Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bend Over for the Jesus Shot

Okay, I'll admit it. This article is not as dirty as my headline implies. It's still pretty disturbing, though, in a totally different way. Just in time for Easter, an Oklahoma doctor who spent time in prison for fraud is being investigated for offering his patients something he calls "the Jesus shot." Nobody knows what's in it or how it works. But for $300, Dr. John Michael Lonergan claims that it will take away pain for life, regardless of the source.

Recent e-mails sent to News 9's newsroom claim the doctor is actively injecting people across the state with a mysterious formula called the "Jesus shot." News 9 tracked Lonergan to Full Circle Health in Edmond as well as Doorway To Health in Moore.

A receptionist at the Edmond clinic answered questions in a recorded phone call with News 9.

News 9: "Why is it called the Jesus shot?

Clinic: "I don't know why [Lonergan] calls it that."

News 9: "What's in it?"

Clinic: "You would have to sit down for a consultation with [Lonergan]. I do not know what the formula is."

Full Circle Health Clinic Director Barbie Schrick says Lonergan is a part-time employee. Schrick promises to investigate Lonergan's "miracle injection." The "Jesus shot" is described as an injection that takes away pain for life. It costs $300, according to the clinic.

"I am so glad you're telling me about this," Schrick told News 9's Michael Konopasek. "Thank God for the news that investigates and finds things out for people. Thank you."

Backing up a bit, one of the blogs I've been following for a number of years is Mike Sententia's Magic of Thought. Mike and I have similar backgrounds - we're both computer programmers with strong interests in exploring the overlap between magick and conventional science.

One of the main differences in our perspectives is that he comes from an energy healing background, and he's convinced that healing is one of the best areas to explore in terms of proving magick to skeptics. I disagree with that assertion entirely, because even in conventional science, healing is a mess. Introducing magical and/or spiritual concepts into it only makes that worse.

Witness the ongoing debates over acupuncture, which has more supporting evidence than most other "alternative" healing practices. The 2014 study mentioned in the linked article finally may have isolated a functional biological mechanism that explains why it works, but skeptics have not even bothered to address it, continuing to insist that it's all bunk just because they don't happen to like it.

The placebo effect is the big problem with doing any sort of healing trial. This is also an area of conventional science in which it is freely acknowledged that the mind has some ability to heal the body. Patients treated with anything often recover to some degree, but since our culture doesn't really address the mind-body connection very effectively, patients tend to attribute their recovery to the treatment, whether or not it does anything.

The acupuncture debate brought up the point that antidepressants such as Prozac only work about as well as acupuncture does, with a 7-10% difference between the experimental and control groups. But most skeptics don't have any problem with antidepressants, because they're conventional medications versus "alternative" treatments.

Now there is a fair amount of nonsense in alternative healing, but I think the solution there is to investigate what does and doesn't work with an open mind. Keep what works, and discard what doesn't. I expect that the "Jesus shot" falls firmly into the latter category, but I will grant that if Lonergan can show that it works better than a placebo in a controlled trial, it would be worth a look.

So I'm left wondering what's in the shot. If I were trying to create a magical Christian healing medication, I probably would start with something like holy water. Then, so you can inject it safely, you need to add salt to create saline - like maybe salt from the Dead Sea or something. Then you pray over it a whole bunch to infuse it with magical healing energy.

As Lonergan is a convicted confidence artist, I highly doubt he goes to that much trouble. The shot is probably just plain saline that, if pressed, he might explain as incorporating elements like those mentioned above, but he probably would be lying.

So those of Lonergan's patients who recover after the shot are experiencing nothing but the aforementioned placebo effect. That also explains why its effects appear to be so general, affecting all sorts of unrelated conditions, whereas most real medications are much more specific in nature.

Placebo - it's the cure for what ails you!

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: