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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.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

597 replies on “Reiki versus dogs just being dogs”

My cat was dying of renal failure. Science-based veterinary medicine saved her (although the vet always claims “it’s a miracle”, whenever she sees our kitty). Of course, it was rather more painful than reiki or homeopathy (all those big pills, drips and blood tests) but it worked and after 1,5 year my cat is very much alive and in good condition.

Well, the vets say that dying from renal failure is virtually painless, so if we chose reiki, our cat wouldn’t suffer that much – but I very much prefer to have her around, even if she wakes me up at 5.30 because she wants to be fed.

Reiki is just another way to separate gullible, science averse fools from their money. Albeit in a very spiritually satisfying way.

I can’t figure out if I prefer the Reiki response or the Christian faith healing response when you aren’t healed. I would be confused to be told I obviously don’t want to be healed and end up quiet and analyzing my personal motives for days (gee, thanks mom), but it’s better than the Christian faith healer who kept insisting they were called to heal me, failed, and proclaimed me possessed. 😐

Poor dogs! If they’re sick, take them to the vet. If it’s a skin thing and it is all over their body, analyze recent changes, consider changing pet foods (my dog started losing clumps of hair when I got Science Diet on sale and assumed it would be much better for her and tried the switch – she was allergic to it; back to Beneful and she’s great) first if you don’t want to go to the vet and have them suggest it. However, skin irritation is miserable…

~shakes head~

I suspect Reiki practitioners and the like enjoy the “I have a mystical skill” idea. The self-delusion of their increased awareness and importance just sucks them further and further from rational thought.

Hell, this wouldn’t even work on my fish. As soon as my hand goes in the tank (typically for cleaning or to replant the plants those bastards keep uprooting) they immediately start trying to eat it.

I wonder if reiki works through glass?

Reiki for pets? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

At least one can attempt to persuade a human that this crazy person is trying to heal him, which may allow for a placebo effect. I would expect no placebo effect in animals (are there any vets here to weigh in on this question?). An animal’s thought process is likely to be along the lines of, “What is this crazy person doing?” And anybody who doesn’t understand why a dog or a cat would prefer petting to reiki should not be a pet owner.

Eric Lund,

There have been a number of animal studies done for acupuncture and homeopathy which are held up by the CAM community as evidence they work because, after all, an animal wouldn’t have a placebo effect. Presumably Reiki would follow the same pattern. I see no reason animals would not be subject to placebo effects, and certainly the observer would. If you act like your pet is feeling better, sometimes it acts like it’s feeling better, which makes you think it’s working.

QFT:

I see no reason animals would not be subject to placebo effects, and certainly the observer would.

This gets back to what Orac said about anthropomorphizing our pets. We tend to see in their behavior what we want to see. Added to that is how our behavior affects them and you have the perfect recipe for self-delusion. I recall one couple’s account of how one of them treated their dog with great care and concern, to which the dog responded with displays of submission and “down” behaviors (tail down, quiet, limping). The other member of the couple treated the dog as if it were doing fine, and the dog responded with tail wagging, no limp, etc.

Approach the session by stating (to yourself),

Yes, don’t speak out loud. You wouldn’t want people seeing you talking to your dog and thinking you are crazy.

(full disclosure: I talk to my cats and dog whenever I have the occasion. On the other hand, I don’t pretend to heal them with the Palpatine touch)

What if My Dog Prefers Petting Over Reiki?

I agree with you Orac: dogs can be smarter than humans.

Anyone who subjects a sick or injured animal to woo instead of science-based veterinary care should be bitten.

I’ll volunteer to do the biting, myself.

@ Eric Lund

Placebo in animals? Attention, pet peeve of mine (sorry, lame pun)

There were a few articles on this topic on Science-based medicine website, like this one. Todd was referring to a comment appearing under one of these articles.

My own (amateurish) opinion is simply that for our pets, we are the Provider. God-like for dogs, butler-like for cats, but that’s beside the point.
For our pets, there is a correlation between our presence and the magical appearance of food and water. There is also a correlation between our hands and a feeling of well-being over their skin. Maybe it’s just us training them to respond to our presence, but still: there are expectations from our pets, and we are feeding these expectations whenever we are, well, feeding them.
But suddenly, when they are ill, they become unaware of our presence and are to stupid (or not stupid enough) to expect us to relieve their pain, the same way we relieve their hunger?
It’s not a very plausible hypothesis. Especially in the light that we are keeping our pets in a state of infancy, making ourself something akin to surrogate parents. We are an authority figure, for them. A perfect setting for placebo.
Not to mention that, as Todd and Mephistopheles pointed out, the placebo effect could be in the eye of the beholder (the owner).
Note that our pets don’t have to understand what we are doing to heal them. They just need to realize that we are doing something to them.

I like to point out to clever Hans. The story is seen as an hoax – a horse supposedly able to do calculus – but a lot of people missed the main point: the horse was able to pretend to do calculus by body-reading the people watching him. I have a hard time accepting that a horse can do that, but is unable to feel that we are fussing over his well-being.

Another commenter wrote a good point:
Animals are good at hiding pain, if needs to be. So, if Fluffy is stuck with plenty of needles whenever it shows suffering, it quickly learns not to show pain.

Meh, is there a review button somewhere on this site? My links seem broken.
First was “is there placebo in animals” on Science-based medicine.
Second was the Wikipedia article on Clever Hans.

I have friends who has been sucked in my a pet psychic. Why, this woman is so good that she can read and cure over the phone!

Admittedly, my friends did have ongoing issues with, what sounds like, a bad vet. Of course, the psychic read that the dog needed better food to help with allergies.
AMAZING!

It’s even more hilarious if you picture the reiki process in your mind’s eye.

I have thought up an adaption for cats- who may not be as obliging as dogs with the hand jive. I have a large ,athletic cat who-like most cats- really likes to sit in boxes. Yesterday someone brought me a long cardboard box expressly for this purpose which he sits in- happy as a clam- looking for all the world like cat MRI**.

The reiki master would gesticulate over the box which would now be called the reiki healing chambre and probably should be painted silver.

OT- but is ironic nonsense from MIke Adams *ever* really OT @ RI, I ask you?

MIkey- for reasons immaterial to my point- investigates the PhD of some fellow with a Dutch name- seems it is a phoney! from a degree mill! and purchased! The horror!

Now Mike has never revealed his own degrees or anything at all about his own education and he has called himself a nutritionist. Nor has he rankled about Gary Null’s ersatz degree ( quackwatch, wikipedia, lee-phillips.org) or any of the other woo-meisters whose idiocy he broadcasts from his platform.I guess he doens’t have an axe to grind against them as he has against the guy in question.

** cat scan

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.

TV Tropes entry: “Too Dumb to Fool

At our level of technology, we’re used to the idea of things that aren’t detectable to our built-in senses. So magical vitalist life energy has some plausibility for people who don’t understand the science behind the invisible. Your typical dog doesn’t understand the idea of wifi signals, magnetic fields, and such, so he wouldn’t understand the vitalist concepts behind reiki.

As for placebo effect, I think some animals could experience it if they make the connection between their health and vet visits, even if it’s by post-hoc reasoning: “I get sick and my worried human takes me to a man in white who pokes a needle in me. My human gets less worried, and I recover. That’s how it usually happens, therefore, having a man in white poke me makes me feel better.”

They could probably do the same post-hoc fallacies humans do for self-limiting conditions. Sick -> (Ineffective) Treatment -> Better in a few days. Of course, as has been said, the human interpretation of the pet’s reaction adds another layer of self-deception, so there’s still plenty of reason to use placebo controls for veterinary medicine.

What if My Dog Prefers Petting Over Reiki?

Then you have a very sensible dog and it deserves a run in the dog park.

I think someone mentioned in the comments to Orac’s older post on this subject that Caesar Milan’s training techniques, aside from the acupuncture, aren’t necessarily a good idea for dogs, either. Does anyone have a link to a decent S-B discussion of this? I know a fair number of dog owners who dig his advice, and I’d certainly spread around any rational critique.

@Bronze Dog

Magical thinking was observed, many times, in animals as dumb as pigeons even decades ago. It is an observable fact that pets are susceptible to logical fallacies. Having worked with lab animals in the past (psych experiments, not decapitation and stuff), I can assure you that double blinding is a must. Even lab rats (which are much dumber than their wild brethren) are capable of fooling people. And people are still as great as ever at fooling themselves.

@Denice Walter

probably should be painted silver

No, no, no. Wrapped in tinfoil. High end ones would, of course, be copper-plated.

I don’t think Reiki would have been nearly as much help as the vet was with my cat’s two ingrown claws yesterday. She certainly didn’t want anyone laying their hands upon her afflicted toes. Then again, her general dislike of anyone _ever_ touching her feet is the main reason why her claws can grow out like that in the first place. Anybody know of any therapeutic touch-like methods for claw-clipping?

Come to think of it, my hands weren’t anywhere near her when her claws _did_ get clipped yesterday, so I guess that could be considered a hands-free method. Bite- and scratch-free, too.

I’m reminded of Tellingon Ttouch, which is a “therapeutic touch” method developed for animals. Now, anyone who has animals knows that steady, firm slow touch is soothing for them. It’s a nice, comfy massage. But, of course, Ttouch is MORE than that. “[T]he intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence.” Because a method to sooth your dog or cat is never enough. They have to pile woo on top of it.

There was once a fellow who occasionally drank in my local who claimed to be a ‘Reiki Master’ (in my limited experience everyone who has a reiki session goes on to become a ‘master’).

He made the mistake of trying it on me. He told me I had chronic neck problems, I told him I don’t (I have a small surgical scar at the top of my neck from a lipoma removal).

He waved his hands in my general direction and asked if I felt an improvement and I of course, said no.

“You will”, he replied.

At that point I asked if he was a practising ‘psychic’ and he looked amazed and asked how I knew that.

I then explained to everyone at our table how he’d just turned a complete miss into a hit and said it’s a classic talking to the dead trick.

I then asked him how his ‘healing gift’ works and he trotted out the usual energy channelling crap.

To my shame I ripped his reasoning apart rather publicly (though i wouldn’t have if he hadn’t given a public demonstration).

The reason i mention this is that the reiki ‘healers’ I’ve met (admittedly not many) all claim to have psychic abilities and invariably use the same techniques of cold calling.

Only rather than I’m getting an ‘M’ they ask the ‘patient’ if they’re feeling anything. If the ‘patient’ says yes the ‘healer’ has a rough idea of the location because he’s waving his hands over the area.

The chap left the pub and never returned so apologies to the landlord. It was me who lost you a regular customer.

Well, the vets say that dying from renal failure is virtually painless, so if we chose reiki, our cat wouldn’t suffer that much

That strikes me as an odd thing for a vet to say. CRF is eminently manageable, and I did it with my eldest for many years, but toward the end, there’s definitely suffering–there’s a reason cats learn to like sub-Q fluids pretty quickly. (And if your vet doesn’t routinely check CRF patients for hypertension, ask for it.)

Richard Smith: Some people these days are using something like a Dremel tool (you can use a Dremel tool, too, if you have a fine-grind head for it and it goes down to low enough RPMs) to grind down cats’ claws, which is apparently less traumatising than clipping, since a lot of cats don’t like the pinching sensation. Something to think about, perhaps?

@ Bronze Dog

At our level of technology, we’re used to the idea of things that aren’t detectable to our built-in senses.

True, but I would like to point out that our ancestors, all the way back to the cavemen, did have religious beliefs, and religion is basically having the idea of undetectable stuff happening (whether it’s true or not is another debate, please don’t make me the cause for derail). Obviously, advanced technology in not necessary to believe in fairy dust: the idea has been around for ages.

@ Richard Smith

Anybody know of any therapeutic touch-like methods for claw-clipping?

Terry Pratchett proposed a method to fed a cat a pill in “The Unalduterated Cat”. You can try to adapt it for claw-clipping However, his proposed method require to possess at least three hands: one to hold the cat in a towel, one to hold the cat’s mouth open, and one to insert the pill into the cat’s mouth.
Terry Pratchett admits himself it’s not a very effective method. I never said I would give good advice 🙂

More seriously, if your cat was younger, and didn’t already had ingrown nails, I would propose to try offering her a scratching toy. In years past, my family regularly purchased these cheap multi-layered cardboard boxes, with the layers forming a grid to be scratched, with catnip seed embedded at the bottom, to give the cat an incentive to claw (and nibble) its way through the cardboard. it gives the cat something to use its claws on.
However, this toy has two negative sides: a frenzied cat will chew its way through the cardboard and back very quickly, so the toy would only last a few days; and more annoyingly, you are training your cat to sharpen its claws, so be in lookout for collateral damage on the furniture.
Try googling for cat scratching box, although the first hits are going to be for expensive models.
Maybe in your pet shop? (although the pet shops in my area are not much cat-friendly – plenty of things for your clownfish or iguana, but nothing much for cats – don’t know if cats are going out of fashion)
Um, since you cat already has ingrown nails, my advice is not very helpful. Maybe have her claws clipped by a vet, wait a bit for the claws to regrow a bit, and then try to educate her on a scratching box?

@Narad – the vet actually said that renal failure is virtually painless compared to renal cancer, so we should try to treat our cat, even if she’s almost dying because that wouldn’t cause additional suffering to her.
Anyway, I’ve been giving my cat subQ fluids for the last year and a half and while she does not really like it, she stopped trying to run away and that’s a huge improvement.
I don’t go to the vet very often, we do all the drips on our own, at home. The problem is, my cat is very aggressive towards everyone except me and my husband and she has to be sedated for all blood tests and such. When she was dying, our vet tried to do a renal USG without sedation – and this poor, dying kitty, lying like a rag on the table, bit the vet in the finger, straight into the joint. The vet bandaged the wound, said “I see a very strong will to live, we will try to treat her”, taught us how to do the drips… and that’s how we’ve been for the last year and a half. The cat is on a special diet, she gets her pills every morning and fluids every 5 days.

Nat Geo, please add a pre-submitting view. It’s urgent.
If only so I can see the wall of text I’m about to submit and have a chance to cut down on my profligacy.

Belay part of my last!

Rather than Cold calling it should of course, read Cold Reading.

But you all knew that.

When she was dying, our vet tried to do a renal USG without sedation – and this poor, dying kitty, lying like a rag on the table, bit the vet in the finger, straight into the joint.

Heh. Mine actually required an ultrasound at one point, for which I to travel some distance to a specialty clinic where they didn’t know him. (My own vets knew it was going to take at least three people to do anything with him.) So I’m sitting in this clinic, which was way nicer than my own university medical center, and somebody comes out and says they’re going to take him in to shave his belly. Somehow, this hadn’t occurred to me in advance, and all I could muster was, “I don’t think that’s going to be straightforward.” Oh, no, we do it all the time, no problem.

Ten minutes later, one of the actual partners comes out looking visibly shaken and requests permission to sedate the cat. Sure thing, doc. That cat was as tough as nails–even after he lost his sight to a retinal detachment, he would find ways to sneak out into the park, catch giant insects, and bring them back up to the apartment. It’s part of the reason I persisted until fluids were no longer helping.

“non-science-based woo” implies the existence of another kind.

Eric Lund and Heliantus,
I see the Placebo by Proxy effect on animal owners every day. It has become standard of care to call the chiropractor instead of the veterinarian, and no one wants to dismiss “alternative” stuff. Unfortunately, especially when it comes to behavioral matters, indeed the “alternative” was far superior (and much closer to science) than some of the traditional stuff, tradition mired in very old attitudes towards the “dumber than us” animals. So just because in the recent past and even today, myself and others found practical and factual info in “alternative” training systems means that many extrapolate from that to embracing the woo.

I don’t see the tide turning anytime soon. Woo is going to grow and grow and people are going to spend more money on it.

I took my dog to a regular PT who also does “energy work” on animals. He did some very gentle manipulation of his spine and back legs, and then closed his eyes holding his hands over several locations on the dog’s back and legs. We went to see him 3 times. Before we saw this guy, the dog couldn’t walk up or down stairs, could barely get up off the floor and drag himself around the block for a walk, didn’t have enough stability to lift his leg to pee. Now he’s running downstairs, trotting easily through his walks, pissing on fire hydrants just fine. The dog is old and his progress will not last forwever, but whatever this guy did made a HUGE difference. . The vet had nothing to offer said it’s just a function of genetic hip issues and old age. Call it quackery, hooey, woo, whatever you want. I’m just happy my dog is still enjoying his life.

The reiki master would gesticulate over the box which would now be called the reiki healing chambre and probably should be painted silver.

In MY DAY we called them “Orgone Accumulators”. Kids today…

Just when I thought I was over re-homing my dog…maybe Reiki would have helped? There was me thinking I’d tried just about everything

@ herr doktor bimler ( and -btw- Todd W.)

Oh no, no, no! I’m over 50 and know perfectly well about Reich ( altho’ lord almighty, I wish I didn’t) but…
I think that a cardboard box painted shiny silver with someone waving their hands over it EXACTLY characterises what woo really is.

@ Dreamer

Case in point 15 minutes after you posted…

@ joyrider

I’m glad for you dog. I really am.
But I want to know if it’s true. And not by hearsay.
Because if it really works, I want it too.
And if it doesn’t work, I don’t want to spent my money on it, including my hard-earner tax money. And I want my health insurance to stop peddle it and focus on real treatments.

If you can convince your PT to participate in a double-blind study – all the dogs are examined by a third party vet before and after, half the dogs go to your PT, the other half to a mime artist who doesn’t know sh*t about Reiki.
Plus a specialist in social studies to collect data on the dogs’ (and the owners’) lifestyle to rule out a few confounders, like diet, exercise, dog’s breed…
It will be a self-selecting sample group, which is not the best, but that would be a start.

I think that a cardboard box painted shiny silver with someone waving their hands over it EXACTLY characterises what woo really is.

And the cat inside is simultaneously healed AND not healed until you open the box and collapse the wave-function.

Yet another anecdote….

I have an 18 year old cat with pretty severe arthritis, but is otherwise fine per her latest blood tests. It’s frustrating for both me and the vet because there apparently aren’t any long-term safe treatments for arthritis in cats – they can’t tolerate the same medications other animals (including people) can, and an ethical vet won’t prescribe “nuclear options” for pain unless it’s either short-term acute or an end-of-life situation. The vet could only suggest glucosamine-chondroitin (Cosequin for Cats), with the caveat that there was some evidence it might help, but in any case won’t hurt. So we dutifully sprinkled it on her food for a couple years. Meh. Just ran out of the stuff and despite knowing with my forebrain it almost certainly isn’t going to help, my hindbrain is still tempted to get some more.

Of course, the cat seems to be adapting to her progressive disability a lot better than I am. For one, she learned to start vocalizing her demands quite musically after 15 years of being almost silent. Manipulative little git….

There was a blog called SkeptVet that addressed lots of woo (including a recent study showing that glucosamine-chondroitin doesn’t really work in animals, same as it doesn’t really work in people), but unfortunately the domain’s reverted to an ad site. 🙁

@Heliantus: Point taken about wanting scientific proof. If my PT did a double-blind study, however, it might only show that HE can get results using this method, not necessarily that any random, “trained” person can. He seems to have a gift for it. Although he has a thriving regular “people” practice he has an affinity for animals and started out doing it for some friends’ pets. Even he was a bit skeptical at first, but people kept telling him it was making a difference in their pets, so he now has one treatment area for people, and a seperate room just for animals. Plus, he travels out to treat horses. Because the demand is growing (based on referrals) and he’s the only one around who can do what he does, he’s shifting his practice more and more to working this way with animals. It’s clearly not about the money for him, because his PT rates on people are double that of animals.
I’m definitely on the skeptical side, but when my friend told me he was convinced this guy added two years to the life of his dog, and when the vets don’t have anything to offer, then it was a no-brainer for me to give it a shot. Maybe that makes me a sucker, but I say it’s the best $180 I ever spent.

I don’t know why they call this “Respectful Insolence,” of the two articles I’ve read under this heading, neither has been respectful.

It must be a pretty sad life when you have NO WONDERMENT for anything!! Your articles are condescending BS. You write about things which you have no REAL knowledge. Just because things like Reiki and Acupuncture aren’t fully based in “empirical science” does not mean that they are not amazing healing arts!!

It is my wish for you to get a REAL life, one in which you can be fulfilled for building something up, something positive!! Not trying to tear everything down for which you cannot find understanding within yourself.

There was a blog called SkeptVet that addressed lots of woo (including a recent study showing that glucosamine-chondroitin doesn’t really work in animals, same as it doesn’t really work in people), but unfortunately the domain’s reverted to an ad site.

You can search for Brennen McKenzie’s articles over at SBM.

Gosh, Rebeecca Petrovic, just what in particular do you object to? Do you have actual evidence that Reiki and Acupuncture work any better than a placebo?

Rebecca: I realize that you lose money if your victims start asking awkward questions, like “Is there any evidence that you’re not a crook?” but that’s no reason for you to whine here.

Oh, G-d, not Laura Petrovic, B.S., A.O.S., LMT. Time to fold up shop.

@Narad: Many thanks for pointing out that SkeptVet is Brennen McKenzie. So much for my Google skills.

@Rebecca Petrovic – the fundamental flaw in your argument is that it’s based on faith. Faith is emotional, and emotions are notoriously individual and difficult to quantify. You can’t demand that I have faith in Reiki any more than you can demand that I fall madly in love with some random guy in a parking lot.

With apologies to the memory of Winston Churchill: Science is the worst way of knowing the truth, except for all the other ones. 🙂

I have a cat I would like her to treat.

For anything, although an attitude adjustment would be a good start.

@Rebecca – perhaps you misunderstand. He mocks pseudo-science and mystical/magical thinking because often people avoid science-based, proven treatments for magical thinking, which can sometimes allow diseases to progress and make people sicker.

He also does have a “real life” which includes cancer treatment and research. I think attempting to improve treatment outcomes and save lives is incredibly productive.

What science-based treatment modality do YOU recommend for people?

@ Infuriatingly Moderate:

If you read some of the material I do ** you’ll find that precious little is NOT based on emotional appeals : belief in self-serving theories has nothing to do with data but relies on upon faith in the scenarios that they would PREFER to be true .

So it is easy ( and common) for a person without much background in medicine or psychology to criticise the entire medical establishment about vaccines or about causation of autism or cancer or effecttive treatments for any condition,.The lack of self-criticism allows grand sweeping generalisations about intricate fields that they barely comprehend.
Interestingly enough, this is encouraged by the leaders of these movements who have little academic credentials and appropriate training. but nevertheless, criticise things and people far beyond their ken.

** Natural News, Progressive Radio Network,Age of Autism, Thinking Moms’ Revolution, etc.

Orac:

Dogs love to be petted. Sure, the dog would probably prefer to be petted with both hands, but dogs are adaptable.

Then there is the cat that used to be in our house, but has fortunately moved to son’s apartment, who would go after you with full claws and teeth when she reached a petting limit. Okay, I can understand a cat getting annoyed at too much touching, but sometimes she would do this after tricking you into petting her. She had a habit of rolling on her back and looking up with an expression that said “rub my belly!”, only to use that as an opportunity to attack the compliant hand.

I love the lack of specifics in Ms. Petrovic comment. What exactly is she complaining about?

@Chris – that’s exactly what my cat does sometimes – we call this “cat trap” and have learnt to recognize it. So we also have a lot of cat toys and when we suspect that she wants to wrestle with our hands, not really be petted, we use the toys.

Ah, the “cat trap.” We also learned to recognize it, and would only respond with a foot encased in a shoe. She has very sharp claws and teeth.

She is now a bit older (about eight year old) and has calmed down. Since my son’s apartment is the gaming meeting place for his college friends on the nights he does not work, she has become accustomed to young male visitors. But she now distrusts anyone outside that demographic. When son had to de-flea the apartment I took her to our house. After he called to say we could bring her back, she hissed and clawed at me when I tried to pick her up.

Cats must be forgetful, because I used to be her favorite person in the world. But that was when she lived at our house and I was the one who fed her.

@ Rebecca Petrovic: I posted a rather “insolent” comment on this blog last year, about Reiki being used to repair household appliances. (If Reiki “works” for humans and pets…why not try “treating” a leaky hot water heater?):

http://scottpearce.com/2012/05/30/reiki-appliance-repair/

I wonder if you would like to comment on this particular method of repairing household appliances 🙂

P.S. I opted for “traditional treatment”; it cost me $1500 to replace the hot water tank.

She had a habit of rolling on her back and looking up with an expression that said “rub my belly!”, only to use that as an opportunity to attack the compliant hand.

That behavior is not generally an invitation. The gesture is the showing, and that alone.

P.S. I opted for “traditional treatment”; it cost me $1500 to replace the hot water tank.

All you had to do was dilute cold water in lots of, er, water, bash it against a bible, and treat the tank with it. Get with the program.

(If the water stays cold at first, it’s just a sign that the treatment is working, flushing the toxic cold water out of the system. Stick with it.)

She had a habit of rolling on her back and looking up with an expression that said “rub my belly!”, only to use that as an opportunity to attack the compliant hand.

I saw on a documentary a she-lion using the same tactic to trick her prey (a gnu, if I remember correctly) into reach of her claws and teeth. Rolling on her belly in front of it and daring it to try to gore her. And catching and raking it as soon as if complied
The poor gnu was game in more than one sense…

Nooooooo, Reiki is also very fashionable.

All the cool kids are doin it!

@Rebecca Petrovic:

It must be a pretty sad life when you have NO WONDERMENT for anything!!

I have plenty of wonderment in my life. Scientists are finding worlds around other suns. Venus just transited the sun and JAXA took a photograph of the event so good it showed Venus as a globe. AIDS is no longer a death sentence. I can have fresh fruit in the middle of winter. My father can still live an active life (and drive!) in his 80s.

I don’t need elves, ghosts, chi, orgone, or any of the other blither to feel that the world is a wonderful place worth exploring.. I have so much wonderment that I have to ration it to the real world or I’d be overwhelmed.

Truth be told, I think it’s folks who need fairy tales to experience wonderment that’re missing out.

— Steve

@Rebecca Petrovic: (and all the Storms of the world)

It must be a pretty sad life when you have NO WONDERMENT for anything!!
Tim MInchin says it so well:

Isn’t this enough?
Just this world?

Just this beautiful, complex
Wonderfully unfathomable, NATURAL world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?

<blockquote. Just because things like Reiki and Acupuncture aren’t fully based in “empirical science” does not mean that they are not amazing healing arts!!

You’re perfectly correct–it isn’t that they aren’t based in empircal science that means they aren’t amazing healing arts, it’s the fact that they’ve never been shown to actually heal anyone of anything that means they aren’t amazing healing arts.

Not published in a real journal, so no reason to grant it any credibility at all.

To summarize: mice healed of cancer with “woo woo” healing. Multiple experiments with extraordinary results conducted at accredited post-secondary institutions including medical schools. 87.9% of lab mice injected with breast cancer in 4 separate experiments have full life-span cures.

Again, not a real journal, so no reason to believe it is a real paper or that they actually did the science. And no evidence that in the last twelve years it has been replicated.

Marg, that paper is laughable. Did you notice how there are absolutely no statistical analyses done on their results in order to support their conclusions? Do you find that odd?

In one of their ‘experiments,’ 10/11 ‘treated’ mice experienced remission while 7/8 ‘control’ mice experienced remission. Do you see why the lack of statistics might be a problem? How are we meant to estimate how often the observed results could occur by chance alone? The authors claim that this data is evidence that their treatment is “successful in curing mammary adenocarcinoma,” a claim that’s laughable at best. You can’t just throw some numbers on a page and call it evidence.

Of course, this would only be relevant for a properly designed, well controlled, blinded study and this ‘article’ fails hilariously on all counts.

In one of their ‘experiments,’ 10/11 ‘treated’ mice experienced remission while 7/8 ‘control’ mice experienced remission.

The proposition, advanced with a straight face, appears to be that the controls were quanto-spiritually entangled with the experimental group.

RE the reiki mouse study. I did read it. As only a lowly BS in ChemE who made microchips for a living even I can spot so much fail in there that it just isn’t funny. Person running the experiment becomes the “healer”? FAIL. Breaking protocol and “visiting the control group?” FAIL. Assuming that because the results between the experimental and control group were almost the same that it must have been magical resonance healing?? FAIL!

All experiments require assumptions – e.g., in this case that the mice should have all died from their induced cancers. So what does the mystery “disinterested professor of biology” who injected the mice with cancer have to say about it? Why wasn’t this professor cited in the paper?

This quote from Narad’s link is quite informative:

“It is not the difference between the experimental and control groups that is the important question, it is the difference between what happened and what ought to have happened”.

When your experiment doesn’t come out “right”, you don’t automatically assume it was “magic”. You go back and check your assumptions FIRST.

In any case, if Dr. Bengston (PhD, Sociology) is so sure of the innate energy healing ability that can “resonate” through walls, I’m sure cancer patients everywhere would chip in and pay a few bucks each for him to walk through the halls of any major hospital and cure everyone.

I’m still not sure who David Krinsley really is – I keep getting hits for a professor of geology.

I actually think I might keep this paper on file for the next time I teach undergrads…to teach them to recognize subtler fallacies in the published literature it’s often useful to present students with a paper so fallacious it’s impossible to miss.

“It is not the difference between the experimental and control groups that is the important question, it is the difference between what happened and what ought to have happened”.

Now if Bengston really believed that, why bother with a control group in the first place?

I think the point is that the true controls are all the mice injected with the same cancer in previous experiments, none of which survived beyond 27 days. None of these mice should have survived, period; not the experimental, nor the control mice. If it were one or two experiments in one place, you could fault the lab technicians. But it’s been done in five different places, all with the same results, which would mean that the lab technicians in five different institutions were all incompetent. Are you prepared to believe that?

@Chris: it appears to have been replicated in the last twelve years:

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2007.6300?journalCode=acm

All of the “replications” appear to involve Dr Bengston. How can they be considered independent?

Here is a guy who is curing cancer in mice in experiment after experiment done at different university labs including two medical schools. He cures induced breast cancer and some kind of sarcoma. The question is not whether some other guy too can do it but what the heck is _he_ doing? Aren’t you guys even remotely curious? Are you going to believe that he is performing some kind of sleight of hand and duping all these experience cancer research lab people all over America, or perhaps open up your blinkers a tad and begin to wonder whether there is something going beyond your philosophy of the world?

But it’s been done in five different places, all with the same results

Wrong. It’s been done in different places with different results, which is the basis for the unfathomably boneheaded “resonance” explanation. The basic idea is that you repeatedly screw something up in one lab in two groups and have another lab not screw things up, ergo, the explanation must be a mystical phenomenon.

@Narad Why are you saying “different results”? It’s not different results. Large percentages of mice survived cancer free in every instance. Where are your different results?

I repeat: the mice survived in EVERY lab. Your explanation posits that in labs where things were done right the mice should have died. If the result was due to lab errors, in the lab where things were done right EVERY SINGLE MOUSE should have died. They didn’t. How do you explain that?

Here is a guy who is curing cancer in mice in experiment after experiment done at different university labs including two medical schools.

Marg, if the untreated control mice in four separate experiments show the same rate of survival as the experimental mice, then he cannot claim credit for curing them. Because he didn’t treat them. So he is doing something wrong.
No, I do not give two tugs on a dead dingo’s dick precisely what he is doing wrong, because I can find enough examples of egregious incompetence closer to home without following the science-fair projects of some sociology Ph.D who wants to play doctors.
For the same reason, I am not interested in the precise form of bullshit he used to persuade students at serious medical schools to take part in his mouse-killing project.

I think the point is that the true controls are all the mice injected with the same cancer in previous experiments, none of which survived beyond 27 days.

If “previous experiments” (by other researchers) are the “true control group”, then why did Bengston feel compelled to use a “false control group” in these experiments? Why is he trying to kill an untreated group of mice? You’re saying that they’re not necessary.

None of these mice should have survived, period; not the experimental, nor the control mice

Exactly. That is why we have control groups — to check that we’re doing the experiment competently. If contrary to expectations, the control group all survive, then Bengston has blundered. It’s up to him to work out how.

Marg, call us if those studies are replicated by somebody else. In the mean time look up the definition of “independent,”

Marg, experiments are like colanders: they don’t hold much water unless you’ve plugged up all the holes. You don’t get to pick your favored explanation for the results you get just because it’s a possible explanation, or just because it’s the hypothesis you structured the experiment in the hopes of proving.

You yourself say that if Bengston performed the experiment correctly, 100% of the control group mice should have died. Instead, only one did. The most reasonable explanation is that Bengston somehow screwed up the experiment so that neither the control group nor the experimental group were actually subjected to the 100%-fatal-if-not-treated injection that Bengston thought/claimed they were.

That’s a lot more reasonable of an explanation than Bengston’s own explanation of “there was some mysterious quantum-mystical effect that actually made my control group part of the experimental group, experiencing the benefits of hands-on healing even though the hands weren’t ever on them.” Seriously. Between “previously unknown quantum mechanical effects” and “oh, you mean that fatal breast cancer culture needed to be refrigerated?” the latter is far more plausible.

I admit to a certain amount of envy here. When I mismanage an experiment to the extent that the control group gives nothing like the expected result (and is instead indistinguishable from the experimental group), the editors and the reviewers do not accept my explanation that I have stumbled upon an entirely new spiritual-physical effect. Perhaps I am targeting the wrong journals.

Bengston didn’t prepare the mice. Lab technicians did. Cue the headline “lab technicians across North America so inept that in ten experiments at five different universities they failed to inject mice with cancer, leading researcher to believe that his experiments worked”.

How do you explain the fact that the mice grew tumors in the first four experiments and that the tumors then healed? How do you explain that a professor at a medical school is the co-author of the second article?

You guys are wearing blinkers the size of dinner plates. I’m surprised you are able to cross the street without getting run over by a bus.

To medieval and renaissance folks computers and microwave ovens would appear as magic. Until you discover the science behind a phenomenon, it appears as magic. And it is arrogance of the highest order to believe that we already know everything there is to know — but every society does.

So am I reading this right that Reiki is so powerful that it cures cancer in mice that happen to be in the same building as the Reiki practitioner – without being treated themselves?

Marg,

Your comment re microwaves is well taken. So how do we figure this out? Scientists figure it out by having unrelated people replicate the experiment under controlled conditions. How do you propose to figure this out?

@Niche Geek
It’s an interesting conundrum, because normally what we test is a substance, and a substance should work universally across the board, no matter who it is administering it. But once you start testing “energy”, you are introducing variability. You are dealing more with physics than with chemistry and biology. I believe Dr. Bengston also did an experiment with geomagnetic probes near the cages of the mice. The geomagnetic probes went from random fluctuation when no healing was taking place to a recognizably organized pattern when healing was taking place. So something is clearly happening. But how do you have unrelated people replicate it? That is a very good question. Maybe the answer is to go from the kinds of experiments biologists and chemists do to the kinds of experiments physicists do. The answer seems to lie more in the realm of physics.

BTW did you know that with all our advanced knowledge we cannot account for 96% of the matter and energy in the universe? We know what 4% of the universe is made of, and the rest is mystery.

@Mephistopheles O’Brien
It’s not Reiki & from what I understand it’s not about being in the same building. Read the second article, the one about Resonance, type 2 errors, and placebo effects.

ROTFLOL. You clearly know not a whit about physics. And are also unaware that claims of an EM field associated with reiki have been tested six ways from Sunday and unequivocally proven false. You’re really just providing more evidence that Bengston is either lying or grossly incompetent.

BTW did you know that with all our advanced knowledge we cannot account for 96% of the matter and energy in the universe? We know what 4% of the universe is made of, and the rest is mystery.

No, as a matter of fact we know quite a bit about both dark matter and dark energy. Not everything certainly, but to say “the rest is mystery” just betrays you as ignorant of the subject.

Hint: Energy and fields are MASSIVELY less variable, and incomparably better understood, than anything in biology.

Like Dr Bengston, the characters in “Mousehunt” kept trying to kill a mouse. Unlike Bengston, they did not ascribe their failure to a new principle of quantum reality.

why did Bengston feel compelled to use a “false control group” in these experiments?

I want to repeat this question. If the answer is “the control group is to ensure that you’re doing the experiment properly — for instance, that you’ve used the correct strain of immune-challenged mice” — then congratulations, you grasp a key concept of science.
If the answer is “In order to ignore their results, re-cast them as a second experimental group, and claim that the *expected* results are the true controls” — then you are a cargo cultist, going through magical rituals that you have seen real scientists use, like wearing a white lab coat.

Where are your different results?

In their results table. What part of “off site” do you not understand?

@Beamup I am glad you are rolling on the floor laughing. Just don’t hit your head on some piece of furniture. I am not revealing my own ignorance but that of the NASA scientist from whom I gleaned this particular piece of information, who is infinitely less arrogant than you. Given the variety of theories in physics, from quantum physics to string theory to chaos theory, I doubt that energy is better understood than anything in biology. If it is, than we are quite ignorant of biology too.

But once you start testing “energy”, you are introducing variability. You are dealing more with physics than with chemistry and biology.

Given that you have invoked the term, please be so kind as to define ‘energy’.

Allow me to quote Aristotle at you, Narad. I know one more thing than you do, which is that I know I don’t know anything. There is the kind of energy that hammers in a nail and there is the kind of energy that creates the Big Bang. Are they the same?

@herr doctor bimmler
I don’t believe that the point of the controls is to show that you are doing the experiment properly. The point of the controls is to act as a point of comparison. Once the on-site controls were shown not to do that, off-site controls were introduced. In the aforementioned experiments where geomagnetic probes were placed next to the cages of the mice, the same effect occurred next to the cages of both the experimental mice and the on-site controls. No effect occurred in nearby random places where there were no mice.

The odds of ten experiments at five different labs spaced out over decades all going wrong are probably incalculable.

Allow me to quote Aristotle at you, Narad. I know one more thing than you do, which is that I know I don’t know anything.

I am acutely aware of what I don’t know. If you had actually honed this form of self-examination, you wouldn’t be attributing the remark to Aristotle and grossly embellishing it in the process.

There is the kind of energy that hammers in a nail and there is the kind of energy that creates the Big Bang. Are they the same?

Sorry, no, this isn’t “dharma combat.” You seem to be under the impression that energy is some sort of “stuff,” akin to the premolecular notion of heat. If you do not understand the meanings of words, you generally ought not to be tossing them hither and yon.

@Narad
The meanings of words are generally humanly assigned. Different groups assign different meanings. Do you mean the meaning assigned to “energy” by physicists? I believe that would be “a unit of work”. And of course it is “dharma combat”. Everything is “dharma combat”. Is the energy that hammers in a nail the same energy that creates the Big Bang?

And of course it is “dharma combat”. Everything is “dharma combat”. Is the energy that hammers in a nail the same energy that creates the Big Bang?

Suit yourself. What energy? Does it exist, or is it emptiness?

@Narad, misattributing the quote just goes to prove that I know nothing 🙂 It is in fact Plato, but his “speaker” is Socrates.

“A quote, which becomes a philosophical theme, is said by Socrates in Plato’s Apology from The Trial and Death of Socrates at 21d:
I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.”

@Narad
It is not a “thing”. It is emptiness, but not in the sense of vacuum, but in the sense that everything is empty.

It is not a “thing”. It is emptiness, but not in the sense of vacuum, but in the sense that everything is empty.

You’re really bad at this.

Marg, when scientists say “energy”, they are referring to a very specific concept. This concept plays a critical role in such things and creating power stations, building bridges, and designing jet planes. If you wish to disagree with that definition, please feel free to do so telepathically. Any attempt to communicate to us with electronic media suggests you have no faith in your own ideas.

To medieval and renaissance folks computers and microwave ovens would appear as magic.

It depends. Blaise Pascal created in 1642 a mechanical calculator. No-one threatened to send him to the burning pyre. The concept of mechanical marvels was not that alien to ancient people.

I don’t believe that the point of the controls is to show that you are doing the experiment properly.

Ah? So how do you know what the experience is done properly, if you don’t have a negative control someplace?

The odds of ten experiments at five different labs spaced out over decades all going wrong are probably incalculable.

Actually no, it’s quite common. All you need is something that all labs overlooked or were not controlling properly. When I started my career, my lab and a dozen others across North America tried to replicate the finding of another lab, the isolation of phosphorylated proteins. Because the experience was quite complicated, we all failed quire regularly.
Eventually, commercial kits appeared with standardized solutions and stuff and the protocol is now routine.
Oh, the thing we overlooked? Among other small details, steel parts of our instruments absorbed these phosphoproteins before we could detect them.
However, for all our faults, we never found phosphoproteins in the control samples.

What boggles my mind is that none of you so-called scientists have an iota of curiosity about this. I thought people who were scientists were innately curious. My bad. You are not really scientists, you know, you just call yourselves that. @Narad, I don’t know what you are 🙂

You are not really scientists, you know, you just call yourselves that.
So long as the university is fooled, I’m happy.

@Narad, I don’t know what you are

If you wish to pretend that “everything is ‘dharma combat,'” don’t-know isn’t going to cut it.

@herr doktor bimler
Precisely. It’s all about a pay cheque to most. Somewhere along the way the curiosity that leads to new discoveries gets ditched or lost in the bureaucracy. It’s a shame, really.

@Narad
“Don’t know” is the only appropriate answer, both in dharma combat and science.

I don’t believe that the point of the controls is to show that you are doing the experiment properly.

The phrase I used was “the control group is to ensure that you’re doing the experiment properly”. The idea is to recognise our own capacity for self-deception, then find our own mistakes. Convincing other people is secondary.

“Don’t know” is the only appropriate answer, both in dharma combat and science.

The dog runs after the bone.

Gray Falcon:

Marg, when scientists say “energy”, they are referring to a very specific concept.

Kinetic Energy = half of the mass times velocity squared
… or … the momentum squared divided by 2 and by mass

Potential Energy = mass times the acceleration of gravity times the height

The units of energy are (mass)(length)(length) all divided by (time)(time) or md2 / t2 (hoping the html for superscript works, it would be nice to have preview)

So Marg should be able to tell us what is causing mass and momentum.

I’ll let someone else do the dimensional analysis for electrical and magnetic energy. There are some equivalent equations to mechanics for electrical circuits, which is why analog computers worked. Oh, and using the potential energy from water behind dams to create kinetic energy to spin magnets to create electrical energy to power a good portion of this part of the country.

Superscript worked for the old blog software, but not this one. Rats! Now all the old comments which had super and subscripts now look lame.

Just keep remembering that we don’t know what makes up 96% of the universe. We keep calling it dark matter and dark energy, but we don’t know exactly what it is. So we may have nice scientific definitions for “energy” but we would be fools to think that it explains all that is out there.

Marg, this computer was designed based on the conventional definition of energy. If what you were claiming was true, then it shouldn’t work.

Marg, yet we know much about things work on the surface of this planet. If those experiments were valid they would have been replicated multiple times all over this planet. But they have not.

Superscript worked for the old blog software, but not this one. Rats!

You should be able to use the limited set of HTML entities. Let’s see: &sup2; and &sup3; should make… 10&sup2;&sup3;

It’s a really foolish thing to have overlooked.

So we may have nice scientific definitions for “energy” but we would be fools to think that it explains all that is out there.

Yah, very nice. Why do you persist in using the term, then? Can’t you come up with a new name that doesn’t represent a hopeless misunderstanding of physics? This is very easy. I’m more than happy to help. How many syllables do you think you need to pull off sounding sciencey? Really, I think less can be more. You could call the Reiki force “zang.”

Please excuse me while I attempt two more angles on the superscripts.

Decimal entity: ²

Cut and paste: ²

Okay, how did you do that? Substituting square brackets for angle brackets I tried for t-squared: t[sup]2[/sup]

It obviously did not work for me.

Marg, we might not know everything about the universe, but we know enough about reiki to know that it cannot do what is claimed for it.

The only mystery surrounding reiki is why people still try and claim it is efficacious. And even that is not much of a mystery.

Okay, how did you do that?

By exploiting the facts that SGML character entities are a really stupid grab-bag (you know, it’s really freaking important to have an eth and thorn in ISO Latin 1) and we’re at a Barney Fife level of implementation.

What you have is (excuse me if the octothorpes explode) is ¹ and ² and ³ or ¹ ² and ³ and that’s it. However, “I ♣ Baby Seals” should totes be on for the convo.

Narad, could you repeat that in English?

I am really starting to hate you because I have never heard of “SGML” or “octothorpes.” The rest are words I know, but not exactly how they are arranged. Especially since I have no idea how baby seals help me use super and subscripts on this blog.

You are an evil person.

The octothorpes actually imploded. To get the three available sups, type an ampersand, followed by a pound sign, followed by the decimal identifier (185, 178, 179, repectively; see, e.g., here) followed by a semicolon, all closed up. Or just revert to pseudo-TeX. (G-d save us all from the image rendering that is to be found on W*pedia. It’s a tool, people, not an “enterprise solution.”)

The words, they are a language I used to know. The arrangement is still not something that I can interpret. And I once actually edited a newsletter for engineers using LaTex (and some of that was supposed to be subscript, but I cannot be bothered after drinking wine).

I am really starting to hate you because I have never heard of “SGML” or “octothorpes.”

OK, I’m sorry, it has been a rough day, as I spent part of the previous one with my 82-year-old downstairs neighbor, who has had a long career in labor organizing and city politics and is full of stories and has given the current president the what-for on at least one occasion. She also pours a really stiff martini.

SGML is the root superset of HTML, which I assume you have heard of. “Octothorp” is a half-baked consensus name for the pound sign. (The added ‘e’ above was a misspelling on my part.)

No, I am just a dabbler in HTML and have never heard of SGML. What I did notice was the linked page did not have a row with references to subscript.

I was just hoping for some simple code to make super and subscripts. That way chemical compounds for feldspars wound not look silly, and equations for kinetic energy would not look idiotic (big difference between t2 and t^2… or t with a superscript 2!).

Seriously, without serifs how can you tell the difference between Cl2 and C12? It would be easier if there was a difference between (replacing angle brackets with square brackets) Cl[sub]2[/sub] and C[sub]12[/sub].

(for those who need a guide book, like me after three glasses of wine… the first is supposed to be two chlorine atoms and the second is twelve carbon atoms (which does not seem to exist). Just look them up on Wikipedia.

Narad, now show us subscript!

I doubt this will work, but very well: ₀ ₁ … ₉ (just in case, hex: ₈ )

OK, so that’s decimal entities 8320 to 8329. Allow me to stress that faking semantic markup is a really bad workaround.

I am not revealing my own ignorance but that of the NASA scientist from whom I gleaned this particular piece of information, who is infinitely less arrogant than you.

And I’m sure would be greatly offended by your gross distortion and misunderstanding of what he actually said.

Given the variety of theories in physics, from quantum physics to string theory to chaos theory, I doubt that energy is better understood than anything in biology. If it is, than we are quite ignorant of biology too.

Then you are grossly ignorant of physics, and really should just stop talking before you humiliate yourself any further.

@ Beamup:

It seems to me that our visitor is merely mimicking the performance of woo-meisters with the intention of dazzling the audience by discussing…. ( hushed silence) *physics*. It shows how well-versed they are as serious scientists : biology and chemistry are trumped by the ultimate. Thus, we have quantum-this and quantum-that offered as therapy for serious conditions and a myriad of permutations of energy as prefix: energy medicine, energy psychology, energy exchange, energy balancing.

‘Energy’ is used when their theory runs out of ideas to explain exactly how an alt med treatment works ( e.g. using phyto nutrients to fix ‘broken’ DNA): it works somehow like the g-d of the gaps, fills in the blanks, like mediaeval maps which wrote,” Here be dragons” in the spots where they hadn’t a clue about what existed there.

Obviously, in my ‘travels’ in woo-topia, I’ve heard a great deal about physics, as well as a time-worn meme, “Science doesn’t know everything” but even I, who ain’t got much physics- but some from school- can tell that they make up stuff in impress on-lookers. Recently, Mike Adams adds cognitive psych as another impression maker: then I really laugh!

Yes, that’s how it seems to me as well. It just doesn’t work out when actual, you know, physicists are in the audience…

@Denice

‘Energy’ is used when their theory runs out of ideas to explain exactly how an alt med treatment works ( e.g. using phyto nutrients to fix ‘broken’ DNA): it works somehow like the g-d of the gaps, fills in the blanks, like mediaeval maps which wrote,” Here be dragons” in the spots where they hadn’t a clue about what existed there.

This is a very astute observation and supports the idea that Reiki is nothing more than faith healing with g-d replaced by something else. Both “g-d of the gaps” and “energy” are ad hoc explanations somehow more satisfying than “I don’t know” or even worse “I might be wrong.”

Beamup:

physicists are in the audience

I am not a physicist, I was engineer of mechanical type with applied math. But I understand enough to know that the electrical and magnetic fields from a waving hand cannot affect the chemical bonds and cell processes in a rodent.

@ ArtK:

I thank you for your kind words. Altho’ I observe alt med prevarication as a sideline, I feel that I have a sort of ‘insider’s view”: not that I espouse any of their ridiculous beliefs ( and I never did) but I have watched their nonsense evolve and (infortunately) spread.

You mention a subject near and dear to me: the extra-mundane dimension. I think that if you dig deeply enough into woo, you’ll find spirit, life force, soul and other supernatural notions being esssential as explanatory principles. In fact, I’m close to postulating a rule ( why not?)

Walter’s Law- woo cannot exist without an immaterial essence or spiritual idea to explain how it works.

Because -lord knows- their concepts are not based in material reality. At least not on this planet.

Similarly,those who don’t comprehend emotions/ motivation rely upon spiritualistic/ soul notions. Which they might call ‘energy’.

Energy is simply present, and holds many forms and vibrations. Energy can beconcentrated, dispersed, mutated but is always present, do you not believe people can harness adaption of such energy? Faith is belief in something. Do you not believe we have the power to use our presence to aid people to heal theirs? It does not matter how? Different horses different course… but all wish the best results. x

Marg hasn’t been back since yesterday. I wonder if it means that she choose other places to discuss things or she fell into the darkness which science has yet to explain…

I guess not.

On topic: there is no good reason to expect handwaving to eliminate invading microorganisms from the body, to straighten out immune systems run amok, to eliminate uncontrollably-replicateing cells, mend bones, and so on. Even in pets.

With reference to Marg’s attempt to convince us otherwise, it’s not arrogant to point that out, either.

With further reference to Marg (and with apologies to anyone who has addressed these specific claims already) dark matter and dark energy are not blank slates upon which apologists for reiki can project their desires.

Dark matter has the property of not interacting in any meaningful fashion with normal matter, which has hampered efforts to understand it – but it follows from that that it is a poor candidate to “gap explain” reiki.

While dark energy is an important part of the large-scale structure of the universe, its extremely low density means it is extraordinarily unlikely to be directly detected in a lab – and from that it follows that it is even more extraordinarily unlikely to have any meaningful clinical effects.

Bottom line: trying to use dark matter & dark energy as supports for any kind of pseudomedicine is nonsense.

@Pondfairy1 – say what? Of course it matters how. I freely admit that we can use machines to manipulate energy to help heal people, or chemicals to do the same thing. That’s a far cry from saying that the human mind can do that by wishing.

If you’ve got contrary evidence, please share.

Energy is simply present, and holds many forms and vibrations.

No. Energy is a property of a system. It “holds” nothing, and it does not “vibrate.”

Faith is belief in something.

Pondfairy1, welcome along, but may I suggest this is where you are going wrong? A belief in something does not magically make it real. Rather than belief, you might find evidence to be a more reliable guide to how the universe works.

@Pondfairy: Most everyone (even skeptical meanie-heads) probably remembers feeling much better (and even feeling less pain) when a caring adult kissed their boo-boos.

The mechanism might still be a mystery, but the phenomenon certainly isn’t anything new. Altering our perception of reality is not the same thing as altering reality itself.

And for the record, I am curious what really happened to those poor mice. It’s just that the more I read about Bengston, the weirder it gets. There just isn’t enough on the web to know what really happened – and despite declaring repeatedly that he’s a “true skeptic” and “doesn’t know what happened” blah blah he’s not trying very hard to rule out what CAN be known. Cognitive bias bingo.

The mice that were not sacrificed lived out their full life-spans. Some were reinjected with the cancer but it didn’t take. And anecdotally some scientists were going to feed some of the surviving mice to snakes, but Dr. Bengston intervened.

You are all quite ignorant about Reiki and “energy healing” (which is so called because we likely haven’t quite figured out the right word for it yet — “energy” may in fact have nothing to do with it). No, @Orac, Reiki is not like petting animals. Touch is not required. Most animals quite like it even if they are not touched. And guess what, faith is not required either. I agree with you that a lot of Reiki people and healers speak a lot of nonsense about what they do. But whatever words they use to describe what they do, the fact is that it can work. And when it works on animals you can see that it’s not about faith or the placebo effect. I’ve seen interesting effects with animals that cannot be explained by “faith” or “placebo”.

In my humble opinion it is a waste of time to do studies on this, since your lot won’t buy the studies even when they show efficacy. Look at your reaction to the Bengston mice studies. Your whole approach is “this cannot be” therefore let’s find reasons to poke holes in it. BTW Bernard Grad did a whole bunch of studies in the 60s on mice and wound healing that showed that “energy healing” worked. He also did a study that showed that skeptical medical students _delayed_ healing in the same rodents.

But you stay over on your side of the science barrier and I will happily stay on mine. There are indeed many wondrous things in science and nature, and I am happy to wonder at them from arm’s length. But you need to acknowledge that it is a very big universe and there may be wondrous things out there that _you_ know nothing about.

Hello all,

You are not ‘skeptical meanie heads’ you are naturally concerned about this as you either do not understand it or have not experienced it. I will speak to you later in more depth, but my thought is this conventional medicine has proved the placebo affects, to my knowledge, and Reiki should not in necessary circumstances discourage convential medicine,(and to my knowledge of it does not) but enhance the persons well being to be able to restore them to health. If this then in turn means the person no longer requires that surely that is a win win situation?

@Judith – do you practice long-distance healing? How much do you have to know about someone to cure them? I have an incurable illness and am in the midst of a rather rough flare. Would love to be an anecdote… ?

It would remain only that, but you might be able to convince one skeptic – it would even be impressive (to me) since the last faith healer (similar practice) proclaimed me possessed when they couldn’t heal me.

Composer99 –

To give Marg her tiny due, she wasn’t trying to argue that dark matter or dark energy are in any way involved in the operation of reiki (unless I misread her completely.)

She was simply trying to complete an atom bomb syllogism consistent with her “I only know that I know nothing” misquote:

1. A particular knowledge set EITHER knows everything in the world OR knows so little it cannot rule anything in the world out even for practical purposes.
2. The knowledge set of mainstream science does not know what makes up dark energy/dark matter, therefore it does not know everything in the world.
3. Ergo, the knowledge set of mainstream science cannot rule out the possibility that reiki works, no matter how overwhelmingly the evidence shows no good reason to rule it in.

Of course, the flaw in Marg’s syllogism is that 1) is fallacious, an example of the All-or-Nothing fallacy, and the problem with using the “Nobody knows anything” meme to try and win an argument is that inevitably it’s used to set up a double standard. If no one knows anything, Marg doesn’t know that Dr. Bengston’s experiments show exciting promise; she doesn’t even know if Dr. Bengston really exists. You can’t say “Neither you or I know anything” and then pick and choose exceptions of “I know that Dr. Bengston did these experiments and that all non-exciting explanations can be ruled out.”

Actually, I know a great deal about energy medicine, energy psychology et al …
but I’m having trouble posting
perhaps the ENERGY is opposing me.

@Antaeus Feldspar
You are absolutely right. I don’t know that Dr. Bengston really exists. He could be a figment of my, and his own, imagination 🙂 Ditto the mice.

But I don’t posit an either or proposition. It’s not that mainstream science knows everything or cannot know anything. Your fallacy is believing that you know enough that you can rule out things you do not understand. That is simply intellectual arrogance.

Here goes:

there is an assumption of a life energy or essence that can be affected by material reality and spiritual activities. Usually it is assumed that SBM ( drugs, procdures) affect the energy deleteriously whilst natural foods,supplements, meditaion and other arcane methods increase its potency.

Practitioners may augent the natural foods et al with ‘healing’ methods- laying-on-of-hands, reiki, chakra-balancing.One fellow I survey believes that he has pre-cognition about others’ health outcomes and can ‘warn’ them
of dangers inherent in their current lifestyle.

Tough going against that energy gradient…

There’s a book/ video called “Life Energies: Who Are You REALLY?” that applies these ideas to the psychology of personality making the assumption that particular forms of energy patterns are *born* not made and affect human development and interaction. People need to discover who the REALLY are and ‘go with the flow” or suchlike.

Psychological realities are explained as being “energy exchanges” – romantic interests, parent-child relationships and learning experiences are all energy exchanges.

Funny, I was taught differently.

Each herb and supplement has its own energy that coaxes the wonky energy back toward health vibrations… I could go on.. probably for weeks. I won’t

We don’t rule out things we don’t understand. We rule out things that have been repeatedly and emphatically demonstrated to be utterly false. And we acknowledge that a single horribly done study cannot overturn such a large mass of evidence as that which demonstrates not only that reiki can’t work, it in fact DOESN’T work.

Also remember that “we have a mountain of specific evidence AGAINST the proposition that reiki could work” is a statement which bears no similarity at all to “we don’t know how reiki works.” You’re trying to talk about the latter, when the former is in fact the current state of the evidence.

News for you, Beamup, reiki hasn’t been repeatedly and emphatically demonstrated to be utterly false. It has been demonstrated to speed up wound healing, and to improve surgical outcomes and anxiety in hospitalized patients. Pranic healing, another form of energy healing, has been demonstrated to protect cell lines against gamma radiation.

Pranic healing, another form of energy healing, has been demonstrated to protect cell lines against gamma radiation.

*Work published in the prestigious journal “YouTube.”

But whatever words they use to describe what they do, the fact is that it can work.

If that were true, shouldn’t you be able to point to a robust body of credible and compelling evidence demonstrating that reiki can work and has worked in the past?

Consider ibuprofen for inflammation, statins for high cholesterol, antibiotics for bacterial infections, etc. Anyone arguing in support of their efficacy could provide rams of hard evidence in support of their claims. If reiki really did work–if it treated diseases like cancer as efficaciously as opthalmic antibiotics treat baterial conjunctivitis, the hard evidence would exist.

So where is it? Why is the best anyone seems to be able to offer takes the form of anecdotal accounts or studies (like Bengstrom’s) that are so methodologically flawed they’re meaningless?

RE: Bernard Grad, I must assume your referring to the studies he reported in “The Influence of an Unorthodox Method of Treatment on Wound Healing in Mice.”, in the International Journal of Parapsychology 3, no. 2 (1961)? Is anything more really neccessary to establish the degree of intrinsic confidence vested in healing mice by laying on of hands is equivalent to that possessed by ESP, astral projection, clairvoyance, spoon bending, etc.?

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/bernard-grad#ixzz1xsOWlGc2

It has been demonstrated to speed up wound healing, and to improve surgical outcomes and anxiety in hospitalized patients.

Citations desparately needed. Where and by whom, under what conditions? How was performance assessed? How much better did reiki perform as compared to appropriate controls? The devil, as always, is in the details.

Here are some:

Journal of Advanced Nursing 2001 Feb;33(4):439-45 Biological correlates of Reiki Touch(sm)
healing. Wardell DW, Engebretson J. PMID: 11251731 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Aladydy, Patricia and Kristen Alandydy, 1999. ‘Using Reiki to Support Surgical Patients’. Journal
of Nursing Care Quality , 1999 Apr;13(4): pp. 89-91.
Cancer Prev Control 1997 Jun:1(2):108-13 ‘Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report’.

Olson K, Hanson J. Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alta. PMID: 9765732 [PubMed – indexed
for MEDLINE]

Pilot crossover trial of Reiki versus rest for treating cancer-related fatigue.
Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;6(1):25-35
Tsang KL, Carlson LE, Olson K.
Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Fatigue is an extremely common side effect experienced during cancer treatment and recovery. Limited research has investigated strategies stemming from complementary and alternative medicine to reduce cancer-related fatigue. This research examined the effects of Reiki, a type of energy touch therapy, on fatigue, pain, anxiety, and overall quality of life. This study was a counterbalanced crossover trial of 2 conditions: (1) in the Reiki condition, participants received Reiki for 5 consecutive daily sessions, followed by a 1-week washout monitoring period of no treatments, then 2 additional Reiki sessions, and finally 2 weeks of no treatments, and (2) in the rest condition, participants rested for approximately 1 hour each day for 5 consecutive days, followed by a 1-week washout monitoring period of no scheduled resting and an additional week of no treatments. In both conditions, participants completed questionnaires investigating cancer-related fatigue (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Fatigue subscale [FACT-F]) and overall quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy, General Version [FACT-G]) before and after all Reiki or resting sessions. They also completed a visual analog scale (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS]) assessing daily tiredness, pain, and anxiety before and after each session of Reiki or rest. Sixteen patients (13 women) participated in the trial: 8 were randomized to each order of conditions (Reiki then rest; rest then Reiki). They were screened for fatigue on the ESAS tiredness item, and those scoring greater than 3 on the 0 to 10 scale were eligible for the study. They were diagnosed with a variety of cancers, most commonly colorectal (62.5%) cancer, and had a median age of 59 years. Fatigue on the FACT-F decreased within the Reiki condition (P=.05) over the course of all 7 treatments. In addition, participants in the Reiki condition experienced significant improvements in quality of life (FACT-G) compared to those in the resting condition (P <.05). On daily assessments (ESAS) in the Reiki condition, presession 1 versus postsession 5 scores indicated significant decreases in tiredness (P <.001), pain (P <.005), and anxiety (P<.01), which were not seen in the resting condition. Future research should further investigate the impact of Reiki using more highly controlled designs that include a sham Reiki condition and larger sample sizes.

PMID: 17351024 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

The gamma-ray stuff is here, by the way, although the video isn’t working for me. It is on YouTube, though. I don’t have half an hour to sit through it at the moment.

Tiny, unblinded, and effectively uncontrolled… yeah, that’s REALLY impressive evidence for a difference from placebo.

@JGC
You can take all the pot shots you want at Dr. Bengston’s methodology, the fact remains that in ten experiments a bunch of mice injected with cancer were cured. If what he did was bogus then at least in some experiments the mice should have died. Can you really see that many university labs screwing up that badly that not one mouse was properly injected or handled? Did they all get the wrong mice or fail to refrigerate the cancer cultures properly? ALL OF THEM? What does that say about America’s research labs? It would say that none of the research being done anywhere should be trusted.

Just out of curiosity I wonder how many double blind studies supported Thalidomide or Vioxx.

Placebo is amazing. In recent a Harvard study it was shown to work even when people knew they were taking a placebo. Maybe we should be studying placebos rather than drugs 🙂 I would say they have fewer side-effects, but people can develop great side-effects even with placebos. I suppose they are a heck of a lot cheaper than some of the new designer drugs. Think how much money could be saved in healthcare if we learned how to harness the placebo effect! The mind can do incredible things.

So you admit that there is no such thing as reiki or life energy, and all the handwaving does nothing whatsoever? That’s what it being a placebo implies.

If so, that’s progress. Then we can proceed to how grossly unethical it is to lie to patients and take money from them, for a service you’re not actually performing.

I admit nothing of the sort, Beamup.

There is such a thing as Reiki and the handwaving does indeed do things.

It would be grossly unethical to lie to patients and take money from them if it did nothing, but it does in fact help. And consider this, even if what helps is the placebo, if the patient walks away better, the treatment worked. What the patient pays for is the practititioner’s time. BTW even a certain percentage of doctors admit to giving patients placebos without telling them; do you consider that unethical? Should those patients not be asked to pay?

Your first article (PMID 11251731) doesn’t offer evidence that reiki effectively treats cancers, promotes wound healing, etc. In fact, it’s questionable whether it addresses Reiki as you’re advocating it, as it describes it “a form of touch therapy” (i.e. massage). Their study didn’t include a control group of any sort let alone the appropriate one: individuals who were instead treated with another form of “touch therapy” massage (such as traditional Swedish massage).

Ultimately all this paper supports is a claim subjects become less anxious and more relaxed after 30 minutes of massage, which is hardly earth-shaking evidence in support of Reiki’s purported ability to cure cancers or heal wounds.

Re: the second article, I cannot locate a copy of the article (PubMed indexes it but provides neither an abstract nor full text). Can you provide either, or an open link to either? (I must assume you have access to and have read the article yourself, before offering it as evidence in support of your claims.)

Re: the third article (Pubmed Index 9765732, see above: I’m again having trouble locating an abstract or full text article. Can you provide either? I’ll note the limited description of the article I have located makes no message of inclusion of a control arm.

Re the last article: having finally sufficient details to consider we can readily identify serious methodological flaws which render it meaningless: insufficient sample size (n = 16), no blinding of the subjects or the Reiki providers, no independent control group (an appropriate one would have been patients receiving non-Reiki massage or faux Reiki ‘energy manipulation’ in the same manner as the experimental treatment group), etc.

You can take all the pot shots you want at Dr. Bengston’s methodology, the fact remains that in ten experiments a bunch of mice injected with cancer were cured. If what he did was bogus then at least in some experiments the mice should have died.

Mice that didn’t die however appear to include mice in the control group that didn’t receive treatment, remember? If what was done wasn’t bogus why didn’t those mice die?

What does that say about America’s research labs?

Nothing about America’s research labs in general, although it does raise concern about the specific labs conducting these experiments.

Maybe we should be studying placebos rather than drugs

Would you argue that diabetics stop relying on Lantus or Humalog and instead start taking sugar pills? Really?
Recall that although placebo effects can sometimes make ill people feel better and perceive improvement they do nothing to actually address the underlying pathophysiology of their disease.

There is such a thing as Reiki and the handwaving does indeed do things.

What exactly does it do then?

Let’s make this as simple as possible: what in your opinion is the single strongest, most compelling piece of evidence supporting the claim that Reiki can effectively treat disease, promotr wound healing, or cure cancer?

Marg,

Quick comparison using a very simply pubmed search:

Vioxx: 2463 citations
Thalidomide: 7225 citations

Note that both medications are actually very effective when used in an evidence-based manner. Thalidomide is currently used as a treatment for some cancers.

For comparison, Reiki: 86 citations (When corrected for people and locations that whose names contain the work Reiki)

This does not include the substantial body of evidence that chemicals have an effect on the human body while there is is, to put it mildly, somewhat limited evidence to support a mechanism for vitalistic energy healing.

Yes, I do consider that unethical; doctors should not do it and patients should not be required to pay for it.

It’s also highly amusing to hear the argument going, “oh, it’s so much more than placebo, but, uh, it doesn’t really matter if it isn’t because it’s still great… yeah, that’s it!” The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

I most certainly would not advocate that diabetics start taking sugar pills. No one is advocating that one should abandon standard healthcare for ALL CONDITIONS and do Reiki instead. There are conditions for which Reiki helps. There are conditions which seem to respond to sugar pills, as the Harvard study on placebo suggests (they were using them for IBS). Here is an interesting article summarizing the placebo effect: http://pharmacology.ucsd.edu/graduate/courseinfo/placebarticle.pdf

JGC, you will shoot down any evidence I send your way, so why bother? To me the most compelling evidence remains Dr. Bengston’s mice. I refuse to believe that lab technicians at 5 different labs at universities across the United States screwed up 10 experiments. That just does not compute. Based on prior experiments every last one of those mice should have died.

You stay away from Reiki if you so wish. Other people can try it if they so wish. I have never forced it on anyone and I have never charged anyone who didn’t experience a change. I cannot speak for other Reiki practitioners, though. I can only speak to my own experience.

And if one can’t find research to support Reiki, one defends it with . . . handwaving?

One doesn’t feel a particular need to defend it. One does what one does, and one is satisfied with the empirical evidence one sees before one’s eyes. One doesn’t have to save the whole world. It’s really quite simple. When you treat a person, there are two possibilities: there is either an effect or there isn’t one. In my empirical experience there is an effect most of the time. I don’t need studies to prove to me that what I do is effective; people tell me whether it’s effective or not. I suspect most Reiki practitioners feel the same way.

One who actually understands science, rationality, biology, and the myriad ways one can fool oneself into believing something that is not true, realizes that “in my empirical experience” means nothing. You haven’t actually got the faintest idea whether you’re doing anything at all. And in fact you aren’t.

Reiki is fraud. That’s all there is to it.

One doesn’t feel a particular need to defend it.

One seems to have appeared to do precisely that and started tossing out random assertions that one repeatedly walks away from.

You stay away from Reiki if you so wish. Other people can try it if they so wish. I have never forced it on anyone

Right, but you’re more than happy to “educate the public” with your fantasies at any opportunity.

Marg @3.00pm: Based on prior experiments every last one of those mice should have died.
Yet as JGC noted, some of those mice received no treatment & so should have died. You seem rather quiet on that point…

But I don’t posit an either or proposition. It’s not that mainstream science knows everything or cannot know anything. Your fallacy is believing that you know enough that you can rule out things you do not understand. That is simply intellectual arrogance.

Both your understanding of our position and of the reasoning behind it are flawed. We do not think “we know enough that we can rule out things we do not understand”, and we have never said anything of the sort. What we have been trying to convey is that merely not being able to rule something out is not sufficient reason to rule it in. Extraordinary claims such as reiki require extraordinary evidence before we can start giving them anything more than cursory attention – and Bengston’s experiments are far from being that extraordinary evidence.

Why are we so unimpressed with Bengston’s evidence, despite his results? Because the whole point of experimental design is to eliminate as much as possible all possible sources of error. We already have good reason to be skeptical when an experiment’s design takes insufficient precaution against error. When an experiment’s results prove that error occurred, we have absolutely no reason to believe that the results are giving us information of value. And that is exactly what happened in Bengston’s experiments. If the experiment had been done without error, the control group should have died from the cancer they were injected with. The fact that they did not die, except for one from the experimental group and one from the control group proves the experiment was not done without error. Even if the injection was only supposed to make the mice sick and then recover, there was still no significant difference between the groups. You cannot say “Reiki made all the difference” when there is no difference.

Bengston’s defense of his experiments only makes things worse. There is an aphorism taught to medical students: “When you hear hoofbeats behind you, think horses, not zebras.” Bengston tries to explain the failure of his experiment as proof of his preconceptions by claiming that somehow quantum mechanics works on the fates-of-mice level and quantum-entangled the experimental group with the control group and gave them BOTH the benefits of the reiki intervention – in other words, trying to explain one unproven and dubious phenomenon in terms of another, just-invented-from-buzzwords, unproven and dubious phenomenon. That’s hearing hoofbeats and looking around for a unicorn.

What I do not understand about all of this energy medicine is how claims of effectiveness are allowed to continue, and be sold and promoted by US-licensed medical doctors. Really, I have followed many of the stories rather closely and completely enjoy reading Orac’s extremely informative blog. However, I simply do not understand how such bogus treatments are tolerated by the state medical boards and why these types of practitioners are allowed to continue to hold medical licenses of any kind.

Are not enough patients filing complaints? Are there too many complaints to investigate? I hear the outrage here and find it very refreshing to hear physicians and others speaking out about patients that are being exploited and otherwise taken advantage of, but it is just too much for me to comprehend how such blatantly bogus practices continue.

Supposedly, a founder for ILADS has a Power Point presentation listing effective treatments for Lyme disease, a bacterial infection. Among the treatments he suggests is psychic surgery in Brazil. Energy work. The ultimate Reiki. John of God is to heal his patients’ bacterial infections, or so he says. He is a licensed medical doctor in the US supposedly telling patients that going to Brazil to get psychic surgery is an effective means of treating their bacterial infection. What gives? How do these people get away with this for so long?

I am not a doctor. Hopefully, I am not offending any of the doctors here, as that is not my intention. I just do not understand how the rest of the medical community or the legal system allows this to continue. If someone was selling cars with no engines, they would be run out of business in no time.

Then yesterday, I read a patient testimonial . They are holding a benefit to raise money for Turn the Corner Foundation’s new organization the Tick-borne Disease Alliance. The testimonial says that psychic surgery in Brazil is what they used to treat their Lyme infection. John of God rid their body of bacteria. Yeah, right.

Here’s the Point Point presentation, see the last two pages.

http://www.lymeinducedautism.com/images/Lymewhat_is_it_part_3,_LIA.pdf

You can Google the testimonial by the Norwalk, CT musician. I don’t want to post the link and give them any publicity.

Thanks for listening!

One occasionally wishes to educate the public.

Indeed. [Spock brow-raise]

The one study you cling to so deperately shows that reiki subject-group did no better than the control subject-group. This is not a ringing endorsement of reiki.

Based on prior experiments every last one of those mice should have died.

Which rather argues that the experiment itself is flawed, not that reiki could someonw protect both the subject group and the control group.

I have no objection to people enjoying massages, but I do strongly object to people charging exorbitant fees for those massages while making unproven (and false, so far as we can tell) claims about what these massages can accomplish. *

— Steve

* Particularly in cases where the practitioner uses those claims to dissuade patients from taking whatever treatments have been shown to be effective… though, thankfully, that’s not all the cases.

What we have been trying to convey is that merely not being able to rule something out is not sufficient reason to rule it in.

Actually, I’m perfectly willing to rubbish reiki on the basis of being incoherent gibberish. The “cho ku rei” symbol will significantly increase the “energy flow”? The “hon sha ze sho nen” symbol will transport “reiki energy” across time and space? Screw this. It is content-free. My cat put more thought into things.

Marg:
the fact remains that in ten experiments a bunch of mice injected with cancer were cured

This is simply not true. It is not a fact. All we know is that a bunch of mice exposed to Magical Healing did not die, for which Dr Bengston claims credit. But then the mice not exposed to the Magical Healing didn’t die either.

At this point there are two choices: (1) The supposedly lethal injections were not lethal. Try to work out what went wrong… OR (2) The purported ‘control group’ was in fact a DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION Treatment group all along. Claim credit for curing them as well — collateral benefit, as it were. Mention “quantum entanglement”, wave hands in mystifying gestures.

The invocation of quantum theory in this context — where there is no description of the superposed quantum states of the mice (or of the mechanisms of protracted entanglement) — is simply cargo cult mentality again. It speaks of a rejection of physics as a discipline, combined with a desire to appropriate the terms of physics and use them as tools of magic.

Well, this is certainly not the first time we’ve seen an appeal to ‘other ways of knowing’ – i.e. those non-materialistic intuitions and feelings** that inform alt med providers – why use your five senses when you have a sixth? Why be dependent upon inference and analyses based upon data when you can be creative with all of it?

Calling upon my own law: the woo-ier you get the more you need supernatural explanatory priciples.

** cast adrift on oceanic feelings.

Tim Minchin’s “Storm” came up on the radio just now. Just a coincidence?! SPOOKY.

@ Sialis**:

First, many of the practitioners are not medical professionals but are self-styled healers, woo-meisters, nutritionists, yoga teachers- what-have-you.. The one I survey speaks of a long family history of ‘sensitives’ and ‘healers’ in his miserable backwards community. I also witnessed a healer who based her imagery on Christian ( I suppose- Catholic) iconography concerning a female saint and roses. Thus it’s based on sub-cultural ideas. And it’s not established medicine.

Then, people may feel somehow indebted to the healer and would be loathe to report him or her- the healing may fit into their own worldview. In any case, even if there were somehow a direct connection to worsening of illness or death, this might be hard to take to court if the victim was an adult of sound mind.

** -btw- is that a play on ‘Cialis” or is it Gaelic ( *comme* Sian, Sinead, Siobhan etc?)

@Denice – It is Sialis of the feathered variety, not a play on ‘Cialis’ or Gaelic, but a bird..

@Niche Geek
Just curious, did all those citations stop babies being deformed after their mothers took Thalidomide as prescribed, or save all the people who died as a result of taking Vioxx? Strange to measure the importance or usefulness of something through the number of citations it receives while overlooking the harm it caused… Is Vioxx still being prescribed?

Reiki at least doesn’t cause harm through the application but only passively if people are prevented from seeking other treatment — something I do not support.

@herr doktor Bimmler

The fact you all seem to miss that prior to being exposed to “magical treatment” all the mice were given cancer, unless technicians at five labs in ten experiments all somehow managed to screw up injecting mice. The mice grew tumors. Histological analysis of tissue from mice that were sacrificed showed cancer. Hemoglobin analysis and spleen weight analysis showed heightened immune response. So the mice had cancer and then didn’t have cancer. Where did the cancer go? Who the hell cares that the cancer also disappeared in the control group, given that cancer never just disappears?

If you can bring yourself to read Bengston’s “Type 2 errors and placebo effects” paper you will see on p. 324 a graph of the analysis of the spleen weight of sacrificed mice from both the experimental and the control which shows that the same effect occurred with both.

But as I said, enjoy hanging out in your paradigm and keep wearing those blinkers.

Who the hell cares that the cancer also disappeared in the control group, given that cancer never just disappears?

I dunno, maybe people who see no reason why reiki apparently deserves any credit?

Marg,

You are missing the point. Do you know how we figured out that giving Thalidomide to pregnant women caused the problem? Do you know how we figured out that a subset of the population were at risk with Vioxx? It was studied by scientists who used a variety of techniques all of which help compensate for our natural, human tendency to fool ourselves, unlike both you and Dr. Bengston.

Lastly: Yes, Cancer does sometimes just go away. I’m not suggesting that this is the most likely scenario, but there is at least a precedent for it, unlike your hypothesis. So, how do we prove that this wasn’t just chance? How do we isolate the control mice from Dr. Bengston’s seemingly miraculous powers?

@Marg – I am very frustrated. This blog will not let me volunteer my services as a guinea pig if you do long-distance Reiki, too. As someone who is very skeptical, I should be an excellent proof of concept. Cure me and at least you’ll have a stunning anecdote. Faith healers who earlier attempted to cure me declared me “possessed” (they were kind of Christian-ish) when I didn’t immediately get well.

It could even be said, if it succeeds, that Reiki is better than Christian prayer!

I suspect something was wrong in giving the mice cancer – that whomever created the protocol didn’t write up that part correctly and it was done incorrectly every time. If the control group did just as well as the studied group, that doesn’t say anything in favor of the treatment modality; it just suggests there was a flaw somewhere in the process (or that the treatment works just as well as whatever it was compared against).

Who the hell cares that the cancer also disappeared in the control group, given that cancer never just disappears?

Evidently Bengston started out caring what happened to the control group, since he bothered to create one. Only subsequently did he decide that they didn’t matter after all.

In Bengston & Krinsley, all we know of the mice is that they were supplied by “a disinterested professor of biology” (who apparently preferred to remain anonymous). We are informed that “Host survival in the conventional literature was
100% fatality between 14 and 27 days after injection”… sadly, none of the “conventional literature” is cited. NONE OF IT. So we are given no reason to believe that these were the correct strain of carcinoma cells transplanted into the correct strain of mice to expect a fatal outcome, except hearsay.

The rest of Bengston & Krinsley is a monotonous repetition of broken protocols. The control mice refuse to die on schedule and each time it is revealed that someone has broken the experimental protocol and looked at them. There is so much anonymity and breaking of protocols, it is like a Penthouse Letter to the Editor.

So the mice had cancer and then didn’t have cancer. Where did the cancer go? Who the hell cares that the cancer also disappeared in the control group, given that cancer never just disappears?

Marg, it is vitally important to know what happened to the control mice, because if they exhibit exactly the same behaviour as the treated mice, then the treatment is ineffective.

Having looked at Bengston and Krinsley’s paper and had an enormous chuckle to myself, I have concluded it is complete bunk. It would be impossible for anyone to repeat the experiment given the information provided. If this paper had been presented to a serious journal, rather than this bottom feeder effort, I am sure it would be rejected. For goodness sake, I have a h index higher than the whole journal!

The research is a disaster, there are changes of protocol all the way through, the controls are responding the same as the treated animals and there is this lame excuse that in each experiment the control mice were observed and this caused them to recover. If observing the mice was going to cause problems with the interpretation of the results, why were those experiments kept in the paper?

Then all the other excuses we have learnt to expect from magical medicine, such as statistical techniques cannot be used to evaluate this type of research. It is just all bunk. You will have to come up with something better than this.

Mrs Woo, I suspect there was considerably more wrong with the research than the protocol for giving the mice cancer.

Low level as it may be to a scientific mind, when your friend comes home and she has been batter black and blue, can barely talk, and struggles to swallow because of the pain it is causing her. Then using my hands to scan and find the part of her throat where the most pain is emminating, not by scientific detection by sensation and concentrating the Reiki treatment or energy or whatever name you care to give it to this area. Have her squeal your pulling it through my skin and then ‘it’s has gone’, her voice restored and able to swallow without pain 10 minutes later…. see is believing and until that moment I too was a skeptic. I cannot explain in scientific terms what happened but I know it did. Not everything in life is black and white otherwise we would all be healthy or dead. Sometimes you just know or have intuition on something even when the written evidence doesn’t correlate. So my arguement is does that make me wrong, stupid and blind? Or can you explain what happened to my friend that day. ‘A rose is but a rose by any name, the smell is just as sweet.’

Waving the arms I believe is know as auric clearing, you try it on yourself and I am sure it will make you smile x

Mice are injected with cancer cultures known to grow single large tumor. Mice grow tumor. Histological analysis shows the tumor to be cancerous. Orac’s scientific and rational readers all shout in unison “oh no, that can’t be cancer! Something is terribly wrong! There were grave errors!” Then one of them wisely chimes in with the scientific adage “when you hear hoofbeats don’t expect to see a zebra”.

I m sorry, I was wrong: the blinkers you’re wearing are not the size of dinner plates, but beach umbrellas.

I missed the passing of the law that says science must now dismiss without investigation all interesting new phenomena that don’t fit into its paradigms. Good thing we didn’t pass that law 300 years ago.

@Chris – I didn’t even read the entire study. For one, I haven’t learned enough about studies to know exactly what I’m looking for (I do know now that small sample sizes are a bad thing, control groups must be blinded, etc.). For another, it seemed from the outset, for all of its “we’re skeptics doing this” that it was setting out from the beginning to prove its end point rather than actually just investigating it carefully to determine if it warranted further investigation. In the first few paragraphs it just read “wrong” to me, but I wasn’t sure of all the reasons why.

You still need to prove Reiki does something. The experiments have to have been flawed. And don’t look to me to blame the lab techs. They did not likely prepare the injectable. They were likely given the material and then they injected it accordingly. So stop trying to make out like we would blame them. We are all looking at the primary author and wondering why the hell this paper would have any traction with anyone.

What’s bigger than beach umbrellas? I’m running out of metaphors here.

Perhaps you should try to find some more information to bolster your arguments rather than searching for metaphors that are stupid, to say the least.

@agashem

Yes. The technicians received cultures. The technicians injected the cultures. The mice grew tumors. The tumors when tested showed cancer. So far so good, yes? Then suddenly the cancer cells all decided they were not really cancerous, or they had been improperly refrigerated and committed mass suicide, yes?

Dr. Bengston’s other study, “Resonance, Type II errors and placebo effects” was coauthored by Dr. Margaret Moga, professor of cell biology at Terre Haute medical school. Why indeed would that paper be taken seriously by anyone?

@mrs woo — the something “wrong” you sense is the challenge to your accepted paradigms. The purpose of the study was to see _whether_ the healing worked. How is that not consistent with scientific inquiry?

@everyone else – Kindly go through the two studies and list the “many flaws”. I know of one, which is that Dr. Bengston looked at the control mice. I don’t know in what other study the researcher looking at the control mice would constitute a methodological flaw, but then what do I know.

What we have been trying to convey is that merely not being able to rule something out is not sufficient reason to rule it in.

Actually, I’m perfectly willing to rubbish reiki on the basis of being incoherent gibberish. The “cho ku rei” symbol will significantly increase the “energy flow”? The “hon sha ze sho nen” symbol will transport “reiki energy” across time and space? Screw this. It is content-free. My cat put more thought into things.

That’s true, but I’m trying to impart a more general point, one that’s applicable not just to reiki but to pranic healing, astrology, colored light therapy, or whatever other form of woo Marg may take up alongside reiki. Woo propositions frequently are ridiculous in their own right, but didn’t quantum mechanics (the real kind, not the fates-of-mice kind) seem pretty ridiculous before the evidence showed that it was nevertheless true?

The really important point that Marg needs to grasp is that the propositions “The premise has not been completely ruled in” and “The premise has not been completely ruled out” do not add up to the result “The premise is as likely to be true as not.” They do not even add up to the result “The weight of the evidence is so balanced that one set of experiments whose results are consistent with both existence and non-existence of the premise tips us over to ‘Yes, it exists!!'”

If Reiki was indeed an effective means of curing cancer and other diseases, one would think that such studies could be easily repeated by other researchers.

It is as Mrs Woo wrote earlier, when the energy and other treatments don’t work to treat the disease, their failure is blamed on the patient.

As Mrs. Woo stated “Faith healers who earlier attempted to cure me declared me “possessed” (they were kind of Christian-ish) when I didn’t immediately get well.” In fact, in connection with the pdf link I provided earlier about treating Lyme disease with psychic surgery in Brazil, the same group of practitioners (Denice: these are US licensed medical providers) lists unhealed karmic trauma as one reason for the patient’s failure to heal.

@Marg – I was sincere in my offer to let you distance heal me. My disease is incurable and Mr Woo (there is a reason I am Mrs Woo) has taken me to a few faith healings that have failed. The one who assured hubby that he could cure me in only a few minutes declared me possessed when there was no change after he did his whole dousing me with lots of blessed oil laying hands everywhere while his wife spoke in tongues thing. I’ve also been alkalinized, put on a nothing white diet, on a nothing but raw foods diet, a vegan diet, a paleo diet, fasted… etc. etc… and not really had much to show for it. Mr Woo, the first year of my diagnosis, spent more than $2000 on alternative treatments, many of which made my disease worse just because what is “good for you” can be bad for a sick body with open internal wounds. He has suggested, repeatedly, that we go to a naturopath about an hour and a half away that is French and sounds very wise on the radio program. Along with a “detox diet” and probably a prescribed fast, he recommends daily colonics for several weeks until all the toxins are out of your system so your body can truly heal. Have (so far) been able to reason what what little bit of medical knowledge still resides in Mr Woo’s brain that our body actually excretes toxins very readily on its own. However, if the current decline continues much more, we might find me subjected to all kinds of new horrors soon.

Distance reiki, where you do your special moves and send the energy to my direction, sounds much less painful, at least. Do you need to know a general direction (i.e., if I am north/south/west/east of you)? I am actually a very honest person. If suddenly the disease manifestations end and I feel like I haven’t felt in twenty years, I will share it on this blog even if they do mock me. I might say, “Hey guys, this could just be placebo effect (it can happen in over 30% of cases), but I’m feeling better today.” I’m sure that their rational scientific minds will say “Yes, it is placebo effect, but I’m so glad that you found something your brain can believe in enough to have a placebo effect!” They are not cruel people. If anything, people on this blog are very caring. The reason they come out so much against alternative therapies is there is no rational basis for them and often people are encouraged to pursue them instead of treatments which have been researched and demonstrated greater efficacy than placebo.

Further info on my illness – the best possible treatments for the disease caused severe headaches for me (so I switched to an alternative), allergic reaction including difficulty breathing (so I switched to a not quite as good but still useful alternative) and another allergic reaction, contact allergy, with welts and reddening of skin wherever it attacked. There was no oral alternative so I switched to a liquid topical-type treatment instead. My body gradually rejected that treatment, though, so I ended up having to discontinue it and now the disease is progressing again and reducing quite a bit of my quality of life at this point.

So the offer is not made in jest – I am not making fun of you. Of course, if you haven’t progressed to a point where you are that advanced and do not do distance healing, I can understand, and I’m okay with that.

We don’t “rule out” things. We WILL say that there is little in scientific understanding to make something like Reiki possible (and there is), and that a study has to be well designed to get rid of “confounders” (things that would make the study less than acceptable for rational review). There have been studies done with acupuncture where neither the provider nor the patient knew if they got “real” acupuncture or “sham” acupuncture. In those trials, there was not a significant difference in outcome between the two modalities. However, they did do better than the treatment group. Placebo effect often happens when people are given hope and/or attention. It doesn’t matter what the attention IS sometimes, just that they got something that was done to make them feel better (think of mom, booboo kisses and band-aids at this point).

Yes Sialis – I was kind of offended. I’m not a complete skeptic – I enjoy my Christian faith, though it’s not quite “mainstream” in how it is viewed and my dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist Baptist family might be a little worried/horrified to hear some of what I’ve chosen to believe to continue in that faith journey. I DO know that there cannot be “room” for possession in a heart that is filled with the Spirit/light. If I’m possessed then I must be terribly deluded, because I love my faith and the extemporal being I worship with all my heart and believe I am called to love my fellow creatures and do nothing but my best to treat all living around me (down to plant life) with love and respect and an acknowledgment of their unique and individual life. 🙂

I ponder that part of my life when I read atheist blogs – I went back to Christianity because I missed what it gave me so much. If that is my made up imaginary friend, then I guess I must just still be a child at heart? 🙂

@Antaeus Feldspar
What you say makes eminent sense. I am all for doing more experiments and I would really like to see someone other than Dr. Bengston successfully replicate his experiments. I am not sure how replicable they are. But in and of themselves they point to the existence of an interesting phenomenon that may or may not be unique to Dr. Bengston and deserves further exploration rather than immediate scornful dismissal, which is what most of the people on this forum seem to be doing.

Woo-providing doctors ( as well as those who enable real oo-meisters) have the faith of their advocates : you’ll notice that Drs Burzynski, Gonzalez, Geier and others have been out there for many years as was one AJW prior to his striking off. Lyme is an area tghat is rife with woo- especially the long-term anti-biotic treatments.

@Mrs Woo
A photo would be helpful and knowing your general location would be helpful too. I am sorry you are suffering from this ailment and that so far nothing has helped.

Mrs. Woo – No worries. If you would like, I can send Orac information about a ‘Biointrinsic energy healer’ in NC. The healer has regularly scheduled healing sessions and can send you his healing energy over your telephone. Yes!. All you need is a telephone, and from the comfort of your own home, you dial into his telephone healing sessions. I can even send you some testimonials to prove that his treatment works.

My concern is that due to the severity of your illness, you may experience the well-known and dreaded Herx reaction. Of course, this would further prove that your illness is responding to his intrinsic energy. /sarcasm off

Mrs. Woo – As one patient to another, isn’t it nice to see that some doctors are speaking out about these bogus practices? Good luck to you and Mr. Woo.

Oh dear Sialis. The dreaded Herx! Hubby endured it for almost two weeks on MMS before deciding he needed a break… 😉

Denice, I find the Lyme thing kind of fascinating. Hubby developed Lyme, had antibiotics and was fine. Since he is so enamored with woo I was very surprised that the antibiotics fixed him up so quickly.

@Marg – it is too bad that I cannot upload pictures here. I’m a slightly overweight (I said I’m honest!), 5’8″ woman with hazel eyes that tend towards aquamarine and waist-length chestnut brown hair (no gray; never died or chemically treated). I am in my mid-40s and live in central Missouri, if that is helpful enough. Then again, without providing a picture there’s an ‘out’ for the Reiki to fail anyhow, isn’t there? That’s too bad. I was looking forward to the experiment. Right now I’m in the midst of a flare that should continue for somewhere between 48 and 60 more hours and Mr Woo wants me at a surprise birthday party at 5 p.m.!

Interestingly enough, one of the idiots I survey has been harping upon his own *psi* research at the Institute for Applied Biology: supposedly, he first ‘healed’ discarded experimental mice with nutrition then called in ‘healers’ to pray/ meditate over other mice who were given cancer.

Needless to say, he observed spectacular results which were published in esteemed journals whose names he neglects to mention. I wonder why? Currently, he’s having nuns pray over seeds sprouting or suchlike.

About 20 years ago, Larry Dossey created a stir in woo-topia with his research that showed that prayer affected medical outcomes. Woo-mavens love citing him.

I feel like Marg keeps trying to convince us that she’s rich, because look at all the thousand-dollar bills she has!! and we keep trying to point out that real thousand-dollar bills are green, not aqua blue, and she keeps getting mad and sneering “So all the absolutely perfect printing of the President on the face, and the ‘1000’ in the corner that looks just right, and the crisp E PLURIBUS UNUM, that means nothing to you blinkered people??” And she doesn’t seem to realize that we’re saying YES, it means nothing. Because if the bills are aqua blue, that means they aren’t real currency, and if they aren’t real currency, it doesn’t matter in how many ways they imitate real currency.

A real scientific experiment tests a falsifiable premise. If it does not test a falsifiable premise, it is not a real scientific experiment, no matter how well it counterfeits their form. Bengston thought he was being very scientific when he blamed the failure of the cancer to kill the control group on reiki being somehow able to affect even the very mice that he should have been taking every precaution to not let be affected, but instead he made the premise he was testing completely unfalsifiable and therefore something that no scientific experiment could give any support to.

If we give Bengston’s experiments the maximum possible benefit of the doubt – which, ironically, means discounting his quantum-woo defense, and asserting that the control group didn’t receive reiki – we still don’t wind up with any evidence pointing to the effectiveness of reiki. Reiki vs. no reiki made no difference, and trying to claim that this means some great evidence for reiki was made by the experiments is like trying to spend those aqua blue bills. Even if we made the unjustified assumption that the survival of the control mice must be the result of some miraculous new scientific breakthrough, it’s far more likely to be “a new strain of mice that can shrug off cancer” than “reiki which can induce incredible healing in mice which do not get treated with it.

@Sialis – is it a 900 number? LOL Is he Reiki?

Does he have a dog? 😀

I have a dog. Since she can open our front door by herself, I’m wondering if she is wise enough to understand the intention of Reiki?

I usually believe that if Reiki would work, prayer should have. The one good thing about Christian faith is that if I am not healed it does NOT have to mean that I am somehow at fault for my lack of healing (except maybe to faith healers who have guaranteed I would be) – it just means that there is purpose to be found within it. I have started an online support group for chronically ill people where I encourage them to post one thing they are grateful for each day and it has been a wonderful thing for them and for me. I’m willing to let Marg try to heal me if she wants since she is assuring us that we just cannot “see,” but really I’m not too interested in pursuing any unproven treatments in any real way. Mr Woo tries to get me to do something or another about once every six months – his latest was to bring home “colloidal minerals from Eden” – when I found several sites that said that analysis of those liquids usually included such yummy things as aluminum, cadmium, lead, etc., he assured me that it wasn’t true and tried to get me to drink it anyhow. So far I’m winning on that argument. I can’t understand why any person thinks they can be healthier drinking a solution from leachate from shale in strip coal mine areas? I grew up in coal country and could have sworn there have been studies that suggest cancer rates are higher in communities that have strip mining and runoff enters water supply…? ~shakes head~

@ Mrs Woo:

I believe that there is a SB treatment for Lyme that involves short-term anti-biotics- I was referring to those who use massive doses over insane amounts of time. There’s one guy ( probably originally from Goa) an Indian national with an Anglo- Iberian style name ( which I won’t mention)

About us atheists: for myself, I come from a long-line of them it seems but I certainly am not one to discourage people’s beliefs if that assists them in living this difficult life we all have- that position was alright for Wm James.

I do raise a ruckus however when faith is part of what should be scientific claims made pristine of as much emotional and partisan biases as possible. You seem to be the very reverse of that, as many religious scientists are also. I don’t see those inclinations as necessarily mutually exclusive.

I hope your condition ( which I believe I’ve figured out) has been more manageable lately.

didn’t quantum mechanics (the real kind, not the fates-of-mice kind) seem pretty ridiculous before the evidence showed that it was nevertheless true?

I wouldn’t really say so, as the theory was developed in response to discovered phenomena, such as the photoelectric effect.

@pondfairy1 @marg @mrs woo
At the risk of being jumped on by everyone I will say that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there for energy healing working. There are also a lot of useless practitioners. It sets my teeth on edge when I hear a Reiki person say to someone who didn’t experience any change that they received a healing on the spiritual level.

So I will, again at the risk of being jumped on by everyone, relate a few of these anecdotal stories. I rely on Mrs. Woo’s assurance that the people here are good people and I express my agreement that patients do need to be protected from sham healers. But I will also say that just because you prove in a lab that Reiki or this or that form of energy healing works provides no such protection. It proves the principle, not the ability of the individual practitioner. It’s not like aspirin.

I studied & worked with Dr. Bengston for almost 2 years, from Feb. 2007 to Oct. 2008. I was very enthusiastic about his studies and was determined to show that what he did also worked for human cancers. A small group of us taught by him employed him method on a variety of cancers. He said the more aggressive the cancer the better, so we looked for people with really aggressive cancers.

One person we treated had stage-4 pancreatic cancer and was days away from dying. He was in hospital, skeletal, jaundiced, on a morphine pump for pain, drifting in and out of consciousness. His family were told his liver was shutting down and he would likely be gone within 48 hrs. Enter the energy healing team, all gung ho and full of enthusiasm. We told the family we were doing something experimental and obtained the patient’s permission to treat him. We then proceeded to treat him an hour and a half a day.

So we start treating the man, and already after the first treatment there is a difference. The swelling in his legs goes down. He seems a little less yellow and more coherent. Some blood values change from one day to the next for the better. Then, as the days pass, he cuts down on morphine. He is able to eat. The whites of his eyes become less and less yellow. He is able to sit. He is able to walk to the door and back. Day 5 he stops taking morphine. Day 6 he walks on the corridor. Day 8 he is released to go home.

He lives 10 more weeks. After he goes home he continues improving. He can go up an down the stairs. He can go to the park and back. He can go grocery shopping. He can eat regular meals. He begins to put on weight. He can spend weekends at the cottage and stand at the barbecue grilling steaks without feeling that there anything wrong with him.

6 weeks after the beginning of the treatment he has bloodtests and the bloodtests come back “normal or near normal”. I remember one number in particular: bilirubin went from almost 600 to the mid-30s. I think under 30 is normal.

His doctor says it’s a miracle. The oncology nurse says she has never seen anything like this in 25 years.

Then at 10 weeks he suddenly dies of septicemia.

Even so, his doctor was sufficiently impressed to invite me to speak to her colleagues. I did, but her colleagues were not particularly interested. They did generally acknowledge that “no harm was done” and that we gave the man 10 extra weeks of life that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Another man we treated also had pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed as stage 4 after they opened him up to do a Whipple procedure and found cancer on his liver. We treated him for a year. During that year he was able to take long walks with the dog, do renovation and clean-up jobs around the house, and at the end of the year he was able to go white-water rafting and salmon-fishing. His naturopath marvelled at his condition, saying that people with his kind of cancer usually came to see him with walkers, in wheelchairs, or not at all. After a year he terminated treatment and died 7 months later.

We have seen other cases where tumours shrank or became less aggressive and across the board we have seen pain reduction. We would ask the patient at the beginning of the treatment “from 0 to 10 how high would you rate your pain?” and they would say “10”, then at the end of the treatment they would say “2”. Generally pain relief could last a day to a day and a half. That’s not “massage” or somebody feeling better because you are paying attention to them. If it’s placebo, so be it, and hurray for the placebo effect.

A colleague of mine is treating a man with small-cell lung cancer who was diagnosed in Dec. 2008. He has done everything, including going to see John of God. Still alive, still able to do stuff. He was supposed to have died in the fall of 2009.

So far our general observation has been that while we haven’t been able to cure cancer, we were able to help people have a much better quality of life than they would have had otherwise. I think that has value.

@ Judith:

So where’s your data? Anyone can say they can cure people- data is what separates efficacy from claims of efficacy.

OK, so show us data on various measures of improvement – your choice of variables.,

Judith,
And where is the data to show that the results you claim are achieved more often or more reliably in the presence of “energy healing” than in the absence of it?

Judith, just post PubMed link or Identification Number (PMID) of the case report. I assume that with such a remarkable recovery you all wrote it up and got it published.

@chris
We were looking for a cure. He died. We felt we failed. There was no point in writing up a failure.

@ Judith:

All of the improvements you mention ( lessening of pain, increased mobility, less need for pain meds, lessened jaundice,& tumour size, iiving longer, better quality of life et al) can be studied and compared to controls. Whether a person dies of the illness- or not- is not the only measure involved here.

And now, I’m off ..

Marg @ 9:45 am 16 June

What’s bigger than beach umbrellas? I’m running out of metaphors here.

Answer: Marg’s faith in magical healing.

You know, Marg, I don’t really mind if you have faith in it, but I do mind if you try to dress your faith in what you are mistaking for science.

And I find it particularly ironic that you are so offended that others do not share your faith.

We were looking for a cure. He died. We felt we failed. There was no point in writing up a failure.

Um, no. You claim to have effected a miraculous recovery, observed in a hospital setting, that was thwarted out of the blue 10 weeks later by septicemia. One publishes the case report unless one is making things up. You think a nearly cost-free method that could pull that trick off wouldn’t be of interest?

@Narad
One may publish a case report if one is a doctor or an academic. If one is Joe or Jane Nobody with no letters after his or her name, one doesn’t. I still have the documentation and in fact we did write up a report that we were hoping to publish if we succeeded, so technically it could still be published if someone were interested, but I doubt that anyone is.

Jane,

How did you gain access to the patients and their records without an academic or doctor’s involvement?

Judith, not Jane. My apologies. Clearly I need to focus on one task at a time.

One may publish a case report if one is a doctor or an academic. If one is Joe or Jane Nobody with no letters after his or her name, one doesn’t.

You yourself claimed the following: “His doctor says it’s a miracle. The oncology nurse says she has never seen anything like this in 25 years…. his doctor was sufficiently impressed to invite me to speak to her colleagues.” Meet your coauthor.

You are simply making excuses at this point, and they’re not convincing. Remember,

Mice are injected with cancer cultures known to grow single large tumor.

You keep saying that, Marg, and I keep saying, No that is not known. Bengston and Krinsley assure us that “Host survival in the conventional literature was 100% fatality between 14 and 27 days after injection”, but the trouble is, I cannot find that “conventional literature”.* The documentation from the Jackson company does not mention mortality statistics (nor indeed the life expectancy for this breed of mouse when not injected with anything); only that they are riddled with genetic defects from all the in-breeding, and are usually blind by weaning age and doomed to an early death from spontaneous hepatoma.
Bengston and Krinsley do not mention their mice going blind. Perhaps they were cured of that as well.

* The only paper I could find is from 1966, by Lerner &c, but the strain has undergone several mutations since then.

Judith @ 1:44 pm: There was no point in writing up a failure.
Judith @ 2.25: in fact we did write up a report that we were hoping to publish if we succeeded,

I am confused.

You know, one of the major complaints with scientific journals is that not enough negative results get published. Judith merely shows this is not confined to standard medicine.

Tasmanian Devils are facing extinction because lack of genetic diversity leaves them susceptible to a transmissable cancer, akin to allograft cancers in C3H/HeJ mice. Perhaps Dr Bengston can cure them. It would at least make an interesting grant application.

Not to mention the entertainment value of the good Dr. attempting Reiki on the poor Devils. I predict an entire Youtube channel devoted to the “treatments”…

@Nice Geek
I received copies of all the documentation from the patient’s wife

@herr doktor bimmler
That should have been “no point in publishing a report about a failure”. The report was 95% written.

@Judith: Let’s get down to a basic question: can the misapplication of “reiki energy” cause harm? It seems like it would be far easier to get consenting subjects for a test of this. If not, why?

Reich’s disciples reckon that Bengston’s cures are real but he is wrong about the mechanism, which in fact involves Orgone energy:
http://www.hessdalen.org/sse/program/CA-ORAC-V2.pdf

Or was it Reich who was deceived? When he and his disciples cure mammary tumours in C3H/HeJ mice — which Marg assures us are inevitably fatal — perhaps they are invoking Reiki healing vibrations without knowing it.

Anyway, Orgone energy can indeed cause harm:

In the treated mice, however, bleeding while the animal was in the ORAC was so severe that it was the immediate cause of death of all the mice in this group except for one mouse that died by accident.

ORAC turns out to be the abbreviation for “orgone energy accumulator”. Our host has been lying to us about his cognomen! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

Judith, if this case study was published, I see no reason why with the help of the doctor and nurse you could not have written up that paper.

Oh, and remember that this paper was published even though the experimenter had not even graduated from high school. Actually she was still in elementary school!

@Judith: Let’s get down to a basic question: can the misapplication of “reiki energy” cause harm? It seems like it would be far easier to get consenting subjects for a test of this. If not, why?

Actually, I was wondering whether to point out to Marg that an explanation for Bergston’s results just as plausible as “the fates of the experimental and control groups got quantum-entangled and so all received the benefit of free energy that came from nowhere” is “all the energy that went into healing those mice was life energy stolen from the researchers, shortening their life span.” That’s the problem with lowering the bar to just “can’t be ruled out”: you can’t limit yourself only to the likeable variants.

Not to mention the entertainment value of the good Dr. attempting Reiki on the poor Devils

I can hardly wait.

That’s the problem with lowering the bar to just “can’t be ruled out”: you can’t limit yourself only to the likeable variants.

I settle for making a rock from reiki energy. Even a little one.

“the fates of the experimental and control groups got quantum-entangled and so all received the benefit of free energy that came from nowhere”

One thing I’ve wondered when reading such “explanations” is, why do *these mice* get quantumly entangled with *those mice* and not with, say, their litter mates, the oak tree out back, or random clumps of dirt? Moreover, having become quantumly entangled, how do they become unentangled? Or do these mice, for the rest of their lives, mirror each other’s conditions? It seems like that would be demonstrable, if the magic really worked that way.

the good Dr. attempting Reiki on the poor Devils

He doesn’t need to travel to Tasmania and apply the healing hands in person. As I understand the rationale for the wellness of the control groups, it is enough if some quantum entanglement occurs between the diseased Devils and some other entity that he *has* handled, and after that the curative effect happens if he just *observes* them occasionally — a purpose surely served by a video link.

I was under the impression that in order to have two mice (or Tasmanian devils) quantum entangled they must start out close to each other and spinning in opposite directions.

Gentlemen:

I believe I have some of this figured out-
1. perhaps the mice are not REGULAR mice- as Mr Adams has taught, sometimes multi-dimensionally trans-splendent beings *disguise* themselves as mice; thus, the numenous g-d like creatures healed themselves..
2. Tasmania:
Do you know how it is when you put on a shirt inside-out so all the seams show? well, Tasmania is on one of the seams of the universe where it meets its inverse. How do I know this? Trust me.

Denice Walter – Yes, the mice being a protrusion into our dimension of hyper-intelligent pan-dimension beings performing performing incredibly elegant psychological experiments on people by, say, running down the maze the wrong way or suddenly not dying of cancer explains much in human history.

And presumably Tasmania is much like Cornwall in that respect.

@ Mephistopheles:

I think you’ve got it!
To make matters even worse:
there is a very nice woman in Hobart who has the same name as yours truly which has led to very complicated misunderstandings in messaging sevices. And yes, Hobart is on the same seam as Cornwall.

-btw- my ex had a reserved table at the restaurant at the end of the universe- you’ve probably run into him- sad dark-haired fellow, speaks English and Gaelic rather well. Usually at the same time.

About those seams:

If you know where they are, you can save tons of money on airfare…I should have known that 20 years ago.
-btw- the Chunnel and the Battery Tunnel are on the *same seam* as the Ferry Building. But please be careful if you’re a pedestrian- fast moving traffic and boats.

I’m still trying to figure out how the mice got quantumly tangled up*. Is there a special spell that you recite over them? Or is it possible that every mouse in the area got all quantumly tangled up just because the experimenter was waving his arms around? Wouldn’t that invalidate every experiment by everyone else? That ought to make reiki experimenters popular.

*Yes, I know it should be “quantum entangled”, but “quantumly” sounds so much more sciency.

LW – the mice shared an orbital with opposite spins, I suppose. Mice, being fairly small rodents, are more susceptible to quantum effects than, say, beavers or groundhogs.
Getting mice to share an orbit is quite a trick – usually it involves a wide exercise wheel.

@LW: The degree to which mice and men get quantumly entangled depends of the phase of the moon. All sources of energy work together, the mice simply get confused. This explains all inconsistencies in results.

Mephistopheles O’Brien @ Jun 17 11:26 am & 8:27 pm

By the power vested in me by fellow scientists at my home laughing after I read your comments aloud , I grant you 1 internetz!

I would also request that anyone who doesn’t understand why they’re funny never use the word “quantum” in a sentence.

And of course we all know that the Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42.

And of course we all know that the Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42.

So it goes. Mikao Usui is advertised as having been a Buddhist, right? Reconcile for me, if you will, reiki with the Kevaddha.

@Nice Geek
I received copies of all the documentation from the patient’s wife

Like other commenters, I encourage the idea of doing whatever needs to be done to publish a case study.
It would not be the first case study to report that “The operation was successful although the patient died”.

You know, some people “explain” homeopathy effects by the homeopath and mark — I mean, patient — getting quantumly tangled up.

I’m trying to imagine how that works … close proximity, spinning in opposite directions … giant exercise wheels …

I have been wondering mice can be quantum-coupled since normally they are zero-spin entities

I suppose Bengston can claim to have demonstrated a sort of level-splitting.

The current layout of comment streams makes it difficult to credit other commenters properly when one steals their jokes. Must credit Marg for the inspiration.

Herr Doctor – in high school the chemistry teacher would occasionally ask “why is a mouse when it spins?” Now I know.

Really, marg? The single strongest piece of evidence you can offer in support of Reiki’s efficacy is a study which found Reiki performed no better than a complete lack of any treatment whatsoever, but we’re the ones with blnders on?

Perhaps, in the interest of science, we should compile a list of additional treatments which are just as effective as Reiki (i.e., which also perform as well as no treatment at all)? I’ll start: Wearing your underwear outside of your clothes.

As likely it would give you the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound as Reiki handwaving will cure your metastatic tumors, I suppose.

Marg, I’m not amused as much as astounded: the strongest piece of evidence you can point to doesn’t support Reiki’s effectiveness to any degree, yet that isn’t enough to make you consider your faith in Reiki might be misguided?

No one said Reiki handwaving cured metastatic tumors. A) The Bengston study did not involve Reiki but another form of energy healing. B) They were not metastatic tumors but one single large tumor. I have not heard of Reiki curing metastatic tumors either. My so-called “faith in Reiki” does not extend to metastatic cancers and is not faith because it is based on empirical observation of change in conditions other than cancer. I am not prepared to enter into discussions about whether I can trust what I see with my own two eyes and hear with my own two ears, in terms of patient response and testimonials. Your ignorance about energy healing is just that, ignorance. Have fun with your paradigm.

What you “see with your own two eyes and hear with your own two ears” is not scientific, even if it can be considered empirical by a narrow definition. Certainly it isn’t vaguely reliable.

Bloodletting was obviously highly effective and safe based on what its practitioners and (surviving) recipients saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. EXACTLY the same effects are in play with your faith in reiki.

@Beamup
I said I am not going to enter into a discussion about whether I can trust my eyes and ears and I repeat that your ignorance about energy healing is just that, ignorance. Have fun with your paradigm.

That would be an accurate description of what you guys are doing, AdamG.

You shouldn’tenter into a discussion about whether you can trust your eyes and ears on such questions – because you can’t. End of story, nothing to discuss. Equally well discuss whether 1+1=3.

I also find your repeated references to a “paradigm” hilarious, since it really just shows how completely ignorant of science, logic, and rationality you are. Postmodernism has absolutely no place in science. Again, no possible dispute here.

Marg @2:35 19 Jun has just summed herself up for us (my emphasis):

I am not prepared to enter into discussionsabout whether I can trust what I see with my own two eyes and hear with my own two ears, in terms of patient response and testimonials.

Yes, Marg, if you can’t go beyond testimonials, you aren’t prepared to enter discussions about whether or not a treatment works.

Your ignorance about energy healing is just that, ignorance.

What about your ignorance about science and scientific method?

If you want to go beyond just having faith in empirical observations, your ignorance is going to a bigger problem for you than my inability to share your faith in energy healing.

Have fun with your paradigm.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Oh, but you’ll probably be back in a few days with a few more insightful one liners, like today’s @9:10 am, 10:16 am, 1:31 pm. And when you have no clue what we’re joking about, you’ll just mock us for making the jokes? (And since I already know you are humor impaired, I will clarify that if you disagree with the first part of the previous sentence: this is an invitation to prove otherwise with an explanation in your own words.)

Enjoy your paradigm, Beamup. All you are doing is giving repeated demonstrations of what it is.

Apparenty, I should have posted “you’ll be back in a few seconds.

Yes, I happily embrace science and facts. While you repeatedly demonstrate that you don’t care one whit whether anything you say has the faintest basis in reality.

The Bengston study did not involve Reiki but another form of energy healing.

Does this even mean anything within your own “paradigm”? It’s all the same “energy,” right? What’s the theoretical basis for differentiating the “forms”?

(Somehow, I have only now realized that intrepid researcher Bengston has trademarked “The Bengston Energy Healing Method.”)

Yes, I find the trademarking quite funny. Does that mean no one other than Dr. Bengston is allowed to practice it? Not sure it’s all the same. I’ve known people who could differentiate between the “energy” of different modalities. No theoretical basis for it, though, just observation. Reiki is “light”, qigong is “heavy”. Qigong can feel like millions of tiny magnetic ballbearings vibrating under your skin. Very strange feeling, akin to a mild electric shock. And Therapeutic Touch can produce something that feels like a cool breeze. No one knows why. If your lot were ever willing to accept that it’s something real, we could study it more comprehensively.

Narad,

Not just trademarked, but also a nice little cottage industry for the socialist. He travels the world giving “seminars” at $300 per person and has a book and a series of six CDs where, for only $50, he’ll teach you the “Method”.

From the CD salespitch from his website:

Hands on Healing

A growing body of scientific evidence has validated the power of Bengston’s hands-on healing technique. So what makes this treatment so effective? Dr. Bengston theorizes that image cycling may be key to accessing healing potential so that the body can restore itself to its natural state of wholeness. This six-session course is based on Dr. Bengston’s workshops for learning this powerful method. Includes practical instruction on distance healing, instilling healing energy into objects, and more.

“Growing body of evidence”? “Image cycling”? “Instilling energy into objects”? My eyes burn from the stupid.

It can’t be a skill unique to Bengston if anyone can learn it for a mere $50. Why aren’t there hundreds, nay thousands of people running around the world curing cancer with this “Method”?

Check out this quackadoodle’s website, especially his hilarious quack Miranda disclaimer:

http://www.bengstonresearch.com/

That should have read “sociologist”, not “socialist”.

Marg @ June 12, 5:13 pm:
All right, if things like reiki haven’t been shown to actually heal anything, what do you make of this?

Marg @ 2:35 pm:
Bengston study did not involve Reiki but another form of energy healing.

Seems to me that if Bengston’s laying-on-of-hands is close enough to Reiki for its results to be counted as evidence for Reiki, then refuting its results also diminishes that evidence.

Marg @ June 15, 1:29 pm:
the fact remains that in ten experiments a bunch of mice injected with cancer were cured.

Bengston & Krinsley report 4 experiments. Bengston and Moga summarise those 4 experiments and report one more. Where do you get the other five from?

And, if Bengston really does have this dramatically life-saving ability, or gift, or whatever, he is keeping it to himself rather than actually saving lives. What a selfish thing to do. You think he could spend his time more productively and make much more money actually healing rather than giving workshops to others.

From his biography:

Dr. Bengston does not provide healing treatments, medical diagnosis, or any other personal consultations related to health, medical, or psychiatric issues. Rather, his time and attention is devoted to energy healing research and education.

if Bengston really does have this dramatically life-saving ability, or gift, or whatever, he is keeping it to himself rather than actually saving lives
That’s not really fair, MSII, In the Bengston & Krinsley paper, Bengston — having learned the mental disciplines of energy manipulation from an established practitioner — taught them to Krinsley, and to several other volunteers, who were as effective as himself. So for all we know, those others could be travelling the world even now, whereever they are needed, curing mice of implanted carcinomas. And now he is teaching the technique to other people, which is (if you posit any value to them) a more effective use of his time than being the only practitioner.

Yes, I find the trademarking quite funny.

So do I, but probably not for the same reason.

Qigong can feel like millions of tiny magnetic ballbearings vibrating under your skin.

I think trying to drag qigong into this and furthermore suggesting that it produces effects something along the lines of the onset of delirium tremens is a bit much.

When I was in my teens I read about energy healing and thought I would give it a try. If one of my friends or family was in pain I would suggest that I might be able to help and would hold my hand an inch or so over the painful area. I found that I could sense where the worst pain was by the heat radiating from the area, which of course impressed the patient. I would hold my hand over the area while visualizing healing energy flowing from my hand into the patient, and pain and inflammation flowing from the patient into my hand. To my surprise it worked very well indeed. A woman who could barely stand due to a slipped disk was mobile and pain free after a 20 minute treatment, I apparently stopped a bad migraine in its tracks and had many similar successes.

However, I was more than a bit suspicious that these results were due to suggestion and expectation, and after some experimentation I found that the visualization was unnecessary. What was necessary was an air of confidence, congruence and chutzpah. A furrowed brow, expression of intense concentration and heavy breathing also seemed to help. I suspect that one reason for the apparent effectiveness is that it gets the patient to lie still and relax for a few minutes and to place their attention on the painful area, which tends to increase blood flow. I also suspect that pain often leads to muscular tension, which leads to more pain in a vicious cycle, and that this ‘treatment’ can help to break that cycle. This is most likely what happened in the healing related by Pondfairy above.

Some years later I got interested in hypnosis and found that I could get similar results with people in trance (whatever that is) without any involvement of putative ‘healing energies’. I eventually found that trance is not necessary, that people are generally highly suggestible and that we have far more control over our subjective experience than we usually realize. For example, it is surprisingly easy to manage mild to moderate pain by simply visualizing a ‘volume control’ for the pain that you turn down in your imagination. I have found it is very easy to fool both yourself and someone else when using these kinds of techniques and doubt very much that any kind of unknown energy is involved. The only things I seemed to be successful with were conditions with a large subjective component.

As for Bengston, I have to wonder about the mice, and what would have happened to them if they were given no treatment at all. He says in an article in Edge Science that the tumors had progressed so far he was ready to euthanize the mice, but was persuaded not to and they recovered. As I understand it, in animal experiments with cancer they are very rarely allowed to die of the cancer as this is cruel and unethical, so I have to wonder if in previous experiments the mice were sacrificed when their tumors reached a certain size and that it was assumed they were about to die. Is this what happened to the mice sent to a different city that died? It does seem a lot more likely than magic being real.

If your lot were ever willing to accept that it’s something real, we could study it more comprehensively.

Marg, can you admit that it would be a complete waste of time to study it comprehensively if it isn’t something real? Back in the 1800s phrenologists studied VERY comprehensively the relationship between the shape of an individual’s head and that individual’s personality and intelligence. Problem is, that relationship wasn’t real and so all the time spent studying it comprehensively was wasted.

When the best evidence you can present for us that energy healing is real is Bengston’s experiments, where energy healing was supposed to account for whatever statistically significant difference was observed between the experimental and control groups and no such difference existed, it really doesn’t give us much reason at all to think it’s real.

If your lot were ever willing to accept that it’s something real, we could study it more comprehensively

Except that when such studies are released showing that this ‘energy’ has no effect whatsoever, you’ll reject them because they’re not part of your ‘paradigm’

I have an honest question for you, Marg. Is it possible to falsify energy healing? What kinds of studies could sufficiently falsify this ‘paradigm’ for you?

I guess another way to ask it would be, hypothetically, what evidence would convince you that your observations are incorrect?

“we have far more control over our subjective experience than we usually realize”

For pain ‘management’, this seems to be true. I watched a woman running a seminar (business not health) do this concentration/ relaxation/ visualisation stuff. Getting someone to visualise pain as a ‘thing’ – what colour is it? how much water can it hold? and then getting them to fade the colour and shrink the size seems like a good technique.

Many daily aches, pains and other niggles cause, or are caused by, muscle tensions. Being able to ‘see’ them vanish, or reduce substantially, by simple relaxation and visualisation is a good way to avoid too many trips to the medicine cabinet. And much less time-consuming than a cup of tea and a good lie-down.

@krebiozen
Have you considered what it means that you felt heat emanating from the person you were treating and that you “knew” where the area that needed treatment was?

And, no, you are entirely wrong about confidence and chutzpah being necessary ingredients. “Let’s see what will happen” also works.

You people go into such contortions to try to explain this away.

You people go into such contortions to try to explain this away.

Is it or is it not possible for “energy healing” to cause harm?

Let me see if I’m getting this right–when I asked you for the single strongest piece of evidence for Reiki’s efficacy you said in your opinion it was Bengston’s study which you now insist didn’t involve Reiki at all but some other kind of energy healing instead? That’s really your position?

@Narad
Not to my knowledge. IMHO the mice that were fried in the Orgone machine were fried because they were in a machine. It’s like concentrating the rays of the sun with a magnifying glass to set things on fire. But you illustrate the fear that many people have of energy healing. You are simply afraid that if the mind is strong enough to generate healing it can also be used to generate harm.

@jgc
Many people use Reiki as a generic term for all forms of energy healing. Stop your sneering already, all of you. You won’t convince me, I won’t convince you; the whole discussion is pointless.

Marg — if you wish to stop the sneering, post something that makes sense in any known universe.

You haven’t addressed jgc’s point. If What Bengston used was not reiki, what then, in your opinion, is the strongest proof that reiki works?

No response yet about how Marg would falsify energy healing of any type, because, I think, Marg knows just as well as we do that she has no answer to this question.

No amount of data, no study that could ever be performed would convince her… Dunning-Kruger to the core.

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 Marg fall?

You are simply afraid that if the mind is strong enough to generate healing it can also be used to generate harm.

No, I’m curious as to the explanation why it can’t. It quite plainly is having a biological effect, right? And it’s “energy.” Why can’t something go wrong? Is it because energy is a misnomer and all this physicsy crap is a put-on?

Marg,

And, no, you are entirely wrong about confidence and chutzpah being necessary ingredients. “Let’s see what will happen” also works.

Are you telling me my empirical anecdotal observations are inferior to yours?

I suppose I should also address this:

Have you considered what it means that you felt heat emanating from the person you were treating and that you “knew” where the area that needed treatment was?

Yes. Since we know that painful inflamed parts of the body give off more heat than non-inflamed parts it seems likely that I was detecting this heat. Why postulate the existence of an unknown type of energy when there is a known type of energy that is entirely consistent with my experiences?

You people go into such contortions to try to explain this away.

Since I never experienced anything that could not be explained by science I don’t need to go through any contortions. It seems to me that it is you going through contortions to sustain your belief that something paranormal is occurring.

I would love energy healing to be real. It would open up a whole new field of physics and biology, not to mention the possibility of miraculous healings. However, nothing I have experienced and nothing I have read convinces me that there is anything to it other than suggestion and the effects of relaxation. I think a decent massage works far better and doesn’t involve any deception.

There are intriguing studies that might show some effect, but nothing seems to be replicable and consistent. It’s like so many things in the paranormal arena – lots of hints that there is something interesting going on but when it is looked at more closely under controlled conditions it evaporates like the morning dew. I used to have a lot of interest in this area, but you can only chase infuriatingly elusive shadows for so long before it begins to feel like a pointless waste of time.

I’d agree that until you can offer something credible in the way of evidence to support the position that Reiki in specific is effective (or more generally that energy healing in some or all of its various incarnations are effective) the dialogue cannot and will not advance.

As for the whole “Enjoy your paradigm” trope, we don’t have a paradigm. We have a method: one that’s proven to be singularly effective at deriving a meaningful and accurate understand of the natural universe and processes occurring within it. By what rational argument should we abandon it when addressing energy healing, to rely instead on personal testimony , blind faith and/or anecdote?

I often say that woo appeals to those who have poor understanding of biological processes and the more ‘spiritualistic’ concepts appeal to those who lack understanding of psychological processes:
energy healing capitalises upon emotional content and desire for particular outcomes.’ Suggestion and relaxation’ are more parsimonious explanations than postulating new sytems of physics.

I was once informed that my own preference for foods and artwork from Asia was a reflection of my past lives. Also that ‘spirits’ of my ancestors surrounded me and guided my literary endeavors. I think that there are other ways of looking at this altho’ theses ideas might serve well as *metaphors* or poeticisms, but that’s about all.

On a lighter note:
Krebiozen and JGC, it’s the summer solstice- perhaps we should emulate our ancestors- dancing in the groves of sacred trees, enjoying Nature’s in-exhaustible Energy, now at its zenith…
or just have a few drinks.

To illustrate my drift:

Scanning PRN’s archived Noontime Radio Woo-Fest:
yesterday’s edition has the host raging against Melinda Gates’ ( and her Foundation’s) efforts to train teachers-

(paraphrase) modern education is based on psychological principles established by Wundt ( mis-pronounced, -btw-) to reproduce information – it subtracts the “soul” and “will”- those are the only things WORTH studying in psychology. I had GREAT teachers not what they have now. ( end)

I hereby rest my case.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” Mahatma Ghandi

We are somewhere between stage 2 and 3.

Marg throws up a quote about perseverence…

… because quoting asinine bromides about perseverence is an acceptable substitute for providing quality evidence.

Not.

Also, what in tarnation is all this nonsense about “paradigms”?

I mean, really, if you think about it, the last paradigm shift in medicine was the shift from pre-modern medicine to modern (science-based) medicine – and that shift is actually still underway in some respects if this post is any indication.

Just this

Where do the likes of Marg get off thinking that the next great “paradigm shift” is set to get underway?

Or is it that Marg is throwing around the term, just like she threw around the Ghandi quote, as a ward (a magic spell, so to speak) against critical examination of her favoured flavour of quackery?

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” Mahatma Ghandi

Leave Ghandi out of your scam, will you? But if you insist on witty quotes, I raise you Carl Sagan:

They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown

@Marg – that open & your brain falls out…..as is obvious by your belief in “magic.”

@ Lawrence:

Brian, I think that your comment might be illustrated by Orac’s infamously creepy Bunny-with-the-removable-brain that appears in recent MMS threads.

I’m sure if your roof ever springs a leak you’ll happily pay big bucks for “reiki roofing”, right Marg?

If you think that would be ridiculous, you have an insight into what we think about reiki “medicine”.

Thanks, Marg, for yet another poorly designed, terribly controlled, proper stats-lacking ‘article’ for my files.

I’ll say it again: People who are only interested in themselves do not possess the strength to even consider the possibility they might be wrong.
It takes someone as selfish and amoral as Marg to swindle people out of their hard-earned money based only on the premise that her own observations are infallible.

Marg @11:52pm 21 Jun 12
I looked at your study. It uses the wrong control group – where are the patients who had a nurse nottrained and using Reiki in the room with the patients?

Oh, and the authors themselves admit the problem. From the study itself

It is unknown whether the beneficial effects of Reiki treatment over music stem from the presence of another person, the presence of a person with healing intention, the light touch technique, or a combination of factors.

Well, Marg, what do you think? And could you come up with a way to demonstrate that the effect is really coming from Reiki?

Actually, Marg, I’m a medical researcher with a PhD in Genome Sciences.

We don’t have to ask Marg that question…we all already know she’s just a sneering ignoramus.

It is selfish and amoral to charge people money for a ‘treatment’ that is solely based on the premise that your observations are infallible. Do agree or disagree with this statement?

Marg:

So ‘some’ MDs are beginning to think reiki is not ridiculous.

So what?

‘Some’ scientists claim global warming isn’t real because the atmospheric IR trap contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

‘Some’ engineers assert 9/11 was an “inside job”.

‘Some’ lawyers insist Barack Obama is not an American citizen and therefore is not the legitimate President.

Just because ‘some’ people who happen to have professional credentials think or assert something doesn’t make that thing true. All the more so when that something is prima facie ludicrous.

Marg, I wouldn’t be using the word “ignoramus” to refer to anyone else if I were you. For an advocate of “Energy Healing™” to display such an invincible ignorance of the very meaning of the word “energy” leaves you open to some unkind rejoinders.

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? “Are you people having fun?” you said. Yeah, that’s the sound of people who know what quantum entanglement is. Your complete and utter puzzlement as to what they could possibly be talking about? That’s you, not knowing what quantum entanglement is. My advice to you is to quit while you’re behind.

Ciao, ciao, gentlemen.

In a few years we will know who was right.

I happened to get all the jokes, Very Reverend Battleaxe.

The evidence is already in. There is, for all intents and purposes, a 0% chance that you are correct. No need to wait.

In a few years we will know who was right.

More selfishness. It’s not about ‘being right’ vs. ‘being wrong’ Marg. I’m not afraid to be wrong. I learn from being wrong. That’s how science works. This is about a genuine desire to help people vs. selfishly taking people’s money because your observations are infallible.

The fact that that you have yet to respond to this, but keep coming back here to post, indicates that you have no response.
You know it’s true just as well as we do.

Marg,

I noticed that near the end of that letter to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology it was stated that “It is unknown whether the beneficial effects of Reiki treatment over music stem from the presence of another person, the
presence of a person with healing intention, the light touch
technique, or a combination of factors. Further understanding of the mechanisms involved in Reiki’s impact on autonomic activity requires comparison of Reiki with other control groups,including non-Reiki light touch and nontouch intentional human interaction.”

What they’ve managed to prove so far is that music may improve your mood but doesn’t reduce the variability of your heart rate. Further they showed that being touched by a nurse makes you feel better overall than left alone in a room with nothing to do.

Ciao, ciao, gentlemen.

In a few years we will know who was right.

“Goodbye, cruel Thread. Farewell. You shan’t have me to kick around any longer. Time shall bring you the rewards you justly deserve.”

Bah.

Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Gotta love the arrogance. Everything is already known. There is no scientific principle out there in this enormous universe of ours that humanity in its greatness has not yet discovered. No new phenomena will arise from now until humankind ceases to exist. We live at the pinnacle of civilization and will never get any smarter or gain any more knowledge. I bow to your wisdom, oh great ones. May hubris never darken your door.

@Marg – if you want to continue to live the Middle Ages & believe in hand-waving magic, go right ahead. I, for one, will continue to follow the Scientific Method – which tells me your “magical healing energies” are a bunch of BS.

Gotta love the arrogance.

Is there anything more arrogant than assuming your own infallibility?

Your ego can’t even bear the thought that you might be wrong. It’s sad.

@Marg

Gotta to love the arrogance etc.

Oh my…what a persuasive argument you present!
Personally, I’ll take informed arrogance over arrogant ignorance any time.

Marg,
Have you figured out how to set up a follow up study to the one you posted back at June 21, 11:52 am? The one I asked you about around this time yesterday. A study which would help the authors solve this problem from their conclusion

It is unknown whether the beneficial effects of Reiki treatment over music stem from the presence of another person, the presence of a person with healing intention, the light touch technique, or a combination of factors

I’m all ears.

Marg,

I encourage you to really think about Chemmomo’s question. This isn’t taking the piss or trying to goad you. This is what scientists all over the world do every day for everything they study. We have a lot of evidence that human senses and, more importantly, human reasoning are deeply flawed. The techniques of science have been developed to compensate for the limitations inherent in the 1.3Kg of wet goo in our scull.

Been a long week with lots of extra kiddos (grandkids) and took a lot out of me. Marg has yet to convince anyone?

I was definitely disappointed. Was a terribly rough week with yesterday being a day when I was unable to even stay awake. Did manage to get the pool finally cleaned and set up properly tho. Think that was my own stick-to-it and nothing to do with someone’s shared energies; except maybe my son, his girlfriend and the grandkids.

@Krebiozen – visualization and other types of self-control taught me to shut off all pain from migraine. Unfortunately, the few really bad ones kind of had the halos, light sensitivity and nausea get away from me. Since I hadn’t practiced eliminating those, too, I would still end up with some issues with migraine, just not he actual pain part. I also effectively minimized how bad I ‘felt’ pain moving forward in my life, which absolutely shocked a surgeon once when they started surgery on a messed up ankle and found an extra broken bone (fibula, not weight-bearing; the heel was already broken) that hadn’t showed up in imaging – it was injured running out into the road after my escaped toddler and I knew that I was having surgery in about a week anyhow and didn’t see a reason to be bothered to go to the ER with it. Later when there was too much pain for my body to cope with I once again had issues with other problems related to pain – change of color of skin, sweating, etc., that I could not ‘fix’ by minimizing/ignoring the pain in my body.

I still haven’t figured out how to control those issues, unfortunately…

Never managed to manifest miraculous healing with all of that learned mental stuff either. How often I wish I did have a power like that. No one I met would suffer… no one I loved would be ill or die a painful death from disease!

I would wonder what I would do for a living, but just realized I could at least be selfish enough to heal myself first. 🙂

As much as I’ve enjoyed mocking you, Marg, there’s something you should know (unless you’ve finally stuck to the flounce):

I would love to be wrong about Reiki! – I mean, come on, wave away tumours or dangerous infections with a flourish of the hands? Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?

But until such time as its advocates & apologists come up a rigorously-collected body of evidence showing its efficacy for, well, anything, reiki’s detractors are right on the money.

@chemmomo @niche geek
The healing intention would be hard to control for, but they could have a control group that received light massage and another control group that had someone simply sit with them and chat.

Marg,

Fair answer – but if those groups are sufficient then how can we accept Dr Bengtson’s conclusion that his untreated mice were affected despite the absence of a healing intention?

If I may chime in here … Quite likely those groups would not be sufficient. As Marg says, a healing intention is very hard to control for, simply because a healing intention does not need to be conscious. People could swear up and down that they don’t have one, but if they have as much as a smidge of compassion for the patient in front of them, I think a healing intention will co-exist with it. As to Dr. Bengston’s findings, I think for now we can conclude that they are quite unique and stand as a big question mark until someone else replicates them. There are unique individuals who can genuinely heal; and strange effects can occur around them; most of them don’t really know how they do it although they might formulate a theory to try to explain what happens. I think Dr. Bengston is one of those individuals. I know of several others. They are not charlatans, as most of you would seem to believe, but the avant-garde of a new phase of our evolution.

I think the control mice healing was one of those strange effects. I would love to know whether the experiments can be replicated, but even if someone did, and they were successful, I would wonder if Dr. Bengston was somehow involved, perhaps by knowing about the experiment and having an unconscious healing intention.

If I may chime in here … Quite likely those groups would not be sufficient. As Marg says, a healing intention is very hard to control for, simply because a healing intention does not need to be conscious. People could swear up and down that they don’t have one, but if they have as much as a smidge of compassion for the patient in front of them, I think a healing intention will co-exist with it. As to Dr. Bengston’s findings, I think for now we can conclude that they are quite unique and stand as a big question mark until someone else replicates them. There are unique individuals who can genuinely heal; and strange effects can occur around them; most of them don’t really know how they do it although they might formulate a theory to try to explain what happens. I think Dr. Bengston is one of those individuals. I know of several others. They are not charlatans, as most of you would seem to believe, but the avant-garde of a new phase of our evolution.

I think the control mice healing was one of those strange effects. I would love to know whether the experiments can be replicated, but even if someone did, and they were successful, I would wonder if Dr. Bengston was somehow involved, perhaps by knowing about the experiment and having an unconscious healing intention.

The problem with this interpretation of the Bengston experiments, Judith, is that when we can construct multiple explanations for a set of observations, we don’t actually just get to choose which explanation we like. We don’t get to choose the explanation that would mean we have a lucrative field of scientific study ahead of us; we don’t get to choose the explanation that would mean the universe is holistic and human-centered and friendly. We have to accept that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be true, even if it’s not what we want to be true.

To clarify, “simplest” in this context implies “relying as little as possible on anything speculative, on anything we don’t know to be true.” Despite your assertion that “there are unique individuals who can genuinely heal [merely by having a healing intention; despite any obstacles of time and distance; not even limited by a desire to not exert this healing force]” we actually don’t know anything of the sort to be true. If we did, there would have been no reason for the Bengston experiments to even be done, since they were conducted in order to try and prove a far less ambitious premise, namely “individuals may be able to provide healing to others WHEN they are in reasonable proximity AND actively attempting to provide that healing.” When you try to prove that the loud rustling out in the woods is Bigfoot moving through the trees, and you look over every inch of the soft soil and find no footprints, the proper conclusion is “No Bigfoot was here,” not “Bigfoot was here, and he has an antigravity machine!”

Whether we like it or don’t, the most plausible reason why the experimental group and the control group both survived at the same rates is not some exciting mysterious healing modality but simple experimenter error.

I beg to differ about ‘healing’ being a “new phase of our evolution” because people have been fooling themselves and others about arcane capacities for THOUSANDS of YEARS: if you read anthropology, the idea of a highly specialised individual with healing powers is not a new role in human culture; so far, there have not been any un-biased demonstrations of this profound capacity in well done RCTs. EVER.

Anyone can say that they can heal: and many espouse this esoteric malarkey because it brings social power and often monetary remuneration. Is it more likely that people are developing mysterious powers to heal cancer or that charlatans- AND the well-meaning but self-deluded- are demonstrating effects that are truly artefacts of shoddy research that JUST happens to have results that conform to a particular, desirable, unlikely event.

There is an aspect of evolution involved here: humans have -over their long period of development- become masters of abstract thought, including planning and foresight, manipulation of variables, SELF criticism, understanding others’ motivation, understanding of mathematical principles and CHANCE- what psychologists call “executive function”- which springs into being, like Athena herself, sometime during adolescence. The scientific method is based upon capacities like these, which Piaget called “formal operational thought”..

The same unique abilities that enable us to create intricate mythologies and fictional glimpses into other POSSIBLE worlds also allow us to understand our own abilities to fool ourselves and to dream up new ways to check our own foolishness and explore what might actually, probalistically be the unvarnished reality that exists outside of our biased selves.

So your actual assumption, Judith, is that there are healers either by training or talent and that these special people are the only ones who can heal? However, they cannot control the healing effects emanating from their bodies and can ‘accidentally’ heal others sometimes at great distance when attempting to heal someone else (please correct me if I’m wrong on this) or if they know someone else is trying to heal someone they can accidentally heal people just through hope that the experiment with the other person works?

If that is so, how come everyone in say, that entire city wasn’t healed at the same time as the mice? Or, when they did healing in hospital settings, why didn’t the entire hospital suddenly end up disease free?

That would definitely be difficult to replicate in any kind of blinding.

See, you would rather say “this is just so mysterious and you are too closed-minded to ever begin to understand why it works” instead of “this might have been coincidence and/or some kind of failure within the trials.”

When it comes to ameliorating suffering oftentimes true concerned touch and care will reduce suffering without any other intervention due to the makeup of the human psyche. It has its limits, but it can work and doesn’t require being made mystical for explanation. As human beings we respond to touch and we respond to a caring heart (the same thing with dogs).

Science is willing to say “we don’t know why the cancer patient lasted longer than we suggested they would, but it was an estimate, not a set-in-stone death date.” They are even willing to say that strong family support extended the life of the patient. One of the reasons that they seem “harder on energy practitioners” is because those people charge for a service with no proven effectiveness, and often their treatment will encourage the patient to delay effective science-based treatment, sometimes to their detriment.

I have no problem with people who say, “Let me put my hand over this painful spot and see if it helps it feel better.”

I do have a problem with people who say, “Waving my hands around in certain ways while mumbling will treat you as effectively as medicine. That will be sixty dollars, please.”

Judith,

So the question remains open: as a believer can you offer some insight into what controls would be sufficient for an energy healing experiment? If we can’t falsify the hypothesis then it likely isn’t useful to us and certainly isn’t useful in medicine. Every doctor and nurse that treated my wife had the intent to heal so all of scientific medicine already uses this “energy”.

Recently, I’ve scanned internet radio** broadcasts about energy healing and prayer accomplishing wonders; here are some details:

30-odd years ago, a natural health guru took lab rats that were injured by massive doses of radiation in cancer research; he learned that he could heal them by giving them green juices and supplements. Then, he allowed lab rats to run free in his lab and they lived much longer than rats in cages. Finally, going all-out *psi*, he had cancer-ridden rats ‘prayed over’ by various healers- a priest, a rabbi, a healer, a nurse ( a proponent of therapeutic touch) ***. Of course those who were received prayers survived much longer. Then, he compared the effects of different healers on sick rats- he found that ONE woman actually made the rats worse; other healers were more pristinely effacacious. Then we are told that he repeated all of these studies SIX times over with the same remarkable results.
Wowie zowie!

Unfortunately, NOT ONE SINGLE scientific journal would accept his papers about these momentous, paradigm-shifting results! They would bring the entire scientific establishment quivering to its knees! And we can’t have that. can we, now?

Thus, he brings his especial message to those with ears to see to hear and eyes to see: you can follow his protocols through his books, videos and use his supplements. Some of the elect might even get a private consult or stay at his “ranch” and experience hands-on healing by the master himself. Isn’t that grand?

Now, would you care to peruse my catalogue of bridges?

** Progressive Radio Network/ research at Institute for Applied Biology
*** A priest, a rabbi, a healer and a nurse walked into a bar…

@Mrs Woo
I have a problem with those people too. I am of the group that says “let me put my hand over this painful spot etc.”

@Denice Walter
I stand by my assertion that these healers exist, are genuine, and represent the avant garde in a new phase of our evolution. Read chapter 5 of Leigh Fortson’s “Embrace, Release, Heal” for an account of a healing facilitated by one of them. Anecdotally I can tell you that there an explosion of interest in healing, with thousands of people attending workshops, and I’ve seen many of my colleagues achieve good results. I believe before this becomes “scientific” it will be a grassroots movement.

BTW I’ve seen interesting effects with animals — not mice. Two cats I treated that were very elderly and terminal both presented with the matted, grungy fur that very sick animals have that is attributed to an animal being too sick to groom itself. By the end of the treatment one cat’s fur went back to appearing normal, although I didn’t touch it, and it didn’t groom. The other cat’s fur started returning to normal during the treatment (the top half did; the bottom didn’t) and was normal by the next day. It stopped having blood in its urine and stopped hiding in the closet; it also started eating again and lying in its favorite spot in the sun. The fur effect is very strange. Another cat I treated had a brain tumor that invaded its nasal passages, causing the poor thing to sound like Darth Vader when it breathed. Every time I treated it, the breathing was normal for three days, as reported by the owners. Another cat had chronic hyperthyroidism and after treatment its thyroid values returned to normal. What happened there? Relaxation? Placebo effect? I am willing to give Dr. Bengston the benefit of the doubt on the subject of the mice because of the things I’ve experienced. Experiments are not the only way to know things. Doctors prescribed aspirin for generations before anyone knew how aspirin worked simply because of the observed effect that willow bark had on pain. It remains one of our most effective medications while others, arrived at through the much vaunted scientific method, have been withdrawn from circulation after multi-million dollar lawsuits because they harmed people.

Judith:

If peoply really *do* have abilities that vary significantly from the norm, it should be very easy to demonstrate in controlled studies. So far NO one has; I would also imagine that people like this would stick out from their cohort like the proverbial sore thumb because of continued, extraordinary success. Does anyone? Other than the self-appointed and self-promoters like the one I described above?

This is not anything new: people have been discussing this as a scientific question for a LONG time: Freud, Jung and Wm James all talked about studies around the turn of the LAST century. Larry Dossey claimed healing with prayer long ago, where has THAT gone?

Judith wrote

There are unique individuals who can genuinely heal; and strange effects can occur around them; most of them don’t really know how they do it although they might formulate a theory to try to explain what happens. I think Dr. Bengston is one of those individuals.

If Bengston doesn’t know how he “does it” how can he possibly trach his “method”? He sells expensive weekend workshops, books and a CD series intended to teach others how to heal, do distance healing, instill “energy into inanimate objects” and other crap.

Maybe it’s like a pyramid scheme or MLM…he makes more money selling the “secrets” than actually doing anything himself. What a crook.

Not sure if this is the same Judith, but I found a website for someone who does energy healing for pets, and it’s not only reiki! No siree bob…it’s meridian tapping and bach flower therapy too! A woo salad for pets!

And of course she’ll teach you reiki too, for a price.

http://judithlevywellness.com/pets/energy-practices/reiki-for-pets/

This comes from her bio page:

Judith’s clients often report positive and sustainable outcomes.

Not a very substantial endorsement, and she wrote it herself. “Often” is one notch above “sometimes”. Why would I waste my time, money and potential health of my pet when the practitioner herself says it’s hit or miss if she’ll get results? If this energy thing is real why the uncertainty? And who cares what pet owners “report”? Are there any studies in veterinary journals? No, of course not.

It’s my understanding that reiki really is only one big pyramid scheme. Become a reiki “master” (gag), after a weekend of training, and you’re then eligible to teach others. So the goal is to convert clients to become students. That’s where the real money is, and why so many reiki con artists are willing to give free “samples”.

By the end of the treatment one cat’s fur went back to appearing normal, although I didn’t touch it, and it didn’t groom…. The fur effect is very strange.

I would certainly volunteer to let mine get matted for a test of this unique power of energy hairdressing.

My sister’s beloved 10 year-old male Maine Coon mix was diagnosed yesterday with cancer and will have to be put to sleep in a few weeks. His little body is riddled with tumours. Not operable and too far gone for chemo. Obviously, the whole family is heartbroken. What would Judith recommend in this case? Could she do something by distance healing?

@ Narad:

Re “energy hairdressing”:
If you live in the US or the EU, you can purchase CHI in a plastic spray-container: it will enliven your tresses with ENERGY. Spray-on Chi, who would have thought.
-btw- it is especially effective if you have twisty or wavy hair like yours truly.

Judith

Experiments are not the only way to know things. Doctors prescribed aspirin for generations before anyone knew how aspirin worked simply because of the observed effect that willow bark had on pain.

Huh? Did you actually comprehend those two sentences before you posted them?

Try this: “Doctors prescribed aspirin for generations before anyone knew how aspirin worked simply because of the consistently observed effect that willow bark had on pain.”

What’s your take on the concept of a reproducible experimental outcome?

Experiments are not the only way to know things

Maybe; they’re the only way to prove things.

Incidentally, it appears that one of the cats has an anal sac problem yet again. Would distance healing require a photo of the cat from the front, or just the affected region?

I’m still thinking about how to control for healing intent. Short of putting jerks in the room with the patients (and sadly I do have some in mind who might qualify), I’m not sure there’s any way to eliminate that while having another person in the room. By nature, nursing professionals and hospital volunteers have “healing intent.”

But that’s pretty much the out, isn’t it, Marg? You’d probably find some way to attribute “healing intent” to the jerks, too, and then declare victory.

Sorry, Narad, can’t do much about anal sacs 🙂 It’s all yours.

@Denice, CHI in a spray container sounds like a riot. I wonder what’s in it. Probably not aspirin.

@MSII Very sorry to hear about your sister’s cat. Losing a pet is heartbreaking.

@Chemmomo

I don’t pretend to have the answer as to how this should be done. I just offered suggestions.

[email protected] 12:40 am 24 Jun 12
Are you Marg? The commenter with whom I discussed control groups earlier (yesterday)? Whom I mentioned by name in my comment?
No, you, Judith, posted this:

They are not charlatans, as most of you would seem to believe, but the avant-garde of a new phase of our evolution.

I’m sorry Judith, but I can’t have a scientific discussion with someone who thinks that faith healing has anything to do with evolution. And you know what? Your idea isn’t even original: Stan Lee was writing about X-Men during the 1960’s.

Chemmommo,

I’m still thinking about how to control for healing intent.

As I understand it, you cannot do Reiki until you have been initiated or attuned by a Reiki master, a process you normally have to pay as much as $10,000 for. So according to the founders of Reiki you can have as much healing intent as you want, if you haven’t been attuned, you cannot access your healing abilities. That makes controlling a trial much easier, unless charging money for attunement is just a scam of course.

Judith,

Bengston is full of crap in that video clip, which by the way is nothing more a clip from a commercial for his “healing” CDs series (ANYONE can learn his patented “method” for $50–can’t be too special. But I digress…)

He claims us skeptics don’t want to see any “evidence” his method works. We’ve been BEGGING for some proof, some objective evidence, some real clinical trials,some papers published in credible scientific journals, anything. So far he hasn’t provided any real scientific evidence because he can’t. No touch healer or reiki master can provide any proof. I’d be the first to change my mind with some real scientific proof.

Sorry Judith, 22 seconds into your “bio energy healing” commercial a quack says he can psychically heal anyone with AIDS in three to four days. I stopped watching.

If I want to waste an hour watching fantasy I’ll put on the Sci Fi channel. That is how you’re trying to establish credibility for faith healing?!

@MSII
You just showed your absolute bias. Later on in the video people show medical results that show healing and their doctors speak as well. See, you are not a skeptic but a non-believer.

That’ll be the day when some somnolent BS artist can tell me what skepticism is about. Sorry, Judith, you lose.

Fine, give me that evidence in a form I can read, like a legitimite clinical report. I’m not sitting through 50 minutes of woo testimonial crackpots who claim they can cure AIDS in four days by hoping it goes away.

And who says any of those people are real anyway? You ever hear of actors? You ever hear of liars? You ever hear of commercials? Think a Big Mac looks as good in person as it does in a commercial?

YouTube is not a scientific journal. Once again, dox or STFU.

I think this discussion has come to an end. Your minds are as closed as a steel trap which not one iota of information can enter. You have no curiosity to speak of and no imagination. If this is what science has come to, we are in a sorry state.

Always the last comments of someone who knows they don’t have facts on their side. If you really think this energy healing thing works, then fund the research and get it published. Having worked with many patients over the years, some of them will be healed just by a hot pack on their back. At least in that case there is radiant energy present. By the way, how does this form of energy differ from therapeutic touch?

Judith,

Just give us that one iota of information. we’re begging you. James Randi has a million dollars standing by if you can prove your faith healing works.

You know the rules, though: no anecdotes, no YouTube videos, just real scientific information.

The fact we spend some or our leisure time here shows we have no curiosity? That curiosity is what led me here in the first place!

And what does imagination have to do with science?

@MSII

“And what does imagination have to do with science?”

Ask Einstein 🙂

Judith,

It’s been a long time since anyone paid $10,000. Nowadays it’s more like $100 and in the hands of genuine Reiki masters it’s not a scam.

How can you tell it isn’t a fake Reiki master pretending to attune you? Shouldn’t this be easy to demonstrate in a clinical trial? Why isn’t it?

“The problems of this world cannot be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities, but only by people of vision, confidence, hope and imagination.“

~George Bernard Shaw

Kreb,

I know this isn’t the same Judith’s website, but here’s a price list from what I imagine is a typical reiki vendor. This one is in Pittsburgh so I’m guessing it’s more expensive in larger cities.

Note that $600 and a weekend of workshops is all that it costs to become a reiki master level III practitioner. I guess you just have to take it on faith that the teacher is really qualified. Might as well start believing in faith early on, because that’s what reiki vendors will be selling later.

And all reiki masters make more money training others than actually delivering reiki services. It’s like Mannatech, or Amway.

Aphorisms? Platitudes? Quotable quotes? Still no proof. By the way, nice google skills 🙁

Imagination – to be more concise, speculative and hypothetical thought- does have *something* to do with science AND it also is involved in writing fiction and poetry, creating fantasies, designing uildings or artwork and creating myths out of whole cloth. Pseudo-science relies upon imagination as well. Imagination isn’t the only thing we need.

Science speculates based solidly on the ground of established FACTS, constrained by what is already known and guided into discovery of new realms by LAWS- when I last looked there were quite a few of those around. Even if the research is quite novel, we still have the laws of probability and fq distribution to consider.
-btw- innovators build upon the work of others, they refine rather than demolish the entire structure. Newton wasn’t wiped off the map, you know.
You can’t just do anything and say anything.

Like I care what an author says about science or medicine.

Notice how we skeptics address every point raised by Margit/Judith but they ignore our points and either change the subject or post meaningless quotes and YouTube quackamonials.

Judith, why are there no clinical trials supporting touch healing? If there is data, as Bengston says, but we don’t want to see, why can’t you provide it? Believe me, we do want to see it. James Randi will give you one million dollars for some proof–isn’t that more of an incentive that just changing some minds on Orac’s blog?

@MSII
I too have a quarrel with Reiki about this. You really have no guarantee about the quality of any individual Reiki practitioner — and that will continue to be a problem even if Reiki is proven to be effective.

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……