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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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Responding to Rick:

The point I was making was, before we even introduce an external observer, we have you as an observer. Your assertion that something, such as an injury, is present, is a type of measurement all by itself. We can consider existence vs. nonexistence to be the most basic form of measurement.

Further, if we can independently correlate your measurement with others, under controlled conditions (that part is very important, of course), we then have all the technology we could need to potentially discover the energy mechanisms present in energy work.

I went out of my way to make this point because I have so often read proponents of energy medicine asserting that the 'energy' they are using is not detectable by available technology. But we don't need any technology - if more than one single person can detect it, we have everything we need to validate its existence. The practitioners themselves can serve as the detection technology.

So, to highlight the difference in our examples - in yours, you only mention one "detector" along with an outsider to whom the detector is making reports. In my example, we would need at least two "detectors" working independently and under controlled conditions, who would give their reports to whomever was collecting the data. If the two detectors could consistently get very similar results under conditions that rule out other explanations (e.g., visual information, body language, etc.), we would have reason to believe that we are on to something.
I understand now thanks for taking the time to explain.

Certainly. Thanks for letting me know that we're on the same wavelength! As I noted, that can sometimes be difficult to do in a text forum such as this.

I would imagine that this test would fail... because the 'feelings' are extremely individual and I don't think two bodyworkers would feel in the same way


I also think such a test would fail, but for a different reason (i.e., because the form of energy being posited isn't there).

You state that the test would fail because two bodyworkers would not feel it in the same way. Why is that? Think of all the other forms of energy that we human being can sense. We can easily corroborate what we see, hear, feel, or taste, even in cases where our perceptions are somewhat different. You may like sweet foods much better than I do, or you may perceive them to be sweeter than I do, but if you and I independently eat a Snickers bar and are asked to describe what we taste (that is, to sense the energetic exchange taking place in our taste buds), I think it's safe to say we will largely agree that it is sweet, chocolaty, caramely, nutty, and perhaps a touch salty.

If we are each asked to independently describe what a stop sign looks like (sensing the activity of light energy in the fovea of our retinae), we're both likely to say it's red, flat, and octagonal. There could be some discrepancy based on our color vision, knowledge of geometry, or our previous experience with stop signs, but even still there will be a high degree of concordance between our descriptions. Why should sensing the putative energy of energy work be so different, so long as we carefully select persons who are 'tuned in' to working with it?*

*It occurs to me, just now, that what we are thinking of might be more similar to wine tasting. What I taste in wine, and what, say, Robert Parker tastes in it, are likely to be very different, because I am no wine expert and RP is. And yes, wine experts certainly can differ in their perceptions, but not totally (if they did, there would actually be no such thing as wine expertise at all). Trained wine experts will have interrater reliability between their judgments. If we want to know if a wine is astringent, or if it has a mineral flavor, wine experts making independent, blind tastings will tend to reach similar conclusions. Should we not get similar results with the energy of energy work, if the energy is their to be sensed by experts?
Now that is a very well put and interesting point....

Thanks Rick.

yes I see the analogy between wine tasting and energy work. Yep, get that. So, let's find a bunch of trained, experienced energy workers and a load of subjects and let's get testing. Simple enough lol


Yes, in theory it is pretty simple. In practice, perhaps a little more difficult, but still not that difficult. If the energy is there to be detected, and experts can detect it, we should get a reasonably high degree of agreement amongst them. And if we don't get that, we pretty much have to reject energy as an explanation for energy work phenomena. Wouldn't you agree?
Mind if I butt in here guys? I have a simpler idea for a comparison to test energy work, only because what you've decribed Rick, sounds more like what I experience as "end feel" for range of motion of a joint restriction; and knowing where to work the restriction is partly based on expertise and experience and is measureable to a certain extent. I may be missing your point Rick, and correct me if I'm wrong, but have found over the years, that it becomes difficult to distinguish between my experience and energy influence because it's all intermingled. Hopefully my defination of "end feel" is understandable?

What if we compared bruised areas on two or more people and used energy work on half the participants? Outcomes to compare would be how fast the bruising and swelling diminished. Expected outcome would be bruising and swelling goes away faster with energy work. Participants could be recruited from scheduled patient surgery with energy applied before and after.


Christopher A. Moyer said:
Now that is a very well put and interesting point....

Thanks Rick.

yes I see the analogy between wine tasting and energy work. Yep, get that. So, let's find a bunch of trained, experienced energy workers and a load of subjects and let's get testing. Simple enough lol


Yes, in theory it is pretty simple. In practice, perhaps a little more difficult, but still not that difficult. If the energy is there to be detected, and experts can detect it, we should get a reasonably high degree of agreement amongst them. And if we don't get that, we pretty much have to reject energy as an explanation for energy work phenomena. Wouldn't you agree?
Robin - by all means, butt in!

Clever idea. How would you control for the placebo effect?
Not sure; help me out here; maybe ice only, oh I know, an ointment of some kind.
Yes, my theory is those who have energy work heal faster.

com/forum/topics/skeptical-about-energy-work?
page=12&commentId=2887274%3AComment%3A55523&x=1#2887274Comment55520">
you are right, the restriction in the shin was probably end feel noticed through movement not energy... although it was a vague sensation and it was intuition that lead me there.

Yes using energy to work on bruises post op might be useful as an experiment. Do those that receive the energy work heal faster than those that don't?

I seen something similar in a fracture clinic... chinese medicine/acupuncture guy treated half the fracture patients and not the others... those treated healed and left hospital some 10 days earlier on average

Robin Byler Thomas said:
Mind if I butt in here guys? I have a simpler idea for a comparison to test energy work, only because what you've decribed Rick, sounds more like what I experience as "end feel" for range of motion of a joint restriction; and knowing where to work the restriction is partly based on expertise and experience and is measureable to a certain extent. I may be missing your point Rick, and correct me if I'm wrong, but have found over the years, that it becomes difficult to distinguish between my experience and energy influence because it's all intermingled. Hopefully my defination of "end feel" is understandable?
What if we compared bruised areas on two or more people and used energy work on half the participants? Outcomes to compare would be how fast the bruising and swelling diminished. Expected outcome would be bruising and swelling goes away faster with energy work. Participants could be recruited from scheduled patient surgery with energy applied before and after.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Now that is a very well put and interesting point....

Thanks Rick.

yes I see the analogy between wine tasting and energy work. Yep, get that. So, let's find a bunch of trained, experienced energy workers and a load of subjects and let's get testing. Simple enough lol


Yes, in theory it is pretty simple. In practice, perhaps a little more difficult, but still not that difficult. If the energy is there to be detected, and experts can detect it, we should get a reasonably high degree of agreement amongst them. And if we don't get that, we pretty much have to reject energy as an explanation for energy work phenomena. Wouldn't you agree?
Robin Byler Thomas said:
Not sure; help me out here; maybe ice only, oh I know, an ointment of some kind.

But even if 'energy' works, we don't know ahead of time if it works better or worse than those things. Also, the recipients' beliefs in those different treatments are likely to differ in ways that we can't accurately quantify.

It would be better to randomly assign all subjects to treatment and nontreatment groups, and then have blinding so that no one knows whether they've been treated or not. That would actually control for the placebo effect.

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.
Chris,
You have circled back to separating the part from the whole again with your control proposal. 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.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Robin Byler Thomas said:
Not sure; help me out here; maybe ice only, oh I know, an ointment of some kind.

But even if 'energy' works, we don't know ahead of time if it works better or worse than those things. Also, the recipients' beliefs in those different treatments are likely to differ in ways that we can't accurately quantify.

It would be better to randomly assign all subjects to treatment and nontreatment groups, and then have blinding so that no one knows whether they've been treated or not. That would actually control for the placebo effect.

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.
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.
Yes, sorry, thought the randomization and blinding were assumed based on previous comments.

Blind both groups (controls and intervention), apply a placebo cream to both groups, and energy work to the intervention group only.

Use of trained MT's, who practice energy work, and have at least 10 years experience.

OR, use of one MT group who do not practice energy work compared to a group receiving treatment from MT's who do practice energy work; with10 years experience. Holding only, no other body work applied.

Actually, Bert, for this experiment I am advocating use of energy work only; just to see simple effects of speeding up the process of bruising without any massage or other body work.

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Robin Byler Thomas said:
Not sure; help me out here; maybe ice only, oh I know, an ointment of some kind.

But even if 'energy' works, we don't know ahead of time if it works better or worse than those things. Also, the recipients' beliefs in those different treatments are likely to differ in ways that we can't accurately quantify.

It would be better to randomly assign all subjects to treatment and nontreatment groups, and then have blinding so that no one knows whether they've been treated or not. That would actually control for the placebo effect.

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.
Blind both groups (controls and intervention), apply a placebo cream to both groups, and energy work to the intervention group only.

What purpose does it serve to administer the cream to both groups?

How are you going to blind both groups, but apply energy work to one of them? Those recipients will be aware of the fact that they are receiving energy work, wouldn't they?

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