Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida, the Science of Spirituality and Health |509|


Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida is a leader in the scientific study of spirituality and health.


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Video Clip: And if any of you were troubled, I encourage you to speak out testify.

I’m hoping you can pray for us. Um, we’re soldiers home on leave. And my friends here at troubled Cheever has a very bad back and a broken marriage and he wants to take his own. And Teekay’s wounded in the private parts, which is why he’s lying to his fiance about going to horse.

That’s a scene from the movie, the lucky ones with Rachel McAdams, where she’s seeking a spiritual healing. Which is a topic we touch on with today’s guest, the extraordinarily excellent Dr. Alexander Mordana Almeda,

who is a world-class Brazilian doctor and expert on spirituality and health.

He’s an MD university professor researcher.

And one of the big takeaway messages that he has is that even though we’re conditioned to immediately apply the crazy tag to any connection between spirituality and health. The actual science leads us to the verified fact that there is a connection. Here’s a clip.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:01:04] Sometimes of course, there is the dark side of the spirituality, but it’s not the average. On average the use of religion, spirituality is positive, and even has an impact on mortality. Just one example, professor Tyler VanderWeele, he’s a chair of public health at Harvard University is one of the best that statisticians in the world. He has several studies following up on 70,000 to 80,000 people for 10 to 15 years. And showing for example, that the people who attended a religious service at least once a week died 50% less in this 14 year follow-up, or died six times less from suicide. So that is a strong impact.

But now I think the challenge is first to disseminate this information to general population and also in the training of physicians, nurses, and psychologists, because sometimes this knowledge has not been translated into the actual clinical training of health professionals.

And the second challenge, I think perhaps is more even of interest to Skeptiko audience is okay, but what is the meaning of spirituality, because of course we understand that church attendance can be related to social support can be relate to beliefs, but does actually have any ontological reality to this spirituality. Is there something actually beyond the matter? So I think these studies, for example, trying to understand the ultimate source of it, and the meaning of these experiences. I think it’s one of the most interesting challenges we have nowadays.


So, this is obviously a very complicated issue. So it’s good to know that it’s being tackled by somebody who can handle the complexity. I mean, this is someone who actually earlier in his career.

Researched John of God, you know, the now exposed sex, trafficker rapist, cult leader, murderer, Who was friends with Oprah Winfrey and bill Clinton until an investigative reporter who later was suicided revealed that the whole thing was about.

Sex traffic and other evils that we can only imagine. And that’s something we get into a little bit in this interview, but imagine this worst of the worst, John of God figure. You know, when you really go study them.

You come back with reports of people being healed. So some people are paying incredibly abused. , but some people are being healed. You want to talk about complexity? There you go.

This is important research, important forward looking science.

And I loved every minute of it. I hope you enjoy it as well.

(-) Alex Tsakiris: [00:04:12] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris and today we welcome Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida to Skeptiko. This ought to be a good one. Dr. Almeida is a recognized leader in spirituality and health research, tons of academic and clinical experience in psychiatry, psychotherapy, MD, PhD in Brazil, post-doctoral fellowship at Duke, writes books with Dean Raden, Marilyn Schlitz, Alan Wallace, Andrew Newberg; and I only throw those names out there because those might be ones that you’ve heard on this show, because we’ve interviewed all those folks. So this is really, really a very prominent and important figure in this field of the intersection of science, spirituality, and medicine. And it’s really a terrific opportunity for us to have him join us today. Dr. Almeida thank you very much for being on Skeptiko.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:05:23] Well, thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure being here, talking to you and to the audience of Skeptiko, and congratulations for the work that you have done at Skeptiko.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:33] Well, that’s very nice of you to say, let’s let’s talk about your background a little bit, you’re Brazilian and I think from the beginning, from jump street, your bio sort of brings forward the kind of more full-flavored understanding that we might have of how these things do merge together, how spirituality and rational scientific inquiry your bio is, is that story isn’t it.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:06:06] Yeah, since the beginning my interest was in clinical practice and in seeing patients, but at the same time I was interested in scientific research. And specifically, during my second or third year of medical school I learned about psychic surgery. I read some articles in newspapers and magazines, here in Brazil about this, about the controversy about if they were a fraud or not.

Then I thought, instead making suppositions about this stuff, why not go there and study and analyze what is happening? So it was exactly what we did. We went there, we collected the material, the tissues that were allegedly removed from patients. And we brought them back to the lab. So this is exactly start off our academic interests in this.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:19] Fantastic. That’s the next level stuff. I really want to get there. The, John of God stuff gives this in a whole different flavor, and we can take it in so many different directions.

I think we have to start with your upbringing as a, as a child inside of a culture that has a very rich and diverse spiritual and spiritualist kind of understanding of the world. Tell us about that.

Because I think we, we hear about that, but we don’t process it as Americans in the United States. What that really means. Can you add some depth to that?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:08:09] Okay, here in Brazil, officially, Catholicism is the most prevalent religion, but in addition to that we have of several different lines of Prodestantism, Evangelicals, but also we have Spiritism, we have African religions and several other different traditions. It is a mixing of different faiths, different religions, different practices. For example, a national survey shows that, in Brazil, half of Catholics believe in reincarnation.

My family background was basically Catholic and Spiritism, and also some African-Brazilian religions like Umbanda and also some Protastantism. So it was exactly this kind of melting pot. As a child I attended the some mediumistic seances, both in African Brazilian religions, and also in the spiritism tradition. And also, there is a strong emphasis in spiritism on putting together science and spirituality and trying to emphasis having a rational faith.

So it’s some sense it did disturb me, the idea of trying to understand spirituality in a rational scientific way. So yeah, I think it took every one of these different perspectives and environments to mold me.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:51] Fantastic. So you do have this rational/scientific side, and you’re obviously super intelligent, so you want to explore that part of it.

What is that like for you personally? And also, what do you feel because you are worked with so many people, internationally, other researchers and scholars, do you think that transition, that blending, that you were able to do was easier for you? Or was it just as difficult as it is for so many people in the West who then feel like they’re at this crossroads where they either have to leave behind all these experiences that they feel are genuine, but yet in order to enter into this scientific, rational world, they have to leave those behind.

Was that a struggle for you or just to kind of an easy transition?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:10:39] Okay, well, first of all, I myself have not had an anomalous experience. I don’t see anything. I don’t hear and think I have these experiences, but I’m deeply interested in these experiences.

And I know many people who have these sorts of experiences; this one point. The second point is that it has been more than 25 years since I started doing this kind of research. In the beginning I thought it would be much harder than it actually was. I’ve heard a lot about opposition there is, you should think about a different career, but actually since the beginning, I was very, very committed to a very rigorous investigation. I’ve always been very, very concerned about methodological rigor, having a philosophical and historical understanding of science and what actually makes science. And what are the other stuff that are not necessarily science, but some ideological commitment, and historical perspectives and stuff like that.

So, the bottom line is of course we had to struggle with several challenges, but actually it was much easier than I would have thought, and also it was very interesting that, for example, here in Brazil, I was surprised by how many key figures in scientific community, that despite not being openly interested in religion and spirituality, when they found out that someone like me was interested in pursuing this research, I received a lot of support, sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes more openly, so I’m very grateful to many leading researchers worldwide that were very kind and very, very supportive of me. So it’s amazing how, leading people in this field in many different countries have been supportive of my career.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:55] Yeah. That’s a, that’s super interesting to me because I’ve, I’ve interviewed so many folks that I, I do believe that your experience.

Is maybe if not unique is, unique to your culture. I think Brazil is more, forward-thinking more flexible, more free, uh, to kind of move through those things. I’ve talked to so many researchers in the United States and in the UK who it was much, much more difficult than there was much more kind of hostility.

So great. And that’s great. And it’s good to know that that’s possible. But I did want to give folks more of a kind of concrete sense of the work that you do. So I’ve pulled up your Amazon page on the screen, and then in particular, here’s the book spiritism and mental health. And I just wanted to run through the table of contents of this book, because I think it’ll help people understand what I meant in terms of where you kind of fit in the world.

So this is compiled and edited by a Dr. Emma Bragdon and I’m not familiar with her, but she looks like she has a pretty impressive person, but she called upon you to write chapters, a brief overview of the philosophy and development of spirit as a myth methodologies, the spirit is view of mental disorders, which we’re going to talk about in a minute.

Fascinating. , the relationship of media and chip and mental disorders, another topic that you’re interested in, you didn’t actually write that chapter.

I’m not sure if you contributed anyway. I just want people to know, you know, uh, then there’s like a, whereas Alan Wallace, who’s been on the show, you know, Uh, uh, science of understanding the mind, Alan Wallace, spiritual attachment and health. And then we have, uh, Dean Raden and Marilyn Schlitz, compassionate intention as a therapeutic intervention by partners of cancer patients.

And again, I’m not going to go into each one of those topics. I just want people to get a sense as we kind of jump into your work of where you sit and there, there is this body of work that’s going on and, and you were right in the middle and a part of it of serious scientific research. That’s exploring this intersection of science and spirituality.

So do you want to maybe comment on that in terms of just the landscape that we’re in and how it’s changed in the years that you’ve been at this and where you see it at currently.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:15:31] Okay. I think the first major step in the field of spirituality and health and science started in the 1980s and 90s with some authors like Harris Carnegie, and others who started performing large neurological studies showing that spirituality and religiosity are still very prevalent nowadays. And that they actually have impact a significant impact on health. And I think this is nowadays well established knowledge.

So, it’s basically common knowledge in medicine in psychology. For example, international psychiatric associations, like the wWrd Psychiatric Association, the American, the Indian, South America, South African, Brazilian, in Germany, United Kingdom, all these psychiatric associations for example, have sections on spirituality and psychiatry.

So it’s nowadays, it’s common knowledge that spirituality is, and probably will keep being a major aspect of human beings. And that has a lot of impact on health.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:16:49] Let me just interject with a couple of points that I learned from a couple of your presentations that I’ve found, because what you said, you’re saying in a very matter of fact way, But it does push against, I think some public perceptions or misconceptions that people have.

One is that religion and religiosity is still very, very strong across the world. And if anything, it’s increasing the number of people who would identify as being part of some religious group is very high, 80% range. And as you point out that trend is trending up because many times, especially in the United States, we get the impression that it’s no it’s trending down.

And many people are less religious and less spiritual. And that’s not really what the data says, but the other thing you’re pointing to that again sounds controversial. But when you just look at it, like you’re talking about from a super high level and you go survey people and you correlate their religiosity with their overall health, there’s a correlation there that you’re alluding to that religious people.

Even if we don’t try. Attach an explanation to, it seemed to be more healthy and they seem to understand that there is some relationship between their spirituality and their health. So am I correct in, in that’s what I pulled from your stuff. So is that correct?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:18:11] Yeah, exactly. for instance, the Pew research center is probably the best think tank for compiling data about these beliefs and behavior around the globe.

So they have a international survey for 2015, showing that 84% of the world’s population have a religious affiliation. And even among the 16% of the world’s population that do not have a religious affiliation, they usually have some sort of spirituality believe in God, spirits, whatever.

And the trends are that there’ll be a decrease in the non-affiliated group the people in the next decades. So this is a well established data. The point is, usually this sort of data is not widespread through global media. This is one point. The second point is regarding exactly the impact of spirituality on the health.

Sometimes of course, there is the dark side of the spirituality, it can have, deleterious effects, but it’s not the average. On average the use of religion, spirituality is positive, and even has an impact on mortality. Just one example, professor Tyler VanderWeele, he’s a chair of public health at Harvard University is one of the best that statisticians in the world. He has several studies following up on 70,000 to 80,000 people for 10 to 15 years. And showing for example, that the people who attended a religious service at least once a week died 50% less in this 14 year follow-up, or died six times less from suicide. So that is a strong impact.

We don’t know very well what are the mechanisms. We have some ideas about that. But the point is, it is currently well understood that there is this impact that we need to take this into account. And so I think this is one major change since I started to investigate this topic. But now I think the challenge is first to disseminate this information to general population and also in the training of physicians, nurses, and psychologists, because sometimes this knowledge has not been translated into the actual clinical training of health professionals.

And for example, currently we are now working together with professor [?] at Harvard university in developing a curriculum for psychiatric training in psychiatry residents. So where exactly, could we insert this new curriculum in for psychiatry resident? So this is one major challenge.

And the second challenge, I think perhaps is more even of interest to Skeptiko audience is okay, but what is the meaning of spirituality, because of course we understand that church attendance can be related to social support can be relate to beliefs, but does actually have any ontological reality to this spirituality. Is there something actually beyond the matter? So I think these studies, for example, trying to understand the ultimate source of it, and the meaning of these experiences. I think it’s one of the most interesting challenges we have nowadays.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:22:16] Yes. And I really respect and admire the way you’ve built the argument right there, which is to start with the data and just pound people over the head with the data and say, now, explain to me again while you’re, why you’re looking away, why you’re insisting the data is the exactly opposite of what comes through, overwhelmingly, again and again, please explain.

That’s what I hear you saying. And that is the first step. And, you know, we could mirror that with another area of interest that I want you to talk about one of your interest areas is on establishing evidence for the differentiation between mental disorders and spiritual experiences.

And that has a real depth to it that I think will come as kind of a surprise to people because this isn’t just like, oh my gosh, her is everyone who’s having, a spiritual experience, , are they crazy kind of thing? No, you’ve tooken it a whole step further where it kind of reminds me of like the near death experience research where they’ve said, okay, does it have this factor, this factor, this factor, then maybe we should consider it as part of a mental disorder.

And if it doesn’t, then we have to put in into this other category that we’re defining. Do you want to walk us through that research? It’s fast.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:23:38] Yeah. This was actually the topic of my PhD dissertation. In 2004, I investigated, 115 spiritist mediums and tried to investigate different phenomenology of their experience, and also the mental health of these mediums, and we tried to figure out if they were psychotic, if they had mental disorders, and if not, how could we differentiate these non-pathological experiences from a psychotic disorder or mental disorder.

Actually, it’s interesting that you start off with that because my wife, she is a historian and she was doing a PhD also. And in her PhD she was investigated psychiatric [residence?] regarding spiritism and other eligions that foster spiritual experiences because not only in Brazil, but also in Europe and in US, especially in the end of 19th century and for a large part of 20th century, , these kind of trance experiences were considered a major cause of mental disorder, or a, symptom of mental disorder.

Actually, there were some laws forbidding the practice of these religions because they thought it would be very harmful to public health. There was even, an author in Brazil who who said that spritiism was the third leading cause of madness in Brazil. So I was very interested when I started to read her study. And then I thought why not try to investigate nowadays the actual the mental health of individuals. So we start doing this kind of investigation. So basically what we found in these studies, and in several other studies, was that people having spiritual experiences, for example, in mediumship, but also other sorts of spiritual experiences, they have several experiences that are quite similar to psychotic experience. For example, they can hear voices, they can see things, they can have thought insertions, feeling insertions that are usually related to schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. However, despite having high levels of these specific experiences, they usually have a very good level of mental health. Very good function, very good social adjustment and things like that.

So, it became clear that they did not have a higher prevalence of mental disorder. We found, and other researchers have also found that and what is becoming more and more clear nowadays is that these what we call positive psychotic symptoms, this is hearing things, seeing things, are not a good criteria for detecting a mental disorder, because for example, in a psychotic disorder, in addition to these positive psychotic symptoms, as we call them in psychiatry, seeing things, hearing things and so on and so forth, the psychotic patients also have cognitive disorganization. They have problems in their interaction with people. They have problems in their work, in their family affairs and also in the social relationship. They have other symptoms that are much more reliable to make this distinction.

So we have moved a long way with other colleagues in this. We also have performed some neuro imaging investigations, functional imaging studies, analyzing brain functioning during these trance experiences. Currently, we are performing, genetic studies. [?] We are investigating one, a hundred mediums in Brazil, more prominent mediums, and we are investigating the genetic expression. And if there is some group of genes that are more prevalent or more active in mediums compared to people with psychotic disorders, but we don’t have the results yet.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:04] See, that’s what makes this so interesting is there’s so many layers to this that we have to explore. I mean, the first layer that you talked about from a historical perspective is why did we ever fall for that simplistic kindergarten explanation that everyone who hears voices is hallucinating? I mean, we always had a sense across culture and cross time and just through stories in our families we knew it wasn’t true, that didn’t always work that way, but we accepted it out of hand. So I love when your research comes in and goes, well, wait, you know, just through good, modern psychology, we can determine the first thing, like you said, is someone distressed by hearing these voices, if or having hallucinations in their psychotic or they’re experiencing schizophrenia.

We know what that looks like, and it doesn’t look very good for that person in terms of their stress level, in terms of how they socially function in terms of how they function at work. Hey, we look over at this person and none of those things are happening that is incredibly powerful. And I love the way you just went through it again in a very matter of fact way, but in a very methodological way, because it gets to this fundamental mind, body problem.

Which isn’t really a problem, which has always been more or less obvious, but science has kind of done this end, run on it about materialism. And it can only be, you know, the mind is 100% of function of the brain and this kind of addresses that problem in a very direct way. But what is so fascinating, which is level three, is then you come back around and say, oh yeah, but we are looking at the biology of it too. We are looking at genetics. Cause that might play a role in it too, which would then kind of turn the whole thing upside down. And our gut instinct, I think is of course it has to be both. It can’t be an either or thing because again, through experience, that’s what we know. That’s what we’re observing.

So what do you think about that whole package of the kind of busting through the materialism, but at the same time coming back and leaning on materialism in a way and saying, well, you weren’t totally out to lunch.

There might be something.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:30:21] Yeah, I liked very much Aristotle when he said that [?] it is the middle ground. It’s in the middle, it’s not at the extremes. So it usually around there have extremes delgating both are partially correct, and both are partially wrong. And I emphasize this with my med students, my psychiatrist residents and so forth that we are bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:54] Say that again. So people get it.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:30:56] Bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings beings. So we have all these dimensions working together, influencing each other. And if we take in consideration only one of these, or if we exclude any of these, we will have an incomplete perspective of human beings. It’s not necessary to choose between these perspectives. It’s wrong to do that. We must take everything in consideration just to give an example. Even in that study that I mentioned previously from the Harvard group about the church attendance and mortality. They found that people who attend every week, at least once a week, religious service, they died 50% less, and that is controlling for social demographic and other values, but they found what would be some of the main mediators. They found that people who attend regional service had lower levels of smoking. So it impacts some behavior and biology. They also had higher levels of social integration. So the social aspects and they had higher levels of optimism and lower levels of depression. So we have here the spiritual factor impacting the biological, this social, and also the psychological.

So it’s impossible to separate all this stuff. So we definitely, we don’t need, because I think this is a very important point, Alex, when people try to emphasize the spiritual aspect, the sometimes deny the psychological or the biologic aspects. For example, we don’t need to deny the importance of psychiatric medications. I’m a psychiatrist. I prescribe, psychiatric medicines. Of course they are useful. I don’t need to deny this to talk about the importance of spirituality. And the same thing, when I’m saying that many people who hear voices are not psychotic, it does not mean that everyone who hears voices is mentally healthy. That’s not the case also. So we don’t need to fall in this trap of making it be a forced choice. Doyou have faith or reason? Do you believe in spirituality or in science? Why!? I think we need to be very careful because it’s very dangerous, and that is that the temptation to go the easy way, to just choose one side of the dispute.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:55] That’s excellent. Very, very well said. I wanted to pivot a little bit and do in skeptiko fashion, poke a little bit at the problems that do come up sell from another one of your presentations. What do religion and spirituality mean is the slide I pulled up. Ah, I have a little bit of resistance to some of this. Spirituality you define is the relationship or contact with a transcendent realm of reality that is considered sacred, the ultimate truth or reality. So you have already given us such a broad enriched view of how we need to look at some of these issues. And at the same time, we do need to pin down these definitions, but it seems like every time we pin them down, we create more problems. What does transcendent mean? From a philosophical perspective of idealism versus materialism? Right? What would we really be transcending? Is everything that is material, including our body and our health and our spirituality somehow emerging from a consciousness that we don’t completely understand. Are we looking at it backwards when we think about transcending? I’m sure this is something you’ve thought about, as well as the sacred. What are we saying about the hierarchy of consciousness? About the order of this consciousness, that we can’t even pretend to fully understand that there is some sacredness. What would that mean? There was some ultimate truth or ultimate reality. Again, these become very tricky words. I appreciate the need to have some kind of ground, some ground that we start with, but aren’t we also have problems with any kind of definition that we try and land on?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:35:47] Yeah, I completely agree. Actually, in science as a whole, we need definitions of course, because definitions help us to make distinctions to help to say what we are talking about, and also to label things to make distinctions and comparisons. But we don’t have good definitions for matter, for life, [and] for living things that are really essential even in physical regular science.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:22] Science, yes.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:36:24] Yeah, even the definition of science, what is science? So definition of science [and] definition of matter.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:29] We’re going to measure things outside of us. I mean, that’s already [Crosstalk 0:36:33].

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:36:35] But it does not mean that we should not strive to try to find some sort of definition that people in some way could grasp the idea that we are talking about. And specifically also, because we are dealing with the research. So I work a lot, as you have said, with the research and mental health research, and things like that. And for example, we need to have some important definitions, because when we are talking about spirituality, the importance of spirituality, or the impact of spirituality, or of the prevalence of spirituality, we need to try to, in some sense, to restrict it to some concept to make it distinct. For example, what is spirituality and what [is] political ideology, or what are ecological commitment? Whatever. So how can we distinguish that? So based in many different altars from different perspectives, we have a book that we will release this August by Oxford University Press, that is “Spirituality and mental health across cultures” And in this book, we have first chapter exactly where we discuss the concept of spirituality, and also took in consideration very different alters from psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, [and] history. And there is kind of consensus that spirituality has to do with this transcendental aspect of reality. And because I think a good concept should, of course, be accepted by key leaders in the field, but also, and most important, must reflect what actually happens in the real world. So if we take a look at the most prevalent spiritual traditions around the globe, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islamism, and even more indigenous traditions, but basically, all of them has a talk about some transcendental aspects of life, [and] of the universe. There is a spiritual being. There are God, [and] God’s ancestors, whatever. So it’s Edward Tyler, in the beginning 19th century, [and] the beginning of anthropology of religion, he said, “There could be a religion without God, but there is not religion without spirit in some sense.” So, if you understand the spirit or this transcendental aspect of reality, some entities or realm that goes beyond this material world that we have. So I mean transcendent in this sense, there is something else beyond this material world that we have. So it seems that basically all spiritual traditions share this. This is one common core of basically all spiritual traditions. And another very important point [is] if we take a look at all these spiritual traditions, they say that there is some way, some transcendental aspects of reality of human beings, and this transcendental aspect is the ultimate reality. It is what really matters the most. So because of that, it is sacred. So these are the two main reasons why we have emphasized the transcendental and the sacred. And of course, based on these experiences of spiritual of transcendental sacred, people share beliefs [and] practices in our community. This community is our religion. So, this is basically the idea. Of course, we can raise issues about this definition, but I think it’s quite broad to include the major… Not major, but almost all spiritual tradition that we are aware of, but at the same time, it distinguishes, for example, for other aspects of secular life. Because, for example, there are several scales of spirituality using psychology and medicine. In them, quite often, they find spiritual as well-being, meaning life, [and] sense of purpose. I think that meaning of life, sense of purpose and peace could be outcomes of spiritual, but are not the same thing. Because for example, if I’m a Marxist, I can find the meaning of life in the struggle in the class, [or] struggle, and things like that. But probably, it’s not necessarily spirituality. And [Unclear 0:41:33] Marxist will feel upset, maybe called a spiritual person. So I think it’s important to have some borders that could differentiate spirituality for other aspects of life, although they very often have connections.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:51] I think that’s wonderfully important. And so if I get together with a group down at the beach to save the whales, or to clean up the beach and make our environment better, and I tell people that, that to me, is my spirituality, you might come along and say, “Well, okay, I’m not arguing against your understanding of it. But that doesn’t fit this definition for how I’m going to use it in this research.” And I think it’s very valuable for you to make that kind of distinction. Because so many times in our culture, we seem to be completely inept or unwilling to just make some kind of common sense distinctions in the same way.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:41:53] Yeah, exactly. You summarized it very well. Yeah, it’s exactly. Of course, people can call whatever they want to what they [Unclear 0:42:41]. But when we’re talking science, we need to have a more precise definition, [and] some boundaries to help us to make analysis, even to compare, for example. If, an involvement, in a more secular community, like environmental issues, or political issues, has the same impact or not, for a more spiritual base the community or even to ask this kind of questions, we need to have clear definitions.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:12] Awesome. Okay. So now I’m going to pivot again, with another I think, kind of tough question. And I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this. Because you are so honest, and you’re so brave. I mean, you haven’t been… I guess the system hasn’t worn you down enough or you’ve, you’ve transcended the system in a way. But one of the ideas that we’ve explored on this show is that a lot of people who wind up in doing this kind of work, and especially pushing against materialism, and pointing out that we are already in a post materialist world if you really look at the cutting edge science. It’s been post materialistic for the longest time, but we think can’t seem to get past that dogma. But a lot of times, there’s a leaning towards the argument that science needs spirituality, in order to explain the world, or science needs spirituality to become complete. And I always want to say, that may be true. But I think we just in the interest of really exploring all possibilities, we have to explore the counter hypothesis. And that is that; Shit, science is doing everything it can to keep spirituality out of the game, to keep spirituality, especially out of the science business. Spirituality is in some ways, a threat to the business of science. And even if some people in your community and some people who are fair minded, don’t see it that way. We can easily imagine other factors and forces that would see it as a threat. And do you have any thoughts on that in kind of a more para-political understanding of the tension between science and spirituality?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:45:11] Yes, actually, I’ve been interested in this subject a lot for many years. First of all, this idea of unnecessary clash, unnecessary conflict, or perennial conflict between science and religion, spirituality is, first of all, it’s a myth. It’s common knowledge nowadays in history of science, no serious historian of science nowadays accepts that.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:45:42] Accepts that… Just so we understand each other. Accepts the idea that, science couldn’t move forward, if we ever considered any of the stuff you’re talking about. It would just all collapse. And that’s what you’re saying is a myth, right?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:45:55] What I’m saying is the idea that science necessarily denies religion or religion necessarily is an opposition to science. Sometimes we’ve learned these in school or even in the university, or in sciences promotion. Actually, it’s not true. Okay, it is a myth that there is a perennial conflict between science and religion. This is nowadays common knowledge in history of science. Actually, if we see throughout history, at least in the Western world, at least since the ancient Greece, there has been a strong connection between spirituality and science and philosophy, and reasoning and things like that. If we take for example, in consideration, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and since then, there is a strong connection between spiritual issues and religion in science. And even the scientific revolution in 16th century with Galileo, Kepler, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, all of them actually, who are spiritually committed people. And also, what is even more surprising for many people, it was surprised me when I learned this for the first time, [that] they were spiritually motivated to do science. Actually, they thought that they were reading the book of nature. The book of nature that was written by God. So if we understand the creation, we have a better understanding of the Creator. So understanding the creation would be the best way to glorify God. This is the word of Francis Bacon, for example. So they were spiritually motivated people, Isaac Newton, and so on, so forth. So actually, this [Unclear 0:47:56] academic environment of unnecessary opposition between science and spirituality, it’s an exception, basically, from the 20th century. For the end, if you take a large historical perspective, it started in the end of 19th century and endured until the end of 20th the century. So nowadays, it’s not more. So the best universities in the world, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, all of them have a department of science and religion discussing the possibilities of integration. So the first point is, in this historical perspective, this idea of conflict is a historical, short period that has gone. But on the other side, of course, I don’t think that is the same thing, spirituality and science. And then it’s not necessarily we need to make science spiritual so on so forth. I think there is a space for spiritual life, [and] there is a space for scientific life. So they have context, but they are not the same thing. Actually, my now even more kind of philosophical thinking, I think we have basically three major ways to grasp reality. Through art, through spirituality, and through science. I think these are three different and [Unclear 0:49:23] ways to grasp reality. Of course, they have points of contact, but sometimes they don’t have, so this is one point. As a scientist, we should be open, to study and understand with open mind, all sorts of things that happens in nature. So all sorts of human experience [and] everything that happens should be of interest to a scientist. So we need to take in consideration all sorts of experience, including the spiritual experiences. and we also should be open to have all sorts of explanations for this [Inaudible 0:50:03]. For example, if we are studying near death experience, of course, we should take in consideration the possibilities, just the brain hypoxia causing that. We should take in consideration that just the psychological aspects like fear of death. We should take in consideration that cultural aspects in are explaining, but we also should be allowed to think that perhaps bio-psychosocial aspects are not enough to explain everything without a [Unclear 0:50:30]. So, we should be allowed to think the possibility for example, that sign a kind of non-material consciousness could be part of this. So in this no material consciousness would be not supernatural, because I claim with many others for expanded naturalist. So we think that nature is everything that exists. And nature may be something beyond. That there may be constitute not only from matter, physical force and particles, but perhaps consciousness is another irreducible aspect of nature. We should be open to investigate that. But of course, I respect those who think, “No, no, we think that everything should be explained by bio-psychosocial aspects.” That’s fine. They should work on their paradigm. They should work on this theory and try to explain everything. But on the other side, it should be allowed that other paradigm candidates work. And there is a philosopher of science, [Unclear 0:51:35] that calls, there should be a Darwinian competition of research programs, and the better programs will prevail. So I think that’s the point. You should be truly open, but at the same time, very rigorous in investigating these different possibilities.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:51:56] That’s wonderful. And I love the way you’ve kind of laid out the path forward. And you’re even suggesting that you see definite movement on that path. Certainly the way you framed it in terms of the bio-psycho-social spiritual, [and] all those elements being together. I guess what I’m trying to do is add another element to that. And that is in the social aspect. We have the political, and in particular, the para-political. And the example that I always use is, project Stargate, the famous remote viewing project at Stanford Research Institute. Some of the most successful para-psychology experiments in history. And Russell Targ and [Unclear 0:52:42] they did publish those two in peer reviewed journals. But there was a para-political aspect of that, that I think is an overlay on this thing. And by that, I mean, they were way past materialism. They pre-supposed that they were operating in the extended realm. They weren’t sitting there wringing their hands going, “Oh, gosh, gee, are these things going to work? They already proved that they work. They [Unclear 0:53:08] and he proved that they work. And then they had, Joe McMoneagle come in, and he could do it. And so they were off to the races. And now it’s like, go find that Russian sub, go do this, [and] go do that. But from a para-political standpoint, the message was very different. There was this invisible college that I think is still in existence of, let’s not move the needle too far in that direction. Don’t go too fast. And I don’t know who the guys at Harvard you’re referring to. But there’s a bunch of other guys at Harvard, who are not going in that direction, and maybe are being told to, “Hey, just take the pedal off the gas there.” I think that’s in play. I think it’s always in play. And I think it plays a much bigger role in this stuff than we’re willing to sometimes acknowledge. What do you think?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [00:54:04] Yeah, I agree. I think that the social and political aspects of science are extremely important. And because of this, I think we should work in three different levels. And we are trying exactly doing this. The first is producing better data. This is one point. The second is to address some philosophical and historical misconceptions about science and about spirituality. I think this is the key issue. Because usually during our scientific training, during our education, most of us were taught that religion or spirituality is something bad, something from the past, something of superstition. It has been proved that the brain generates [or the] mind, [that] there’s something beyond that. So we learn that. Sometimes we accept that. And so I think one major aspect is exactly to show the inconsistence, and problems of these misguided assumptions. As I said, for example, several examples of misguided pre-suppositions. First science and religion has been always in opposition. Second, science has proved that there is only matter in the world. Third, everything non-material means [and] superstition means back to the dark ages. And so all this stuff, these are very strong ideas. So we need first to tackle this misconception. Because if we don’t address these misconceptions, people don’t even take a look at the evidence. Because they know [Unclear 0:56:05] that it is impossible. It’s not only possible, but extremely harmful, because it has always causing harm throughout history. So we were only to flourish when we were able to remove all this terrible superstition idea. So of course, I’m being ironic and make a simplification. But this mindset, I think it is the major problem. So when we show that this misconception does not stand through a good philosophical analysis, a good historical analysis, and if we [Unclear 0:56:50] this knowledge, through general audience, of course, to general audience, but also in the new training scientists, the new training clinicians, if we were able to teach them since the beginning, that is not true, necessarily, that it will be very, very [Inaudible 0:57:12]. So this is just another example. A PhD student of mine, we made a national survey with 4000 psychologists in Brazil. And one question is, do you think that spirituality impacts health? That was the question? Nowadays, it’s established knowledge, there are literally 1000’s of studies showing that. They do believe that the psychologist with the higher training [and] with PhD and post doctorate, they had lower levels of endorsing this statement. So the scientific training created anti-scientific beliefs, denying the scientific evidence that spirituality impacts health. So this is very, very alarming. How our scientific training is generating anti-scientific beliefs, claiming having defending science? So the two points first, is to address these misconceptions. Second, is to generate more evidence. And the third, I think it’s very important, but we have not worked a lot on this is developing some paradigm candidates [and] developed some theories that could make sense of everything. Like for example, Frederick Myers, with his subliminal mind and other alters, who proposed some kinds of theories or paradigm candidates to explain the [Inaudible 0:58:43]. For example, Thomas Kuhn, in structure of scientific revolutions showed that people would never abandon a previous paradigm if they don’t have another one, a better one. So it’s not only enough to show anomalies in the old product, it’s important to show a new and better paradigm.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:59:00] I think that’s absolutely brilliant. Wonderful. And what the first thing that pops into my mind is part of the conditioning is this idea that philosophy is dead, right? And its Stephen Hawking’s famous thing. And it’s, as you were kind of so beautifully pointed out, it is really the opposite of that is true, is that philosophy always has to be the starting point to a certain set. Even if we take the philosophy of science, which you’ve so eloquently kind of laid out how these issues are philosophy of science questions, not just ruminating about the world but about practically how we would do this. And then I love that you were remaining grounded in the data [and] in the method. “Hey, folks, we still do have this scientific method. And you know what? It’s a tool that can still be applied and still move us forward.” So that’s all wonderful. So now we got to move to the darkness. And at the beginning of the show you did allude to some of the work you’ve done with psychic surgery, [and] the john of God thing which collects international headlines, and it should. It challenges us in so many ways about the dark side of spirituality, and even the dark side of the social aspect of it, that we do need this sense of community. We are all susceptible to the cult kind of thing, because it’s baked into who we are. It not like a bad thing. It’s like, “Hey, we want to be around together and we want to attend that wedding, or it’s a funeral, we all want to get together and dah dah dah.” And people who find a way to turn that against us can gain great power. And then add to the fact that they may be tapping into an extended realm that also might at times be aligned with some malevolent kind of aspects of whatever this extended nature is. And we have all the things that we see in john have god. The worst of the worst. Rapist, [and] murderer ran camps where he would force these women to have children, and then he killed them afterwards and sell the babies. The worst of the worst. And even what’s reported, is often still sanitized a little bit. But here’s the spin on it that I think is so important. When you went there… I mean, first you have to tell us you went there, because for 40 years, this guy was just regarded as getting results. And you go there and you find that he does sometimes get some results. You don’t go there and say nothing ever happened. You go there and come back and go, “Well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. But there are some people that later report of having a positive result.” And you I’m sure had no way of knowing all the other stuff that was going on, like so many other people in the world didn’t. But there’s so many layers to this. Where do you even want to start? Maybe start with telling us specifically, what was your experience? What was your reason for going there? What year it was? And then what happened as this thing unfolded?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:02:23] I think that, of course, all sorts of ideas, and even of good concepts could be misused. Science is a big example. The Nazism was a big misuse of science. Darwinism was misused to support racism and things like that. So millions of people were killed based on misguided use of science, for example. We can misuse the idea of justice. And then we’ll behead people in the name of injustice and things like that. So I think that spiritual and religion is the same. Of course, it can do much harm is if it is misused. I think that’s the point is like any other major force in humans.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:03:17] Hold on. Now let’s make sure we’re talking… Because sometimes we’ve talked about this stuff, and we don’t really nail it down. You are primarily, I would say, exclusively talking about the social aspect of it. And maybe you could spread that out to the bio-psycho part that you’re talking about. But there is evidence, if you’re willing to let some of it in, that there is a spiritual part of this, that is negative, that is dark, that is evil, [and] that is all those things. And this is widely reported, right? We don’t have to dance around this. So that kind of brings a whole different flavor to that. Was john of God being demonically controlled to kind of go way out there on the edge? We don’t know. But doesn’t that have to be on the table as well as all the other things you’re talking about?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:04:05] Yeah, I think so. I think that all spiritual traditions talk about some kind of negative spiritual force. And I think this should be also discussed. And specifically about john of God, we performed a study with him in ’95. 26 years ago. We went there. [Unclear 1:04:28]. We went there. We interviewed people before and after the surgeries. We follow up the surgeries. We filmed the surgeries. We took the tissues that he claimed to have removed from patients. Actually he removed the tissues from patients. And so we found out that actually, he didn’t use an anesthetic procedure that we were able to detect. And [Unclear 1:04:51] procedures they pain… Most of patients did not report any pain, despite being cut with kitchen knives quite often. And the tissues that he removed, were compatible with the places from where they were removed. But most of these tissues were not [Unclear 1:05:12]. For example, he removed from health tissues from these different places. And also it was clear that [Unclear 1:05:21] his surgeries. We report everything that is in that paper published by the resident Medical Association. And also later we published with Stanley [Unclear 1:05:34] English version for this paper. At that time, we have never heard about this accusation of sexual problems and things like that. But since then, I was not directly focused in study of healing [and] psychic surgeries anymore. I took a different path in my career, investigating more spiritual experiences, mental health and mind to brain connections. Although, I think it’s very important to the study of healing, spiritual healing and things like that. And even here in Brazil, we have recently our discussion about mediums who claim to receive letters from deceased. And that is a big claim that some of them are actually fraudulent, taking information from internet, from social media and things like that. So of course, we need to be aware of all of this, fraud and misuse of spirituality, to have control and all other evil uses of religion. We need to be aware of this. It’s not new, for example, if we go to the Gospels, we can see that the people who Jesus blame the most or had more strong words to say to, were exactly the religious people who misused their religious power. So the misuse of religious power is definitely a big issue that needs to be taken in consideration.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:07:09] Right, I’m just going to poke at this a little bit more, because I’m very interested in this topic of evil, not because I want to stare into the abyss. But because I want to point out how inept we’ve allowed ourselves to be in dealing with this. And you mentioned the forced choice thing, and I think that’s where we’re at here. With evil, we’re forced into either this very rigid kindergarten, atheistic, “Well, that can’t possibly be true understanding,” or we’re forced into, “Oh, here it is, it’s in this book, I’ll bring out the gospel, I’ll bring up the crown, I’ll bring out whatever. And my book will tell us all we need to know.” Where you’re going, ultimately, I think, in terms of actually developing some kind of advanced understanding of these extended consciousness realms, and the light and the dark, and the good, and the evil as it exists, as it influences us, is what we really want on some level. And it’s really the only way… Intuitively we know that’s the only way to explain john of God, John of God isn’t just ripping people off. There’s something darker going on. Those Catholic priests that abuse at a systematic level, all those children, [and] all those families in Brazil, with some of the highest rates in the world. And the Catholic Church isn’t out of business in Brazil. They’re not out of business, anyplace in the world. They’re allowed to go on and it’s clearly an institutional level problem. If it was any normal organization, they’d just shut it down. Our intuitive sense is there is something more to that. That isn’t just bio-psycho. Its spiritual. And how do we get there? First of all, maybe you don’t agree with that. But if you do agree with it, how do we get there? It’s a very, very tricky and touchy subject to really full on contemplate what that evil is without just doing a drive by, stare into it, watching Netflix. Scary. Just what is really going on there?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:09:22] I don’t know if I have a good answer to your very interesting, [and] challenging questions. Yeah, I think all of us have our angels and demons inside us. And we need to be very careful to which of them, we will feed. And it’s even worse, because we know that some of the worst things done in history, were done in the name of good in some sense. Of course, usually people don’t say, “Okay, I’m doing bad thing. I recruit people to do bad things.” Of course, does not work like that. We say, “Oh, we are renewing the word. We are changing.” For example, the [Unclear 1:10:13] in China, with this cultural revolution, the idea was exactly that we are renewing everything, because the old people were bad. Let’s do this, and then let’s kill millions. So like the Nazism and like the religious wars and things like that. So I think we need to be very careful about the self-deception, [and] about the rationalizing our evil aspect of ourselves. So, we need to be very careful about that [and] very careful about the means that we use to some end. I think this is essential also to keep this in mind. And also, I think that a good cultivation of a healthy spiritual life that I try really to use would spiritual within meditation, prayer, contact with diverse people, to be open to criticism, to talk to other people with different perspectives, and genuinely search for the truth, and for the light. I think…

Alex Tsakiris: [01:11:24] I understand your hesitancy, because when we really want to talk about our own personal spirituality, it’s difficult, and you are playing such an important role in trying to keep your feet on solid ground on both counts, and I so respect that. And we so need that. And you’re so brilliant at the way that you do it. To whatever extent you feel, you can explain to us how you understand your personal spirituality, because what you just hinted at, is essentially, where I wind up at the end of the day, which is that the secret of the ascent is to always look up. And the light is really infinitely more powerful than the dark. And it’s really not that hard to distinguish between the two. I mean, we kind of have it wired into us, what’s the right thing. And even if we can’t choose it all the time, it’s a choice that we can make, and we can kind of see where that leads. It’s just not that complicated. But I just share that because I don’t want to just grill you all the time and not say anything. So to whatever extent you feel, you can share your personal understanding of spirituality.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:12:36] As I told you previously, I grew up in Spiritism, and Catholic background. And I’ve become more and more interested in perennial philosophy and seeing how different spiritual traditions throughout history are different angles to understand their transcendence, [and] their spirituality. Usually each different tradition, emphasize more one aspect of spirituality, but we can learn a lot from all these perspectives. So my personal view, [or] my personal, spiritual view, is that, we are spiritual beings, that we are in a journey, [and] that is something beyond matter. And we are in a journey towards God or whatever the name we call this, and there is kind of a harmony in the universe that is sustained by this higher being. And the different religious traditions are different angles that people can see aspects of this alternate reality. And these religions not are only different angles, but also [Inaudible 1:14:09]. And people found these different perspectives. And I truly believe that we are… I don’t see any distinction between any people from anywhere. I think we are in the same journey. We need to help each other in going to our higher… to what we’re destined to be. I think that’s the main idea. And I think as I said previously, I think that art, spirituality and science are two key ways to grasp this reality. And I am very interested nowadays, for example, in understanding spiritual motivations in art, and also there is a strong connection also in major artists, since Mozart, Beethoven. So I think that is a huge interconnection between these different aspects of human life and the connection with the ultimate reality.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:15:12] I think that’s wonderful. And I appreciate that. And you’ve certainly given us such a more encouraging [and] broader view of how we might imagine our own spiritual journey, and it’s just terrific. And it’s so appreciated. So in a little bit of time we have left Dr. [Inaudible 1:15:33], what are you working on now? What has caught you? Talk a little bit about the topics that you’re interested in. How do people follow what you’re doing and keep up with your work?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:15:43] Well, currently, we are performing some studies in spiritual experiences. Specifically, we are performing national surveys. One; people who claim [unclear 1:15:55] life and another in people who have a near death experience here in Brazil. So we are collecting reports from these people. These are actual studies. We are also performing a study nowadays with mediums who claim to receive messages from deceased people. We are investigating the accuracy of the information that they produce. We are also working with end of life experience of patients in hospices, [and] in palliative care units and we are investigating their spiritual experiences. We are also investigating more in a historical perspective, how the SPR, the Society for [Unclear 1:16:35] Research. The major minds in the first decades of SPR, how they deal with survival research, specifically regarding [Unclear 1:16:45] methodological challenges.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:16:48] End of 19th century [and] beginning of 20th century kind of timeframe?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:16:51] Yeah, [Unclear 1:16:62]. Yeah. And also we have a PhD student who is investigating also, philosophers for 19th and 20th century, and how they did discuss the possibility of empirical evidence for survival of consciousness, and which kind of evidence it would be. So these are some sorts of investigations that we are performing. And people who are interested in it, be in touch with us. We have our YouTube channel, TV Nupes. Nupes is the name of our research group. It’s a bilingual channel, Portuguese and English. So TV Nupes. N-U-P-E-S. So you search, it will find hundreds of videos from different perspectives [and] from different altars around the globe. So we have also our social media, in Instagram and Facebook. And this August, we are publishing a book at Oxford University Press. We are very proud of this book, because we’ll have more than 30 [Unclear 1:18:02] for 80 different countries, discussing the practical implications of spiritual to mental health. It can be found at Amazon, at their webpage that you showed previously.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:18:15] Can you give people the title of that book?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:18:18] “Spirituality and mental health across cultures” We are very, very proud of this book because it has the top authors in the world from different perspectives in spirituality and mental health. So I think this is a very, very good introduction and summary, to the practical aspects. And there is also this other book from Springer exploring the frontiers of mind and brain relationship that he published a few years ago. That discusses the more the mind, the brain issue, the spiritual experiences and these questioning aspects regarding materialism. I think this is also another possibility.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:18:56] I have to ask this because people are going to ask me, this book is an Oxford University Press. It’s going to come out at $70 in the US. A lot of people aren’t going to fork over that money. Sometimes they come out with a Kindle version later or a version that’s more affordable, is that a possibility?

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:19:16] Definitely! There will be a Kindle version, a paperback and also we asked them at some parts of the book will be open access for some months. So this is good news. And this book in the middle, this blue one, “Exploring frontiers of mind and brain relationship.” is a one that tackles more on the mind [and] brain issue in no-materialist perspective and the in depth analysis of different spiritual experience. It has chapters for Andrew Newberg, Maribo Hagar, Brucey Grey, [and] so many of the key altars in the field. So I think it’s a good overview also of this field. Also another aspect, [and] another good news is that this year our research group here in Brazil we are celebrating 15 years of our research group, Nupes. [Unclear 1:20:16] And on September 11, we’ll have an online meeting, bilingual, Portuguese and English also, discussing the present and future of science and spirituality. We will have also some of the best altars in the field. We will have [Unclear 1:20:36] in psychology. In medicine, we’ll have [Unclear 1:20:42] discussing consciousness, and how spiritual experience can help us to understand consciousness. We also have [Unclear 1:20:53], one of the best historians of science nowadays, who published at the Harvard University Press book. “Galileo goes to jail and other myths and religion science,” very, very interesting alternate on this. And also we will have Andrew Pinsent, who is a Catholic priest, physicist and director of research of the Center for religion spirituality for Oxford University Press. So we have very different altars from different perspectives, participating after this online symposium in September 11th. So you will find more information about these also in my social media and website or other aspects. Thank you very much.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:21:40] Thank you. So our guest, again, has been quite amazing. Dr. Alexander [Inaudible 1:21:45] Almeida. And please get out and support this research. You can see how important this is. This is a path forward. A lot of times we talk about some of the work that’s being done. And it’s hard to really see how it could change things, [and] how there really might be a path forward. And I have to say, this guy has not only painted the path forward, but he’s grabbed the sword, hopped on his horse, and he’s leading the charge forward. He’s a light bringer, and that’s wonderful. And he’s obviously a man of science and a learned man of reason. It’s been absolutely terrific connecting with you, and I appreciate so much for the time.

Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida: [01:22:31] Alex, thank you very much. Thank you very much for so kind words that you have said about our work. And really, I truly appreciate your work at skeptiKo. For many years, I follow up your work and I congratulate you. And I think exactly, works like you are an essential aspect from that strategy that I said previously about disseminating the knowledge, deconstructing these misguided assumptions and spread the word about the good new research. Congratulations.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:23:08] Thanks again to Dr. Alexander [Inaudible 1:23] Almeida for joining me today on skeptiko. The one question I tee up from this interview is, is this fight winnable? We’re in the middle of some very interesting times when it comes to World Health. Is this really a path forward? Or are there other forces in play that would make such advances impossible? Love to hear your thoughts. Come out over to the Skeptiko forum or drop me an email. Find me any way you can. Love to hear from you. Lots more to come. Until next time, take care and bye for now.

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