Dr. Larry Malerba shows why the success of complementary and holistic medicine can be traced to a paradigm shift in science.
There may be solid reasons why complimentary medicine works.
Alex Tsakiris of Skeptiko interviews Dr. Larry Malerba, about holistic medicine and how scientific materialism fails medicine.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Larry Malerba to discuss his work with homeopathy and the limitations of materialistic medical science:
Alex Tsakiris: …when you have a materialistic science that doesn’t even acknowledge that there’s a reality to [a patient’s] experience… once you get that wrong, I think you’re hamstrung from the beginning…
Dr. Larry Malerba: And the interesting thing is you realize how conditioned the world is in terms of this scientific worldview. So patients come to me thinking that they have to lay out their problems to me in scientific terms. And so they’ll start to give me a scientific/medical explanation about what they have, and I’ll stop them and I’ll say, ‘no-no-no, please just tell me what’s bothering you. Let me know what your experience is.’ And some of them look at me like I’m crazy as if to say, well don’t you understand what arthritis is? And I’ll say yes, of course I understand what arthritis is but I want you to tell me about your experience with this so-called arthritis. This label that we’ve given it. This box that we’ve stuck it into. And so it’s kind of funny, I have to educate my patients in order to teach them how to learn how to tune in to their own experiences because they have been so programmed not to pay attention to that.
Additional excerpts from the interview are available below and a complete audio version of the show is available here and on youtube.com/skeptiko.
Read Excerpts From The Interview:
Dr. Malerba discusses the tunnel vision of conventional medicine and how it neglects to recognize metaphysical aspects of diagnostic assessments–[3min.30sec-6min.52sec]
Dr. Larry Malerba: Conventional science and conventional medicine have their distinct limitations and they tend to often overstep their bounds, oftentimes not knowing that they’re doing it or not understanding why or how they’re doing it. And that perspective I have learned from practicing my own alternative form of medicine. So from practicing homeopathy I see the flaws of conventional medicine and I see where it has gotten it wrong. And another sort of idea is that conventional medicine and conventional science tend to have this attitude, increasingly in our time, that science is science and therefore it’s correct because it’s science; not understanding that there are a whole slew of metaphysical-philosophical beliefs that underpin that science. Now they would disagree with that and a lot of them would say, no, it’s scientific, it has nothing to do with metaphysics. And yet, I say that it has everything to do with your worldview. Your worldview will determine the type of medicine that you practice or the type of medicine that you seek out, and it makes a big difference. That’s kind of the bottom line messages that I’m trying to educate the public about regarding the differences between conventional medicine and alternative forms of medicine and homeopathy, and so on.
Alex Tsakiris: The phrase that kept coming up for me as I was reading this is, you’re calling bullshit on materialistic science. And what flows from that, you’re saying, is fundamentally flawed so what I see is a big, compared to what? So if you want to attack homeopathic medicine, if you want to attack conventional medicine, I think what I hear you saying is, okay, compared to what? Compared to a mainstream, science-as-we-know-it model that says everything is reducible to matter, which we know is wrong; that says consciousness is an illusion which is falsifiable from a number of respects; and therefore takes all this mind-brain interaction completely off the table. That’s what I read in your work. Someone who’s just stepping back and going, wait a minute, you guys are attacking this kind of medicine, this kind of worldview, when your worldview has been so decimated by the best scientific evidence, that you have a non-starter as a paradigm. At least the paradigm that we’re starting with is closer to the reality that we’re discovering, so shouldn’t that be the appropriate starting point? That’s what I hear you saying. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Larry Malerba: Absolutely. You’re right on. I’m not anti-science and I’m sure you aren’t either. The point is it depends on how you define science and that’s open to interpretation.
Dr. Malerba talks about the speculations around homeopathy and its measurable effectiveness as an alternative practice–[15min.39sec-19min]
Alex Tsakiris: The paradox is, it sounds to me so materialistic. We’re taking a holistic approach to diagnosis but at the end of the day the answer is, medicine. It’s just in this different form. What do you think about that?
Dr. Larry Malerba: I guess if you–for someone who doesn’t understand homeopathy it might appear that way because you’re administering a pill. So therefore someone assumes that’s material medicine but in reality that’s been the knock against homeopathy since its inception two hundred years ago: that the doses are so ridiculously small they can’t possibly have any effect. So conventional pharmacology would dismiss it as ineffectual because the material doses can’t possibly work. And homeopathy responds by saying well, they do work and then it speculates as to why they must work. And so we have a variety of speculative answers that help to try to explain why it works.
Alex Tsakiris: Isn’t a lot of that because you’re on the other guy’s playing field? You have to play by those rules to a certain extent because that’s the way the game has been played out. If I walked into your office and you had a bunch of crystals and at the end told me that the crystal energy had played a part in my healing, there might be a reality to that. I don’t dismiss that. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I don’t think that would get you very far. We did a show on energy healing and I went through an energy healing and reported on it on the show. I don’t understand how energy healing interacts with consciousness but it seemed to work in my case. So again, I’m uncomfortable with the idea that we have to in the process of being open to alternative medicine, have to play by the other guy’s rule and say, here’s the answer. It’s in this little bottle here. Take seven drops in your water and you’ll be good as rain. Is it not the interaction they’ve had with you? Somehow your consciousness affecting theirs or any other number of variables that we would have to be open to if we opened up to the reality of consciousness?
Dr. Larry Malerba: Sure, those would be factors but that’s not the primary factor in how homeopathy works. It’s a factor just like anything else. And as far as I’m concerned I don’t really try to present it to people in scientific terms. I’ve gone way past that. I’m no longer interested in satisfying scientific demands for explanations because I’ll waste the rest of my life trying to do that instead of moving along and continuing to treat people; and learning through the lessons that I see and the interactions that occur in practicing my medicine.
Taking the example of vaccines and autism, Dr. Malerba argues the scientific method falls short in identifying certain phenomena in its trivialization of anecdotal data–[44min.20sec-50min.22sec]
Alex Tsakiris: We’ve got some realities to deal with. The first is there are forces, economic forces, power-control forces that are going to drive the train off the rails. And then you have some other phenomena that we’ve bumped into that we don’t know what to do with that also inhibit pure science, if you will. Medical science. One would be the experimenter effect. We know experimentally that we can control and experiment as tightly as we possibly can, and one experimenter will get one result and another experimenter can get a different result. So we can’t separate that out. And third, I’d like your thoughts on this, the decline effect. So now people that are really, honestly looking at medical science are noticing that some of our treatments are declining. Their efficacy’s been declining over the years. So we did these things ten years ago and these blockers for mild depression, they work. Ten years later, you know what? They don’t work the same way. We try and do everything the same way. There is a decline effect. Maybe it has something to do with this “hundredth monkey” group consciousness. We don’t know so there’s a number of ways that I would suggest that medical science isn’t really reparable in the way that we’re talking about here. I would love to get your thoughts on any one of those three: the CDC and the corruption, or the experimenter effect, or the decline effect.
Dr. Larry Malerba: I don’t disagree with all that you said. I don’t know how to explain a decline effect. I think it makes sense that human life evolves and changes, and consciousness changes.
Alex Tsakiris: Let me just interject something Larry. I had a guest on this show. He’s been on the show several times. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, he’s a Cambridge biologist and he has this theory called Morphic Resonance. You’re familiar with it. He did this wonderfully simple experiment, I’ll share it with the listeners and you as well, and I think it really captured it. He did an experiment where he had people solve the London Times crossword puzzle. And he timed how long these people on average were able to solve it on Sunday morning right after the paper’s published. Then he took another group of people. They were not exposed to the crossword puzzle in any way, and they did it on Monday morning. The people on Monday morning were able to do it a little bit faster. There was a collective experience we can only assume this is the theory: There’s some kind of collective experience. I think in some way that I don’t understand, that might have something to do with the decline effect. It’s all together in a way that we can’t pull apart.
Dr. Larry Malerba: I know that Dr. Sheldrake is the one who inspired my Metaphysics & Medicine, and in essence I’m saying I want freedom of thought for medicine and then Sheldrake is saying we want freedom of thought for science. And I’m aware of that whole concept to synthesize a substance, a newly created substance, to synthesize it in the lab, the more you do it over time, the easer it’s done even though you don’t change the method of doing it.
Alex Tsakiris: Right.
Dr. Larry Malerba: And [Sheldrake] says these are morphic fields becoming amplified so to speak and making it happen easier. So there’s no doubt there’s all kinds of phenomena like that and that’s what science should be open to studying. And I agree with you that even if science opens its mind to everything and wishes to study it, you’re not going to find all of your answers by just using the scientific method. There have to be a variety of methods that you can use to learn about these phenomena, not just one particular scientific method, or two or three particular scientific methods. You can just learn a lot by an experiential exercise. There are all kinds of things that you can do. Going back to that idea of experience that we’re talking about, and vaccines and autism. To me it’s the ultimate, mind-boggling denial for a mother to walk into a doctor’s office and say, my child was normal. My child was vaccinated yesterday. Today my child is acting almost like a vegetable, but you tell me that’s just an anecdotal piece of evidence that is not proven or corroborated by real science. And to me, that’s just their cute little way of denying reality when they don’t want to face the truth of the implications of the things that are being done. Vaccines can be very deadly in many cases and can cause all kinds of health problems, not just autism. And I’ve spent a career trying to undo some of that damage for many patients who come to see me with their health problems that they tell me originated with that vaccine X that they took. So that’s a reality. There’s no doubt about that. And the group think of medicine is so powerful, you can’t change that and they’re going to find ways to dissemble and to deny and to think themselves out of it.
Photo by Richard Craig