The loudest argument against the efficacy of energy work as a whole is that it does not consistent and discernible results compared to more “scientific” disciplines. To this I say, “Orly?”
Let’s be really fair about this. I freely and openly admit that there are numerous well-designed scientific studies going on even as we speak, but they are far more rare than the modern media would lead us to believe. Part of this has to do with the pressure of media outlets to report on something – anything, sometimes – in order to keep the news feeds populated. Another part has to do with the pressure on academia and the scientific community to produce results, even if those results aren’t exactly complete.
As much as I would tend to think of these compromises as unconscionable, I can still understand it a little. In academia, he who publishes first wins – even if he is publishing false or incomplete data.
How does is this data incomplete, though? A portion of that answer comes from the “science” of statistics – an otherwise innocuous branch of math that is often misused and abused to “prove” things by way of “majority” or “median”. A real life example would be the way in which endocrinologists analyze the results of thyroid screens: the range of “normal” for T3, T4, TSH, and the other thyroid serums was determined by a median of the results of otherwise healthy people, but it did not take into account natural diversity. When yours truly walked into an endocrinologists office in the midst of a full-tilt thyroid storm, the thyroid screen came back “within normal ranges”, and so despite the clear clinical and objective observable evidence that things were not okay, the specialist in question denied treatment. (I fixed it myself by sheer luck, taking some kelp instinctively, but my recovery was long and arduous.)
I could go into many more examples of arbitrary guidelines causing problems or marginal “positive” results qualified as “across the board success”, but that would be flogging the proverbial deceased equine. The real issue I’d like to discuss today is the hypocrisy that is bandied about in denying the effects of energy work versus pharmaceutical remedies.
The fact is that many pharmaceutical treatments are not as well-understood. If they were, there wouldn’t be so many recalls and class-action suits every year for all the damages done. When we do research on medications, more often than we’d care to see, we find that the “mechanism is unclear”. This is downright disturbing.
By contrast, when we talk about the efficacy of energy work, we have a few advantages. First, we have thousands of years of experience and documented results from which to draw. Second, we are not restricted by the consensus concept of what defines our universe, which is determined by what is thus far measurable. The argument that energy work is invalid because it is not measurable is about as valid as saying that the earth was flat until that point in which it was proven round.
When we do energy work, we must work with “open-ended assumptions”, which is to say, we must suspend the inherent disbelief in non-material effects and trust in things like subjective experience. This is not exclusively the realm of the energy worker, however: it turns out that commonly-prescribed antidepressants are considered “successful” based on subjective experience as well, even in the absence of actual physiological effects that should reasonably lead to the desired effect. Does that mean that energy work is actually creating a placebo effect?
No, not exactly, but it works vaguely on the same principle. Energy workers tend to be more honest about their results and method because they know that “they” (the healers) do not actually cause the healing to take place so much as reminding the body-mind-spirit self of how to heal itself. In effect we are not utilizing the placebo effect because we are stating to begin with that we expect the non-physical part of the being to take part in the healing, knowing full well and good that there is no physical aspect that will change the physical body.
However, energy workers are sometimes capable of providing nutritive and vitamin/mineral supplementation to help create the healing effect, and in this case, the placebo effect is used – again, knowingly – because the attitude and willingness of the patient to heal makes the effects of the supplementation more effective.
Getting back to the issue of the argument between allopathy and energy work, allopathy has a tendency to be at least as guilty (if not moreso) of lacking “scientific” foundation due to shoddy presentation and results based on demand instead of discovery. It is easy for energy work researchers to fall into the same emotional trap – to want to find results and therefore create them by hook or by crook – but I’d say that if we keep our eyes open and adhere to a higher standard than other disciplines, it’ll make it much easier to find our credibility as time goes on.