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"More "Qi" Discussion"

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    "More "Qi" Discussion"

    Taken from the latest SWIFT column:

    Reader John Lombard is a Canadian citizen who has been living and working in China for fifteen years. He’s been working with a small group of Chinese scientists and intellectuals to promote interest in both Humanist and skeptical organizations in that country. He writes re last week’s item at

    I wanted to add a little more to the discussion on "qi" as it applies to acupuncture. I'm by no means a proponent of acupuncture (and in fact, one of our upcoming skeptical events in Beijing will focus specifically on this question), but as someone who has lived in China 15 years, and done a fair bit of study on Chinese culture, I must express some disagreement with Bob Park's analysis of the origin or meaning of "qi," and its relation to acupuncture.

    Much of the problem is that we really don't have any words, or even concepts in English that adequately translate the meaning of "qi"; we must do so by approximations and analogies. However, two key points that I'd like to mention:

    1) "Qi" can be translated as "air," "breath," "spirit," "energy," or a number of other words, depending on its context and use. In fact, "qi" can be used in reference to objects that are entirely solid, and have no "air" aspect whatsoever.

    2) The meridian lines that Qi energy is supposed to follow bear little resemblance to the circulatory system in the body. Everything that I've seen regarding acupuncture indicates that a general theory of energy moving through the body came first, and that later observations about the circulatory and nervous system were used to support that original theory – not the other way around.

    I think that the best way to describe "qi" in English is to go back a long time in Chinese history, to their early efforts to understand and classify the world around them. They saw everything as being made up of something they called "qi," which in this context might best be described as "energy." This "qi" could be divided into various fractions, or densities, so a cloud would have a much smaller “fraction” of qi than a rock would, but both would still be described and categorized using "qi." You might consider "qi" as the fundamental unit of matter, but depending on its form and concentration, it could take on many different appearances, and have many different effects.
    Randi comments: speaking as an amateur on this matter, I can look upon this as an early expression of the idea of fundamental atomic theory, in which all matter is composed of protons, electrons, and neutrons. Though it took John Dalton to strictly codify atomic theory, by the 5th and 6th centure BCE, the Greeks and Indians had expressed this idea... Back to Mr. Lombard’s contribition:

    The debate in China about Traditional Chinese Medicine is, in many ways, similar to the debate in the U.S. about creationism. There are many Chinese – including scholars and academics – who hold TCM's beliefs to be an integral part of Chinese culture and history; and therefore, an attack on TCM is an attack on Chinese culture itself. The arguments and vitriol between both sides in the debate is remarkably similar to that between creationists and evolutionists in North America. Chinese doctors who have suggested having TCM tested and analyzed using a proper scientific process have been demonized; some have lost their jobs, others have been physically assaulted or received death threats.

    I just hope this alternate perspective might help bring more understanding to the debate.
    Thank you, John. Indeed, this clarifies our understanding, but brings our attention to the problems still extant in China, as it enters the world area and has to shake off so many traditional ideas and bits of philosophy. Now, if only creationists would look at the facts...

    Nothing really groundbreaking, but I figured it was worth posting.

    "More "Qi" Discussion"

    "How about an "apostrophe" debate" ?


      Sure, but what would be the point of having a debate over a punctuation error that I cannot deny that I made? I just copied and pasted the SWIFT section title, then I placed quotation marks around it without realizing that the inside quotation marks needed to be changed into apostrophes.

      I apologize for making such a mistake.
      Last edited by MastaFighta; 4/28/2008 11:57am, .


        How about a "let's "apologise" debate" ?

        I'll start... Sorry your moma dropped you on your head as a child.

        Over to you...


          You can spend an entire lifetime apologizing for something, but it won't change the fact that it happened, so why waste your time?

          But the real question is, why did I apologize if I knew that it wouldn't change a thing? Maybe it was because, as you so-claimed, that I was dropped on my head as a child. And according to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, being dropped on your head as a child will almost guarantee permanent brain damage of sorts. So, I'd say the chances that I have permanent brain damage from being dropped on my head as a child (as you claimed) are pretty good.

          But what difference does it make? The sky is blue with medium cloud coverage, the grass is green, shit still smells like shit and flowers still smell like flowers and I still have brain damage, plus there's a 60% chance of rain throughout the day.


            ... A better retort would have been

            "I'm sorry you're a retard"


              But then I would be lying, wouldn't I? You did point out my punctuation error after all. Something which most people would probably say that a retard would be unable to do.


                I'm sorry you both wont shut up.


                  I'm sorry you're a shit poster


                    I hate you all.


                      Originally posted by Errant108
                      I hate you all.

                      Don't mess with the Errant Man!!!!!

                      He's fucked up!!!!

                      I'm Serious Guize!!!!!!!

                      When you piss him off , he cornholes you to death and tehn makes robes outof your skin!!!!!


                      HE got me........

                      "So, yeah, Zen teachers may well insult you, work you to the bone, hit you with sticks, shout verbal abuse at you, and punch the shit out of you.
                      And when the shit's been punched out of you, you might just find that you're far better-off without it." - Vieux Normand

                      "So in short, BJJ wins again. BJJ, and chainmail." - TheMightyMcClaw

                      "On bullshido, your opinions are not sacred, neither are your feelings." - Scrapper

                      "You entered the lions' den. Don't bitch if you get eaten." - danniboi07

                      "Needless to say, it's much easier to clear a bunch of drunk kids out of your house when you're yelling GTFO and carrying a samurai sword." - DerAuslander

                      "Eventually, I realized it doesn't matter what art you train, what matters is the method in which you train. Training in an alive manner, under skilled and qualified instruction, is the single most important aspect of gaining martial skill. All else is window dressing." - JNP : Saying it how it is!


                        Originally posted by Errant108
                        I hate you all.
                        This solution saves so much time in sorting out who to hate. Still, I have some extra hate in my heart for those deserving individuals who earn it.


                          I'm sorry Errant108 hates you all


                            Originally posted by Ulysses Everett McGill
                            I'm sorry Errant108 hates you all
                            I'm not.

                            I keed, I keed.
                            Lord Krishna said: I am terrible time the destroyer of all beings in all worlds, engaged to destroy all beings in this world; Of those heroic soldiers presently situated in the opposing army, even without you none will be spared.
                            Bhagavad Gita 11:32


                              "The "Qi" is very weak in this "thread""



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