Karla McLaren on bridging the gap between the New Age and Skeptical cultures.

While checking in over at DOF’s blog The Ballpoint Sketch, something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now, I came across his entry on an essay by former New Age guru Karla McLaren that was printed in the May 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The essay is a fascinating read on Karla’s journey away from her New Age beliefs to becoming a skeptic and it makes no bones about what a gut wrenching and painful process such a shift can be. This is especially so if you happen to be, as Karla was, a leader in the culture you are leaving behind. Do a search for “Karla McLaren” on Amazon.com and you’ll see some of her work which includes titles like Healing Your Aura & Chakras: Accessing Your Energetic Wisdom and Becoming an Empath: How to Develop the Power of Your Emotional Intuition. Now imagine embarking on a journey where you open up to the possibility that all these things you’ve published best selling books are all so much cotton candy and fluff.

Yeah, that’d be rough.

Karla’s essay is also a plea as she believes she understands why the New Age culture and the Skeptical culture are unable to speak to each other and she’s hoping to bridge that gap.

Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures (Skeptical Inquirer May 2004)

It is possible that our two warring cultures will never build a bridge across the deep rift that divides us. I know that in my own case, the transition from my culture to yours was long, arduous, and deeply painful. It was not an easy traipse across a well-constructed bridge. In essence, I had to throw myself off a cliff. I had to leave behind my career, my income, my culture, my family, my friends, my health care practitioners, most of my business contacts, my past, and my future. I say this not to garner sympathy but to show what the leap truly entails. The New Age is a complete culture with its own rules, ideals, infrastructure, and social life. When I finally realized that my cultural training had me teetering on a foundation of candyfloss and dreams – and worse, that my work had encouraged others to teeter alongside me, I was inconsolable, yet I had absolutely no one to turn to.

I’ve made it, I think, through my rage and horror at my own complicity in helping people remain susceptible – and perhaps through my grief and despair (though that’s more cyclical) about my own miseducation. Now I’m considering what to do from here. I’ve discovered in just the few (less than ten) conversations I’ve had with faith-based people that skeptical information is absolutely threatening and unwanted. What I didn’t understand until recently is that when you start questioning these beliefs, there’s a domino effect that eventually smacks into your whole house of cards – and nothing remains standing. Opening the questioning process is a very dangerous thing, and people in my culture seem to understand that on a subconscious level. In response to their extreme discomfort, I’ve become completely silent around believers – which is hard, because they make up most of my friends, family, and correspondents.

The essay definitely gave me some stuff to think about and I think it’s a worthy read for anyone who considers themselves a skeptic who wants to make a difference. I’m short on time at the moment so I can’t say everything I want to, but go check it out and let me know what you think.

30 thoughts on “Karla McLaren on bridging the gap between the New Age and Skeptical cultures.

  1. Congratulations to Karen for making the leap of logic! And good luck in trying to establish communication between the skeptical and New Age cultures, but that’s going to be tough when there’s so little agreement even on basic principles. I can identify with her struggle a little bit, being an atheist and reformed fundamentalist Christian—it’s not easy to relate to your friends in the group that you left.

  2. I read the same article a little while ago, and it seems to me that the author exagerates a little.  It can’t be that difficult to give up irrational beliefs.  I mean, she makes it sound like she’s a refugee leaving behind everything she knows, trekking off to a new part of the world where she doesn’t understand what happens around her, and trying to lay down new roots.  I could see it being that difficult if one was truly and very deeply entrenched in ones beliefs (I’m thinking like the Branch Davidians or some people like that).  However, unless one’s life was fully dedicated to new age mysticism it wouldn’t be that difficult.  Unless her life was dedicated to new age mysticism, then I retract everything I said.

  3. I read that essay a while back too, and one point that she makes—a very valid one—is that most skeptics are too harsh, contemptuous and abrasive to have any chance even to get into a dialogue with a believer.  If we want to educate people, we can’t do it by approaching them as if they were idiots.  The very outward face of the skeptic movement may be enough to turn off other people like Karen who might be questioning their beliefs but think, “If it means becoming like THEM, I’ll stick with the crystal people, thank you.”

    (“said”)

  4. That was a good read and it’s refreshing to see that people can still reopen their minds after having them closed for so long.

    I would have to disagree with the assertion of her writing being exaggerated.  Having come from an extremely religious background I can readily identify with a lot of what she presented.  I can still remember being faced with some seemingly, overwhelming challenges and the best advice I could get from friends and family was to pray about it, or go talk to a pastor.  I can imagine that she went through the same sort of ordeal.

    To draw on an extreme.  It felt like being a freed slave in the old South.  You’ve just discovered you’re free, but you have no resources, no friends and have no idea where to go.  That’s where the education begins.  Once we can break away from the mysticism of it all we can then begin to ask all the questions we wish and a real foundation begins to take shape.  I think that’s one of the reasons that makes it so hard for Gnostics to question anything within their belief sphere.  The fear that they may find what they are looking for.

    Unfortunately a lot of people will feel betrayed by what Karla has done but her true friends will understand and the world will be a better place with one more mind out there thinking for itself.

  5. What really saddened me in reading this article is that Karla feels such a powerful need to belong and be accepted at all. It’s an intelligent and well-written piece of work, but it’s really very telling that an essay like that should even have to be written. It’s easy to praise Karla’s open-mindedness, but not, apparently, to notice our own lack of same. After all, it does take two cultures to create a rift of such breadth, and even if you happen to believe that one of them is in the wrong, nobody gave you the right to show such a total lack of understanding to those that may show a little healthy curiosity towards another side of the argument. Some people seem to expect those that are completely opposed to their way of thinking to listen to one or two arguments and then collapse in the face of logic or faith. It’s rarely that simple, and climbing down from that high horse once in a while would really help. Condescension (in both camps) helps no-one.

    I suppose I could have just typed: “What GeekMom said,” but that is not my way.

  6. decrepitoldfool,

    See in your case I could easily understand how the change would be quite difficult.  You had to a great degree dedicated your life to your belief system.  Indeed you had become a member of the institution that aims to further that belief system.  However, unless the author of the article was as deeply entrenched in her belief system as you I’m not sure why it would be so difficult.  Indeed I am an apostate buddhist, much of my family is buddhist, I never found giving up religion that difficult.  When I got older, and was able to consider what my religion meant, I realized that I could very well accept the moral principles underlying that religion without accepting the superstition.  So I gave up the superstition.  I’ve never looked back.

  7. Well she wrote 9 books and consulted heavily as a leader in the New Age movement for years, I’d say that’s a pretty dedicated belief system.

  8. When I got older, and was able to consider what my religion meant, I realized that I could very well accept the moral principles underlying that religion without accepting the superstition.

    Have you read Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Bachelor?  He presents Buddhist philosophy without metaphysical superstitions.  I think it’s a great book, more so because Buddhist traditionalists (do I dare call them “fundamentalists?”) think it’s a crime sandwiched between the covers.  Rather like Christian fundies deplore similar movements in Christianity. 

    I’ve been turning Karen’s article over in my head for a while now.  Given her deep involvement in the movement, she had good reason to experience a lot of pain in a transition where neither side gave her any help. 

    But I’m guilty of nasty behavior, joking about “the invisible man in the sky” and such.  How much obligation do I have to make Christians feel comfortable?  Am I not allowed any rhetorical pry-bars to open the absurdity of Christian belief?  How helpful to anyone is a gentle discussion that goes on forever?  On the other hand, if I can’t speak in a way that is likely to be heard, why speak?  Hmmmm…

  9. DOF, I’m right there witcha, buddy.  I like being able to say things bluntly here:  that I really do consider God to be an imaginary friend, something I would not say to a believer I respected.  And when fundies come in here guns a-blazing, I don’t feel any obligation to pussyfoot around in my responses. 

    But I think it would do the atheist/skeptic movement a great deal of good to be able to portray ourselves as HAPPY people.  That being free of supernatural and religious beliefs can lead to a fulfilling life, one with community and purpose—even better, because you’re not stuck following obsessive rituals and wondering whether you’re toeing the line sufficiently to please a being you’ve never actually seen or heard from.  Too often, we do come across as “anti-” a lot of things, but not really FOR something.  (Hmmm … paging John Kerry … wink)

    (“earlier”)

  10. I don’t consider myself anti everything. I try to share with friends that my atheism does not prevent me from having many, many moments of awe and wonderment. Being a scientist, I sometimes say that my religion is physics, using the quote “matter is neither created or destroyed” and explaining that the particles that make “me” have always existed and will always exist. The “me” now may be a unique combination in this space and time but in general I am everlasting. I remember being impressed by the series Cosmos and the philosophy that we are indeed made of “star stuff”. In fact, taking the paranormal out of the equation makes life more wonderous not less as far as I’m concerned and that does make me “happy” that I believe that.

  11. WHile I find Karla’s story compelling, I must say that I’ve always found the New Age community (one in which I spent quite a bit of time) quite immature, gullible and flakey and the skeptical community far beyond true skepticism and well into cynicism.

    I have noted that a disproportional percentage of New-agers (as do more “traditional” religious fanatics and UFO fantacists) have extreme emotional, sexual and physical abuse in their childhood and/or adolescence, and that the New Age dream is a way to remain dissociated in a fantasy world with simple answers and and superhuman salvation from their past.

    It appears to me, though, that the degree of emotional intnsity and investment in both camps is about equal, and that emotional investment always, always clouds judgment and objectivity, and creates many blindspots and assumptions.

    I believe there is a gray area between the black and white perception of both extremes (I have found few truly skeptical looks into the paranormal or alternative health areas: most are cynical and dismissive, which damages their credibility as much as the gullibility and absolutism so prevalent in New Age circles damages its credibility).

    I can say two things with confidence:

    1. The New Age movement is awash with gullible people, and charlatans & fools, AND some of the stuff is for real (The problem is that the craps tends to bear the same and similar names as the real thing.

    2. The Skeptical community, albeit well-meaning, has an agenda to discount, dismiss, discredit and shame all of the New Age and alternative health field. Its language is proof of this, and the prevalent lack of openmindedness and rigor in examining these areas is shameful. The problem is that because 80% of what they are looking at really is fanciful rubbish, that there is little perceived reason to be more disciplined and parsimonious.

    When the few from either side learn the lessons they need to approach the whole thing differently (TRULY imaginative, experimental, skeptical, openminded and thorough), both will be able do a real service to each other and to the world instead of the blanket lambasting that we have been seeing.

    Karla McLaren woke up to the dark side of both worlds, but I’m unsure whether she ever really explored her experience or empirically examined energy healing, chakras and auras at all.

    I believe the skeptic community could do itself and the New Age community a lot of good by adopting “beginner’s mind” and becoming truly skeptical (i.e. questioning). Also, reconciling with the value of subjective experience and qualitative research would help. Think about how a skeptic with no sense of taste would prove something was or wasn’t delicious, or that someone else was pretending something was delicious… s/he wouldn’t say “Nope, this has no flavor because I didn’t taste any, and anyone who does is a fool or a crank.” This is why the New Age Community won’t take you seriously: because some of it is the real thing, and you can’t/won’t recognize it when it’s present.

  12. This is why the New Age Community won’t take you seriously: because some of it is the real thing, and you can’t/won’t recognize it when it’s present.

    The problem with that argument is the simple fact that no one has been able to show that any of the nonsense that New Agers carry on about is “the real thing.” It’s the lack of evidence in support of those claims that makes us skeptical. I think it would be cool as hell if some of that stuff turned out to be real, but I’m not going to say it is real without good reason to do so and neither will most other skeptics. Come up with something significant in the way of supporting evidence and we’ll be happy to sit and listen to you, but if all you’re going to do is trot out the same tired arguments without anything to back them up then you’re just wasting our time.

  13. Les, this is the whole point. You’re asking me to prove something that is experiential, qualitative and subjective in nature. Even “proof” of pain relief and accelerated healing is often put down to the placebo effect (actually the placebo effect is quantifiable: one of the ways Dr Norm Shields concluded that Quantum Touch produces results beyond placebo effect). This brings up an important point. Both sides also this is If you are asking about the religious aspect of the New Age, then you should already know better than to ask, and are wasting mine.  If you are asking about alternative health, consciousness studies, and the like, I’d first recommend some of the research on Therapeutic Touch, the Spindrift group (cited in Healing Words by Larry Dossey).
    The problem, though comes back to my original point: either side will tend to consistently overlook or discount any supporting information which either disagrees with their conscious or unconscious assumptions, or which falls outside its frame of reference.

    If you would like to come up with an experimental design for remote healing that satisfies you, I’d be happy to play along.

    My real point is not that its important per se whether you believe similarly to me or anyone else, but how rigorously you approach examining to what degree your beliefs, attitudes and assumptions influence your beliefs and perceptions before you even get started. If you don’t manage that (and if I don’t), then your (and my) conclusions are far more likely to meet your expectations, and will end up contributing very little to any conversation with anyone except those who have the same prejudices.

    So, having said all that, are you game?

  14. What Alfred Heath said. (Can I say that?) Current research in brain function has shown certain areas of the brain are involved in the “religious experience.” It would seem that humans, in general, are programmed to seek some kind of relgious and social anchors to feel really good about themselves. Like DOF, when those anchors you have already chosen are shown, by research or experience, to be false or at least not defensible, you are in for a big shock. And most really successful people construct a fantasy of their dream to make it real and to drive them towards success. These conclusions, coupled with the undeniable success of the “placebo effect,” indicate that most humans try to build some sort of fantasy world, based on their own experiences and world view, in which they can be comfortable. How closely that fantasy world relates to the “real,” or objective world, is an indication of how much success we can expect to acheive in this life. So, anyone who constructs a fantasy world, and them finds it shattered and must try to rebuild one, really goes thru a very traumatic experience.

  15. The following comments are about this thread, and not directed at any recent commentor:

    1) “You rationalists are such intolerant meanies!!! No one’s going to listen to you unless you learn to be nice!”

    2) “You’re just defending your narrow little scientific orthodoxy.  You need to open your mind to a wider universe of possibilities!”

    3) “You’re going to burn in hell.” (Christian variation)

    [Sound of Windex being sprayed], [Sound of squeegee squeaking across glass] Ahh, that’s better.

    This pops up a lot in discussions of rationalism vs hokum.  Someone always shows up and says, “Stop mocking us!  Your sarcasm invalidates your world view!!!”

    Geez, I’m tired of that.  Look around you.  The “all-natural life” with mystic frosting was powerless against the ancient enemies of mankind and brought human progress to a HALT.  We seem to be moving to a better world in exact proportion to mystical woo-woo getting the heck out of the way.

    As for the placebo effect, the price of its benefit is too high.  If you feel differently, go on believing coffee enemas will cure your colon cancer; I don’t care.  Just do me a favor and refrain from voting.

    Anyone who can talk about “scientific orthodoxy” with a straight face doesn’t understand what science is.  Early on, we need to make sure kids understand “what is science.”  Difficult, yes, because it’s a little abstract and our educational system doesn’t handle abstractions well.  But that’s the direction to go.  Otherwise the whole debate between rationalism and spooky-powers is just “he-said, she-said.”

    “Niceness” is overrated.  How nice someone is has NO bearing on the validity of their ideas.  The search for truth (small-‘t’) calls for a somewhat thick skin.

  16. Point The First: You have to pick and choose what you take the time to examine. There’s no shortage of ridiculous claims and most are so absurd that little examination is required. Also, many ridiculous claims are simply variations on previous ridiculous claims and have been invalidated from the get go.

    Point The Second: If a claim has already been examined by a reputable scientist and dismissed then further follow up by a layman is simply a waste of time. I’ll accept the scientists views and move happily on with my life knowing that the claim was bunk.

    Most alternative medicine claims have been looked at and rejected by scientists. The whole point of medicine is to heal and to save lives. If an alternative treatment was examined and proved to be valid, the mainstream of medicine would accept it and begin using it (after the appropriate lab studies have been done.)

    Many alternative medicine practices are completely contrary to science and common sense. Magnet therapy, for instance. Magnetic fields have no affect on the human body. None. It’s been tested. And yet the alternative medicine groups still trumpet the healing power of magnets.

    The most telling trait of an alternative practice is the pitch. Real therapy is very specific, there isn’t a miracle drug out there that’ll cure your allergies, heal your ulcer and clear up your skin all in one little pill. When something claims to do all of these things, chances are its nothing more than snake oil dressed in a modern package.

  17. Point The Second: If a claim has already been examined by a reputable scientist and dismissed then further follow up by a layman is simply a waste of time. I’ll accept the scientists views and move happily on with my life knowing that the claim was bunk.

    Most alternative medicine claims have been looked at and rejected by scientists. The whole point of medicine is to heal and to save lives. If an alternative treatment was examined and proved to be valid, the mainstream of medicine would accept it and begin using it (after the appropriate lab studies have been done.)

    You mean like the H. Pylori bacterium causing stomach ulcers? That was bunkum for quite awhile too until it was proved for the umpteenth time (at potentially great professional and financial risk to it’s discoverer). Dozens of reputable scientists took turns slapping down perfectly sound experimental studies and their conclusions because they flew in the face of the latest medical understanding.
    Genuinely helpful alternative medicine is at a continual disadvantage because there really is so much bunk, and it takes power to battle with the establishment.

    Many alternative medicine practices are completely contrary to science and common sense. Magnet therapy, for instance. Magnetic fields have no affect on the human body. None. It’s been tested. And yet the alternative medicine groups still trumpet the healing power of magnets.

    You obviously aren’t tracking the science: magneting therapy is being used today by the established psychiatric community to treat depression with very positive results similar to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but without the negative side-effects (memory loss, low risk of seizures)

    The point here is that some of today’s bunkum becomes tomorrow’s science. There were absolutely no studies done on Haldol by the psychiatric establishment prior to its being prescribed as treatment for psychosis. No one had any idea why it worked, and it was decades before anyone had a clue about what neurochemistry is involved. They found out that it worked by accident, and it took a long time before science and technology could catch up and start to make even educated guessed why.

    The most telling trait of an alternative practice is the pitch. Real therapy is very specific, there isn’t a miracle drug out there that’ll cure your allergies, heal your ulcer and clear up your skin all in one little pill. When something claims to do all of these things, chances are its nothing more than snake oil dressed in a modern package.

    You obviously don’t don’t have a lot of exposure to psychiatric pharmaceutical companies. Every new drug is a miracle drug with no side effects. thalidymide, prozac, haldol, estrogen… The list is long and the information is out there. Now, I’m not suggesting that there isn’t plenty of bullshit in alternative medicine, but you ought to need much less easily dismissed counterpoints than these for really critical thinkers to agree with you.

    The problem is, you have any number of normally rational thinkers thinking and stating the same things without researching and taking a critical look at both sides. You seem to think that because there is ridiculous charlatanism and tomfoolery clearly present in much of the field, you can shut off your skeptical mind and head straight for cynicism without examining things properly.

    May I suggest an excellent read on this phenomenon in the history of scientific discovery: The Structure of Scientific Revolution by Thomas Kuhn. We all need to question our assumptions and the conclusions of experts: isn’t that the heart of skepticism?

  18. magneting therapy is being used today by the established psychiatric community to treat depression with very positive results similar to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

    Yes, in two ways, one diagnostic and one as treatment: SQUID imaging (Superconducting QUantum Interference Device) to examine neural currents in working brains, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to affect the brain in ways similar to ECT. 

    Both involve enormous machines with superconducting magnets and computer tomography.  The coercivity is many orders of magnitude above that you could get from a wrist bracelet or footpad with rare-earth magnets in it.

    Short answer; not the same thing at all.

  19. You obviously aren’t tracking the science: magneting therapy is being used today by the established psychiatric community to treat depression with very positive results similar to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but without the negative side-effects (memory loss, low risk of seizures)

    DOF already answered this, not much I can add. When I said “magnet therapy” I was referring to the practice called “magnet therapy” not to any and all uses of magnets in medicine. I should have been clearer.

    In regards to the practice called “magnetic therapy”, slapping a magnet on your wrist or forehead or your aching back does absolutely nothing. Period.

    The point here is that some of today’s bunkum becomes tomorrow’s science.

    No, it’s not. I’m not talking about things that are rejected because someone doesn’t think they could work, I’m talking about things that are proven false.

    For instance, Penn and Teller did a show that focused on a form of alternative medicine using a glorified foot massager to massage areas of the feet that would send impulses back through pathways throughout the body and heal everything from a migraine to lung cancer. The problem is, those pathways don’t exist. They’re not in the human body, it just can’t work, its physically impossible.

    Therefore bunk, and never going to be tomorrow’s science.

    Every new drug is a miracle drug with no side effects. thalidymide, prozac, haldol, estrogen… The list is long and the information is out there.

    You didn’t read my post very carefully, did you? The litmus test is claims that a treatment or drug can cure everything from bad breath to heart disease. The drugs you mention may be used in a wide variety of treatments, but they are all RELATED treatments. No one suggests that you use a mao inhibitor to cure your indegestion.

  20. Point taken that I didn’t address (and don’t argue with dismissing) “snake-oil”-type remedies that promise to cure everything.  It is much less irresponsible to make claims of a “wonderdrug” (really what I was referring to) than a “miracle cure.”

    Thank you for the clarification on your comments on “magnetic therapy.” NIH isn’t quite as categorical as you http://nccam.nih.gov/health/magnet/magnet.htm#2

    Scientific thinking is supposed to be parsimonious.  (BTW, Pulsed elecromagnetic fields, which are low-energy, have been shown in several studies to accelerate bone healing.
    http://www.papimi.gr/PEMFapplwide.htm)

    It is certainly possible to “prove” something false if the technology is not advanced enough to identify mechanisms or effects.

    While I take my coffee by the usual route, thanks, and agree that it is charlatanism to suggest it will “cure cancer,” I also know that caffeine stimulates peristalsis in the large intestine, and that “coffee enemas” actually do work to clear out a constipated bowel because of this fact. Chronic constipation can result in carcinogenic toxins in the bowel, so… Here again, exagerrated claims should always be identified and dealt with, but there is a finer line with some of this than some of you seem open to considering.

  21. I’m backing up a bit here to address some of the points raised to me by Alfred earlier in the thread…

    Les, this is the whole point. You’re asking me to prove something that is experiential, qualitative and subjective in nature. Even “proof” of pain relief and accelerated healing is often put down to the placebo effect (actually the placebo effect is quantifiable: one of the ways Dr Norm Shields concluded that Quantum Touch produces results beyond placebo effect).

    I’m not asking you to prove anything. What I am asking for is some statistically significant evidence that supports the claims being made.

    If you’re going to come to me and claim that something like Quantum Touch — which is easily one of the sillier concepts out there — produces better results than the placebo effect then you should have something worthwhile to back it up. A link to said research paper, for starters, would help. I’ve just done a Google search for “Dr. Norm Shields” and “Dr. Norman Shields” and came up with nothing. Not even adding on the words Quantum Touch or Therapeutic Touch resulted in anything that appears to have been authored by that gentleman.

    I’m all for looking further into any topic, no matter how strange it might sound, that has at least some credible evidence supporting it beyond the merely anecdotal.

    This brings up an important point. Both sides also this is If you are asking about the religious aspect of the New Age, then you should already know better than to ask, and are wasting mine.

    I’m not sure, but I think your paragraph here got somewhat garbled. I have no idea what you’re trying to say other than the religious aspect of the New Age movement isn’t worth discussing, on which I agree.

    If you are asking about alternative health, consciousness studies, and the like, I’d first recommend some of the research on Therapeutic Touch, the Spindrift group (cited in Healing Words by Larry Dossey).

    I’m ahead of you there. I’ve already read up quite a bit on Therapeutic Touch and the arguments both for and against it being real. It probably goes without saying that I find the arguments against it much more credible.

    The problem, though comes back to my original point: either side will tend to consistently overlook or discount any supporting information which either disagrees with their conscious or unconscious assumptions, or which falls outside its frame of reference.

    Indeed some folks on either side will do just that, but not all folks and certainly not me. Being a skeptic doesn’t mean closing off one’s mind to any new experiences that don’t immediately jive with your understanding of how the world works, but it does mean not accepting a claim until you have good reason to do so. The maxim that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is is well founded, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the case. There are always exceptions to the rule.

    If you would like to come up with an experimental design for remote healing that satisfies you, I’d be happy to play along.

    Don’t have to. Better minds than mine already have. It’s just a shame no one wanted to take up the challenge:

    In one of my initial posts, I proposed a test to be conducted at the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in June 1997. The producer of PBS’ Scientific American Frontiers TV program had agreed to officiate. The test would use a fiberglass construct with two sleeves to allow for the insertion of a subject’s arms. The TT practitioner (TTP) would assess the energy emanating from the construct to determine whether the right or left sleeve was occupied as determined by a randomizing coin flip. Following some preliminary trials, a score of 15 or greater out of 20 would be considered a positive result and would allow that practitioner to advance to the final test. This final test would be done the following day and a score of 20 out of 20 would win the $1,100,000 award. For the most part, the invitation wasn’t well received.

    Francis C. Biley, R.N., Ph.D., of the University of Wales College of Medicine is a contributing author of The Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Touch (Churchill Livingstone 1995) and coordinator of the International Region of the Society of Rogerian Scholars. She is also the listowner of the Nurse Rogers e-mail discussion group. “After spending some time on formulating a critique of the methodology for the following quasi-experiment, I have decided that it really isn’t worth doing,” said Biley. “Although I applaud Glickman and his associates for spending time on the subject, it is quite obvious that they need to expand their methodological understanding beyond ‘if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.'”

    Perhaps you could step up and offer to take the test? There’s $1 million up for grabs if you can pull it off.

    My real point is not that its important per se whether you believe similarly to me or anyone else, but how rigorously you approach examining to what degree your beliefs, attitudes and assumptions influence your beliefs and perceptions before you even get started. If you don’t manage that (and if I don’t), then your (and my) conclusions are far more likely to meet your expectations, and will end up contributing very little to any conversation with anyone except those who have the same prejudices.

    Now here is something we can agree on. I’ve said the same thing myself on occasion. I try very hard to keep my assumptions in check and I have no illusions about my own fallibility. I’ve had my opinions changed many times over the course of my life, but not without good reasons.
    This is already running long so I’ll stop here. Most of the rest of your comments so far have been handled pretty well by the other regulars.

  22. I read this thread because it was flagged recent, so sorry for opening an old thread.  It was

    Believe what you want, and move on.

    that made me comment.  the answer is “Why?”  That’s fine as long as your faith doesn’t affect anyone else, but as we see in “Teach the Controversy” it does.

    Someone said they thought Karen was going over the top.  I don’t think so. She did the equivalent of a ski instructor moving to Hawaii- all her primary skills meant diddly squat. She may have been a good writer, but she had nothing to write about- the seconadry skill were no good with out the Primary skills.

    The primary arguement to be used against the crystal powered community- who alldege their truth is supressed- is if it worked the Big Business would be into it in a big way- if wearing a $600 watch could replace £‘000s of treatment then this would be the natural prescription of those picking up the bills. (i.e what KPG said grin )

    The only problem I have with some skeptics is they feel they have to disbelieve everything.  Unfortunately with things like Global Overheating this has mede mankind slow to react. Sometimes we have to take insurance, not wait for the catastrophy before planning.

  23. This article by Karla really made me think. I relate to her because i too am making (not so drastic) a transition out of New Age into Critical Thinking. Not to say i wasnt i critical thinker when i was buying up all the books i could find on Chakras and thinking of devoting my lifes work to energy healing. It is sad in a way to leave all the “Cotton Candy” as some have put it, behind me. When i was entrenched in New age thinking it gave me something meaningful and mysterious on which to experience myself. Now as I approach the prospect of going back to harsh reality i question if it is in my best interest because it truly made me happy. However i maintain what i learned from New Age thinking which is that all experiences have a deeper meaning and perhaps moving back into critical based thinking after having took the New age trip is what i needed to contribute more fully to myself,my family, and the world on all levels. Afterall this is what i was looking for in the first place! I cringe at the thought of packing up all my books, crystals and other New Age parphanelia. However, as with all things in life, you pack a little of each experience into your knapsack and ramble on in search of Truth and meaning. I will agree with skeptics that New Agers should not abandon the search for Truth by getting caught up in so much in the Twighlight Zone that they forget why they came there in the first place. I think the step that Karla made was that of a true disciple, student, teacher, critic, Healer, self realized human being, dare i say…New Ager?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.