On January 5th, 2018, Timothy Caulfield published an important article with this title in the Globe and Mail. I let you read it and discover the real dangers of “sciencey-sounding terminology to paint a veneer of scientific legitimacy over unproven or completely bogus practices”, as Mr. Caulfield writes.
Indeed, this is a serious problem I routinely encounter among my students. It causes a lot of unnecessary confusion as we try to understand the intricate complexities of the human mind. In fact, it is the hallmark of sloppy, unexamined thinking, giving rise to intellectual confusion and causing unintended negative emotional consequences, when people unsuccessfully try to live by such delusions. The worst scenario occurs when such erroneous beliefs lead to practices designed to cure and maintain health, while they are indeed toxic and destructive. Such pseudo-scientific language also conveys a false legitimacy, often accompanied by a mysteriously grandiose sense of bogus wisdom without any substance whatsoever.
In response to me distributing this article among my students, one of them sent me an email with the following question:
“So what about Deepak Chopra (quoted below). He’s also flogging (via his site)? What he says sounds familiar. Is it/he bunk or brilliant? Here is his quote:
Quantum healing is healing the bodymind from a quantum level. That means from a level which is not manifest at a sensory level. Our bodies ultimately are fields of information, intelligence and energy. Quantum healing involves a shift in the fields of energy information, so as to bring about a correction in an idea that has gone wrong. So quantum healing involves healing one mode of consciousness, mind, to bring about changes in another mode of consciousness, body.”
This is a great example of such pseudo-science misleading and lulling the reader into a false sense of knowledge and power. Here is how I tried to put this paragraph into its proper context and rewrite it more accurately.
I am not a physicist, but read enough to develop a layman’s perspective on physics’ findings, and first I reminded my students that indeed our universe consists of the very small, the human scale and the very large. The very small (let’s call it the micro-universe) is the quantum world of subatomic particles with exceedingly bizarre and unfamiliar laws, including the fact that subatomic particles can travel backwards in time, suggesting a reversible, symmetrical and timeless reality underlying everything. For the very large (macro-universe) such as the behaviors of galaxies, black holes and empty space we need among others the theory of relativity, and overall physicists are trying to develop an encompassing theory that explains everything. On the human scale (macro-universe) at least, the universe is asymmetrical, meaning that it unfolds within irreversible time following the law of entropy. Entropy is explained by the second law of thermodynamics that says the universe irreversibly transforms from states of greater order to ever increasing disorder and chaos. So when you are born, on the tiny scale of the little organism that you are, the universe seems to evolve towards greater order as you grow into an extremely sophisticated and well organized adult organism. However, to achieve that the universe has to spend more energy and move towards greater chaos somewhere else, and eventually, whether you like it or not, you break down and dissolve, too into the chaos of fertile compost.
I also reminded my students of the complex definition of mind we had been working with:
The way to read this slide is to first read what’s in red type, then expand that with what’s in blue type. As you can see, by learning to use our mind to rewire the brain, we subjectively seem to be able to access both the time-bound reality of our macro-existence, and something we refer to as nameless, timeless Being. It thus seems like our mind may be able to have access to both the micro- and macro-universe, but what we don’t know, is the relationship between the objectively measurable timeless quantum reality of physics and the subjectively experienced reality of timeless Being.
So here is how I rewrote Chopra’s paragraph to hopefully reflect reality more accurately:
Quantum Healing the bodymind involves using our mind by way of mindful attention and awareness to rewire the brain. As we now know from science, this process has deep effects all the way to the microscopic, molecular and chemical cellular level (not subatomic quantum level), a level not accessible to direct sensory experience. Our bodies are energy and information flow, and may ultimately be fields of information and energy ( intelligence). Subjectively, this practice of honing mindful attention opens access to the ‘subjective experience’ of timeless and nameless Being, which seems to correlate with what we know from physics about quantum microstates unfolding in reversible time. However, a correlation is not a mutual causation, and at this point we have no idea whether consciousness is the foundation of physics and the universe, and whether mind processes affect the physical world on that quantum level. What we do know, is that ( quantum) healing involves a shift in the fields of energy and information, so as to bring about integration, and thereby better health and resilience, including a correction in an idea that has gone wrong. So quantum healing involves using the power of mindful attention to monitor and modify energy and information flow, which affects how the mind and the body inter-regulate at least all the way down to the molecular level, and including the resulting experience of how we are conscious.’
Sanity is not easy to come by!
Copyright © 2018 by Dr. Stéphane Treyvaud. All rights reserved.