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Explore (NY). 2006 Nov-Dec;2(6):509-14.

World hypotheses and the evolution of integrative medicine: combining categorical diagnoses and cause-effect interventions with whole systems research and nonvisualizable (seemingly "impossible") healing.

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Departmentsof Psychology, Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.


It has been proposed that to understand (1) the evolution of science and medicine, and (2) the integration of conventional, complementary and alternative medicine, it is essential to consider at least eight universal implicit meta-cognitive hypotheses. It has been suggested that these implicit "world" hypotheses can be applied in every discipline of science. The present paper reviews the eight world hypotheses and proposes an additional hypothesis, termed the nonvisualizable or "Nth" world hypothesis (adopting the mathematical concept of "N"; eg, as in N dimensional space). Drawing on contemporary mathematics and quantum physics, we propose that certain theories and data-by their inherent nature-can not be visualized, and therefore may seem "unimaginable" and "impossible" (if not "unbelievable"), even though they are real. Certain seemingly anomalous observations in mind-body and energy medicine, including areas historically labeled as parapsychology or spiritual energy healing, often elicit strongly skeptical and dismissive reactions. We propose that these skeptical and dismissive reactions to purportedly impossible (yet logical) theories and seemingly unbelievable (yet replicable) data can be tempered when the Nth world hypothesis is understood and incorporated. Integrity in evidence-based science and medicine may require that scientists and nonscientists alike develop comfort and humility in accepting the human mind's restricted ability to envision and imagine certain nonvisualizable-yet fundamental and real-concepts and effects, as illustrated in contemporary physics and complementary and alternative medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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