Fun_People Archive
18 Apr
The Amazing Randi Report - Qi Gong, again.

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 96 19:50:28 -0700
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: The Amazing Randi Report - Qi Gong, again.

Forwarded-by: James Randi --- Wizard <>


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

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


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