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Folks -

There previously was a discussion on this site in which a skeptical attitude toward energy work was being discussed, but that discussion eventually got deleted. The reason seems to be that it was judged not to belong in the location where it was taking place, which was inside one of the energy work groups.

I was the person who introduced the skepticism to the discussion. Some people did not appreciate that, but others did. Given how many participants there are on this site, and how many threads and groups are dedicated to discussing energy work with no skepticism, I thought maybe it was time to open a discussion where such skepticism is invited and welcomed.

I look forward to seeing how this discussion might develop. Is there interest?

-CM

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Good analogy.

Unfortunately, there are many technological inventions that we have difficulty grasping. The car could have a nuclear fission reactor in the both, enough to provide you with a ride of many lifetimes. How do you know when the car salesman tells you it's powered by Reiki but really, it's powered by a nuclear fission reactor... you could believe him and spend the rest of your like driving a car believing it's powered by good intentions but you would be wrong.

One thing for sure, I would ask him to prove to me it works...

Christopher A. Moyer said:
I'd like to present a hypothetical situation.

Imagine you are in the market to buy a used car. You find an ad that has what you think you are looking for, and you show up for a test drive. The car is really nice - it looks good, it's the right color, it's in good shape, it drives well, and the price is reasonable. You're thinking of buying it when it occurs to you to ask about the mileage.

You: How is the mileage?

Seller: Oh! I almost forgot. I'm glad you asked, because you're going to really like this. This is a reiki car. You never have to put gas in it. All you have to do is have a clear mind, and focused positive intentions, and this will enable the car to tap into the inexhaustible energy of the universe. The car will have all the energy it needs to take you wherever you need to go.

Would you believe the seller? Would you buy the car? Why or why not?
Hmmm, brings to mind Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!



Serge Rivest said:
Good analogy.

Unfortunately, there are many technological inventions that we have difficulty grasping. The car could have a nuclear fission reactor in the both, enough to provide you with a ride of many lifetimes. How do you know when the car salesman tells you it's powered by Reiki but really, it's powered by a nuclear fission reactor... you could believe him and spend the rest of your like driving a car believing it's powered by good intentions but you would be wrong.

One thing for sure, I would ask him to prove to me it works...

Christopher A. Moyer said:
I'd like to present a hypothetical situation.

Imagine you are in the market to buy a used car. You find an ad that has what you think you are looking for, and you show up for a test drive. The car is really nice - it looks good, it's the right color, it's in good shape, it drives well, and the price is reasonable. You're thinking of buying it when it occurs to you to ask about the mileage.

You: How is the mileage?

Seller: Oh! I almost forgot. I'm glad you asked, because you're going to really like this. This is a reiki car. You never have to put gas in it. All you have to do is have a clear mind, and focused positive intentions, and this will enable the car to tap into the inexhaustible energy of the universe. The car will have all the energy it needs to take you wherever you need to go.

Would you believe the seller? Would you buy the car? Why or why not?
I've been thinking a bit about how much people have referenced the placebo effect and basically how a significant number of people seem to think that it's OK if the placebo effect comes into play. This makes me wonder if people even care what is going on at all. There also seems to be a lot of claims to people not needing scientific evidence of energy work.


When Chris brought up the car analogy it was interesting since I was waiting on someone writing "a car isn't living and it doesn't count".
And then Serge brought up the arguments given and saying that studies weren't referenced and that there are such things as bad studies.

All these then made me think of rats.
Yep, I thought of rats next (and dogs and cats, since so many now are going into energy work with pets).
A rat isn't a car and although they might have some serious beliefs about cheese, I'm sure they don't have any beliefs about energy work, right? Apparently I wasn't the only one that thought of rats.
Take a look at this.
To me this is an example people putting out so called research in order to try to justify a belief system.

So why are they doing that?
Here's another question - how many people think that was a well run study?
Here's another question - when you go to read a book or take a class in energy work, are you questioning what you hear or read?
Here's another question. If most people are saying "The placebo effect is OK" which is basically physiological changes going on in the body through thought or belief alone, then could there not be a similar thing going on in the givers body and that is what you are "feeling" when you give it?

By the way, I'm not discounting energy work totally - I think there should be a lot more research in it. But see when there's BAD doo-doo put out? That makes me wonder a lot..............

Robin - Chitty Bhitty Bang Bang was BRILLIANT. I'm singing the song right this minute,.
This forum was originally started with this sentence: There previously was a discussion on this site in which a skeptical attitude toward energy work was being discussed, but that discussion eventually got deleted.

There was no mention that it was to be kept strictly to a scientific discussion and exploration of ideas. In fact, the original discussion was deleted from another board because it was inappropriate.

Then you say we must keep discussions in line with what you want it to be.

The title of this very thread has nothing to do with science. In fact, the title is inaccurate and misleading when the original poster has no skepticism, they've admitted energy doesn't exist. There has been no interest on his part to engage in questioning his own premise, only in asserting his own flawed conclusion. I have seen no shred of evidence on his part to support his conclusions. Therefore, he brought on what evolved.

When entering a discussion like this, it should be noted this is a massage therapy forum, not a science forum. People who aren't in the profession are posting here. People who claim to be doing "scientific research" are not research scientists. Researching something as a hobby or interest is not the same as being a scientist.

In my opinion, if you put up that title to a forum and the original opening statement, you're open to whatever comes. You can't control the discussion, much as you'd like. You may not take seriously what someone says because you don't like their viewpoint. But that's irrelevant.

Let's just be clear: not one person in this discussion has thoroughly backed up anything they've said "scientifically." And the most important thing is the condescending attitude, as if science holds a superior place in the realm of bodywork. That won't fly with most therapists.
Vlad said:
I've been thinking a bit about how much people have referenced the placebo effect and basically how a significant number of people seem to think that it's OK if the placebo effect comes into play. This makes me wonder if people even care what is going on at all. There also seems to be a lot of claims to people not needing scientific evidence of energy work.


When Chris brought up the car analogy it was interesting since I was waiting on someone writing "a car isn't living and it doesn't count".
And then Serge brought up the arguments given and saying that studies weren't referenced and that there are such things as bad studies.

All these then made me think of rats.
Yep, I thought of rats next (and dogs and cats, since so many now are going into energy work with pets).
A rat isn't a car and although they might have some serious beliefs about cheese, I'm sure they don't have any beliefs about energy work, right? Apparently I wasn't the only one that thought of rats.
Take a look at this.
To me this is an example people putting out so called research in order to try to justify a belief system.

So why are they doing that?
Here's another question - how many people think that was a well run study?
Here's another question - when you go to read a book or take a class in energy work, are you questioning what you hear or read?
Here's another question. If most people are saying "The placebo effect is OK" which is basically physiological changes going on in the body through thought or belief alone, then could there not be a similar thing going on in the givers body and that is what you are "feeling" when you give it?

I agree, this isn't valid research.

I'll answer a few of those questions. I don't take energy work classes anymore because of the disappointment over the shams (like the Matrix Energetics). I walked out of another that a friend asked me to take with her. It called upon fairies and gnomes as healers. I demanded a refund for both classes I walked out of and got it. But I don't think many people question those classes. If you begin to question, everyone in the room starts frowning at you, especially the presenter. They avoid eye contact and act as if you aren't there.

As for the placebo affect being OK - I think it's important to do studies on the power of the mind only because then maybe people will begin to embrace doing it.

I think your last question has to do with what we refer to as entrainment. If the giver is feeling at ease and peace, is it possible to transmit that? I mean, when we enter a meditation center or church, there seems to be a respect for quietude and people are calm. Or maybe it's like entering a library where silence is required. It affects us in some way. But did we transfer it? Don't really know if that's possible.
As for the placebo affect being OK - I think it's important to do studies on the power of the mind only because then maybe people will begin to embrace doing it.

This isn't energy work though, right? This is people bringing about changes with their own thoughts.

If the giver is feeling at ease and peace, is it possible to transmit that? I mean, when we enter a meditation center or church, there seems to be a respect for quietude and people are calm. Or maybe it's like entering a library where silence is required. It affects us in some way. But did we transfer it? Don't really know if that's possible.
Earlier you said:
If anyone claims they "give" energy to someone, they are mistaken. That person may feel energized or relaxed, but it's not because there's been an exchange.

Actually the last question addressed what the giver is feeling. If the receiver can bring about physiological change in their own bodies with the placebo effect, could the giver not bring about whatever it is that they're feeling with their own thoughts or beliefs? Since you've said that there is no exchange, then is this not a possibility?
I'm politely withdrawing from this discussion, as I see that it is going nowhere. For the record, I don't do energy work. I have studied yoga for 28 years and I taught myself massage years before a license was ever necessary to practice. I stopped arguing over whether massage was energetic a long time ago but I've managed to keep an open mind towards those who do practice it, that is, without the use of past life references, crystals, fairies, gnomes, or otherwise. Go ahead and reference all the "logical fallacies" you want to win for your "side", but honestly, I don't need this kind of exercise to do the work I do. Healthy skepticism is one thing, but obsession with being right is quite another thing. I hope you find the answers you are looking for. I would suggest you look outside this forum though -- it could be exhausted already. Peace.

Serge Rivest said:
People on the "energy work" side have really poor arguments.

Look folks, before writing your arguments, make sure they are not logical fallacies: http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

So far we got: Ad Hominem and Appeal to Antiquity / Tradition to name a few. These are not valid arguments.

An if you mention a study, please reference it. This whole "there are studies about babies ..." this is not credible if you can't point to that study so we can have a look at it. There is a difference between an invented story to make you believe in "the power of touch" and an actual study. And even then, the study has to be done properly, there are such things as poor studies.

It's ok to mention that you've read somewhere something, but don't imply that "this is a fact".


Christopher A. Moyer said:
After going back into some of your prior discussions on this topic, I have to say I'm a little confused as to where you are going with your inquiry. I applaud your efforts to break down the idea of "energy work" as it applies to massage therapy into logical applications and scientific structural basis. So, I asked myself the question you posed to others throughout your discussion: Does a separate entity exist ?

Since you have refrained from opening this to a philosophical discussion,


This is true - I have tried to steer this away from becoming strictly a philosophical discussion. I actually like such discussions; it's just that I'd prefer to keep this discussion somewhat on topic.

I'm just going to answer simply, at least from my standpoint, "yes". There exists a separate entity or vital force in the modality of energy work in massage therapy.

Gotcha. I think many people, perhaps the majority, might answer this way. I would not, personally. But I'm not even sure it's critically important to the present topic, whether or not there is a vital force. The bottom line, where the present discussion is concerned, is whether or not the basis of energy modalities are demonstrable.

I'll also be so bold to add that not everyone can practice this modality. There is a significant amount of self awareness and higher consciousness work that needs to take place before a meaningful experience can happen in the laying on of hands. Also, I will say that those who are seeking energy work are also seeking the very thing you are seeming to deny exists. There evolves a trust, or belief, that there is help for whatever is disturbing their bodies outside the medical system as we know it. This also should be present in the receiver, but isn't absolutely necessary, as the exchange will occur whether they know it or not.

O.K., I still follow your explanation. I don't agree with it, but I can consider it as a possibility that would have ramifications for a scientific investigation if it was true. If we wanted to verify an energy medicine practice, it would be necessary to test the right people, according to this stipulation.

This isn't even pseudo science really.

Why the qualifier 'really'? It can either be falsified, or it cannot. Pseudoscience is typified by assertions that cannot be falsified.

There have been scientific studies done that claim that a baby would die without the touch of another human.

Partially correct. There is scientific evidence that shows touch and handling are critical for development. It does not follow that energy medicine is at work.

There is the Chinese system of Reiki that has been practiced for thousands of years

Two days, two weeks, two millenia - the persistence of the practice is no evidence of its effectiveness.

and still is, with only a symbol as its focus, with "proven" positive results.

"Proven"? What does it mean when you put the word in scare quotes? Is it proven, or not? If it's proven, where is the proof?

Consider sexual energy and how ascetics withhold this energy in their spiritual work. Are all these instances proof of some kind of energy transference? I don't know. Should we discount them, even though the numbers point to some collective agreement? I don't know that either. However, they are compelling arguments.

No they aren't. The reason they are not compelling is that there are other well-understood mechanisms that adequately explain the phenomena.

Over the years that I have practiced yoga, I have seen things in my students and in myself that indicate the probability of a separate entity or vital force. I will admit that I have struggled with the question of whether my own brain was creating this awareness or whether it could be acknowledged without me. My conclusion is that there is no way to acknowledge a vital force without participation. It doesn't exist outside ourselves. I do think that it can be employed to gift to others through touch, but I also think, as I said before, a great deal of preparation of consciousness is necessary to do it properly.

I'm not a scientist and there are many great scientists who have done their best work so that I might use it. The question is, "am I worthy". Yes, I know this delves into the philosophical side of the discussion, but it is warranted. To force a discussion strictly around the science of touch is not only exhausting but incomplete. Perhaps you should be asking the group "why do energy work" to round out the question.


It doesn't need to be rounded out. I can ask astrologers why they do astrology. I can ask dowsers why they dowse. Their answers will not help us determine if what they do actually does what they claim. The same is true in the present case. It could be an interesting sociological study to query energy workers about their motivations and goals - but it isn't of interest to me, nor will it help verify their claims in any way.

That might give more people the opportunity to reply as to their own experiences and keep the science to a degree where it can be pursued at will.

If you need the science to reduce your skepticism to energy work, I would suggest you study Ayurvedic Medicine and meditation. I'm positive you'll find some answers there. You may not like them, - they may not fit the scientific model you are attached to, but they will live in you, if you so desire.


As I've said before, I'm ready to change my mind. Really, I am! All it takes is evidence.
Hi Chris,

Yeah, after rubbing your hands together very briskly, separate them of course, then slowly move them toward each other in the form of holding a ball, or cupping them. You need to do this brisk rubbing for about 1/2 minute or longer to get the full effect. Naturally, this is not going to prove to you that energy work in massage is a valid modality. I came into this discussion unwittingly of the progress it had already reached. After reading many of your arguments, I realized that you are seeking a level of proof that may or may not exist, but I must admit I don't feel qualified to convince anyone of the validity or fallacy of energy work. The little demonstration with the hands was simply for fun - I don't know enough about neurotransmitters in the surfaces of the skin or hands to accurately and effectively define the pulsing as "energy", as it applies to this discussion. As I replied to Serge's last post, I don't practice energy work, so I'm not here to defend it or qualify it, or prove that it is real. In my original post, I noted that you stated you were skeptical and I made an assumption that you didn't think it could work. I didn't really know just yet that you were seeking some tangible evidence, whether from research or science. I guess I'm surprised that you would look for that here, particularly because most of the therapists on this site, at least from my perspective, are educated and practiced in valid massage modalities that include therapeutic techniques and theories, and while I think you have practiced holding your ground politely while aggressively, you leave very little room for contribution from those therapists who may be practicing energy work and are seeing results. Referencing placebo effects and logical fallacies is not going to be encouraging to those therapists who might otherwise contribute to a discussion of this nature. Instead of pinning these posts to the wall and grading them with an "F" every time, why not sit back and watch the discussion to see its full development, occasionally directing it as you see fit? Maybe you could gain a tiny idea that would lead you to the answers I can't help but believe you want -- otherwise, you wouldn't be having this discussion.

Anyway, I'm going to bow out now. I've embarrassed myself and spent too much time already on a topic I care little about. Thank you for the discourse.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Deborah -

In your earlier post you concluded by suggesting an exercise one could do that would illustrate what you were trying to describe. I asked some follow up questions, but you didn't respond.

Specifically, you said:

Do this little exercise. Close your eyes and rub your hands together until they are very warm. Then, move them toward each other, palms facing one another, as though you are forming a ball. Do this slowly and notice the results.

I had the following questions. They are sincere questions - they are not merely rhetorical:

Do I separate them after rubbing them? And then, you want me to move them together, without quite touching?

Suppose I understand your instructions, and I follow them, and I DO sense something in my hands even though they are not quite touching. What would that indicate?
Vlad said:As for the placebo affect being OK - I think it's important to do studies on the power of the mind only because then maybe people will begin to embrace doing it.
This isn't energy work though, right? This is people bringing about changes with their own thoughts.

If the giver is feeling at ease and peace, is it possible to transmit that? I mean, when we enter a meditation center or church, there seems to be a respect for quietude and people are calm. Or maybe it's like entering a library where silence is required. It affects us in some way. But did we transfer it? Don't really know if that's possible.
Earlier you said:
If anyone claims they "give" energy to someone, they are mistaken. That person may feel energized or relaxed, but it's not because there's been an exchange.

Actually the last question addressed what the giver is feeling. If the receiver can bring about physiological change in their own bodies with the placebo effect, could the giver not bring about whatever it is that they're feeling with their own thoughts or beliefs? Since you've said that there is no exchange, then is this not a possibility?

I imagine anything we could say from this point would be purely theoretical because I could cite no studies to confirm nor refute what I'm talking about. And yet the topic interests me even if people find my arguments "logical fallacies." I'm not here to do scientific research, this topic wasn't on that. I was here to state what I think. A person's thoughts are the beginning of inquiry of possibilities.

I don't think there's an exchange, but I'm open to the idea that there is or could be. We do affect one another - whether it's by measurable, mechanical means or psychological. Do the thoughts and beliefs of the giver affect the receiver and/or visa versa? It's a good question. I'd tend to think that we find a person who is in line with our own set of comfort zones, and once we feel we've found the right person, or that we're working on a person who's open to being helped, then things can take place.

Many times we talk about vibration or feeling the vibes. I mean, how does a bee find a flower? Do the light waves from the color of the flower vibrate at a rate they can detect? I haven't read research on this, but I'm sure it's known. When someone who's powerful walks into a room, even if you don't know who they are, you can sense it. It's been said that we vibrate at different levels according to soul development - like finds like.

To be honest, I think most think they're lacking something, otherwise wouldn't need to go to anyone to have our needs met (whether it's massage, religious leaders, science laboratories, etc.). So I'm just thinking out loud here, that all we're doing is finding the one person who will confirm our need, and once it's met, we're satisfied.

This is one reason I don't believe in religion. No one can enlighten us or pave a way to a "promised land." We have to find it ourselves because it's in us. I look at energy work the same way. I can't make someone heal, I can't perform magic nor would I care to. I think it comes down to proprioception - all I'm doing is making someone aware of where they're holding. Call it a hypertonicity. That's the closest description I can come to energy work - making someone else aware by my own awareness of their block.

I probably didn't answer your question, but maybe I don't understand what you're trying to get at. =)
Julianna Holden Mohler said:

There was no mention that it was to be kept strictly to a scientific discussion and exploration of ideas.

That is true. Chris left the discussion open to its own development.

Then you say we must keep discussions in line with what you want it to be.

The discussion evolved to one about how to prove, scientifically and with repeatable results, the existence and/or efficacy of energy work. Bringing "I feel" and "I've seen" anecdotes into it are anecdotal evidence; they are not scientific, nor can the results be reliably repeated under the same circumstances. This discussion has already had several sub-branches of "but I/others feel it, so it must be so," which keeps leading back to trying to find a scientific reason why.

Personally, I think we've had a fine, interesting discussion going, and I too would like to see it continue along the same vein, rather than be derailed into a philosophical discussion. Nothing stopping anyone from starting such a discussion, but I, for one, would prefer it be in a different thread.

There has been no interest on his part to engage in questioning his own premise, only in asserting his own flawed conclusion.

Actually, it's the other way around. The burden of proof is on energy work, to prove its existence and efficacy as a treatment on its own with effects that can be replicated under the same conditions--and with those effects being a clear and direct result of such work. Saying "the sun comes up in the north and you can't prove it doesn't" doesn't hold a lot of water when all evidence points to it continually coming up in the east.

I have seen no shred of evidence on his part to support his conclusions.

Have you been missing the discussions wherein alternative options for results attributed to energy work have been brought up? There've been some rather civil ones. Again, he doesn't have to prove the sun doesn't come up in the north; burden of proof is on the proponents who do.

Therefore, he brought on what evolved.

You mean the repeated personal attacks made upon Chris, his profession, and his motives? I call shenanigans. I could enjoy violating pictures of Al Franken while I was dressed as a cocker spaniel in the privacy of my own home, but it still wouldn't negate the validity of my questions.

You may not take seriously what someone says because you don't like their viewpoint. But that's irrelevant.

Hmmm. Et tu, Brute? From what I've seen, it's not the viewpoint resulting in someone not being taken seriously so much as lack of a cohesive argument. One made entirely of logical fallacies doesn't help, either.

Researching something as a hobby or interest is not the same as being a scientist.

Very true. However, Chris and a number of other participants in the discussion are scientists. For real and for true. Labs and medical devices and research citations and all.

Let's just be clear: not one person in this discussion has thoroughly backed up anything they've said "scientifically."

Actually, there have been quite a few.

And the most important thing is the condescending attitude, as if science holds a superior place in the realm of bodywork.

As opposed to the one that only massage therapists can ask for scientific proof about things that may (or may not) be related to massage? I see that one around here a lot.
Hey Vlad, I am preparing to post some stuff regarding placebo effect on another level. It may be a few days before I can complete this with research links and commentary/questions. I will also answer some questions Chris posed to me, but in the meantime, I'm curious about your comment below

I've been thinking a bit about how much people have referenced the placebo effect and basically how a significant number of people seem to think that it's OK if the placebo effect comes into play. This makes me wonder if people even care what is going on at all.

I could interpret that several ways, depending if you are referring to placebo effect in studies, actual effects from a subjective viewpoint, therapist's attitude about answering the energy "?" or some other things.......but I decided to ask the squirrel instead.
Erica Olson said:

Then you say we must keep discussions in line with what you want it to be.

The discussion evolved to one about how to prove, scientifically and with repeatable results, the existence and/or efficacy of energy work.

At what point did it evolve to that? And at what point is an open, public forum not allowed to take any course it so chooses? Or are you trying to imply that only people doing research on energy work are allowed to contribute any thoughts?

Bringing "I feel" and "I've seen" anecdotes into it are anecdotal evidence; they are not scientific

Whoever said they were? I've never claimed an anecdote to be proof to anything except my own satisfaction. I haven't seen anyone else do so either.


Personally, I think we've had a fine, interesting discussion going, and I too would like to see it continue along the same vein, rather than be derailed into a philosophical discussion.

Personally, I don't think philosophical discussions are derailing. I find them to open the mind to possibilities that hadn't been considered.

Nothing stopping anyone from starting such a discussion, but I, for one, would prefer it be in a different thread.


Then start your own thread on that.

There has been no interest on his part to engage in questioning his own premise, only in asserting his own flawed conclusion.

Actually, it's the other way around.

Actually, in the case I was discussing, no it's not. He made an assertion that energy doesn't exist that he's yet to back up. You can no more make a statement like that without a burden of proof than someone who merely claims that energy work works.

I have seen no shred of evidence on his part to support his conclusions.

Have you been missing the discussions wherein alternative options for results attributed to energy work have been brought up? There've been some rather civil ones.

It depends which side of the fence you're sitting on. I've had several people tell me in private how these discussions are a certain group of people running them and attacking everyone who doesn't agree. I haven't seen civility here either. I know I haven't been entirely civil but there are no innocent sides in this matter.

Therefore, he brought on what evolved.

You mean the repeated personal attacks made upon Chris, his profession, and his motives?

You mean the ones he brings on by a condescending attitude, ripping up arguments he created by jumping to conclusions about comments I or others make, doesn't even care to ask me what I meant by them, and I'm supposed to trust his research doesn't jump to conclusions? Why are you licking his wounds anyway? Can't he speak for himself? =)

From what I've seen, it's not the viewpoint resulting in someone not being taken seriously so much as lack of a cohesive argument. One made entirely of logical fallacies doesn't help, either.

Researching something as a hobby or interest is not the same as being a scientist.

Very true. However, Chris and a number of other participants in the discussion are scientists. For real and for true. Labs and medical devices and research citations and all.

Then why don't they start their own research forum instead of coming here to attempt to impress us that we don't know what we're doing? We aren't going away. This is a massage therapy forum. What do you possibly hope to accomplish?

Now, if you were to ask a field theorist if a string theorist has a valid profession, you would surely get an emphatic, "no, let's not waste funding on such nonsense!"


Let's just be clear: not one person in this discussion has thoroughly backed up anything they've said "scientifically."

Actually, there have been quite a few.

Maybe to your satisfaction, but certainly not to my or others' satisfaction.


And the most important thing is the condescending attitude, as if science holds a superior place in the realm of bodywork.

As opposed to the one that only massage therapists can ask for scientific proof about things that may (or may not) be related to massage?

The only people I see asking for proof about scientific things are the ones who claim to be scientists, so I have no idea what you're talking about.

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