I just wanted to draw your attention to a pair of rather entertaining papers from the current issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, edited by Professor Kim Jobst (the man who endorses the Qlink pendant, amongst other things).
The abstract from the experimental paper is here:
THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Volume 13, Number 3, 2007, pp. 317â€“327
Â© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Resonance, Placebo Effects, and Type II Errors: Some
Implications from Healing Research for Experimental Methods
WILLIAM F. BENGSTON, Ph.D., and MARGARET MOGA, Ph.D.
Background: Classical experimental design presupposes that subjects, randomly separated into experimental and control groups, are independent and distinct. Treatments given to the experimental group ought to have no effect on the control group, which functions as a baseline to illustrate â€œwhat otherwise would have happened.â€ Any change in the control group is often labeled an â€œanomaly.â€ Examples of these types of anomalous phenomena can be found in placebo research, which often shows proportional unexpected and unexplained changes in control subjects.
In four previously reported experiments on anomalous healing using â€œhealing with intentâ€ on mice injected with lethal doses of mammary adenocarcinoma (source, The Jackson Laboratories, Bar Harbor, ME; code, H2712; host strain, C3H/HeJ), a high percentage of both experimental and control mice exhibited an anomalous healing pattern, most often passing through stages of tumor ulceration to full life-span cure.
Objective: In order to explain tumor regression of control animals, I posit the formation of â€œresonant bonds,â€ which can link spatially separate groups. Healing given to the experimental animals can result in an unintended treatment to the control animals, producing anomalous healing akin to placebo effects.
Materials and methods: A recently completed experiment at the Terre Haute campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine has produced a successful test of resonance theory. One group of mice (n=30) was injected with mammary adenocarcinoma cells and randomly divided into a treated group (n=15) and untreated control group (n=15). A second group of age-matched controls (n=25) was left uninjected. Mice
from each group were intermittently sacrificed to measure hematologic values and spleen weight.
Results: As predicted by resonance theory, there were few differences between treated and untreated animals from the first group, but there were significant differences between these animals and the age-matched controls.
Conclusions: Some implications for placebo research and the way we normally conceptualize Type II errors will be discussed. Researchers are invited to reanalyze past data in light of resonance theory.
A choice quote from many:
…Conventional thinking and hence explanation,
seems to defy logic. After all, if no active agent is admin-
istered, how can there be an active effect? If no healing tech-
nique is applied, how can there be remissions?
With a conceptual shift toward resonance, placebos be-
gin to take on a new light. Among the great mysteries of
placebos is the fact that their effect is proportional to the
strength of the experimental treatment.
Perhaps this is
so because the placebo group is not independent of the ex-
perimental group, but is actually part of a larger bonded
collective. Perhaps the question needs to be reformulated
in terms of the conditions under which resonant bonds
form and resonant bonds are broken.
There is of course a wealth of fascinating research on the placebo effect and how it can be modulated (I’ve got a 5,000 word chapter coming on the subject) but more than anything, I think it’s incredibly interesting how the CAM movement feels the need to locate the placebo effect in some kind of reductionist biomechanical process, rather than embrace more parsimonious explanations involving ideas like patients’ expectations of outcome.
These papers brought me a great deal of pleasure on a train journey this morning, and I hope they will you too.