I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

637. The Mentally Hazardous Gray Zone Between Woo-woo And Science

637.   The Mentally Hazardous Gray Zone Between Woo-woo And Science

One important task of science is to draw a clear line between irrational beliefs and rational knowledge derived from evidence.   Responsible scientists accentuate this line.  

People being disappointed with modern scientific medicine often turn to so called alternative medicine.   While some of it is outright quackery, some parts of traditional non-western medicine are an unfortunate mixture of absurd beliefs with methods, which sometimes and under specific circumstances seem to be beneficial.    These benefits deserve scientific research.  

Researching the claims of alternative medicine is important.  But it can only lead to curative progress, when beneficial effects are thoroughly cleansed of the contamination by woo-woo beliefs.   

The line between science and quackery needs to be sharpened and emphasized.    Accidentally appearing to validate woo-woo beliefs, while in fact only validating their collateral benefits blurs this line instead,  It is a fallacy, which contributes to the persistence of all quackery.    

The following study presenting beneficial effects of QiGong on cancer patients is an example of scientists having irresponsibly blurred the line by attributing unwarranted value to an irrational belief: 

Presenting the lump method and entire package of what is called QiGong as beneficial is a dangerous and irresponsible fallacy.   

"qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as "intrinsic life energy"."

The existence of such a qi is a typical woo-woo belief in the alleged existence of something too vague and elusive to allow finding evidence of its existence by experiments or observations.   QiGong is centered around this woo-woo belief.    Without the belief in this qi, QiGong would not be QiGong.   Therefore there cannot ever be a scientific QiGong.    QiGong is woo-woo or it is not QiGong.  

The fallacy of the study is the misrepresentation of appearing to validate a woo-woo belief, while it in reality only validates the outcome of specific behaviors.    Nothing in the study validates QiGong as a belief based method.   

Responsible science needs to refrain from ascribing benefits to woo-woo beliefs.    Studying methods like QiGong scientifically requires a very careful separation between rationally describable physiological effects of behaviors and obsolete irrational woo-woo beliefs. 

Once there is evidence for real benefits of any method, as was found in the study, a responsible scientific approach cannot end there.  Its task includes to also attribute the curative effects to evident causes and replace wrong ascriptions to woo-woo beliefs. 

Step 1 requires the evaluation of all claims like the existence of a qi.    Unless evidence for the existence of qi can be found, the concept of QiGong as a package has to be discarded.    Whatever has an effect, it is not QiGong.   It makes no sense to believe, that specific exercises influence an imaginary qi, which then does the cure, as long as there is no evidence for the existence of that qi.

Step 2 requires to distinguish between the specific woo-woo belief and general placebo effects.  

Step 3 requires to find those behaviors, gymnastics, practices and/or exercises, which are the real and direct cause of the observed benefits.   Whenever behaviors lead to beneficial results, research is important, but with the focus on the behaviors themselves.

The result of such research can lead to the definition of an independent curing method, which only coincides with the woo-woo method by the application of some same behaviors.   Such a method therefore needs a clear distinction by being given a different, non-woo-woo name.    It could be 'xyz'-exercises, where xyz can be any name.