Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SGU 5x5 on Vitalism; HAND's Vitalism; Goldacre on Scrutiny

here, I cite from a 2008 Skeptics' Guide to the Universe 5x5 podcast concerning the science-ejected status of vitalism [see 001., below]; then from the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians [see 002., below]; and finally from Ben Goldacre [see 003., below]:

"[the web page] SGU 5x5 - Five Minutes with Five Skeptics. A weekly science podcast discussing news in the world of science and pseudoscience. A companion to The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe weekly podcast [...] podcast 45 - November 11, 2008: Chi and Other Forms of Vitalism [...the mp3, Steve] this is the SGU 5x5 and tonight we're talking about chiChi, which is alternatively spelled chi or qi, the English approximation of a Chiense word which means life energy.  It is the core of traditional Chinese medicine philosophy [00.00.42...] this mystical life force or life energy [...Bob] the belief isn't limited to China, either. It's called prana in India.  It's ki in Japan.  In France Anton Mesmer called it animal magnetism [...] Bergson referred to it as elan vital, vital force [...Jay] an acupuncturist thinks that they're unblocking chi [...also] reiki [...and] therapeutic touch [...Steve] these are all forms of vitalism, the notion that there's a life energy that separates living things from nonliving things [...] it is a supernatural or metaphysical thing, a spiritual force [...] but, of course, there isn't a like of evidence for any of this.  These are all prescientific notions, the attempts of primitive societies to understand what they could not understand, the nature of health and illness for example, life and non-life.  Modern science has not verified any of these concepts of life energy or life force.  In fact, this fight was fought within the scientific world about 100 years ago and the vitalists, those who thought that there was some kind of vital force, LOST.  The evidence clearly showed, and the logic clearly led to the conclusion, that vitalism is unnecessary and that nothing like chi or like a life force exists.  It's not necessary to explain any biological process [...] it is simply unnecessary, which is the harshest criticism you could level at any idea in science."

Note: tell that to naturopathy!

002. meanwhile, to illustrate the vitalism that is at the heart of naturopathy [falsely posed as science], here's the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians' article "Vol.XIV #4 - The Centesimal And Lm Potencies, Simillimum - Winter 2001: A Comparison from the 5th and 6th Editions of The Organon By David Little" [vsc 2010-12-08]:

"[per 'life force, quoting Hahnemann] 'the life-force appears to strive to assert its superiority' [...] this action by the life force [...] 'the life force brings forth the exact opposite condition-state counteraction [...] proportionate to the life force's own energy' [...] 'after action of the life force' [...] 'our life force always and everywhere brings to pass' [...] strong medicines in large doses tend to cause opposing counteractions from the life force [...] the lebenskraft (life force) [...] to this subtle medicinal disease the life force needs to use no more secondary effect than necessary [...] 'the life force appears to strive to assert its superiority by extinguishing the alterations' [...] Hahnemann spoke of the essential role of life force in the Preface to the introduction of the 6th Organon in 1842 [...] 'homeopathy is aware that a cure can only succeed through the counteract on of the life force against the correctly chosen medicine. The stronger the life force that still prevails in the patient the more certain and faster the cure that takes place' [...per 'vital force'] so that the vital force never receives the same exact dose twice in succession. In this way, the vital force can receive the single dose or a series of doses in medicinal solution without the aggravations witnessed in the dry or unmodified liquid dose [...] once again we see the importance of the balance of the primary action of the remedy and curative response of the vital force [...] against which the instinctive vital force was compelled to direct an increased amount of energy [...] compelling the vital force to act [...] the aggravation of symptoms compels the vital force to act [...] this medicinal disease alters the vital force [...] will soon be extinguished by the vital force [...] the idea of a crisis-like aggravation compelling the vital force to increase its energy [...] an increase of energy of the vital force [...] the vital force directs its whole energy [...] the vital force heals the pathology in stages [...] the instinctive vital force [...] it may mistune the vital force [...] here the vital force is compelled to produce an antagonistic secondary action [...] in homeopathy the vital force is exposed to a very small dose [...] the curative reaction of the vital force is not disrupted by the repetition of the minimal size [...] the lebenskraft (vital force) [...] the vital force removes no mistuning [...] the vital force is moving toward the cure."

003. at The Guardian, Ben Goldacre writes in "Mutual Criticism is Vital in Science. Libel Laws Threaten It" (2010-12-08):

"in science and medicine, criticizing each others' ideas and practices [] exactly what you are supposed to do, all of the time [...] medicine is almost unique among all human activities in that it's possible to do enormous harm even when you set out with the absolute best of intentions [...] in medicine, when you make a mistake about whether something works or not, it's possible to cause death and suffering on a genuinely biblical scale.  That's why we have systems to try and stop us making such mistakes, and at the heart of all these lies mutual criticism: criticizing each others ideas and practices. This isn't something that's marginal, or tolerated by the profession. It's something that is welcomed and actively encouraged. More than that, it's institutionalized [...] in a BBC World Service documentary out today – made with the BBC Radio science unit, rather than current affairs – we explain why science is different, and why it is dangerous to have laws that restrict the everyday scrutiny of each others' ideas and practices that scientists and doctors necessarily engage in [...] Discovery: Science and Libel is on the BBC World Service [about 28 minutes...] you can listen again online through the BBC iPlayer."

Note: hear, hear.  It, it.  Again, again.
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