Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reiki Real, Really.

Thanks to Liz Ditz providing a link to a minor woo healer and fantasy artist, EoR was gradually drawn deeper into the maelstrom of reikisms, and all the amazing "scientific" proof for it which he'd been studiously avoiding for far too long.

First there was Reiki 4 Life [sic].

Reiki is an amazing energy that comes from the highest spiritual source. It has its own intelligence and knows exactly where to go and what to do. It is multi-dimensional and will heal the cause of a problem on whatever level it may exist - body, mind, or spirit. It does not have to be directed by the practitioner. Because it is a channeled healing, the Reiki practitioner's energies are never depleted. In fact, when giving a treatment, the Reiki practitioner is healed as well and always experiences an increase in life-force energy. People that already do healing work report their healing energies increase by at least 50% after receiving Reiki training.

EoR wonders how that claimed 50% improvement is measured? A life-force-o-meter? A God-o-graph? And why does "Meredith" go on about how to gradually "project" the energy to various parts of the body, when she has just said the energy "knows" where to go? And what, precisely, is a "channeled healing" that "does not have to be directed"? In fact, why does it even need a human? Isn't god (EoR presumes that's what she means by "the highest spiritual source", though it might just mean Deepak Chopra) sufficiently omnipotent and omniscient to do the work herself?

"Meredith" also makes some pretty far reaching (and frankly unproven) claims:

In its long history of use Reiki has aided in healing virtually every known illness and injury including serious problems like cancer and heart disease as well as skin problems, cuts, headaches, colds, sunburn, insect bites, insomnia, anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc.

"Aided"? What does "aided" mean? Cured? Improved? Worked in any manner different from a placebo? Or just "believed" or "claimed" to help? What's the bet that all these reiki healers and miracle workers still have aspirin in their home (or willow bark at least)?

Then there's the Reiki 4 Life blog. Now, EoR might have become confused somewhere, but it seems all you need to do to become healthy is to shake faster:

Have you ever noticed that animals in the wild are rarely traumatized, yet experience life or death situations every day? That is because they RELEASE the traumatic energy almost as soon as it has occurred. Have you ever seen animals trembling and shaking after being attacked, or hit by an automobile? The shaking and trembling releases the survival energies from their bodies. [...] Thoughts, like emotions, hold a vibration, and frequency. Negative thoughts hold a lower or denser vibration, which may be perceived as thick, heavy, soupy, or solid like a wall. When a person holds onto these lower vibrational thoughts, the entire system is affected and weighed down. Reiki will transform the lower vibrations into those of higher quality such as peace, serenity, love, joy, etc which may be perceived as light, fluffy, soft, or effervescent.When experiencing a higher vibration, the person feels lighter, bubbly, and happy. These feelings attract thoughts of similar vibration thereby accelerating the journey towards wholeness.

"Thoughts of similar vibration"? What, the "light, fluffy, soft" type of thoughts? Well, EoR certainly can't deny that. This article is its own condemnatory evidence.

Moving on further, EoR was pleased to learn that global warming appears to have been averted:

The World Peace Crystal Grids were placed at the North and South Poles on May 3, 1997 and December 17, 1999 respectively. These two grids are located right at the places where the earth's magnetic field converges. The magnetic field of the earth is like the earths aura and so by having the Peace Grids located there, they affect the energy of the whole planet. The inscription on the grids says: "May the followers of all religions and spiritual paths work together to create peace among all the people of earth." The World Peace Crystal Grid is made of solid copper in the shape of the heart chakra, 12 inches in diameter and plated with 24 carat gold. A 12 sided quartz pyramid is at the center under which are inscribed the Usui power symbol and the Karuna peace symbol. Double terminated quartz crystals are on each petal.

Crystals, pyramids and reiki! The world is safe at last! With so many busy practitioners healing the "earths aura" and others doing acupuncture on the earth, we can all rest easy at night now.

Finally, EoR was stunned by the evidence provided in Science and the Human Energy Field, not least the fact that the human body emits light. EoR knew it reflected light, but not emitted it as well. Presumably, this means we can all save on those incandescent light bulbs that are so harmful to the environment. Also "In a sense, all medicine is energy medicine". In a sense, maybe. Though EoR's not sure how that applies to surgery, for example. The actual "science" (and very poor science it is at that), seems to come down to:

Based on this information, one possible hypothesis is that when a Reiki practitioner begins giving Reiki, feelings of compassion, love, and other healing feelings are created in the heart. These feelings modify the electrical energies of the heart, which travel through the nerves and especially through the electrically conductive vascular system into the hands, where they create healing biofields that are induced into the client. My guess is that the fields produced during Reiki treatments will be tiny and very precisely tuned to specific frequencies that stimulate the immune system and other important body systems. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested.

Another possible hypothesis is that there is nothing occurring, or nothing that cannot be differentiated from a placebo effect. This is not a guess. This is a high probability. Before explaining how "biofields" modify "electrical energies" based on the frequency of "compassion, love and other healing feelings", it first needs to be established that there is, in fact, anything happening at all. Especially since a child can easily show nothing is happening, whereas Dr Oschman has to twist himself into verbal gymnastics of possibilities and guesses to even come up with bizarre way that a nonexistent effect might do something (which he still only claims are "tiny")

Dr Oschman then goes on for some while about quantum non-locality and other effects that are noticeable at the subatomic scale but not elsewhere, before a much clearer statement about how reiki works:

My suspicion is that what is being passed during the attunement process is a frequency or a set of frequencies that can be transferred from a teacher to a student via the energy field and that will always be remembered by the student. The memory process is probably similar to that involved in homeopathy

Reiki is like homeopathy? Ah, so it is a placebo effect!

Doing a search at PubMed showed only one vaguely related entry (as well as a number of publications on cockroach and squid cell functions which were non-reiki related) from Dr Oschman: a comment in the J Altern Complement Med on Our place in nature: reconnecting with the Earth for better sleep..

That would be the sleep of reason, then?


  1. I assume that these World Peace Crystal Gird things have wheels and some form of advanced altie power and navigation system? Unless I'm much mistaken, the Earth's magnetic poles are constantly moving...

    If these grids have just been placed at the geographic North and South poles we are all doomed, doomed, I tell ye, doomed!

  2. No, the amazing multiple woo powers contained in the incredibly scientifically advanced and powerful Crystal Thingys will anchor the magnetic poles by virtue of their vibrational quantum magic.

  3. eor...just wondering if in all your research for your writing, you actually spoke with the reiki practitioners directly and posed your questions to them, or at the very least gave reiki a try with an open mind before you discounted and ridiculed it here?

  4. No, EoR actually considered the evidence.

    He has, however, seen reiki practitioners firsthand performing their particular magic. It didn't convince him.

    Do you have any evidence to offer?


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