MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Yesterday, I received this email from my favourite source of misleading information.

Here it is

Dear Friend,

We wanted to tell you about an unprecedented event that you won’t want to miss: the world’s largest Peace Intention Experiment that’s ever been conducted, webcast FREE on GAIA TV from September 30-October 5. It’s being hosted by Lynne McTaggart. You may know Lynne as the editor of WDDTY as well as books like THE FIELD, THE INTENTION EXPERIMENT, and her new book, THE POWER OF EIGHT. But she’s also architect of The Intention Experiments, a series of web-based experiments inviting thousands of her worldwide readers to test the power of thoughts to heal the world. Lynne has run numerous Peace Intention Experiments around the world – all with positive effects – but this time, she’s targeting America, in hopes of lowering violence and helping to end the country’s polarized society. These webcasts will be broadcast around the world, and best of all, they’re FREE for anyone to participate in. You’ll be joining tens of thousands of like-minded souls from around the world taking part in a LIVE Intention Experiment, and a team of prestigious scientists will monitor the effects…

END OF QUOTE

I must admit that I have been worried about world peace in recent months. One lunatic with nuclear power is enough to scare any rational thinker – but it seems, we currently have two!

After reading about Lynne’s experiment, I am not less but more worried.

Why?

Because, as far as I can see, she always gets things badly wrong.

139 Responses to Lynne McTaggart and world peace – something to worry about!!!

  • Dr. Ernst, I have been hoping that you would not discover the energetic areas of the power of emotion, thought energy, heart field energy, prayer, and intention, particularly in their application to healing, as they will cause you much annoyance and distress. These areas do not fit into the pervasive, mechanistic Newtonian worldview.

    Demonstrating the power of intention is now old science. Demonstrating its effect on peace and healing are also old. I doubt if anyone still demonstrates the Maharishi Effect, for example, as it has been done so, so many times. Distance healing with intention is ancient knowledge in fact, and modern science is now catching up with the advent of quantum science discoveries.

    A lot of research has been going on, certainly since the year 2000, and including by the US / Russian / Chinese Military, on the power and effect of human consciousness (thoughts, intentions, etc.) on reality, including at great distances. Indeed, the effect has been shown so often over the years that there seems to me to be little point of doing any more such experiments. Lynne McTaggart is just one of many people in this area.

    If you like what some of your readers will call “robust science”, then look up the work of Dr. William Tiller (https://www.tillerinstitute.com/) who has shown how intention can do remarkable things even at great distances.

    “For the last four hundred years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call ‘physical reality.’ Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct. We humans are much more than we think we are and Psychoenergetic Science continues to expand the proof of it.” Dr. Tiller

    Nowadays, many people have a mechanistic worldview which excludes energy, so they cannot accept the effect of consciousness on reality, even though they experience it. As for myself, I have seen and taken advantage of its effect so many times that I don’t need any “robust” scientific experiments to prove it to me. It’s a part of everyday life.

    • What a very sad post! It seems that ‘Psychoenergetic Science’ is a term that replaces worn out old bromides about ‘psychic phenomena’, ‘parapsychology’, ‘psychokinesis’, ‘the paranormal’, ‘spiritualism’ and many more. Just how much reality checking does it take for people to accept that our minds fool us into imagining all sorts of delusions: that we should not automatically trust the evidence of our subjective senses because they are remarkably easy to fool.

      Peter McAlpine solemnly tells us “A lot of research has been going on, certainly since the year 2000, and including by the US / Russian / Chinese Military, on the power and effect of human consciousness (thoughts, intentions, etc.) on reality, including at great distances.” He’s obviously never read Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare At Goats (just for starters) to see the hilarious irony of this claim. It’s not just since the year 2000 this sort of research has been going on, for Pete’s sake (pun intended)! It dates back well into the 19th century and probably earlier, and the fact that the military has wasted a shedload of public money on it is evidence that the term ‘military intelligence’ is an oxymoron. There’s a simple problem: it’s all been research without any measurable or definable outcome, because the concept of ‘mind over matter’ (to call a spade a spade) is pure tripe.

      “I doubt if anyone still demonstrates the Maharishi Effect, for example, as it has been done so, so many times.” Please provide plausible evidence to support this contention.

      McAlpine links to the website of William Teller, who has “shown how intention can do remarkable things even at great distances”. Yet the link leads to a website seemingly devoid of “what some of your readers will call ‘robust science’”: just videos from a totally deluded individual. Mr. McAlpine, you really need to learn what ‘evidence’ is all about. “As for myself, I have seen and taken advantage of its effect so many times that I don’t need any “robust” scientific experiments to prove it to me.” Yes, that’s self-evident from your comment: you’re expressing a firmly held belief; one that’s been debunked so many times I’ve lost count.

      Please, if you’re going to join in a conversation with grown-ups, will you resist the temptation to cite “quantum science” in a comment. You’re lowering yourself to the level of people like Deepak Chopra who persistently throw around ‘quantum woo’ in support of their absurd beliefs. Your “pervasive, mechanistic Newtonian worldview” is also known as ‘reality’. Quantum physics and general relativity — and, for that matter, “energy” in its proper sense — form part of that reality, but they represent aspects of knowledge that are clearly at a higher altitude than your vivid imagination.

  • I like this blog in a morbid sort of way, at least for now. It seems to be inhabited by some people with a firmly closed mind, particularly to the invisible side of reality; who clearly don’t want to find out if perhaps they are not aware of some knowledge about the world and indeed the universe; and who have a propensity to insult others who have a different viewpoint.

    Frank, you should feel ashamed of yourself that you have to call me by inference a child and a fanciful thinker lacking intelligence. just because I, from experience, and science, from discoveries, are aware of something, which you are not. To use your words, “What a very sad post!”

    • @PA: It is fantastic, perhaps a miracle (?) that some contributors like yourself have access to the “invisible side of reality”! My God I’ve been searching for you my whole life!! Finally I can let go of the Bible, Dianetics, the Koran and Mein Kampf !!
      Just keep posting I have a lot of questions apparently only you will be capable of answering.

    • …just because I, from experience, and science, from discoveries, are aware of something, which you are not.

      Please post this evidence and I’ll delight in being made aware. Please also note that your original post suggests you don’t have a clue what constitutes evidence.

      PS: don’t cop out by saying folk who comment here “would rather be rude, insulting, or sarcastic instead”. Rudeness and a feeling of insult are subjective, and sarcasm is a legitimate response to people who make ridiculous claims (that’s the source of the verb “to ridicule”). Provide some form of objectively verificable evidence and I’ll be the first to nominate you for the Nobel Prize.

  • It seems that I have arrived at a Forum where people have no idea that reality is more than what they can touch and see, or what a corporation sells. A forum where people have never heard about the energy emitted by thoughts or the heart, or by intentions, feelings, and emotions. But more than that, a forum where people have no interest in knowing about this or learning something new, and would rather be rude, insulting, or sarcastic instead. Hence my morbid interest in this Forum – for now.

    • I hope it’s not just ‘for now’!
      you are priceless!!!

    • Adult human brain energy is circa 20 joules per second, 20 watts. Yes, this is the energy consumed by, and emitted by thoughts, intentions, feelings, emotions, and dreams. Most of the energy falls within the long-wavelength infrared region of 10 μm; frequency region of 30 THz; individual photon energy level in the region of 120 meV. The main source of its energy is glucose. Of course, the brain controls muscles therefore thoughts can, indirectly, generate a mechanical power output of several hundred watts.

      • Some of this information is factual. Don’t know about the values supplied, but yes, the main source of energy is, of course, glucose.

        How do you think the brain controls the muscles?

        • It’s all factual and the ballpark band-centre values are correct. The power output from the brain which is used to control muscles is very small. Muscles are amazing ‘power amplifiers’: their feedback and control system is pulse rate modulation, which gives the system a high level of immunity to external interference from electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields — the opposite of linear systems such as audio amplifiers, analogue radio and television. IOW, the system is immune to the undetectable ‘energy’ claimed by the pedlars of woo.

          • Zounds…! Yes, indeed. For a moment there, I was filled with encouragement that Peter McAlpine had access to such factual information and I wondered what kind of misunderstanding he had in his mind, provided this information usually stems from genuine experience in the relevant fields.

            But… no. It was not Peter, it was Pete! Haha, I am sorry Mr. Attkins, I was so dumbfounded with the beliefs of Peter McAlpine that I missed the difference in the post name after the first couple of letters. Of course, my post was addressed to Peter McAlpine and not to you, so I apologize, mostly for using the word “think” there.

            I assume you refer to pulse frequency modulation, right? Yes, this is a majestic mechanism that evolution has ended up employing. The problem with people without a slight background, even in simple physics, electromagnetism, and/or some biology, listen to “energy emitted by thoughts etc.” and begin to imagine things. I think a distinction has to be made at this point. It is a well established reality that some effects can be sensed even at incredibly small “amplitudes”, such as the magnetic field of the earth or a very small electrical potential. And in all of these cases, we are talking about sensory perception. This means that the external stimulus does not cause anything other than a sensation. Sharks are EXTREMELY sensitive to small changes of electric potential (see Ampullae of Lorenzini), for example. But even that effect-from-a-distance does not have any special effect on their bodies other than simple perception. No healing involved!

            This is to say, to Peter McAlpine, that the reality is that this “energy” of thoughts generates, at best, enough of an effect for a nearby (or even faraway) shark to know that you are there swimming. This is as close as the power of intention (mediated by “brain energy”) can bring you (provided of course that you don’t do anything but stay put and think) with respect to an effect at a distance. The Maharisi effect is, of course, plain wishful thinking

          • No problem, James.

            I prefer the term “pulse rate modulation” to “pulse frequency modulation” because, in the areas of applied science with which I’m most familiar, the term frequency definitively means: the fundamental periodic frequency of a rotating phase vector, measured in hertz (Hz). Examples: the carrier frequency of a radio station; the musical note A above middle C has a fundamental frequency of 440 Hz (using Stuttgart pitch). Whereas, pulse repetition rates are measured in units of pulses per second, and pulses are not a rotating phase vector per se.

            I agree with you that animals have sensors — some of which are extremely sensitive, such as eyes, ears, and the electric field sensor array of some sharks — and the output from the sensors produce sensations in the brain. We also know the result of applying an external field which has sufficient field strength to affect the body of the animal: an electric eel can heel a fish, but not heal a fish 🙂

            It is extremely easy to fool people who do not have a thorough understanding of science and mathematics from first principles, simply by using science-y sounding rhetoric combined with less-than-obvious logical fallacies, especially, the obfuscated deployment of the fallacy of division and the fallacy of composition. Here’s an example…

            Electroencephalography (EEG) uses very sensitive electrodes to record electrical activity of the brain. These signals are tiny, therefore, the brain uses, and is sensitive to, tiny electric fields. The subtle energy used in Reiki etc. likewise influences the body and mind of the client.

            It’s difficult to argue against that unless one is familiar with the process that produces the EEG signals on the scalp. Each electrode is detecting the highly-attenuated, integrated, non-equally weighted summation of vast numbers of neurons. This process is non-reversible! For the same reason that y=a+b+c can be used to generate y from the values of a,b,c, but for any given value of y, it is impossible to generate meaningful values of a,b,c.

        • So Pete, you’re claiming that human brain energy (thoughts, intentions, feelings, emotions, dreams, muscle control) is detectable and measurable. You’re also claiming that the feedback and control system for muscle control has immunity to external interference.

          How about thoughts, intentions, feelings, etc? Same immunity?

          • jm, I wasn’t claiming anything; I was explaining some of the science using the internationally-agreed SI units of measure. Unlike pedlars of woo, I do not twist the meanings of mathematical and scientific terminology to make a point or a counter-argument.

            Please read my reply to James on Monday 18 September 2017 at 11:07 because it sets the foundation for the following…

            My intention is to type the letter “t” enclosed in double quotes. The readers can clearly see the empirical evidence that my brain did indeed translate my intention into a sequence of operations, which it loaded into my motor cortex; that I did not exercise my power of veto during the narrow time window between the loading and the execution of those operations; and that the feedback and control system of the appropriate muscle groups carried out the sequence of operations with sufficient accuracy to complete the task.

            The mechanism from which my intention arose, the mechanism by which that intention was surfaced from my subconscious mind into my conscious mind as a thought, and the mechanism by which that was translated into muscle movements, are electro-chemical processes and mechanisms. Therefore they generate electrical signals which can be measured either, directly using invasive electrodes, or indirectly and much less precisely using non-invasive electrodes. Furthermore, the approximate brain regions used for the task can be mapped using fMRI.

            Hopefully the readers will understand from the above that an intention does produce measurable electrical activity and measurable changes in blood flow (fMRI) in the brain. And that an intention and/or a thought results from the same underlying processes and mechanism. But terminology and semantics are crucially important to understanding and communication. E.g., to say that an intention or a thought is electro-chemical activity is a category error because there are so many examples of electro-chemical activity which do not produce intentions or thoughts. E.g., switching on an electric kettle does not cause the kettle to think about the steps required to boil water.

            Pedlars of woo rely heavily on semantic filibustering, category errors, and other forms of misdirection including the usage of dictionary definitions of words instead of the internationally-agreed definitions of terminology.

            The International System of Units initiative began in 1948 and was first published in 1960. At the macroscopic scale, the unit of energy is the joule, at the microscopic scale it is the electronvolt (~1.6E−19 joules). Energy has fundamental relationships with other quantities: frequency; wavelength; mass; charge; momentum; temperature; time; distance. And of course, it cannot propagate faster than the speed of light.

            Whenever we see a claim along the lines of “Well, science doesn’t know everything…” then we know for sure that it is the claimant who does not, and doesn’t want to, understand science and mathematics from first principles.

          • Pete said that the feedback and control system was immune to external electromagnetic fields.
            Obviously thoughts etc are not immune to influences external to the brain. Those influences originate in and are mediated by physical processes.

            Wishing people would think and behave the way you would like them to behave isn’t going to make it happen all by itself. There’s no external energy involved in mere wishing. To experience and to communicate a thought requires energy. Real energy, not the imaginary kind, which is nothing but wishful thinking.

            Ah, I see that Pete replied whilst I was writing this…

          • Pete,

            When you said “which gives the system a high level of immunity to external interference from electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields” it was in connection to muscles. I was simply asking if you were just using that as an example, or if the same mechanism applied to everything else you were talking about.

            I used the word ‘claim’ because I have no interest in verifying what you’re saying. I’ll happy to take your word for it. I should have chosen a different word, because just typing the word ‘claim’ seems to influence your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 😃

          • Leigh,

            Totally agree with you. Not sure why you brought up ‘wishing’ and ‘imaginary energy’. I have no interest, nor did I mention, either. It seems that you were wishing I was talking about things imaginary, but your wishing doesn’t seem to have edited my comment. Maybe try wishing harder…? 🙂

            Assuming that Pete is accurate, he did a really nice and clear job of explaining qi (and some other traditional concepts) and how to measure it (them). But, that’s if you use the agreed upon traditional understanding of the terms. Not the fanciful, magical definitions used on this site. Other sites too – I don’t mean to imply that this site has the market on magical thinking. It’s much easier to stick with ‘magic’ than to do the work necessary to understand the terms.

            And, understanding traditional terms apparently isn’t necessary to evaluating research. So why waste the time and effort?

          • Wishful (imaginary) energy is McTaggarts trade. That’s what this thread is about.

            The claim that the traditional meaning of the term “qi” is identical to the modern term “energy” as defined by the unit of measurement “joule” is beyond fanciful. Farcical would be closer to it.

          • jm,

            My apologies to you, and thank you for being happy to trust my technical writing. As I’m sure you know by now, I try my utmost to avoid making technical/scientific errors, and when I do spot a scientific error in one of my statements or calculations then I post a comment with the correction.

            The high level of immunity to external interference I wrote about applies to the neurological systems of the body: brain; nerves; sensors; motors (muscles); and the autonomic nervous systems: the sympathetic nervous system; the parasympathetic nervous system; and the enteric nervous system. I think it fair to say that these systems pretty much determine how we think, feel, and act. The whole system generates in our conscious mind our extraordinarily convincing sense of “self”: the “me, myself, I”; the master of ceremonies who orchestrates our focus of attention, our thoughts, and our actions. The neurological systems also generate our emotions, but emotions are generally either not controllable by our “self”, or very difficult to bring under control.

            Of course, there’s far more to living entities than just neurological systems — plants don’t have neurological systems! So, do the biological systems within the entity also include mechanisms that have a high level of immunity to external interference from electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields? The answer seems to be a resounding “Yes!” when we delve into their microscopic-scale inner workings using the discretized domains of quantum mechanics, rather than the continuous domains of classical mechanics. Discretized domain outcomes/effects cannot be explained using classical mechanics in which the equation energy=power×time and its rearrangements are commutative within the continuous domain of outcomes/effects.

            I’ll use an analogy to explain what is happening at the microscopic scale. Suppose I throw you a tennis ball which travels at 2 mph. It doesn’t have enough energy to harm you; and if I throw you one million of these tennis balls during you life they do not have enough individual or a combined total energy to harm you physically. But, if we are hit in a vital area of our body by just one tennis ball travelling at 1,000 mph, it has enough energy to kill us, even though its energy is much lower than the total energy of one million balls travelling at 2 mph.

            You replied to Leigh: “Assuming that Pete is accurate, he did a really nice and clear job of explaining qi (and some other traditional concepts) and how to measure it (them). But, that’s if you use the agreed upon traditional understanding of the terms. Not the fanciful, magical definitions…”

            jm, I really do understand what you mean by that. However, “qi” was a prescientific concept that was, perhaps, remarkable insight in its time. Nothing I have written explains or justifies “qi (and some other traditional concepts) and how to measure it (them)”. Why? Hopefully, I have adequately explained that the relationship between qi etc. [even classical mechanics] and 21st-century science and evidence is neither commutative nor isomorphic. But if I haven’t sufficiently explained it then by all means ask questions.

            As I said to you ages ago, conducting meaningful discussions via the comments section of a website is extremely difficult and it frequently leads to unpleasant polarisations and non-productive outcomes.

          • I am sorry to ruin your version of reality jm, but qi has nothing to do with Pete’s explanation. Lest Pete wishes to correct me, that is. However, you are demonstrating an excellent example of cognitive dissonance by adapting reality (energy, chemistry and other real world constructs) to your beliefs (qi), rather than adapting your beliefs to reality.

            Don’t claim that qi is the counterpart of a scientific concept, under a different name. There is a lot of “magic” associated with it.

          • Pete,

            You did a great job (as usual) of explaining the science in layman’s terms. But in terms of ‘qi’, I think you’re missing the boat. It’s a really really general term – and includes thought, emotion, muscle control, etc., in addition to many other things. There are other, more specific terms for each of these, but ‘qi’ is the umbrella term.

            So when I said to Leigh “did a really nice and clear job of explaining qi…” I should have said “…explaining one aspect or usage of qi”. I didn’t mean to imply that you were explaining or justifying qi. But what you were talking about (and how to detect and measure) would fall under the umbrella of ‘qi’.

            For some reason, folks seem to want a single definition of qi that they can put their fingers on, put on the scale, somehow measure it. It’s not going to happen. It’s a catch all term. But you described how to measure one aspect of it.

            In another comment (typing the letter “t”), what you wrote would be a great explanation of the phrase “the yi leads the qi”. That was really nicely written up.

            And you’re right – if this wasn’t the comment section of a blog, it would be fun to discuss this in terms of ‘wind’ in Buddhist medicine systems. Similar problems (wind applies to more than thought, etc), and the specifics of biology and measurement wouldn’t change anything – but it would be interesting.

          • Leigh,

            Edzard kindly bolded “gaia tv” and “the power of eight”…so I didn’t read the post. But, I always like to read Pete’s comments. My question to him was specifically about his comment – not the original post.

            I’m also not claiming that the traditional meaning of qi is identical to the modern term ‘energy’. Most people now are just sticking with ‘qi’ rather than trying to translate it with a single English word. It’s too general of a concept, and a single word translation leads to confusion.

          • @jm

            “Most people now are just sticking with ‘qi’ rather than trying to translate it with a single English word. It’s too general of a concept, and a single word translation leads to confusion.”

            Nobody’s asking for a single word translation: just a precise definition. Science depends on precision; anything else is vague arm waving that helps no-one. Single word terms such as ‘nonsense’ or ‘bullshit’ and two-word expressions like ‘obsolete fantasy’, ‘vacuous pretension’ and ‘confirmation bias’ are very general concepts, but they can be defined accurately.

            I’m disappointed by your evident respect for ‘qi’ as a term with any sensible meaning in the real world. Your latest comments seem to be pure dissembling in support of the unsupportable.

          • Frank

            “Nobody’s asking for a single word translation: just a precise definition.” Then you’re going to be continually disappointed. The precise definition is ‘qi’. Unless you want to keep it simple. In that case, the precise definition is “breath”.

            “…anything else is vague arm waving that helps no-one.” If you want less vague, you’ll have to do the work studying. But unless you have a need for the term, why bother?

          • jm,

            Thank you for your kind words. I hope that you will take the following as just my thoughts on the subject, rather than a criticism, a dismissal, an argument…

            Science is an umbrella term therefore I can accept that “qi” is an umbrella term. Pseudoscience and quackery is the nefarious nonsense that has been piled on top of science. Pseudoscience and quackery is also the nefarious nonsense that has been piled on top of “qi”.

            If I claimed that it was science, and definitely not the ancient principles of “qi”, that led to the awesome discoveries resulting from the plethora of NASA space missions, would my claim be correct?

            Yes and no:
            Yes because all of the missions would’ve failed without the accuracy and precision of predictions made by recent scientific theories which are solidly founded in quantum mechanics; not classical mechanics; and most definitely not ancient philosophy!

            No because I have committed the fallacy of composition and the fallacy of division! There are many fields of modern science that most definitely did not contribute to the success of the plethora of NASA space missions! Exactly the same applies to the umbrella term “qi”.

            Robotic space probes need neither clinical psychologists nor Reiki masters, but they do require quantifiable energy 🙂

            In my previous comments, I failed to specifically highlight something that is extremely important in the context of ‘healing energy’. I stated the energy levels of human brains and bodies, but totally forgot the basic fact that most people do not know that all systems which operate at human body temperature (310 kelvin) are extremely insensitive to energy. Extremely-sensitive scientific measuring instruments are cryogenically cooled because this increases their sensitivity by orders of magnitude beyond anything which operates at human body temperature. Our very wide spectrum of extremely-sensitive scientific measuring instruments have never been influenced by an ‘energy healer’, therefore I think it reasonable to conclude that those who espouse ‘energy healing’ are quacks. They certainly own the burden of proof for their claims.

          • @ Framnk Odds addressing “jm”

            Your latest comments seem to be pure dissembling in support of the unsupportable.

            The word “dissembling” seems to imply willful deception, right? I think we can safely apply Hanlon’s razor to this matter. “Jm” has struggled for years with our iterated requests for her/his definition and description of Qi. The sum of these confused attempts is that (s)he has no bl—ing idea what it is but it must be ‘something’.

          • Pete,

            I agree, a lot of weirdness has been piled on top of the term. And I think we’ve talked about this before…I agree with you on Reiki masters and other energy healers. We do seem to disagree on the importance of looking for an exact measurement for a metaphor. 🙂

            And hopefully you didn’t take my comment “…just typing the word ‘claim’ seems to influence your thoughts, feelings, and emotions” the wrong way. It was meant as an “immunity to external interference” joke.

            One last thing – I’m sure you’re aware that the term qi is associated with emotions. Sometimes it’s useful to say “their qi is raised” rather than specifying anger, frustration, fear, etc. Specificity can sometimes be less clear than using an umbrella term.

            If you have any doubts that qi can be manipulated (intentionally or not) externally, just type the simple two letter word into a comment on this blog.

          • jm,

            When the UK switched from imperial units to metric units, I quickly adopted the new system.
            When the UK switched from CGS units to SI units, I quickly adopted the new system.
            When the UK adopted the decimalisation of currency, I quickly adopted the new system.

            I have never used the concepts of “qi” etc., and I never shall, because unlike you, I quickly adopt each iteration of increasingly meaningful, internationally-agreed, definitions of terms and systems of measurement.

            If an aircraft manufacture produced an aircraft fitted with airspeed indicators calibrated in furlongs per fortnight, altimeters calibrated in yards, and fuel gauges calibrated in shillings per inch, it would be more than reasonable to state that the manufacturer should not be accredited to supply aircraft.

            Now apply that to yourself and to your beliefs. If a supplier of healthcare uses the terms “qi”, “meridians”, and other appeals to ancient ‘wisdom’, it would be more than reasonable to state that the supplier should not be accredited to supply healthcare.

            There is a very good reason for civil aviation being accredited to use fly-by-wire technology and not being accredited to use fly-by-qi technology. Similarly, all of the scientific measuring instruments use at least 20th-century science, none of them rely on “qi”.

            Your attempts to translate my scientific explanations into explanations of “qi” is, to be honest, both pathetically inept and extremely lazy. James said to you:

            I am sorry to ruin your version of reality jm, but qi has nothing to do with Pete’s explanation. Lest Pete wishes to correct me, that is. However, you are demonstrating an excellent example of cognitive dissonance by adapting reality (energy, chemistry and other real world constructs) to your beliefs (qi), rather than adapting your beliefs to reality.

            Don’t claim that qi is the counterpart of a scientific concept, under a different name. There is a lot of “magic” associated with it.

            I echo his profound message to you. I shall leave you and the readers to ponder the following highly-applicable words of modern wisdom:

            There is no polite way to suggest to someone that they have devoted their life to a folly.
            — Daniel Dennett

          • Pete,

            “When the UK switched from imperial units to metric units, I quickly adopted the new system.”
            That’s a great analogy. If you talk to a machinist, I’d bet they love metric. If you tried to get a roofer to use metric…they’d laugh in your face. Imperial units are way easier for roofing proportions. Rather than being a quick adopter, I’d prefer to adopt appropriately.

            “Don’t claim that qi is the counterpart of a scientific concept, under a different name.”
            I don’t. It’s a term used in a very general way.

            “There is a lot of “magic” associated with it.”
            There really isn’t. Qi specifically means breath, and as an umbrella term is used for many different things. Magic is totally different.

            “Your attempts to translate my scientific explanations into explanations of “qi” is, to be honest, both pathetically inept and extremely lazy.”
            No translation into an explanation. You were talking about measuring the energy of thought & emotions. Thought and emotion have specific Chinese terms (思想 Sīxiǎng and 情感 Qínggǎn, according to google translate), but both fall under the umbrella category of qi. So if you’re measuring the energy of thought and emotion, you’re measuring qi.

            “If an aircraft manufacture produced …”
            If an practitioner of Chinese medicine starts talking about aether and pitta…find another acupuncturist.

            I think we have different views of pathetically inept and extremely lazy. Many commenters on this blog come to some pretty weird conclusions about terms and concepts they haven’t put in the effort to understand. It makes me wonder how much effort they’ve put into understanding current research…and how much their conclusions should be trusted.

            And as far as folly goes…trying to put an exact measurement to a metaphor would seem to fit the bill.

          • jm

            “And as far as folly goes…trying to put an exact measurement to a metaphor would seem to fit the bill.” I’d say that applying a metaphor for medical treatment is a greater folly.

            “Many commenters on this blog come to some pretty weird conclusions about terms and concepts they haven’t put in the effort to understand. It makes me wonder how much effort they’ve put into understanding current research…and how much their conclusions should be trusted.” That’s the courtier’s reply . I don’t need to put in the effort to understand the fine details of astrology: the basic concept is bunk.

          • Frank,

            “I’d say that applying a metaphor for medical treatment is a greater folly.”
            Me too. I’ve never met anyone that applies qi as a medical treatment.

            “I don’t need to put in the effort to understand the fine details of astrology: the basic concept is bunk.”
            I wasn’t talking about details – I was talking about coming to weird conclusions without understanding the basic concept. If you don’t understand the basic concept, you’re apt to say things like “applying a metaphor for medical treatment”. That would be an example of a weird conclusion.

          • Ah, jm! Words, words, words. They’re so slippery, aren’t they? I never referred to applying qi as a medical treatment, I said “applying a metaphor for medical treatment” is folly. There’s a difference, of which I’m certainly aware. The magic medical treatments you seem to support (traditional Chinese medicine in general?) are aimed at manipulating qi, right? So according to your characterization of qi (you eschew definitions) they are manipulating a metaphor. That’s using a metaphor for (i.e. in the context of) medical treatment.

            But I accept that what I wrote was ambiguous, and might have sounded as though I thought qi was itself a medicine. (I don’t think you seriously believe that from our several conversations.) Thank you for providing me the opportunity to clarify. My conclusion is in no way weird, and I most certainly understand the basic concepts. Qi and ‘energy medicine’, along with chiropractic subluxations, homeopathic potentization and acupuncture meridians, are not difficult to comprehend. All are self-evidently supernatural bunk following the tsunami of detailed knowledge of the way the body works (and fails) that has flooded our understanding of reality through science since the mid 20th century.

          • Qiing for kids (qi=breath).

            Key words: diaphragm, lungs, bronchi, alveoli, red blood cells, oxygen, glucose, carbon dioxide.

            The basic concept of the umbrella term “breath” explained.

            Courtesy of modern science.

            Basic concept of umbrella term “qi” explained courtesy of Chinese tradition?

            Anyone?

          • Frank,

            Your comment wasn’t ambiguous at all. Sorry – I should have said:

            “I’d say that applying a metaphor for medical treatment is a greater folly.”
            Me too. I’ve never met anyone that applies qi for a medical treatment.

            Whew. Glad we cleared that up. 🙂

          • Leigh,

            You should have left out oxygen and carbon dioxide. (one meaning of qi is ‘vapor’ or ‘gas’) Otherwise, that was a pretty funny example of not understanding the basic concept :).

          • Ah!
            Qi is gas isn’t it? That’s what I said a long time ago but “jm” didn’t like the suggestion! Or maybe it was some other troll who got all upset about the idea?
            It figures, you stick a needle in and out it comes. That’s of course how it can be manipulated when it is “blocked”
            And when the body decomposes it all escapes and you can smell it from far away.

          • jm

            Your last comment renders further communication on my part redundant.

          • Actually Bjorn, I told you that gas was part of the definition. I copied the definition from a Chinese dictionary – which someone has conveniently added to the Wikipedia page:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi#Meanings

            Hopefully I also mentioned that I liked your stick a needle in and out it comes, and the decomposing body bit. If not, consider it mentioned. Your imagination surely is packed with fertilizer. 🙂

          • Let’s try to put the alphabet aside for a moment… jm, you can call it however you wish, words are just words. The point is, what is it that it describes, which brings you so much elation? I don’t really expect it to be “breath” of course.

            And, to set some things straight, when “manipulating” intentions, as stated above, it must be kept in mind that the output behavior is a function of both the internal state of the organism AND external stimuli received through sensory organs (let’s exclude random variables at this point). Once you “cut out” (cf. insulate) the external stimuli, you can provoke no more change to the internal state of an organism. You cannot manipulate anything if you don’t interact with it, that is (fundamental control theory anyway).

            Sadly, you can always just observe an organism you don’t interact with and make all kinds of wishful assumptions and false correlations based on observed behavior.

            Short example: Go to a bar, get attracted to one of the ladies, then go stand outside the bar toilets and try hard to manipulate her qi to make her come close to you. When she comes there, draw the conclusion that qi can be manipulated from a distance and that you succeeded. It also works if you stand near the exit. And you don’t need to provide any concrete definition of qi whatsoever in the end.

            The wonderful world of cognitive dissonance!

          • Björn,

            Bait and switch.

            “Breath” becomes “gas”. Gas becomes… and on and on.

            Breath implies breathing, gas does not. If qi is supposed to be a life-force then gas is less satisfactory than breath as a metaphor. It’s metaphors all the way down. They don’t get any better.

            Science identifies two vital gases associated with breathing: O2 and CO2. Science identifies the entire physical apparatus involved. Solids, liquids (blood) and gases. Science reveals what breathing is all about with crystal clarity – which solids, which liquids, which gases and how the entire system works, down to the inner workings of various cells. As far as breath goes, qi is redundant.

            Science explains the otherwise mysterious different states of matter found in our everyday experience. Science explains, in detail, what a gas qua gas, is, and explains in detail the nature of the other different states of matter detectable by our senses. As far as gas goes, qi is redundant.

            Science reveals, in quantum detail, extraordinary states of matter beyond the power of our evolved natural senses to detect.

            Science has never discovered something unambiguously identified as the qi of ancient Chinese tradition. Not surprising if that Wikipedia page is the best exposition of qi out there. The page is as ugly a mess as I’ve seen in a while. Bizarrely the reference for qi meaning “gas” links to one of Edzard’s papers, but only the abstract is available.

          • Leigh,

            Science would also learn how terms are being used before coming to conclusions. In your ‘key word’ list it seemed like you went out of your way to include things involved with breathing that wouldn’t be classified as qi (as used in a Chinese med context). But you included the bits from the literal definition. That’s why I thought you were making a joke.

            The diaphragm, lungs, bronchi, alveoli would be considered physical structures – not qi. In and of themselves, they’re pretty useless. They need to function – and that would be considered the qi part. Functioning lungs are vital for life.

            “If qi is supposed to be a life-force then gas is less satisfactory than breath as a metaphor.”
            I agree. Breath (or breathing, or the breath, etc) involves taking in raw materials, using the useful, and expelling the waste. I don’t see why the metaphor is so hard to understand. A Cliffs notes version of ‘Stomach’ from Chinese med – everything involved in taking in raw materials (food), extracting what is useful, and sending along what is not. Stomach includes the physical structures (including the organ itself) and the function (stomach qi). Not a big deal. It’s not magic (except may in a highly poetical sense), and it’s definitely not supernatural.

          • The concept is rather qi…sy! Let’s assume that a given…no problem calling out whatever fantasy one likes using a word. The problem lies in trying to base theories about fake healing techniques and outcomes on such a fantasy. There is no “vital force” in science, jm. All forces are the effects of very well-defined fields with very well-defined causes. So, as far as science is concerned, you are using a word (qi) to describe some (obviously empty) subset of nothing. This is a textbook example of wishful thinking.

            You may wish to believe that ancient or popular wisdom and tradition is precious and should be cherished and valued through perpetuation. Its cultural and historical (among other qualities) value is of undoubted importance, but it has been the number one risk factor for cognitive dissonance in people of all ages in the course of my experience. My experience with this grave risk-factor is, unfortunately, solely anecdotal thus far, but this growing body of personal anecdotes of mine is encouraging me to study the issue in detail. In my eyes, an important point to be clarified is whether proper rational thinking is so energy-expensive that the path of minimal expenditure is to simply adopt whichever belief reaches your field of perception first. In most cases of cognitive dissonance, having had to invest in cognitive processes would probably reduce entropy…not a very “natural” course, so it seems. If you believe in science, that is…(!)

            In dealing with the present case, I would never go so far as to deprive jm of his comfort zone yonder in wonderland. I do respect personal choices of course. Besides, I have some wacky beliefs of my own anyway (such as that it is possible to revert cognitive dissonance in many people, just by using a steady proper daily dosage of reality). I would only go just as far as to implore jm, and anyone else fondly believing in decorated subsets of nothing for that matter, to try their best to keep their personal spaces in wonderland and conventional medicine as perfectly disjoint sets in whatever “hyperset” (cf. superset) it is that forms their “eigenversions” of reality.

            Failure to comply with this wish has a proven potential to degrade both personal and public health.

          • Perhaps you had your most lucid moment there, “jm”?
            Qi is of course only a word, of sorts. A name for a prescientific popular, vitalistic idea of what some people thought it was that made the body function. That was before science came along and found out for real.
            “Qi” is a not-a-thing, it is a “nothing” in effect. It is not a material, it is not measurable energy, it is not air or gas or anything made of atoms and molecules. It is only a figment of imagination, an idea, a subject of faith.
            We seem to agree on that.
            But is it a useful to us? On that matter we seem to disagree, right?
            Is it necessary and is it something we need? Is it marketable goods or does the sale of goods or rather services under the pretense of affecting the “Qi” constitute lawful commerce or is it simply fraud and deception? That is the salient question.

            We know that whatever this word is meant to mean, it is not something that belongs to reality and it is not something that we need to consider when dealing with disease and well being today. On the contrary, if someone claims that sticking a needle into the skin pretending that this action has an important effect, is not doing the subject any service.
            You can stand on your box and tell people all about “Qi”. You can write learned essays or books about it all you like. But start sticking people with needles and telling them you are manipulating “Qi” to improve health or something, then you are crossing the line into fraudulent behaviour.

            I cannot prevent you from pretending to be an expert on “Qi” or related nonsense. You may be just that for all I know. But I can ask you to try not to harm your poor, gullible audience or take their money on false pretense.

            Oh, and try to understand when you are being made fun of. Like my last comment. It is called sarcasm, a kind of a joke. Look it up.

          • “Like my last comment. It is called sarcasm, a kind of a joke.”

            Like your last comment? Wait a minute…you mean your other comments were meant to be serious?? Shirley, you jest.

          • “There is no “vital force” in science”

            You’re right. Science doesn’t need to breathe.

          • @Björn Geir:

            Qi is of course only a word, of sorts. A name for a prescientific popular, vitalistic idea of what some people thought it was that made the body function. That was before science came along and found out for real.
            “Qi” is a not-a-thing, it is a “nothing” in effect. It is not a material, it is not measurable energy, it is not air or gas or anything made of atoms and molecules. It is only a figment of imagination, an idea, a subject of faith.

            Perhaps “phlogiston” would be a better translation.

          • jm

            O2 and CO2 are vital to breathing. Breathing is vital for life. It’s vital that the lungs etc should supply 02 to the blood and expel CO2 from the blood. Other processes are vital too. One stops and everything stops.

            A “life force” adds nothing to our understanding of the processes going on in living bodies. It’s completely redundant.

            “Qi” is not energy as understood by science; neither is it breath or gas. Science spells out its meanings in quantitative terms – science measures stuff. Qi is not analagous to anything in science. Nothing at all. In science either something is a gas or it’s not a gas. Like a gas, means not a gas. A gas can be measured. Something “like a gas” which can’t be measured, can’t be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or tasted is nothing at all.

            I merely listed key words for kids (or whomever might interested) related to “breathing” and “breath” in basic terms. Key words involved in the physical machinery and process of breath and breathing – as understood (demonstrably) by science.

          • “There is no “vital force” in science”

            You’re right. Science doesn’t need to breathe.

            Houston! We are losing “jm”… again… 🙂

          • “neither is it breath or gas.”
            You can argue all you want with the dictionary. If you ever travel to China, don’t argue about the definition of cèsuǒ.

            According to the dictionary, qi is ‘gas’. Not ‘like a gas’. You can measure it. But as it’s used in Chinese med, it’s a metaphor. You can’t measure metaphor. I don’t know why that ruffles your feathers so much. It’s not that big of a deal. Chinese medicine is different than modern medicine. Ancient Greek medicine is, too. Do you have the same emotional response to ‘yellow bile’?

          • Whatever it is that this qi “metaphorically” means, it’s got nothing to do with evident reality. And it cannot be a trait of the organism of course. If you take a human and expose him to a planet without an atmosphere, he cannot survive. If a human stands on the moon naked, whoops.. no vital force! Where does qi go then? The answer is very simple, qi as a metaphorical meaning that regards vital life forces etc. does not have any content that can universally withstand even the simplest of tests of physical reality. It is totally empty and, as such, it is perfect for circumstantial explanations, as is any offspring of imagination. As with most things in this life, qi is a high-quality placebo that very efficiently puts a stop to human curiosity, blocking further research and evolution of knowledge. In this respect, I am afraid that the only thing achieved from such practices of adopting ancient knowledge is to keep modern knowledge just as ancient in status.

            I, personally, am not arguing against any metaphorical meaning of qi. There are many things that Ancient Greek medicine got wrong as well. The people just did the best they could and to the extent that they could perceive the world around them, at times going far beyond reality, of course. The point is, jm, that you believe in qi today. Does anyone talk about yellow bile today? Does anyone talk about humors in modern medicine?

            No, of course, unless we are talking about places such as India, for example, where pretty much everything regarding “ancient” tradition is very well rooted and holds a unmovable place in popular practice. The humoral theory was correctly dismissed and remains of historical value in most of the world today. Now, how about qi? If you like its historical and cultural value, that’s great. But don’t depend on that fantasy to explain natural phenomena.

            There is a good reason we call this wisdom ancient jm. Its place is primarily (though maybe not exclusively) in historical books and illustrations. It perfectly showcases how wrong someone can be when they are not aware of the evidence, or are plagued by irrational and farfetched beliefs all around them. Leave the “ancient” out for a moment and focus on the “wisdom”. Try modern knowledge for a change…you won’t regret it!

          • [jm] Chinese medicine is different than modern medicine.

            That was the only rational statement that you have managed to write during the years of your asinine commenting on Professor Ernst’s blog.

            Chinese medicine is indeed very different than [sic] modern medicine — as has been repeatedly pointed out to you by Professor Ernst and by the many commentators who really do understand the difference between quackery and 21st-century science.

          • jm

            My copies of Penguin and Chambers describe qi as the flow of life-force in the body in Chinese medicine. Penguin says it is sometimes written as air or energy.

            I shall therefore take the various “metaphorical” meanings of qi, or the basic concept, to mean life-force.

            I have pointed out the vast gulf that separates “metaphorical” meanings (better to simply call them dictionary definitions) and precisely and profoundly specified scientific meanings. I have also pointed out that the notion of a life-force is utterly redundant for science.

            In no way does this constitute an argument with the dictionary.

          • Leigh,

            The dictionary definition on Wikipedia came from Wenlin (here’s the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi#Meanings). But, use whatever works for you. Even better would be to talk to practitioners and have them explain qi to you. Or not. It’s not all that important unless you need to understand the basics of Chinese med, or communicate with practitioners…things like that.

            This weird little thread started because Pete showed how to measure the energy involved with thought and emotion. Thought and emotion are considered qi in Chinese med. I commented that Pete showed how to measure qi. You have to be in a pretty thick cloud of bias to miss how straightforward that is.

          • The dictionaries I quoted came from my shelf. They were consistent with one another, and consistent with the Wiki page which also includes life-force amongst the list of meanings of qi.

            Science can’t detect any life-force. If it could it would measure it. If qi was actually a gas or any form of energy, science could measure it. But since all these meanings are only metaphors then science does not measure qi.

            We come full circle.

            Qi is composed of metaphors all the way down.

          • “Qi is composed of metaphors all the way down.”
            Except for the literal meaning of the word, of course. Which would be “① air; gas”. And of course, measurable.

            Oh, and except for “② smell”. I guess that’s pretty literal. Can you measure smell?

            Another literal one is “③ spirit; vigor; morale”. Not sure you could measure that one. You could measure it comparatively…you know, like “my morale was much higher on November 6 than November 8”. Something like that.

            “⑤ tone; atmosphere; attitude” and “⑥ anger” of course are literal, and are similar to #3. And you could use the same Nov 6 & 8 example.

            Then there’s “⑦ breath; respiration”. That one’s interesting in that it’s quite literal, and there are at least a few different ways to measure it. And it would be one usage of qi utilized on a regular basis by Chinese med practitioners. The others are, too – I think this one’s the most obvious, though.

            So there ya go – several literal examples of qi, that you could measure. Most, if not all, used by Chinese med practitioners. Not nearly as fun as supernatural magic, but way more practical.

          • Let’s examine the word “thing”:

            thing [noun]: an object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to.

            An object has attributes, behaviours, and it responds to messages [from the perspective of information theory]; and an object can be measured.

            Obviously, the word “thing” is non-specific therefore it does not have a literal meaning. Similarly, the term “qi” has multiple meanings, therefore, it does not have a specific, literal, meaning.

            On Monday 25 September 2017 at 18:05, “jm” replied to Leigh Jackson

            The diaphragm, lungs, bronchi, alveoli would be considered physical structures – not qi. In and of themselves, they’re pretty useless. They need to function – and that would be considered the qi part. Functioning lungs are vital for life.

            On Friday 29 September 2017 at 01:47, “jm” stated

            … Except for the literal meaning of the word [qi], of course. Which would be “① air; gas”. And of course, measurable.

            Is “jm” literally confused, or literally lying? Air is indeed measurable, but it does not literally describe the functioning of lungs. Lungs can function without air: there is no air on the Moon and those who walked on the Moon were not breathing bottled air. So, if we take “qi” to mean not air, but gas, does this definition of “qi” literally describe the functioning of lungs? No, it does not, because the functioning of lungs literally depends upon the exchange of very specific gasses. Furthermore, measuring the air involved in breathing does not describe the functioning of the lungs.

            “jm” wrote “Functioning lungs are vital for life.”, which is abject nonsense:
            1. many living things do not have lungs (e.g. bacteria, plants, and fish);
            2. many living things which do have lungs, die from causes other than lung failure.

            The real meaning of “qi” as “used by Chinese med practitioners” is:
            any object, process, or function that I do not wish to give a specific name to, because if I were to be specific then it would become blindingly obvious that I’m talking total utter bollocks.

          • Qi can be a metaphorical gas/air/breath and a literal gas/air/ breath etc etc?

            A literal life-force and a metaphorical life-force?

            Dictionaries lay out common use meanings of these words – literal and metaphorical – whilst science elucidates the fundamental nature of the things themselves – the very stuff of air and breath and the processes involving them. Science searches deep into the immense complexity of life, revealing ever more secrets. The notion of a life-force is long dead in science.

            Not so in Chinese medicine it appears from dictionaries.

            Common use literal meanings of gas/air/breath speak for themselves.

            If I say “I was walking on air” everyone understands that I mean I was super-happy.

            Give me an example of qi meaning “air” used as a metaphor.

            If qi means nothing more than literal common use meanings of commonplace things, like breath, gas, air, then qi is a redundant term.

            If qi means more than literal common use meanings, what more does it mean exactly? What use does the word serve?

          • Pete,

            “Similarly, the term “qi” has multiple meanings, therefore, it does not have a specific, literal, meaning.”
            Sorry Pete – I meant literal compared to a metaphorical use. You would use the word qi to refer to air. Or a gas. Or breath. Specifically and literally. As you know, the English word ‘plane’ has multiple meanings as well. All of them valid, and folks seem to be ok with that. “Nice plane.” Am I talking about a Cessna, hira-kanna, Stanley no. 6, or a geometry illustration? Or the treatment of a rough, uneven plank of wood? People navigate that problem pretty well.

            “Air is indeed measurable, but it does not literally describe the functioning of lungs…”
            The usage of the word depends on context. Weirdly, you could say “John Glenn took his Chinese med doc to the moon with him, to monitor his Lung Qi (function). His fancy space suit provides him with qi (gas) that simulates qi (air). While traveling through space, he dreams of his plane.”

            “Furthermore, measuring the air involved in breathing does not describe the functioning of the lungs.”
            That’s not really true. http://www.webmd.com/lung/lung-function-tests#1.

            “Functioning lungs are vital for life.”, which is abject nonsense:
            1. many living things do not have lungs (e.g. bacteria, plants, and fish);
            2. many living things which do have lungs, die from causes other than lung failure.”

            You got me there, Pete. I didn’t specify “human”. Didn’t think I needed to, based on the context.

            You talk a lot about modern science – modern science looks at the meanings of terms and context of usage before coming to conclusions. Don’t you think?

          • The qi-fantasy problem lies in believing that because multiple meanings are attributed to the word, there is actually some real-life material counterpart that satisfies all these meanings at the same time. When you talk about a plane that flies, it’s clear, as it is when you talk about a horizontal plane. It cannot be two things together, at the same time. You wish to call air “qi”, that’s fine… You wish to call breath, gas or whatever, by the word “qi”? Fair enough. So, you can measure thr volume of air, and by your preposterous syllogisms, you can use the words measure and qi in the same sentence. This should be the end of your beautifully planned hoax.

            Because if you go on from there, a whole new world of cattle droppings unravels. Since you can “measure” it, you begin assigning all kinds of materialistic properties to the word and, again by your preposterous syllogisms, all of the other meanings inherit those properties. And before you know it, an umbrella of metaphors can be “measured”. Once you have established your quicksand premises, you can promote all kinds of gastrointestinally-processed-aliquot notions.

            No, dear jm… The game ends with the literal meanings. The metaphorical meanings are fantasy-talk. Unless you believe in vitality, which is probably a result of you having played too many computer games over the years. Science has no place for ambiguous words, so it cannot shelter your comfort-zone from wonderland. Meaning-soup and word-salad digestive aids are trademark appetizers of the alternative medicine menu.

          • Leigh,

            “What use does the word serve?”
            You seem to be having a rough time with this whole concept of words having multiple meanings. Go talk to a Chinese med practitioner, if you want to know how they use it in practice. Take a Chinese language course if you want to understand how it’s commonly used. Or stick with ‘magic’, etc.

            Personally, I think you should stick with magic. It makes the comment section of Edzard’s blog much more interesting – and more useful. Good indicator of how much salt to add to people’s comments.

          • “[jm] You got me there, Pete. I didn’t specify ‘human’. Didn’t think I needed to, based on the context.”

            The context which you used in your comment, to which I replied, was your literal definitions of the ‘medical’ term “qi”

            So there ya go – several literal examples of qi, that you could measure. Most, if not all, used by Chinese med practitioners.

            We have highlighted your pathetic switching between your metaphorical and your literal definitions of “qi” for your purpose of attempting to justify quackery in general, and your favorite forms of modern charlatanism.

            Each and every time you write a comment, it serves only to increasingly confirm your wilful ignorance and belligerence.

            [jm to Pete] You talk a lot about modern science – modern science looks at the meanings of terms and context of usage before coming to conclusions. Don’t you think?

            Modern epistemology, legislation, and science do indeed carefully consider the meanings of terms and contexts before coming to conclusions! Suppliers of modern goods (e.g. cellphones, clothing, computing devices, domestic appliances, food) and services (e.g. electricity, gas, GPS, Internet services, NHS healthcare, radio, television) never use the utterly meaningless term “qi” in their contracts. Furthermore, the utterly meaningless term “qi” is never used in the exacting fields of applied science, including: audited calibration; audited certification; audited design; audited test and measurement; and the audited voluminous internationally-agreed documents which fall under the remit of the international standard-setting bodies, including The International Organization for Standardization.

          • Weirdly, you could say “John Glenn took his Chinese med doc to the moon with him, to monitor his Lung Qi (function). His fancy space suit provides him with qi (gas) that simulates qi (air). While traveling through space, he dreams of his plane.

            A doctor (on earth), monitors (measures) basic physical functions of John on his trip to the moon. A space suit provides him with oxygen.

            Not weird at all. Not when one removes qi, which is redundant.

            It gets weird if you introduce qi since qi has not yet been defined.

          • Pete,

            “The context which you used in your comment, to which I replied, was your literal definitions of the ‘medical’ term “qi””.
            Those aren’t my literal definitions. The parts in quotes, with the number in the little circle (“② smell”, for instance) – they are literally from the dictionary. And, qi isn’t used only as a ‘medical’ term. I would bet the word is used more in a non-‘medical’ sense.

            “Furthermore, the utterly meaningless term “qi” is never used in the exacting fields of applied science…”
            It’s not a precise term in Chinese med, martial arts, or anything else…why in the world would you think ISO would use it?

          • Leigh,

            “It gets weird if you introduce qi since qi has not yet been defined.”

            Sure it has.
            http://edzardernst.com/2017/09/lynne-mctaggart-and-world-peace-something-to-worry-about/#comment-95164.

            The dictionary definitions are in quotes, with the number in the little circle (“② smell”, for instance).

            And, if you think “introducing qi” is the weird part about John Glenn taking a Ch. med practitioner into space…

          • Yeah, sure. Qi has been defined in the same way Father Christmas has been defined.

          • So, qi is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and so forth. That’s all there is to it.

            All it serves is to demonstrate in the best possible way that the premises of chinese medicine are utterly ambiguous. There are multiple concepts that have not yet been discerned and are still believed to be one and the same, all neatly packed under the single word qi. Measure qi, jm says… But if chinese medicine experts are presented with this sentence, many among them will understand different things (and of course nobody will use the literal versions that jm defensively promotes here). If chinese medicine experts say they manipulate qi, many of them mean something different each time.

            At this level of inconsistency, chinese medicine is not only about double, but multiple standards. Each practitioner has his own way. “jm”, on the other hand, tries to use definitions from a cultural dictionary. Nothing is valid in this context because the western world (or the english language, if you wish) does not have literal counterparts for such umbrella-terms made* in China.
            (*I mean, literally, constructed and named)

            Trying to create a latin-alphabet-lettered word based on a vague pronunciation does not imbue any substance or meaning or even acceptance to the word either. It is still only valid within the tight realms, where it was fabricated. “jm” should only talk about measuring (or whatever) qi with people who are natives to the realms-of-fabrication of this two-letter syllable, because for us, this is all there is to it. You cannot migrate entire meanings and hide them behind alphanumeric strings from one country to another without being controlled for consistency.

            On the bright side, it is very good to have an experience of such letter-salads, in order to spot GI-Tract output from a safe distance. In other words, if you see qi written anyware, the only literal meaning is “beware“. This is by and large the most valuable use of qi in our society and I think we should be thankful for having avid fans such as jm bring such matters to attention.

          • jm

            My bad. I should have said scientifically defined. There is no unit of qi.

            You stated earlier “For some reason, folks seem to want a single definition of qi that they can put their fingers on, put on the scale, somehow measure it. It’s not going to happen. It’s a catch all term. But you described how to measure one aspect of it.”

            This was in response to Pete’s information regarding the measurement of brain power. The “catch all” term cannot be measured. Better to talk of a general term “qi” and specifically named things called qi. Actual qis.

            If there is something more to qis than the physically measurable systems so termed (gas, air, breath, thoughts, emotion etc etc) what is it?

            You said to me that qi is not identical to energy as defined in science. To Pete you said that in the energy of thought and emotion, you are measuring qi – because they are termed qi in Chinese.

            Contradiction?

            Energy is a measurable (joules) catch-all term in science applicable to all physical systems: gas, air, breath, brains… the works.

            What makes qi a catch-all “umbrella” term?

            Simply the fact that some things share the name?

          • “To Pete you said that in the energy of thought and emotion, you are measuring qi – because they are termed qi in Chinese.
            Contradiction?”

            Actually what I told Pete was that thought and emotion would fall under the umbrella category of qi.

            Carbon dioxide would fall under the umbrella category of gas. Not very practical to say “measure gas” if you want to specifically measure CO2. But if you were measuring CO2, you would be measuring gas. I know you understand this.

            Thought and emotion fall under the category of qi. But if you want to measure emotion specifically, you would use the term sīxiǎng (思想). If you want to measure thought specifically, you would use the term qínggǎn (情感). But if you’re measuring sīxiǎng, you’re measuring qi.

            “If there is something more to qis…What makes qi a catch-all “umbrella” term?”

            Here are some “qis” for you – feel free to do a google search for the myriad other ways qi combines with other terms (tiān literally means ‘heavens’, or ’sky’, or ‘day’, for instance):

            qìwēn (氣溫) air temperature
            diànqì (電氣) – electricity
            lìqì (力氣) – strength
            tiānqì (天氣) – weather
            …etc etc etc

            You would obviously measure all of those things differently. It would be silly to measure air temp in joules, if the question was whether or not to put on a coat. Or you could step outside and just feel it. You don’t need to measure everything.

            If you were talking to a Chinese med practitioner and they said ‘qi’ – based on the context you could assume they were referring to ‘renqi’ (‘ren’ literally means human, or character). But based on the context, they could be using it qi as shorthand for the more specific ‘liqi’ (strength). Or any of the other specifics involved with humans. It depends.

            Like every other medical system, docs will assess temperature, pulse, breathing, strength, emotional state, etc. Rather than listing off all the specifics, most will just say ‘qi’ and trust that patients won’t think they’re discussing the weather.

            Ok, weather is a bad example. Chinese med has this crazy idea that weather affects health. But you get the point.

          • “Energy is a measurable (joules) catch-all term in science applicable to all physical systems…”

            No, energy measured in joules is not a “catch-all term in science” because:
            1. it has clearly established relationships with other units of measure, such as N·m.
            2. its SI base units are specifically kg·m²·s⁻²
            3. much more importantly, its fundamental base dimensions are M·L²·T⁻²

            Whereas “qi” has no base dimensions, which renders it utterly useless for the purposes of quantitative and qualitative measurement.

          • Yes Pete. Those dimensions derive from physical measurements with specific numerical definitions. But is it not true that energy defined in terms of the Joule – with those dimensions, as you say – is common to all physical systems? It is only in that very specific sense am I describing energy as a “catch-all”.

          • jm

            You said: Assuming that Pete is accurate, he did a really nice and clear job of explaining qi (and some other traditional concepts) and how to measure it (them).

            Pete said: Adult human brain energy is circa 20 joules per second, 20 watts. Yes, this is the energy consumed by, and emitted by thoughts, intentions, feelings, emotions, and dreams. Most of the energy falls within the long-wavelength infrared region of 10 μm; frequency region of 30 THz; individual photon energy level in the region of 120 meV. The main source of its energy is glucose. Of course, the brain controls muscles therefore thoughts can, indirectly, generate a mechanical power output of several hundred watts.

          • jm

            Feel free to fob me off on a wild goose chase to Google if you can’t or won’t explain yourself.

            Looks like a straight forward contradiction to me.

            Followed by evasive action.

          • I think we are almost coming to a conclusion now. Qi is just a versatile linguistic particle. A grammatic particle that has also made it into standalone existence. Fair examples given by jm, that much has to be acknowledged. So, while the Chinese have ample room for it in their truly amazing language, we are not really in need of any of its meanings, hence also not in need of the word. English already contains enough concise words for the very specific concepts handled by science.

            And now, ladies and gentlemen, the million-dollar question!
            Chinese medicine believes you can manipulate all these kinds of energy emitted by your body?

            And the answer is…
            Yes.

            And the reality is…
            No!

            You see, jm, thinking hard and hardly thinking are two states of the brain that do not have much of a difference in overall consumed or emitted energy.

          • “Whereas “qi” has no base dimensions, which renders it utterly useless for the purposes of quantitative and qualitative measurement.”

            Seems to function perfectly fine – quantitatively and qualitatively. Maybe base dimensions are overrated.

            As far as the “catch-all” term, Leigh went with joules. I was thinking more along the lines of “muscular system”. That’s a good umbrella term. What are the base dimensions of the muscular system?

            Another good umbrella term is ‘movement’. What’s the standard measurement for movement? Or ‘force’…standard measurement for force? Maybe movement, and force don’t really exist…since they mean many different things and there’s no standard measurement.

          • Leigh,

            You quoted Pete’s measuring part. The explaining part is here: http://edzardernst.com/2017/09/lynne-mctaggart-and-world-peace-something-to-worry-about/#comment-94819

            Read from “My intention is to type…” to “…approximate brain regions used for the task can be mapped using fMRI.”

          • Leigh,

            I knew what you meant, but I explained the base dimensions to make it abundantly clear that “qi” is literally baseless, which “jm” has admitted. “jm” is pretending that something can be measured without using a scale — a base. He wrote:

            Another good umbrella term is ‘movement’. What’s the standard measurement for movement? Or ‘force’…standard measurement for force? Maybe movement, and force don’t really exist…since they mean many different things and there’s no standard measurement.

            Obviously, “jm” doesn’t understand, and/or doesn’t want to admit, the meanings of the terms “measurement”, “movement”, and “force”. To admit that they are clearly defined would be admitting that “qi” is baseless nonsense.

            baseless [adjective]: without foundation in fact.

            As one of my very few areas of expertise happens to be in the field of fully-audited test & measurement, it is hilarious to watch “jm” incessantly discredit both himself and the alternatives-to-medicine which he attempts to justify.

            Further reading:
            http://skepdic.com/chi.html
            https://www.csicop.org/sb/show/energy_fields_of_life
            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Qi

            Note to “jm”: Desist from claiming that my technical comments describe, or in any way lend support to, the utterly baseless nonsense of “qi” and “Chinese med”.

          • Pete,

            You didn’t answer the questions.

            What’s the base dimension for the clearly defined term ‘movement’? Show me how that standard applies to a moving car, the Civil Rights Movement, the third movement in a symphony, change in the stock market, a change of opinion/idea, etc.

            What’s the base dimension for the clearly defined term ‘force’? Show me how that standard applies to pushing a car out of a ditch, forcing your way into a conversation, forcing someone’s hand, or even the force(s) that led to Brexit?

          • Yes indeed, Pete. Base measurement v baseless “measurement”. Most apt, most apt.

          • Pete

            Oh no. I hadn’t taken in the highlighted quote. I had tuned out of the thread.

            I’m struck dumb.

          • jm

            I’ll save Pete the wasted time and effort.

            After this, no more from me.

            You failed to provide your clear definition of “movement”.

            Newton first defined linear momentum as unchanged (constant/inertial) motion in a straight line: mass multiplied by velocity. Velocity is specified by direction and speed. Velocity = distance travelled per unit time in a given direction. Acceleration is rate of change of velocity.

            There are 7 base dimensions in physics including mass, time and length.

            Newton’s specification of force was, is and ever shall be: F=ma.

            You can work out the base dimensions of force, as clearly defined by Newton, for yourself.

            Note that “work” in science is defined as force multiplied by the distance over which the force acts: W=Fd. The dimensions of work are identical to those of energy which Pete has given.

            How does this apply to pushing a car?

            Work must be done. Energy must be expended. The car will move if an energy source supplies a sufficent force to overcome the car’s inertia (mass).

            Civil rights movements need work or it won’t happen. Symphonies need work or it won’t happen. Stock markets, change of opinion etc need work to make it happen.

            Forcing our way into a conversation needs work; forcing someone’s hand needs work; the forces that led to Brexit needed work. All work employs force and requires energy.

            All specified in the base dimensions of physics.

          • Leigh,

            Mass and velocity? You think you can evaluate a symphony, the Civil Rights Movement, or the stock market fluctuations using mass and velocity? Utterly useless for the purposes of quantitative and qualitative measurement of any of those movements.

            “Newton’s specification of force was, is and ever shall be: F=ma.”
            Also absolutely useless. You can’t measure forcing your way into a conversation or forcing someone’s hand with that equation. You can’t identify the forces that led to Brexit with that formula.

            “Civil rights movements need work or it won’t happen. Symphonies need work or it won’t happen. Stock markets, change of opinion etc need work to make it happen.”
            Bullshit. Show me an example. Plug the numbers into your magic “W=Fd “ and give me the result for the Civil Rights Movement. Use the same formula and the same “base dimensions of physics” and give me result for the second movement of a symphony of your choice.

            “You failed to provide your clear definition of “movement”.”
            There isn’t one. The clear definition of movement is contextual. Like the clear definition of qi is contextual.

          • Jm now resorts to applying homeopathic treatment to language. Alas, jm… The convention that words carry meanings does not entail that meanings carry words. The approximate entirety of alternative techniques is beginning to fail you, slowly. You see, according to your logic, the units of measurement of movement are “movement units“. You are following a line of circular reasoning for quite a while now and this is finally becoming evident. But people in here are beginning to not care anymore about what practitioners of Chinese Medicine think. They care to see what you think.

            You seem to agree on the significance of a measurable character of reality, but you refuse to calibrate your measurement tools. The hard problem with your case is that you are not simply using a tape measure without markings to try to measure lengths… You are trying to measure everything… with a tape measure with no markings…

            Qi is approaching universal-meaning status as jm is evolving his methodologies. There remains no more controversy on the matter at hand. “jm” likes the feeling of qi, because it imparts a sense of order to the world. And Chinese medicine practitioners use it, whilst most of them probably also have a thermometer hanging on the wall, which, by jm argumentation, is ample evidence that modern science can coexist with ancient wisdom. Yes, such is the sturdiness of arguments when conversing with jm.

            It is probably better to abstain from providing elementary physics to support any rational piece of knowledge against jm. The level of cognitive dissonance is balancing at such levels, that, should Chinese medicine practitioners feel like really studying some higher-level Physics, it would only be a matter of time before a Pandora’s-box-equivalent of stercobilin-decorated biomass opens up, creating an entire new world of endless possibilities for coexistence of modern science and ancient wisdom.

            I already sense jm, having opened a textbook of particle physics, exclaiming: “Wow…so that’s what qi is all about”.

            Dear all, another episode of “What Physicists Don’t Tell You” is coming to an end. Thank you for your persistence and don’t miss the next one, “The truth behind the Qi-boson”.

          • James

            “The convention that words carry meanings does not entail that meanings carry words.”

            Your zen riddle aside…do you think is anger an emotion? It’s pretty commonly accepted that it is. Turns out, ‘anger’ is one of the dictionary definitions of the term qi. Wikipedia kindly included the definition from a standard Chinese dictionary.

            Pete described the measurement of energy consumed by, and emitted by emotions. So Pete described the measurement of energy associated with the emotion ‘anger’. So Pete, by definition, described the measurement of energy associated with qi.

            Maybe we should move on and discuss cognitive dissonance and bias…

          • jm

            To write or play or evaluate a symphony needs work. Using Pete’s earlier calculation for brain power, we might get a ball-park figure for writing and evaluating. We could measure the energy consumed in playing and conducting.

            Energy was required for all those other things too. Fact.

            Did you manage to work out the dimensions of force?

            Too much hard work?

            Newton’s useless clear definition put a man on the moon.

            Qi doesn’t exist.

          • I shall attempt to explain something which is extremely important to understand…

            If quantity A and quantity B have the same units and the same base dimensions it is intuitive to assume that A and B can be added, subtracted, etc., because they represent the same type/category of quantity. Examples:
            7 days + 14 days = 21 days = 3 weeks (the base dimension is time);
            3 kWh + 7 kWh = 10 kWh of energy = 36 megajoules.

            10 kWh of electricity or gas energy is indeed equal to 36 megajoules, but 36 megajoules is not equal to 10 kWh! Why? Because the domain of kWh is a vector quantity whereas the domain of joules is [usually] a scalar quantity (the magnitude of the vector in this case).

            NB: We do not measure the energy of something, because energy is the measure.

            Our intuitive way of thinking fails us every time we forget to properly take into account the domain of the quantities. Obviously, 7 days + 14 days does not equal 21 days when, say, the domain of the 7 days is days at work, and the domain of the 14 days is days on holiday — it makes no sense to add them together even though they have the same units and base dimensions. Adding the numbers together in this case is a domain error, aka: an ontological error; a category error.

            Energy per se is [usually] a scalar quantity, and negative energy doesn’t make sense because it would break the rule that ‘energy can be neither created nor destroyed’: the conservation of energy. The work done by energy is [usually] a vector quantity even though it is reduced to scalar joules.

            Interestingly, torque has the same base dimensions as energy, but torque is not energy, it is a pseudo-vector: an axial vector; a moment of force; rotational force; SI unit name: newton metre. The domains of torque and energy are incompatible. Likewise, the domains of emotions, thoughts, and energy are mutually exclusive.

            Energy is expressly not a field, therefore each time someone mentions “energy field” we know it is utter nonsense.

            Note to “jm”: Your last claim “… So Pete, by definition, described the measurement of energy associated with qi.” is you, “jm”, making it abundantly clear to the readers how utterly clueless you are. Every time you claim that I have described some aspect of qi, you are making an ontological error. You are incapable of seeing the fundamental errors which you commit over and over again. Your comments fail to abide by the fundamental rules of logic therefore your arguments are invalid arguments.

          • Leigh,

            You keep bringing up vague, meaningless, unrelated terms like momentum, work, power and energy. A bit of bait and switch? We weren’t talking about work. We were talking movement, and force. If you can’t come up with a clear definition of movement, just say so.

            “Ball-park” figure? Please. Science depends on precision; anything else is vague arm waving that helps no-one. You can’t put a man on the moon with ball-park symphonic movements.

            Pete’s earlier calculation for brain power is nice, but writing and evaluating a symphony isn’t a symphonic movement. Movement is a not-a-thing, it is a “nothing” in effect. It is not a material, it is not measurable energy, it is not air or gas or anything made of atoms and molecules. It is only a figment of imagination, an idea, a subject of faith.

            “Did you manage to work out the dimensions of force?”
            There is no base dimension of force. You still haven’t told me how your magic formula F=ma comes up with a specific measurement of forcing your way into a conversation. The formula you invented sounds like vague arm waving. Science elucidates the fundamental nature of the things themselves, and your made up formula has nothing to do with forcing your way into conversations.

            “Newton’s useless clear definition put a man on the moon.”
            No it didn’t. NASA did. Fact.

            “Qi doesn’t exist.”
            I thought we got past that. Qi is defined as:
            ① air; gas
            ② smell
            ③ spirit; vigor; morale
            ④ vital/material energy
            ⑤ tone; atmosphere; attitude
            ⑥ anger
            ⑦ breath; respiration

            You live in a fantasy world if you think none of those exist. A client brought fresh flowers into the office today. The smell changed the spirit of the office, and created an atmosphere that was a breath of fresh air. That was the reality.

            Modern science has revealed the true nature of qi in the form of the measurable unit of energy (J). And Pete showed you how it’s measured. You insist on denying reality, and seem to have come off the rails of rational thought.

          • Pete,

            “Energy per se is [usually] a scalar quantity…”

            Usually, eh? So now you’re saying that “energy” magically has definitions that change on a whim? Science depends on precision; anything else is vague arm waving that helps no-one. You can’t change the definition to fit the circumstances.

          • No, jm. Unlike qi, energy does not magically change on a whim. If you understood science then you would know why I wrote “[usually]”. I cannot teach you via a comment thread the fundamental principles of science and logic that you do not understand.

            Qi has been, and still is, taken to mean so many different things that the best word for it is the word “thing”, because each of the words in your list is a thing.

            It’s easy to test whether or not your list of definitions of qi fits logically with your statement to Leigh “You live in a fantasy world if you think none of those exist. A client brought fresh flowers into the office today. The smell changed the spirit of the office, and created an atmosphere that was a breath of fresh air. That was the reality.”

            “A client brought fresh flowers into the office today. The qi changed the qi of the office, and created a qi that was a qi of fresh qi. That was the reality.” Which is utter nonsense, even though it is correct according to your list of definitions and I did not change the context of your statement.

            Tell us, jm, what was the energy change, in joules, in the office resulting from the client bringing fresh flowers?

          • “A client brought fresh flowers into the office today. The qi changed the qi of the office, and created a qi that was a qi of fresh qi. That was the reality.” “Which is utter nonsense…”

            Makes perfect qi to me!

          • Pete

            “Unlike qi, energy does not magically change on a whim.”
            At this point, I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic, playing stupid, clouded by bias, or if you actually think it’s magic…

            “…each of the words in your list is a thing.”
            It’s cute that you refer to it as ‘my’ list. I didn’t write the dictionary. As you know, that is the list of dictionary definitions for the word qi.

            “It’s easy to test…”
            The British grass roots movement to eliminate the third movement from all symphonic works forced the movement of serious musicians to France. The Prime Minister spent so much energy focusing on the energy savings from closed venues that she barely had enough energy to force an energy drink down her gullet. Protesters in force forced their way into her office and the energy from the movement of so many people shook the building. Literally and figuratively.

            You’re right. Testing was pretty easy. Energy, movement, and force are utter nonsense.

          • Unrelated?

            Shared base dimensions. I know you understand this.

            There is always uncertainty in measurements. Science quantifies it.

            You can put a man on the moon with Newton’s laws. No need for Einstein’s equations. NASA without Newton’s laws would be no more capable of putting a man on the moon (or landing an airplane) than TCM.

            Galileo advanced our understanding of motion considerably compared with Aristotelian notions, which missed the mark completely.

            Einstein discovered his equations of special relativity by holding fast to Galilean relativity when others were junking it.

            Newton admitted that for all practical purposes time and motion were relative, but believed absolute time, space and motion also existed. All these physicists made mistakes.

            All made advances in our understanding of motion.

            You are free to dismiss their advances as fantasies if you choose.

            I accept their advances. One of us is a fantasist. If I am, they must have been. If you are not a fantasist then I’m happy to be one.

          • You won’t force your way into a conversation if you can’t be heard.

            The maximum aerodynamic power output from the lungs to the glottis is approximately 10 watts, of which approximately 1% (screaming) to 0.0001% (whispering) may be radiated as acoustic power (sound).

            To force your way into a conversation don’t whisper.

            There is, of course – and I know you know this – a precisely defined relationship between power and force; clearly displayed in base dimensions.

          • Leigh,

            “You can put a man on the moon with Newton’s laws.”
            You really can’t. At the very least, you’re going to need a vehicle. And fuel. I know you understand this.

            “Galileo advanced …”
            That’s a lot of blah blah blah to avoid showing me how you use the magic base dimensions of movement to measure a symphonic movement. Or the Civil Rights Movement.

            “The maximum aerodynamic power output from the lungs…”
            You’re talking about making sound. Sound is a vague term. Science elucidates the fundamental nature of the things themselves. A conversation involves more than sound. Sometimes, a conversation involves no sound – so I wouldn’t call your vague term ‘sound’ the fundamental nature of a conversation. So you still haven’t told me how your magic formula F=ma comes up with a specific measurement of forcing your way into a conversation.

            Your distraction term “work” is pretty vague, too. I had a colleague solve a simple math problem, and do the work in her head. Your “magic work formula” (W=Fd) was utterly useless for measuring the whole process. She didn’t move at all. Not even a head tilt.

          • To live is to work.
            A conversation without any sound at all is possible.
            A conversation without any work at all is not.

            I have a friend who embarked on a degree in acupuncture. To aid her in her sincerely well intentioned pursuit, I gave her an exquisitely produced book of human anatomy, fit for a medical course, or simply to sit back and wonder at the complexity of the human machine. She junked the course after a couple of months, enlightened by the book, disappointed with acupuncture.

            I’m finished here.

          • I hope you friend continues to enjoy the book.
            A great book is like an effortless conversation.

          • In a nutshell, modern science has no place for qi. The places of all notions meticulously peddled herein by jm under the word “qi” have already been taken by other words. Science in english does not accept term-replacements without considerable linguistic and/or extraordinary scientific evidence.

            We seem to prefer the words energy, force, breath, gas, etc. I do at least, they sound quite well actually. We either use a different language, or a different reality. Anything that serves you well, you can believe.

            Anyway, jm, science in english has failed you. Don’t let that stop you from struggling to incorporate the word and meanings of “qi” in other languages however.

          • Well James, we agree on that. Qi isn’t a term used in “science in english”, as you put it. “Science in English” has its own vague terms like force, work, movement, gas, etc. It’s pretty useful if you want to understand Chinese Medicine, though.

            “Science in English” also won’t use the perfectly valid terms fuerza, trabajo, movimiento, or la exhalación.

            Or would you like to make the argument that fuerza doesn’t exist?

          • Nope. Force is not vague at all. Thanks to proper context, nothing on earth is more concise than a word, such as force. The word qi may also be very clear and precise when used in a chinese sentence in the chinese language, but in English, it only serves to break any context whatsoever. This is, of course, the desire of all-around qi-peddlers.

            The danger that you seem to disregard, is that, syntactically, the context assists in defining a used word, but thanks to the arrival of “qi“, peddlers can now stick to the word to redefine the context. This is textbook pseudoscience.

            Any context in english that has the word qi in it, may mean anything to anyone. Qi fits only in chinese wordings. I, myself, do not have the proper knowledge (as in, I don’t speak chinese) to evaluate how well it fits chinese wordings, but I have a hope that it does. So, good for them. In english, however, there is no need of science for meaningless letterings. All definitions necessary have already been assigned specific lexemes. Which is good for us, as well.

          • James,

            Each branch of science relies not only on the semantic precision of its clearly-stated terminology, it is thoroughly underpinned by the strict formal logic of modern mathematics.

            Mathematics allows for no hypocrisy and no vagueness.
            — Marie-Henri Beyle (pen name: Stendhal)

            In total contrast, the tiresome comments issued by “jm” are riddled with hypocrisy and vagueness — as is the entire business empire of alternatives to medicine.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quackery

          • “Any context in english that has the word qi in it, may mean anything to anyone.”

            No more than force, movement, plane, work, etc can mean anything to anyone. I’ve found that people are pretty good at navigating context. Only the highly superstitious, magically inclined, or just plain gullible folks would think that qi references some ‘supernatural force’ moving through the body.

          • I’ll bite again.

            A book is not a conversation. Any likeness is a figure of speech. To write or read a book needs work (J). So does any kind of conversation. Conversation needs at least two to tango.

            Google translates 焦耳 as joule in English and translates joule as 焦耳 in Chinese.
            https://translate.google.co.uk/?safe=off&rlz=1C1DVCI_enGB382&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&client=tw-ob#en/zh-CN/joule

            齐 translates as Qi in English; as a single character the Chinese meaning being “be level with”. (could that mean “be in balance” I wonder?) Qi translates as 齐 in Chinese, the English meaning being “the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.”

            The definition of qi in English dictionaries and Google Translate converge: the definition in English is “life force”.

            Science can discern no life force, and requires no life force to explain anything. The concept is redundant.

            Things “like a Joule” are a Newton and a Watt: Units of measurement with shared base dimensions – mass, time and length. Multiply the dimensions of force by length and you have the dimensions of work and energy. Divide the dimensions of work by time and you have the dimensions of power.

            How they are alike, and exactly how they are different, is defined in precisely specified, measurable ways.

            The fact that a multitude of things happen to share the same name is a trivial likeness. If there is some other “likeness” connecting them, what is it?

          • Leigh,

            Your bite is a bit off.

            If you’re looking in an English dictionary, you’ll probably only get a shorthand of Chinese med usage. I’m not sure why an English dictionary would include common, everyday uses of the word qi. If you want to know that, look at a Chinese to English dictionary. As I’ve pointed out, the Wikipedia ‘qi’ page kindly included it.

            The Chinese to English dictionaries usually include the character, and Romanization of the character – complete with tone marks.

            齐 is qí. (rising tone)
            氣 is qì. (falling tone)

            The one used in Chinese med (and the English dictionary on your shelf) is 氣. And if you put it into google translate…the first definition is “gas”. The second is “air”. Then “breath”. A bit down the list is “vital energy”, “energy of life”, and “certain symptoms”.

            “Science can discern no life force…”
            Sure it can. Body heat, breathing, blood circulating, brain function, digestion, elimination of waste…science recognizes all of these ‘life forces’ or ‘vital energies’. The ‘vital signs’ are body temp, pulse, breath rate, and blood pressure. People figured out a long time ago that these things are vital for life. They’re important. Not sure what you find redundant.

            Seriously Leigh, do you really think qi as used in Chinese med is referring to some sort of fairy dust, or magical bunnies or something running invisibly through the body creating life? Or do you suppose they’re talking about actual vital things that living bodies do – like breathe, and think, move blood, and digest food? Do you really think there aren’t more specific terms, used when needed and appropriate?

            The bunny or fairy dust or magic or supernatural ideas are fun, but won’t let you communicate very well with practitioners. They’ll think you’re bat shit crazy or have watched too many martial arts movies.

            Speaking of redundant…why even get into the whole qi thing in the first place? What does that have to do with EBM? Who cares what terms that particular medicine system uses, or what they use it for?

            One last thing – you said “A book is not a conversation.”
            I truly feel sorry for you.

          • Let’s check what the “experts” have to say:

            The word Reiki is composed of two Japanese words – Rei and Ki. When translating Japanese into English we must keep in mind that an exact translation is difficult. The Japanese language has many levels of meaning. Therefore the context the word is being used in must be kept in mind when attempting to communicate its essence. Because these words are used in a spiritual healing context, a Japanese/English dictionary does not provide the depth of meaning we seek, as its definitions are based on common everyday Japanese. As an example, Rei is often defined as ghost and Ki as vapor and while these words vaguely point in the direction of meaning we seek, they fall far short of the understanding that is needed.

            […]

            Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person’s Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it’s challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breath, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation. When a person dies, their Ki leaves the physical body. Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.


            See, while you are arguing using dictionary meanings and fantasy talk, the truth is that ki/qi/chi/etc. are used in a spiritual context in reality quackland. Now, I’m not going to care about how chinese doctors use it in their sentences, I am going to worry about how it is actually used as an imported good. Well, it fails all regulations. Still, jm, even if you don’t live in this reality, in which one do you live anyway?

          • The English dictionary contains the word “Qi” with an “i”. Your accents don’t exist in English. English dictionaries and Google Translate all give the English definition “life force”. As far as the English language is concerned that is what the word Qi means. We are talking in English so we need English definitions.

            Science does not measure any life force. Terms like “vital energy” and “energy of life” are useless, as far as science is concerned, unless you specify how they are measured. There are no units of vital energy. “Energy of life” is so vague a term as to be meaningless. Those terms seem to fit the bill as a life force. Another meaningless term as far as science is concerned.

            How the term is used in Chinese philosophy and medicine, as far as I can judge, is as a vague, unquantifiable, wavy-handy word meaning something must be at work in the universe doing stuff, let’s call it qi. Could use the word god if you wanted. These are filler words people used when they were at a complete loss to understand how and why stuff happens.

            I know that science exists in China alongside pre-scientific belief systems – as is the case all over the world. Pre-scientific belief systems contain lots of notions that science has discarded. Qi being one – it’s a life force, don’t forget, we are talking in English.

            You introduced the whole qi thing into the conversation, I believe. You carry on talking to your books, though anyone seeing you will think you are bat-crazy.

          • I was struck by the list of definitions which come up for 氣.

            This was the chord which it struck:

            Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

            Date of composition of Genesis, I believe, pre-dates the earliest references of qi on the wikipedia page.

          • “We are talking in English so we need English definitions.”

            Unless we’re talking about Chinese med theory & practice. Then it would make sense to use the term as its used in that system. The English definition of ‘movement’ is “a principal division of a longer musical work”. But it would be silly to discuss Newton’s impact on space travel using that definition.

            “Science does not measure any life force.”

            Every doctor I know measure blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, etc. They’re pretty vital.

            “You introduced the whole qi thing into the conversation, I believe.”

            Yes, because for some weird reason, lots of commenters on this blog want to measure qi. Pete showed you how. You could also take a pulse, count breaths, things like that.

            Unless you really think it’s magic. Then you’re on your own. Good luck with that.

          • Sorry, I should have said pre-dates earliest philosophical references to qi.

          • jm, you’re really hitting troll status big time.

            “The English definition of ‘movement’ is “a principal division of a longer musical work”. FYI, the Scottish definition of movement is “a jobbie”, and that’s exactly what you keep laying on this blog.

            “Every doctor I know measure blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, etc. They’re pretty vital.” Yes, and they’re separate measurements. No gross measurement of a “vital force” or any similar jobbie.

            In case you don’t really understand what science lets us know for absolutely sure… Living things are collections of microscopic cells, each dependent on getting sufficient nutrients and oxygen to sustain their function. They’re literally burning the organic molecules they depend on in the oxygen that’s available to them, only they do it in discrete, tiny biochemical steps so they don’t overheat and they can utilize the energy obtained from the ‘fire’ to perform their functions. When an organism — particularly a huge, multicellular thing like an animal — dies, it’s simply that the number of cells provided with insufficient nutrients and oxygen becomes too great to maintain the whole set-up. There’s no mysterious ‘life-force’ or ‘qi’ involved, despite what ancient Chinese wisdom teaches. The rest of us have outgrown such simplistic thinking; why can’t you?

          • It is a fact that work is required to write, conduct and perform a musical “movement”- which is some way down the list of definitions in my Chambers.

            It is stupid to deny Newton’s impact on mechanics – the science of motion – the ramifications of which are vast. The body is a machine.

            The standard unit of pressure is the Pascal (Pa) measured in Newtons per square metre. Fluids under pressure exert forces against the surfaces of their containers. When it comes to heart rate we are talking the body electric. We need Maxwell’s equations to understand what causes the heart to beat. We have discussed breathing before.

            A medical doctor doesn’t need to know Maxwell’s equations, but she should know that underlying anatomy, physiology, and symptoms is biochemistry and physics. The term “life force” is useless at every level – to a medical doctor. Ergo the term qi in English is medically useless at every level – to a medical doctor. No doctor I know has ever used either term.

            How’s you life force (aka qi) today? Let’s see what we can do to get it flowing more evenly, shall we? Do you mean my blood flow doctor? Yes and no, something like that… but not exactly that; your life force is very subtle, we can’t precisely say what it is. Science hasn’t yet pinned it down. It’s a bit of this and that and then the other, many many many things actually, but it flows, whatever it is. The main thing is we know how to manipulate it, whatever it is, exactly. See these pins, relax and I’ll stick them into very precise points, see… It works I do assure you, though science can’t say how exactly. The life force works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.

            Pete didn’t show how to measure a long abandoned concept in medical science. You are correct that in EBM terms don’t matter so much. In science based medicine they certainly do. Science cares deeply about terms. EBM’s verdict on acupuncture? The term “placebo” covers it. I won’t bother checking Google Translate.

          • When I discuss ‘movements’ with my patients, it is usually in reference to the function of their bowels. Maybe that’s what “Qi” is?

          • An excellent approach, I must say! In specific, it is the life force that flows through the bowels.

            We always have to be specific with the semantics, so, it’s what’s inside that counts! Qi and the bowels appear to share the same content in that respect.

          • Frank,

            “Yes, and they’re separate measurements. No gross measurement of a “vital force”…”

            Of course they are separate measurements. They’re different things. All vital. You’re smart enough to know the difference between something being in the category of a “vital force” and “a singular, mysterious vital force”. And yet you persist in semantic deception, preying on the gullible, or the magically inclined. And you actually think I’m the troll? That’s funny.

            And speaking of funny…I hope you did this on purpose:

            “Living things are collections of microscopic cells…fire, function, blah blah blah…There’s no mysterious ‘life-force’ or ‘qi’ involved, despite what ancient Chinese wisdom teaches.”

            Oddly enough, “ancient Chinese wisdom” as you call it (and Greek, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Tibetan, etc etc) would teach that living things are dependent on getting sufficient nutrients and oxygen to sustain their function. It would teach that there needs to be a balance between the ‘fire’ involved in literally cooking the organic material – and ‘water’, the steps the body takes so it doesn’t overheat. When the water/fire (or kan/li…if you want to use Chinese terms) gets out of balance – you’re not healthy. Too far out of balance (as you point out) you die.

            Show me any medicine system that has ever existed that doesn’t have that model at its core. The traditional systems I know of include elimination of the waste produced by that ‘literally burning’ process as pretty vital too. I’m assuming that through science, you understand how important that is.

            One bit of difference would be in your phrasing ‘literally burning’. Since you’re so keen on being accurate and specific, traditional systems would talk about ‘cooking’ the raw material. ‘Burning’ would be seen as too much ‘fire’ – an imbalance. A commonly used metaphor in traditional medicine systems (including Chinese med) involves a pot of water over a fire. Too much fire, the water boils over and puts out the fire. Not enough fire, the water doesn’t boil and cooking doesn’t happen.

            Or you could simply look at the traditional character for qi (氣). It combines the radicals for air and rice, indicating the steam coming off of cooked rice. When the water and fire are in balance, you have the right amount of steam and nicely cooked rice. And I’m sure you know that rice is often used as a metaphor for the basic elements necessary to sustain life.

            I think you protest a bit too much Frank, you sly little jobbie. Or is it pure coincidence that you used the nutrients, oxygen, fire, manage-the-fire example?

          • Leigh,

            “Science cares deeply about terms.”

            I know. You don’t seem to, though. You should probably just stick with ‘magic’ and call it a day.

          • You have an obsession with the word “magic”. Not I. In my first comment I spoke about wishful or imaginary “thought energy” because I feared you might be heading in Lynne McTaggart’s direction. Her wishful thinking regarding a scientifically proven universal consciousness is megamadly hilarious.

            The notion of a life force is not inherently implausible. It is a natural enough notion absent very much science. Modern science has rendered the notion dead, defunct and redundant. More so than a dodo which was once a thing. A life force was never a thing.

            Concerning definition of terms. When conversing in English I look to English dictionaries for the meanings of English words and Chinese dictionaries for the meanings of Chinese words. I don’t understand Chinese and so only get a flavour of the real meanings of Chinese terms. Therefore I stick to the language I know, to be safe.

            In science I use the internationally agreed scientific terms of measurement. These terms seem to suit you if you believe that the Chinese meaning of qi is being measured, otherwise you are contemptuous of them.

            Hypocrite heal thyself.

          • Leigh,

            “A life force was never a thing.”
            As far as I know, that’s true. None of the traditional systems I’ve studied (or even casually looked into) subscribe to the idea of ‘a life force’. I think that notion was rendered dead a long long time ago. I’d also disagree with your “The notion of a life force is not inherently implausible.”.

            “These terms seem to suit you if you believe that the Chinese meaning of qi is being measured…”
            I never said Pete was measuring the meaning of qi. Not even sure how you got there. I said Pete was measuring qi (in that particular case, emotion). If you haven’t understood that yet…let’s just leave it.

            “…otherwise you are contemptuous of them.”
            Not at all. But I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that words have multiple meanings (work, force, movement, plane, etc). I’m also comfortable with vague terms. They’re quite useful. I’m comfortable with specific terms, too. They’re useful as well. Depends on what your goal is.

            I’m not real comfortable with “Therefore I stick to the language I know, to be safe.” and claiming that you’re practicing good science. It’s not good science to come to conclusions if you haven’t put in the work to understand what you’re talking about.

          • [jm] I said Pete was measuring qi (in that particular case, emotion).

            How many times do you have to be told: that is not what I said. I repeat, desist from claiming that my technical comments describe, or in any way lend support to, the utterly baseless nonsense of “qi” and “Chinese med”.

            The specific 21st-century term for emotion is, obviously, “emotion”, the specific term is not “qi” in any language, and it never was. We have instruments for measuring emotions: they are crucial to the medical field of mental healthcare.

            The fact that you are making false claims regarding my technical comments — on an article entitled Lynne McTaggart and world peace – something to worry about!!! — is indeed something to worry about: it speaks volumes for your despicable lack of integrity!

          • Pete,

            You don’t have to tell me at all – I know that’s not what you said. But the fact remains, you showed how to measure the energy of emotions. Emotions fall under the category of qi. That’s just the way it is…good job!

            Use whatever term you like – vague, specific, 21st century, BCE Chinese med, Greek Humors, doshas…doesn’t matter. Different systems use different names for the same thing. So what?

            You seem to have some weird desire to have other systems adopt terminology from modern science. That’s not going to happen – that would be stupid. Accept it and move on.

          • JM’s attempt at humor:

            “These terms seem to suit you if you believe that the Chinese meaning of qi is being measured…”
            I never said Pete was measuring the meaning of qi. Not even sure how you got there. I said Pete was measuring qi (in that particular case, emotion). If you haven’t understood that yet…let’s just leave it.

            This type of grayscale humor is ok for primary school maybe. But we’re grown-ups here. People don’t laugh along with you anymore. They laugh at you.

            JM’s worldview:

            I’m also comfortable with vague terms. They’re quite useful.

            Comfort with vague terms is a first-hand symptom of cognitive dissonance. You need a large level of flexibility to be able to adapt reality to your beliefs without too much hassle. Vague terms are quite useful when you need to be non-specific, as are the effects of most pseudomedical treatments. They are also very useful to fill the emptiness of argumentations, similar to treatment with homeopathic excrementum vaccinium in a sense.

            JM’s take on science:

            I’m not real comfortable with “Therefore I stick to the language I know, to be safe.” and claiming that you’re practicing good science.

            So, the most proper scientific methdology is to focus your work and research OUTSIDE your area of expertise and knowledge. Of course, that comes bundled with the pick-your-interpretation package. Actually, the choose-your-interpretation package is the primary purchase, the (pseudo)scientific method is just the side-dish (served cold, of course), to baffle even more laypeople. A one-way ticket to flooding the world with pseudoscience, indeed.

            JM’s attempt to sound reasonable, to trick the audience into believing he supports rationality:

            “A life force was never a thing.”
            As far as I know, that’s true. None of the traditional systems I’ve studied (or even casually looked into) subscribe to the idea of ‘a life force’. I think that notion was rendered dead a long long time ago. I’d also disagree with your “The notion of a life force is not inherently implausible.”.

            Well, “qi is believed to be a vital force” and “is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine“. JM’s pretending to be rational is not very efficient. JM should study acting in greater depth and practice more carefully.

            Despite the complexities of the issue, the analysis is very simple. JM has wasted a lot of time studying traditional systems, so now JM is trying to make the most out of the time spent. This is smart, in some way, but it is not wise to end up believing all that stuff yourself. And, actually, yes, the notion of a life force is not inherently implausible, even for rational people. But after considering facts, evidence, knowledge, reality, and weird stuff like that, it is rendered implausible.

          • [jm to Pete] But the fact remains, you showed how to measure the energy of emotions. Emotions fall under the category of qi. That’s just the way it is…good job!

            For goodness’ sake, jm, desist from misquoting/misrepresenting my technical comments! I have amply explained why your misquotes and misrepresentations are abjectly false. Accept it and move on.

          • “I have amply explained why your misquotes and misrepresentations are abjectly false. Accept it and move on.”

            You actually haven’t, Pete. You’ve tried – but your explanation requires you to use a fantasy meaning of qi.

          • [jm to Pete] but your explanation requires you to use a fantasy meaning of qi.

            “Qi” is nothing other than a fantasy:
            · [mass noun] the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things;

            · [count noun] a fanciful mental image, typically one on which a person often dwells and which reflects their conscious or unconscious wishes;

            · [count noun] an idea with no basis in reality.

            · a genre of imaginative fiction involving magic and adventure, especially in a setting other than the real world.

            Accept it and move on.

          • Pete, we could tediously run through the definition of qi again – but what would be the point. You already know that ‘anger’ is a dictionary definition of qi. You know that anger is an emotion. You did a great writeup of how you would go about measuring emotion, or in Chinese med…qi.

            Now you’re bending over backwards trying to make some deceptive case that, no no, that’s not what I said. You’re trying to con people, you modern day snake oil salesman, you.

            Relax. It’s no big deal. You’re not the first person to show how to measure qi. People do it all the time, measuring breath rate, blood pressure, pulse. You just showed another way.

          • JM must be feeling very limited in this age, with everybody around him being so closed-minded and stuff. Things would be much better if he could travel back in time to live along his fellow open-minded civilians, who believed that food, drink and breath are trasformed into qi.

            Well, quite right indeed. Qi is not a fantasy……it’s just something outside reality…

          • Suffice it to say, that measuring qi in two or more manners (cf. breath, pulse rate, etc.) readily demonstrates that qi is nothing, in specific. If qi was something, at least, it would be one thing and measured in one way, with specific units. Qi is as much an umbrella term for fantasies, as woo is for jm’s propositions.

            So, the good thing is that, while Pete did not show a way to measure qi, jm did show some ways to measure woo. Now, let’s move on from the umbrella term “bullshit”, and deal with reality for a moment, shan’t we, jm…

          • FWIW, Wikipedia lists Qi as one of its “Examples of pseudoscience concepts, proposed as scientific though they are not”. Hardly surprising, therefore, to find it so earnestly discussed and defended on this blog, devoted to pseudomedicine.

          • Frank,

            Also FWIW, that would mean that someone, at some point, thought that qi was science or a scientific term to begin with. That’s kind of weird in and of itself.

            At some point there will have to be a term for the process of coming to hard conclusions based on information gathered from sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, or random websites. And they can add that term to the pseudoscience list on the Wikipedia page.

    • Eh, Peter, have you ever read Carl Sagan’s fable about the dragon in the garage?
      It exactly describes your “energy emitted by thoughts or the heart, or by intentions, feelings, and emotions”, it exists only in your imagination.

  • Forget qi. It doesn’t exist. Energy exists. We can measure it.

  • Isn’t that funny Edzard: the most prolific ‘troll’, and also make believe ‘doctor’, complaining about trolls and make believe medicine?

  • One could, if one wished, claim that modern science has revealed the true nature of qi in the form of the measurable unit of energy (J).

    What was perhaps an ancient intuition of some subtle power flowing through and between things has been rendered real, courtesy of modern science.

    There are no non-J enclaves in science. Medical science is bound by the same fundamental rules as the rest of science. Essentially the same energy is at work everywhere. The same energy that gets John into outer space is at work inside John and his spacesuit; it is even at work in space itself.

    If qi = J, then the non-quantifiable stuff of traditional Chinese medicine, is rendered redundant. Ancient intuition and modern science are in sweet harmony.

    In the same wistful spirit of harmony between ancient and modern, one could if one wished include the Pythagoreans, who themselves delighted in musical/mathematical/cosmological harmonies, and whose intuition of numbers being the essential stuff of nature might fancifully be said to have been vindicated by the modern laws of physics.

    What one cannot do is say that modern science may coexist in harmony alongside ancient belief systems based on inspired intuitions and pristine ignorance. It’s all far more complex than was dreamed of in their philosophies. We just know a hell of lot more than they did. Had they known then what we know now, who can imagine what we would now know!

    • Precisely! Inclusion of ancient knowledge in modern science does not make integrative science… It only makes ancient science!

    • “One could, if one wished, claim that modern science has revealed the true nature of qi in the form of the measurable unit of energy (J)….”
      So what’s the fuss all about, with the “Forget qi. It doesn’t exist. Energy exists. We can measure it.”?

      “If qi = J, then the non-quantifiable stuff of traditional Chinese medicine, is rendered redundant.”
      Unless you practice Chinese medicine. In which case, you would use the terminology of that system. Again…what’s the fuss?

      “What one cannot do is say that modern science may coexist in harmony alongside ancient belief systems based on inspired intuitions and pristine ignorance.”
      You’re right. One would say that traditional sciences and modern science may coexist in harmony alongside each other. Alongside is harmonious. Mixing and matching can get chaotic, confusing, and there’s no need for it.

      Ancient belief systems can coexist in harmony with modern belief systems. In theory, anyway.

      • jm said “Ancient belief systems can coexist in harmony with modern belief systems. In theory, anyway.” This is where you come off the rails of rational thought, jm. Science is emphatically not a belief system; it’s a tool for distinguishing truth from delusion. It is based on reproducible evidence. That’s why it has made such spectacular progress in the past few centuries.

        The exponents of traditional Chinese medicine did not make use of the tool of science. They came up with qi, yin, yang, vital forces, meridians and the rest not by experimental testing but by philosophical argument, in much the same way as the world’s religions involve themselves in ‘teachings’ based on totally different beliefs. They all make a virtue out of ‘faith’, eschewing every piece of progress based on evidence. They turn a blind eye to science: they are all argumentum ex culo.

        You come off the rails of rational thought spectacularly when you quote Leigh Jackson’s remark that “What one cannot do is say that modern science may coexist in harmony alongside ancient belief systems based on inspired intuitions and pristine ignorance.” Your affirmative response that “One would say that traditional sciences and modern science may coexist in harmony alongside each other” totally ignores Leigh’s point with sly alteration of his words. You elevate “ancient belief systems” to the status of “traditional science”. I know, you’ll say that “science” only means “knowledge”, but a belief system is, by definition, not the same thing as knowledge.

        “Ancient belief systems can coexist in harmony with modern belief systems.” Quite. Belief systems are inherently inferior to robustly demonstrated evidence. Astrology can exist alongside modern astronomy, but one is a belief system that the other demonstrates, by means of the tool of science, to be nonsense. There is no place for astrology in the world of reality. Traditional Chinese Medicine can exist alongside science-based medicine, but one is a belief system that the other demonstrates, by means of the tool of science, to be nonsense. Please stop trying to denigrate the results of countless thousands of scientific advances over hundreds of years by equating them with your “belief system”.

        • Frank: +1!

          James: I much enjoy your comments. Slightly paraphrasing, if I may, I relish “Linguistically versatile cultural particle.”

          jm: We are definitely agreed that mix-n-match is not on. McTaggart’s “The Field” is mix-n-match on steroids. She tells of telepathising Qijong healers attuned to vacuum energy. The current prominence of evidence-based medicine brings science-based medicine hard up against traditional medicines. Conflict, chaos and imaginary harmony is the inevitable result.

        • Frank,

          “Science is emphatically not a belief system;”
          I agree – never said it was.

          “They came up with qi, yin, yang, vital forces, meridians and the rest not by experimental testing but by philosophical argument…”
          Who told you that? More importantly, why in the world would you believe that?

          “You elevate “ancient belief systems” to the status of “traditional science”.”
          No, they’re quite different.

          “Traditional Chinese Medicine can exist alongside science-based medicine, but one is a belief system that the other demonstrates, by means of the tool of science, to be nonsense.”
          TCM is neither. It seems to be created as kind of a ‘grab-bag’, gathering bits and pieces of different systems from all over China and force fitting them together. An example of mix-and-match chaos, creating something not even close to the sum of its parts. And they took great pains to make sure references to actual belief systems were stripped out. But they tacked ‘Traditional’ onto the name – either as homage to the systems they bastardized or maybe to give it some credibility or something.

          But that’s way off the way off-topic thread we’re on.

        • Leigh,

          “The current prominence of evidence-based medicine brings science-based medicine hard up against traditional medicines.”

          Not on this blog. Studies referenced on this blog focus on isolated pieces taken from traditional medicine systems. Looking at the isolated pieces is fun, but hardly “hard up”.

          Edzard also (I guess mainly) focuses on modern alternative practices. Different.

  • A conversation between a TCM Air Traffic Control coordinator named “jm”, and the first officer (FO) responsible for co-piloting a civil aviation jetliner having the designated flight number YZ123…

    JM: Air traffic control to flight Yankee Zulu 123: the breath of your aircraft requires adjustment.

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: Acknowledged; we will make the adjustments to our aircraft after you have specified the required adjustments.

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123: the breath, the qi, of your aircraft requires adjustment in order to bring it into optimal alignment with the forces of nature.

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: Please specify which parameters of our flight require adjustment; are you referring specifically to our altitude?

    JM: No! You need to adjust the breathing of your aircraft through the air, its qi. Whenever you encounter an air traffic controller who claims that qi is literally about altitude, you need to find a new TCM air traffic controller!

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: Please specify which parameters of our flight require adjustment; are you specifically referring to our rate of descent, or to our airspeed?

    JM: No! You need to adjust the breathing of your aircraft through the air, its qi. Whenever you encounter an air traffic controller who claims that qi is literally about altitude, rate of descent, or airspeed, you need to find a new TCM air traffic controller!

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: We are an estimated five minutes away from our final approach; please specify which parameters of our flight require adjustment!

    JM: From the agitation in your voice, it appears that your breathing, your qi, and the breathing of your aircraft, its qi, are out of alignment therefore they both require adjusting!

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: We are an estimated three minutes away from our final approach. Please specify explicitly which parameters of our flight path require adjustment!!!

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123: Which part of your TCM Air Traffic Control training isn’t clear to you?

    FO: Yankee Zulu 123 to air traffic control: We are an estimated one minute away from our final approach; please specify explicitly which parameters of our flight path require adjustment!!!!

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123, please specify which part of your TCM Air Traffic Control training isn’t clear to you?

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123, please reply to my last message.

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123, please reply to my last message.

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123, we have lost you on radar, please reply to my last message.

    JM: Yankee Zulu 123, we have lost you on radar, please reply to my last message, you have not answered my questions!


    • Unfortunately, JM was referring to their longitude, to determine on which meridian they are located… And the first officer ought to carry some needles with him, just in case… apparently…

    • Nice one, Pete, but you should understand that ‘flying’ is just a metaphor, not a reality.

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