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3 Responses to Skeptics of Alternative Medicine

3 Responses to Skeptics of Alternative Medicine

Has your healing journey led you to venture beyond mainstream medicine into alternative methods of healing? 

Mine certainly has. Diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disease as a young teen, I followed my doctors’ instructions to trust medication over holistic healing modalities.

My symptoms worsened, so I took my healing into my own hands. I pursued various methods of alternative healing, including dietary changes. Within months, I no longer needed my numerous medications.

Energy medicine — which includes therapies like muscle testing, Reiki, acupuncture, crystal therapy, sound therapy, homeopathy, and flower essences — played a critical role in my healing.  

When I introduced my enthusiasm for energy medicine on my wellness site Empowered Sustenance, and then shared the launch of Meo Energetics there, I received many letters in my inbox from skeptics. 

These individuals criticized my “unscientific approach,” telling me that I was wasting my time and promoting pseudoscience. I was directed to Quack Watch numerous times, to “get your facts straight.”

I know that my experience is not unique. Many of you use energy-based healing and receive similar comments from family, friends or colleagues. 

After reading this article, you’ll have the information to stay grounded in any conversation with skeptics of alternative medicine

You can use one or all of the below techniques:

  1. Play by their rules
  2. Change the rules
  3. Break the game

1. Play by their rules

Skeptics consider healing techniques effective only if they’re validated by peer-reviewed, double-blind, controlled studies. In discussions with skeptics, they often say, “Show me the studies for energy medicine.”

I reply that we stand on shaky ground if we let research journals determine Truth with a capital T. Here’s why: 

Funding bias heavily determines the results of research.

According to the former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal, “The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine but also in terms of teaching and research.” And the most widely accessed article in the Public Library of Science states, “It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false.” (Source)

 There are also studies that show most scientific studies cannot be replicated. (Source)

Yes, I recognize the irony. This shakes our blind faith in research credibility. In one survey, more than half of researchers considered the lack of scientific reproducibility a “significant crisis.” 

Due to lack of financial incentive, we have minimal research on alternative medicine.

Who will conduct a large, expensive study about a healing technique that cannot be patented for profit?

A question I ask skeptics is, “If we only seek healing from methods approved by scientific institutions, could we be blindly trusting our bodies to a biased industry and missing out on an opportunity for healing?”

2. Change the Rules

In this approach, you’re going to turn the tables. You’re going to call out what I call The Skeptics’ Fallacy. Skeptics fall into this fallacy when they take a position of narrow-mindedness rather than true skepticism. 

I recently had a conversation with a self-proclaimed skeptic of energy medicine. When I asked about the efficacy of acupuncture, he replied that acupuncture works on a biochemical, not an energetic level. 

However, that response isn’t truly skeptical. When it comes to how the human body works, it’s much more mystery than certainty. 

For example, we still don’t know how microscopic hormones find their target molecules in the vast universe of the body. And we don’t know how the identical cells in an embryo differentiate into a heart cell or an intestinal cell.

Dr. Stuart Feinstein, Chair of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, explains in his book Ignorance that, when it comes to our universe and our body, we don’t know what we don’t know.  

“Consider the wide stretches of the electromagnetic spectrum, including most obviously the ultraviolet and infrared but also several million additional wavelengths that we now detect only by using devices such as televisions, cell phones, and radios. All were completely unknown, indeed inconceivable, to our ancestors of just a few generations ago. Just as there are forces beyond the perception of our sensory apparatus, there may be perspectives that are beyond the conception of our mental apparatus.

Skeptics often presuppose that we can explain things like acupuncture within our current structure of understanding. Given the dimensions that we don’t know and may never comprehend, isn't it more skeptical to assume our structure of understanding is too small? 

3. Break the Game

Many skeptics hold the unquestioned belief that scientific measurement is the only way to know the world. 

If we enter a dialogue where reality is only defined by what science can measure, we confine ourselves to The Skeptics’ Game. We have the option to step out of the game.

Consider this: all ancient cultures used a form of energy healing, and all cultures had words for the energy sensed by the body but not seen by the eyes. The concept of subtle energy was as universal as concepts like Mother, Father, Sister and Brother.

In the 21st century, we know the world through scientific measurement — only that which we can measure we call Reality. But the Ancients knew the world through feeling. They could feel dimensions of energy that we can’t see. 

In the modern world, the human body has forgotten how to do what is most natural to it. Now we take pills to sleep, eat, have sex, focus, calm down, and perk up. Is it possible that our bodies have also forgotten how to sense the different dimensions of energy that were available to our ancestors?

Asking What if? questions can effectively break The Skeptics’ Game. For example, we can ask: 

  • What if scientific measurement isn’t the only way to know reality?
  • What if energy medicine works on a dimension within the universe that we have yet to discover?
  • What if the only device sensitive enough to perceive this subtle energy is the human body itself?

The Purpose of Discussion with Skeptics

You owe no one an explanation for how you choose to heal. However, by engaging in dialogue with skeptics you’ll have the opportunity to introduce an empowering worldview to the skeptics in your life.