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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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This is just me guessing:
"Some" specifications on the groups being studied can get 'round this, but since external validity is also key


Again, I disagree - in the present case, what is needed is internal validity.

, we'd have to be careful . The higher the numbers in the study, the better for sure, I'm not actually sure if there's an "optimum" number that people would say "this is good enough".

When it comes to n, more is always better. But there is a rapidly diminishing return after a certain point. Reasonably sized effects can be detected with subjects in the dozens.
Keith Eric Grant said:
Erica Olson said:
What about the possibility of entrainment? Granted, I'm certainly not a physicist, but the concept of entrainment gave me an idea of why energy work might "work," at least for some.

I agree that entrainment is an interesting phenomenon, and may have relevance to MT. But we shouldn't confuse entrainment of biological rhythms (assuming it occurs) with 'energy.' These would be separate.

Erica, an extremely interesting point. One can either consciously or unconsciously start synchronizing with another's "rhythms", such as breathing or movement patterns. The effects can be profound. I'd, years ago, been trained in a technique of actively pacing a person's breathing pattern with a hand placed upon the chest as part of a class on Ericksonian Hypnosis and Bodywork that I took at Esalen Institute. I later found a very similar technique description in Clyde Ford's book "Compassionate Touch". An experienced practitioner is likely to start "pacing then leading" (i.e. synchronizing and then making a change) without even consciously being aware of the process. There's a short description of Erickson's use of pacing and leading in The Man Behind the Curtain.
I was actually thinking about entrainment on the sub-atomic level (especially with the "pacing then leading" aspect) as being a possible explanation for energy work. Could not the electromagnetic properties within our own bodies impact those of another?

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Keith Eric Grant said:
Erica Olson said:
What about the possibility of entrainment? Granted, I'm certainly not a physicist, but the concept of entrainment gave me an idea of why energy work might "work," at least for some.

I agree that entrainment is an interesting phenomenon, and may have relevance to MT. But we shouldn't confuse entrainment of biological rhythms (assuming it occurs) with 'energy.' These would be separate.

Erica, an extremely interesting point. One can either consciously or unconsciously start synchronizing with another's "rhythms", such as breathing or movement patterns. The effects can be profound. I'd, years ago, been trained in a technique of actively pacing a person's breathing pattern with a hand placed upon the chest as part of a class on Ericksonian Hypnosis and Bodywork that I took at Esalen Institute. I later found a very similar technique description in Clyde Ford's book "Compassionate Touch". An experienced practitioner is likely to start "pacing then leading" (i.e. synchronizing and then making a change) without even consciously being aware of the process. There's a short description of Erickson's use of pacing and leading in The Man Behind the Curtain.
Yes, Erica and Keith, I can see this phenomena as entrainment for some, energy for others; it is all so co-mingled in my experience it's very difficult to reduce; not to mention one's own contribution of expertise and experience. I too adjust my breathing to my client's when applying energy work. Then I look for an improvement of circulation to the area I've focused on; which dimishes their pain, helps restore the muscle tissue, etc. Would energy work without entrainment?

Human energy can be measured in terms of work in units called joules. Of course this looks at forces acting on the human body; gravity, mass, etc. How is this related to the physiology of our internal working systems and energy exchanged?

I've always thought of my body as a polar system to someone else's; which can be very grounding. How is this related to energy work?

Keith, can you tie all this together and reduce it as well?

Erica Olson said:
I was actually thinking about entrainment on the sub-atomic level (especially with the "pacing then leading" aspect) as being a possible explanation for energy work. Could not the electromagnetic properties within our own bodies impact those of another?

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Keith Eric Grant said:
Erica Olson said:
What about the possibility of entrainment? Granted, I'm certainly not a physicist, but the concept of entrainment gave me an idea of why energy work might "work," at least for some.

I agree that entrainment is an interesting phenomenon, and may have relevance to MT. But we shouldn't confuse entrainment of biological rhythms (assuming it occurs) with 'energy.' These would be separate.

Erica, an extremely interesting point. One can either consciously or unconsciously start synchronizing with another's "rhythms", such as breathing or movement patterns. The effects can be profound. I'd, years ago, been trained in a technique of actively pacing a person's breathing pattern with a hand placed upon the chest as part of a class on Ericksonian Hypnosis and Bodywork that I took at Esalen Institute. I later found a very similar technique description in Clyde Ford's book "Compassionate Touch". An experienced practitioner is likely to start "pacing then leading" (i.e. synchronizing and then making a change) without even consciously being aware of the process. There's a short description of Erickson's use of pacing and leading in The Man Behind the Curtain.
Hi Marilyn,

Keith articulated very well why I suggested a MT with at least 10 years experience. It also seems like it takes at least 10 years to realize how much one still doesn't know rather than how much one does; which helps with humility, to listen more, and consider more variables.

Another observation, the more experience the better when collaborating with other researchers expert in their own areas; they are not a timid group, and are always pressed for time and attention. An MT on a research project has to be able to inject her expertise as well, knowing what other MT's will be looking for when reading the study after the research is completed.



Keith Eric Grant said:
Marilyn St.John said:
Just curious Robin, why the reference to 10 years of experience? Did you just choose the number of years of involvement at random, or do you have a reason?

There's an interesting rule of thumb that gaining expertise in an area takes about 10,000 hours of reflective practice. Another observation is that experts don't use the rule-based approaches that novices start with, but are much more likely to unconsciously match patterns of prior experience to current sensory input and react to them. A good health care review of this is in Benner et al.'s Expertise in Nursing Practice.
I wouldn't see a role for sub-atomic processes in any of this. The strong force, which hold nuclei together, and the weak force, which results in beta decay, are both far too short ranged. The carrier particles for both of these forces are known as is the carrier particle for the electromagnetic force. Postulating that there are other forces (basically the gradient of an energy field) would require that there be a carrier particle, requiring a substantial change to the standard model of physics. Physics experiments don't support this. Thus, we appear to be limited to the four know energy fields. Of these, the only one likely to operate at interpersonal spatial scales is the electromagnetic. I'd made some comments about the EM field and energy work in another discussion.

My comments on entrainment are on the synchronizing of oscillators. Stephen Strogatz does a nice, readable, job of covering this topic in his book Sync..Strogatz has also given a TED Talk on Synchronization.

Erica may have been thinking of entanglement rather than entrainment, but that's a very unlikely result at normal spatial scales -- a very specialized interaction of co-created particle.
Alright, so separate issues and it's late; my mind in muddled, but, what about kinetic and potential energies?

Also, what about new models? I just finished reading an article written by Bernard Barber in 1960, in which he cites many great scientists over time whose theories were rejected for many years, because they didn't fit the current models.



Keith Eric Grant said:
I wouldn't see a role for sub-atomic processes in any of this. The strong force, which hold nuclei together, and the weak force, which results in beta decay, are both far too short ranged. The carrier particles for both of these forces are known as is the carrier particle for the electromagnetic force. Postulating that there are other forces (basically the gradient of an energy field) would require that there be a carrier particle, requiring a substantial change to the standard model of physics. Physics experiments don't support this. Thus, we appear to be limited to the four know energy fields. Of these, the only one likely to operate at interpersonal spatial scales is the electromagnetic. I'd made some comments about the EM field and energy work in another discussion.

My comments on entrainment are on the synchronizing of oscillators. Stephen Strogatz does a nice, readable, job of covering this topic in his book Sync..Strogatz has also given a TED Talk on Synchronization.

Erica may have been thinking of entanglement rather than entrainment, but that's a very unlikely result at normal spatial scales -- a very specialized interaction of co-created particle.
Keith Eric Grant said:
I'd made some comments about the EM field and energy work in another discussion.

I'm sometimes a little amazed to look back and see how long ago I wrote something. But back on 7 Dec 1996, on a bodywork email list, a discussion of energy work had come up, with some references to "woo woo" work. I was feeling a bit mischievous at the time and put together a tongue-in-cheek response. Yet, if you look a level deeper, it also quite seriously reflects my thoughts on combining human electromagnetic fields with an ability to perceive them from some sort of synesthesia (mapping of one sense to another). Anyway, it matches the current discussion enough to prompt me to dig it out again.

To many current practitioners of energy work the descriptive but non-technical term "woo-woo" may seem to be disparaging. Perhaps this stems from our strong cultural bias towards visual descriptions and perceptions. Such a visual bias can be "seen" in some of the historical works published by the American Theosophical Society (http://www.theosophical.org), such as the 1927 work "The Chakras", by C.W. Leadbeater. For example, in the preface to the first edition, Leadbeater comments, "The brilliant colouring and the rapid and incessant movement of the chakras bring them immediately under his observation and he naturally wants to know what they are and what they mean." We gain from this mapping of energy experience onto the visual system descriptions of aura work in terms of balancing or purifying colors. Another very intriguing description of such visual processing from art to healing is presented in "Seeing with the Minds Eye -- the History, Techniques and Uses of Visualization", Mike Sameuls, M.D. and Nancy Samuels. However, the visual is not the only sensory form such experiences and work can take. Experiencing energy as audio or kinesthetic vibrations is also common.

In his work "Journeys Out of Body" Robert Monroe describes such sensations (also see http://www.monroe-inst.com/). Monroe describes the onset of his experiences, "As I lay there, the 'feeling' surged into my head and swept over my entire body. It was not a shaking, but more of a 'vibration', steady and unvarying in frequency. It felt much like an electric shock running through the entire body without the pain involved. Also, the frequency seemed somewhat below the sixty-cycle pulsation, perhaps half that rate.". Similar expressions of transformations to different states of consciousness involving vibration have been used by Franklin Merrell-Wolff in his journaling of his own trans formative process in 1936 in his book "Pathways Through to Space -- An Experiential Journal". Acknowledging that some people will perceive and do energy work in terms of a vibrational or audio perception opens our understanding to several terms frequently encountered in such work. Realizing that such persons will perceive such work in terms of tuning and harmonizing the chakras and aura, we can immediately understand the use of the term "attunement" Realizing that, as pre-electronic piano tuners might use a tuning fork to allow them to tune a string until the "beat-frequency" disappears, an energy worker might similarly use their own energy field as a probe to set up a similar beat frequency, allows us to further understand another term. A beat frequency, literally the manifestation of the difference between two higher frequency vibrations, will often be perceived as a 0.25-4 second modulation on top of the other modulations. To simplify, to the auditorially perceptive this will often sound like the oscillation woo -- woo -- woo -- woo.

We immediately understand why woo-woo is a nontechnical but quite descriptive term for such an auditory energy attunement process.

This is a bit behind the numerous posts but as some of you know I am currently time challenged for time.

To answer your statement:
Yes, it occurred to me that the hypothetical study we are discussing is a bit more like the Rosa study, but it's also quite different. The Rosa study was measuring the practitioners' ability to detect presence/absence of the body part, whereas here we would examine outcome.
Then you submit:
This might require every subject to place their injured limb under a screen which would prevent them from seeing whether or not they were being treated.
I submit that if the client does not know they are being treated, they have NO CONNECTION to the therapist or the treatment and therefore no energetic connection is possible, and any measurement of outcome will be void of any energy component. This method would be valid for a control group, but NOT for the treatment group which by your definition would have no energetic connection.

That model restricts connection to 'non touch' in which the treatment is independent of the client, (like magic rays). I submit the client's connection is in fact a PART of the WHOLE. Again, you cannot measure the outcome of the WHOLE or even the actual effect of a specific component by measuring the outcome of ONLY one component in this realm.

As far as your quest to measure the 'mysterious energy' that no one can define, how can a non defined (practical or mathematical) energy be separated from a process? Your criteria for measuring this energy, in effect give it a definition. To measure the outcome objectively, you cannot restrict the experiment to your definition of energy work. (detection?)

As far as a remedy for this dilemma, for a start, I would suggest a good look at the "Participant-Centered Analysis in CAM Comparative Trials" as well as Aicken-Separation Tests for Early-Phase Complementary and Alternative Medicine Comparative Trials (provided I believe, by Vlad) rather than insisting on the RCT and "Null Hypothesis Test" as the only legitimate means of testing anything. I also submit even this does not go far enough in considering factors that cannot be consistently reproduced mechanically, like pharmaceuticals.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
You have circled back to separating the part from the whole again with your control proposal.
Perhaps. In the present example, can you point specifically to where/how this is happening? And, if possible, how you would remedy it?
I'm not trying to be difficult in asking this - I really want to know your answer!

In fact this reminds me of the method used in the experiment by the 6th grader (supported by 'quackwatch') we disagreed in posts to Carl's discussion; MT Body Of Knowledge. You refer to refer to some mystical energy 'detection' which is a claim from that modality in the study, 'Healing Hands' or something like that. I don't think anyone in this discussion practices or is advocating those specific claims.

Yes, it occurred to me that the hypothetical study we are discussing is a bit more like the Rosa study, but it's also quite different. The Rosa study was measuring the practitioners' ability to detect presence/absence of the body part, whereas here we would examine outcome.
Thanks for the clarification, Robin and Keith -- sorry I missed that before. It seemed to me it was yet another variable.

Robin Byler Thomas said:
Hi Marilyn,

Keith articulated very well why I suggested a MT with at least 10 years experience. It also seems like it takes at least 10 years to realize how much one still doesn't know rather than how much one does; which helps with humility, to listen more, and consider more variables.

Another observation, the more experience the better when collaborating with other researchers expert in their own areas; they are not a timid group, and are always pressed for time and attention. An MT on a research project has to be able to inject her expertise as well, knowing what other MT's will be looking for when reading the study after the research is completed.



Keith Eric Grant said:
Marilyn St.John said:
Just curious Robin, why the reference to 10 years of experience? Did you just choose the number of years of involvement at random, or do you have a reason?

There's an interesting rule of thumb that gaining expertise in an area takes about 10,000 hours of reflective practice. Another observation is that experts don't use the rule-based approaches that novices start with, but are much more likely to unconsciously match patterns of prior experience to current sensory input and react to them. A good health care review of this is in Benner et al.'s Expertise in Nursing Practice.
Bert - hey there!
Are you saying that in order for energy work to "work" that the belief of the recipient has to be there (the belief leading to a connection)? In other words, taking blinding out of it to where the recipient knows they're getting the real McCoy has to happen when researching energy?
Just wondering....
I thought the whole point was to where the recipient didn''t know whether they were getting the real McCoy and you just measure outcomes.

Bert Davich said:
This is a bit behind the numerous posts but as some of you know I am currently time challenged for time.

To answer your statement:
Yes, it occurred to me that the hypothetical study we are discussing is a bit more like the Rosa study, but it's also quite different. The Rosa study was measuring the practitioners' ability to detect presence/absence of the body part, whereas here we would examine outcome.
Then you submit:
This might require every subject to place their injured limb under a screen which would prevent them from seeing whether or not they were being treated.
I submit that if the client does not know they are being treated, they have NO CONNECTION to the therapist or the treatment and therefore no energetic connection is possible, and any measurement of outcome will be void of any energy component. This method would be valid for a control group, but NOT for the treatment group which by your definition would have no energetic connection.

That model restricts connection to 'non touch' in which the treatment is independent of the client, (like magic rays). I submit the client's connection is in fact a PART of the WHOLE. Again, you cannot measure the outcome of the WHOLE or even the actual effect of a specific component by measuring the outcome of ONLY one component in this realm.

As far as your quest to measure the 'mysterious energy' that no one can define, how can a non defined (practical or mathematical) energy be separated from a process? Your criteria for measuring this energy, in effect give it a definition. To measure the outcome objectively, you cannot restrict the experiment to your definition of energy work. (detection?)

As far as a remedy for this dilemma, for a start, I would suggest a good look at the "Participant-Centered Analysis in CAM Comparative Trials" as well as Aicken-Separation Tests for Early-Phase Complementary and Alternative Medicine Comparative Trials (provided I believe, by Vlad) rather than insisting on the RCT and "Null Hypothesis Test" as the only legitimate means of testing anything. I also submit even this does not go far enough in considering factors that cannot be consistently reproduced mechanically, like pharmaceuticals.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
You have circled back to separating the part from the whole again with your control proposal.
Perhaps. In the present example, can you point specifically to where/how this is happening? And, if possible, how you would remedy it?
I'm not trying to be difficult in asking this - I really want to know your answer!

In fact this reminds me of the method used in the experiment by the 6th grader (supported by 'quackwatch') we disagreed in posts to Carl's discussion; MT Body Of Knowledge. You refer to refer to some mystical energy 'detection' which is a claim from that modality in the study, 'Healing Hands' or something like that. I don't think anyone in this discussion practices or is advocating those specific claims.

Yes, it occurred to me that the hypothetical study we are discussing is a bit more like the Rosa study, but it's also quite different. The Rosa study was measuring the practitioners' ability to detect presence/absence of the body part, whereas here we would examine outcome.
Add this to what Rick & Vlad said:
How are you going to factor in the difference in actual underlying tissue damage?

Rick Britton said:
I was thinking about this too. How will the various natural healing rates of patients in different states of health and of different age affect the outcome. Would you need 1000s of experiments to reduce the 'noise'?

Vlad said:
The squirrel has a couple of q's:
- Does the application of a "sham" ointment not add to the complexity of it?
- I can see how hiding the arms in boxes might make it really "blinded" but is the point not to make it like the "real world" scenario as much as possible?
- I'm with Rick on the "no touch" aspect since touch adds more complexity also. So, could it not be a blinded randomized study with a sham group of MTs, doing work off the wrists mixed with real energy workers doing their thing off the wrists. The measurements could be the speed at which swelling (circumference measurements of the wrists) and pain levels decrease?
- How much will the health of the recipients come into play? Someone that works out and looks after himself diet wise will probably heal faster than someone that doesn't. I suppose this is where numbers in the study comes into play big time, eh?

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