January 12, 2009

"Is there really a believable study that shows that Qi-freaking-Gong, of all things, is good for chronic pain?"

"Ancient hokum about 'energy fields' and 'life force' does the trick, does it? My idea of a good trial of Qi Gong would involve one group of patients getting the full hand-waving treatment according to the best practitioners of the art. The other cohort gets random hand motions from a system I will gladly invent on request, and which I will have to be forcibly restrained from naming Don Ki Kong."


Michael H said...

See, there is a reason to keep the prisoners in Guantanamo after all. Science.

Now all we need is a control group.

traditionalguy said...

They say to never underestimate a good Donkey Kong until you'ved tried it. I have never even heard of this new ancient art. Does it take being gay to experience it fully? I have to get around Chinese friends more often.

Original George said...

It's too late.

This stuff has invaded. It's medical kudzu.

"Energy Medicine provides an overview of dynamical energy systems theory and research; the
scientific and clinical basis for informational/energy modalities such as therapeutic touch, acupuncture,
homeopathy, and Qi Gong; bioenergy measurement and treatment devices; and the health risks and
benefits of various forms of energy."

A course at an "integrative" medical center at a leading US university.

traditionalguy said...

Are these the same people who ridicule Benny Hinn's act? What is this energy? Are we to believe we are all just force fields? I hereby demand free spritual forcefield care as an American birthright just like the Chinese people get because they were born into Chinese families. Maybe Costco can sell it Cheaper.

Michael H said...

Didn't that chick John Edwards met in a bar go all qi-gong energy-fieldy on him? That stuff is dangerous in the wrong hands.

Tibore said...

Amen! This is what I was talking about regarding homeopathy in the other thread. Measure the damn effect. It's either present, or it's not, and if it is, measure it against both placebo and random chance of remission/cessation of affliction. If it's there, it's there; if not, it's not. Either way, remove the ambiguity.

Pseudomystic mumblings doesn't cut it. Neither do Pelto-esque misrepresentations of what modern medicine is and does. If alt-med wants to be accepted, they need to take this guy's advice and put up or shut up.

Original Mike said...

I had to look Qi-Gong up on wikipedia. At least it's exercise, right?

Tibore said...

Actually, it comes close to sounding like the name of a Jedi Master...

The Crack Emcee said...

This shit's worse than you think.

And I've got a whole section on Rielle Hunter - she was even a contestant on a show with Chuck Woolery!

Freeman Hunt said...

You delinquents just don't like it because your chakras aren't aligned.

Pundit Joe said...

Heh heh, I thought Qi-Gon was the Jedi that taught Obi Wan.

Doh! I see Tibore beat me to the reference.

TreeJoe said...

I'm obviously aligned with the original posting by Ann....that being said, don't underestimate the mystical.

We don't fully understand why we have the level of consciousness we do (besides, of course, God). We don't understand sub-atomic interactions. We don't understand alot of things which could relate to mind-over-"matter"...

It's a possibility, even if it sounds like bunk.


tim maguire said...

And if both Qi-Gong and random hand waving both work better than nothing or, better yet, are competitive with actual treatment? Would you still oppose the use of one and/or the other?

I don't much care if the explanation for why they work makes sense. I'm much more interested in whether they work.

The Crack Emcee said...

Original Mike,

Naw, man, all this stuff's mind control. The saying in cult-watching circles is first they control what you think (NewAge-y Lefty crap, wrapped around the mantra to "open your mind") then they control what you eat (Vegis, no flouride, etc.) and then they control your behavior (Qi-Gong, Reiki, etc.) AKA "Mind/Body/Spirit" - leaving no "you" for you.

Hitler and Co. were very big on it. Had a whole section of the SS dedicated to it. Think of the plot of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

traditionalguy said...

Please help me. I can't even find my Chakra. Will alternate medicine help me? Alternate medicine does seem to be creating a new market and gives people hope. But I think I'll stick with traditional medical science until all hope is gone.

blake said...

I didn't get a chance to weigh in on the alt-medicine thread, though I posted belatedly at my place.

What is amusing about a lot of the bitching is that it often comes from people who happily endorse (and/or use) non-proven treatments for depression, ADHD, seizures, etc.

The demands made against "alternative medicine" (anything not drugs or surgery, basically) are far tougher than those made against conventional stuff.

And what's more, I suspect if I were trying to sell chi adjustment surgery, y'all wouldn't believe my claims that 80% of the time it worked 100% of the time. But the drugs are tested by the drug companies.

My point is not that there aren't quacks out there but with death from iatrogenic causes killing thousands of people a year--and many of those just from drug side effects--maybe some of those quacks have sheepskins and the imprimatur of the state.

And maybe we can do better.

A story like this would be used to discredit the entire field of Qi-freaking-Gong had the deceased been seeing a Qi-freaking-Gong practitioner.

It will cause nary a ripple, though, because the treatment was "legitimate".

traditionalguy said...

That must be what I need: MIND CONTROL. My mind has been a little out of control. But all you commenters really are helping calm things down. My Chakra thanks you and I thank you.

TreeJoe said...


A key quote from your link, "This warned that: "surgery should not be commissioned or delivered in facilities which lack the systems and equipment to manage emergencies safely.""

A gentleman died from a surgical procedure taking place where it did not have the resources necessary to deal with complications.

In other words: Don't let your health be managed by anyone.

Sounds like a good policy for regulated health care, not alternative medicine.

The Crack Emcee said...

tim maguire,

Random hand waving (Therapeutic Touch and Therapeutic Touch) were debunked by a 9 year old girl, Emily Rosa , but even after she proved it didn't work, the "practitioners" still believed in it.

She said that finding was more important (and scary) than the debunking.

The Crack Emcee said...


The link that says "at my place" doesn't work. Which of your places did you put it?

Original Mike said...

...then they control what you eat

Will they let me eat lettuce? Cause if they do, the other stuff's negotiable.

The Crack Emcee said...


I just beat a French quack with a sheepskin, so, yea, they're out there - usually in smaller towns and villages, but (as that "worse than you think" link, above, shows) they're trying to go big time, now, though people like Oprah Winfrey, who thinks barack's "The One" and a "Lightworker."

So then comes Barack's boy, Sanjay Gupta, for Surgeon General, who has endorsed the views of the "I heart aliens" Raelians.

Ain't cultural subversion grand?

The Crack Emcee said...

That comment at 4:32 should read "Therapeutic Touch and Reiki."

traditionalguy said...

Leave my friend Dr Gupta out of the arena of alternate medicine quackery. He is a real Science first type from an excellent Medical School. Pres.Obama whom I watch with an Emory Eagle eye did not go wrong in chosing Gupta.

The Crack Emcee said...


Follow the links.

Michael H said...

Freeman Hunt said: "You delinquents just don't like it because your chakras aren't aligned."

My chakras align with no man or woman. My chakras are independently unaligned.

blake said...


In other words: Don't let your health be managed by anyone.

Sounds like a good policy for regulated health care, not alternative medicine.

Those two sentences would seem to be contradictory. I agree with the first but not the second.

blake said...


Dunno what happened to my link but it's here at the maelstrom.

And Hector pointed out that I talked about it before here.

Since an "alternative"--a heavily discouraged alternative, I might add--saved my kid's life, I tend to have plenty of suspicion to spread around to those who insist that "the path modern medicine follows is comprehensive and exclusive" (to quote myself).

traditionalguy said...

Sorry Emcee for the delay in Checking the links. I did look very hard for anything negative on Dr Gupta in those links. Where are the connections of Gupta to any of those Cults? The accusations were not even up to John Birch standards. The only hint of an accusing Link was that Sanjay, while on his CNN program did an interview of a Cult Quack from a group claiming a human cloning success then in the news. He never endorsed their claims but asked for proof just like his scientific training required him to do. We all are curious about the unknown, especially the real scientists among us. Does that mean they must be, by mere association,endorsing every far out claim they happen to discuss skeptically, such as water on Mars or sea monsters in the ocean. Sure paranoid people have real enemies, but its is shameful to exploit their fears with fantasy enemies.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Please help me. I can't even find my Chakra.

Don't ask me. I still can't figure out whether Boddhisatva and Satyagraha were the same person.

ZZMike said...

On the other hand ......

Last week I read a study of side effects. Those are included with every drug that gets past the FDA. And the FDA makes them include every side effect, even if it's only 1 out of 10,000.

The study found that many people got the side effects that they read about, even when the drug was a placebo (technically, a nocebo).

So much for the power of suggestion.

I thought a Qi-Gong was one of those really big cymbal-like noisemakers they used to use to herald the arrival of an emperor.

Much as I'd like to agree with Crack Emcee (whose site still hasn't loaded after 5 minutes), from what I read in his comment, random hand-waving was debunked by Emily Rosa.

One example won't do it. If that were the case, we wouldn't have any of the current antibiotic drugs - because there are many people that one specific drug won't work on.

A better path to debunking RHW is simply looking for cause and effect. RHW produces no effect, hence no cause.

Joe said...

I'll leave Dr. Gupta out of it when he uses the power of his position to vocally denounce this kind of quackery.

I'll wager that instead he'll talk about how important it is for us to examine all points of view and to examine all possibilities. I hope I lose, but I won't.

Zach said...

My hopes for this piece were not high – Deepak Chopra, for one, I consider to be an absolute firehose of nonsense. Both he and Andrew Weil should be whacked with sticks every time they say the word "quantum".

I am so down with that. I'll even supply my own stick.

I wonder if there's any other word as routinely abused as poor quantum?

traditionalguy said...

Joe ... I would take your bet, but that would be unfair to you because for once in all this wild era of political uncertainty, I actually know the guy. He's with us. we can compare notes again in a year.

The Crack Emcee said...


I'm trying to find some specific information for you, so I've got to ask for your indulgence while I find it. Sorry. I'll try not to take too long but I've got a lot of material to sort through.


You're going to have to follow me here, because I'm going to attempt to quickly explain cultism:

Dude, Gupta didn't just interview a cult quack, he said, without proof - and on television - that they had "the capacity to clone.” According to the article, "the Raelians themselves reportedly laughed at how easy it was to get free publicity." And what do cults want more than anything? What's the goal? Publicity!

That means Gupta - a super smart doctor, supposedly - was duped and used by a bunch of idiots who believe in U.F.O.s. You with me?

Next, I bring you to Orac (a cancer scientist) who's noticed that Dr. Gupta, when it comes to anti-vaccine arguments, "clearly does not recognize them when he sees them,..." And who are the current public faces of the anti-vaccine movement? Jenny McCarthy, the porn star, and her boyfriend, Jim Carrey, the comedian, who - according to TIME Magazine - "has found spiritual enlightenment." So, again, we've got Dr. Gupta being spun - used - by people he's supposedly too smart to be taken by.

I can also show you articles where he's hobnobbing with Andrew Weil (one of the authors of the Wall Street Journal article Ann linked to) and other well-known quacks.

Now, a (short) look around my site will reveal that I throw the word NewAge around pretty liberally (spelled to it rhymes with "sewage"). That's because it's an umbrella term for various forms of cultism. They work together, forming what we know as The New Age Movement, and they have your Dr. Gupta in their sites. Dr. Gupta is seen as a "soft touch" because he doesn't know what's going on. He's trying to be a nice guy and "open-minded." This is a big mistake when dealing with cults because they see kindness as an opportunity (or weakness) and Dr. Gupta is, clearly, seen as open for being recruited. Compare his reaction to the Raelian nonsense with Arthur Caplan, the University of Pennsylvania biomedical ethicist, who said, “As soon as I heard about the Raelians’ cloning claim, I knew it was nonsense.”

America, on several fronts, is under attack from The New Age Movement. I like to compare them to Al Qaeda because the operating structure is the same: groups patiently working, both, independently and together (to confuse important issues enough) to achieve power. And they're doing a good job of it because we don't take them seriously enough to try and understand what they're up to - they're seen as "flakey" or "nice" or "peaceful" which is a great cover - but (you must have noticed) there sure are a lot of them now: Oprah (who's vouching for the credibility of our president-elect, AKA "The One" and a spiritual "Lightworker") is hosting Eckhard Tolle seminars, teaching folks about Reiki and homeopathy, and having Scientologists (who were busted trying to recruit the mayor of San Francisco) leaping on her couch. Madonna is calling John McCain a Nazi while spreading the Kabbalah thing. Bill Clinton is quoting the cult leader, Ken Wilber, and doing tours with Tony "Firewalker" Robbins. Hillary's "life raft" is the psychic Jean Houston. Arianna Huffington - who has some pretty screwy stuff (including murder) going on at the Huffington Post - is a follower of the equally screwy John Robert, who she requires her employees to learn from. John Edwards' career is over because he fell in with a NewAge clique. The Daily Kos and My Direct Democracy is run by astrologists. Tony Blair's wife has completely gone over the deep end.

And, as the folks at Sense About Science noticed, you can't talk sense to any of them - a statement no one would be surprised about if it was directed at a member of Heaven's Gate, The People's Temple, or Waco. But these are our celebrities. Cults have gotten smarter, T. Much, much smarter.

Sorry, but you'll have to go to my site and look at the tags for these folks: there's just too many of them and I want to have a life. But I will give you this one - to show you how a simple thing, like Random Hand Waving, can create a powerful enough effect that people will form a cult around it. It's written by the late Jef Raskin, creator of the Macintosh computer, a cognitive psychologist, and the husband of a nurse.

I'll stop here, awaiting my drubbing, but my point is Dr. Gupta should be rejected because he's just the kind of person they want. He's not Arthur Caplan. He's a conduit, and as such, just can't be trusted. We've got enough on our hands getting rid of the rest of them.

Be like Joe, 9:34:

"I'll leave [fill in the blank] out of it when he/she uses the power of his position to vocally denounce this kind of quackery."

traditionalguy said...

Crack Emcee....I agree with your exposing of cults. The New age is simply a recycling of the oldest Babylonian and Egyptian magical powers. The danger in those sinister forces is that they do work. No one would spend the money on them they do if they never worked. But my point to you is that you are not discerning enough in your methods of detection. When you accuse the innocent on a hunch you can lose your influence and no one will hear you anymore. It's a very old trick to be caused by your opponent to attack him based upon a false document or a false witness report which when easily exposed as false gives a victory away to your opponent. Do you remember Joe Wilson and wife Valerie Plame setting up just such a ploy in Africa about the Yellow Cake purchases negotiated by Iraq? In politics everyone is always suspect. But you should never presume that everyone is your secret enemy until you confirm that they only see the world like you do. People of good faith, like Gold, are where you find them. There is also lots of fools gold lying everywhere which glitters like Gold, but they can't pass an assay test. So you have to search for real evidence, and not just use a guess based upon your own history of infallibility in the judging of Cults.

The Crack Emcee said...


Who are the innocent that I've spoken about? I never said Gupta was a Raelian, just that he endorsed their nonsense - which he did. He even admitted that if he had known there was no proof for their claims he never would've given them airtime - something he should've checked before he did it. The same goes for the anti-vaccination gambit. Face it, man, he's a dupe for them. And I didn't say Gupta was my enemy, just that he shouldn't be trusted as Surgeon General. We've got far too much cult nonsense in medicine as it is to allow another gullible "nice guy" in, who can't see it, and thus won't turn it back.

Further, I don't go by hunches - I understand the NewAge very well. What can seem harmless to those not aware of it - Random Hand Waving, for instance - can have crazy consequences, like driving people insane right under your nose.

The problem with helping the uninitiated uncover the NewAge is that it thrives in society's grey areas - online in weird "conspiracy theory" websites and chat boards, in law, and in health food stores where the unsuspecting ask what works rather than using common sense and getting what has always worked - this is it's strength. There's nothing to protect them from what comes out of the grey area but their grey matter so, yes, a litmus test, of some sort, must be applied. Do you believe in Karma? You can be fooled. Think you have to keep an "open-mind" (AKA suspend your critical faculties) just because there's some post-60s cultural imperative that says you should? You can be fooled. Are you willing to ignore the obvious to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Not a good choice now'a'days because these fools will take you. NewAgers don't care. Not when they're working for what they see as the greater good. You're just (potentially) in the way.

My "real evidence" is whether or not a person uses common sense, and has basic (American) principles and will stick by them. I'm like George W. Bush in that I'm not going to let popular opinion sway me into doing the wrong thing. I was married for 20 years to a woman who ended up believing she could walk through walls - and then was involved in killing people. You don't just forget that. Now I see Madonna, running around insisting we've got to put Kabbalah water in nuclear reactors. Hillary Clinton was talking to Eleanore Roosevelt, and Cherie Blair had Tony's toenail clippings analysed for hints to the future. And people wonder why everything, today, seems so screwed up? Who's in charge? What ideas are they feeding us - and acting on? When Barack Obama was being called a "Lightworker," ("Satan" according to Milton) and saying he would lower the level of the oceans; or if you saw him scratch his face to flip off Hillary and MCain for being white - a gesture he's only used when he beat a white person - and you didn't flinch and say "wait a minute,..." then you aren't paying attention to what's going on - with you or NewAge. You're too soft and/or naive to protect "the good." You're a NewAge patsy. Just like Gupta.

These people want power - and they've almost got it - and they're playing for keeps.

blake said...

Jenny McCarthy, the porn star,

Jenny McCarthy does porn?

I thought she did comedy.

The Crack Emcee said...

Same thing.

traditionalguy said...

Good morning Crack Emcee... Again I do not see that you and I are in disagreement on the nature of the Opponent. We only differ on the choice of weapons. You and I cannot defeat spiritual opposition with political crusades against men. The attempts to fight the men only leaves one fearful, confused, isolated from natural allies and frequently Duped into attacking the wrong men.

TreeJoe said...

Traditional Guy -

I left a key word out of my sentence, my mistake:

It should have been, "Don't let just anyone manage your healthcare"

To put it in mainstream terms:

There are alot of women being talked to by "experts" about how it is better to give birth at a birthing center or mid-wife than at a hospital.

Now, no doubt some hospitals have some bad practices that make the experience less than ideal. Quick-to-C-section, epidural happy docs don't embody the warm feeling these mothers seek.

But, unfortunately, complications do arise. And alot of birthing centers/mid-wifes can not provide the necessary care in that emergency. So now you are at a health center without adequate care options around you....you need to be shepherded elsewhere. Maybe nothing happens. Maybe the baby dies, or is injured, or has a developmental disability....maybe the mother dies, or loses the ability to give birth in the future. Because the "experts" described the cold environment of the hospital birthing experience.

This sounds extreme, but it is the flavor of the day.

Next in the growth process is the aversion to vaccines. Alot of studies have been done on the potential long-term side effects of vaccinations....known have shown any indication vaccines should be avoided.

But there are outbreaks in many schools of diseases which should have been vaccinated against, because some "experts" induce fear among the population with their quasi-medical knowledge.

All I'm saying is: prove these things before making conclusive, and potentially harmful, statements. Alternative medicine will mostly just not do much...but some things can cause substantial harm.

We're living longer as a species than ever before since the Old Testament....and this has been due to researched and standardized medicinal care.


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Derek Lowe and many of your commenters are confusing qi-gong with reiki. Reiki is the hand-waving. Qi-gong is a form of gentle exercise (therefore ideal for the elderly) that increases range of motion, regulates breathing, and improves posture. Not all phenomena with Asian names are the same.

traditionalguy said...

Joe... I agree with you 100%. However valuable your point of view is, there is idealism but there also remains a very real need for good leadership of the all volunteer Army of Health Care Deliverers. Just as the automobile mfg industry needs good new leadership, so does our Health Care Army. At least Dr Gupta is a very real practitioner in very high end health care and not a communist thug. Just because he communicates well on TV is no reason to suspect that he is a manchurian candidate.

The Crack Emcee said...

Richard Lawrence Cohen,

I'm not confusing the two but, rather, going with the flow of the conversation. The problem with Qi-Gong (and other things like it, including Yoga) is the mindset that practitioners demand you adopt to do it. Cultism is a mind game - not an intelligence test - so they now claim these 5,000 year old spiritual practices are exercise to lure you in. It's all a con. We had physical fitness before this stuff came along and that's all it promoted: physical fitness.


But Gupta's hospital still shows up on Orac's list of questionable centers for quackery - without a peep out of Gupta. Come on, how many clues are you going to let go before you can admit he's not the best choice - there are other doctors, y'know?

And, man, there are so many Manchurian Candidates now it's hard to keep up with them all. They've had about a 40 year head start on us (remember the Harmonic Convergence and how, before that, they were going to "levitate the Pentagon"?)

The most bizarre thing, to me, is that this screwy nonsense could actually, not just survive, but catch on enough to invade the halls of power - including the White House.

traditionalguy said...

Dear Crack...Your need to tag Dr Gupta with an occult relationship is getting silly. Did you read your list? I read it three times and did not find Emory University School of Medicine on it. These Emory docs are at worst tagable as arising out of the little known traditions of the Methodist Cult started by Wesleyians from England. Does that scare you? If it does, then seek Psychiatric help.

The Crack Emcee said...


Jesus, dude, you're being completely over-the-top now:

I'll say it again: I'm not claiming Gupta is anything but foolish (an opinion I'm not alone in holding) and a dupe, and those are qualities we don't need in a Surgeon General. I am claiming these cultists - who think metaphysically - are after him and the credibility he can bestow. It's not the same thing as what you're suggesting, and you discounting it is par for the course: by refusing to acknowledge what's happening (those Raelians are imaginary? He didn't put them on TV?) they're allowed the freedom to get away with it.

Look, I understand, the man's a friend of yours. But, like I said, there ARE other doctors - like Arthur Caplan - who are more skeptical and steadfast about what is known.

And (I feel silly saying this but) after what I've seen, there isn't much about NewAge that can "scare" me. If you think things are going well with nutjobs calling the shots, fine, but what I see is also seen by others - usually in a compartmentalized fashion - and, I think, it's better to know what's wrong than to be left complaining and, at the same time, wondering why.

Finally, let me ask you this: have you studied this phenomena? Can you tell me what's wrong with Oprah, Shirley MacLaine, Madonna, etc., and why - no matter what crazy thing they say or do - they still have credibility? Enough that (like in the case of Oprah) they can even be called our moral authorities? This country has proven, over and over, it has a profound and lasting weakness for cultism, because nobody's willing to say "enough" when the nonsense presents itself, and your Dr. Gupta is a prime example of the type that should be on to it and speaking up - loudly. Like Joe said, I wouldn't have a problem with him if he had used his position to do that. Giving him cover is just the wrong call.

He's weak - and we don't need any more people like him in charge.

traditionalguy said...

Good morning again Crack ... My apology to you for my last comment. You seem to be very sincere and you have courage to boldly speak a warning against true dangers of cults lurking around to "devour" the undefended minds of people. I also realise that you are trying to be a protector by raising public awareness. Please do also remember that people will accept or reject your teaching by how they percieve your acceptance of them. Dr Gupta's sin, you tell me, has been to listen to and discuss the latest newly-recycled occultist Lie from people he has interviewed. His style of not immediately pouncing on their BS is not your style. But you would reach more listeners yourself if you try some of his style and not reject your listeners so quickly. In any event, your style or his style, the truth will set you free. Keep up your good work.

The Crack Emcee said...

Thanks, kinda.

No - really - thanks. (Taking your advice to heart,...)