Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take a medicine that would give you energy?
Actually you can -- sort of -- they’re called amphetamines ( speed ) and in some instances cocaine. And when you watch little kids playing, a person can’t help think how great it would be to be able to ‘bottle’ some of their energy, when it seems so boundless.
But that’s not the energy that ‘energy medicine’ means.
It takes a bit of looking, but there are several ‘official’ semi-organized, bureaucratic organizations in Canada and the U.S. whose common purpose appears to be to support the dogma of and legitimize the practice of energy medicine in society. Their common goal seems to be to have it eventually accepted by the overall public and especially have it integrated into the established medical paradigm and the educational system if they can.
Here’s how one of them, the U.S.A. ‘Nation Centers for Complementary Integrative Health’ defines energy medicine:
“Energy healing therapy involves the channeling of healing energy through the hands of a practitioner into the client’s body to restore a normal energy balance and, therefore, health.”
The NCCIH recognizes two kinds of energy as well:
• Veritable energies — which can be measured (electromagnetic, light, sound, heat)
• Putative energies — which “have yet to be measured” (bio-fields, subtle energies, soul energies, etc.)
No one has yet been able to demonstrate the existence of bio-fields much less the effects from them. Notice, “have yet to be measured” implies that they are real and eventually will be measured. No. They’re sadly mistaken. The boot size of Santa Claus in the North Pole has yet to be measured also but don’t hold your breath for that one either.
Scientists today are able to measure infinitesimal amounts of all kinds of energy, even down to the sub-atomic level. The Hadron Collider has measured, in recent years, the energy from particles that can only be realized through the mathematical equations that suggest they must exist, even when they are so unimaginably tiny that they can’t otherwise be directly observed. Yet the repercussions of their presence, how they affect their immediate surroundings with energy output, are still able to be captured via sophisticated electronic equipment by many independent teams of investigators.
The most plausible answer of why these Putative energies have yet to be measured at all is that they don’t exist. Instead of Veritable and Putative we might as well call them real vs. imaginary.
There are all sorts of medical uses for real energies.
Real medicine uses magnets (made from ferrite and electromagnetic coils); in MRI machines (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), pulsed electromagnetic fields to improve healing of stubborn bone fractures, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is being researched for various possible uses such as in the treatment of depression, etc.
Real medicine uses sound energy; for Ultra-Sound Imaging and to break up kidney stones with ExtraCarporialShockWaveLithotripsy (ESWL), etc.
Real medicine uses electricity in Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), pacemakers, defibrillators, nerve conduction studies, muscle stimulation in rehab, XRAY machines, in the cauterizing of cuts during surgery, measuring and monitoring the energy output of the heart and brain, and many, many other uses.
Putative energies have yet to be proven to exist and the concept doesn’t have any proven uses except possibly in placebo applications. (Remember: a placebo is a medicine or procedure given to humor or gratify a patient rather than to exercise any physically curative effect).
I’ve found that different
terms are used throughout the ‘energy healing’ culture to describe the concocted
energy fields. Here are a few of them:
• human energy field
• Love or Positivity
• Qi or Chi
• universal energy field
• cosmic energy field
• Vital fluid force
After a time investigating,
these are what I see to be the underlying principles of Putative energy
- There is an ineffable human energy field undetectable by scientific instruments.
- Undefined ‘imbalances’ in that field somehow cause illness.
- Practitioners can somehow adjust the energy field to restore health.
There isn’t credible evidence to support any of these beliefs. They remain fanciful.
One of the earliest examples of an energy medicine practice was Mesmer’s ‘Animal Magnetism’. Mesmer claimed that there was a ‘universal life-force’ that flowed through us all, that we all shared, and that could be directed at will by a ‘mesmerist’ or one using his very specific ‘advanced’ techniques for healing. ( BTW ‘mesmerizing’ is a term that came into being because of him ). Turns out, because of his startling influence in French society at the time and because of the small controversial clamors he was stirring with his popularity and notoriety, he became noticed and soon became the subject of investigation by authorities.
He was subsequently tested by none other than Benjamin Franklin ( the then American ambassador to France, quite influential and perceived to be highly intelligent, a friend of the French government ) and a specially appointed French Royal Commission to direct and help in the endeavor.
Mesmer’s claims were investigated. He and his subjects were interviewed, studied, and finally thoroughly debunked. The investigators showed that Mesmer’s results were simply the product of suggestion in environments of dim lighting and candles, soft sounds, tasty snacks, cushy surroundings, nice smells, and warm, ambient rooms. The hysteria for this new thing evolved from mostly average-intelligence, usually wealthier, quite impressionable ‘patients/clients’ who took it all very seriously. No mysterious force whatsoever was ever discerned.
The Commission concluded that the suggestible ‘clients’ simply liked what they heard from Mesmer or his practitioners and tended to believe it because it felt good, confirming and ‘happy’ to them. The attention paid to them was also an immense ego-boost in itself. Imagine an affable, supporting, attentive stranger confirming your personally deepest, secret desires, proclivities and hopes.
Mesmer and his practioners were shown to be very astute at observing and molding the direction of treatment with whatever action or suggestion needed to influence the client’s behavior and inclinations in a positive way for that customer to feel satisfied, soothed and happy with the treatment. In the end, it was basically an economic endeavor by Mesmer with fringe benefits to him, that of Continental notoriety.
Mesmer was just an old-school car-salesman or snake-oil-salesman.
In hindsight, the technique of Mesmerism has amounted to just an early form of hypnosis or psychological suggestion, as it is commonly known today. All such similar practices are simply off-shoots of these initial techniques.
Hypnosis is not some mysterious state of trance; it is simply a state of selective attention and selective inattention produced by the suggestions of a very observant hypnotist with the unconscious/conscious cooperation and play-acting of the subject. It’s nothing more.
Let’s pause; you need to get a historical context here.
All this occurred during the heady days of the discovery of electricity and magnetism ( during the 19th century ) at a time when this stuff was at the borderland of science. Poor public understanding and insufficient access to the information of the reported breakthroughs that inventors and researchers were having, led to all kinds of ‘electrical quackery’ by opportunists throughout common society.
Early on, a person named Elisha Perkins invented an apparatus he called ‘Perkins’ Tractors’. These were three inch rods that were pointed at one end. One rod was steel and the other was brass. You could buy a handsome red silk covered wooden case with the 2 rods sitting inside, each in their own little oak holders. Stroking the patient with these rods supposedly drew off the ‘noxious electrical fluid’, making a person feel better from whatever ills they thought they had at the time. This treatment was very popular for a time. George Washington even bought and used a set during his later years (he talks about them briefly in one of his later collected letters to friends and associates).
In 1799 a Dr. John Haygarth decided to test them. He made placebo tractors out of wood and painted them carefully to look exactly like the steel and brass Perkins rods. He conducted sessions and found that they worked every bit as well. Patients had been responding to suggestion, not to the rods.
During the Victorian era, throughout Europe and North America , many, many other products and treatments flooded the gullible market. Belts, corsets, hairbrushes, special metallic laden pills, grounding cables, bracelets, necklaces, even copper woven undergarments with battery packs that you carried around with you to stimulate specific pathways in them around your genitalia, you name it… If they could create a clever appearing device that purported to influence or manipulate this new, mysterious electrical/magnetic bio-energy or fluid, it usually found a sale to at least some impressionable, uninformed consumer. Remember that consumer laws in this time were virtually non-existent and it was the ‘wild-west’ of claiming whatever you needed to in order to make a sale.
Side note: Just as a sign of the times, cocaine was a very common, substantial ingredient in almost every over-the-counter pharmacy product of the day, even for children's medicines. It was decades of unsolidified, unsettled understanding of many things.
Albert Abrams invented a ‘radionic’ device that was tunable to different frequencies. The machine supposedly diagnosed patients from a drop of blood or even from a signature on a piece of paper. It claimed to be able to even be used over the telephone, which was a relatively new device that was becoming more and more common in households everywhere. Imagine, diagnosis over phone lines… something still not absolutely dependable, even today.
Abrams didn’t sell these boxes; he only rented them with a warning to users not to open them for fear of damaging the delicate circuitry inside. Well, many suspicious clients did open them. They found nothing but senseless wiring schemes inside of them. In many, all the different tuning points were found to be wired together so that they gave identical outputs. It became glaringly obvious that this was all a deliberate fraud; an economic venture. But believe it or not, versions of these radionic devices are still being sold (and bought!) to this day.
Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) invented the Orgone Energy Accumulator. His theory suggested an ‘anti-entropic principle of the universe’. ( Ummm- hello? physics knocking... Anti-entropic? ) Wilhelm said that diseases in people were caused by deficits in bodily ‘orgone’ ( a word he coined ). His orgone boxes were constructed with alternating layers of organic and in-organic substrates. Sitting in one of these orgone energy accumulators was supposed to improve the flow of life-energy and release energy blocks. There is even an internet site called ‘thenaturalnews’ that still offers instructions on how to build your own Orgone Energy Accumulator with documentation proclaiming all its virtues. (…and this is 2018).
Today there a many therapies
within our common culture that still purport to use Putative energy in their
• Therapeutic touch
• Energy healing
• Healing touch
• Crystal healing
• Zero balancing
• Spiritual healing
• Distant healing
…there are many, many more.
Reiki stands for ‘life + energy’.
It’s a ‘spiritual’ practice that was developed by a Japanese Buddhist monk. The client remains fully clothed and the practitioner’s hands are placed in 12 to 15 designated positions on or over the client’s body. They don’t have to actually touch the patient. Each position is held for 2 to 5 minutes or until the practitioner feels the heat or tingling sensations have stopped. The practitioner can learn these skills in one to two days after being initiated by a Reiki Master but many ‘students’ spend years and years of continuing ‘learning’ and ‘courses’ because the whole experience cultivates a culture of belonging and feeling good about what you’ve come to believe within a group that is safe and confirming.
Reiki is claimed to have helped nearly every known illness and injury. Dr. Oz’s (of Oprah Winfrey fame) wife is a proud ‘Reiki Master’.
Eric Pearl is a chiropractor who has built a whole personal industry around his concept of ‘reconnective healing’. He waves his hands over patients and they ‘feel’ his touch without any contact. They also say that they feel a mysterious presence. They say they see colors unknown on Earth and they often see angels. (Angels are part of the narrative he spews as he conducts his sessions). One particular ‘angel’ they surprisingly say to ‘see’ is George a multicolored parrot, which Eric mentions often during his sessions.
After his treatments, his clients consistently report miraculous healings of cancer, aids, epilepsy, high blood pressure, stomach pains, you name it. None of it confirmed.
When interviewed and asked by an interviewer as to how his mission all began, Eric has said he developed his amazing abilities after an encounter with a ‘jewish-gypsy’.
ummm I’m pretty sure that these are two different ethnic cultures and they don’t overlap. I’m pretty sure that ‘jewish-gypsy’ isn’t even a thing. I think he didn’t research his narrative enough and now relies on people’s guaranteed ignorance against calling him out on it.
He says this gypsy read his cards at Venice Beach (where else?) and she told him of ‘oxcy-atonal lines’ that reconnect your body’s meridian lines to the grid lines on the planet that then connect us to the stars and other planets and then onward to the greater Galaxy. After that gypsy session, he said that he soon realized that he could make it his life’s work to reconnect people to that grid and make our energy vibrations ‘one’ with the universe. Hence his business plan… and it’s been very lucrative.
I know… I’m just as confused as you are…
As a side note and funny to me, he also mentions in a buried, forgotten moment during one of the interviews I’ve watched that “books and I never got along. By this point in my life I’ve maybe read two books and one of them I was coloring in.” Yup, says a lot...
It’s scary that this weirdo ascended to the status of a ‘leader’ and pinnacle of positive example for many misinformed, lazy-minded followers out there. Sad, actually.
Yoga is both a form of exercise and considered a ‘spiritual’ practice. Most instructors talk about energy. Exercise is obviously great for health in general but some instructors claim specific health benefits for specific poses. One pose is said to ‘squeeze’ the liver, for example. Another I read about is said to stretch the optic nerve. Really? I’m not sure, even as a non-medical person, but stretching your optic nerve doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me but luckily it probably isn’t possible in any event.
Yoga is said to ‘open the Chakras’.
There are seven chakras or
· Solar Plexus
· Third eye
The Throat chakra routine, for example, is designed to strengthen the neck muscles, enhance your communication (ummm, to make you a more eloquent speaker? – abilities that would obviously come from your brain - not your throat), ‘enhance’ your thyroid gland (exactly how?), and work with the ‘energy center’ (a mystical thing) around the throat. The Throat chakra is also associated with the element of sound (obviously) and with the color blue (interesting… why is it blue and where does this color present itself?).
Chakras are purely imaginary.
Yoga is essentially just a ‘feel-good’ practice but I concede maybe with a bit more merit due to the physical stretching and body nimbleness it promotes. Just try not to stretch out and strain your eyeball cords too much, ok?
In Crystal Healing, another healing practice, various crystals and pretty stones are placed on different parts of the body, often corresponding to chakras, or they may be placed around the body to create an ‘energy grid’ to surround the client with healing energy.
Specific crystals help with specific problems; sugilite for cancer, amethyst for back ache, lowlight for alcoholism, rose quartz for chest problems, turquoise for fear of speaking in public, and so on.
Since there is no real data or even sense to be gathered or attained from studying this crystal thing, the whole exercise can be whatever the practitioner can imagine or construct. However, the methods of practice are usually based closely on a common agreement of methods developed over the years by like-minded and senior affiliates within the group who conduct, believe in, and pass this stuff on.
After all, they want to give the whole thing a feeling of legitimacy by hoping the healer practitioners follow certain contrived, agreed upon procedures and protocols and not have each person doing their own thing. But seriously, if you went off method, who would know, since it all doesn’t really follow reason or do anything anyway?
There is a close relative in the energy healing trend that finds its niche more in the diagnostic area of the bio-energy craze. This one is particularly concerning because it uses advanced technology as its ‘store-front’ and uses fancy gadgets and complicated computer-screen displays to impress, sway and persuade uninformed people to accept its legitimacy.
It's called Electrodermal testing. It has seen gradual changes and modifications in its over 70 year evolution, each development in turn using the latest electronic gadgets and technology to progress to a new level of sophistication of machinery and more impressive presentations.
But the basic method remains the same — that part hasn’t changed.
It’s basically a bio-feedback machine. Anyone who has dabbled in amateur electronics in their youth has probably made one for themselves from some project book or electronic kit. It’s one of the simple circuitries that you learn about.
But today they’re connected to computers with fancy, custom-made programs used to impressively display the analyzed/manipulated results on beautiful flat-screens and to laser printers.
A bio-feedback machine measures the electrical skin conductance of a client with a probe ( usually placed on acupuncture points to make it appear more significant ). The one important thing you should remember is that the readings are affected by skin moisture, locations of the probe, its pressure, the angle of the probe, and even how well a person is electrically grounded.
The subject sits at a table or lays down on a cot. The operator sits close to them with her probe and asks specific questions that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’. She then takes a measurement with the probe on the person’s skin to determine what the answer is.
The idea is that the Body ( not the person’s ears! ) can ‘hear’ the question and it responds ( and apparently the Body responds perfectly honestly every time ) with an answer via its ‘bio-output’ by adjusting the skin conductance at the site of the operator’s probe. ( This would make the Body an independent agent and that is an interesting concept in itself ). But beware — if the operator shifts the probe left or right, presses down harder or more softly, presses it down at a different inclination angle from another angle, or not precisely on the exactly correct transmitting position or point on the skin, the readings will certainly be affected in considerable ways. Even not wiping the probe dry and clean between test instances could affect a reading, etc.
Speaking as one who has been immersed in electronic endeavors for a long time and knows a little about it, conductance is very much (actually entirely) affected by moisture when talking about human skin readings.
A person’s nervousness, whether they showered recently or not, used skin lotion or not, whether they’re parched/dehydrated or not at the time of testing, if they have eczema or some other particular skin condition, even the amount of alcohol they have in their system at the time, or how much salt they have consumed in their diet in the past days, would all make a skin-conductivity reading entirely arbitrary. It couldn’t be counted on to reveal a deeper physical state. It would simply be an extremely rough indication of the state of their skin conductivity at that particular skin spot, mostly influenced by how the operator actuated/manipulated her probe tool at that specific time too. Also, something as simple as temperature and moisture content of the air in the testing room or even the amount and type of clothing a client is wearing at the time of testing would skew results as well.
Do you see how arbitrary it can get?
Anyway, as the readings are run through the specific computer programmed rigmarole they begin to spit out displays and results that are used to diagnose and justify all kinds of ‘imbalances’ in the person. What is best about all this? Well the readings tell the practitioner exactly which homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements she gets to sell the patient! ( And I doubt it ever comes up with ‘This guy needs nothing! All good.’ )
The readings even suggest when the patient should return for further treatments/checkups and even mundane things like how much water he should drink every day during the course of his at-home treatment and exercise routines he should implement. These last bits are called ‘diversions’ in the shyster world.
These clinics are usually very professional in appearance, often looking like real Doctor’s offices, and everything is carried out very seriously. The screen displays and print-outs shown and provided to the clients are very slick and thorough, with an appearance of authority and academia about them. It’s easy to understand why people feel intimidated and tend to just go along with the procedure without skeptism.
Here is an actual result from a diagnosis session with an Electrodermal practitioner, an example of what they present to the client after a session:
The liver is low in
· The insulin level is 55% above normal
· The are 3 issues in the pancreas
· The pH is too low at 0.7
· She needs:
- 11 homeopathic remedies
~ ( details omitted by me )
- footbaths 3 times a week
- Chiropractic treatments
~ ( details omitted by me )
- IV infusions of multiple minerals and vitamins
~ ( details omitted by me )
- An alkaline ash food diet
Not to tear into this too deeply but a pH of 0.7?? That would be incompatible with life! You don’t have to be too well versed in biology and chemistry to know that one. I could go on, but I won’t.
Anyway, after a diagnostic
session, a treatment gets dished out.
It always turns out to be totally arbitrary and at the whim of the practitioner.
They’ll prescribe a treatment —— certain supplements, this or that plastic bottle of herby stuff, maybe some particular ointment or bath mineral, perhaps some other, mostly watery, bottle of witchy-woo-woo-stuff ( homeopathic jazz ), on and on. They’ll also throw in ‘normal’ stuff like drinking lots of water, getting exercise, eating vegetables, partaking in social interaction, maybe suggesting some quiet meditation time and such, all just to divert attention and to fog/normalize the treatment.
Patients tend to believe and trust the ‘professional’. After all, it would be embarrassing to think you’re a gullible chump and spending your good money on hocus-pocus stuff. Its success depends on feelings, faith, hype, and confirmation bias ( not unlike any religion? ).
BTW The conductivity machines are also used to treat allergies and sometimes to ‘send’ frequencies into the patient to ‘supplement their energy’ ( whatever that means ).
To determine a treatment with this practice, a pair of dice, a flip of the coin, or a ‘magic eight-ball’ could be used just as effectively, but — the outcomes in that case couldn’t be controlled by the operator. The practitioner’s objective, after all, is to sell stuff and at least sell successful, positive encounters.
I’ve seen a crazy product called Ancestor bands. They claimed to be infused with frequencies that connect you to your ancestors in the after-life so that they can hear you and advise you.
Pseudo-science just loves the word ‘frequency’. When you hear them use it to describe an aspect of their practices it should be a red flag to you that they’re reaching for an explanation. Frequencies of what?
A frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. i.e. 33 1/3 rpm is the revolutions per minute of old LP records. An average heart rate might be 70 beats per minute. Common household A.C. electrical current is 60 cycles per second in North America . To have a frequency something has to be rotating or vibrating or doing something cyclically measurable.
You might be able to embed something that is vibrating at a certain frequency, but you can’t embed just a frequency all by itself.
Energy healers claim that the human body has a frequency. They also claim that each individual organ has a characteristic frequency. They like to say ‘we are all frequencies’. These sound like warm, fuzzy, coherent statements at first but I’m not sure what they mean, exactly. I wonder what the frequency of the liver is, for example, or the colon or an eyeball. How would you go about measuring it? And how come it hasn’t already been done so, considering the vast multitudes of measurements that have been taken of the human creature by medical practitioners over the past 50 years of modern practice and research with electronic instruments?
As a side note, there are sellers of special brass, copper, titanium, silver, etc. healing bracelets that claim wearing such a thing on your wrist will resonate with certain bodily frequencies and purify the energy and even emit energy back into the system, in some cases. The problem is that they don’t seem to have a consensus on whether the resonation is with blood flow, skin, body frequency, organ frequency or a unspecified frequency from ‘outside’ - from the Universe (as some of them claim). And there isn’t any indication what ‘frequency’ the frequency is. After all, in the real world, there are very accurate ways to actually measure frequencies and tag a specific frequency reading to them (as well as identifying all the resonant harmonics within that frequency reading). And as for emitting energy back into the body, these bracelets would have to have some sort of energy source in order to produce a frequency at all or one strong enough to flow outward beyond themselves and a mechanism to generate that frequency. They don’t.
In physics, resonance occurs when a given system is driven by another system to oscillate from zero to greater-than-zero amplitude at that given frequency and usually producing harmonic frequencies alongside. The receptor must be of a specific material and configuration able to receive the frequency from the emitter and the emitter must have an energy source and a construction capable of producing a frequency either by vibration, rotation, forward-reverse pulse (electro-magnetic or mechanical), or something similar and then have power enough to emit it strongly enough in order to traverse whatever medium it needs to in order to reach the receptor, and than have power even more intense to affect whatever difference intended once it got there.
I know a thing like a wine glass can be made to resonate. We’ve all done that at parties by lightly rubbing our fingertip around and around the rim to make a sound. The pitch of the sound varies with the amount of liquid in the glass.
The fingertip is pressing forcefully on the rim. The hand is rotating. Energy is being expended. A combination of friction and a slight-liquid-film is making the fingertip skin stick and slip, over and over, on the almost smooth glass lip. The result of this conflicting action presents itself as sound energy. The ‘stick/slip’ action (i.e. skin sticking and sliding many times per second) happens continuously, incredibly quickly, so the glass oscillates very, very vigorously under the huge fingertip as it moves around the edge. The frequency of a pleasant, singular, droning tone emits outwardly from the vibrating glass and we hear it.
But it only appears to be continuous. It only appears to be at a specific frequency. If it could somehow be observed at a much more magnified and greatly slowed down, minute level, it actually would prove to be a very jerky, variable process. That pure tone we think we hear is actually only an average frequency that can or may not shift slightly up and down with each stick-to-slip point and is always polluted with other subtle harmonic frequencies of lesser energy. But the human mind loves pattern and subconsciously ignores contradicting stuff and experiences pure tone. It’s a whole course of action-and-result that can be explained, measured, and understood with science.
It is claimed that certain opera sopranos can shatter glasses simply with their voice if they forcefully belt out the right frequency to resonate with the glass at the right distance. Don’t know... haven’t witnessed this. Yet try as she might, I doubt a soprano could ever shatter a cat. Yet, if beings ‘vibrate’ at certain frequencies as the energy healers claim, then why not? If not she (because she can’t produce a strong enough pulse), at least some fancy, engineered machine should be able to vibrate a person’s body enough to cause the resulting resonance to explode and tear them apart if everything was dialed in and amplified forcefully enough.
I can imagine a war weapon that could simply blow apart enemy soldiers across the field just by tuning the energy frequency beam to their particular body frequencies and amplifying it.
A urologist can shatter a kidney stone with sound waves in the procedure called Lithotripsy but it doesn’t shatter the kidney and it doesn’t require any particular frequency. Any frequency will do if the energy is sufficient. The doctors tend to choose higher frequencies because the cycle of the pulse is higher, i.e. the jackhammer is moving faster.
'Energy healing' medicine is not science.
Scientifically based medicine deals with universal, peer reviewed facts and theories of anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc. that can all be tested and measured by anyone caring to do so. Energy healing medicine deals with undetectable, unmeasurable, and therefore unfalsifiable entities. ‘Unfalsifiability’ automatically puts it outside the realm of science.
But that hasn’t discouraged people from trying to do scientific tests on the energy healing practice in order to try to legitimize it. Yet --- nothing credible or conclusive has resulted. Energy medicine has been specifically called a perfect example of cargo-cult, Tooth Fairy, and noise-based pseudoscience.
These aren’t ‘random insults’, they are specific descriptions.
Cargo cult science . During World War II Melanesian natives were fascinated by the American planes that brought in all kinds of material goods like canned food and clothing. The natives soon formed ‘cargo cults’. They built crude replicas of airplanes, runways and control towers from random building material scraps hoping that the effigies would somehow magically bring them material goods from the skies like the American planes did. Cargo cult science tries to imitate science without understanding the principles involved.
Tooth fairy science is when you use science to study something that doesn’t exist. You can study the tooth fairy. You can measure how much money the tooth fairy leaves behind for kids in rich versus poor families. You can use rigorous scientific methods to do this; you can even get replicable results that are statistically significant. You can generate all sorts of data sheets to report your findings and even have your techniques validated by experts in scientific method but in the end you won’t know a real thing about the tooth fairy because she doesn’t exist! Tooth fairy science studies phenomena that are no more real than the tooth fairy. Like therapeutic touch studies where practitioners study the effects on sick patients of manipulating their imaginary energy fields and then claim this and that cure or improvement. Not a reasonable way to truth.
Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. Signal-to-noise ratio is sometimes used metaphorically to refer to the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange. For example, in online communities, off-topic posts and spam are regarded as ‘noise’ that interferes with or drowns out the ‘signal’ of appropriate discussion.
It is one the challenges of scientific research to pull the actual signal and information from the background noise in spite of randomness in the data messing with the entire pattern or interference from other sources infiltrating the signal making it ‘dirty’ or ‘noisy’, etc. Investigation of non-existent phenomena obviously get completely lost in the noise of data with investigators seeing whatever phantom signals support their philosophy. Humans are so good at pattern recognition that they’re prone to seeing or creating patterns where none exist.
This is kind of like how those people that play-speech-passages-backwards claim that there are sometimes subconscious messages intended in the initial speech from a person that only show themselves in revealing, weird sentences when the voice passage is recorded then played backwards. I’ve listened to such things and often you really have to stretch your imagination to hear the sentence the presenter is claiming to be said. And often you can only hear it after they have said what they claim is being said and then you listen and map onto it more easily. There’s quite a bit of ‘suggestion’ going on here.
Therapeutic Touch is a form of energy healing very similar to Reiki. It is practiced by people who believe they can feel a patient’s human energy field and can smooth out the wrinkles in it with their hands, or pull out the ‘negative’ energy and replace it with ‘positive’ energy, etc. to heal the patient. Therapeutic touch is a bit of a misnomer. They usually don’t actually touch the patient at all but claim to be touching the energy field by holding and moving their hands a few inches away from the patient’s body.
A young girl named Emily Rosa decided to test the validity of therapeutic touch for a school science project. She set up a simple, straight forward experiment to test whether practitioners could really sense the human energy field as they claimed.
She tested whether the subject could detect the energy field from her hand when she held it closely over theirs. When they could see where her hand was, they could very reliably tell when her hand was over theirs and would report they could feel the energy field from it as well. Then Emily repeated the experiment with a draped towel and a large screen placed between her and the subject in such a way they could still lay their hand on the table, beyond the screen, but this time couldn’t see anything behind the screen and drape. Turns out when they couldn’t see, they consistently couldn’t tell where her hand was. After many subjects and tests, their guesses were no more accurate or significant than a coin toss or random guess would be.
Emily’s study was repeated with a collaboration of scientists and medical researchers and it was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest author to ever have been published in a major medical journal.
She was like that child in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes who realized that the adults were just fooling themselves and the Emperor was really only naked. It took a child to realize that there is no use in doing experiments on a phenomenon until you’ve established that the phenomenon actually exists.
The putative energy that Emily was looking for didn’t seem to radiate strongly enough, or at all. It certainly couldn’t be recognized or ‘felt’ except when the subject could see -- or more specifically -- see, imagine, pretend and convince themselves that they could ‘feel’ a field. Just another example of the type of fanciful thinking that humans are so inclined towards. It’s mystical, it’s supernatural, and it makes you feel unique or special.
So, just how strong are these putative energies supposed to be?
Well, as yet, they have never been able to be measured at all with any device by any engineer, physicist, medical practitioner, or scientist.
Physicists can measure infinitesimally small amounts of all kinds of energy right down to the level of sub-atomic particles but they can’t detect this so-called human energy field. However, after searching around, I’ve found that the energy healing gurus and upper-practitioners have made unsubstantiated claims in recent years that healing fields of 2 milligauss are emitted from the hands of energy healing practitioners. They also claim that this amount of energy is enough to carry out the procedures they do.
2 milligauss. How much is that?
That is a billion times less energy than what your eye receives when looking at a single bright star in the night sky. That is 18 orders of magnitude less than the energies required to affect biochemical reactions. It is 15 orders of magnitude below a cell’s natural noise level. (Remember ‘signal-to-noise ratio’)? For example, the magnetic field of the Earth is 500 milligauss or a typical refrigerator magnet is 50,000 milligauss.
So even if they were proven to exist, how could those 2 milligauss of energy possibly affect healing in the human body? Cell noise energy alone would easily drown out that weak of an energy signal instantly and it would be a wash.
It appears the practitioners are just grasping onto actual scientific nomenclature to validate their practice.
This is actually a very pervasive aspect of this culture. It has become known as ‘pseudo-physics’ and is a lesser-known aspect of this pseudoscience thing. They try to explain their ‘magical thinking’ by using legitimate scientific jargon from real, modern physics and then liberally sprinkle it into the talk, explanations, publications, and promotions of their practices. It basically exploits general public scientific illiteracy and is intended to impress the unsophisticated and uneducated.
This style of talk is called ‘quantum flapdoodle’ or ‘word salad’ by critics. It is the using of ‘fancy’ words to make a person sound more impressive, legitimate, and sanctioned. A smoke-screen to cover nothing there.
They love the word ‘quantum’; not the term (they don’t tend to understand the concept or science) but the word itself sounds impressive so it is used generously. It’s probably used the most. ‘Frequency’ or ‘vibration’, as I’ve already talked about, is another big one. ‘Higher level’ is said a lot. Then there’s ‘negative energy’ – that’s used often. There’s ‘consciousness’ and ‘dimensions’ too. There are many more. These are sciencey sounding words they’ve ingested from their indoctrination, having memorized some of the mantra, and that they inject haphazardly into arguments and discussions to make them seem more valid and legit. It’s amusing, there’s a lot of quote mining going on.
There is so much that can be said about this whole thing but let me attempt to keep it simple and just look a one or two examples to show you how strange it is.
A very common word salad usage is ‘negative energy’, as I mentioned.
If you watch the countless videos out there of practitioners actually conducting healing sessions on clients, you’ll see them doing their thing, moving their hands artistically over the patient. Then, they’ll suddenly focus on a specific area over the body, making swirling, grasping actions with their hands as if pulling something from that area (if you can imagine picking cotton candy from a bundle at a county fair, that action would look similar). These invisible bundles are discarded, off to the side, into a little invisible pile.
When asked, they’ll say they are removing the ‘negative’ energy from the patient that is in conflict with the positive energy pathways and fields there. Sometimes they’ll just choose to smooth it out, or meld it back into positive shape like smoothing out a sheet when you’re making up the bedding on a bed, but most often they grasp it and remove it.
I’ve often wondered about these piles. I don’t see them coming around later with a dust pan to scoop it all up and discard it into a garbage can or into the fireplace or something. Wouldn’t you have a pile of negative energy sitting there (and many piles, as you did session after session)? How do they deal with this toxic waste? You’d be stepping in it, dragging your elbows through it, knocking over pile here and there all over the place. Shouldn’t there be proper disposal regulations to insure public safety, like there are in hospitals for tumors removed, failed organs, lesions, pustules, etc.
This ‘negative’ energy thing…
‘Negative’ can refer to a quantity or a quality. I’m assuming it is a ‘quality’ from energy healer's point of view because quantitative negative energy wouldn’t exist. It is nonsensical. You can have some energy, less energy, zero energy, but once you dip below zero, you still simply have no energy, not negative energy. There is no such thing as negative energy from a measurable point of view. That would be similar to negative light. Once the light is off, there is simply no light. It doesn’t go into a negative quantity from that point. And there is no need to remove something that isn’t there, for energy healing practitioners, is there?
So it can be reasoned that their ‘negative energy’ is referring to its quality. It's called negative, it’s called harmful, it’s evil, and it’s bad (in fact it often is called ‘bad energy’ by them as well).
But now we have a problem.
Energy is a measurable, definable, scientific thing but Intention is an emotional, anthropogenic, psychological, social construct, kind of etherial. The universe is indifferent; there really isn’t any such thing as good and bad outside of the human creations of morality, ethics and law. The universe doesn’t produce an outcome with intention, it simply follows rules of physics and science and something happens. It either affects things in its path or doesn’t. There’s never an intention. An event occurs and it’s just basic entropy from there on.
So now it begs the question as to exactly how the practitioner determines that a perceived energy pattern is ‘bad’.
Is it because it doesn’t mesh with the dominant frequency? That would make it bad? Then why be so theatrical by calling it negative or evil? Why not just say it is unsynchronized or not harmonically in sync, something like that?
And what criteria are they using to determine that the energy is negative anyway? Is it frequency reading, or is it the voltage level of the energy, or is it the amplitude (amperes)? Is there a short in the pathway or has a safety or fuse blown? And how are these readings taken? How do you determine what the natural resistance (electrical resistance) and conductance (electrical conductance) levels of any portion of the human body should be? How do you measure them? How have you determined that’s how they work, if you do?
These are all very important considerations to mull over before you even light an incense stick or scented candle or put on your cutest silky, embroidered blouse.
These things are important because they would be in direct proportion to any performance of flowing energy in any system, if it exists. Measuring energy outputs is only a primary, rudimentary function and wouldn’t ever be a conclusive action to determine failure. It’s quite useless on its own until you first established the circuitry parameters and specifications, and then all the intended resistance/conductance levels within that system, and then all the actual produced readings from point-to-point. Only then could you begin to try to analyze the effects of all this on the initially observed energy outputs.
When you have a shorted out wire in your house, you shut down the power source and then fix the problem with the source, or the transmission structures, or the receptacle fixtures, or even an accessory tied into the basic system. You don’t simply pull the shorting-out-wire-chaos-electricity from the air around the defective sparking, heating problem and walk away thinking all is solved. That would be crazy. Energy is the product of a generation device not a source unto itself. Pulling the energy out of a system would not fix the problem with the system, if there was one.
And you certainly wouldn’t just hook up another power source and pump even more power into the faulty system as if to replace ‘bad’ energy with ‘good’ stuff as in a blood transfusion or something. It’s not like Keith Richards from the Stones, it don’t work that way.
You know, when you live up in Canada and it’s wintertime and 30-below-zero temperature outside, you don’t care if the diminished energy in your car’s battery is good, bad, negative, positive, happy, sad, evil, angelic; you just care you have a little voltage stored there that will be strong enough to power your starter and turn over your frozen engine. Energy is energy. It isn’t bad, good or indifferent. It’s just energy. 15 volts from my battery isn’t evil or scary or disruptive. It’s just 15 volts of potential energy within a physical storage structure that can be utilized or not until it expends itself through entropy by sitting there or drawn down through work.
I’ve just reread what I’ve written. I may be ranting a little, I know, but it’s so easy to do when it’s all sooooo crazy…
I think that these modern
alternative medicine practices are just kind of cultist, pseudo-religions.
They’re modern versions of what we’ve always had in our societies since even before we recorded it. The ‘negative energy’ thing smacks very much of the ‘evil spirit’ thing of religions of old. In medieval time’s druids, gypsies, medicine people, etc. would vanquish the ‘evil spirits’ and demons from an ailing person and claim to replace the void with good angels, guardians and spirits. Blood letting would release the ‘bad’ fluid from a sick person in hopes the body would regenerate clean, good fluid in its place. The patient would be given blessed, ‘good’ water to drink because that fluid was purified and well-intentioned and meant to replace their lost liquid.
That kind of thinking would be politely laughed at in 2018 (well, maybe not too politely) but if you add sciencey terms, ‘feel-good’ discourses, and rambling ‘logic’ to those kinds of methods, as they do nowadays, you end up with exactly versions of all these in the alternative medicine practices we see around us.
The nice thing for practitioners today is that they will always continue to find a grand pool of gullible, hopeful, uninformed masses. The rest will wrongly believe that crazy thinking doesn’t really have great consequences. A very few others, like me, will shudder and shake our heads.
and the beat goes on…