MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Reiki is a Japanese technique which, according to a proponent, … is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy…

A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. Many have reported miraculous results.

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery [my emphasis].

Many websites give much more specific information about the health effects of Reiki:

Some Of The Reiki Healing Health Benefits 

  • Creates deep relaxation and aids the body to release stress and tension,
  • It accelerates the body’s self-healing abilities,
  • Aids better sleep,
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Can help with acute (injuries) and chronic problems (asthma, eczema, headaches, etc.) and aides the breaking of addictions,
  • Helps relieve pain,
  • Removes energy blockages, adjusts the energy flow of the endocrine system bringing the body into balance and harmony,
  • Assists the body in cleaning itself from toxins,
  • Reduces some of the side effects of drugs and helps the body to recover from drug therapy after surgery and chemotherapy,
  • Supports the immune system,
  • Increases vitality and postpones the aging process,
  • Raises the vibrational frequency of the body,
  • Helps spiritual growth and emotional clearing.

With such remarkable claims being made, I had to look into this extraordinary treatment.

In 2008, I had a co-worker in my team who was (still is, I think) a Reiki healer. He also happened to be a decent scientist, and we thus decided to conduct a systematic review summarising the evidence for the effectiveness of Reiki. We searched the literature using 23 databases from their respective inceptions through to November 2007 (search again 23 January 2008) without language restrictions. Methodological quality was assessed using the Jadad score. The searches identified 205 potentially relevant studies. Nine randomised clinical trials (RCTs) met our inclusion criteria. Two RCTs suggested beneficial effects of Reiki compared with sham control on depression, while one RCT did not report intergroup differences. For pain and anxiety, one RCT showed intergroup differences compared with sham control. For stress and hopelessness, a further RCT reported effects of Reiki and distant Reiki compared with distant sham control. For functional recovery after ischaemic stroke there were no intergroup differences compared with sham. There was also no difference for anxiety between groups of pregnant women undergoing amniocentesis. For diabetic neuropathy there were no effects of reiki on pain. A further RCT failed to show the effects of Reiki for anxiety and depression in women undergoing breast biopsy compared with conventional care.

Overall, the trial data for any one condition were scarce and independent replications were not available for any condition. Most trials suffered from methodological flaws such as small sample size, inadequate study design and poor reporting. We therefore concluded that the evidence is insufficient to suggest that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition. Therefore the value of Reiki remains unproven.

But this was in 2008! In the meantime, the evidence might have changed. Here are two recent publications which, I think, are worth having a look at:

The first article is a case-report of a nine-year-old female patient with a history of perinatal stroke, seizures, and type-I diabetes was treated for six weeks with Reiki. At the end of this treatment period, there was a decrease in stress in both the child and the mother, as measured by a modified Perceived Stress Scale and a Perceived Stress Scale, respectively. No change was noted in the child’s overall sense of well-being, as measured by a global questionnaire. However, there was a positive change in sleep patterns on 33.3% of the nights as reported on a sleep log kept by the mother. The child and the Reiki Master (a Reiki practitioner who has completed all three levels of Reiki certification training, trains and certifies individuals in the practice of Reiki, and provides Reiki to individuals) experienced warmth and tingling sensations on the same area of the child during the Reiki 7 minutes of each session. There were no reports of seizures during the study period.

The author concluded that Reiki is a useful adjunct for children with increased stress levels and sleep disturbances secondary to their medical condition. Further research is warranted to evaluate the use of Reiki in children, particularly with a large sample size, and to evaluate the long-term use of Reiki and its effects on adequate sleep.

In my view, this article is relevant because it typifies the type of research that is being done in this area and the conclusions that are being drawn from it. It should be clear to anyone who has the slightest ability of critical thinking that a case report of this nature tells us as good as nothing about the effectiveness of a therapy. Considering that Reiki is just about the least plausible intervention anyone can think of, the child’s condition in all likelihood improved not because of the Reiki healing but because of a myriad of unrelated factors; just think of placebo-effects, regression towards the mean, natural history of the condition, concomitant treatments, etc.

The plausibility of energy/biofield/spiritual healing such as Reiki is also the focus of the second remarkable article that was just published. It reports a systematic review of studies designed to examine whether bio-field therapists undergo physiological changes as they enter the healing state (remember: the Reiki healer in the above study experienced ‘warmth and tingling sensations’ during therapies). If reproducible changes could be identified, the authors argue, they might serve as markers to reveal events that correlate with the healing process.

Databases were searched for controlled or non-controlled studies of bio-field therapies in which physiological measurements were made on practitioners in a healing state. Design and reporting criteria, developed in part to reflect the pilot nature of the included studies, were applied using a yes (1.0), partial (0.5), or no (0) scoring system.

Of 67 identified studies, the inclusion criteria were met by 22, 10 of which involved human patients. Overall, the studies were of moderate to poor quality and many omitted information about the training and experience of the healer. The most frequently measured biomarkers were electroencephalography (EEG) and heart rate variability (HRV). EEG changes were inconsistent and not specific to bio-field therapies. HRV results suggest an aroused physiology for Reconnective Healing, Bruyere healing, and Hawaiian healing, but no changes were detected for Reiki or Therapeutic Touch.

The authors of this paper concluded that despite a decades-long research interest in identifying healing-related biomarkers in bio-field healers, little robust evidence of unique physiological changes has emerged to define the healers׳ state.

Now, let me guess why this is so. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to come up with the suggestion that no robust evidence for Reiki and all the other nonsensical forms of healing can be found for one disarmingly simple reason: NO SUCH EFFECTS EXIST.

58 Responses to New evidence on Reiki and other forms of ‘energy/biofield/spiritual healing’

  • hi, as i have stated on many sites, i have a brother who is a “reiki master”, i am truly saddened by the FACT that so many people believe in this reiki scam, i have noticed on many sites that there are even people in the medical practice who actually believe in the reiki bullshit, the last time i saw my doctor, i asked if he believed in the reiki bullshit and to my relief he answered in the negative.i myself do not have a high education, but even i can see it as a form of pyramid selling, i often ask my brother how he sleeps at night but i guess its easy money for him as he does not have very high moral standards.as for dr M.Oz he should be ashamed of pushing this woo, no doubt this is due to the FACT that his wife is a “reiki master”.i believe and i stand corrected that mr STEVE JOBS was offered by conventional medicine a 95percent survival rate but he chose alternative medicine and we know what happened there. you would have thought that this would have been a wakeup call to the rest of the world, but its seems to have had no effect, truly sad.

  • New understandings make old Theories obsolete!
    Over years we have conducted research into the phenonm that is called Reiki. The basic results are contained within the publication of ‘What it is’.
    So you saw an add about Reiki and want to know more about,
    “What it is”.
    Most responses to that question will describe it to you as a hands on healing system. That it is not religious but is Spiritual in nature but, they can not define what Reiki really is.
    The simple answer as to What is Reiki, is ,
    “Where a person has been able to increase the vibrations of your Spiritual Energy Centres, (the Crown, Kings Crown, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and palms of both hands) to a higher vibration or level and by sealing or reversing the direction of flow with the Crown from receiving to giving, those applied vibrations are held within the Chakras”.
    The sealing of the Crown is really reversing the direction from “Receiving in” to, “Giving out” and when hands are placed over the Crown, heat is felt.
    The vibrations are held by the 4 recognised symbols individually and when written as a formula and applied, (the application is called an attunement or empowerment), from the Physical into the Energy Centres ( Chakras) of the Mental/ Emotional Body and at the completion of each Level, ( and there are 3 recognised Levels ) the Crown is sealed/ reversed.
    The practice of sealing/ reversing after the completion of each level is to ensure that with the Crown is giving out the applied vibrations that are held within the Mental/ Emotional body Chakras for life.
    The system of Reiki is not Spiritual but is 3rd , 4th and 5th dimensional as the application of the formula is applied from the Physical into the Chakras.
    There is no need for you to learn anything as you are only the recipient of the attunement/ empowerment process but it is advisable to attend workshops so as to have an idea as to how the higher vibrations can be useful to you.
    Working though the 3 recognised levels will increase the vibrations within you.

    The placing of the hands “Thumb to Thumb ” over the Crown will indicate either a flow of Energy into the Body or an awareness of Heat at the Crown. This awareness of Heat indicates that the Crown is giving out and holding the applied vibrations, if no heat exists then the Crown is open and receiving and the only way that any access to the ‘system continues is of the single vibrations of a symbol to be accessed by Harmonising.
    Reiki is very simple yet it has its complexities. It is powerful but is not complicated.
    Many will try to impose their belief pattens with claims that their protocols and procedures are what makes Reiki work, generally they don’t.
    Our though is that everybody should at least have the first level.
    The system of Reiki is an imbedded system, you hold the vibrations permanently if the Crown is sealed/ reversed, if not, the applied vibrations will in a short time fade back to the state that existed before any attunement/ empowerment was ever applied.
    Trust yourself and be aware. There are many, some suggest that at least 4m, who unfortunately claim to know all about what the system do not understand what it really is and fail with the basic test.
    Attunements cannot be applied as Distant or, into the Aura except into the Kings Crown.
    And yes the results are a hands on healing technique but that only happens after the attunement.
    Our research is ongoing and there is much more than what has been disclosed within this statement. This statement opens up the basic thread as to what really is this system called Reiki is and the method as to how to detect whether a person is holding ‘within, those applied vibrations. We are not aware of any other research that draws similar conclusions as most have no idea as to what this energy really is.
    The object behind this research is,
    New understanding make old Theories obsolete.
    The next step is up to you
    Len Thomas, The Wizard; 02 9586 2427
    Manyan.starr@hotmail.com.au
    http://www.thehouseofcalm.com

    • Oh dear.

      When you have some good evidence for all this, please make sure you come back and tell us.

      Meantime, we can continue to file reiki under ‘Total Bullshit and Quackery’.

      • The problem with working with that what is not seen is that the physical body becomes the instrument to calculate the effects. With any system what needs to be repaired is within the Mental/ Emotional body, it in this area that first holds the dis-ease and only one emotion at any level can be felt at any one time, that creates a problem in working with that dis-ease and where psychology does not create any short cure. The system of Reiki has the advantage of not being restricted to single emotions providing that the practitioner is “Giving out” with the energy and not “Receiving”, that is quoted in the original post. Reiki is a living energy, the vibrations of the Chakras (Energy Centres) has been permanently increased. In your opinion do they exist, remember they cannot be seen.

        • len said:

          The problem with working with that what is not seen…

          Scientists work every day with many things that cannot be seen. Why is this ‘reiki energy’ any different?

          • “The problem with working with that what is not seen…” this could be a candidate for the daftest comment of the week on science/medicine !

        • The problem with working with that what is not seen is that the physical body becomes the instrument to calculate the effects.

          Like in a randomised controlled trial, you mean?

        • the Reiki Sourcebook says that that chakra’s were not part of Keiki and that Chujiro Hayashi who attuned Hawayo Takata committed suicide and Hawayo Takata made stuff up as she went along. no two of her socalled masters received the same teachings or symbols. So attuned to what?? There is no history in Reiki to connect it to the chakra system and that is a fact!!!

          • Everything is vibration from the smallest partial to be biggest element which includes all that we can see.
            No we come to the argument that continues as to the system called Reiki, It is all about connecting to vibration.
            It appears that the skeptics are complaining and moaning that the system of reiki is False and Takata made it all up. Wrong.
            There are photos in existence of pre 1940 groups in Hawaii taken with Takata and they are Reiki attunement groups, given that the majority of those in the photos are of Eastern Origin.
            It was also suggested that Hayashi did not committee suicide but was the Japanese Gardner working at Takata’s house during the late 40’s into the 50’s and was during attunements.
            Unfortunately it is my opinion the Takata did not really understand what she was doing, i have a letter from Phylis Furumoto her Grand daughter that express that opinion.
            Dear Len,
            Reiki is a Japanese word for Universal Life Energy. This energy fills everything and is everywhere.
            After being initiated, it seems as though we are able to feel this energy flowing through our bodies. When I first started I felt the energy flowing into the top of my head and then down my arms and out my hands. Now I just feel it everywhere…….

            There is no explanation ……as we really don’t understand it all. Mystery is a gift of this practice……
            I hope this helps you ….if you have questions…please ask!
            Phyllis Furumoto

            Begin forwarded message:
            Entry Date: 2014-09-09 05:11 AM

            Name: len
            Email:
            Subject: What really is Reiki
            Comments: i would like to know what really is reiki, some say it is brought in through the crown and out through the hands others suggest that it is internal. I have carefully looked at your web site and cannot find any e4xplination. thanks Len

            So even the Grand Daughter of Takata could not give an explanation.

            I will give you my explanation as to what the system of Reiki really is.
            It is vibration, the recognised 4 symbols of the Reiki system hold individual vibrations and when individually held can be felt within different areas of the body, just as we can hold different vibrations of Anger, Fear, Shame etc within the Emotional body that eventually radiate into the physical body. The extent of the feeling may be hampered by the amount of negativity that is in existence within the emotional body.
            When the 4 symbols are written as a formula ( sentence) and applied through the physical into the Spiritual Energy Centres ( Chakras ) the vibrations of the selected Chakras are increased and at the end of each level a seal is applied that changes the direction of the energy flow from receiving to giving out, the vibrations are held within.
            To test that the attunement has been a success a person only has to place their hands over the Crown and if heat is apparent then the attunement has been a success.
            I can assure you that there are very few who hold that higher position and the vast majority who make claims that they have reiki do not, they fail the test even if the test is carried out from a distant healing perspective.
            Trying to explain all of what really is the system called Reiki will never be successful as to many it is impossible for them to expose themselves to the reality that everything is vibration.
            Accept the reality and we all may advance.

            I am a REIKI Master and can prove it, so can every person that I work with, believe it or not.

          • is this a spoof?

          • len said:

            Everything is vibration from the smallest partial to be biggest element which includes all that we can see.
            No we come to the argument that continues as to the system called Reiki, It is all about connecting to vibration.

            Woah!!! Between those two statements is a chasm of almost infinite width.

            But I’m not sure you know what a ‘vibration’ is. Can you explain?

          • I think I’ve found the answer to this question we keep asking Len: what is a vibration? The answer is it’s energy, see?
             
            From http://www.theholisticingredient.com/blogs/wholesome-living/13587702-8-ways-to-raise-your-vibration-your-positive-energy I learned as follows…
            “From a scientific and metaphysical perspective, you are a ‘being’ that is made up of different energy levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each of these levels have a vibrational frequency, which combine to create your overall vibration of being.
             
            Vibrations operate at high and low frequencies, and this is true for the vibrations that occur within our beings too. Lower vibrations of being are associated with disempowering thoughts, negative emotions, poor health and lack of spiritual awareness. Higher vibrations on the other hand, are associated with empowering thoughts, positive emotions, good health and strong spiritual awareness.”
             
            So if, for example, len gets hit by a train, you skeptics may say that bits of len go flying in all directions, but len knows his vibrational frequency just changed a bit.
             
            From the same source, among the 8 ways stated to “raise your vibration (your positive energy)”, nos. 3 and 4 were particularly educational.
             
            3. Be conscious of the foods you eat.
            Some foods vibrate at high frequencies, and some lower (broccoli has a high vibration as do blueberries; Big Macs don’t vibrate at all ;-). If you are consuming foods covered in chemicals and pesticides, or foods found within plastic packaging, it will leave you vibrating lower. Conversely, consume good quality organic produce, food as nature intended it, and feel the high vibrations disseminate throughout your body. Most importantly, pay attention to how eating certain foods makes your body feel.
             
            4. Drink water.
            Water is a form of energetic life force. Drinking plentiful quantities of water (filtered is best) will assist your body to flush out toxins and keep your energy levels and vibration high.
             
            In a society that seems to place higher value on smart-sounding words pulled out of literary and philosophical backsides than on educating people to comprehend how things work — and how we know how things work — I guess it’s not really surprising that this kind of mix of meaningless religio-spiritual guff, naturopathy and good-natured but utterly uninformed intentions finds favour with some. I’m off for a Big Mac.

          • Len, I can prove that I am a master of Pink Unicorn Therapy; mastery that I have gained from the personal teachings of the family of pink unicorns that live in my garden. Other people cannot see, or even sense, these pink unicorns without being properly attuned to their vibrations.

            The only means of obtaining this attunement is by attending my training courses in Pink Unicorn Therapy. My courses are tiered into seven degrees (or levels) of mastery. After achieving just the First Degree, students are empowered to practice their newly-acquired skills on their family and friends. Some students choose to charge money for providing their services — I have no problem with people receiving monetary rewards after painstakingly learning the truth then spreading it to others.

            Len, it may surprise you to learn that both Reiki and Pink Unicorn Therapy have been scientifically tested for their efficacy in curing diseases in humans and in other animals. The tests have shown that they are equally efficacious, but Reiki carries a much greater risk of causing harm (negative outcomes), therefore, we are forced to concede that my Pink Unicorn Therapy should replace Reiki as a healing modality because it has a much greater benefit-to-risk ratio.

            If you think that what I’ve written is bullshit then think again. You haven’t yet attended one of my courses on Pink Unicorn Therapy therefore you are in no position to criticize it in any way whatsoever.

          • and as he walked down the road he heard a sound behind him and he turned and saw a tree that nobody else could walking behind him, ah he thought the next time i will see a pink unicorn. After the next baileys he thought the next thought will be a thought thought with a lepricorn……………… Thanks for putting me on the straight

          • Len, my Pink Unicorn Therapy is a placebo that is equally effective and just as idiotic as the placebo called Reiki:
            “Reiki was popularized by Mikao Usui (1865-1926). After fasting and meditating for several weeks, he began hallucinating and hearing voices giving him ‘the keys to healing.'”
            http://skepdic.com/reiki.html

      • Bullshit comes out from a form of bull,bull, but don’t ask me to explain and Quackery is the responce from an animal who has no ability to experience or discus an obverses constructive alternative.Quack, Quack.

      • I am well aware of the posts and claims in Wikipedia and skeptic. What about the treatment conducted by the medical profession for stomach ulcers, for years they were coincided to be non curable until a Doctor and a Chemist in Australia proved that they could be cured with antibiotics. Those claims we denied by the majority of the medical profession. It took a concentrated effort by a small group to prove that the idea was fact, now the treatment of stomach ulcers is with antibiotics, I suppose if I search I could find numerous examples from numerous sources, not just a singular source like Wikipedia, where after long and exhaustive research treatments have changed for the better.

        • Yes, antibiotics are now a recognised treatment for some stomach ulcers.

          Now, to get back to reiki quackery… do you have any good evidence for it?

          • I have commented that the majority of those who claim to have Reiki do not. My supporting evidence is that when hands are placed over the Crown and Heat is felt the the person holds a higher vibration than can normally be expected. If now heat is felt and there seems to be a movement into the body then the person does not hold the higher vibrations of the applied attunement. The 4 recognised symbols each hold individual vibrations and when combined as a formula,(There are 6 different formula) and applied into the Spiritual Chakras and the flow of energy is changed from receiving to giving out. That is what makes it work. Not every body can perform as a spiritual healer but anybody can, if the correct procedure is used, b e capable of being a person using Reiki.

        • What about the treatment conducted by the medical profession for stomach ulcers, for years they were coincided to be non curable until a Doctor and a Chemist in Australia proved that they could be cured with antibiotics. Those claims we denied by the majority of the medical profession. It took a concentrated effort by a small group to prove that the idea was fact, now the treatment of stomach ulcers is with antibiotics,

          Why don’t you read up on matters before you write nonsense about them?
          What you are trying to make into a strawman to support your new-age fabulations is called ‘SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS’. Something that has been working for a loooong time to make the world a better place.
          When I was first learning surgery, I learned to do stomach resections and vagotomies that cured ulcers. It worked, at a cost of a large-ish open operation. Sometimes i even had to operate emergently, sometimes in the middle of the night for bleeding or perforated ulcers. Ulcers were a pain in the but of humanity. It had been since long before history began.
          I was good at it. I was proud to master this manual healing skill.
          But suddenly my skills in this area were not necessary any more. I was glad because it was good for my patients not to need surgery (most of the time). After years of careful development, Big-Pharma brought us medicines that cured ulcers by lowering the production of acid in the stomach mucosa. They were good medicines and surgery was suddenly unnecessary (most of the time). Nowadays, surgeons are seldom up at night operating perforated or bleeding ulcers.
          I was not sorry and I did not stand in the way of progress. I love my patients, you know. I want the best for my patients, not as some idiots think, that I and the rest of the medical gang are spineless zombies who move only to Big-Pharma’s commands. Those who think that are not thinking straight. Their minds are muddled.
          I had a lot of other skills to learn and master to help my beloved patients with.
          Later we got even better ulcer medicines, thanks to SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS!!!
          Then a couple of brilliant Australian scientists found out that a little bugger, now called Helicobacter Pylori (HP), was a causal agent behind stomach inflamation and most ulcers. They found this out by SCIENTIFIC PROCESS.
          Of course this radical discovery was at first met with healthy skepticism. Caution and care is part of the process of progress in the real world. If we do not apply rational and critical thinking to every new discovery and make sure we confirm its utility, then any bugger with a barmy idea can come and claim to have Mojo. They can start fooling people (people are easily fooled, especially those who think they have Mojo that works). This is not good in medicine because most barmy ideas do not work.
          Alas, many buggers manage to fool themselves completely and their gullible clients totally. Rational thinking is for some reason not a skill everyone is endowed with in measurable quantities.
          But it did not take long until the medical community was convinced that the HP “Mojo” worked and thereby it became mainstream medicine.

          And try as I like,
          A small crack appears
          In my diplomacy dike.
          “By definition”, I begin
          “Alternative Medicine”, I continue
          “Has either not been proved to work,
          Or been proved not to work.
          Do you know what they call “alternative medicine”
          That’s been proved to work?
          Medicine.”

          From “Storm” by Tim Minchin
           
          All the ingredients of real, effective medicine were there. There was a detectable (albeit with microscope) agent. There was a plausible mechanism of pathogenesis. We could discern how the bug irritated the tissues by breaking down urea and so forth. We saw dependably repeatable results.
          To speed up the scientific process, one of the brilliant and brave scientists even offered himself to prove that the bug was transferable, thereby proving that Koch’s third postulate applied as well as the other three.
          It WORKED!!!
          And HP infection was treatable with medications. We happily prescribed the multi-medicine cocktail necessary because patients got better and ulcers stopped waking us at night and cancer of the stomach diminished and the world was a better place to live in… thanks to PROGRESS made possible by scientific process!!
          We later got better medicines and managed to deal with resistant strains and so forth.
          Now I look for HP whenever it is indicated and I have a lot of grateful friends (previously ‘patients’) who thank me for using effective medicine (usually three together), which CURES them. This is called ‘MEDICINE’.
           
          I do not need a Reiki-something to help me. I do not need someone waving hands, chanting to the “Universe” or whatever they call it and putting silly coloured pieces of glass on the patients belly button by candlelight.
          My “Mojo” works – man!
          Your Mojo doesn’t work. You just think it does. It lacks all of the necessary ingredients.
          A nine year old showed that blinding the hand-waver made the Mojo go away. Your Mojo only ‘seems’ to work for those who believe in it (=are fooled) – That’s not good enough for bugs and dis(-)eases.
           
          Capiche?!

          PS.
          I have to stop getting all upset and verbose when I see healthcare make-believe.
          It makes my fingers dance on the keyboard and I spend too much valuable time typing out my sentiments. Perhaps I am mostly preaching to the choir?
          The “altie crowd” usually take no heed anyway. It also feeds the trolls 😛
          But who is to protect the gullible from the even more gullible ones with a healing-addicton?
          Who is to explain to them that the claptrap some people drag in here is no good?
           
          My hope is at least that it helps those stopping by in search of knowledge 🙂

          • I do not have any problems with any ranting because when we sit down and evaluate what is in the product of the fast fingers as what some suggest is rubbish. After it was finally accepted what was presented as a different approach to the Ulcer Problem which was the result of numerous experiments I would agree with the acceptance of your help in conducting experiments into to what is unseen but is understand by some who accept the feeling that they experience. From my presentation you may observe that I have discussed the possibility that the majority of those who claim to have in fact do not.

          • From my presentation you may observe that I have discussed the possibility that the majority of those who claim to have in fact do not.

            AKA the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

          • @len
            From my ‘presentation’ (try to read through it again) I hope you may observe that you are wrong. Ulcers were not incurable before. They just became more and better cureable as scientific process ensured progress. The discovery of cures for ulcers did not begin with HP.
            Please try to write about things you know at least a little about. Or at least study before you come out with untrue arguments and risk that others think you are a fool.

          • Barry Marshall and Robin Warren
            It is not just that they are this year’s noble Nobel Prize- winners in medicine, they are also shining examples of that glorious and possibly rather rare condition called the open mind.
            Of course, most of us would like to believe we are similarly blessed: open to fresh ideas, eager to see situations objectively and creatively, able to shed the limitations of outworn theories. But are we?
            Marshall and Warren’s brilliance was to resist and transcend assumptions that had hardened into facts.
            Their colleagues “knew” that stomach ulcers were caused by stress or excess gastric acid. That is what they had been taught. That is what they had learned to “see”.
            Marshall and Warren persistently and stubbornly questioned this. But even when they had begun to treat patients with stomach ulcers successfully with antibiotics, on the basis that the ulcers were caused not by stress but by treatable bacteria, many of the scientific minds around them remained closed and defensive.
            This is not because those doctors were against medical progress, we can assume.
            Nor is it likely that they wished their suffering patients to be anything but well. But they – like almost all the rest of us – were seemingly reluctant to shift in any real way the familiar parameters of their thinking.
            What they had been “seeing” was incorrect. They would now have to see and understand
            things differently. This can be uncomfortable as well as unwelcome. (If we have seen this incorrectly, where does it leave us in regard to the rest of our certainties?) Yet it is exactly that ability to question what seems self-evident that opens the door to new ideas and occasionally new conclusions and even cures as brilliant as this one.
            Science – and all other disciplines – relies on this kind of inventive, open mind for progress. Yet a great deal of scientific teaching and certainly much of the practice that flows from it stultifies this kind of thrilling inventiveness, and the raw curiosity
            that drives it, in favour of what is known, tried and “true”.
            Few of us will find our professional assumptions turned over as dramatically as they were in this instance. But the general lessons about how blinkered we can easily become are there. Only a day or so after this Nobel news came through, I saw an item on television where an experienced naturopath had treated with dietary supplements a four-year-
            old child for his skin irritations and nervous tension. Incidentally, the child’s symptoms of autism had noticeably lessened. He was easier to be with and was making better social
            contact. But when the medical doctor on the show was asked what she thought of this, she could speak only from her own model. She would have used occupational and speech therapy to address his autism, she said. What struck me was how well-meaning she
            was, yet how lacking in curiosity about this powerful and touching “secondary gain” – the naturopath wasn’t treating his autism directly – perhaps because it emerged from a way of looking different from her own.
            Curiosity, instinct and open-mindedness are qualities that we would like all our health practitioners to have, as well as all our scientists, politicians, teachers, media and
            people of influence. But we need collectively to encourage this. It takes nerve and courage to maintain the crucial degree of uncertainty that pushes us to re-examine what seems “obvious”. It takes will and drive to push from the known (or assumed)
            into the unknown.
            Whether our certainties are religious, economic, scientific, political or psychological or any other kind, they can easily harden. What we believe absolutely shapes our vision. As long as we are convinced the earth is flat, that’s what we will see. Questioning our beliefs and assumptions can seem threatening to our very sense of who we are. But that doesn’t
            make it less urgent – or essential. ¦

            OCTOBER 29, 2005

          • Len, the usual response to the demand for open minds is that you shouldn’t open them so far that your brains fall out.
            You’re quite right that Marshall and Warren’s discovery of Helicobacter pylori as a cause of peptic ulcer was transformational and revolutionary. You’re quite right that it was a triumph of science over traditional thought: dogma, even. And you’re quite right that the beauty of science is that it ultimately wins through against erroneous dogmas with an ever more accurate view of reality via self-correction. But…
            Underlying the H. pylori discovery was a basis of robust, good quality research. For a long time nobody understood how the deeply erosive peptic ulcer lesions originated. Understanding the biological (and, more recently, the molecular) mechanisms of disease pathogenesis has been the major transformative basis of medical research since at least the 19th century. It’s not just peptic ulcer: remember that until Pasteur and Koch, there was no comprehension of microbes as causes of any disease. But nobody could deny the reality of the ulcers. You can see them, measure elevated gastric urease activity and make a clear, unambiguous diagnosis.
            The notion that helically shaped bacteria might live in the stomach and might be a cause of ulcers goes back a long way before Marshall and Warren —to the 19th century, in fact. (I don’t usually leap to Wikipedia as a source, but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_peptic_ulcer_disease_and_Helicobacter_pylori is a good summary article, with all the primary references.) Marshall and Warren did their studies spurred by a growing number publications linking stomach bacteria to ulcers in the late 1970s. While their work included testing antibiotic therapy as an ulcer cure, the true basis of their fame was the fact that they became the first to grow H. pylori in a Petri dish. They combined several threads of reproducible observations into a convincing piece of evidence
            You seem to be claiming that scientists should pay more attention to anecdotal cures (your story of the naturopath and the autistic patient). That’s absolutely fine. But the next step from an anecdote about a cure of any disease is to construct a scientific experiment to ensure that the cure resulted from the treatment and not from the many other factors that can cause people to get better: spontaneous resolution of disease, regression of symptoms to the mean, etc. Unless there is hard evidence, ideally from more than one perspective, to associate a clinical response to a specific factor or factors, then there is no prima facie reason to follow up the anecdote any further.
            In your own case you come along with a tale about Reiki as a kind of universal cure for everything, and in support you spout a lot of erudite-sounding, hand-waving, out-of-this-world guff that dodges reality at every twist and turn. Where’s your equivalent of the visible ulcer? Where’s the equivalent of elevated gastric urease? Where are the equivalents of bacteria visible in sections, capable of culture in vitro? What exactly do you mean when you talk about Spiritual Centres? Where are they? What is spirituality? How do you measure it reproducibly? What do you mean when you talk of “vibrations”? (Do you understand the meaning of the word?) What are Chakras and how do you measure them? Where’s the evidence for any single thing you talk about?
            I’m sorry, Len, I’m sure you believe every word you post, but please don’t compare yourself and your ideas with Marshall and Warren. You’re babbling in a manner suggestive of delusion, not sensibly, step by step, making reproducible observations and progressively building up a body of evidence to support a novel hypothesis in the way they did.

          • Unfortunately I am not in any position to be able to demonstrate the evidence that leaks down from the Emotional into the physical into those who create word arguments. What I mean is that there is no way that any form of demonstration can be arranged so I will stick to my assumptions that Reiki as a form does exist but that those who have and maintain that connection are few in number.

    • Len, does it never cause you sleepless nights when you realize that excess vibrations from the seventh dimension caused by the Chakras from the highest beings misenergizing Reiki masters’ thumbs into receiving in, instead of giving out heat that melts the aura around the King’s Crown cause the whole Reiki practice here in the dimension of reality to appear like horseshit?

      • The short answer is “No”, in fact I feel quite rejunivated from the living energy that is the result of the connection.

        • What is “living energy”, as distinct from normal everyday energy that can be measured and follows the Laws of Physics? You know, the energy you use through the application of the Laws of Physics when you turn on a light, drive your car, use a phone, cook dinner, ride a train, or any of the countless other ways “normal energy” is put to use?
          `
          How did you escape from school without learning something about the way the world actually works?

  • Here is a credible clinical trial of distance Reiki.
     
    Perhaps they should try again after dark and remember to pull out the antenna??

    • What is called ‘Good Evidence’, everybody is entitled to their opinion but only after they have some experience with what is described. Participation with anything can be described as evidence, within my experience I find that very few of the many who claim to have any connection with the phenom called Reiki really do, in the post I describe how to identify the few who can. Scepitics are entitled to have an opinion but only after they have had some experience with any subject that they comment about. I did stste within the document a method as to how to test for a connection.

      • hi len, my brother is a reiki master and he practiced reiki on me,do i qualify in your eyes as a person who has experienced reiki? my experience simply put is as follows, either you are so delusional in your belief in reiki, by that i mean you blindly believe in it or worse you are like my brother in that you know its a load of rubbish but are quite happy to take money from people in return for nothing.no reiki did nothing for me, i felt nothing, all i could see was my brother waving his arms around like an idiot but i will admit he makes very good money by acting like an idiot.after he showed me his bank statement maybye he is not an idiot.

    • Maybe we should bring back “Nork and Mindy”

  • Wow!! How closed minded you people are, and quite cruel, no wonder why Reiki is not acceptable to you, you are all ignorant to what you can’t see, what you just must satisfy your ego to have proof, you will not ever see being cruel as a block to the real truth, you will live out your days in karmic tragedy, you all are just so foolish and mean and ignorant. No love among any of you, no kindness. May you find your bliss in your illusions and your loneliness. But I hope all of you sad children in your miserable existences find your places in this world that makes you happy and content, and stop criticizing those who have found theirs. Stay Blessed!! May you all find your peace within.

    • The Earth is Flat and you fall of the edge, the Earth is the centre of the Universe and Dragons stalk the Earth and the moon is made of Green Cheese, What else is there to say.

      Wake up gooses,

      There is more to the existence.

      • It must be wonderful to know you have superior knowledge and insights of the world compared to the rest of us. Is there any chance you could share it with us in English instead of unexplained and incomprehensible gibberish?

        • FrankO, Excuse my lack of dexterity, but Len’s comments have always made me wonder if they are designed for the sole purpose of further observing the effects of Poe’s law.

          • Yes, I see what you mean. But from everything he’s posted, I think len (he uses the lower case ‘l’ — a curiosity suggesting something splendidly optical in the plural) is a genuine case of extreme self delusion. He has a great sense of humour, but he keeps coming back to suggest that we’re all missing the way the history of science relegates entrenched dogmas to the status of nonsense over time. He seems to imagine he has some sort of enlightened view of the way things truly are, but we require mystical insights, with words that make no rational sense, to comprehend the new truth. There are many people out there who do the same thing from deeply held belief and I can’t distinguish the real from the sham.
             
            But dear old Occam is more on your side, not mine. So I’ll accept that len is a Poe and cease reacting.

          • It is not a matter of having superior knowledge. It is not like those who doubt everything and live in a compound surrounded by twin rows of Razor Wire or when their Cows come home they find the gate padlocked.

            Knowledge is heavy, it is the wise who have an understanding and that has applied throughout History.

            Who invented electric current the way that it is used to-day,

            Who invented the radio,

            Who in recorded History designed an areoplane, a tank.

            When my cows come home the gate is open to receive them and to listen to any knowledge that they may have picked up.

            And yes there are people who hold higher vibrations.

          • FrankO, perhaps this special case of Occam’s razor is applicaple: Hanlon’s razor
            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

          • @Pete Attkins
            Love it! Had never encountered Hanlon’s razor before. It ties nicely with Dunning and Kruger.

    • Ignorant of what? Please tell us.

    • White Lotus is a perfect example of all that is unsound in the minds of believers of this sort of nonsense: rambling, incoherent prose; ad hominems; references to karma; nonbelievers being “sad” people; religious references; this post has it all.
      `
      It scares me to witness such delusion and realise people like her walk around, indistinguishable from rational human beings.

      • I’ll add len to that list.

      • Belief systems, especially sCAM and New Age self-improvement, have tenets and methods that are alternative to evidence- and science-based knowledge systems. They rely heavily on tenets that cannot be scientifically tested: this future-proofs the belief systems thereby ensuring their sustainability, adaptability, and expandability. This is a robust business model.

        The British philosopher Stephen Law has explained how people get sucked into these belief systems, which are “intellectual black holes” of “claptrap”, and why it is so difficult to escape.
        http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028160.200-a-field-guide-to-bullshit.html

    • May you find your bliss in your illusions and your loneliness.

      White Lotus

      You appear to have mistaken your mirror for a window.

      • You appear to have mistaken your mirror for a window.

        Narcissism seems to be a prevalent personality trait in many of our alt-med-adoring commentators. Especially the one’s who subscribe to the new-age kind of quackery. Even some of the local trolls who seem to thrive on smugness and silly remarks, must be driven by a narcissistic need for self-satisfaction.

        The concept of the narcissistic personality (-disorder?) seems to explain many of the strange phenomena we see coming from these characters.

  • Apologists for “vibrations”, “vibrational energy”, and/or “vibrational medicine”, especially Reiki and other forms of ‘energy/biofield/spiritual healing’, have answered our repeated requests to explain their term “vibration(s)” by posting responses that Alan Henness has correctly identified as being “gobbledegook”.

    However, describing the various replies to our repeated requests as being gobbledegook/abject nonsense/delusional has, at best, zero explanatory power to all readers of Edzard’s post who haven’t yet decided whether or not to try these forms of alt-med. Undecided readers will likely view our responses as being dogma-based ad hominem attacks on any/all proponents of alt-med. Although we understand that science is not dogma-based, the general public does not trust this epistemic truth, simply because some scientists turn out to be frauds supporting their hidden agendas.

    The apologists I’m referring to write their gobbledegook for the sole purpose of promoting their own hidden agendas, which is to make their alternatives to science and reason far more alluring than is ‘boring primary and secondary school science education’ to the people who are undecided over which way to turn in order to obtain a better quality of life.

    The term “gobbledegook” correctly describes the content of the comments written by alt-med apologists, but this term is wholly inadequate for describing their comments in terms that are useful to curious readers who happen to stumble across Edzard’s article. A far better term to convey both the gobbledegook and its underlying motivation is “wilful obscurantism” — using this term opens, rather than shuts down, the minds’ of the curious.

    Harshly criticising the writers of abject bullshit usually results in the backfire effect rather than the desired outcome:
    http://skepdic.com/backfireeffect.html
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Backfire_effect
    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

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