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Acupunncture meridians are minute DC electrical currents, and the points are DC booster stations. The metal needles increase or decrease the currents.

Randi knows this, and apparently refuses to believe there is electricity in peoples' bodies. Or does he not believe in EKGs and EEGs?

I once did an internship with an acupuncturist who once told me that while western medicine can describe in details how your body works, but it has never been able to tell you what makes it 'tick.' From reading all the researches and books on the topic, i found that most people, even from western medicine, commonly acknowledged that what Eastern Medicine believes as 'chi' is an electrical current that runs throughout your body. of course, many new age people would argue that this energy is your soul and so forth.. i dont know about that.
but i do know that acupunture is a patient-centered approach to medicine, unlike western medicine, which incorporates symptom-centered approach to medicine.
because of the difference in approach, scientist cannot really perform scientific experiment on it. for example, you can't expect to use the same acupuncture point for asthma on every patients with asthma beecause each patient's body condition is different (just like under stress, some people get ulcer, some get heart disease, or some get stomach ache....etc etc).

for an acupuncturist, he/she not only needs to know about the symptoms, but also what the patient is going through in his/her life at this time, and then the acupuncuturist would check for the patient's pulse, look at the patient's skin tone (eg. some people with liver problem usually have a more yellowish tone on their skin, especially in the face), and ask the patient about his/her diet, job, and family, etc, etc..... so it's a very personal experience.

after the acupuncturist makes his/her diagnosis, the acpuncture itself is only part of the treatment since it would only be performed once or twice a week. the acupuncturist would ask the patient to take some herbs, and change his or her diet..etc etc....... most people, however, only want that magic pill that will make them feel better and do not want to change their lifestyle even though it's their lifestyle that makes them sick. to a certain extent, a person is more prone to infection if his/her body is not in balance...

the eastern medicine asks the patient to take a more proactive approach to his/her health...instead of taking that magic pill. after all, most of over-the-counter medicine (like cough medicine) merely alleviate the patient's symptom, and ultimately, it's the patient's immune system that does the actual fighting.

taking all these things in considerations, how would you expect the scientist to conduct scientific study on acupuncture?

chinese medicine has been in practice for thousand of years in China...that must account for something. to say that acupuncture is just a mass delusion at work is irresponsible and closed-minded.

it's sad that science is used as an infallible approach to everything in life, even for things that can never be measured.

There was a great BBC documentary on acupuncture where the journalist even traveled to China and also performed scientific MRI experiment for acupuncture. The program clearly showed that acupuncture works (at least for the specific treatments, since scientists can't generalize and say that it works on anything they have not tested).

Anyway, I suggest Randi to take his million and donate it to the various acupuncture research centers in the western world, who proved it to work. Or to the BBC, which he so likes.

About Sheldrake and Randi, here is Randi's answer. Any comments?

http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/091506remembering.html#i7

Re last week’s item on the latest Rupert Sheldrake foray into foolishness, a reader dared to ask the Sheldrake site why they wouldn’t take the JREF million-dollar challenge. This is the answer received:

Thanks for your email. You might be interested to do a search on James Randi from www.skepticalinvestigations.org, which will explain why we haven't taken up this so called challenge. Best wishes Pam Smart (Researcher)

I ask you to go there. You’ll see there just about all of the silly canards about the JREF million-dollar prize that have been circulated on the Internet for the past 10 years, augmented and hyperbolized. I’d say, judging from her statement, that Pam isn’t very smart, and she’s no researcher. At www.randi.org/research/faq.html can be found responses to almost all of those mendacities. A simple search would have established that for Ms. Smart.

Reader and friend Tony Youens, UK, when I asked him if he recalled who Pam Smart was, wrote:

I remembered where I heard the name Pam Smart. Before she became Sheldrake's research assistant she was the owner of the dog who “knew” when she was coming home.

See: www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/animals/dogknows_abs.html.

Thank you, Tony. I knew that name was familiar. Ms. Smart is the person who – for some unknown reason? – refused me access to her “wonder dog,” who had been the subject of some earlier Sheldrake “experiments,” when I signified my willingness to see the work repeated under observation – and offered the JREF million-dollar prize if it worked. Why is it that everyone is so afraid of me?

You must remember that Ms. Smart wasn’t much interested in doing “research” for anything but that kind of rumors and mis-statements she preferred. As a researcher, I would refer to her as a police captain once referred to the late Dorothy Allison – “I don’t think she could find a bowling ball in a bathtub if the ball were on fire.”

None of the studies you linked to are double-blind. Double-blind studies are very important when testing the efficiency of medical procedures in order to rule out things like the placebo effect, observer bias, etc.

There is a very well-written article describing this here: http://www.mendosa.com/bratman.htm

Additionally, I am unwilling to simply take your word for it that Randi's million dollar prize is just a PR stunt.

From what I have read, the JREF outsources preliminary testing of claims to third parties who have nothing to lose should someone actually manage to successfully demonstrate their claim in a properly conducted experiment. Everyone who has actually made a claim for the prize has failed to pass this preliminary unbiased test, so Randi and the JREF have never even had a chance to test a claim for themselves.

Most of the negative things I ever read about the million dollar challenge are from people who claim to have abilities, but refuse to take the challenge (without citing any actual reason beyond not trusting Randi because he is a skeptic, or because they don't believe he really has a million dollars).

I fully believe that if someone could actually pass the initial experiment and move on to getting tested by Randi and the JREF itself, it would be impossible for either Randi or the claimant to fudge the experiment in his favor. Media coverage would be enormous, every detail of the experiment would be meticulously covered and examined. The results would be impossible to cover up.

I truly see no reason why people who have a testable claim would refuse to take the challenge, other than the fear that they will be undeniably exposed as a fraud.

how would you be able to conduct double blind studies on acupuncture. in the western medicine, this is easy to do since you have a placebo and a treatment that can be applied to a group of patients with the same symptoms (or infection). neither the patients nor the doctors know whether what they prescribe is the placebo or the treatment.

in the case of acupuncture, although there are some pressure points that tailor to a specific symptom, they are by no mean the treatment for that specific patient, since acupuncture is focused on the patient, not the disease. how is placebo even possible? each patient's treatment differs, and you can't really control for them.

there was a study on drug addiction, where the researchers tried to use specific pressure points to treat addiction, where the placebo is a set of pressure points that have no theraputic effect. the results showed that although acupuncture only worked on 30-45% (i dont remember the exact number. will have to look up that article) of the patients, the patients who recovered through acupuncture reported a better wellness of being as compared to the placebo group who recovered from addiction.

for the experiment where they use acupuncture instead of aesetheic during surgery, you really can't use a placebo for that, could you? that would just be unethical.

>I am unwilling to simply take your word for it that Randi's million dollar prize is just a PR stunt.

You shouldn't take my word for it. I was making an assertion that I didn't back up with any arguments or evidence - because the issue was peripheral to my topic.

I think one's evaluation of Randi's challenge depends on one's evaluation of Randi himself. Those who regard him as honest and reliable will see the challenge as genuine. Those who view him in less positive terms will see the challenge as bogus. My own view is that Randi is a master escape artist in every sense of the term, and (as he was once quoted as saying), he "always has an out." But I would not attempt to convince his supporters of this, because I don't think they're open to persuasion.

"I truly see no reason why people who have a testable claim would refuse to take the challenge, other than the fear that they will be undeniably exposed as a fraud." - Rudis
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The problem with "Psi" research is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It can be affected by something as simple as a person's mood at the time of the experiment. Just being tired or bored can affect the results, as well as being around unbelievers. Why? Because it all boils down to "thoughts being things and consciousness creating reality." In a world where thoughts are things, the way one thinks can affect the end outcome of an experiment. "Psi" by definition is thought controlled, and any negative energy will affect the outcome. Negative energy can be skepticism, mood, anger, hatred, disbelief, jealousy, or even just hoping that the person fails. We know so little about the mind and how it works. Consciousness research is in it's infancy, and we are just now begining to even come up with plausible theories based on quantum physics and holographic universes and microtubules in the brain and the collapse of quantum waves in trying to understand just how and what consciousness is. Near death experiencers come back and talk about a universe where everything is so interconnected, with a sense of oneness that we here in the physical world can't even begin to understand. The way we think affects our lives in very real ways. We try and hide our real selves, but every once in a while reality slips through and we catch a glimpse of a universe that is more bizarre and weird than we could even begin to imagine. - Art

Good one, Michael, I'm glad to see someone is employing critical thinking. About six years ago I took Randi up on his challenge for someone to provide proof for homeopathy. What I experienced was pretty much what you have presented here. He's not interested in the evidence if it contradicts what he wants to disbelieve.
Randi has said repeatedly complained that homeopathy is quackery, and that there is no science to back it up. So I took a look into the research and what I found were dozens of experiements on homeopathic remedies. I listed them at the following address: http://www.psicounsel.com/marius/proof.html
I came up with a simple test to demonstrate, but all it got me from Randi was the middle finger.
The psychic challenge is a PR stunt. There's also some other strange stuff that is going on behind it. From what I've seen skepticism is a cover-up, usually for men with some serious personal problems.
All in all, taking the Psychic Challenge for me was an amazing experience. I learned some profound things that changed my life.

Modern day skeptics. They stir me up as much as new agers stir them up.

Modern day skeptics:

Naysayers
Dogmatists
Defenders of the status quo

The funniest (read scariest) is the way they tow the line of conventional medicine. They reinforce the notion that solutions to medical problems will only be found by pharmaceutical companies.

I don't see any agenda behind their fanaticism, I think they are generally misguided. From one perspective it seems like skeptics are kinds of fatalists who believe there is no opportunity to control your own destiny in this world.

No comments about Randi's answer to Sheldrake? Wow!

I just read Randi's reply. His major point is that Pam Smart works for Sheldrake. That's true. Smart didn't work for Sheldrake when he began the Jaytee tests, but she became so interested in Sheldrake's work that she signed on as his assistant. Sheldrake has written about this in his books. So what?

Notice, btw, that Randi doesn't mention that Sheldrake and Smart did allow another skeptic, Richard Wiseman, to test Jaytee. Wiseman represented the test results as negative, but it turned out they were actually positive, and he had fudged his report. Does this give you some idea of why clear-thinking people are skeptical of the skeptics?

I've done two posts in a row showing that Randi ignores voluminous evidence that contradicts his preconceived conclusions. He ignores approximately 5000 surgeries performed at one hospital alone, showing that hypnosis is as effective as anesthesia. And he ignores multiple studies on acupuncture. If he misrepresents the facts in these cases, why should we think he is more reliable in his statements about anything else?

Regarding the million-dollar challenge, we're asked to take Randi's word for its validity. Again, this depends on whether we view him as honest and reliable. If we do, we will take him at his word. If we don't, we won't.

Unfortunately, skepticism is a heavily ego-based mentality. As a result, most skeptics are simply too ego-invested in their position ever to change their minds. Debating with them is a waste of time. The good news is that the more intellectually curious ones eventually outgrow their skepticism. I did!

I believe you are referring to cynicism in the last paragraph of your comment above.

Skepticism merely means you don't accept things on blind faith, and require evidence to support claims. I would hope that anybody, intellectually curious or not, would see the value in taking that approach to evaluating the world around them.

Skepticism does not imply preconceived notions. It implies accepting things that are supported by scientific evidence, and rejecting those things that are not supported or disproved by evidence.

Hi Rudis

Your definition of skepticism is how it should be, however the words of many prominent 'skeptics' illustrate that this is not necessarily the case. Especially in the case of medicine, where skeptics tend to defend allopathic medicine despite it being statistically often not able to meet the skeptics own stringent standards of proof of efficacy.

There have been many articles illustrating what kind of 'success' rates pharmaceutical companies require to deem a treatment as working and most of the time it would not pass the requirement for a Randi challenge.

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