The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A description of Bill Bengston's mouse experiments

This comes from the EEG Info newsletter. The author, whose name is not posted, is summarizing a presentation made by Bill at an ISSSEEM conference:

[I]t is timely to discuss the following experimental results, which were presented by William Bengston. His research topic was the issue of whether energy healing could be taught. The healing technique was the laying-on of hands. So Bengston taught a number of initially non-believing students in the techniques that he wanted used, which were to take an hour a day for a month. The technique was to be used on mice that had been injected with lethal doses of mammary adenocarcinoma. This dose is well-known to be 100% fatal, and in fact no mouse ever survived longer than 27 days under the challenge of such an injection.

The mice indeed developed the tumors, as expected, but then the tumors took a surprising course. They blackened and ulcerated, and then were resorbed. The mice went on to live a full lifespan. In fact, subsequent trials with the lethal elixir did not even elicit tumor formation. Lifetime immunity to this kind of cancer seemed to have been conferred. The experimental mice survived the challenge at the rate of 88% out of some 33 mice involved in a number of separate trials. The trials were run in different universities, by different groups of students. Looking just at these data, one would be tempted to conclude that first of all there is merit to the “laying on of hands;” secondly, that the skill can be taught; and finally, that even belief in the so-called “treatment” is not required. But this is not the end of the story.

It turns out that the controls did just about as well, responding at a 70% rate despite not having had the benefit of the laying on of hands. There were replications with another strain of tumor that is equally fatal, with similar results. But now Bengston was running into a curious snag. When he approached the same groups of researchers about doing replications, he was rebuffed. After all, the first time they agreed to do the experiment it was a matter of proving that Bengston was nuts. They were perfectly happy to cooperate in doing that. On the other hand, if they agreed to do a second similar experiment, it would just prove that they were nuts! Thus the enterprise of science protects itself from deviance.

Bengston reluctantly concluded that his carefully done experiment did not answer the question about whether healing techniques could be taught to the naive, since there was no significant treatment interaction, but it left him with the dilemma of explaining the results obtained with the controls. He is postulating that a kind of herd immunity was acquired by the group of mice that had once shared a common bond, a kind of resonant bond. It’s not like the data can be readily explained away. All of the mice did grow the tumors, after all, at least in the first administration. And the tumors are known to be 100% fatal. So there is clearly a need for an explanation. Finally, there was the fact that the experiment had in fact been done “triple-blind.” On their own initiative the students had established yet a third control group, unbeknownst to Bengston, so if Bengston was somehow intervening with the controls surreptitiously, this third group would be unaffected. They were healed as well! This is doubly ironic, since the students were the real experimental animals here rather than the mice. So we actually had a case of the experimental animals running a blinded, controlled experiment on the experimenter. That may be a first. Other experiments were ongoing in the same universities in which groups of mice were continuing to succumb to the tumor-kindling procedure as expected. Something was causing these particular groups of mice to respond differently from all the others. And they have done so now in six [now ten] independent trials.

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