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Traditional Chinese medicine: Concept of Chi, efficacy etc.

Discussion in 'Alternative Therapies' started by Jenny, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    I think talk of energy fields etc can be useful when conducting certain exercises, but are old-world models of subjective explorations of the body (a body which essentially follows the laws of biology and physics). There would be processes yet undiscovered about how our body functions, but I don't think the old-world models should be taken too literally.

    I disagree that if these subtle energies existed as literally defined they are inherently outside the reach of science. The limits placed on what the scientific method can investigate seem to be based on old world thinking as well.

    It is important to attempt to understand the worldview that existed when these concepts or labels such as chi and prana were first developed. In ancient times, anything not detected by the ordinary physical senses were essentially regarded as beyond the ordinary physical world. However, science and technology have vastly enhanced our powers of perception and engineering into areas once deemed beyond the limit of the ordinary physical senses, and some phenomena we can detect and influence now would be considered part of the unseen or spirit world in ancient times.

    I tend to think that TCM, yoga, meditation, etc, are similar in status to alchemy. Alchemists made some interesting observations with the tools and knowledge available to them at the time, but the scientific method transformed it into modern chemistry. It could be argued that alchemy also had a major spiritual component but you get the point.

    Science and technology have a long way to go and I do not place strict limits on what it can explore or detect. For a long time consciousness was assumed to be beyond the reach of science and limited to philosophy, but this has rapidly changed in my lifetime. It is early days and may take centuries or perhaps even millennia for such investigation to mature, but if you look at how much the scientific method has achieved so far in other areas, you can almost guarantee that science and technology will bring a lot to the table when given enough time with the right tools and methodology.

    For some people, physicalist explanations tend to take the special magic out of it. This is not helped by the fact that some physicalists are reductionists with little imagination or sense of wonder for future possibilities, and are dismissive of the goodness that can be experienced with yoga and meditation. However, for others, physicalist explanations are even more wonderful, e.g. knowing what causes a rainbow does not take away any sense of wonder and enhances it.

    I guess I'm a physicalist with skeptic tendencies, but I previously spent time fascinated and exploring meditation and yoga and Eastern philosophy, finally concluding that it is in a proto state, should not be taken too absolutely, highly dependent on biology, does not really understand and cannot cure my illness, and if there is anything to it beyond subjective experience, may be within the reach of future science but a lot it would not survive unscathed in the fullness of time and proper investigation.

    As for powering an LED from chi, there is a million dollars waiting for him or anyone else if they can demonstrate that in controlled conditions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Million_Dollar_Paranormal_Challenge .

    Too 'enlightened' to use powers for fame or fortune? It's already on Youtube of all places. Prove generations of smug skeptics wrong, revolutionize science and medicine, and donate the money to charity!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
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  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Actually the burden of proof is upon the people trying to prove something positive (that something is happening). Trying to prove the negative (that something can't or didn't happen) often borders on impossible, simply because non-scientific concepts are impossible to prove or disprove. Additionally, in a case like this, no one has access to all of the data needed to prove fraudulent behavior.

    But this comes to a core problem with concepts like spirituality, chi, faith, homeopathy, and psychosomatic medicine. They do not involve aspects which can be evaluated scientifically and either be proven or disproven. Hence chi is not scientific in any manner.

    This is fine and dandy. People are entitled to have their beliefs, and they often benefit from them in some ways. But when people try to claim these beliefs are scientifically valid, they are resoundingly and correctly rejected.
     
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  3. zzz

    zzz Senior Member

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    I wasn't claiming that those particular demonstrations were true; I have no idea as to their validity. I was simply pointing out that there was insufficient evidence to claim that they were false.

    I would simply say that the existence or nonexistence of chi is not something that can be proven by the current methods of Western science. "Any manner" implies you know all forms of valid science, including those yet to be discovered, which is a bit of a broad claim.

    Now I'll admit that homeopathy doesn't make any sense to me scientifically. There's no medicine in that medicine! And the explanations I've seen for homeopathy do not correspond with the known laws of physics, or anything that could be considered logical extensions of them. Nevertheless, I don't know what's going to be discovered in the next thousand years. So I'll be a conservative scientist here and say it's extremely unlikely (p < .000001) that homeopathy will ever found to be scientifically sound.

    Of course, Lord Kelvin, who formulated the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics (among many other things), once said in 1899, "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." And he was one of the best physicists of his time. So it's good to keep an open mind in science.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
  4. zzz

    zzz Senior Member

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    Do people know that quantum mechanics requires the existence of a consciousness that is not governed by the rules of quantum mechanics (i.e., the rules of known science)? This is one of the reasons Niels Bohr said, ""If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet."

    Without a consciousness to observe them, particles do not have a defined existence - there is just the Schrödinger wave equation that can be used to predict the probabilities of their being somewhere when someone finally looks (And of course, they're not really particles anyway.) Einstein was abhorred by this idea (along with much of quantum mechanics), which is why he said, “I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it”. Well it is, as long as someone is looking at it. Or at least some conscious being. Otherwise, its state is defined only by the Schrödinger wave equation (which is not a material object).

    Erwin Schrödinger (whom my autocorrect wants to call Scaremongerer), later became so appalled when he realized the implications of what he had wrought with his wave equation that he said of quantum mechanics, "I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it". But the Schrödinger equation was correct, and is still routinely used today. Schrödinger later decided that the fundamental construct of the physical universe was the Schrödinger wave, and that the appearance of particles was illusory. There is much evidence for this point of view, though it is inconclusive. It doesn't make quantum mechanics any more palatable, however.

    Einstein was proven wrong, as with all his objections to quantum mechanics, and quantum mechanics is the most well-proven theory in all of science. Every single one of its predictions have been proven to be true. And one of the things it proves is that there is at least one phenomenon (consciousness) that lies outside its realm, and which must always lie outside its realm.

    For some strange reason, many of the early quantum physicists turned to the very Eastern religions that are regarded as unscientific in this thread. A few quotes from Schrödinger (you can find many more where these are):
    David Bohm:
    Robert Oppenheimer:
    Oppenheimer was present at the first atomic bomb test. Upon seeing the unprecedented explosion, he famously and spontaneously remarked, "Now I am become Death [Shiva], the destroyer of worlds." This is a quote directly out of the Bhagavad Gita.

    Albert Einstein:
    These quotes are given not to endorse any particular religion or set of religions in general, but to point out that many of the greatest quantum physicists of our time saw no conflict between these religions and their work as quantum physicists. To the contrary, their physics work often inspired them to adopt the views of these religions, which they felt was a natural extension of their work.

    If anyone wants to know why quantum physics makes the existence of a consciousness not governed by its rules necessary, I would be happy to explain this in a later post.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
  5. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    As I understand it, the 'observer' in quantum physics does not necessarily have to possess 'consciousness' and can include the instrument taking the measurements. Furthermore, there are different interpretations to the implications of quantum mechanics and the jury is not yet out, and people may also define 'consciousness' differently.

    If I recall, Buddhism goes as far as actively encouraging the adoption of scientific discoveries if they conflict with dogma.

    Homeopathy may have an unscientific basis, but many of its medical claims can be tested. And the results have not been particularly impressive. Same goes for other alternative treatments, the results can be tested, even if the rationale cannot.
     
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  6. zzz

    zzz Senior Member

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    This is a common misconception. The instrument taking the measurements is subject to all quantum mechanical laws, and therefore it itself remains in an indeterminate state until examined by a conscious observer.
    Would you care to elaborate?
    This is correct; this has been stated by the Dalai Lama, although he uses the phrase "Buddhist philosophy" rather than "dogma".
    This is true. It is my understanding that there are no rigorous tests proving its effectiveness, and many which cast doubt on it.
    This Is also true. The main difference here is that these tests are often more difficult to do then tests of homeopathy. The results of the tests also seem to be more positive than for homeopathy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    It is not really true to say that quantum mechanics requires the existence of a consciousness.

    The idea that a quantum wave function collapse requires a conscious observer is just one out of many postulated interpretations of quantum mechanics. This conscious observer-induced quantum collapse idea is called the von Neumann interpretation of quantum mechanics.


    Other interpretations of quantum mechanics also exist in which quantum wave function collapse does not involve consciousness. And furthermore, there are several interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the well known "many worlds" interpretation, in which quantum wave function collapse is theorized not to happen at all.

    See: Wave function collapse

    There are also interpretations of quantum mechanics in which the quantum wave function can collapse all on its own, without any observation whatsoever being performed on the quantum wave, neither by a human, nor by a measuring instrument. One example is Sir Roger Penrose's objective reduction interpretation of quantum mechanics. This is a particularly interesting interpretation, because it seems to pave the way for a the long sought after joining of quantum mechanics with general relativity.

    At present, it is not known which interpretation is correct.


    I used to be very interested in this stuff, but ME/CFS brain fog put an end to my reading this sort of material. I did enjoy the books written by various physicists on the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism.
     
  8. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years First Do No Harm

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    I think you're doing very well. You lost me a long time ago!
     
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  9. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Don't worry. I wouldn't be able to follow this stuff either if I had not read about it before I developed ME/CFS.

    Quantum wave function collapse is one of the biggest mysteries in physics.
     
  10. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    @zzz I have to admit I am pretty rusty on all these issues, but I did not recall there being such absolute certainty over the specific role of observer and consciousness in quantum mechanics, hence my doubts. A quick search brings me here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics

    There seems to be just as many interpretations of various aspects to quantum mechanics as there are to CFS. Without spending much more time looking into it and re-reading articles I've collected over the years, I'm not really in a position to state with confidence on issues which professional experts apparently disagree on.
     
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  11. zzz

    zzz Senior Member

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    After doing a brief review of the current literature, which I have not done in a while (guess why), I must agree. My original statement was too definitive. I would agree completely with biophile's statement directly above.
    Yes, I was aware of that. The reason that I wasn't more specific is that a number of the other explanations of quantum mechanics either require the existence of consciousness (see the table in biophile's article), or else have internal inconsistencies. Nevertheless, this does not cover all theories of QM, which is why I must make my retraction.
    Or even if any of them are! They are still proliferating.

    Hence, one of Feynman's most famous quotes:
    Does anyone here disagree? The problem with the physicalist position is that quantum mechanics doesn't deal with anything that we would recognize as physical. This is what Bohr is referring to in the second quote in my signature, and why he said, as I quoted earlier,
    An electron is not a particle, nor a wave, nor alternately one or the other. It isn't even an it. As Heisenberg put it,
    The classical picture that people have of an atom - with electrons circling a nucleus [picture] - was invented by Bohr in 1913. By 1926 it had been discard and replaced with... what?

    If you search the Internet, you can find pictures of a hydrogen atom, with the electron represented by a wave function, with different wave functions representing different excited states. But the wave function is not the electron. As for what the electron is, well, nobody knows. And that's just the hydrogen atom. For all heavier elements, the calculations are still so complicated that (at least when I last checked) it was not even possible to make diagrams. Again, from Heisenberg:
    And finally:
    So down at the quantum level, what exists is nothing that can be accurately described, other than through equations. This is why there are so many interpretations of quantum mechanics; they are all attempts to turn those equations into a reality that we can at least partially understand. The Copenhagen school is the one exception; it essentially says, "Don't even try to understand what's down there." Or as Feynman put it in his inimitable way, referring to the Copenhagen school, "Shut up and calculate."

    Some final advice from Feynman:
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
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  12. xks201

    xks201 Senior Member

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    It's not a complicated concept. Chi is just another name for the electrical potential of the body. You have people not generating proper electrical currents due to illness. They have measured energy disparity across the body. Read a book called the body electric.
     

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