Sunday, May 18, 2014

Religion and "Alternative Medicine" share Common ground

Unfortunately, medicine has always been intertwined with some degree of supernatural and superstitious bullshit. The medical field has over time become more rational and fact based. There is now a distinction between actual medicine and pseudo-medicine. Even though we may never be able to completely purge faith-based nonsense from real medicine it is important to continue to expose the garbage that now gets labeled "alternative medicine".

A recent Religious News Service piece, "Reiki goes mainstream: Spiritual touch practice now commonplace in hospitals", reported that:
"Like acupuncture, yoga and other once fringe practices, Reiki is now viewed by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice in mainstream America, where at least 1.2 million adults have tried the energy healing therapy."
That is fucking scary. Yet, there is some hope. Even religious reporters can still be honest about such bogus treatments. Mr. Sacks does refer to these practices as "fringe" and throughout his writing you get a sense of mild skepticism. It would be great if a higher level of critical thinking were applied but that is not likely.

Skepticism and critical thinking are a threat to both alternative medicine and religion for similar reasons. Faith requires ignorance. Both alternative medicine and religion are entirely built on faith. They also both can be potentially very harmful not just to their practitioners and followers but to all of us. The sheer amount of resources wasted on this nonsense is damaging. The fall-out in terms of its impact on thinking and social interactions is even greater. And, all that is before you contemplate the physical damage it can lead to or allow.

For more on Reiki I find the following podcasts to be interesting and informative.

Skeptoid: Your Body's Energy Fields

Skeptoid: Therapeutic Touch

Oh No Ross and Carrie: Ross and Carrie Creep People Out: Reiki Test Edition

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