TRTZ no 14 15th March

So tonight’s show rambles through some thoughts about Japan and the Astr0-Armaggedon Pundits who seem to be seeking validation through their “predictions” of this event; the nature of science; a brief look at Edgar Cayce and a prolonged rant about some ‘alternative practitioners’ and their deliberate or ignorant use of research….

see The Rational Mystic for a rant on Astr0-Armageddon Pundits

see: Interview with Dabriella Quayle from Tokyo on Sunday 13th March

Some notes for your reference -remember many of these notes need to be referenced in the context of the shows discussion.

Science Thoughts…

The only goal of science is the diminution of the distance between present knowledge and truth. To the scientist, the willingness to validate an empirical claim on the basis of bias, prejudice, or emotional and political need — or to reject a claim on the basis of the motivations of the claimant or the putative consequences of accepting the claim — represents an infantile narcissism.

Goldberg, Steven (2003). Fads and Fallacies in the Social Sciences. New York: Prometheus Books.

“It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition.”

History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

The point being made is about scientific approaches which are often misunderstood and/or misquoted by those with a vested interest in negating or disowning a particular body of evidence.

A scientific theory is a concise and coherent set of concepts, claims and laws (frequently expressed mathematically) that can be used to precisely and accurately explain and predict natural phenomena. A theory should include a mechanism that explains how its concepts, claims, and laws arise from lower level theories.

Just a Theory – Exploring the Nature of Science Moti Ben-Ari (my emphasis)

What follows is a list of ‘papers’ quoted in the programme for your reference:

J Community Health. 2011 Mar 4. [Epub ahead of print]

The Role of Traditional Healers in Community-Based HIV Care in Rural Lesotho.

Furin J.

Case Medical School, TB Research Unit, 10900 Euclid Ave., School of Medicine, Room E202, Cleveland, OH, 44106, USA, jjf38@case.edu.

Abstract

Traditional healers provide a substantial proportion of health care in resource-poor settings, including countries with high burdens of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Traditional healers have played many roles in HIV care, but some biomedical providers view them as obstacles in providing HIV treatment. This is a qualitative study exploring the roles played by traditional healers in a community-based program rolling out antiretroviral therapy (ART) in two rural communities in Lesotho. Seventeen traditional healers took part in interviews focus groups, and participant observation sessions over a 2 years period. Data showed they provided a wide range of HIV services prior to the ART rollout. Baseline knowledge regarding HIV was high, but healers reported mixed emotions about the planned ART rollout. Joint meetings were held between biomedical providers and traditional healers, and a collaborative model of care resulted. Traditional healers took on a variety of roles in the ART rollout, including HIV prevention activities, HIV testing, monitoring patients, and participating in joint learning sessions. All of the traditional healers underwent HIV testing and 7/17 (41.2%) tested positive for the disease, of whom four were eligible for and enrolled in ART. Healers expressed an appreciation for the collaboration with biomedical providers and being paid for their referrals. However, some expressed concern about the biomedical providers’ lack of understanding of HIV in the local context. This research shows that traditional healers can provide a variety of community-based HIV services and are not obstacles for advancing care in the communities they serve.

Classification of CAM Use and Its Correlated in patients with early-stage Breast Cancer

Saquib J, Madlensky L, Kealey S, Saquib N, Natarajan L, Newman VA, Patterson RE, Pierce JP.

Abstract

Hypothesis: Self-reported use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been shown to increase following a cancer diagnosis, and breast cancer survivors are the heaviest users among cancer survivors. The aim of this study was to determine whether the prevalence estimate of CAM use varied according to classification of CAM. The authors used a comprehensive system to classify CAM users and test differences in demographic, lifestyle, quality of life, and cancer characteristics among them.

STUDY DESIGN: Participants were 2562 breast cancer survivors participating in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study, aged 28 to 74 years. A structured telephone interview assessed CAM use, questioning about specific CAM practices, and whether use was related to cancer. This study examined CAM use in relation to demographics, health behaviors, and quality of life.

RESULTS: Approximately 80% of the women used CAM for general purposes but only 50% reported CAM use for cancer purposes. Visual imagery, spiritual healing, and meditation were the most frequently used practices for cancer purposes. CAM use, defined as consulting a CAM practitioner and regular use, was significantly related to younger age, higher education, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and lower body mass index (P < .05). CAM users who had seen a practitioner were also more likely to report poor physical and mental health than non-CAM users (P < .05). CAM use was not associated with changes in physical and mental health between study baseline and 1-year follow-up.

Conclusion: This study addressed important differences in the classifications of CAM use amongst breast cancer survivors.

Chen J, Lv Q, Yu M, Zhang X, Gou J.

Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Sichuan, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Ischaemia and necrosis of skin flaps is a common complication after mastectomy. This study evaluated the influence of anisodamine and Salvia miltiorrhiza on wound complications after mastectomy for breast cancer.

METHODS: Ninety patients undergoing mastectomy for breast carcinoma were divided into three groups. Group 1 received routine wound care, group 2 received intravenous Salvia miltiorrhiza after surgery for 3 days and group 3 similarly received intravenous anisodamine. Skin flaps were observed on postoperative days 4 and 8; areas of wound ischaemia and necrosis were graded and adverse events recorded.

RESULTS: There was no difference in demographic characteristics between the groups. At 4 days after surgery the rate of ischaemia and necrosis in groups 2 and 3 was significantly reduced compared with that in control group 1 (median wound score 6·80 versus 23·38, P = 0·002, and 3·76 versus 23·38, P < 0·001, respectively). This improvement in groups 2 and 3 continued to postoperative day 8 (both P < 0·001), but wound scores at this stage were better in group 3 than in group 2 (1·82 versus 6·92 respectively; P = 0·022). The volume of wound drainage was lower in group 3 than in group 1 (P = 0·004). The incidence of adverse effects was highest in group 3, and two patients in this group discontinued treatment. No significant complications were noted in group 2.

CONCLUSION: Anisodamine and S. miltiorrhiza were both effective in reducing skin flap ischaemia and necrosis after mastectomy, although anisodamine was associated with a higher rate of adverse effects.

Copyright © 2010 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Biofield therapies: helpful or full of hype? A best evidence synthesis.

Jain S, Mills PJ.

UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, Los Angeles, CA, USA. sjain@ucsd.edu

Erratum in:

  • Int J Behav Med. 2011 Mar;18(1):79-82.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Biofield therapies (such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, and healing touch) are complementary medicine modalities that remain controversial and are utilized by a significant number of patients, with little information regarding their efficacy.

PURPOSE: This systematic review examines 66 clinical studies with a variety of biofield therapies in different patient populations.

METHOD: We conducted a quality assessment as well as a best evidence synthesis approach to examine evidence for biofield therapies in relevant outcomes for different clinical populations.

RESULTS: Studies overall are of medium quality, and generally meet minimum standards for validity of inferences. Biofield therapies show strong evidence for reducing pain intensity in pain populations, and moderate evidence for reducing pain intensity hospitalized and cancer populations. There is moderate evidence for decreasing negative behavioral symptoms in dementia and moderate evidence for decreasing anxiety for hospitalized populations. There is equivocal evidence for biofield therapies’ effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients, as well as for comprehensive pain outcomes and affect in pain patients, and for decreasing anxiety in cardiovascular patients.

CONCLUSION: There is a need for further high-quality studies in this area. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine therapies in relieving cancer pain: a systematic review.

Bardia A, Barton DL, Prokop LJ, Bauer BA, Moynihan TJ.

Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA.

Comment in:

Abstract

PURPOSE: Despite widespread popular use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, a rigorous evidence base about their efficacy for cancer-related pain is lacking. This is a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating CAM therapies for cancer-related pain.

METHODS: RCTs using CAM interventions for cancer-related pain were abstracted using Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, and Cochrane database.

RESULTS: Eighteen trials were identified (eight poor, three intermediate, and seven high quality based on Jadad score), with a total of 1,499 patients. Median sample size was 53 patients, and median intervention duration was 45 days. All studies were from single institutions, four had sample size justification, and none reported any adverse effects. Seven trials reported significant benefit for the following CAM therapies: acupuncture (n = 1), support groups (n = 2), hypnosis (n = 1), relaxation/imagery (n = 2), and herbal supplement/HESA-A (n = 1, but study was of low quality without control data). Seven studies reported immediate postintervention or short-term benefit of the following CAM interventions: acupuncture (n = 2), music (n = 1), herbal supplement/Ai-Tong-Ping (n = 1), massage (n = 1), and healing touch (n = 2). Four studies reported no benefit of CAM interventions (music, n = 2; massage, n = 2) in reducing cancer pain compared with a control arm.

CONCLUSION: There is paucity of multi-institutional RCTs evaluating CAM interventions for cancer pain with adequate power, duration, and sham control. Hypnosis, imagery, support groups, acupuncture, and healing touch seem promising, particularly in the short term, but none can be recommended because of a paucity of rigorous trials. Future research should focus on methodologically strong RCTs to determine potential efficacy of these CAM interventions.

PMID: 17135649 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Energy Definitions

In physics, the basic idea of energy is the capacity of a physical system to do “work,” the product of a force times the distance through which that force acts. In physics, energy is a term to express the power to move things, either potential or actual. Energy is not a thing itself, but an attribute of something.

New Age spiritualism has co-opted some of the language of physics, including the language of quantum mechanics, in its quest to make ancient metaphysics sound like respectable science. The New Age preaches enhancing your vital energy, tapping into the subtle energy of the universe, or manipulating your biofield so that you can be happy, fulfilled, successful, and lovable, and so life can be meaningful, significant, and endless. The New Age promises you the power to heal the sick and create reality, as if you were a god.

Of course, New Age energy has nothing to do with mechanics, electricity, or the nuclei of atoms: the stuff of physics. There are no ergs, joules, electron-volts, calories, or foot-pounds in New Age subtle energy, which will remain forever outside the bounds of scientific control or study. New Age energy expresses itself in terms like chi, prana, or orgone energy. New Age energy isn’t measurable by any validated scientific instrument

F. Sicher, E. Targ et al., “A randomised double-blind study of the effect of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS: report of a small scale study,” Western Journal of Medicine, 1998; 168(6): 356-63

This was a study where 40 patients with advanced AIDS were selected, some of them randomly chosen to receive “remote healing” treatments, while the rest continuing their course of regular treatment. According to the study, subjects who were “healed … acquired significantly fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses,” plus other positive effects, although there were “no significant differences in CD4+ counts”.

Upon reading the abstract of this paper, numerous glaring red flags emerge. The most obvious of these, I think, is that the healers who performed the “psychic healing” were “located throughout the United States during the study,” meaning that the healing was completely uncontrolled.
Furthermore, if the healers and the subjects “never met,” how did the healers know where to direct their “intention for health and well-being”? Did they direct their intention at a photo of the subject? And if so, how does “The Field” know to redirect the intention from the photo to the real person?

Curiously enough, there is a note from the editor of the Western Journal of Medicine (Linda Hawes Clever) at the top of the paper:

…Does the paper prove that prayer works? No. The authors call for more research, as do we and the reviewers, for a number of reasons. We note that the study was relatively short and analysed rather few patients. No treatment-related mechanisms for the effects were posited. The statistical methods can be criticized….

http://dmitrybrant.com/?s=healing

My good friend was just diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and it is heartbreaking. He has three very young children. I had lunch with my friend today and listened to him tearfully speak of his fear for his wife and children’s future, his rapidly deteriorating motor skills and the agony he will shortly endure. He is scared, as anybody would be.

His doctors say that there is little hope for him.

Unfortunately, he has been given the advice, perhaps by someone who wished him well, to undertake homeopathic therapies, specifically some warped device called the Baar Wet Cell Battery. To say that I am angered by this obvious attempt to cash in on my friend’s fear and horrible condition is a monumental understatement. The device costs nearly $200 a month and doesn’t even include instructions, which are an additional $15.

CHECK OUT THE FULL STORY and CRITIQUE on SKEPTOID

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4089


Edgar Cayce

ù  Born March 18th 1877 and died on January 3rd 1945 at 68.

ù  He was born on a farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a primarily Christian state.

ù  As a child, he was supposedly able to study simply by sleeping on his books. Thus began the trances for which he became famous.

ù  At 21, he developed some nature of throat paralysis that could have rendered him mute and for which Doctors could find no cure.  He entered into the sleep-like trance that he had before used to combat his schoolwork and came up with a treatment that solved the problem completely.

ù  It was from then on that he discovered he could do this for others as well.  He would go into one of his peculiar trances and become able to answer any question asked of him, the results of which became known as his ‘readings’.

ù  Records of his readings have amounted to one of the largest collections of information of this nature from a single individual.

ù  What began as simple medical advice became prophetic, and went on to include the meaning of dreams, reincarnation and meditation.

ù  He entered these trances daily.

ù  His readings were kept on record by a stenographer, who kept one copy and sent another to the person who had initially asked the question.

ù   He has made…

o    9603 recorded physical readings, in which he has given medical advice.

o   1920 recorded life readings in which he has described the patient’s current physical and psychological condition in reference to a possible past life experience.

o   747 recorded business readings in which he dealt with shifts in the stock market and made recommendations about potential business partners for patients.

o   630 recorded dream readings whereby he interpreted dream meanings to patients and gave advice on future moves based on what he was told.

§  He was compared to Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung for these readings, though he differed significantly on several key points of both Freudian and Jung dream analysis.  Freud’s theories centralized around wish-fulfillment and symbolism, usually sexual, and Jung was most interested in collective interpretation of, again, particular symbols.  Cayce was less interested in symbolism and stated that every individual had symbols of their own or that a dream symbol to one person may mean something completely different to another. He also believed that people could communicate with loved ones regardless of their presence or lack thereof on this physical plane, recall past life experiences and even see into the future. He also stated that these abilities were achievable by all.

o   954 recorded readings of a more general nature, such as missing people, auras, buried treasure, psychic abilities, structure of reality, and, oddly, geology.

o   He referred to Atlantis over 700 times in his collective readings over the passage of 20 years.

ù  Reincarnation was a regularly occurring theme in Cayce’s life and in his readings.  He was a Christian, but he did not feel that the idea of reincarnation clashed with this or with any Religion, he felt that it fitted perfectly with it, in fact.

o   He believed in spiritual progression and evolution, as it were, and placed particular importance on the now, feeling that though reincarnation was something he believed in, it was important not to dwell on the events of the past in this life or the last.

o   This is not to say that he thought all things were predetermined by these past lives and events, more that within each life lived the choices and actions made therein could open any number of opportunities for the individual, and that these would result in said spiritual progression until the ultimate goal is met; to feel the same love towards every single soul including oneself regardless of the challenges brought about by our physical existence as spiritual beings on this earth.

o   The concept of karma played into this theory also, in that we meet the consequences of previous deeds regularly and that we should use them as a means of development.

o   According to Cayce, this idea of reincarnation allows us to progress towards the ultimate goal because it essentially makes us all equal as children of the one God, thus we can learn to love eachother equally in this capacity.

o   Astrology also intertwined with his reincarnation notions.  He believed that between lifetimes, the soul experiences an existence outside of the physical existence we know on Earth known as a ‘Planetary sojourn’.  The soul is meant to experience different stages or levels of awareness in accordance to the vibratory altitude of the different planets.  These can impact the nature of carnation on Earth, but the will of the individual is the most powerful factor still.

ù  His theories on Atlantis seem prevalent in his life readings of individuals, the idea that they were once Atlanteans that had faced similar trials in an old life cropping up repeatedly.

o   He also stated that a ‘blue stone’ would one day be discovered that was of Atlantean origin on an island in the Caribbean and that it would have healing properties. Larimar was discovered in 1974 in the Dominican Republic, and while it is a powerful healing stone according to some spiritual sects, it has not yet proved to have any physical medicinal properties.

o   He believed that Egypt was once home to a civilisation of Atlantean migrants and this connects with a speculation still around today that there is something of special significance beneath the Sphinx, akin to records of some nature.

ù  He made predictions about the future of Earth, the most famous perhaps being the rising of Atlantis, the sinking of California, and the Second Coming of Christ.  Evidently, none of these particular predications came about. As far as we know.

The Music in Tonight’s Show

The Truts – Strangers and Moth to a Flame

Callel – Try to be Quiet

All available from Aardvark Music

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