Friday, March 18, 2005

Discussing problems with energy medicines

Energy medicine is a concept developed by the alternative world. It's based on the blind faith that the health of body, mind, and spirit are anchored in the body's energy systems. The word energy in the alternative world appears as a magic word used for various things, ranging from the patient's good mood to heat from the healer's hand. Nobody usually waste their time searching for any definition and the word energy isn't used as a defined physical quantity.

One of the problems I have with "energy medicine" is similar to the one I have with "psychic predictions". The concepts is contradictory to some pretty elemental laws of physics, that have not been "broken" since the beginning of the universe.

In the case of "energy medicine", the problem is one of thermodynamics. We can rather easily calculate the minimum amount of energy needed to perform a task, that the "energy medicine" proponents claim to do. What we cannot find is any place or thing that is giving up this energy or any evidence that the energy has been received by the "patient" - nor can we detect any transfer of energy.

In this physical world we might accept the fact that nothing is 100% efficient. As a result, anyone "channeling" this energy, from wherever it may come, will have to deal with the inefficiency of energy transfer. In this universe, inefficient transfer of energy usually ends up as heat. It means that the hands, feet or heads of the "energy practitioner" should become warmer while they are practicing their "craft". In fact, this heat has not been detected.

For "psychic predictions" another problem arises. The ability to "see the future" would imply that the future has already been determined. That, in turn, would require a major revision of quantum mechanics, which states that the future is indeterminate.

So, if "psychics" could really "see into the future", then there would be no reason to punish people for breaking the law, or save for retirement, or do anything at all other than what we want to do at the moment, since the future has already been laid down and is immutable.

If I can't do anything to change my future, then I'm not responsible, and any effort is futile. Then, if the future is not already fixed, what's the point of a "psychic prediction"? How can I base plans on the possibility that something might happen, but is more likely not to happen?

In my view, all evidence for energy based medicines such as homeopathy, crystal therapy and reflexology should be taken as evidence for the power of suggestion or blind faith and nothing more.

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