Don’t get me wrong… I’m a huge fan of Dr Joe Dispenza. However, I do believe his approach to explaining modern personal development and mindful healing is harmful.
The approach he promotes isn’t wrong. It’s just how he explains different aspects of mind-body healing using “science” that I take issue with. Because as I’ll demonstrate, it’s not good science. It’s pseudo-science.
And every time someone uses pseudo-science to explain coaching, therapy or healing it harms the credibility of the cause, turning the scientifically-minded away from The Work and all similar practitioners.
Now I know I’m picking quite a battle here. Dr Dispenza is the godfather and poster boy for mind-body healing and manifestation, and has been for close to 20 years, leaving a huge positive legacy. But the truth is science hasn’t yet caught up with the techniques he’s pioneered and to pretend that it has is intellectually dishonest and damaging to our ability as a community to be taken seriously.
For example, here’s a line of argument used by Dr Joe Dispenza and a great many others who have since watched What The Bleep and consider themselves experts in the link between Quantum Physics and the ability of the human mind to rearrange subatomic particles en mass and intelligently design any reality they care to visualise hard enough:
- Scientists have discovered that sub-atomic particles don’t so much ‘exist’ in a specific place and state as per classical Newtonian Physics.
- Instead they exist only in a cloud of possible places and states and they only commit to taking up a more permanent existence once they are ‘observed’.
- Even more unusual, is depending on how the particles are observed can influence the position and state they commit to.
So far, this is technically accurate, and you could be excused for thinking it sounds a lot like we can control sub-atomic particles just by looking at them.
And this is true. To a degree.
But it’s the next steps in the logic chain that are really problematic. The argument continues like this…
- Our mind is made of energy (as is all matter), so our conscious mind is enough to observe any other energy or matter in the world (or even the universe).
- We are connected to every particle in the universe through the quantum field.
- As humans are sometimes the ‘observer’, we have the power to change the nature of sub-atomic particles with just our mind alone.
- THEREFORE: You can manifest the ideal version of your life by visualising the ideal version of yourself.
I’m sorry (not sorry), but this is where I call bullshit!
There are exactly 0 studies that demonstrate humans can ‘observe’ particles at will and en masse over extended distances using the power of only our mind. Let alone the ability to use our mind to change them in ways that align with our wildest fantasies.
And to imply that this science exists is frankly intellectually dishonest. This is creative license of the highest order and should be awarded literary accolades, possibly in the categories of teen fiction, because it would give J K Rowling a run for her money.
So although it may seem like a good idea to appeal to the scientifically-minded and sceptical using science, if it’s not in integrity then the real danger here is it sets up distrust and cognitive dissonance that pushes them further away from The Work.
There is a better way! We need to ease these people into the water gently. Sure start with those concepts that can be proven (like placebo effect outlined below). Then move them towards prioritising what’s USEFUL over what’s strictly CORRECT.
Even if something can’t be scientifically proven, it can still be USEFUL. For example…
Some practitioners in the coaching, therapy and complimentary medicine communities speak of the multiverse as if it were a scientifically proven fact.
Unfortunately, it’s not a scientifically proven fact, and to the scientificly-minded people, they see through this in a heart-beat, and then they lose faith in what we do. Turn away from any spiritual, energy, or mind-body medicine.
You might say it’s their own decision to turn away. Fair point, but we’re not making it easy for them!
For example, this sort of pseudo-science slowed my progress with The Work for years. Every time I heard a healer talk about science in such loose and invalid ways, I lost trust in them. I thought “these healers are either not too bright, crazy, or trying to manipulate me. I’m not going anywhere near them”. In fact, when a friend recommended I watch What The Bleep, it turned me off the whole industry for at least 3 years.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I came back. I was open-minded enough to push through the misunderstandings and find the gold within. But even in researching this with friends and acquaintances, It’s clear I’m an exception, and the general rule is this…
Sceptics need a bridge to follow, one step at a time to help them on the path to accepting what coaches, therapists and healers can do for them.
And when they see a large gap in the bridge, they go running back to where they came from and the burn the bridge behind them using any means at their disposal.
Recently a close personal friend took issue to one of my posts, then responded invalidating all of my work using the ad hominem fallacy (they attacked me, not my message). This is what happens when a sceptic sees a gap.
We are losing too many people that could be liberated! Sceptics are smart people too, imagine the positive impact we could make on the world if we were able to help shift these incredibly intelligent people from living with daily fear to living for love!
Ok point made, back to the Multiverse, I want to clear this up because at best it’s misunderstood, and at worst it’s used in an intellectually dishonest way.
The Multiverse or ‘many worlds interpretation’ is a theory. Many scientists believe this theory is likely true. But the nature of theories are they haven’t been proven. They are purely theoretical.
And in fact there are a handful of other popular ‘interpretations’ of what we see going on at the quantum level, most of which only feature a single universe, ours.
What’s worse is the Multiverse is likely to never be proven scientifically. Because of the nature of the ‘uncertainty principle’ in quantum physics we can literally only measure what’s going in our universe. We just can’t physically peer over the fence to see what’s happening outside our universe. So we’ll very likely never know for sure.
Speaking mathematically (the maths of logic and set theory) this puts the multiverse in the bucket of ideas that are ‘sufficient’ to explain what we see happening but not ‘necessary’. Ie, It’s a good idea, but could be complete nonsense.
So this puts the multiverse in the same bucket of ideas as God, or Heaven, or Reincarnation. These are ideas that can’t be proven, may be completely fabricated, and yet many believe they are true.
Essentially the multiverse is an unprovable spiritual concept that many scientists believe in. Wild right?
This is actually ok. Not really a problem at all, other than the kind of problems militant atheists have, but they rarely have a problem with spirituality itself, just the masks, distortions, and corruptions that (admittedly often) occur as a result.
Like God, or Reincarnation, the Multiverse provides a valuable working model of what’s going on that allows us to explain what we see happening in the world and make predictions as to what will happen in the future. So it’s useful, and doesn’t really cause us any problems, especially if we remember it’s just a theory and keep an open mind to alternative explanations and new data.
Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with believing in something that’s unprovable if it’s useful and it aligns with your values.
SO WHAT NOW SMART GUY?
So, where does this leave The Work?
I actually believe in the mind-body connection and the incredible power the mind has to heal the body and the power energy and intention have to manifest good things in our lives.
And there are no studies that prove what Dr Joe is saying isn’t possible (yes, I realise this is the same fallacy that proves the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, all hail his noodly appendage).
But let’s not cheapen the amazing physical, emotional and spiritual process of mind-body healing by trying to explain parts of it using science and then smoothing over the rest and hoping noone notices.
Ultimately alternate therapy, complimentary medicine and even some forms of coaching are not about science, rationality or logic. Like the Multiverse, Science may never catch up with or explain what’s going on here.
But please don’t let that stop you from gaining value from it!
We can still leverage Dr Joe’s teachings, meditations and wisdom. But to do so we have to be willing to step away from the rational, into the transrational
100% STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE
So what am I saying here? Just do it! Try it out for yourself. Give it a red hot go. And if it works, keep doing it. Easy!
In science and statistics, a really good study will try to get large numbers of participants and a good representative sample of the population (different people that represent different parts of the population). This makes the data collected more relevant. And it’s more convincing to be able to say that the data that comes back represents the population as a whole, or is “statistically significant”.
So here’s a science hack. If you’re just trying to work out what works for you, then a sample size of 1 is enough to achieve 100% representation of the population in question, ie you!
What I’m trying to say is, treat yourself as the experiment. You can be your own guinea pig (or lab rat / monkey, whichever you prefer). And if you gain benefit from a technique, then run with it.
That’s pretty damn valid!
The sceptics among you (are not likely to have read this far, but if you did you) will be saying “but there are so many variables, and the results may be subtle, how will I be scientifically certain it’s working?”.
As per the start of this article. This isn’t science. It’s transrational. So you must rely on your intuition, subconscious mind and subtle messages from your body to inform your assessment of whether it’s working or not.
For a process to follow on how to listen for this insight, read my article on Transhumanism and transrationalism
I know I know, this is uncomfortable territory for scientists and sceptics alike. But this is the price of admission if you want to tap into the value that the transrational has to offer. And yes, trust me, it’s worth it.
ON PLACEBO EFFECT
I’m going to be really honest with you. I believe in a lot of woowoo, deep down to my core. But I’m sorry, I could never wrap my head around homeopathy, it just doesn’t make any logical sense.
Most vials of homeopathic treatment are so dilute, they don’t contain even a single molecule of the original active ingredient. And yet we’re expected to believe they contain ‘echoes and vibrations’ of the original cure and can work wonders on the body. And the ‘active ingredients’ themselves can be such appealing substances as toxins and poisons because apparently “like cures like”. Bullshit.
And yet, at times, when I’ve been fed (or taken) homeopathic remedies with an open mind… I’ve felt better.
I know what you’re thinking, ”placebo effect”. And ”Burn him! The penalty for feeling better based on placebo effect alone is death!”
And you’re probably right. This is most likely just placebo effect. But here’s the thing…
Placebo effect is STRONG. Like really strong.
And it works. As in, you can heal and feel better using nothing but the power of your mind, purely because your mind believes your body is going to heal and get better.
And even better, this effect has not only been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN time and time again, it’s the basis of the scientific process for testing new drugs and remedies in the scientific community. New drugs have to be able to beat the baseline of the placebo effect to be considered effective.
The really crazy thing though is I know so many scientifically-minded sceptics who just scoff at the notion of any treatment that might gain some of its benefit from the placebo effect. And will deny themselves those treatments and benefits because they feel like they are too clever to be duped by such tricks.
As this article can attest, scepticism and science has its place. But…
Why deny yourself benefit because it isn’t coming from where you think it’s coming from??
Go back and read that again. This is important, I’ll wait.
Placebo effect is still legitimately beneficial, so anything that can trigger it reliably should be applauded and tapped into.
If there were a service I could go to where a bunch of actors pranced around me making a fuss and guiding me through ‘treatments’ and ‘therapies’ and all it was doing was triggering placebo effect, then heck, sign me up! They could even make me wear a silly hat, and one of those gowns where my bum hangs out the back. I don’t care. Give me that glorious placebo effect!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all alternative therapy is based solely on placebo effect. Far from it. I’m just saying that even if placebo effect is part of the benefit, it’s not a reason to abandon that approach, in fact it’s a reason to embrace it.
And embrace it whole-heartedly because the more you believe, the stronger the effect. Think of it this way: When you watch a movie you voluntarily ‘suspend your disbelief’ at all the crazy unrealistic things that happen because you know the payoff will be worthwhile, you’ll enjoy yourself more and hence get more value from the experience.
Same with placebo effect. It’s proven, no need to suspend your disbelief there. But if you start to feel sceptical about the method being used, that’s where to suspend your disbelief. Not because you’re a sucker, but because you’re choosing to maximise the placebo effect and the value you can obtain.
In summary, if you’re using pseudo-science to sell people on transformation or healing, please don’t. Instead, stay authentic, stay real, and focus on bringing your audience on the journey to embrace what’s USEFUL rather than what’s strictly CORRECT or provable.
Fair to say it’s not an easy one. The journey from scientifically-minded sceptic to open-minded transrationalist is an uphill battle.
There is so much culture and conditioning that leaves us with resistance and blocks to doing anything that isn’t supported already by multiple peer-reviewed and cross-referenced studies published in reputable journals.
These institutions do great work that I whole-heartedly support. But don’t give them all of your power.
If this is you, you are essentially asking them for permission to live your life and try things.
Here, I now release you from that conditioning. I officially grant you permission… Go forth and live your life in alignment with your chosen values and do whatever you choose to try within that.
And I empower you to make decisions as to what’s working for you or not working and adapt accordingly.
Oh, and let me know how you go. What did you try that you didn’t think would or should work, but did!?