate Order. The former is better than the latter as I recall, if only for being able to focus in some fashion. It’s still not very good.

    The point, of course, is that the attempt at taxonomy is just abysmal. It makes the Dublin Core look like revealed mystical widsom. Speaking of which…

    @Judith:

    They are mutually co-arising.

    Perhaps you’d like to clarify whether you’re referring to crystals or S&sup1; × S&sup1;, as this might very well be taken to be complete mush suggesting that “morphic resonance” doesn’t mean anything. Or maybe you’re trying to drag Buddhism into it, beats me.

  155. #155 Narad
    June 29, 2012

    Oh, right, entity names are right up there as well. S¹ × S¹.

  156. #156 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    @Sauceress
    That just shows your bias. When @Mephistopheles suggested I read Sagan’s book on the scientific method I didn’t willy-nilly refuse to read it on the basis that it would be a waste of my time. Your suggestion that reading Sheldrake would be a waste of yours is nothing more than evidence of a closed mind.

  157. #157 Judith
    June 29, 2012

    @Narad
    I was answering your question “Are all coffee cups influenced by all cake doughnuts that have gone before, or is it the other way around?”

    And the answer is, they are mutually co-arising. Yes, I am dragging Buddhism into it.

  158. #158 Narad
    June 29, 2012

    And Judith, keep in mind that, as expressed by Sheldrake, this is a temporally linear chain of memories conveyed between objects and apparently mediated simply by names, so it has to be possible to trace backward.

  159. #159 Narad
    June 29, 2012

    And the answer is, they are mutually co-arising.

    Allow me to make certain that you understood the question. Are hula hoops and cake donuts “mutually co-arising”?

    Yes, I am dragging Buddhism into it.

    That was a really bad idea.

  160. #160 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    Judith
    I read enough of Rupert Sheldrake (from his own writing) back when I came across his name being pimped by creationists.

    I have enough developmental biology, genetics and molecular biology under my belt to know when someone is manufacturing pseudoscience in those areas. Unlike the groupies that peddle it…obviously.

  161. #161 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    So, Judith… Leaving aside the small issue that you’ve just pretty much equated Buddhism with animism, can reiki make merited karma disappear?

  162. #162 Sauceress
    June 30, 2012

    Oh and Judith..
    I take it from your silence on the issue that you didn’t find any errors on those quoted wikis? Did you even bother looking?

  163. #163 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Narad
    If you are talking Buddhism, everything that exists is mutually co-arising. I don’t see why bringing Buddhism into the discussion is a bad idea. Have you heard of Nagarjuna’s tetralemma?

    @Sauceress
    If you don’t want to look at Shedrake, look at Fritz-Albert Popp and Stuart Hameroff. All three postulate the existence of mechanisms allowing communication within the human body beyond the existing biochemical model which you studied. I note that they too studied biology, extensively, and they came up with different conclusions.

  164. #164 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 30, 2012

    @Judith – thanks for thinking of me, but it was AdamG who suggested Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. Sagan was a scientist of considerable accomplishment who was also able to explain concepts clearly to non-scientists. I can’t say that the same is true of Sheldrake.

  165. #165 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Mephistopheles
    Indeed it was.

  166. #166 Agashem
    June 30, 2012

    I can’t believe this discussion is ongoing. Judith, so much of what you have described is known to us in the medical field. You should really watch Penn&Teller Bullshit episode about alternative medicine and watch real people feel better with oven mitts and magnets. They really walk with less pain. Watch for yourself and see if you don’t recognize the type of people you are ‘treating’. What you fail at doing is recognizing when you are genuinely helping someone or when you are not.

  167. #167 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Agashem
    Now quoting scientists Penn & Teller. BTW the take-away from this is not that alternative medicine doesn’t work but that the placebo effect can be hugely powerful and needs to be more extensively applied/studied. You will recall the studies involving sham surgeries for bad knees & angina. How do you know that half of what doctors do is not effective due to placebo? Drugs decline in effectiveness over time as doctors’ become less enthusiastic about them. Placebo now outperforms Prozac. Harvard study shows placebo to be effective even when experimental subjects are told it’s a placebo, and the container is marked “PLACEBO” in large script. Maybe medicine could become less invasive and less expensive if the placebo effect were more extensively and properly deployed.

    Are you saying that Fritz Albert-Popp and Stuart Hameroff are known to you & others in medicine?

  168. #168 Agashem
    June 30, 2012

    What has that got to do with what you are claiming? Everytime a question is posed to you, you drag out another alternative theory.
    I am aware enough to know that what I do can invoke placebo effect. All of us in medicine know this. The question is, how to study it? Often telling someone you are studying the placebo effect destroys that effect. But I am sure you know this being so well informed.
    The point of Penn and Teller was for you to watch ordinary people in a mall feeling better with no intervention other than suggestion. That you might have seen yourself in there is obviously too scary. I have seen this with my own patients. And I believe it was Dr. Novella who pointed out that if someone is ‘healed’ that fast then it calls into question the origin of the problem. That is what you don’t get.

  169. #169 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Agashem
    The point of the Harvard study is that it showed that placebo can work even when people know it’s a placebo and that telling people that they were studying the placebo effect did not destroy it.

    The point of my bringing Fritz-Albert Popp and Stuart Hameroff (and earlier Rupert Sheldrake) into the discussion is that there could well be mechanisms working in the human body beyond the biochemical models we already know and recognize and that these mechanisms could explain/give rise to new therapies, such as bioenergetic healing.

    I note no one has commented on this:
    Reiki is often regarded by practitioners as being a ‘hot’ energy. They feel extra heat as Reiki flows. The University of Arizona has used an Extra Low Frequency meter to see if it could pick up heat changes in the body. When practitioners reported that they were flowing Reiki, the ELF (extra low frequency) meter picked up significant increases in emissions from e.g. the palms of the hands. The emitted energy was more marked in people who had studied to third degree/master level. Researcher Melinda Connor said: ‘We have discovered a number of things: First, that master healers seem to be emitting at the same time in the extra low range from 20Hz – 1000Hz, in the ultra violet, the visible light, the infrared, the gamma and x-ray and at the 3 GHz range. I do not have the equipment to map more ranges yet. So it turns out that potentially millions of frequencies are being emitted from a single cell.”
    Arizona University recruited only highly regarded and experienced Reiki practitioners for its research who also were regularly giving Reiki. (Communication from Melinda Connor, 2006)

  170. #170 Agashem
    June 30, 2012

    Probably no one has commented because it hasn’t been published in a peer reviewed journal yet and so is considered speculation at this point. I will say I don’t have knowledge of low frequencies etc to really comment myself.
    That there may be alternative mechanisms going on in the body is rank speculation. Where is the evidence?
    Further, you still haven’t acknowledged what I said. You need to recognize that the ‘miraculous’ healings you are seeing are quite likely not what you think they are. Until you can acknowledge that, there is really no point in discussing things with you further. And no, it is not that I can’t argue my corner, it is just that you are walled up in yours and are unreachable.

  171. #171 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Agashem
    Why would I recognize that the miraculous healings I am seeing are likely not what I think they are if you will not recognize that there could be mechanisms in the body at work that the medical establishment knows nothing about that may not be amenable to double-blind study? How on earth do you do a double-blind study about the involvement of photons in nerve transmission and healing? Good luck turning off the photons in control subjects. What you are unwilling to recognize, and perhaps understandably so, are the limitations of a science based on 17th and 19th century precepts. We need new precepts and new experimental protocols.

  172. #172 Agashem
    June 30, 2012

    This is the issue.
    You describe someone bent over for many months seeing you and in one session, they are not stooped any more. This is abject bullshit. If they had been stooped for that long it would take much more time to straighten out than that. Or if someone hasn’t been able to raise their hand over their head for a long time and one session with you they can, then they were lying to you or themselves. Tissues tighten, shorten and do not comply that rapidly to being supple again. Simple physics, no need for photons (BS). Try it for yourself, don’t raise your hand over your head for a month. I mean, no reaching in cupboards or on shelves, barely able to wash your hair, and then after that month, if you are truly honest and keep your hand below the 90 degree flexion mark, try lifting your hand above your head. There is an experiment you can do on your own, no double blinding needed. You will then see how impossible these ‘miracles’ are.

  173. #173 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 30, 2012

    Harvard study shows placebo to be effective even when experimental subjects are told it’s a placebo, and the container is marked “PLACEBO” in large script.

    Yes.

    Yes, we know about this study.

    We also know why it really doesn’t represent any impressive new scientific revelations.

    WHAT WE ALREADY KNEW: If a Medical Authority gives a patient a sugar pill and tells them “this is the medicine Fakium; our scientific understanding says Fakium is a powerful medicine that should make you feel a lot better if you take it as directed” the patient will likely pay a lot more attention to any subjective improvement than to any disimprovement, and will attribute improvements that were not caused by the sugar pill to the sugar pill.

    WHAT THE STUDY SHOWED: If a Medical Authority gives a patient a sugar pill and tells them “this is a plain sugar pill; our scientific understanding says that a sugar pill is a powerful medicine that should make you feel a lot better if you take it as directed” the patient will likely pay a lot more attention to any subjective improvement than to any disimprovement, and will attribute improvements that were not caused by the sugar pill to the sugar pill.

    WHAT THE STUDY DID NOT SHOW: That a placebo, whether it’s presented as “the powerful medicine Fakium” or “the powerful medicine Placebo”, brings any actual improvement.

    You’ve heard the o

  174. #174 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    If you are talking Buddhism, everything that exists is mutually co-arising.

    Not insofar as coffee cups and hula hoops are related, no, not in any meaningful fashion. Pratityasamutpada is not an excuse for an incoherent taxonomy.

    Now, I will ask again: Can reiki make merited karma disappear?

    I don’t see why bringing Buddhism into the discussion is a bad idea. Have you heard of Nagarjuna’s tetralemma?

    Yes, Judith. I’m also familiar with the shmoo-like history of the catuskoti in Western interpretations. And here’s a good example of why this diversionary maneuver was a bad idea: all of your flailings about reiki are absolutely grounded in ontological dualism. If you had the slightest grasp of Madhyamaka, the contradiction would be apparent. You are attached to name and form.

    I suggest you review case 11 of the Blue Cliff Record. Or just quit digging.

  175. #175 ArtK
    Riding 'cross the prairie on my hobby horse
    June 30, 2012

    @ Agashem

    Everytime a question is posed to you, you drag out another alternative theory.

    It’s the woo version of the Gish Gallop. Much like wrestling with a water balloon.

  176. #176 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Antaeus Feldspar
    The punchline to the Harvard study is that another IBS group taking an approved drug reported the same degree of improvement as the placebo group that knew it was taking a placebo — which would lead one to the conclusion that the approved drug was pretty damn useless, even though it was somehow approved. I’m curious what happened with Prozac now that it too performed dismally against a placebo. Is it still being prescribed?

    @Agashem
    On what grounds, other than belief in the accepted dogma, would you dismiss Fritz-Albert Popp & Stuart Hameroff? I’m being serious here. The physics you cite is 17th-c. Newtonian physics — we’ve have come a ways since then.

    To be fair, when I refer to a person bent over with back pain I am not talking about someone who has been bent over for months — few people will wait that long before seeing a doctor when they are in that kind of pain. My experience with it has been with more recent injuries. But I have treated long term shoulder immobility and knee pain, and have seen the kind of improvement you say is impossible. People have told me they could feel structures realigning in their shoulder or knee, or something “pop” deep inside; usually this kind of realignment is accompanied by a significant change in mobility. Additionally sometimes they also say they feel muscles stretching around the injury site, even though I’m not touching them.

    The weirdest case I’ve ever seen was with a man who had injured his knee, who was on crutches for six weeks because his knee was immobilized at a 90% angle in a cast; who then could not straighten his knee after the cast was removed because any attempt to do so caused him excruciating pain; and whose knee straightened by itself, painlessly, as I was treating it. His comment was “I’m not doing this. Are you doing this? What’s going on?” In his case the improvement was lasting. He was able to stand on his own and walk with a cane. After the next treatment he no longer needed the cane either.

    In other cases where I was able to do follow-up I found that in some cases the improvement was lasting, and there was no need for further treatment. In some, the improvement lasted a few days or a few weeks, at which point the pain returned, but to a much lesser degree. If I then treated them again, they would go to a higher baseline of functionality with each treatment. And before you “that’s just time”, please note that one of these cases was a frozen shoulder that resolved in one week and another was a dancer who had been receiving physio and chiropractic treatment for the injury for YEARS. Not every injury can be fully resolved: after a while you can reach a plateau where the client is happy with the level of mobilty and freedom from pain they are at, and then they consider themselved “done”. And I will also add that there is a small percentage of people for whom it doesn’t work at all.

    But thank you all for your comments, which made me think more deeply about what I was doing and the reasons and beliefs behind it. The next logical step is for me to attempt to team up with an MD and ask him of her for patients, and document, document, document.

  177. #177 Krebiozen
    June 30, 2012

    Judith,

    the placebo effect can be hugely powerful and needs to be more extensively applied/studied

    I assume that by “placebo effect” you mean improvements in a patient’s condition that cannot be attributed to an objective effect of the intervention. If you look carefully at the literature you will find that when compared to doing nothing this effect only acts on the patient’s perception of their condition, and has little or no objective effect on illnesses. For example you won’t find any positive effect of placebo on cancer, or infection, and placebo vaccines don’t work. You will find it claimed that placebos can cure cancer, but the only documented case seems to have occurred 60 years ago (Google my ‘nym) and has never been replicated, suggesting it was mere coincidence.

    You might find it instructive to look up a recent study using sham acupuncture, a fake inhaler or an albuterol inhaler to treat asthmatics. All the groups reported an improvement, but only the albuterol showed an improvement using an objective measure of lung function.

    You will recall the studies involving sham surgeries for bad knees & angina.

    Those studies compared sham surgery with real surgery and found no difference, or in some cases those who had the real surgery did worse, proving that the real surgery was ineffective or even dangerous. For example studies on angina suggest that internal mammary artery ligation and internal mammary artery implants don’t work very well, not that placebo surgery has a miraculous effect. The pain of angina, like other pain, responds well to placebo, but not the objective risk of a heart attack, which is probably more important.

  178. #178 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    Bless you, @Narad. I am attached to name and form. And also, clearly, to self.

  179. #179 Krebiozen
    June 30, 2012

    I’ll just mention that I had a frozen shoulder some years ago, very painful and extremely inconvenient. My GP suggested a cortisone injection into the joint, but said that the doctor in the practice who was the most skilled at doing this was on vacation, and suggested I wait until he returned in a week’s time. I waited, the frozen shoulder resolved without treatment. It happens.

  180. #180 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    How long did you have the frozen shoulder before you went to the doctor?

  181. #181 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    You might have healed yourself to avoid the painful injection 🙂

  182. #182 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    Ugh. I thought that by spacing out the colon and the closing parenthesis I could do the emoticon and still avoid the smiley face. Delete smiley face.

  183. #183 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    I am attached to name and form. And also, clearly, to self.

    And, so, you barfed on your shoes while gurgling “Nagarjuna” for what reason, exactly?

  184. #184 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Test. : )

  185. #185 Krebiozen
    June 30, 2012

    How long did you have the frozen shoulder before you went to the doctor?

    Only a couple of days, I woke up unable to lift my arm so I got an appointment ASAP. The important point is that many things do resolve without treatment, or change in severity for no apparent reason,.and placebos can affect people’s perception of pain. The only way to find out if something real is going on is a double blind trial. If you are really claiming that people can just heal themselves without reiki (or whatever) we don’t need reiki masters, do we?

  186. #186 herr doktor bimler
    June 30, 2012

    I note no one has commented on this:
    Reiki is often regarded by practitioners as being a ‘hot’ energy. They feel extra heat as Reiki flows. The University of Arizona has used an Extra Low Frequency meter to see if it could pick up heat changes in the body.

    Possibly because the Great Infallible Google has no record of something called an “Extra Low Frequency meter”, other than (a) press releases from the Reiki Council, and (b) a ghost-hunter who’s coined the term independently. As far as I can tell, the Human Energy Systems Laboratory of the University of Arizona have a Magic E-meter that they wave at things.
    If Calli Arcade is going to quote the Alan Parsons Project, it’I will trump that with the liner notes from Tubular Bells:
    “This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station.”

    The hypothesis is that a particular form belonging to a certain group, which has already established its (collective) “morphic field”, will tune into that “morphic field”.

    I prefer Terry Pratchett’s concept of Narrativium as the explanatory element.

  187. #187 Judith
    June 30, 2012

    @Krebiozen
    Sudden conditions can suddenly clear up. BTW if people could cure themselves, we wouldn’t need doctors either : )

    @Narad
    Now you are just being unnecessarily rude and crude, so in the interest of peace I will ignore you.

  188. #188 herr doktor bimler
    Aboard the London-Oxford coach
    June 30, 2012

    If Calli Arcade is going to quote the Alan Parsons Project
    Apologies for misspelling Arcale. I can’t even blame the keyboard this time.

  189. #189 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Now you are just being unnecessarily rude and crude, so in the interest of peace I will ignore you.

    If you are just going to continue introducing notions and fail to be able to say anything coherent about them or–as in this case–demonstrate mind-boggling ignorance, patience will wear thin. Does reiki only work as a transmitter?

    When you’re done with the bit from the Blue Cliff Record (heh), I suggest that you mull over case 3 from the Mumonkan. It’s quite apropos.

  190. #190 Krebiozen
    June 30, 2012

    Sudden conditions can suddenly clear up.

    The doctor I saw told me it would resolve on its own without treatment, but that would likely take several months or even years. She was wrong. If I had had some treatment, whether reiki, another CAM treatment or conventional treatment, I might well have been telling people how it had miraculously cured me and the practitioner would have chalked up another success.

  191. #191 ArtK
    Imagining feeling better
    June 30, 2012

    I suspect that one of Judith’s problems is that she doesn’t understand the difference between feeling better and actually being better. The placebo effect only gives you the first.

  192. #192 Sauceress
    June 30, 2012

    Judith@8:15 am

    @Sauceress
    If you don’t want to look at Shedrake…

    Can’t imagine where you got that idea because I do want to look at Sheldrake…very much so!
    However at the moment I’m expecting visitors and will most likely be offline for the next few hours.

    In the meantime do you think you could familiarize yourself with Sheldrake’s “MORPHIC RESONANCE AND MORPHIC FIELDS: An Introduction.”
    (It’s on his website)
    I think you’ll find it useful to look up “HOX gene” and “Morphogenesis” from other sources.

    Oh…and look up “Antennapedia”
    There’s a nice image of that on wiki.

  193. #193 Politicalguineapig
    June 30, 2012

    Krebozien: My sympathies. I screwed my shoulder up in a car accident a couple of years ago, and had a very limited range of motion in my right arm for a month. Also resolved without any sort of treatment. I’d injured the same arm in a bike accident before that- spent a week with my arm in a sling before I popped my shoulder back into place.

  194. #194 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Can’t imagine where you got that idea because I do want to look at Sheldrake…very much so!
    However at the moment I’m expecting visitors and will most likely be offline for the next few hours.

    It’s thoroughly unclear why Judith can’t distance-manifest a visualizable morphic field through the reiki channel. Then everybody could just hang out with an image of him.

  195. #195 Judith
    July 1, 2012

    @ArtK
    Poor reading and comprehension skills.

  196. #196 Denice Walter
    posh hotel...
    July 1, 2012

    Two people wake up in an expensive hotel; despite the luxurious appointments, each has developed muscle pain.
    Visiting the fashionable section, the gentleman decides to hire a masseur to work on his pain.The lady however, decides to walk about, drink tea and winds up buying an expensive pair of pearls, each one suspended on a fine chain that in turn, is suspended from earwires and worn as earings.
    Both of them feel much better. Can we explain these differences? ( -btw- true story)

  197. #197 Judith
    July 1, 2012

    They both did something that was relaxing for them. All healing is self-healing. All health practitioners facilitate such self-healing. You can’t “cure” anyone else.

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