Read about The Theory of Interest first, if you've come here because of women. Otherwise, check the table of contents. Despite model scenarios, you can lose some illusions here.

Pokud jste tu kvůli ženám, přečtěte si, o čem Teorie zájmu vlastně je. Jinak zkuste rovnou obsah. Ač uvedené jsou modelové situace, nedivte se, když tu přijdete o iluze.


Posted by SomeoneCZ in , ,

Good-bye ReikiIs explanation of Reiki nothing more but a Barnum Statement? This question became the corner stone, when I tried to comprehend, why even university-educated people are prone to accept Reiki as something valid. Note that there is no scientific proof that reiki energy exists at all. All we have is a personal experience, subjective feelings and the hype.

Regarding the personal experience and subjective feelings, there is a phenomenon called Phantom pain. People experience signals, such as the pain, which are related to a limb that is no longer a part of body; e.g. thanks to an amputation. Generally, the effect is called Phantom limb sensation. Not limited to, the sensation can be a feeling of touching, heat rising, pressure and itchiness. Do you see? These are the same signals, which people report, when they suppose they feel some pseudoscientific energy such as Reiki. Therefore, personal experience does not prove Reiki, because people can feel the same effects without the alleged reiki energy.

Okay, some people experience these sensations regularly, on Reiki sessions. It is possible to explain this with a conditioning – the Pavlov reflex. Instead of having a salivating dog, we just have a believer in Reiki and the session is the trigger.

To prove Reiki, we would need a device that would measure the energy. Such device would not have a brain and therefore would not be prone to the phantom sensations like a human is. So far, no device has ever measured the reiki energy (so credibly as e.g. ammeter measures the electric current). Perhaps, as a consequence, reiki devotees insist that their energy is non-physical. Therefore, we cannot measure it with a physical device. However, available evidence supports a much simpler theory – reiki energy does not exist at all.

With Reiki, we are asked to believe that a reiki master* absorbs a cosmic/universal/life/etc., reiki energy. Then, he channels it allegedly to a patient’s body. Regarding the energy, a description about supposed effects is available. However, I never found an explanation on how the channeling is done. Therefore, I consider the Reiki explanation as vague and a red light flashes on, because I am aware of the Forer effect, aka Barnum statements.

*Reiki master can be a man or a woman. Just for simplicity, the following text uses man. Principles of given arguments apply to any healing method that utilizes a pseudoscientific energy.

To me, it’s quite interesting that I really saw no explanation or instructions on the channeling. Reiki masters just keep on telling us that they pass the information personally. So, it’s kinda strange that with so many friends of Reiki, no one published the information yet. Statistically taken, the probability of leaking the secret grows with the rising number of the friends. Is a Reiki master a true-believer into a pseudoscientific energy, or a con-artist that is well aware of the real nature of Reiki? What could we find behind the proverbial curtain of mystery?

Consider a photovoltaic energy source. It collects Sun-emitted energy to channel it as an electric current into a power grid. Such description is vague in the sense that it does not give details. However, it is very well known that there is a detailed theoretical explanation available and that it corresponds with the available evidence. Perhaps, once we would start looking for more examples of such channeling, they would appear altogether with a scientific explanation and evidence. For example, a chimney channels smoke from the fireplace. Actually, smoke rises up thanks to the heated air. To heat the air, it is necessary to give it some energy. Thus, the chimney actually channels a thermal energy.

Looking at such examples and considering the Forer effect, I do not wonder that people accept vague statements about the reiki channeling. Since the statements are vague, people try to complete them on their own. In the process of subjective validation, they supply what is necessary to trick them into the reiki-belief. To cite Ian Rowland [84]: "If you know how the deception works, then you cannot be deceived by it. If you do not know, then you can."

In addition to the explained psychological trickery, there is a medical, evidence-based scientific research on Reiki [142]. It states that within randomized clinical trials, none of Reiki claims has been proven. Thus, we are left with a reasonable explanation that Reiki’s placebo effect "heals" by the power of suggestion [96]. Today, there is even no reason to suspect the placebo effect to have an important clinical effect in general [143]. It just affects the patient-reported outcome.

I found it almost possible to disprove Reiki in terms of the classic physics. Any mass, such as human body for instance, can hold only a limited amount of energy. Adding of more energy produces a waste heat. Over-heating human body leads to hyperthermia. Since Reiki masters do not usually die because of hyperthermia, we would inevitably face such rhetoric that the amount of added energy is not measurable by the classic physics. So, let’s move to the quantum physics directly. You know, many CAM healers are quite fond of using the quantum physics terms to support their claims. Actually, it turned out it be a very elegant approach to object the Reiki in the field of quantum physics.

There is a so-called principle of duality. It states that a mass exposes particle and wave behavior. We can say that a human body is a set of organized particles. For the energy channeling to happen, the body must accept the energy first. One possible way is a particle interaction – for example, a fermentation of the Sunday lunch. Or, there is another possibility to add energy as a wave. For example, sun light is composed of photons and it is a wave. Sunstrokes and sunburns prove photon-delivered energy.

So, what would happen, if one of the human-body particles would receive an additional energy? Per say, somewhere on your elbow? It would affect its neighbor particles immediately. The propagation of energy would change accordingly to the particle’s neighborhood. There is only way a brain can learn about this. It is a subsequent interaction of particles from the elbow up to the brain. I would say that it is quite clear that the brain would learn about it far too late to affect anything. Note that it goes for reiki master brain as well. To make the point, we talk about the fact that the energy must be buffered into the body first and that nobody has the ability to affect this process.

By showing the necessity of buffering, we hit on the Reiki concept. The concept says that reiki master does not loose his "default" energy, while channeling. Thus, he looses the buffered energy. Laws of nature do not give him any other choice, if he has to keep the "default" energy.

The law of conservation of energy says that it is impossible to create or destroy energy. While one mass receives energy, another mass must release the same amount of energy plus an additional energy to cover transmission loss. Direction of energy flow, i.e. who receives the energy and who looses it, is given by energy potentials and other things such as energy levels – see the quantum physics on wavelength. The important fact is that no brain can alter the laws of nature. When touching another body, the direction is set up long time before a brain even gets a signal that you’ve touched another body. Thus, no reiki master can control a direction of any energy flow. It is even possible that he would drain energy from his patient.

By showing that the particle interaction, especially the flow direction, does not depend on the brain, we disproved the Reiki concept.

One can meet a saying that reiki energy is intelligent. Perhaps, they faced the brain argument previously. For a human body, it is impossible to have a brain in the place of skin, so it would direct the energy flow somehow. Subsequently, did reiki masters had no other choice but to declare the energy as intelligent – aka self-directing? No scientifically proven energy has such property.

Perhaps, reiki masters already heard arguments like these. Otherwise, why would they tell us that the reiki energy is non-physical? And even if it would be, it still messes up with a physical body. So, it has to start to obey the laws of nature at some point. Thus, the presented arguments apply.

Various presentations of Reiki exist, this is the common foundation of all those I saw. Particular variants differ in the amount of deployed psychological-manipulation techniques to persuade people into believing in Reiki. I have never seen a proof or a plausible theoretical explanation.

Summing it up, Reiki seems to be popular thanks to the Forer effect that is supported by the strong similarity with proven physical effects. Despite its long history, Reiki fails to give plausible theoretical explanation and evidence for its claims [142]. Reiki succeeded only as a proof of the power of suggestion and conditioning, which can result into a reporting bias [143]. Under such circumstances, there is an associated risk of buying into something that does not exist. This may range from a continual stream of financial expenses to rejecting a medical care that is really needed.

Reiki just make some people to feel like being healed.
No credible evidence given for physiological effects.

Picture: Good-bye Reiki

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 3:23 PM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 komentářů

Já teda v okolí žádnýho "reikaře" nemám a tak mě osobně reiki nijak nepopuzuje. Ale chápu, že pokračuješ v sérii článků o kritickém myšlení vs oblbování lidí.
Jinak díky za článek v EN (Practice makes perfect)
A tady pár věcí co upoutalo mou pozornost.

"Per say, somewhere on your elbow?"
bych napsal: "Let's say" ve smyslu rekneme, dejme tomu's+say
nasel jsem jeste
ale to mi nezapada do kontextu.

"I would say that it is quite clear that the brain would learn about it far too late to affect anything."
Podle mě je tam "far" zbytečně navíc. I bez toho "far" bych to chápal, že mozek se to dozví příliš pozdě (too late) na to aby s tím mohl něco dělat.

"I never saw a proof or a plausible theoretical explanation."
Nikdy (za celý svůj život) jsem neviděl .... bych napsal: I have never seen
Pěkně je to ukázané na příkladech:
Shakespeare never visited Prague. (Shakespeare již nežije, tedy never je myšleno pouze pro minulost)
Stephen King has never visited our town. (Stephen King ještě žije, never je tedy myšleno až do současnosti)


May 20, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Díky za připomínky, "Per say" je tam jako imprecise spelling of per se, když je CAM energy svým způsobem an imprecise understanding of energy. Prostě dát najevo, že je tam něco inherently pseudovědeckého(v Reiki).

Jj, far by tam být nemuselo, to je stylisticky do textu, když CAM healers tak rádi používají superlativy:-) S never saw máš pravdu, to jsem opravil.

Lidé za svou historii uvěřili v různé věci a ve své době mohli některé nevyléčitelné alespoň uklidnit, nebo díky nim vznikla zábavná díla - např. Pratchettova Zeměplocha. Ale vždycky je načase povědět dost, jakmile už se ví, že to tak ve skutečnosti není.

Takže, mě "nepopuzuje" Reiki, ale způsob a to, co někteří léčitelé neustále podsouvají společnosti - že jsou jimi propagované energie lékařsky ověřeny, tj. že stojí na vědeckých základech. A přitom vědecky uznatelný důkaz chybí! Proto je třeba Reiki CAM a ne Evidence-Based Medicine.

Reiki díky své popularitě a příbuznosti s Healing Touch zvítězila jako vhodný příklad, na kterém ukázat, jak velký může být rozpor mezi realitou a tím, co léčitelé slibují.

Jinak, v plánu je i další článek přímo o PIL a RIL. Ale to nebude dřív jak za měsíc, protože ho ještě musím napsat, a pak bude minálně právě měsíc ležet nezveřejněný, jak se bude ladit.

May 20, 2010 at 3:30 PM

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