Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Does the "how" actually matter ? Something does not become real because we can explain it, explanation follows establishment of the real. For decades the western medical profession has dismissed acupuncture as voodoo hedge-witch nonsense on the basis that they don't know how it works. Unfortunately the repeatable & measurable nature of the effects has kinda confounded western notions of the superiority of our understanding of the body. It is only recently that improved and more subtle research has begun to unravel how acupuncture might be understood.

Equally, the fact that there is, as yet, no western scientific theory that might encompass astrology doesn't undermine that, to those who have studied it, the ability to discern useful understanding of individual's personalities is real and discernable. I don't see fit to dismiss something simply because I don't understand how it can work (transistors must be a bugger for people of that persuasion) or because of the lack of credibility of its major proponents.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 09:18:55 AM EST
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The how matters because if you have a handle on the how you're not blundering around in the dark bumping into the things and thinking that waving a dead chicken around is what matters - when it could be something else that you haven't been paying attention to. (E.g. my experience of alternative things is that the efficacy is in the practitioner, not the technique.)

With all of these things you have to be sure there's a What before you start asking about the How. Acupuncture built up a fairly solid body of evidence for itself over a long time, and eventually the medical profession grudgingly started to take it seriously.

With something like moon lore, there are two problems. The first is that if you look at crime records, hospital admission records and other hard data there doesn't seem to be any real effect. This could be because studies have asked the wrong questions, but the current state of what's known isn't encouraging.

But assuming there's a real effect - my problem with a statement like 'It words on the tides, so of course it works on humans' is that it's a pseudo-how.

It's fine for people who want to believe it, but if you accept it it closes down further curiosity.

Once you believe you know what's happening, you lose interest in anything that might challenge that - and might also deepen your understanding beyond the usual received explanations.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 02:55:27 PM EST
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