So I’ll just finish the dialogue here… :)

Sometimes people experience a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief. – Franz Fanon

If you go to this URL – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law&utm_reader=feedly –  you’ll find a discussion on Christian Science taking place amongst people who, though well-meaning, don’t seem to really understand Christian Science as I know it, and I’m pretty sure are no longer interested in hearing what I have to say – I don’t think any further comments by me will be allowed into the party. So I figured I’d just finish the dialogue here. 🙂

Karen says:

Thanks, windriven and weing for taking the time to check out those sites and respond.

Thirteen years ago my CS mom was diagnosed with lymphoma and given two years to live. She had some choices to make. She’d relied almost her entire adult life on Christian Science – and had experienced many healings with it (if she hadn’t had success with CS, she wouldn’t have continued with it – she would have found something that worked for her – my mom is no martyr to religion). I told her that I would support her in whatever direction she chose to go – whether medical science or Christian Science. After a lot of thought, she chose to use medical science. She went through chemo treatments, and did what the doctors prescribed for her – although she never really became part of the “cancer culture” – if you know what I mean – she didn’t buy cancer-of-the-month calendars and magazines and stuff. She had some wonderful, caring doctors and developed a great patient-doctor relationship with them. The thought, then, was that they would prolong her life, but that the cancer would win in the end. After two years there was no trace of the cancer, and now, thirteen years later, she is still alive and kicking, and the doctors call her an enigma. At least one of them gives credit to her CS way of life for her healing.

I have experienced healings of:
– a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid – by the time I got to the eye surgeon two weeks later, the melanoma had completely disappeared
– a puffed-up hand – blood tests that came back a few days after the hand deflated indicated markers for rheumatoid arthritis – the doctor wanted me to see a specialist, and after I told them that I’d called a CS practitioner and my hand was completely healed and fine, they were really surprised – that was 3 years ago and there’s been no return of the condition
– the natural delivery of my son after I’d been wheeled down to the OR for an emergency caesarean section (I’d asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support) – just as the doctors were ready to slice me open, they all got surprised looks on their faces and started yelling “Push! Push!” – when my son was born one of the nurses started crying – she said she’d never been able to see a natural delivery and it was “so beautiful.”

Do I consider these healings miracles? Nope. They are completely natural – it’s natural to be healthy. And I’ve found that when I’m able to draw close to the power of Love, of Good – to fill my thoughts up with joy and life – I experience healing. Always.

Although I have much respect for medical doctors and their dedication to their patients – I have found CS to be the best and most efficient method of healing for me, personally.

Regarding the law exempting the children of CSists from medical treatment: Honestly, I can’t say that I know where, exactly, I stand on this issue. I know CS works. I’ve proven it for myself, and, I think if we’re honest we have to acknowledge that medical science is seriously flawed. But… I think that parents need to use common sense when it comes to the care and well-being of their children.

 weing says:

@Karen,
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Your mom was diagnosed with a lymphoma that had a poor prognosis. She received standard science-based therapy and is disease free 13 years later. Great. I have no idea what “cancer culture” is.

“a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid”
Melanoma is diagnosed by biopsy not photographs. You had a skin finding suspicious for melanoma that resolved. You had a swollen hand and some abnormal lab tests and now your fine. You experienced the miracle of birth. You call all this healing. I call it living. That’s fine.
___

So that’s where the dialogue left off. I just tried to respond, but it looks like my post didn’t make it onto the board, so – seeing as how I have my own blog and stuff 🙂 – I guess I’ll just finish the dialogue here:

Karen says:

Yup. And if I were a medical doctor I wouldn’t be discounting these anecdotes, ignoring them and belittling them – if I really wanted to help my patients and bring them healing – without the adverse side effects that come from pharmaceuticals and the human error of medical science – I’d be asking myself what happened there – why was that woman with terminal cancer able to survive it? Why did her daughter’s puffed-up hand deflate after only two days, and the condition not reappear in the three years since then – after a marker in the blood test indicated rheumatoid arthritis? And why did the melanoma that her optometrist spotted on her eyelid completely disappear by the time she went to an eye surgeon two weeks later?

***

One of the posters will be meeting with a senator to discuss legislation in Washington State regarding Christian Science  treatment.  I’m glad to hear he’s meeting with his legislators to discuss things that are important to him. I myself have very much enjoyed the privileges of United States citizenship – I was elected as a delegate to the state Democratic convention a couple years ago and enjoyed meeting other like-minded people. Through the years I have written letters and donated in support of financial aid for undocumented immigrants, environmental issues, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, Amnesty International, The Smile Train, and yes, universal health care – I don’t believe anyone should be denied the treatment they are told they need to survive just because they’re too poor to pay for it. I really hope the gentleman who visits with the senator today will address that, too – if he’s going to ask that people be forced to participate in the medical system, those people should also be provided with financial access to it, right? (I had a friend who was told the drugs she needed to take during her cancer remission would cost $30,000 to $40,000 a month! Holy shamoley! That’s crazy!)

***

Harriet Hall says:

@Karen
Christian Scientists believe that sickness is an illusion caused by mistaken beliefs and that the whole material world is an illusion, so why did you go to a doctor at all? Why does CS condone seeing a doctor for broken bones if they are illusory? I really can’t understand the logic and am hoping you can explain.

***

Karen says: Well, if you’re familiar with quantum physics you know that all of matter is pretty much nothing, right? And it’s been determined, in quantum physics, that our very thoughts effect our world. So really, even according to the science of quantum physics, our beliefs have power on what we experience here, don’t they?

Why do I go to a doctor at all? Well, honestly, I don’t much. I went to a doctor when I had the puffed-up hand because the people around me were really concerned by what they were seeing – there was talk of a serious infection, or an allergy – there was talk of death. And I was scared. So I went to the family physician – he normally jokes around with me when I come in – all my medical practitioners have a sense of humor, it is one of my requirements – but this time even HE wasn’t joking around. He said it looked like I either had a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis, and he wanted to start me on drugs for both right away, and give me a blood test. I said I wasn’t interested in the drugs until I knew, for sure, what we were dealing with – but I’d have the blood test. Then I went home and called a CS practitioner – the confidence and assurance I heard in her voice was a huge help to me, mentally. The next day my hand was even more puffed-up, but by the second morning it had completely deflated. When I later called the doctor’s office for the results of the blood test, I was told there was a marker for rheumatoid arthritis and they wanted me to meet with a specialist. I told the receptionist I was completely fine now. She called a nurse to the phone. I told her my hand was completely deflated, and she was really surprised by this and told me that she guessed I didn’t need any further treatment right then, but to call if the condition returned. Which it hasn’t.

I am not conflicted about seeing a doctor when I feel the need – I don’t experience feelings of guilt  – I’m not worried about being excommunicated from any religion or anything – I am not, really, a very religious person. For me, Christian Science isn’t a religion or even an alternative health care system – it’s a way of looking at the world that’s brought a lot of good into my life. I don’t go to doctors much because I simply haven’t needed to go to doctors.

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42 thoughts on “So I’ll just finish the dialogue here… :)

  1. My experience and yours are very similar. Thanks for hanging in there as long as you did in the discussion.
    I hope your legislature does the right thing, but the belief in the general population in medical treatment is so strong that I imagine the exemption will be lost. We can know that whatever the treatment the law requires it won’t keep CS from being effective.
    It is interesting to me that 400,000 people a year die from illnesses and malpractice encountered in hospitals, according to some reports, yet that system is the one that the vast majority insist on making everyone adhere to it, and think that CS treatment for a child is criminally negligent.
    http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/hospital-medical-errors-third-leading-cause-death-dispute-to-err-is-human-report/2013-09-20

  2. Karen, your comments have not been blocked over at SBM and people, including myself, have been asking questions and answering yours. I don’t understand why this post was necessary at all. Color me confused.

    There is also actual study data to show that Christian Scientists suffer more mortality and morbidity than matched controls. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cs2.html (references at the bottom)

    And yes, it is criminally negligent to let children die when effective treatments exist. “CS treatment” for diabetes leads to death and it is incontrovertible that medical science can actually treat diabetes.

      • Perhaps you would like to show me the evidence of this efficacy? I have provided you references demonstrating exactly the opposite.

        And no, you are not wrong about the dangers of hospitals. But you aren’t right either. You are committing multiple fallacies at once. First is the false dichotomy – because scientific medicine has bad outcomes, CS must be a good option. The second is the nirvana fallacy – because scientific medicine has bad outcomes, it must all be bad. And thirdly you are ignoring the denominator. Yes, there are bad outcomes and avoidable deaths, but we save many, many, many more lives. And your number – 400k – is also not correct. This has been addressed here, ,a href=”http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/put-your-fears-in-perspective/”>here,, and here, amongst numerous other places. We also continually strive to improve our outcomes and patient safety. What efforts to improve outcomes and safety is there in the CS community?

        And you didn’t even address my comment about diabetes. Do you deny it exists? Do you deny is leads to death in children? Do you deny that scientific medicine has proven and effective treatments for it? Do you content that CS can successfully treat diabetes?

    • Sorry, Andrey – just went back to the SBM site and found my posts had made it on, after all.

      Regarding the study about morbidity and mortality you site – is this the one wherein the life span of students at Principia College (a private college for CSists) is compared to the lifespan of students at another private college?

      If so, I have some thoughts I’d like to share about the validity of that study: When you talk about Principia graduates I don’t believe you’re talking about CSists as a whole, but a sub-set of CSists. Those who attend Principia are usually young people who were raised in CS – often both parents are CSists – and the fact that they’re attending a private CS institution suggests, to me, that they feel comfortable surrounding themselves with other CSists. There is nothing wrong with this – nothing wrong with wanting to be part of a community of like-minded individuals. But, personally, I do not enjoy shutting myself off from other points of view and ways of life, and living in an atmosphere exclusive of other beliefs. There are, in fact, Christian Scientists out there who’ve found CS for themselves, who’ve never been to a CS church – who have nothing to do with the human organization of CS – but who are practicing CS in their daily lives who might better represent a wider range of CS thought.

      My mom was one of ten children raised as Methodists – four of these 10 children found CS later in their lives – others in her family became Universalist Unitarians, non-religious atheists, non-religious theists, and one of my cousins converted to Judaism at some point – my dad was non-religious from the get-go – so I have always felt comfortable in “mixed company” and actually feel sort of uncomfortable when I find myself hemmed in by people with one set of beliefs. I don’t like group-think at all – neither does my mom, nor anyone else in her family – and neither does my dad. Of the 10 children in my mom’s family, the last three alive were/are CSists – one reached the age of 94, the other reached the age of 88, and my mom is still going strong at 86. My personal experience does not coincide with the study you cite on CS morbidity.

      But besides all that – is life really just a contest to see who can live the longest? My goal in life isn’t to try to live longer than anyone else. My goal is to live a life full of joy and healthy adventures, and to try to live with integrity and compassion. The teachings of Christian Science have helped me to do that. Christian Science isn’t some kind of alternative health care system. It’s a way of living one’s life. Good health is just a nice side effect of it.

      • There are other data as well, but yes that is one of the better studies.

        Your thoughts on the validity of the study, however, are actually just a No True Scotsman fallacy. It is indeed quite nice that you have managed to eschew the more dogmatic and harmful aspects of CS practice, but that doesn’t actually address whether CS “treatments” and the CS “lifestyle” are actually of any benefit, efficacious, or the harms of it. If you are asking an empirical question – “What is the validity and efficacy of CS” then you cannot take your particular brand of CS, which incorporates the use of medical doctors and is indeed quite contrary to what the basic tenets of CS actually are, and then say that your experience contradicts much larger data and demonstrates the validity of CS. Your anecdotes demonstrate that as long as you actually seek medical care when really in need and eschew the most harmful aspects of CS – the basic tenets which are described quite clearly in all official documents and doctrines – then your particular flavor of sort-of CS isn’t particularly harmful. It does not demonstrate that it is helpful in any way.

        As for living longer… well, yes. That is part of it. I view my role as a physician as an expert guide and practitioner to provide the best possible life for my patients. Not dying is certainly a pretty basic aspect of that, but I also deal in critical care a lot and know that there are worse things out there than death. Sometimes the “best possible life” is in fact the end of a life. The point is that my role is to understand the complicated details of medicine, human physiology, pathophysiology, and all things relevant to the functioning and well being of a human and then provide guidance and options to my patients and let them decide which is the choice that will bring them the best quality of life as they see it based on their values, not mine. In some cases – particularly in critically ill patients – that is pretty obvious: save my life! In some cases there are very few options as to a course of action that exist within the confines of reality. In many cases there is a lot of gray area that we can work with. My role is not to tell you how to live your life, but to tell you how you can live your life better – as per your definition of better – within the confines of reality.

        The ideas of CS “treatments” are not within the confines of reality. The idea of faith healing, intercessory prayer, and otherwise curing illness through what can only be called magic is consistently and very well disproven. It simply does not work. It can make you feel better, if you believe in it. It can offer you solace, if you believe in it. It can help you tolerate pain better, if you believe in it. But it cannot change the course of disease processes. That is demonstrated to an extremely high level of certainty from many fields of science and many lines of converging evidence. Just as sure as we are of the fundamental principles that allow you to comfortably and safely fly in a commercial jet plane, so are we confident in the fundamental principles and outcomes that such prayer, faith healing, and CS “treatments” do not actually do anything to alter human physiology and disease processes.

        If you wish to believe it does, despite the mountains of evidence showing otherwise, then that is perfectly your right… as an adult. I will respect that choice, despite not respecting the fallacious thinking that allows it. If you wish to engage folks like myself about the veracity of CS treatments and other ideas about health, then you need to be able to speak in and understand the language of evidence. Otherwise we are simply not speaking the same language and cannot have a conversation. You will simply ignore what I say and continue to believe whatever you already do. If, on the other hand, you are willing to challenge your ideas, then SBM is the right place for you.

      • nybgus, thank you for your thoughts.

        Few questions: Are all the folks on the SBM site mostly medical practitioners? Do you pretty much just hang out with other medically-oriented people in your life? In your medical studies, have you ever been asked to read the textbook for Christian Science so that you can better understand where your CS patients are coming from, and better know how to treat them as whole human beings – and not just nameless bodies in frocks? Because when I am looking for a medical practitioner I want to know that my practitioner is going to listen to me, respect me, and see me as a human being, worthy of that practitioner’s time and care. You write: “You will simply ignore what I say and continue to believe whatever you already do. If, on the other hand, you are willing to challenge your ideas, then SBM is the right place for you.”

        I’m wondering if you are willing to challenge YOUR ideas.

        The scientific method is awesome. But just because a system uses the scientific method doesn’t mean it’s inherently the best system to use.

      • “I’m wondering if you are willing to challenge YOUR ideas.

        The scientific method is awesome. But just because a system uses the scientific method doesn’t mean it’s inherently the best system to use.”

        Yes, I always challenge my own ideas.

        And yes, the scientific method is demonstrably the best system to use. There is no other system that has ever or can in principle produce answers to empirical questions. If you are making a claim about the real world – the natural world which includes your body – then that is a question best answerable by scientific inquiry. Otherwise, you are just making stuff up and someone who has a different religious or ideological belief than you will disagree with no possible way to settle who is correct or incorrect.

      • Hi, nybgrus – thank you so much for taking the time to come back here…

        You write: “And yes, the scientific method is demonstrably the best system to use. There is no other system that has ever or can in principle produce answers to empirical questions. If you are making a claim about the real world – the natural world which includes your body – then that is a question best answerable by scientific inquiry. ”

        I’m all for the scientific method and everything – lab coats and bunsen burners – does it get more fun than that? – but just because something’s been tested in a lab doesn’t automatically make it safe and healthful. Personally, I’m past experimenting when it comes to my own health – I’ve been able to prove to myself that my method of healing works – now I’m into the “demonstration” part of my my particular field of study. And I’m enjoying great success with it. 🙂

        Which would you choose for your own life – something that you’ve proven works for you, and with no bad side effects? Or something that often ends with sad side effects (think now about those drug commercials we’ve all seen – “might lead to liver damage, diarrhea, vomiting, heart damage, suicidal thoughts, depression, headaches, death…”), but has been “laboratory-tested”?

        Interesting thoughts from Katherine Manaan in her column on cancer research:

        “What every person needs to know is that the number one medical/scientific argument against research into alternative and complimentary cancer treatments is the fact that they cannot be tested within the framework of what passes for `good science,’ namely the double blind, placebo controlled study, wherein one side gets the drug and the other side gets the placebo (“treatment has been shown to retard/shrink the growth of cancer cells in the lab”) but the double blind placebo controlled study cannot gauge the impact of a drug on the rest of the body. That more cancer patients die from the effects of chemo and/or radiation than they do from cancer clearly illustrates the core weakness of this kind of study in relation to cancer research and treatment… The chemo and/or radiation moves through the system… it is killing everything it touches, healthy and unhealthy, and utterly destroying the immune system. The side effects are well documented and horrific. Patients speak of their inability to walk, an overwhelming physical weakness, exhaustion, the inability to take care of themselves or their children, intense nausea, teeth falling out, hair falling out, chemo induced leukemia, feeling like drano is running through their veins, achy bones, achy feet, a sense of being cold all the time and an awful taste in the mouth.”- Kat Manaan

        http://www.middleagedwomantalking.com/1/post/2012/02/dont-pee-on-my-leg-and-tell-me-its-raining-thoughts-on-defund-the-susan-g-komen-foundation.html

        And this book looks kinda interesting: *Malignant Medical Myths: Why Medical Treatment Causes 200,000 Deaths in the USA each Year, and How to Protect Yourself*

  3. I have no problem with ADULTS using Christian Science, and if it works for them, that’s great, if not, they are adults and they can accept or refuse medical treatment as they see fit. Also, laws like these would not just apply to CS, they would apply to all sects of that advocate “prayer” and “faith” for healing (this often does not end well, http://childrenshealthcare.org/ and the “they’re praying wrong” argument is NOT acceptable).

    I also take issue with the notion that “prayer” and “faith” alone will heal, what does it say about those who fail to have healings? Is their faith not strong enough? Is their prayer inefficient? Are they not practicing scientifically enough? This is clearly a topic for another day. 😉

    I do take issue with CS being used for CHILDREN, as they are not legally able to make their own decisions regarding healthcare. Yes, children frequently get better on their own — we recently recovered from a nasty tummy bug, amazingly, WITHOUT THE POWER OF PRAYER (guest post about it http://emergegently.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/guest-post-2/). And sometimes it really is helpful to get a second opinion — which YOU have done, but sadly NOT ALL CS ARE AS PRACTICAL AS YOU ARE (yes, that needed shouty caps… http://kindism.org/2013/01/20/sprains-need-icecream-bubble-baths/).

    Instilling a terror of doctors in children can often have detrimental effects on them as adults (I speak from personal experience on this one). We are doing our best to teach our children to view doctors as resources — they are there to help, answer questions, and provide guidance surrounding healthcare issues. It sounds like you’re taking a similarly rational approach, but again, NOT ALL CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS are willing to go to a doctor, much less take their children to one.

      • Sadly, not all CS are as sensible as you seem to be. My MIL is paranoid about even getting a general practitioner even if she never visits them the very idea of having one is abhorrent. She has a mechanic for her car, she had a vet for her dog, why not have a GP? “Worst case thinking”… yes, but you also have smoke/fire detectors in your house? How is that not worst-case thinking? “it goes against everything I believe in” … *headdesk*

      • Thank you. For a little context, I was raised in CS, and have since left. I’m still sorting out what I believe and how I’m going to raise my children. The issue of doctors/medicine is still a very emotionally charged issue in our house, but I firmly believe that children should get appropriate care in a timely manner. I’ve been on the receiving end of “prayer alone!” and some days it takes a bit of extra help.

  4. Karen, your comments were not being blocked at SBM. You are free to comment there as you please. You have also had many individuals, myself included, answering your questions, in addition to asking our own. I don’t know why you would come and make this post, except to recede into an echo chamber where equally deluded individuals (like Bill) can blindly support your comments.

    There is data to demonstrate that Christian Scientists have increased mortality and morbidity over matched controls. In other words, no CS “treatment” is not effective. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cs2.html

    And yes, watching a child die from something like diabetes is criminally negligent. There is no question that untreated diabetes is a death sentence, there is no question that CS “treatment” is completely ineffective for diabetes, and there is no question that actual medical science does have effective treatment. Withholding unquestionably effective treatment in lieu of obviously ineffective “treatment” when the known outcome is death, is absolutely criminally negligent child abuse.

    • Oh! I shall return to YOUR echo chamber then! 🙂 And thank you for joining me on mine…

      There were a couple of my posts that didn’t seem to appear there, but I shall go see if they have now.

      Regarding diabetes – I can only speak for myself on this one – I do not in any way represent other Christian Scientists or the official CS church – and cannot speak for others. But if my child was showing the symptoms of diabetes, my child would be getting medical attention.

      (I have to add, though, that at the time my mom was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, she was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure and diabetes. She kept insisting she didn’t have diabetes, and they kept insisting she did. A couple years after she was diagnosed with the diabetes the doctors told her she was right – she didn’t have it. Never had to take drugs or have any treatment for it. Kind of cool, right?)

      • Sometimes there is a delay in the posts going up – it is a glitch that we have been working on at the site. However, SBM has a strict policy of allowing all comments to go through with exceedingly rare exceptions in very extreme cases.

        As for your attitude regarding diabetes – that is certainly not shared by those who also call themselves CS. There have been numerous documented cases of children dying from untreated diabetes because their CS parents refused to take them to seek medical attention and only offered CS treatments instead. There are other similar cases such as appendicitis and other completely treatable conditions. The laws we seek to enact would remove the protection of “religious freedom” in these cases since, as Kat said so well, that is indeed criminal negligence to let a child die from lack of appropriate medical care.

        Regarding your mother – yes, there is a perfectly rational explanation for that which I am happy to explain if you are interested. It does not involve CS “treatments” as you may imagine.

  5. Further dialogue from the SBM site:
    WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:
    January 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm
    Karen, what is the death rate of untreated tonsilitis? How much pain is experienced because of it? What about dental care? While medical care is indeed not perfect, that doesn’t automatically validate Christian Science, which in real terms is essentially allowing the natural progression of all diseases to take their course.

    If happy thoughts were sufficient to stave off illness, we wouldn’t need doctors. Cheerful outlooks did not cause smallpox to go extinct. This is in fact a form of victim-blaming, a claim that people who get sick or die deserve it because they brought it on themselves. It makes you an asshole.

    Christian Scientists, with their strict vegetarian diets and generally mandated healthy lifestyles, do tend to have better health outcomes* than non-church going, Western diet smokers. However, all of this is related to behaviours required of churchmembers. It’s got nothing to do with God.

    *The exception being B12 and iron deficiency of course.
    ____
    Karen says:

    William – you write: “Christian Scientists, with their strict vegetarian diets and generally mandated healthy lifestyles…”

    Where the heck are you folks getting your information?!!! Just yesterday I had a really fabulous mushroom cheese burger – pepperjack cheese with the works. I’ve sometimes thought of being a vegetarian out of a personal sense of ethics – but vegetarianism has nothing to do with Christian Science. Honest to goodness – I feel like I’ve walked into some kind of weird rumor-mongering, gossiping high school class or something. So far I’ve been told by you folks that we’re all vegetarians, somehow tied in with astrology and Chopra, and that we worship a “personal God” – which… I’m not even sure what that means. I worship the power of Good, and I call that power God.

    You know, for people who fancy themselves scientific thinkers, you sure don’t seem to be doing your research here. If you are going to start dissing on Christian Science, the least you could do is maybe find out something about it from the people who actually practice it.

    Oy.

  6. windriven says:
    February 1, 2014 at 12:40 am
    “Are all the folks on the SBM site mostly medical practitioners?”
    Some are, some aren’t. I’m not. Andrey, Madison, and weing are. William isn’t. Nor Chris. Harriet Hall is.

    “Do you pretty much just hang out with other medically-oriented people in your lives?”
    Can’t speak for the others but I don’t. My best friend is a Korean chef. I garden, read broadly, and bake artisanal bread that would make you cry.

    “have you ever been asked to read the textbook for Christian Science so that you can better understand where your CS patients are coming from”
    I haven’t been to medical school but I can pretty much assure you the answer is no. What do you imagine makes Christian Scientists so special? Why not study Seventh Day Adventists, Hassidic Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, Janes and Scientologists too? Shall we save a few hours for anatomy class?

    The philosophy behind Christian Science is part of a larger movement called the Second Awakening. A number of unusual sects sprang from this and have died or are dying out after peaking in the 30s. CS believes the material world is an illusion. Science and medicine necessarily concern themselves with material realities.

    I don’t think you would have any trouble finding a medical doctor who would find you worthy of their time and care. They needn’t empathize with your religious passions to do that.
    ___
    Karen says:
    February 1, 2014 at 3:47 am
    windriven, you write: “I haven’t been to medical school but I can pretty much assure you the answer is no. What do you imagine makes Christian Scientists so special? Why not study Seventh Day Adventists, Hassidic Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, Janes and Scientologists too? Shall we save a few hours for anatomy class?”

    Well, the reason I asked is because I’d heard that Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (the CS textbook) is suggested reading for students at Harvard’s Med School.

    I don’t think CSists are more special than any of those other folks you mention – but then none of those other folks you mention are being discussed on this blog, right? So, seeing as how CS seems to be the topic of conversation here – and seeing as how you all seem to think you’re experts on it (because of what you’ve heard someone else has heard someone else has said) – I was curious if any of you had actually read the textbook. Run-on sentence. Sorry.

  7. Chris says:
    January 31, 2014 at 11:00 pm
    No. Some of us are parents of medically complicated children. We abhor withholding medical care to kids, and hate to see a child suffer needlessly.

    My step-mother belonged to a church that can be best described as “Christian Science Lite.” She sent me its literature, which I discarded when one essay was a by a woman who was injured and just prayed. All I could think of was “Use the brains your deity gave you and call 911!”

    I guess I should add this was the same step-mother who once told me I had made a huge mistake by planting some things on a certain day. Apparently on the advice of a astrology gardening guide.

    I told her that I worked full time, and it was both a weekend and not raining. Plus I doubt her astrology guide took in the difference in climate between the over a thousand miles between her house bordering on Mexico and mine which is a couple hours drive from Canada.
    She married my dad after he was widowed. She had been a childhood friend of my mother. I also got to hear her tell me about the conversations she had with my mother’s ghost. Conversations that I knew my mother would never have been a made (my mother fostered my interest in both math and science, she would have never fallen for the same fantasies).
    This is the reason why my whole response to this thread is eye rolling.
    ___
    Karen says:
    Holy shamoley, Chris! I’m so sorry! No wonder you’re on this blog! I probably would be a regular here, too, if I’d experienced what you experienced.

    But… if you think Christian Scientists believe in the workings of astrology, numerology, spiritualism, ghosties, goblins, vampires, the devil, literal places of heaven and hell, demons, twirling heads, an anthropmorphic god who sits in the clouds and zaps his creation to eternal damnation, handling snakes, talking in tongues, Original Sin, creationism, dinosaurs sharing the earth with man, the world literally created in a week, that Adam and Eve actually existed, crystal-gazing, palm-reading, phrenology, tea leaf reading, voodoo, black magic, stepping over cracks, staying away from black cats, not walking under ladders or breaking mirrors… then you don’t have a clue what Christian Science is about. Seriously. I mean. SERIOUSLY!!! Where in the heck have you gotten your information about CS?!!! Rather than listening to hearsay, and telling me what I believe – you could just ask me, you know? Or you might just read the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, before you start thinking you’re an expert on this way of life. Eesh.

    I believe – and I have proven to myself – that there is a power of Good – of Love, Truth, and Life – and I call this power God. And it heals. It’s not a mumbo jumbo capricious sometimes-it-heals-and-sometimes-it-doesn-t kind of power – it’s always there and it’s available to all of us – and I’ve demonstrated, for myself, that when I can draw close to this power I experience healing. That’s all. Really simple. No astrology telling me when the moment’s right for healing – because the moment is always right.

    Have there been times when it hasn’t worked for me? Yup. There are still problems I’m “working on” in Christian Science – near-sightedness, for instance – but I don’t blame CS for that. Blaming Christian Science would be like blaming the principles of mathematics if i couldn’t figure out the answer to a calculus problem. The principles of mathematics have provided me with the solutions, and it’s up to me to work the problems out. I believe CS has provided me with the solutions, too – and it’s up to me to work the problems out by learning to use those principles correctly. But until I reach that place, I will be visiting my optometrist. 🙂

  8. Karen says:
    Wikipedia? That’s the best you guys can do?!! Wikipedia??!!!

    You know, for people who fancy themselves scientific thinkers, you folks sure don’t seem to be doing your research here. If you are going to start dissing on Christian Science, the least you could do is maybe find out something about it from the people who actually practice it.

    Honest to goodness – I feel like I’ve walked into some kind of weird rumor-mongering, gossiping high school class or something. So far I’ve been informed by the posters here that Christian Scientists are all vegetarians, somehow tied in with astrology and Chopra, and that we worship a “personal God” – which… I’m not even sure what that means. I worship the power of Good, and I call that power God.

    Might I suggest that you take a visit to Amazon – maybe type in “Christian Science” in the search engine, take a gander at some books that look at Christian Science from a variety of perspectives and biases – you’ll find books that talk about people raised in Christian Science who had a really difficult time of it – and there is truth in those books – but you’ll also find books that talk about the healing CS has brought to peoples’ lives – and there is truth in those books, too.

    And it might be a good idea to start with the textbook for this way of life, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, if you want to begin to understand CS.
    ___
    WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:
    February 1, 2014 at 9:15 am
    Karen, do you see those numbers next to the sentences? They represent sources. For instance, 7 is Gordon Melton’s Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, published by Routledge in 1992. 8 is Nicholas Rescher’s chapter “Idealism in the book A Companion to Metaphysics, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2009. Reference 9 is to Rennie Shoepflin’s Christian Science on Trial: Religious Healing in America, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

    A well-maintained, well-referenced wikipedia page is often an excellent resource. These sources are all published by reputable scholarly publishers, and probably represent a far better grasp of this religion you are so apparently fond of than you might personally have. Rather than scoffing at the alleged source (when the real sources are found in the citations), you might consider the dissenting information. And briefly skimming the very well-referenced wikipedia page, it appears that many Christian Scientists espouse beliefs in private that they deny in public.

    I’m not even sure what that means. I worship the power of Good, and I call that power God.
    Then you’re not a Christian Scientist, and you shouldn’t refer to yourself as one. Sounds like you’re a hippie, gloming onto whatever you find personally convincing and syncretizing it into a loosely-held set of convenient, mutually-contradictory beliefs.

    Might I suggest that you take a visit to Amazon – maybe type in “Christian Science” in the search engine

    May I suggest you read the wikipedia page, and if you particularly object to a specific fact, you read the appended citation, rather than something self-published by the church.

    I’m personally not going to bother learning more. Why would I waste my time on yet one more personal delusional meme that managed to propagate to the credulous who would rather risk their children’s lives than admit they were wrong?
    _____
    Karen says:
    William (who claimed CSists are vegetarians and have a really strict diet – probably confusing CS with Seventh Day Adventists – but what’s the difference, right? one cult is the same as another) says: “I’m personally not going to bother learning more.”

    Why am I not surprised?

  9. Hi Karen. I apologize that I do not have much time, so excuse the brevity of my response. Also, I am Andrey Pavlov – through a quirk of wordpress, it shows me as my ‘nym here.

    You say:

    “I’’m all for the scientific method and everything – lab coats and bunsen burners – does it get more fun than that?”

    That is not the scientific method. That is a particular subset of the scientific method. The method is a larger process of doing things and approaching empirical questions. In certain cases lab coats and bunsen burners are how to do it. I do research in sepsis. My data shows how we can save 85,000 lives per year in the US and I do it entirely from my computer. It is about aggregating data, asking the right questions, and doing the appropriate analyses to come up with a legitimate answer.

    “but just because something’s been tested in a lab doesn’t automatically make it safe and healthful. ”

    I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. My research is not done in a lab, but is actually entirely about being safe and healthful. We do research on explosives and weapons and toxins in a lab and that has nothing to do with health and safety. You are conflating the idea of “science” with “anything done in a lab” but that is simply not the case. If something in medical science has been tested in accordance with the scientific method then we can determine if it is safe and healthful. The testing itself does not promise something is – it merely tells us how much risk, what the risks are, who is more at risk, and what the benefits are. There is no such thing as a free lunch Karen. Everything has a risk and a benefit. In medicine, it is about doing our best to make sure that the benefit outweighs the risk. Sometimes that means doing nothing. Other times that means doing something risky and harmful because the risks of what we are doing are less than the risk of doing nothing and we have evidence of benefit.

    So no, testing in a lab doesn’t “automatically make it safe and healthful” but it is the only way to know if something is safe and healthful and how safe and healthful it is.

    Personally, I’m past experimenting when it comes to my own health – I’ve been able to prove to myself that my method of healing works – now I’m into the “demonstration” part of my my particular field of study.

    What’s funny is that experimenting with your own health is precisely what you are doing. We do tests and use the scientific method to give us legitimate answers to empirical questions. What you are doing is completely uncontrolled experimentation on yourself, with a much higher likelihood of guessing wrong.

    And I’m enjoying great success with it. 🙂

    One of the keys of science was very well put by Richard Feynman. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool. You think you are succeeding because you haven’t been unlucky enough to fail abjectly yet. You are lucky to live in a developed nation where you can get away with a lot of bad ideas and be protected from the consequences. And your “success” is nothing more than pure luck. I know this is hard to accept since our own personal experience and anecdotes seem so incredibly powerful and convincing. But hundreds of years of doing science and simply asking questions and recording results shows us that in fact we are very good at fooling ourselves. That is the purpose of science – to take the natural biases and fallacies we are all prone to and helping us escape them to come to real answers to important questions.

    Which would you choose for your own life – something that you’ve proven works for you, and with no bad side effects? Or something that often ends with sad side effects

    You once again are not asking the right question. Of course anyone with a rational thought in their heads would choose something that works with no bad side effects over something with side effects. The problem is that you haven’t established what actually works! That is where science comes in. The things you are talking about have no evidence that they work in the first place, let alone what their side effects are. And in fact, in many cases, we have plenty of evidence to know that they cannot work. That is the beauty of science – it not only tells us what does work but also, in many cases, what cannot work. So yes, the answer to your question is straighforward. But you are making the unsubstantiated assumption that what you are doing works and has no side effects.

    For my own life I would much, much, much rather choose something where I know what the side effects actually are, how common they are, why they happen, and that the thing I am doing actually works, how it works, and when it may not. The only way to get those answers is through the scientific method. Anything else you are trying to convince of that “works for you” and “has no side effects” is nothing but a complete random guess that most likely does nothing. I absolutely refuse to take or do anything that doesn’t have solid evidence behind it.

    I’ve actually never heard of Katherine Mannan, but from what you have quoted me she is profoundly incorrect and also does not understand science or how it actually works. The idea that an “alternative” treatment simply “cannot” be assessed by scientific methods is ridiculous. Anything that is supposed to have an outcome can be tested. And the double-blind RCT is not the only tool we have to test things. So if something claims to have an effect – in this case improve cancer mortality – then we can test that, no matter what it is. We don’t need to know how it works and we do not need to do an RCT to test it. But if it actually does something then we should be able to record that people are dying less as a result of it. It is absolutely absurd to think that something that is supposed to have an effect in the real world on actual physical people cannot be assessed by science, which is fundamentally based in the philosophical premise of methodological naturalism.

    • Andrey! Well, I’m so glad to know who nybgrus is – I was trying to figure out what in the heck that might be an acronym for! I’d gotten as far as New York… but couldn’t figure out the bgrus part. 🙂

      Nah. I was just having fun with the bunsen burner and lab coat comment. I actually am quite familiar with the scientific method – it’s one of the things I make sure my high school students understand and know how to use. 🙂

      So… how to test CS using the scientific method… it’s kind of problematic, isn’t it? I mean… I guess we could report in as guinea pigs when we get sick and then let you all watch us get healed or whatever. But yeah… it would be problematic.

      The reason I’ve mentioned the healings that I’ve mentioned is because they all actually were witnessed by medical professionals. Last summer – wanting to know if I remembered events as they happened – I actually called my doctor’s office to find out if I could get a copy of my medical records. I was told I could, but it would take several days and cost me some money – I said that was fine. The nurse told me she’d call me when they were ready. An hour later she called back. She was laughing. She said she was expecting pages and pages of records on me – seeing as how I’d been going there for, like, 20 years – but she’d only found a couple pages and she wasn’t going to charge me at all. So I went in to pick them up. There it all was laid out in black and white – the discovery of the melanoma on my eyelid, the results of the biopsy that the eye surgeon clipped – he could never actually find the melanoma that the optometrist had seen a couple weeks before – he kept getting stronger and stronger magnifying lenses and finally gave up and just clipped a random piece of skin and sent it in – no melanoma. There was the record of the inflamed hand – results of the blood test – the note that they wanted to recommend a specialist for me – and then a really brief note saying I was fine.

      And yada yada.

      But none of that probably makes any difference to how you’re seeing it, right?

      Okay. How about this one? A couple years ago I read this book called “Healing Spiritually” – a compilation of healings through CS (there’s another book I actually like better – *A Century of Christian Science Healing* – wonderful testimonies from World War II – a woman just getting up and walking out of a concentration camp – but I digress). In *Healing Spiritually* I came upon this testimony of a Christian Scientist who happened to be married to a physician. She had this horrible infection in her mouth and her doctor-husband wanted to have a look-see, so she opened her mouth and showed him what was going on in there. He didn’t say anything, but he got really quiet. The woman continued to use her understanding of CS, and she got a complete healing.

      This is what her husband, the physician wrote, after her healing:
      “My medical specialty is diagnosis and treatment of the head and neck. I examined my wife when she was experiencing pain in her mouth. She had all signs and symptoms of a significant infection, including a discharge from the gum at the infected tooth.

      “The following day she had no signs of infection. Had she had a spontaneous resolution in the absence of any medical treatment whatsoever, I would have expected the process to be gradual, involving pronounced then slowly diminishing, evidence of abscess. It was obvious that this was not the case, as the area was completely normal.”
      –Richard D. Nichols, M.D.
      Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

      I’m really curious what you think of this healing, Andrey.

      • You got the NY right. I was born in BulGaria, as a Soviet citizen to a Bulgarian mother and RUSsian father, and my sister moved to New York right after college. So NYBGRUS was born. I stuck with it because it is easy to remember and never taken so I never have to be NYBGRUS1 or something silly.

        Nah. I was just having fun with the bunsen burner and lab coat comment. I actually am quite familiar with the scientific method – it’s one of the things I make sure my high school students understand and know how to use. 🙂

        Well, you’ll have to be a bit more specific and a bit less joking then. You are making scientific claims, and it started at a place called Science Based Medicine, and I am a medical scientist, so it is important to be clear in what we say. A lot can get lost in comments on blogs that would otherwise be transmitted through body language and voice. Otherwise we end up wasting each other’s time by talking past each other and in circles.

        But, more to the point, as a scientist who knows the method very well, you have given me no indication that you actually know the method and how and when it applies, which is why I very much took you at face value in your comments.

        So… how to test CS using the scientific method… it’s kind of problematic, isn’t it? I mean… I guess we could report in as guinea pigs when we get sick and then let you all watch us get healed or whatever. But yeah… it would be problematic.

        Why is it problematic? If you want to empirically test CS then you simply test the outcomes. It seems clear from your choice of words that you inherently disparage what you view as the scientific method. My patients that I do research on are not “guinea pigs” – they are my patients and I am collecting and analyzing data so that I can hopefully help them directly but even more importantly use that knowledge to help others who come after them in the same or similar situation. That is the whole point of research – so that we can know what works and what doesn’t so that we can help as many people as possible.

        So if you claim that CS can heal, then you define what that means, and measure outcomes. There are multiple ways to do it – an RCT is certainly possible, but so is a type of study called a case-control study where we would take a group of CSists and then “match” them with a group of non-CSists that have very similar average composition. We then watch to see what sort of outcomes the CSists have and if they are any different – better or worse – than the other group. And that is precisely what that data I linked earlier has done. And it shows that, overall, CSists have worse outcomes. They have higher morbidity from diseases and pathologies and they have a higher mortality. Now, because of the study design we can’t say from that study directly that CS does nothing what we can say is that it certainly does not work as well as actual scientific medicine.

        But science is really cool in that we build on knowledge and can use converging lines of evidence to come to a conclusion and be very sure about it. For example smoking and lung cancer. We have never, ever, done an RCT to see if smoking really does give you lung cancer. And we never, ever can. It would be incredibly unethical to randomly assign some people to smoke a whole bunch and see if they get cancer. So by the ideas of that Mannan person we can’t possibly know that smoking causes lung cancer. But we do know – because we combine multiple lines of evidence and epidemiological data to demonstrate it. Just to name a few: we know what the compounds in smoke do to cells in a petri dish, we know what the biology of cancer is in general and specifically for lung cancers, we know that people who self-report as being smokers have a higher incidence of lung cancer than those who don’t, and we have population wide epidemiological data that shows how 30-40 years after smoking became popular lung cancer rates went up. We also know that smoking became popular with women about 20-30 years later than with men, so we saw a rise in lung cancer in women 20-30 years later than in men. And we know that smoking rates have declined and we see a corresponding decrease in lung cancer! All of this fits extremely well with the idea that smoking causes lung cancer. So well, in fact, and from so many lines of evidence, replicated in many countries, that we can be scientifically accurate when we say “smoking causes lung cancer.”

        So how does this apply to CS? Well, we have some case-control and epidemiological data to show that strict CSists who do not seek medical care and only use CS “treatments” do worse than people who do seek medical care. We also know that the mechanism proposed by CS – which varies, but in some way invokes distance or energy type healing – has been disproven to work in numerous cases. We also know from basic physical principles as validated by the Standard Model of physics that such interactions not only are unlikely to exist, but thanks to the discovery of the Higgs boson we know that they cannot exist (and we know this to a 6-sigma certainty which means if we are wrong it is a 1 out of 3,450,000 times, so pretty darned sure we got it right). We also know a lot about physiology and what can and cannot affect it and, once again, CS has no way of affecting human physiology. And lastly, we also know that all disease processes have a natural variation and that people recover from things, no matter how dire, at least some of the time. We know that people are subject to confirmation bias which means that a “hit” or “win” is remembered but not all the misses or losses (so the 1 time that CS seemed to help get rid of a cold or help with cancer is remembered but the tens or hundreds of times it didn’t are forgotten). And we also know that human memory is extremely fallible and is reconstructed to fit a narrative rather than to be a high fidelity recorder of events and facts.

        So with all of that combined, we can say with a lot of confidence that CS does nothing, and with very high confidence that even if it did do something, it does not work nearly as well as actual medicine.

        The reason I’ve mentioned the healings that I’ve mentioned is because they all actually were witnessed my medical professionals.

        Which is all well and good, but does not constitute evidence. There is a reason we say that “the plural of anecdote is not data.” That means that all the stories and witnessed events in the world don’t actually prove anything. They can, at best, suggest a hypothesis to then be tested. That is why we invented science – because we realized this and needed a better way of actually getting answers. There are also plenty of people who have witnessed miracles, seen UFOs, say they speak with God directly… name it. Are you familiar with Sathya Sai Baba? He was a “guru” and considered a living god. Literally millions of people worshipped him as an actual, real and bona fide, god who could perform miracles and do magic. Millions of people have sworn – and some have even given their lives as testament! – that they have seen Baba actually perform true miracles. Do you believe them? Or do you think there is some other reason why so many people may have been fooled into believing something so absurd? So why do you think that your anecdotes – which I am sure seemed impressive to you at the time, but are not even remotely surprising to me – demonstrate any evidence to support CS?

        Remember how we commented about your melanoma? That you cannot diagnose melanoma without a biopsy?

        There it all was laid out in black and white – the discovery of the melanoma on my eyelid, the results of the biopsy that the eye surgeon clipped – he could never actually find the melanoma that the optometrist had seen a couple weeks before – he kept getting stronger and stronger magnifying lenses and finally gave up and just clipped a random piece of skin and sent it in – no melanoma.

        You did not have melanoma. Your story makes that abundantly clear. You had something that – to an optometrist, not a medical doctor, not a dermatologist – looked like a melanoma and, appropriately, referred you to a doctor to make sure it wasn’t. And, it wasn’t. This has absolutely nothing to do with CS. It has to do with you thinking that a suspicion of melanoma actually was melanoma. As a physician, missing a melanoma would be extremely bad. So if I suspect there is one, I make sure and refer to the right kind of doctor to handle it. It is then that doctor who makes the diagnosis based on a biopsy. Until that biopsy is done you cannot say you have melanoma. Period.

        So CS didn’t fix your melanoma. You never had it, you had something that kind of looked like it, and then it was confirmed you didn’t actually have melanoma. This is precisely what confirmation bias is.

        But none of that probably makes any difference to how you’re seeing it, right?

        Why should it? It fits perfectly well within everything I know as a medical scientist. There is no mystery here that needs explaining – it is as plain as day, by your own story! I don’t doubt that these things happened to you – but your interpretation and understanding of them is not correct. And there is mountains of science and evidence to support that assessment than the alternative which is that CS somehow cured your melanoma.

        Think about it – if someone sees lights in the sky and claims they are UFOs with aliens, what is more likely? That it really is a UFO or that it is an airplane that they are mistaking for a UFO? The same here. Is it more likely that CS actually cured a melanoma – going against basically everything we know in science – or that a fallible memory with some confirmation bias and no actual evidence of a melanoma ever misattributed the cause to CS?

        I’m really curious what you think of this healing, Andrey.

        What can I think of it Karen? It is yet another completely uncontrolled anecdote. Just because someone has MD after their name doesn’t suddenly mean that whatever they conclude must be right. For the same reasons as I outlined above, the most likely explanation is many things other than CS doing anything. Now if you had a well documented study showing that 100 women with a mouth infection were split into two groups, with 50 receiving CS and 50 receiving nothing, and the CS group had 45 people have their infection go away in a day and the non-CS group had only 20, then I would be very interested in that and very curious as to what is going on. We would need to test it further and in different ways to make sure it actually was CS doing it and not a confounder that we haven’t noticed. But even if you had 10 video cameras recording the anecdote you shared, it still wouldn’t demonstrate that CS did anything.

        That is the heart of the scientific method. There are many ways we can be tricked and we can trick ourselves. So anecdotes like the ones you have been sharing – while they seem profound to you – have been demonstrated over hundreds of years of doing science to be almost worthless and can never be evidence to prove something works (or doesn’t). They can only be hypothesis generators at best.

        Plus, never forget that people do actually lie. Intentionally and unintentionally. When there is motivation and gain to be had, people can and do lie. Even people with MD after their names. I’m not saying that is the case here – there are plenty of other explanations that handily account for these things. But someone lying is a much more likely explanation of something than CS actually doing anything.

      • Andrey, you have a most interesting background. I’d like to hear more about that sometime if you’d be willing to share, and have the time. I googled you and found that you work in Connecticut – my husband grew up in New Milford. His sister is an ER nurse in upstate NY, another of his sisters is married to one of my favorite people – an anesthesiologist in Pittsburgh with a wonderful sense of humor and who shares with me a love for good chocolate – his daughter, my niece – an amazing young woman in every way! – just graduated from med school in California, and her brother – brilliant and hilarious – is studying medicine, too.

        Yeah, I admit I don’t know all the right words for a deep scientific discussion with you. Bear with me. I am a history major. (I am also a smartass – I simply cannot help myself – and often speak in Sarcasm and Humor. Forgive.)

        So I’m going to lay out what I know about the scientific method, and then try to fit what I know about the spiritual healing of Christian Science into that process (again, not sure I’m using the right words – have patience):

        – Ask a Question
        – Construct an Hypothesis
        – Do Background Research
        – Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
        – Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
        – Communicate Your Results

        In 1866 (and this story can be found in newspaper clippings from that time) Mary Baker Eddy fell on an icy sidewalk. She was carried into her home. A doctor was called. After examining her, he let her loved ones know that he did not expect her to live. Eddy asked to be left alone with her Bible. Something happened to her as she read the Scriptures. She dressed and came out to the room where her loved ones were waiting for her to die, completely healed. Eddy didn’t believe that her healing had been some kind of supernatural, miraculous thing – she knew there had to be some scientific reason for it, something provable, something that could be repeated and demonstrated – and set out to find out what that was.

        In her work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes of her own study:

        “Her first pamphlet on Christian Science was copyrighted in 1870; but it did not appear in print until 1876, as she had learned that this Science must be demonstrated by healing, before a work on the subject could be profitably studied. From 1867 until 1875, copies were, however, in friendly circulation.

        “Before writing this work, Science and Health, she made copious notes of Scriptural exposition, which have never been published. This was during the years 1867 and 1868. These efforts show her comparative ignorance of the stupendous Life-problem up to that time, and the degrees by which she came at length to its solution; but she values them as a parent may treasure the memorials of a child’s growth, and she would not have them changed.

        “The first edition of Science and Health was published in 1875. Various books on mental healing have since been issued, most of them incorrect in theory and filled with plagiarisms from Science and Health. They regard the human mind as a healing agent, whereas this mind is not a factor in the Principle of Christian Science. A few books, however, which are based on this book, are useful.

        “The author has not compromised conscience to suit the general drift of thought, but has bluntly and honestly given the text of Truth. She has made no effort to embellish, elaborate, or treat in full detail so infinite a theme. By thousands of well-authenticated cases of healing, she and her students have proved the worth of her teachings. These cases for the most part have been abandoned as hopeless by regular medical attendants.”

        -She asked a question: What had healed her?
        – She hypothesized that her healing, and the healings in the Scriptures, had come about because of a change of thought in the patient (rather than because of some miraculous, inexplicable occurrence, or because of the power of the human mind).
        -She began to do research- she turned to the healings in the Scriptures to try to learn how Jesus had been able to heal people. She felt the healings of the Bible were not miraculous – but had a scientific principle behind them.
        – She began to test her hypothesis by using her understanding of Principle (God, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, Soul) to heal people.
        – She analyzed the data (the healings) and concluded that Christian Science could be demonstrated in a reliable, predictable way.
        – She communicated her research in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.Those who have used her discovery in their own lives continue to communicate their demonstrations in The Christian Science Journal, The Christian Science Sentinel, and books like A Century of Christian Science Healing (To have a testimony published in a CS periodicals it needs verification – if possible, by a medical scientist. I’ve shared with you that when my son was being born the medical staff determined there was a problem and I needed to have a caesarean. As I was being wheeled down to the OR I asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support. Just as they were getting ready to slice me open, the staff got surprised looks on their faces and began to cheer me on: “Push! Push!” My baby was born vaginally. When I later asked my midwife what had happened that had allowed my baby to be born vaginally, she said, “We don’t know. We don’t know.” Before my healing of childbirth was published in the Sentinel, my nurse-practitioner midwife wrote a letter of verification for me.)

        There is a Christian Scientist named Laurance Doyle who is an astrophysicist and worked for years with NASA at the SETI Institute. He sometimes gives lectures on Christian Science as Science. If you’re ever curious – as a critical thinker and scientifically-minded individual – to add a new wrinkle to your brain, you might want to communicate with him – he speaks the language of Science.

        And I’ve written a couple books about my experiences with Christian Science healing – 26 reviews and 5 stars on Amazon now! – and some of these reviewers I don’t even know and didn’t pay (speaking in Humor there – I didn’t pay any of ‘em and I don’t know most of ‘em). If you’d ever be interested in hearing about one person’s experiences with this way of life, I’d be happy to send you copies.

        I’ve enjoyed getting to know you. Thank you for joining us here.

      • Hi Karen, you’ve found the wrong guy though. It is another Andrey Pavlov MD.

        you have a most interesting background. I’d like to hear more about that sometime if you’d be willing to share, and have the time

        Thanks, yours seems at least as interesting. I’m not sure what else you would care to know or be relevant to the discussion. I grew up in Southern California, used to do a lot of computer and IT stuff, hold a BA and BS, did post grad research in molecular pharmacognosy, worked nights for 3 years as a trauma tech, and did 2 years of med school in Australia and 2 in New Orleans. I just graduated last November and will begin residency in July. I do research in sepsis and plan on a career in critical care medicine.

        Yeah, I admit I don’t know all the right words for a deep scientific discussion with you. Bear with me. I am a history major. (I am also a smartass – I simply cannot help myself – and often speak in Sarcasm and Humor. Forgive.)

        That’s fine – we don’t all have the same skillsets and expertise. But if you are interested in having a fruitful conversation where you can learn something from my particular field of expertise, then we should strive to understand each other. And yes, I’m a smartass too 😉

        So I’m going to lay out what I know about the scientific method, and then try to fit what I know about the spiritual healing of Christian Science into that process (again, not sure I’m using the right words – have patience):

        – Ask a Question
        – Construct an Hypothesis
        – Do Background Research
        – Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
        – Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
        – Communicate Your Results

        Yes, this is the most basic and simple explanation of it and is the fundamental starting point. But while necessary, this is not sufficient. In science, asking the right questions is often a lot harder than getting the answer. Additionally, the experiment that you do must be valid. In some cases, that is very hard to figure out. But thanks to hundreds of years of doing science, we have a huge toolset and validated ways of using it. So yes, “test the hypothesis by doing an experiment” but it must be the correct experiment. Same goes with analyzing your data and drawing a conclusion – you need to do the right analyses otherwise your conclusion will be wrong. And you also need to know the limitations of analyses – in other words, what certain data can and cannot actually answer. This is commonly referred to as the “power” of a study. You can have a lot of really good data, that is 100% the right data, and still be underpowered to answer a question. My own sepsis data, for example. I have over 900 patients in my database. I can answer a lot of questions with that data and presented a poster at an international conference showing how we saved 10% more lives using our protocols. But, what I cannot answer, is a specific question about mortality in a specific subset of my patient population. That is because I don’t have enough data points in order to answer the question with enough precision – my data is “under powered” to answer that particular question.

        Think about it this way. If I draw two dots on a piece of paper and say that they are part of a picture, can you tell me what the picture is? No – it could be a simple line, it could be a circle, a square, or a sketch of the Mona Lisa. You do not have enough data to answer the question. In fact, you don’t have enough data to even say that the dots are part of a picture! You have to determine that first and then can try and find out what picture it is. So you add data points. At some point, there will be enough points for you to say “yes, something – a picture – is very likely to be here.” Then, at some point, you will have enough points to say “I am 95% certain that this is the picture.” How many points you need – the “power” of your analysis – will depend on what the picture actually is. If it is a circle, you don’t need all that many – the shape will become evident quickly. If it is something complicated – like the Mona Lisa – you will need a lot more points.

        So your description of CS and Eddy follows the general idea of science, yes. But it does not actually constitute good and correct science. There is such a thing as pseudoscience and Richard Feynman once again describes the idea of cargo cult science. Yes, CS and Eddy went through the motions of science, but did not actually do it correctly. The background research is invalid – why the bible and Jesus? Why not the Qu’uran and Mohammed? Or any other religion and religious figure? They are all equally as valid and evidence based as each other.

        Also, the “studies” are not done properly. I described how my 900 patients systematically recorded and examined carefully are still underpowered to answer some of the questions I want answered. So “thousands” of non-systematically collected anecdotes – no matter who is recording them or how accurately – cannot possibly answer the question in a scientific manner. And when claims like this are examined in a systematic way, they fail. Remember when I said that the plural of anecdote is not data. Thousands of anecdotes about CS does not a scientific study make.

        You mention Laurence Doyle – it doesn’t matter who he works for or what he does, he can still be wrong. You are committing the informal logical fallacy of arguing from authority. Just because he is an authority in one thing doesn’t mean everything he says is correct, accurate, or true.

        So no, I’m sorry to say, but the only valid science on the question of CS shows quite clearly that not only does in not work, it cannot even in principle work. And a bunch of anecdotes, a story written by a woman in 1870, and a few books written by people with subjective bias and motivation for believing a conclusion doesn’t change that.

      • Quick thought (I’ll come back later to post a longer reply): One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s a certain type of individual who is always ready to share their “knowledge, “opinions and beliefs with others – and think everyone else should listen to what they have to say, and learn from it – but they are not so ready to listen and learn themselves. They come from all backgrounds – sometimes they’re my fellow CSists, sometimes they’re fundamentalist religious folks, sometimes they’re Democrats, sometimes Republicans, and sometimes they are medical scientists. They often fancy themselves “critical thinkers” – and yet they don’t seem to recognize their own biases, don’t seem willing to learn from others, and don’t seem willing to let their own beliefs evolve. They often just accept hearsay, gossip, and rumors as fact (as happened on the SBM thread wherein I was told CSists were vegetarians, followed a strict diet, believe in astrology, follow Chopra, and are faith healers – and then was instructed to go to wikipedia so that I could be told what I, as a CSist believe – talk about “strawmen” – the nonsense of that totally cracked me up). These kinds of individuals have no interest in actually learning anything beyond the hearsay, gossip, and rumors. Instead of asking me – an actual CSist – what I believe about stuff – I was told by these people what I believe, and then criticized for it. How many times was I told on the SBM site by the posters there – all who consider themselves “critical thinkers” – that they had no interest in learning anything more about Christian Science beyond the rumors they’d already heard? And how many posts were criticisms of CS based on those misconceptions of CS that none of them seem inclined to unlearn? That, my friend, is not good science.

        So… I guess what I’m wondering, Andrey, is if we can have an exchange of ideas here, or am I the only one who’s going to be expected to listen? Do you think there might be something you can learn from me?

        Okay, I shall return… 🙂

      • When it comes to empirical claims, science, and medicine, there is not an equal balance of knowledge and expertise between us. When I speak with my engineering friends, or physicists or other fields outside my expertise, I listen a lot more than I talk.

        When you claim to be a CSist, we can very validly point to the fact that what you believe is not consistent with what is commonly accepted as CS. That is not a strawman – that is a statement of fact. If I said “I am a Muslim, but I do not believe that Mohammed is a prophet of Allah” would you agree that I am Muslim? Or “I am a Christian, but I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus and in fact do not believe he ever existed” would I still be a Christian? So when you say “I am a CSist, but I do not believe in an anthropomorphic god and I believe in seeking medical care from physicians” can we still reasonably call you a CSist?

        We are not trying to tell you what you believe or what to believe. We are saying that what you are claiming to believe does not fit within the most commonly accepted definition and practice of CS. You cannot then claim “CS works” by saying we are not addressing the claims of CS because your particular claims are different to the ones we are addressing. That’s called the No True Scotsman fallacy.

        So sure, if you want to explain to me what your brand of CS is, how you feel it has helped in your life, what your community does, of course you can educate me on that. But you are not in a position to educate me on the the science of empirical and medical claims of CS any more than I am in a position to educate a theoretical physicist on quantum mechanics.

        There are things – most particularly in the sciences – where the answer does not lay in some conversation between two differing views. That is the fallacy of the golden mean. There are many cases where one view is correct and the other incorrect. In regards to how science works, what it says about CS, and whether CS “works” the view that it is actually a scientific practice that has efficacy is incorrect. If you are interested in learning why, and how science actually works, why and how it tells us that, then yes, you can indeed learn something from me. If instead you wish to simply claim that anecdotes and books written about the healing powers of the bible in the 1870s are actually science and provide evidence for the efficacy of CS then we may have nothing to talk about. If your contention is that uncontrolled anecdotes – even verified by someone to be written up in the Sentinel – constitute scientific evidence, then we may be at an impasse. That is simply incorrect. It is not evidence and does not actually support the efficacy or validity of CS. If you want to try and understand why, then you can take what I have been explaining and ask further questions.

        So in the exchange of ideas, there simply aren’t many for you to give me that will educate me on the topic. That would be like trying to say a child and a college professor should have an exchange of ideas. You don’t ask your plumber for an exchange of ideas regarding medical science – it isn’t his expertise. You ask him for his expertise in plumbing. My expertise is medical science and science in general. You have already admitted that it is not your expertise. You said you have a degree in history – an exchange of ideas in that field seems more reasonable.

        So if you want to actually learn and challenge your ideas with a person who is an actual expert in the field, you’ve got it. If you just want to try and convince me that bad science is actually good science despite having no expertise in the matter, then we’ve reached an impasse.

  10. I should also add that you have provided your ideas and thoughts. You seem disagree with our assessment of them and think that they still offer proof and evidence despite the fact that they don’t. We do not need to learn more in depth about CS, or your particular brand of CS, since we do, in fact, already know enough to draw a conclusion. And your ideas, stories, and anecdotes do not change that.

    So when you ask if we can have an exchange of ideas – yeah, sure we can. We have. You have shared yours and I have patiently and respectfully explained why they are incorrect. What you seem to mean by “exchange of ideas” is that I need to change my mind and agree with at least some of your ideas. I will, if there is sufficient evidence and reason to do so. But there is not.

  11. I apologize if I’ve been disrespectful to you in any way. That has never been my intent.

    I am an expert in Christian Science – that is my area of expertise – I’ve been practicing it my entire life. But no one on the SBM seems interesting in learning from me. Instead they go to Wikipedia and then come back and tell me that Christian Scientists are vegetarians and believe in astrology. And this is simply not true – which all of you, if you had ever bothered to read the CS textbook, would know.

    You write: “So when you say “I am a CSist, but I do not believe in an anthropomorphic god and I believe in seeking medical care from physicians” can we still reasonably call you a CSist?”

    Here is what MBE says about an anthropomorphic god in the CS textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “We cannot bring out the practical proof of Christianity, which Jesus required, while error seems as potent and real to us as Truth, and while we make a personal devil and an anthropomorphic God our starting-points,..The word anthropomorphic, in such a phrase as “an anthropomorphic God,” is derived from two Greek words, signifying man and form, and may be defined as a mortally mental attempt to reduce Deity to corporeality. The life-giving quality of Mind is Spirit, not matter. The ideal man corresponds to creation, to intelligence, and to Truth. The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love. In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.”

    And here’s what Eddy says about diet in the CS textbook: “A clergyman once adopted a diet of bread and water to increase his spirituality. Finding his health failing, he gave up his abstinence, and advised others never to try dietetics for growth in grace… The belief that either fasting or feasting makes men better morally or physically is one of the fruits of “the  tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” concerning which God said, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it.’… The fact is, food does not affect the absolute Life of  man, and this becomes self-evident, when we learn that God is our Life. Because sin and sickness are not qualities of Soul, or Life, we have hope in immortality; but it would be foolish to venture beyond our present understanding, foolish to stop eating until we gain perfection and a clear comprehension of the living Spirit. In that perfect day of understanding, we shall neither eat to live nor live to eat.”

    Regarding the use of medical treatment, Eddy writes: “If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, – their brethren upon whom they may call, – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means. Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'”

    I could find no place in the textbook where Eddy even uses the word “astrology” – so I’m not sure where you guys have come up with that. She does write this, though:”Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is.”

  12. Hi, Andrey = I have a little more time now to respond to your post from this morning. You write: “You mention Laurence Doyle – it doesn’t matter who he works for or what he does, he can still be wrong. You are committing the informal logical fallacy of arguing from authority. Just because he is an authority in one thing doesn’t mean everything he says is correct, accurate, or true.”

    You are so right! And, may I note that just because you, for instance, are an expert on medical science does not make you an authority on Christian Science. Right? 🙂

    The reason I brought up Laurance Doyle to you was because I really thought he might be someone you (being a critical thinker and everything, and wanting to possibly add new wrinkles to your brain) might like to have a dialogue with. He speaks your language – the language of science (even though he’s not an expert in medical science, it cannot be denied he is an expert in science) – and the language of Christian Science, too = so maybe he could be a sort of bridge between the two worlds. But if you choose not to pursue that, I completely understand.

    Okay, I think I will go write another blog post now – I’m thinking maybe one titled “Pomposity, Critical Thinking, and Smartassery” – what do you think? 🙂

    • I am an expert in Christian Science – that is my area of expertise – I’ve been practicing it my entire life. But no one on the SBM seems interesting in learning from me. Instead they go to Wikipedia and then come back and tell me that Christian Scientists are vegetarians and believe in astrology. And this is simply not true – which all of you, if you had ever bothered to read the CS textbook, would know…. You are so right! And, may I note that just because you, for instance, are an expert on medical science does not make you an authority on Christian Science. Right?

      Any expert can have their expertise challenged. I would challenge yours because what you describe as your beliefs do not comport with what the majority of people who call themselves CSists believe, nor what the official Church of Christian Science states.

      You are welcome to question my expertise by citing the relevant literature.

      However, that doesn’t really matter. Your expertise in CS is actually not particularly relevant. I am not actually interested in learning more deeply about CS or how it is practiced. Believe it or not, I know enough to know that I am not interested.

      However, you are making empirical medical science claims. And that is my expertise and I have explained why the claims you are putting forth – regardless of whether they are “true” CS or not – do not demonstrate the validity of CS in regards to medical science. In other words, I don’t need to have any knowledge of CS in order to assess the claims that you are making in regards to medical science. And I have. And demonstrated why they are not evidence of efficacy, how medical science explains them without the need to invoke any new knowledge or intrinsic qualities of CS, and how you and other misattribute anecdotes as evidence of specific medical claims.

      he reason I brought up Laurance Doyle to you was because I really thought he might be someone you (being a critical thinker and everything, and wanting to possibly add new wrinkles to your brain) might like to have a dialogue with.

      Part of being a critical thinker – and scientist – is being ready, willing, and able to eschew bad ideas. I don’t need to have a dialogue with Doyle about CS. There is nothing that a religious paradigm can possibly add to my understanding of how medical science, medicine, the human body, and science in general work. Religion does not provide answers to empirical questions, and anything derived from religion is equally incapable of providing such answers. I would argue that religion can’t really provide any answers of any kind, but that is a tougher philosophical stance and irrelevant to the present discussion.

      The point is that I have studied many religions, philosophy, science, and as such can evaluate very quickly whether something is worthwhile. CS, like all religion or religious ideas, is not.

      Now if you are just trying to claim that you like CS, whatever that means to you, because it gives you… whatever… then that is fine. Perfectly your right to believe whatever you like.

      But if you are trying to make specific claims that CS can do certain things and that those things are empirical in nature, then that is simply not a scientific nor accurate position to take. I’ve taken the time to explain why your anecdotes do not support the contention that CS actually did anything or has value in treating ailments. If you still disagree, then there is not much else I can add to the discussion. If you have further additional claims and would like my take on them, or if you have questions feel free to ask. If I have the time I will respond.

      However, merely re-stating claims or anecdotes is fruitless. Trying to claim that every conceivable permutation of the same claim is also fruitless. If you try to say that CS healing works but that other healing doesn’t, because CS is special, then you’ve already given up the ghost. There is simply nothing special about CS that is different than any other religious healing claim.

  13. So I made another blog post – which I just deleted – and I think it’s only fair I include the exchange between Andrey and myself – an exchange in which I realized I needed to apologize to Andrey.- here he writes one of the most articulate posts I have ever read regarding Christian Science:

    Andrey says: “I’ve tried to make the point before, but I’ll try again.
    The post is about what the law considers to be CS, what the main and official church says is CS, and the practices therein as they apply to medical care for children. All of these are well documented.
    Your specific brand of CS does not fit into that. So it doesn’t really have much bearing on the discussion we were having and how that relates to a law that protects other people who call themselves CSists and who deny their children medical care explicitly because that is what they claim CS says they must do. If you do not deny children medical care, then our complaints shouldn’t matter to you.

    “So we don’t need to be educated on your particular brand of CS – it doesn’t seem to be the kind of CS that is leading to the unnecessary death of children with no consequences to the parents because they we “exercising religious freedom.”

    Karen says: “ohmygosh! – you are spot on! I have to admit that. Dammit. Yes. Yes, you are spot on. (I’m not being sarcastic when I say that.) Wow. And you articulated this really well, too: “We are concerned with actual things that happen and the laws and people affected by them. It is extremely well documented that CS families and churches very strictly admonish against seeking medical care and that children have died as a result of this. That is simply incontrovertible fact. It is also fact that these same people and groups have been, until recently, exculpated from charges of criminal negligence because they say it is their Christian Science religion that led to the actions and ultimate death of the children in question. Now, you may wish to claim that they aren’t “real” CSists and they aren’t following what Eddy wrote and thought. But that is y’alls problem, not ours. It wouldn’t matter what they called themselves, the practice that is leading to the deaths of children is what it important. But we are not factually mistaken in saying that they call themselves CSists and have been granted legal exemption from culpability based on that declared religious affiliation.”

    Damn. I am going to have to go back to the SBM site and apologize to you. Be kind. I’m coming right back. Please accept my apology here, and my apology there, too. Crap. You have just added another wrinkle to MY brain. Thank you.

  14. So before I could even have a chance to reply in the other blog, you deleted it.

    There really was no need to delete it. Honestly. It really is OK to be mistaken, wrong, not quite right, or flat out stupid. We all are, at some point in our lives. Myself included. Many, many more times than I would probably care to admit. The thing that distinguishes people, in my humble opinion, is the desire to be proven wrong and embrace our mistakes as learning opportunities. BTW, one of the things we discuss at SBM a lot is how publication bias leads to more studies that are wrong. We, as a species, shy away from our mistakes. We want to erase them, bury them in the past. And science is a human endeavor. So the same problems as all humanity pervade it. But just as the best of us manage to do, science always seeks to find where it is wrong, correct it, and admit it. We are never proud of our mistakes, but we should be proud of our triumphs. And fixing a mistake, owning it and making our corner of the universe an ever-so-slightly-better place, is, I think, the greatest triumph of all. It embodies the best of humanity; the umbrella under which all of the most defining moments of the known universe reside. That may seem overblown, but I really think it is not.

    As I said at SBM, I still think there are many points on which we would disagree hotly. But I also think that humanity is enriched by diversity of thought. As a scientist, I just happen to know that we can imagine vastly more wrong things than correct things. We could argue the finer points of the philosophy of science, methodological vs philosophical naturalism, epistemology, etc. But it would all be utterly futile and incredibly aggravating to me to do so with someone absolutely incapable of admitting fault, however small. In fact, my friends are primarily selected on that basis – whether they embrace truth and learning no matter where it leads them, and the excitement about being proven wrong. You have shown that you are that kind of person and I respect that immensely.

    Don’t feel bad about the post. Embrace it, and be happy in being willing to change your mind. It is the greatest feat we can accomplish.

    • Thank you, Andrey. Your generosity towards me is much appreciated. 🙂

      You write: “And fixing a mistake, owning it and making our corner of the universe an ever-so-slightly-better place, is, I think, the greatest triumph of all. It embodies the best of humanity; the umbrella under which all of the most defining moments of the known universe reside. That may seem overblown, but I really think it is not…”

      I do not think that’s overblown at all. In fact – ohmygosh! We have found something we totally agree on!!! 🙂

      (I deleted the blog post – but I saved it, and your responses on a word document. I think I need to look at that from time to time – ponder it, and see what I can learn from it. My thought on… some things… has been evolving the last several years. You probably wouldn’t be interested in any of that, but… I find your comments very helpful to me.)

      • Evolution of thought is a good thing. Feel free to join us over at SBM. It’s an interesting community; not always right, but always seeking to be as right as possible with intellectual honesty (and, quite frankly, with a lot of really smart people who are experts in medical and other sciences, so we tend to get it right a lot. I learned a lot over there and it has made me a better physician and scientist).

        I’m really glad you found my comments helpful. Hope to see you around.

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