Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mystics and Scientists Conference, University of Warwick, 12th-14th April 2013, The Nature of Inspiration in Art Science and Spirituality

The annual Mystics and Scientists Conference organised by the Scientific and Medical Network had moved to the University of Warwick, from the University of Winchester, involving a somewhat longer journey from Havant, than usual. Apart from a slight problem with the car on the way, it worked out quite well in the end. The most interesting part was on the Saturday when my book “RememberingLorelei” came into a conversation with Ruth Padel, a well respected author and poet.

The Friday evening was taken up with the usual welcome from Professor Bernard Carr, Chair of the Scientific and medical network and Dr Peter Fenwick, the President, followed by a presentation by David Lorimer on “The Act of creation”, which included reference to his architect grandfather, Sir Robert Lorimer.

The Saturday morning session consisted of presentations by Prof Robert Turner on “Creativity and the Brain” followed by Prof Lord Richard Harries on “Inspiration and the Challenge of Modern Art to Religious Imagery”. Bob Turner talked about research he had been engaged in at his present appointment as Director of the Neurophysics Department at the Max PlanckInstitute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. The Institute is in Leipzig and, as I found, recently, when I checked my website statistics, I am still getting an inordinate number of hits from the University of Leipzig, which I long ago put down to the connections between Lorelei, the Rhine and Richard Wagner as Wagner was an alumnus of the University of Leipzig.

The most interesting development was in the afternoon when we had a choice between a drumming session with Nihat Toslak  “Sufi Drum Circle: Connecting to the Heart through Rhythm, Movement and Chanting” and poetry from Ruth Padel, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. Over the years I have experienced the interesting effects of both drumming and chanting, though not through the Sufi tradition, about which I have read and which I respect, so I kept with the poetry reading, apart from which that was in the lecture theatre and I did not need to find the other location on an unfamiliar university campus. Not being good at concentrating for long periods, at times, these days, I missed occasional passages of Ruth’s poetry. So, after the readings, I asked Ruth if she had any readings on the Internet and she said she had, in various places, some as podcasts. She suggested that I go to her website. I said that I had already come across it while using the web to double check on the conference and its venue.

I said that I wondered if she might be giving too much away if she put her poetry on the Web but then said that I was getting round to putting sample text from my book on the Web anyway.

At that point Ruth asked about my book, so I took the file out of my bag with the first four chapters in, brought with me to begin the final reread and showed her the first page of Chapter 1, “Soulmate”, with the book title, “Remembering Lorelei” at the head of the page.

I explained that I had a discarnate Soulmate who was a legend in a previous lifetime, adding that, at that time, a few hundred years ago, I was Kurt Langerhan, a huntsman in Germany. Ruth’s reaction was,
“Wow, a very powerful book.”
That took me a little by surprise but pleasantly, of course. Presumably, the implication that my Lorelei was, seemed to be, the actual Lorelei was contributory to Ruth’s thoughts about my book, reaction to it. I added that my present wife, Jo,is Lorelei’s Soul Sister and another member of the family was Lorelei’s Soul Daughter, though it is not appropriate, at this stage, to put exactly who that is in writing. That extra information did not seem to detract from Ruth’s “powerful book” feeling, comment, more add to it as she expressed much the same sentiment again. On reflection that seemed reasonable as, even though I know the genre quite well, I have never heard of a book even remotely like mine.

During the ensuing tea break I bought a couple of Ruth’s books from the Warwick University Bookshop, “Darwin, a Life in Poems” and “The Mara Crossing”. Of course, I asked Ruth if she would sign both books when we returned to the lecture theatre for her presentation, “Inside and Outside: Breath Ear and Eye”.

I sat next to Beata Bishop for most of the Conference and what had transpired during my conversation with Ruth came up during one with Beata, who seemed to think it as encouraging as I did. I had seen Beata at most, if not all, of the conferences I had attended and remembered her making giving a presentation at ones of the earlier ones to which I had been.

Ruth’s presentation was quite impressive and certainly very interesting. On the other hand, the film by Jonathan Stedall, “Fools and Fallen Angels with Cecil Collins” was a little quaint, though, until I looked up Cecil Collins on the Internet, after I had returned home, I did not realise how old it was; Cecil Collins had passed over in 1989.

On the Sunday, the final day of the conference, the first presentation was by Shakti Maira, “Inspiration In Art: Unfolding Connecting and Forming” and the second by Prof Paul Robertson Grace and Effort: Sources of Inspiration Reconciled in Musical Experience”. Paul’s contribution I found both fascinating and inspiring, especially as he was a very accomplished musician and had experienced very serious illness. That had left him extremely insightful, though he seemed to have had a considerable degree of that before his illness. There was the added treat of a recital on a solo violin, with him sitting only a few feet from where I was and, at least in part, no intervening electronics. There was a microphone but I felt I was picking up the sound directly, to a large extent, as I was so close.

Those weekends are soon over but fascinating while they last. Invariably they leave something useful and that one was the encouragement to finalise the manuscript of “Remembering Lorelei” which at long last I have brought to the final reread stage.

Comments Moderation:

Comments will only be accepted if they are presented as a contribution to mature discussion and are from people who use their own names with a link whereby that is easily verified, as well as, ideally, their background, qualifications, experience, etc., essentially, total clarity for all readers of a comment as to precisely who is making it.

No comments will be accepted that contain libellous comments, or those of an abusive nature, or are “off topic”, at least seriously so. Constructive criticism is one thing, juvenile name calling and similar, which are, unfortunately, common among those of an atheistic, materialistic, scientistic disposition, is quite another. Comments published at my absolute discretion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What Doctors Don’t Tell You, Views on the Magazine

I first came across a printed edition “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” magazine in Waitrose, Havant, a few months ago, and bought a copy out of interest. I was already aware of the website of the same name and Lynne McTaggart, who is behind the magazine.

I found the content rather mixed, though I only read a small part of the content at the time. It was not long after afterwards that, via Twitter and the Web in general, I came across a campaign against the magazine by the usual collective of mainstream science know-alls with much of the comment the usual invective and generally immature approach rather than the calm, emotion free reasoning ideal of science itself.

To a large extent the level and tone of the articles in “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” are fairly similar to the health pages of a tabloid newspaper. However, the mainstreamers and self–styled skeptics are hardly likely to take on large publications like national newspapers and their distributors, a lone magazine is a much easier proposition, albeit one published by a significant company in the magazine sector. They are, by method of action and temperament, bullies and the well known flipside of the bully is the coward. Many of their number hide behind pseudonyms, not exactly the stance of the brave, quite apart from preventing their readers and others assessing their views on the basis of their knowledge, experience and qualifications.

The articles are a mixture of subjects in a populist style, as would be expected of a magazine of this type. An avowed aim of the magazine, going by the article on page 7, and the approach in general, it seems, is “Putting a human face on medicine”. In many ways I can see their point as, for rather too many people, medicine is a somewhat high level field made even more “alien” by those who tend to try to cloak it in science, or say that it is science. Science, in itself, is a very simple and basic process, though some would prefer to put it above “ordinary” people.

The article by Robert Verkerk, “A Divided Europe on Frankenstein food”, on page 16, is not a title I would have chosen, though, I suppose, it comes down to the populist level at which the magazine seems to be aimed. I am not fond of genetically modified materials, in large part because of the way such technologies are approached, which tends to be from the science point of view rather than the technology one. Scientists often seem to get above themselves and take a mainstream science view rather than one closer to the general populace and, or, a technological one. In engineering we progress by small steps with a route for retreat, as far as possible, but that does not appear to be the case with genetically modified organisms, GMOs. There is also a tendency in engineering to prove safety, as far as possible, before giving something clearance, whereas with GMOs, the testing seems to be somewhat limited and an assumption of safety unless proven harmful, a reversal of the usual engineering process. Scientists are not, necessarily, the best people to assess safety, especially where technology is involved.

Another article “Dollars and stents”, on pages 20-22, might have been a revelation, or something to doubt, but concurred with articles I had read on the web a few days previously. Those were concerned with the insertion of stents in patients when they were not always necessary and, in several, many (?), cases totally unnecessary and put the recipient’s health, even life, at risk. The motive was simply profit, which is a major driver in the health system of the U.S.A.

The “Special Report” article, “The Selling of Gardasil”, by Lynne McTaggart, pages 26-35, covers the introduction and use of a cervical cancer vaccine that seems to be widely used in the U.S.A. and is about to make it’s way to the U.K. How many of the listed “facts” are actual facts I do not know; facts are often in the eye and mind of the beholder, as are many other things. There is also a list of apparent, claimed, “victims” of the vaccine, including fatalities. What is not disputable is that all vaccines, as with any other medical treatment, contain risk and it is right that such risks be discussed openly. The article is written in a lighter, more populist way than a medical journal, or similar is likely to be but that would have been simply, logically, a matter of bearing in mind the target audience. There is a list of references with, apparently, enough information to find them on the Web, though I would have preferred more detail in the way they are presented than the minimalistic approach of a small striped box in the bottom right hand corner of the final page.

Part of the “Prevention” section of the magazine is devoted to Tai Chi; “Slowly, slowly” by Joanna Evans. My experience of Tai Chi is limited, mostly to an experience session we had as a group with Judy, a healer colleague, several years ago and we could all feel the effects, though, equally, all of us had been well used to sensing beyond the physical for many years anyway; it was our normality.

Joanna writes, “And that’s the problem. Implausible as it may seem to doctors, there’s a stack of evidence of the many benefits you can get by introducing this simple and gentle exercise into your daily regime.” I am as sure as I can be that is true. I did not keep up the yoga and mediation I practised while at Brunel University in the late 1960s and early 1970s,

Under “Sleep and depression” Joanna writes, of Tai Chi, “It’s even more effective than drugs, as one study demonstrated.” I might have modified that to “appeared to demonstrate” as it was a single study, or even if it wasn’t, though I suspect some, such as the materialistic, scientistic types, will interpret “demonstrated” as “proved”, though they are often not very good with words anyway. Either way, I invariably sleep better after mediation, healing and so on, as I know to be the case with many other peopleso am I not surprised that other approaches at that level are reported as having similar effects.

I am well aware that there is more to each of us than just the physical body, so attending to the non-physical component in a positive way can hardly be anything other than beneficial.

As far as those who cannot accept such matters are concerned, they can go there own way, though they tend not to afford the same to people of different persuasion, or knowledge, to them.

This article also contains a list of references, further reading, though again, I would prefer that they were more clearly set out.

The article on pages 48-51, by Nessa Oden, “How I avoided a hysterectomy with diet”, describes how “she healed herself through an elimination diet, plus supplements and herbs”. To some extent it reminded me of a story I read years ago, which, as I recall, was about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer, I believe in the abdomen area, it was, more or less, incurable but she did cure it by the unusual method of eating not just grapes but the stalks as well, rather a lot of them, and her problems, eventually ceased.

Nessa describes her journey from the diagnoses of the early stages of cancer to an apparent complete cure by dietary means. I was impressed by her determination to do something for herself rather than just “hand her body over” to other people and it appears to have worked very well.

Nessa makes a valid and obvious, though often overlooked, point in the sidebar of the final page “But everyone is unique”. However many experiments, tests are carried out on particular treatments, “cures” the results obtained are not necessarily applicable to any given individual. Nessa’s approach in developing a serious personal involvement in her own problem and making her own judgements about advice given is a valid one.

My interest in the subject derives, primarily, from Jo, my wife, needing to have a hysterectomy in the mid 1990s. Those events were non-mainstream in their own way, at least in part. Being a healer I spent the relevant afternoon with Jo in my own way, though, physically, she was in St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, and I was at home in Havant. I saw someone with Jo, who I had not thought to ask for assistance, her “Sister” in a sense and also the subject of my forthcoming and much delayed book. I may write those events up somewhere at some stage, though they will be beyond the comprehension of mainstream types anyway. Suffice to say that the timings of events from my point of view matched those from Jo’s, when we discussed it later as well as what was done being sufficiently effective for Jo to be up and showering herself less than forty-eight hours after the operation, as well as back home, walking upstairs and bathing herself ninety-six hours afterwards the operation.

Dr Patrick Kingsley, one of the members of the advisory board for the magazine, has an article on page 67 “Discovering the real causes of asthma”. He describes his experiences with “Sarah”, an asthma sufferer, by way of illustrating his approach and his belief that there is rather more to the causes of asthma than hereditary ones.

The narrative of Dr Kingsley’s experiences with treating Sarah indicate a considerable degree of success, including when Sarah had a recurrence of her asthma problem, apparently brought on by using talcum powder with her new baby. Of course that is a single case but illustrates what can be achieved with a flexible approach combining practical knowledge and experience with theoretical and scientific knowledge, rather than being tied to, or heavily biased towards, any one of them.

Towards the end Patrick writes, “The key to a correct diagnosis with New Medicine is to pinpoint any influences besides diet, such as environmental or emotional ones, that may be having an effect on a patient.” Perhaps a more appropriate term, albeit more unwieldy, would be “Rediscovered Medicine”, or “Original Medicine”, as there were those who knew it all along anyway.

Mainstream medicine, that espoused by materialistic, scientistic members of the medical profession and numerous non-medical members of the mainstream science community seems to have a heavy theoretical and laboratory type bias rather than a practical and person, patient, bias. It also has a number of hangers-on and people strangely able outside their specialisation, such as physicists who appear to have a wealth of “knowledgeable” of medicine but no demonstrable experience, plus anonymous people with no visible knowledge, or experience, at all.

The rest of the magazine is, generally, at a similar level. The content and reliability of information is somewhat mixed, as previously mentioned at abut the usual newspaper health page level though “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” at least attempts to provide references, which the health pages rarely do. The magazine has been categorised as dangerous by some people. Many without any specialist knowledge in health matters, though that seems to be the way of things these days.

“What Doctors Don’t Tell You” is not a definitive guide to better ways to health and I doubt that it was ever meant to be. It is more of a discussive publication that is willing to embrace approaches outside the mainstream. The magazine does not and will not get everything right and is unlikely to do so but then neither does mainstream medicine, let alone its unqualified hangers on who tend to be rather vocal. On the other hand, despite the inevitable carping from the usual suspects in the mainstream science know-it-all camp, “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” has a substantial and well qualified Advisory Board.

There are those who have claimed that articles in “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” interpret some of the references given in a different way to the authors of those references. The irony is that such critics tend to be those of a turn of mind that they are right and all definitions, evidence, reasoning that follow need to conform to that and are also guilty of placing their own interpretations on the works of others.

I would advise readers to take note of criticism of “What Doctors Don’t Tell You”, as well as any other publications, articles, etc., from those with medical qualifications and/or experience, weighting their views based on those, as well as any lack of either in specific fields. As far as criticism from non-medical people are concerned, it would be wise to not take what is said, or written, too seriously, if at all, unless they have specialist knowledge and experience in a particular area, though the more vociferous are just the opposite, having little, if any, relevant knowledge, or experience.

There are complications in that there are differing opinions, often considerably so, though that can happen in other professions as well. Also, there is tends to be a mechanistic bias in medicine, which presents problems because there is more to the human being than the purely mechanical and it may well be better to seek advice from those with a more open frame of mind as well as broader experience.

A fairly prominent anachronism is a professor of complementary and alternative medicine unable to stretch from his mainstream background to understand what lies behind the non-mechanistic approach and, therefore, professes to have significant knowledge and understating of that which he has limited knowledge and understanding, probably about the only professor in such a quaint position.

As with many situations, the more stridently and unpleasantly someone expresses their view, the less likely it is that they are speaking with any real knowledge or authority and are best ignored.

In any event, before involving oneself in any particular treatments, or course of action, it is, clearly, best to avail oneself of as much knowledge as possible and fully assess those whom you consult and from whom you are considering accepting advice and treatment. Additionally, it would probably be best to consult those with a broad and flexible attitude rather those with limited knowledge and a rigid outlook.

Virtually everything in which we engage involves risk and balance of risk. Health issues are no different and it is the recipient of the treatment who should make the decisions on their treatment, without pressure, or harassment from anyone else.

Comments Moderation:

Comments will only be accepted if they are presented as a contribution to mature discussion and are from people who use their own names with a link whereby that is easily verified, as well as, ideally, their background, qualifications, experience, etc., essentially, total clarity for all readers of a comment as to precisely who is making it.

No comments will be accepted that contain libellous comments, or those of an abusive nature, or are “off topic”, at least seriously so. Constructive criticism is one thing, juvenile name calling and similar, which are, unfortunately, common among those of an atheistic, materialistic, scientistic disposition, is quite another. Comments published at my absolute discretion.