Gertsch Group

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland

Mind Boggling Science

Mind Boggling Science
Jurg Gertsch - Thu Sep 24, 2009 @ 03:18PM
Comments: 1

It's amazing what sort of papers you stumble upon when you search in Pubmed. Some time ago we found a paper entitled "external bioenergy increases intracellular free calcium concentration and reduces cellular response to heat stress", published by Kiang et al. in the J. Investig. Med. in 2002. Unbelievable what they did. They hired some enigmatic healers who in the paper are called "bioenergy practitioners" and some of them were able to induce intracellular calcium transients in Jurkat T cells. And this without touching anything (!) - just by magic or what they call bioenergy emitted from their hands at far distance. No Sir, it's not heat as the effect they claim is independent of distance. Now guess who did this sort of experiments? It's a US Army research institute in Silver Spring. Science is science, and I assume that they knew what they are talking about in that paper. There is just one problem - I cannot reproduce it. And in sciene if I cannot quite reproduce it I don't believe it. It depends on the practitioner, apparently. So how on earth can this be published in a scientific journal if it is not reproducible? I would have to fly in the practitioners to my lab and this would ruin my funds. I think it's not fair to publish this as it is simply not reproducible. In fact we do the same sort of calcium experiments in T cells and just for fun, some time ago, we tried it out ourselves - we were concentrating like cracy but it did not work - yes, of course, we are no bioenergy specialists - it only works for them, apparently - and we could proof it. If you now argue that the J. Invest. Med. is not a serious journal (impact factor around 2), then have a look at the mind boggling paper by Targ and Puthoff on extrasensorial perception (ESP) called "Information transmission under conditions of sensory shielding" published in Nature 1974, 252: 602–607 - you don't believe what you read there - they also hired an enigmatic personality - they tested Uri Geller himself and his psychic powers, and quite successfully. They have reported evidence of ESP with nice drawings and all the necessary controls. Again, I cannot reproduce this experiment. Moreover, a scientific proof is one thing, reproducibilty another - according to the great Karl Popper, science is nothing without reproducibilty - that's why I like Newtonian physics - you throw one stone and you have thrown them all. By the way, there are many doubts about the paper by Targ and Puthoff and there are plenty of forums discussing the problem of research on ESP (see e.g. or and the letters by Taylor and Balanovski published in Nature 276, 64-67, 1978 and in Nature, 279, 631, 1979. So if they want to proof that ESP exists they should unite forces and do these experiments in 6 independent labs, then I will start to belive.


Comments: 1


1. Peter Taylor   |   Sat Sep 26, 2009 @ 01:46PM

For those attracted to this sort of science, the Improbable Research web site is obligatory reading ( with the winning projects for the Ig Nobel prizes ( a clear demonstration that the papers mentioned by Jürg are really quite serious. This IS an important paper........
MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University (USA), Rebecca L. Waber of MIT (USA), Baba Shiv of Stanford University (USA), and Ziv Carmon of INSEAD (Singapore) for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.. "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy," Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.
This is fundamental research
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat. REFERENCE: "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835)," M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.

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