Is anyone here a fan of any of these (acupuncture, homeopathy, etc) or think there is a single one that holds any merit?    My SIL is a Reiki practitioner.    I can all but not laugh out loud when she shows me her hand waving and listen to the bull shit about the energy around us and how one can learn to manipulate it with some hand motions and thoughts and symbols.  I  cannot believe she charges people for this.    She's really a nice person, albeit gullible and truly doesn't feel she's ripping anybody off.   She really and truly believes in this crap with all her heart.    And she paid good money to take classes, so she's victim of the rip off as well and I feel bad telling her how I think she's a fool.

It's a bit hard to be polite and not laugh in her face, but she knows how I feel and just thinks I'm the misguided one, lol.   Still, its amazing people can go for this junk science. 

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There is much in religion that is a placebo, yes. This is a characteristic that religion shares with homeopathy. Apart from that, I can't see how religion can be described as homeopathic.

Ah, wait... both religion and homeopathy rely on magic. This is something else that they share.
Some people say religion works for them. They claim it makes them better people, helps them curb their more basic instincts, supports them with morality, inspires them to do good deeds, fortify their communities and so on. Yet we know there are no supernatural forces acting on their lives, that there's effectively nothing there.

Religious practice does provide what most skeptics agree upon is the major ingredient of all the actually measured effectiveness of homeopatic therapy, the human attentiveness.

And like homeopathic treatments, it must have a cost to work effectively. The cost to the religious is their subordination and contribution of the body and of the mind.
I've done Reiki before. It's psychological. By influencing the mind we can influence the body as well. I am a Martial Artist, but I really doubt that Chi is anything more than a concept. Qigong is a very effective system, though. I am not a believer in Chi/Qi, yet the practices do have wonderful effects. Some are just new agers acting stupid, but the real Qigong is quite effective. It's entirely physiological and psychological, though. Realizing this makes it all the better, I have found.
How can realizing it make it better? When you know its a placebo, the placebo stops working.
Endorphins are released into the blood stream after injury and exercise. These compounds block or reduce pain. Accupuncture needles cause endorphins to be released when placed within the sensing limits of nerves. I have known people who got relief from this.

OOOOooo my goodness. While I can't say I'm a "fan" exactly, the placebo effect can be very... well, effective in treating various ailments. There was an article in the local newspaper today about how apparently you don't even have to be ignorant of the fact that you are being given a placebo to experience the benefits. Personally I thought this was neat as I was always under the impression that if you knew you were taking a placebo, it nullified the effects.

As for people going for this junk science, I can't really judge them too harshly. I mean, humans have had psychics and mystics and medicine men who talk to spirits for a very long time. While I don't personally believe there's anything mystical to it, I have known a person who claimed to be able to fix things by talking to them. Of course I thought it was crazy, but I've had things start working again after he did just that. Computers, light bulbs, tv. Coincidence? Almost certainly. At risk of sounding "woo woo", I really can't say for sure though, it was pretty damned bizzare. Ultimately, it doesn't really change my life any, so I consider it to be irrelevant and don't pass judgement on it at this time. Still it's easy to see how someone could be drawn into that sort of thing.

Takeshi Kitano made a great movie about new age religions in Japan. They have lots over there. The movie is called 教祖誕生(Birth of a Guru). I don't know where you would find an English subtitled version though. I remember it was damn funny and so true about religion.

I grew up with homeopathy, and my family is sort of interesting in that my parents acknowledge that much of it may very well be crap. Most of my experience taking homeopathic remedies is that they don't do anything noticeable, but there is one (can't remember the name) that my parents always used for aches that has seemed extremely effective. Of course, this is purely anecdotal, but it certainly seemed more effective than other medicines I've used (alternative or otherwise).

 

On the other side of the issue, I've had extremely poor luck with real medicines (specifically anti-biotics), as they have in almost every case worsened my condition more than helping. I'm curious if the fact that I grew up almost entirely without using medicine could have made me more suspetible to side effects, like perhaps my body is not accustomed to medicines and not reacting the same way as someone who grew up with them. Does anyone know if that is plausible?

When there are peer-reviewed scientific studies showing these things to be efficacious, I'll rethink. I DO know that a LOT of "dis-ease" is psychosomatic or psychogenic.

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