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Chi (Qi) in conflict or harmony with science?
Posted: 13 October 2010 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi

Can we draw any parallels or philosophical comparisons between Qi and our current knowledge of electromagnetism and nuclear forces?
While Qi is presented in a philosophical and even supernatural context, when analyzing the described properties, Qi can be compared to the description of natural forces in a scientific narrative of electro/magnetism and nuclear forces.

Excerpt: Manfred Porkert described relations to Western universal concepts:
Within the framework of Chinese thought no notion may attain to such a degree of abstraction from empirical data as to correspond perfectly to one of our modern universal concepts. Nevertheless the term qi comes as close as possible to constituting a generic designation equivalent to our word “energy”. When Chinese thinkers are unwilling or unable to fix the quality of an energetic phenomenon, the character qi (氣) inevitably flows from their brushes.[2]

The ancient Chinese described it as “life-force” and for good reason. They believed qi permeates everything and links the parts of our surroundings together. The [tai chi]] practitioner and acupuncturist are said to understand qi energy. They likened it to the flow of energy around and through the body, linking each part forming a cohesive and functioning unit. By understanding its rhythm and flow they believe they can guide exercises and treatments to give us stability and longevity.

Any takers?

[ Edited: 13 October 2010 12:54 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 13 October 2010 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Can you measure it? What units do you measure Chi in? Is there a reliable test to detect it in such a way that in a double blind test, two people will come up with the same measurement?

[ Edited: 13 October 2010 01:52 AM by asanta ]
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Posted: 13 October 2010 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I happen to practice aikido, translated something like ‘way to harmony of ki’ (I let the ki untranslated…).

In aikido we learn to be as stable as possible, and to move as relaxed as possible, even when we are attacked. Part of aikido is ‘pure ki exercises’. We imagine that e.g. light or water comes from our hands and fingers, and touches the walls, or if we are outside, the mountains with it. It turns out that we can learn to relax, and still be strong without spending any thought on our muscles. But is that magic?

Compare it with relaxation exercises. One of the funniest one I ever did, was that the person supporting me told: “Imagine you are a factory in the evening. Every worker has gone home, and only the lights are still burning. Now the night porter goes through the factory, and turns out the light everywhere. He goes to your left foot, <voice gets slower, lower, and soften>, the light is burning, and then…. he turns it off… and it is dark and silent…. and he goes to… ” and so through the whole body. It helps! You get relaxed. But does it mean I am a factory?

Same with ki. The imagination helps not to stem yourself against others trying to push you, or to move even when your are held by somebody. It helps in this way, because without thinking about your muscles, you only use those that you really need (e.g. not the biceps and the triceps in the same time when somebody tries to bend your arm). No magic needed, all explainable by modern biology and psychology.

I once read (a long time ago in an article of a dutch skeptic organisation) that the idea of qi came from decapitations in old China. The blood seemed to come from all the tissue, but after a while the blood vessels could be seen, and they seemed empty. So they must have been for transport of ‘air’, called ‘qi’.

GdB
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[ Edited: 13 October 2010 02:33 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 13 October 2010 02:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I used to practise relaxation, starting at the toes. Completely relax until I could feel the leg muscles go limp, and produce a feeling of lightness in the foot, then ankle, then calf, then thigh…..etc. , until I achieved a state of total relaxation throughout. I always found it refreshing and restorative.

We know our bodies are exposed to and absorb natural energetic particles and influences, such as gravity. I can imagine, a state of harmony that may be ascribed to spiritualism, but could conceivably be the experience of being in “tune or harmony” with natural (measurable) influences of energy/magnetism.

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Posted: 13 October 2010 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Write4U - 13 October 2010 02:57 AM

I can imagine, a state of harmony that may be ascribed to spiritualism, but could conceivably be the experience of being in “tune or harmony” with natural (measurable) influences of energy/magnetism.

I can’t, sorry. At least not in some ‘magical’ ways. Muscles contract or relax. When people are afraid they tend to contract their muscles. A living cat is more stable than a statue of a cat. A tense person is less stable than a relaxed one. I think there is not much more to it…

GdB

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Posted: 13 October 2010 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Qi is prescientific or pseudoscientific bunk, corresponding to nothing real.

HERE is an article by physicist Vic Stenger on Qi/Ch’i, HERE is an article at Quackwatch on ‘Chinese medicine’ that includes Qi.

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Posted: 13 October 2010 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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asanta - 13 October 2010 01:50 AM

What units do you measure Chi in?

Woo-meters.  smile

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Posted: 13 October 2010 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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GdB - 13 October 2010 02:28 AM

No magic needed, all explainable by modern biology and psychology.

Yes, basically the same thing as taking a nap. The only difference here is that naps are free, and aikido will probably cost you a few bucks. But it’s Asian, so it must be good for you… cheese

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Posted: 13 October 2010 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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asanta - 13 October 2010 01:50 AM

Can you measure it?

Yes, with a credulousometer!  grin

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Posted: 13 October 2010 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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George - 13 October 2010 06:47 AM

Yes, basically the same thing as taking a nap. The only difference here is that naps are free, and aikido will probably cost you a few bucks. But it’s Asian, so it must be good for you… cheese

You sleep standing? And you defend yourself during sleep? And best of all, you do sports asleep? No miracle you think consciousness does not exist…  vampire

GdB

PS Ah, my smiley is a ::vampire::. A living dead! Conscious or not?

[ Edited: 13 October 2010 08:42 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 13 October 2010 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The difference between Chi and “invisible” forces like electromagnetism is that the latter can be precisely described mathematically in ways which allow consistent, reliable predictions of effects. Chi can only be “sensed” or intuited by one individual at a time and it’s effects cannot be objectively measured or predicted. To me that suggests that it is at best a sloppy metaphor and at worst a fictional force that people wrongly credit with real effects. As GdB describes nicely, it can be useful as a metaphor. But literal belief in it as a real entity just leads to nonsense like most of TCM. Ss I think Chi is clearly not compatible with a rational, scientific view of the world and only has a place, when taken literally, in faith-based paradigms.

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Posted: 13 October 2010 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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GdB - 13 October 2010 08:38 AM
George - 13 October 2010 06:47 AM

Yes, basically the same thing as taking a nap. The only difference here is that naps are free, and aikido will probably cost you a few bucks. But it’s Asian, so it must be good for you… cheese

You sleep standing? And you defend yourself during sleep? And best of all, you do sports asleep? No miracle you think consciousness does not exist…  vampire

GdB

PS Ah, my smiley is a ::vampire::. A living dead! Conscious or not?

Oh, I see, it’s a sport. I thought it was one of those “relaxing techniques” like tai chi or mediation. It’s really hard to tell sometimes with all that “life energy” BS.

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Posted: 13 October 2010 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George, Aikido is a Japanese grappling martial art that focuses on throws and using your opponent’s weight and momentum against him along with other stuff.  (G, could tell you more.)  It’s very formal compared to some others and has been criticized as being “soft”.  *Shrugs*  If you’re good at aikido you can still kick someone’s ass so I don’t know what the big deal is.

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Posted: 13 October 2010 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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In regards to feng-shui, i always thought of chi as a metaphor for the human psychological experience of the space of a room and the layout of a house. When they talk about “flow”, i think they’re really talking about how people move throughout the house. For example, my cousin had a great layout in her apartment, with lots of seating scattered throughout the living room. My large extended family and I were visiting her and as we talked with each other we individually “flowed” between the dining table, the bar stools, and the couches as people got up and sat down again, taking each others’ seats. This created a kind of mixing where we could catch up with everyone and join and leave conversations sometimes just by turning to face another set of people.

Crystals…eh, that just sounds silly.

Mirrors, yea, that sounds like it could have some psychological basis (restaurants use it to make a room feel bigger).

Lighting, obviously could be very important for psychological health.

Clutter as well. And color choices (although I don’t think this has to do with chi)

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Posted: 13 October 2010 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Dead Monky - 13 October 2010 11:13 AM

If you’re good at aikido you can still kick someone’s ass so I don’t know what the big deal is.

What does being able to kick ass have to do with Qi/Chi?


I know Army Special Forces guys who “kick ass” with projectile, edged, and no weapons. And none of them I’ve met believe in Chi. To say they lack something that the Samurai had is silly.

I practice traditional Japanese JuJitsu, and Muay Thai boxing and I’ve never heard my sensei ever mention Chi.

It is part of the mystical aspects used to add to the price tag of martial arts. Anyone telling you different is selling something.


-RC

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Posted: 13 October 2010 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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domokato - 13 October 2010 12:25 PM

In regards to feng-shui, i always thought of chi as a metaphor for the human psychological experience of the space of a room and the layout of a house. When they talk about “flow”, i think they’re really talking about how people move throughout the house. For example, my cousin had a great layout in her apartment, with lots of seating scattered throughout the living room. My large extended family and I were visiting her and as we talked with each other we individually “flowed” between the dining table, the bar stools, and the couches as people got up and sat down again, taking each others’ seats. This created a kind of mixing where we could catch up with everyone and join and leave conversations sometimes just by turning to face another set of people.

Crystals…eh, that just sounds silly.

Mirrors, yea, that sounds like it could have some psychological basis (restaurants use it to make a room feel bigger).

Lighting, obviously could be very important for psychological health.

Clutter as well. And color choices (although I don’t think this has to do with chi)

I’m glad to have someone try to explain feng shui, since I’ve never understood a word of it. If it’s just supposed to be home decorating, then I have nothing against it as such, but it shouldn’t be marketed with woo.

Sometimes I get the feeling that most of the woo we find around us in daily life is just crappy marketing-speak trying to sell us the same stuff we already have under a different name. Instead of water and sugar pills we have ‘homeopathy’. Instead of tea, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper we have ‘herbal medicine’. Instead of massage we have ‘chiropractic’. Instead of home decorating we have ‘feng shui’. Etc.

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