Magic Medicine, more

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 19:40:24 MST

A response on the BMJ site provides the most interesting *pro* case:

Stephan A. Schwartz,
 Research Associate Cognitive
 Sciences Laboratory

Misapprehension of principle

 Email Stephan A. Schwartz:

Those correspondents who suggested that the controls should be included in
a cross-over study where they become the treated sub-population in a
subsequent study have, I believe, misunderstood what is going on. This
study is not about reaching back from the future into the past to change it
but, instead, affecting the way in which it occurred in the first instance,
when these clinical events were present tense.
 Nor is this study a singular piece of benighted research, as others seem
to suggest. BMJ readers may find the following URL of interest,
 There they will find a number of papers addressing various aspects of this
subject, and I particularly draw their attention to the work of physicist
Helmut Schmidt.
 Readers may also want to consider a just published study carried out by
researchers at Duke University's School of Medicine, which also deals with
retroactive Therapeutic Intent (TI). (1) (TI is, I think, a better term
than prayer, because the now considerable literature on this subject
suggests that any form of religious belief, or none at all, seems capable
of achieving the effect.)
 Using a well-designed randomized, controlled, double-blind protocol, the
Duke study involves prayers from religious groups around the world for
people experiencing severe chest pains who are in danger of imminent heart
attacks. The treatment they received to relief their crisis was cardiac
catheterization and angioplasty. As readers will know, the emergency nature
of these treatments means the procedures are carried out immediately upon
the patient being admitted. That turns out to be the crucial aspect of the
retro-active aspect of this TI research, because although the prayer groups
were notified as soon as possible after the patient was admitted, the
initiation of the actual TI sessions often began after the medical
treatment had already been completed. Both treated and control groups
received the same level of medical intervention.
 The TI practitioners had no contact with the patients, and the health
professionals administering the treatments, and the patients themselves did
not know about the TI involvement. The outcome measure was the number of
complications each patient experienced, with the comparison being made
between the subgroups. The TI recipients experienced, a 50 to 100 percent
reduction in side-effects compared to the controls.
 Although this was just a pilot study with a patient population too small
to reach any definitive conclusions, the results have proven so provocative
that researchers at more than half a dozen medical centers in the U.S. have
taken up this line of inquiry.
 The study had another aspect that should be mentioned. The TI
practitioners were scattered all over the world, including Nepal, India,
Israel, and France, as well as in the U.S., and their TI was expressed
through a wide range of religious traditions. No difference was noted
concerning one tradition being more powerful or efficacious than any other.
 Skeptics may find this line of inquiry philosophically offensive but the
gathering corpus of research suggests that TI, whether retroactive or
real-time has the power to affect clinical outcome.
 (1) Krucoff MW, Crater SW, Green CL, Maas AC, Seskevich JE, Lane JD,
Loeffler KA, Morris K, Bashore TM, Koenig HG. Integrative noetic therapies
as adjuncts to percutaneous intervention during unstable coronary
syndromes: Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Training (MANTRA)
feasibility pilot. American Heart Journal. 2001;142(5):760-767.
 -- Stephan A. Schwartz

Stephan elaborated this to me, in quantum theory terms; I commented in reply:

< I understand this general argument, but I think in this case it fatally
fudges what a state vector collapse is. `Once someone has been in a
retroactive experiment the vector is collapsed.' Oh? What gives the future
or delayed `observation' priority over all the other observations
(decoherences) that are constantly been made by everything
surrounding/interacting with the patient in real time, including the
doctors and nurses, the sheets, the air, and the bacteria or viruses at
work inside his or her suffering body? >

Damien Broderick

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