Since when is pseudoscience a four-letter word?
The entire world doesn’t have to be science. Even artwork changes people’s lives. That’s not evidence-based, but it does work.
Pseudoscience is not necessarily bad science
Just as a square can be a rectangle, but a rectangle not a square… bad science can be pseudoscience, but pseudoscience doesn’t have to be bad science.
When scientists are forced to publish something new and exciting instead of double-checking old theories… that’s bad science. And it happens a lot. That’s why those exuberant media headlines you read are rarely true.
When people pay off scientists to skew studies… that’s bad science (remember when the giant sugar companies paid off the American Heart Association to claim that sugar is better for you than fat is?). Television shows in the 90’s like Seinfeld showed people eating low-fat yogurt, thinking that it was healthy. Manufacturers began cramming sugar into food and skimming every morsel of lipids (fats) out of the food so we would buy it. And buy it we did. We bought it because of bad science, or at least because of some perversion of good science.
Bad usage of good science
At the laymen’s level, science is not always a shining light. With good science, the studies are done. They are peer reviewed and accurate. And then someone abuses them (the media and the marketers).
When doctors get most of their latest info from pharmaceutical marketers… that’s bad usage of science.
When reporters talk about good scientific studies without actually reading them, they will always exaggerate them or draw conclusions that the scientists never claimed… that’s bad usage of good science.
You’ve heard it before: Scientists find new method of curing male pattern baldness! (They’ve been saying that for 20 years) Scientists discover new dinosaur! (Turns out they only found 4 bones).
Not to mention the constant claims of marijuana curing cancer, despite many other herbs and treatments being more effective in the lab and in real life (your stoner friends love that one).
When scientists first found a new drug that increases blood flow, they found an interesting side effect: rock solid erections. When the marketers got a hold of it, they literally created a new disease and called it erectile dysfunction. Good science… poor execution. But I’ll admit, you could also say it was incredible execution, and I wouldn’t argue with you. The only problem was that men began covering a problem instead of facing the real issue, which might very well be their own built up anxieties and poor health. Addressing that wouldn’t be very easy. Having men own up to their emotional issues is no easy task. Well, if everyone was perfectly rational and emotionally sound, most hypnotists would be out of a job!
Perhaps pseudoscience isn’t even the right word… it’s just not completely a science.
You don’t have problem A, then administer solution Y. People are too different. They have emotional needs. The emotional body is more fluid than that. You’ve got to look into a person deeply and really see what they need–and more importantly, you’ve got to look into yourself and determine what you need, making your own choices.
Hypnosis is just a word
Yes, that’s right. It may be best to use no words for the phenomenon at all, but now we’re stuck with it, forever trapped in all the old-timey stereotypes. These stereotypes might benefit us or hinder us, but you can be sure that they definitely confuse the mind, steering us from the truth. Who knows what it really is?
Hypnosis itself isn’t a placebo effect–it USES the ‘magic’ of the placebo effect.
The placebo effect gets in the way when you are doing scientific studies. But in hypnosis, the same thing that makes a placebo work is what we want to enhance. We want to believe in ourselves. We want to know that the change we desire is done already.
The placebo effect can typically account for 10-40% of the positive results in a scientific study. That’s without even trying. When we target that mind-power and enhance it to it’s full abilities, we can get that up to 80% or 200% or even far beyond that… we have no true limits.
Does it work? Yes. Can something be not-science and still work? Yes.
Studies can show that meditation and hypnosis work. But they cannot always find why, and they can’t readily measure the success even if we can see some change.
There are countless studies showing the benefits of meditation… but meditation is definitely not a science. Just try to find a study showing the best type of meditation that gives the best results (for anything in particular). You won’t find any. It’s too emotional, too individual, and too complex to even begin to grasp with math.
Just look at this video explaining the problems with all the meditation studies. We know that meditation works to improve us, but even science can’t prove that it does, or the extent of what is possible.
You can’t measure inputs and outputs–and that’s okay.
Maybe one day we will figure out some way to measure it, but not until there is a gigantic paradigm shift in the world of science. If you can’t measure it, it cannot be science. But that doesn’t make it not real.
People have feelings, and you can’t measure them.
In order to completely and scientifically study hypnosis and related phenomena, you would have to know exactly what is going in, and measure the change that is happening. Let’s say that you are using hypnosis to gain confidence… how do you measure the confidence levels? It’s just not possible. You can’t possibly measure it in joules, meters, or liters. You can’t simply ask for a self-reported level, either–because our perceptions change every few minutes. At 2:30PM, Joe feels strong and confident. At 2:37, Joe might feel weary and frightened of his future. We humans are a fickle bunch!
It has been proven countless times that hypnosis is effective for weight loss. Not only is it tremendously effective… hypnosis for weight loss is far and wide the most common therapeutic usage of hypnosis. But how can you properly measure the effectiveness? Even if you measure people losing weight, you can’t be sure what is truly causing it… There’s no real control group. You can’t measure a placebo, because giving them a placebo would be giving them hypnosis. If it does work, it might not be the hypnosis that’s doing it. It could be the idea of it working that makes it work, or it could simply be the nice personality of the hypnotist improving your life. Conversely, a bad hypnotist might make matters worse. What if they were so bad that they made people gain weight, or cause eating disorders? Would we conclude that hypnosis must cause those bad things? Of course not! Hypnosis doesn’t change people. People change people.
It’s not that hypnosis is proven or unproven by science, it’s just that it can’t even be properly studied with the scientific method and mathematics!
‘Hypnosis’ doesn’t change us. Humans simply change each other.
Renowned hypnotist Jason Linett has a great story about a man that called him one day to say that he has successfully never touched a cigarette again after being hypnotized. After getting the man’s name, Jason looked through his meticulously well-kept records to find out what he must have done right. But there was a big problem… He couldn’t find any record of ever giving this man hypnotherapy treatment. When he finally got to speak to the man again, he found out that he was hypnotized at a stage show. After looking through the notes for that particular show, he noticed that he said nothing about smoking or addiction at all!
So how did Jason do it? It turns out he didn’t do it at all. The man simply thought that hypnosis was a cure for smoking (and it is). The man had no idea, however, that you generally need a specific addiction treatment to make that happen.
Was this the work of hypnosis? Did the man create his own hypnosis? Does this mean that hypnosis may be entirely unnecessary?
These questions are far too difficult, so I think you to come to your own conclusions on that.
We are emotional and we need to be touched
There was a time before we knew that children need human touch and affection in order to grow into healthy functioning adults. Scientists would put babies into little groups, and give out measured touches to some groups of babies and nothing to the others (definitely passing the line into neglect here).
This was ended quickly when they discovered the desperate trouble that comes from withholding human touch to a child… and even adults need contact too.
Hypnosis is a way of touching another human, not necessarily physically, but definitely emotionally and mentally. Many of us are dried up in these areas, and having these emotional experiences helps us grow. It’s somewhat like watching an emotional movie and experiencing the out-pour of emotions that we subconsciously (and for some select people, consciously) crave. But with these guided meditations or hypnosis sessions we usually have a goal in mind when we practice.
Have you ever seen a man that claims he never cries? Always so lost, misguided, and having neglected needs–thinking that hiding away emotions will make them manlier, only to find it makes them colder.
People heal faster when they are touched, physically, emotionally, or mentally. I love what Pope Francis had to say about giving to beggars and panhandlers. He said that you should give freely, enjoy the act of giving as a blessing for yourself, and most importantly, to hold their hand for a moment while you touch them with your gaze.
Stop, look the person in the eyes, and touch his or her hands as you give to them. -Pope Francis
Beliefs change the mind, and the mind changes beliefs.
Hypnosis can USE science, but that doesn’t make it a science.
Hypnotists use all kinds of methods from psychology all the way to nutrition. These are simply some of the tools. A hypnotist must look into psychology, studies from all areas, look into their subject, but most of all, look into themselves.
However, they cannot be too systematic about the approach. Having a set of techniques and scripts that you play out will make you seem like a robot. It’s not effective for another person. It doesn’t recognize their wonderfully unique needs. Having a strict system in place just makes it work less!
Hypnosis can be fudged, just the way a more science-based practice can be.
It’s dangerous to see a bad hypnotist, or any bad alternative-medicine practitioner for that matter. But it’s also dangerous to see a bad medical doctor. Sometimes we need the help of the right people, and not the right facts.
Don’t let a few bad practitioners ruin the good stuff.
A hypnotist might ignore “facts” and change the facts instead.
Keep telling yourself you are weak, and you will become weaker. Keep telling yourself you are strong, and you will be that much stronger!
Just like the man who was instantly healed from his smoking addiction, changing the ‘facts’ about your own emotions will make them factual.
If you keep believing in certain facts as the truth, you might be the one making it the truth. The trick is to make the facts based yourself and your thoughts, and never anyone else’s…. because no one likes being told something new.
I can fly
That’s right. I can open my arms and float into the sky…
Don’t get the wrong idea here, though. I can fly because I have identified the feelings I want to feel when I fly, and then I get to fly when I have fulfilled those feelings one way or another. Maybe it’s a sense of total freedom… appreciation so vivid that it makes everything else disappear… or the sense that I have accomplished my dreams. When those desires are fulfilled, I can fly.
If someone has a wild and impossible dream, we can always make the inner feelings of it. Then the real manifestation of it will come to life. We find a way to jetpack, paraglide, or go for a ride at the theme park. We find a way to skyrocket our success, help people do amazing things, and do what we always wanted.
Then we’re flying.
The great thing about science (and engineering, actually) is that we will always find a way to make it really happen (real flying!) after that moment of imaginative experience and fulfillment has already brought us to that place.
Skepticism is NOT scientific.
With skepticism, you are holding onto a belief… a belief in disbelief.
Questioning is scientific. To be scientific, you might say “let’s explore this further”. You are open minded, and believe that anything may be possible. You don’t believe or disbelieve in anything (ideally). If you are skeptical, you are actually saying that you don’t believe in something because it negates your current belief system.
There are some things going on that science just cannot explain yet
In fact, science typically does not prove or explain anything. It finds evidence for things. Scientists don’t like to make claims so easily, because they like to question things (good scientists do, anyway).
No one agrees on what hypnosis is
This might be the number one thing that prevents so much metaphysical phenomena from being studied. It simply can’t be, if we don’t all agree on what it is. Everything from hypnosis to meditation, tai chi and qigong, reiki, and numerology. None of these things can be defined so easily.
Math guys really get to savor in the glory of proofs — undeniable definitions. It’s too bad that they’re the only ones who get to do that.
You know what’s better than defining the entire world into perfect little boxes?
A high five.
Everything is hypnosis
You go into hypnosis when you’re driving down the highway, when you watch a relaxing movie, or even when you have a normal conversation with someone. You grew up being hypnotized. People told you what to do, where to go, what to wear, and how to live. It’s all around you. It’s a part of you.
How you holding up? It’s a lot to read, I know. But don’t worry, we’re almost done.
If you want the closest true scientific exploration, then look towards quantum physics.
And yes, quantum physics is real science. It looks like one of the only branches of science with a hope of discovering the true nature of metaphysical phenomena. A scientific explanation would be a juicy discovery, and I hope we all live to experience the day that science and the spiritual world can meld together.
Until then, hypnosis is ‘pseudoscience’ (whatever that means), and that’s okay.
In summary, it will be best if hypnosis remains this way… because the moment someone decides they know exactly what is happening, you can be sure that they are lying or delusional–because no human truly knows even a glimpse of the truth.
Bad science and pseudoscience should not be confused with each other, however. While pseudoscience may also be bad science, most of bad science is not generally considered pseudoscience. In fact, bad science is normal. Pseudoscience, on the other hand, is defined precisely by deviating from the norm of science. – Bad Science is Normal (Pseduoscience is neither)