On October 22nd, almost three years to the day since our last Toronto workshop, Bill Bengston returns to Canada to give a talk entitled "Lessons from the Lab: Energy Healing Experiments on Cancer." This will be an exciting opportunity to find out what new discoveries he has made in the meantime and whether any more strides have been made towards moving the method from the lab to successful application in real life.
Approximately 35 years ago Bill Bengston did an experiment in which he cured laboratory mice of cancer. He then followed up this experiment with three others in which skeptical volunteers who learned a method he developed were also apparently able to cure the mice of cancer. Nothing much was heard of these experiments until the year 2000, when he described them in a paper in the journal of the Society of Scientific Exploration. Since then other experiments followed, in one of which Bill explored why the control mice in his experiments were also cured, and explained why the remission of the control mice did not nullify the results of the experiments and what bearing that has on drug research in general. He published his findings in another paper entitled "Resonance, Placebo Effects, and Type II Errors: Some Implications from Healing Research for Experimental Methods".
Other interesting experiments Bill participated in include fMRI studies to see how his brain functions while he heals, what happens to the brains of the subjects who receive healing from him, and how the healing affects geomagnetic probes.
My own personal interest has been in the clinical application of the method. Starting in July 2007, Bill Bengston and I organized a series of workshops in Toronto to see if the success of the skeptical volunteers with the sick mice could be translated into successful treatment of cancer by practitioners in real world situations. After six workshops over almost a year and a half we found that while students could obtain noticeably anomalous results, such as increased survival and the abatement or reversal of some symptoms, we did not see any cures by them, unassisted, of documented cancers in people.
As early as 2008 Bill raised the question whether healing could be taught in an article for Larry Dossey's Explore magazine. He is still wrestling with the question, although he has taught many workshops since then in other locations. I would be curious to know whether these later workshops produced meaningful results. What we would be looking for, and what I would hope to see, is a meaningful number of cancer remissions reported by a number of practitioners. One or two remissions would not be statistically significant; a dozen or more would be, although it's hard to know where to draw the line. Bill's own observation has been that healing ability, like musical talent, is distributed on a curve, with a few Mozarts who are able to achieve spectacular results surrounded by many others with varying degrees of lesser ability. Significantly he has also raised the possibility that he may have healed the mice in his experiments himself, using the skeptical volunteers as his proxy. Due to a phenomenon he calls resonance, bonding the mice and their healers, it cannot be known with any certainty who did the healing.
The clinician in me would like to see Bill take the next step and begin to study the effects of dissemination. One man being able to cure cancer is an anomaly, and to study his brain and the effects he is able to produce on fMRIs and geomagnetic probes has value in that it adds to our store of knowledge about energy healing, but it does not directly translate into anyone being cured of cancer in the real world. That same man being able to disseminate what he knows in an effective way is revolutionary.
What needs to happen next, in my view, is to study not Bill's brain and Bill's effects, but the brain activity and effectiveness of his students. Do they produce the same brainwaves? The same "resonance" with patients? Just as there is a minimum dose response among the mice, is there a minimum study time or exposure to Bill needed to create a student able to reproduce Bill's success? Skeptical students who participated in a six-week program with Bill were able to heal cancerous mice; students who learned the method in weekend workshops were (to my knowledge) not able to cure documented cancers in people; but that is not to say they would not have been able to cure mice had they been given the opportunity, or that the students who cured the mice would also have been able to cure people. Much is unknown -- a great deal needs to be investigated further.