Despite the exploding popularity of acupuncture for promoting health and well-being in modern society, a small but vocal cabal of sceptic-extremists are waging an online campaign to discredit the benefits of acupuncture and dissuade people from using it for themselves. For many years they have ruled the acupuncture page on wikipedia with an iron fist, heavily weighting the article to focus on their neurotic obsession with “placebo”, and banning anyone who tries to make the article more balanced.
I don’t think that sceptics are intentionally obtuse people, they just hate the idea that acupuncture is effective because they don’t understand HOW it could work, and they are too uncomfortable and impatient to sit within that grey area of unknowingness long enough to allow enlightenment into their minds. They immediately dismiss acupuncture as “placebo” without a second thought, despite such a position being pure functionally nonsense.
Placebo is a sugar pill. That’s it. There is no correlation between sugar pills and acupuncture in this universe or any other, to think so is just ludicrous. What the sceptics are trying to refer to is the so-called “placebo effect”, which is the margin of efficacy in a pharmaceutical trial between treatment with a sugar pill and no treatment at all.
What does that have to do with the ancient and enduring system of acupuncture, which has been extensively studied and utilised continuously over millennia to improve the health and well-being of countless billions of people? Absolutely nothing at all, but I want to take a minute here to explore why this so-called “placebo effect” might even occur the first place.
In his transcendental literary classic “Autobiography of a Yogi”, Paramahansa Yogananda describes how humans exist in three simultaneous states of being: the essential or “spiritual” condition, the energetic or “mental” realm, and the gross or “physical” world. Causality can flow in both directions, inwards towards the essence, or outwards towards the gross, but more reliably it expresses itself from inner to outer.
With that in mind, what then happens when a patient goes to see a Doctor about a health problem? Well, the Doctor uses the mental energy of his intention to try to influence the patient towards healing. This is the case whether he prescribes real medication, or (in the case of a double-blind placebo trial) unknowingly prescribes a sugar pill. The mental intention behind both actions remains the same: to influence the patient towards healing. And this undoubtedly has ramifications in the gross physical world.
Now I’m sure all the sceptics out there are just about to scream angrily into their screens that this is “pseudo-science” or “woo-woo” or whatever. The idea that mental intention affects physical reality triggers them. However, they need to realise that it is THEY who are being anti-scientific by holding such a view.
The astounding discoveries of quantum physics experiments in the 20th century prove clearly and certainly that mental intention DOES impact on physical reality, in a measurable and replicable way. The most famous of these is the double-slit experiment. The first strange discovery of the double-slit experiment was finding that matter, at its most elemental, does not behave like matter at all, but as a wave of potentials.
However, the second discovery was even stranger. Quantum physicists found that if they observed the process, the matter decided to act differently, as though it was aware it was being watched. The observer collapsed the wave function of the particle, simply by observing it.
In other words, the mental intention to observe affected the physical reality of the experiment. Therefore the scientific principle was established.
Now, is that the only reason why acupuncture is effective, because the practitioner mentally intends to affect the physical reality of the patient? No, not at all: there are numerous other mechanisms of action in acupuncture that all concurrently operate like double and triple entendres. However, that’s a topic to delve into on another day…