The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Medical Qi Gong = Marshmallow Foundations

Imagine you went to school to learn how to build houses. You went there and the instructors taught you about foundations, materials, framing, nailing patterns, sustainable and/or green technology, etc. There was along the way a little bit of weird talk about fringe stuff like making buildings out of "alternative materials" and how some people were amazing at doing it that way. Some instructors were all about those "alternatives".

Of course, no government would ever actually let you build a house out of these materials. It wouldn't be safe and it certainly wouldn't stand up to the test of weather and actual building stresses. The supporters of these "alternatives", however, were convinced that not only were the "alternates" safe, they were better than "conventional" materials. They argued that the governments were impinging on their "freedom" to use whatever building materials they chose; if they want to pour a house foundation of marshmallow, they should be able to because look at the amount of shock absorption it would have! It would be damn earthquake-proof!

Silly, right? The thing is, it's no more silly than what is being bandied about (and has been for decades) in medicine, particularly around the edges of health care. One major difference is that if you actually built a house foundation out of marshmallow, the building would not even get vertical. The failure would be so complete and catastrophic that denying it as anything else would be the ruining of anyone attempting such a ridiculous position.

For a "modality" like homeopathy, however, it gains an amount of fake credibility because the effects - or, more correctly, non-effects - are interpreted as the patient (or should I say, "victim"?) getting better. Nevermind that homeopathy has been repeatedly, to the point of nausea, been shown to be ineffective for any condition. Nevermind that the implausibility of the basic workings of homeopathy would render any further investigation moot. Nevermind that if even the most elemental principle of homeopathy were proven true a Nobel Prize in chemistry would be given and textbooks the world over would be rewritten. The fact remains that it sometimes looks like it is effective, so it's still on shelves and recommended by gullible health-care providers to their trusting patients.

For example, I work at a physiotherapy clinic doing massage therapy. Being an RMT (registered massage therapist) gets you invited to partake in loads of seminars for all sorts of wacky crap. One of the more recent emails I received was to see if I would like to take a "medical Qi Gong" course. If you're not sure what Qi Gong (aka Chi Kung) is, you're lucky, as it's one of the more pervasive and dumb forms of TCM or "traditional Chinese medicine". I use the word "medicine" very loosely there. Here is a video of an old news show purportedly showing a "chi master" demonstrating on his students:Obviously, this is silliness at its most egregious. Willing students not wanting to make their teacher look foolish, an American who has "studied hard martial arts" but can't get even the rudimentary pieces of a throw together, and dumbfounded giggling hosts make for an embarrassing spectacle.

Medical Qi Gong claims to use the so-called "energy" supposedly produced by these people to diagnose and treat sick people. It is pretty gross to think that seriously ill people can get taken in by parlour tricks, convinced to use them instead of actual medicine, and then get more sick or even die. Just ask Makayla Sault - oh, wait, you can't because she's dead due to leaving real medicine behind and using quack nonsense to try and treat cancer. I find it disgusting that a professional health organization in Canada is promoting fatuous crap as a way to "treat" sick and injured patients.

Here is a great explanation of how one particular "qi" or "chi" demonstration works: It is disheartening to read the comments (disappointing YouTube comments?! No way!), but believers will do what their name implies.

The burden of proof lies on the one making the claim - if Qi Gong is real and it can do all the stuff attributed to it, get some actual proof and go get you a Nobel Prize in physics. Please. That would be awesome.

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3 Barbaric Yawps:

At 8/9/15 3:40 pm, Anonymous YourEssayHelper said...

Love this! Lots of haters on here because they just don't get it. I just did my Qi Gong exercises this morning and I feel great... Wonder how all the haters on here are feeling... Probably not so great if you just run around hatin' all the time. Try some Qi Gong y'all!

At 18/9/15 3:49 am, Anonymous prasad said...

It was really interesting and very helpful to others.

At 28/9/15 12:10 am, Blogger Woody said...

YourEssayHelper - haters, haters ... I wasn't in on skepticism expression for long before I noticed the accusations of 'hater'. Wasn't long before I received such accusations myself.
My path to skepticism was along the lines of concern, compassion and a grim dislike of fraudulent, cheating folk who milk the gullible public and fill its media forums with unsupported crap.
Almost any exercise will be good for a person, make them feel active, physically better and in a far better mood to face the rest of the day. I like this, too.
But on the path of the skeptic, the scientifically sceptical, one also takes an awful lot of data and the results of responsible investigation into fantastic claims.
It's fresh out the scientific method and teaches us how we can best go about reaching conclusions, the many, many logical fallacies and reasoning errors that affect our judgement and how we can avoid them.
Skeptics are perhaps the most concerned about the rational conclusion reaching process, because we've learned too well in investigation how many unsupported, based only on fantastical, un-shown anecdote myths continue into popular belief and the group-assumption of society.
The victims of broken trust, the psuedo-medicines and treatments that linger in a still superstitious human market ... very few of the people who call themselves sceptics, evaluators of the evidence or open-minded seekers of truth, are actually just mired in hate and doubt and denial of any idea that they don't like.
Most of the skeptics I've met or at least exchanged with, don't deny the value of personal satisfaction gained from healthy activity, It is the claims of a process, a supposedly natural process by which things happen ... and what rational investigation into the mechanism claimed, which concern us.
Humanity's acceptance and allowance of the un-shown, the amazing claims of incredible effects, create's major problems, not always obvious, to our societies and the advance of human-kind in general, which is really the source of our concern, powering our will to get ALL of the evidence behind a claim out in the clear open and giving us the possibility of drawing a conclusion about the subject based ONLY on the evidence.

All the best,


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