To: Subject: Qi Gong, again. Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 03:02:

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From: James Randi --- Wizard To: Subject: Qi Gong, again. Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 03:02:48 -0400 HOW OLD AND SIMPLE CAN A MIRACLE GET? A couple of years back, I reported on a demonstration given at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., in which the ancient Chinese art of Qi Gong was offered to a rapt audience. Among several simple conjuring/carnival tricks shown to establish the magical nature of this claimed healing modality, was one in which a pencil was held horizontally at its tips by a spectator, and a Qi Gong master brought down the edge of a longitudinally-folded dollar bill across the pencil, breaking it. This trick brought the house down, and the Qi Gong master's powers were established. Last week I received a letter from a professor at a (state of) Washington university, describing just such a trick being done in Xian, China, by a "Chinese medical doctor" who used a plastic chopstick rather than a pencil. The professor mentioned "the physics of breaking a chopstick with the edge of a dollar bill" and "estimates of speed of impact and inherent strength of the chopstick material." He ended with the question: "How would an expert iconoclast such as you interpret this event?" Without much difficulty. I've sent off to the professor three xeroxes from kids' magic books I have here, each explaining the trick. There are many, many more. The professor also described the medical treatment of a woman in his group, by the Chinese doctor. She had a sore back, and doubtless impressed by the miracle she'd seen, she submitted to the hands of the doctor. Now, lest you think that the professor is devoid of common sense, let me quote from his letter: Perhaps what broke the chopstick was a finger extended away from the dollar bill as it approached the chopstick. You got it, professor! But if it temporarily fooled you, don't be embarrassed. It's a good trick -- but it ain't Qi Gong. Or, maybe it is. In fact, I've never seen any Qi Gong demo that weasn't a simple trick.... Could it be that it's all a farce? As for the woman who underwent the treatment by this master of Qi Gong, the professor reported that ....He pounded the woman for awhile, causing additional pain but no long term benefit or harm. I'm sure we're all happy that he didn't hit her back with a dollar bill.... James Randi ************************************************** ** PROVIDED FOR YOUR REFERENCE BY THE MODERATOR ** ************************************************** Requests to be added to or deleted from the randi-hotline mailing list, must be sent to the service address: Internet: PLEASE BE PATIENT. All requests are processed before each new mailing to the list and these can be widely spaced. You *will* be added if your request was sent to the correct address. Mail to James Randi can be sent to: Internet: The Amazing One reads all mail and will generally respond eventually. This can change with growing volume, of course... Thanks to Anson Kennedy, back issues of the randi-hotline are now available on the World Wide Web: Back issues of the randi-hotline are also available via anonymous FTP to: USA: directory: /pub/an/anson/Mailing_Lists/geller-hotline directory: /Randi Please try first, since is very busy. EUROPE: directory: /pub/Randi Our gratitude goes to Anson Kennedy and Massimo Macucci for providing the ftp sites at netcom and, respectively. Randi also has a web page - check it out at


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