Is Reiki — the not-so-ancient Japanese energy healing technique by which your psychic empath aunt swears — a legitimate way to treat ailments like cancer, diabetic neuropathy, anxiety, lactose intolerance, and cooties? Or is it nothing more than a placebo that, at best, might offer you a relaxing way to spend an hour of your day — and a day of your savings? Here on Skeptical Sunday, it’s all hands on deck to discover the truth about the controversial practice of Reiki healing.
Welcome to Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where Jordan and fact-checker, comedian, and podcast host David C. Smalley break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up, and debunk common misconceptions.
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- How “ancient” is the hallowed practice of Reiki healing?
- With over 800 hospitals in the world offering Reiki — including Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic — there must be some tangible benefit to this energy healing technique, right?
- What scientific evidence do we have to support the efficacy of Reiki healing?
- How [much] does someone [have to pay to] become a Reiki practitioner?
- What can (and what can’t) Reiki do for you?
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, on Instagram, and on YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at email@example.com and let him know!
- Connect with David at his website, on Twitter, on Instagram, on TikTok, and on YouTube, and make sure to check out The David C. Smalley Podcast here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts! If you like to get out of your house and catch live comedy, keep an eye on David’s tour dates here and text David directly at (424) 306-0798 for tickets when he comes to your town!
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
Miss our conversation with ethical persuasion sensei Robert Cialdini? Get caught up with episode 507: Robert Cialdini | A New Look at the Science of Influence here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Reiki | Wikipedia
- What Is Therapy? | Psychology Today
- Top US Hospitals Promote Unproven Medicine with a Side of Mysticism | PBS News Hour
- Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant | Amazon
- Quantum Entanglement: Explained in REALLY SIMPLE Words | Science ABC
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Feng Shui/Bottled Water | Showtime
- Reiki Myths That Drive You Nuts | International Association of Reiki Professionals
- A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch | JAMA
- Catholic Bishops Say No to Reiki Treatment | National Catholic Reporter
- Should We Take Reiki Seriously? | Office for Science and Society, McGill University
- Sending Healing Energy Across Space and Time: The Practice of Long-Distance Reiki | Kripalu
664: Reiki Healing | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to McDonald's for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:07] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where fact-checker and comedian David C. Smalley and I, we break down a topic you may never have thought about, open things up and debunk common misconceptions — topics such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, why expiration dates on food are nonsense, why tipping makes no sense. We've even talked about ear candling and chemtrails recently.
[00:00:30] Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. And we turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers. And if you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about this show, the starter packs are where you do it. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic, and they'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on this show — topics like technology and futurism, China and North Korea, negotiation and communication, disinformation and cyber warfare, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:17] Today on this edition of Skeptical Sunday, Reiki healing — how can somebody heal me without even touching me or giving me any medication or in fact, maybe not even seeing me in person or in real life at all, and via Zoom. I don't know. I don't really buy it, but we're going to talk about it here with David C. Smalley. Maybe there is something to it. Then again, maybe that's something is just placebo effect, but then again, that's not nothing now, is it? All right, let's talk about Reiki healing on Skeptical Sunday.
[00:01:45] David, when we first started talking about doing Skeptical Sunday, one of the examples I gave of kind of obvious nonsense was things like crystal healing. And so Reiki healing was one of the first examples you came up with. And I looked this up because I hadn't really, I guess I'd heard the term, but never really knew what it was. It's actually even more — I'm trying not to be super dickish about all this. It's even more ridiculous than I thought.
[00:02:10] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Whenever I first brought it up to you, you kind of blew it off and went, "Yeah. But everyone knows that's bullsh*t."
[00:02:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:02:15] David C. Smalley: And then you're like, "No, no, no. Let's do, let's do other topics, things that people really needed to sink their teeth into." And I'm like, "Yeah, but it's kind of why it spread, man." There's a lot of people out there doing it. And a lot of people are not only doing it themselves but getting certified to do it to other people. It's offered at hospitals and stuff.
[00:02:32] Jordan Harbinger: Well, doesn't that mean it's legitimate, David.
[00:02:34] David C. Smalley: I mean that for some people it legitimizes it because they're like, "Wait, if it's available at Mayo Clinic, surely it's a good thing." And so I do feel like we need to, we need to address it, man. I think a lot of people get taken advantage of with stuff like this.
[00:02:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, well, then let's get into it because, of course, that is one of the key criticisms of — my criticism is, "Well, if it was BS, it wouldn't be offered at the hospital and licensed by X, Y, Z." So I definitely want to get into this and debunk a lot of this. Because it is hard to argue with somebody who wants to believe in something, and that's what this show is all about.
[00:03:06] David C. Smalley: You know, throughout these episodes, you typically — we'll be talking and you'll ask me a question about whatever's going on and we kind of guide through it like that. In a moment, I'm going to ask you a question about this. Okay. And it's going to be kind of a moral dilemma of what you think we should do. So—
[00:03:20] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:03:20] David C. Smalley: Let's just start it off like this. So you're talking — Reiki is basically 30 to 90-minute sessions. Okay. And it's essentially no-touch massage and sometimes the person will touch you, but it's very light touch. But it's all about these like 12 to 15 different hand positions where they can hover their hands over your body. And the whole point is to control the flow of energy. Reiki therapy is based on this idea of transferring their God-derived energy into a willing human. And they're essentially believing that they can or saying that they believe that they can channel divine energy and then push it into you while also absorbing or withdrawing your negative energy to get to the root of your medical problems. Of course, at the rate of 25 to a hundred dollars—
[00:04:13] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:04:14] David C. Smalley: —per session. The average is going to be about 75 to 90 bucks, depending on where you live. And by the way, there's also distance healing for those who want to do it over Zoom.
[00:04:24] Jordan Harbinger: Hey, if it's no-touch massage, get a massage on Zoom, right?
[00:04:26] David C. Smalley: Yeah, you can do it over Zoom for about 50 bucks for 30 minutes. So there are people doing it.
[00:04:32] Jordan Harbinger: I didn't know my Xfinity broadband could handle negative and positive chi energy flow. I can't even, I can barely—
[00:04:38] David C. Smalley: It can.
[00:04:38] Jordan Harbinger: —upload this show, the videos for this show, and yet it can transfer chi. This is such a full—
[00:04:42] David C. Smalley: Yup.
[00:04:42] Jordan Harbinger: —of surprises.
[00:04:43] David C. Smalley: It does depend on how fast your broadband is. You might not get as much good energy if you haven't upgraded.
[00:04:48] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. Yeah. You need Gigabit Pro if you really want to get the good stuff.
[00:04:54] David C. Smalley: But these same people will never recommend 5G. I promise you that.
[00:04:58] Jordan Harbinger: Probably not.
[00:04:58] David C. Smalley: So the way this originated, you know, once again, like a lot of these things much like ear candling, they claim it to be some sort of ancient healing method. That's absolutely false. It was created in the 20th century by this guy named Mikao Usui. He's a Buddhist monk who basically climbed a mountain starved himself for 21 days, had a malnutrition-induced hallucination that he called a vision about healing people with energy. And that's what people are doing.
[00:05:25] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Not a super original idea—
[00:05:26] David C. Smalley: No, absolutely not.
[00:05:27] Jordan Harbinger: —healing people with energy.
[00:05:28] David C. Smalley: It's just funny to me how this guy came up with it. Like, that's not how the greatest ideas are come up with. You know you don't develop an idea by starving yourself for 21 days and having hallucinations but, uh—
[00:05:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:05:39] David C. Smalley: —that's how rock songs are written. Everybody knows that.
[00:05:41] Jordan Harbinger: Although it might not be a starvation-induced hallucination when it comes to rock music.
[00:05:45] David C. Smalley: I was letting your folks put that together themselves, but—
[00:05:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, there may be other things. All right. So I've heard of it. I've seen it. I live in California. It seems to be all over the place. Is it just sort of a localized phenomenon? We talked about in the beginning that it's at the Mayo Clinic? Or maybe were you joking about that or is it actually at—?
[00:06:01] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:06:02] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:06:02] David C. Smalley: No, sadly, over 800 hospitals offer Reiki globally, including Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic even says it can treat Parkinson's disease, digestive issues, and even cancer. The University of Arizona also offers Reiki to patients who request it. And the Canadian Reiki Association recommends Reiki for ear or sinus infections, excessive fatigue, strong desires of sensual or sexual gratification, and for hearing voices.
[00:06:36] Now, here's an interesting sidestep to this conversation, Jordan, in a weird way — let me tell a brief story, and then I'm going to sort of pose this as a question. I have a family member who found out I was a non-believer and was like, "Hey, don't ever talk to my son about the fact that you don't go to church and you're not a Christian." And I said, "Okay, that's fine. But why not?" And the person said, "Well, because he has nightmares about demons and praying to God is the only thing that gets rid of the demons in his nightmares." And I was like, "Well, you know, he wouldn't know about the demons if you hadn't taught him about this entire thing to begin with." So it's like you're teaching him, that's causing the problem. And then it's just sort of self-perpetuating its own mental torture and anguish. But if someone is suffering from hearing voices or some type of schizophrenia or some sort of mental illness, one could argue that a placebo of the same magnitude could possibly help the situation. So do you think it could be offered to people? This is part one of the moral question. I think it could be offered to people who have those.
[00:07:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm a firm believer — well, I don't have to believe in the placebo effect that exists, but I'm a firm believer in allowing people to take full advantage of it. But I've done shows on the placebo effect before, and it really mostly/only works for pain. I don't know if you can sort of placebo your brain into being healthy if you suffer from an actual mental illness. That would require a study that I haven't seen. I haven't seen research on that at all. Now, if it works, then sure, go for it. But I'm highly skeptical that you can get rid of someone's schizophrenia by giving them a touchless massage. Same with the sexual addiction thing or the sudden strong desires for sensual gratification. I feel like somebody's lightly hovering their hands over you is probably one of the worst things you can do to get — "Take my mind off this sexual gratification thing and give me an almost touch massage." It sounds like, kind of like the opposite of what that person needs, but again—
[00:08:34] David C. Smalley: Hover your hands over my body and tease me more.
[00:08:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm no doctor, but that sounds like the exact opposite direction we're trying to go.
[00:08:42] David C. Smalley: It's like, "I have trouble with sensual gratification. I'm going to go to a strip club and be teased relentlessly."
[00:08:48] According to the IARP, which is the Reiki professionals, the International Association Reiki Professionals. This is on their website. Reiki doesn't cure anything.
[00:08:58] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you.
[00:08:59] David C. Smalley: They say it flat out.
[00:08:59] Jordan Harbinger: Good.
[00:09:00] David C. Smalley: But they do say it rather helps to get to the root of the problem, which is just a clever way of saying, "We didn't make a medical claim. So don't sue us."
[00:09:08] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Yeah. We can't make a medical claim because we will get sued, but we can also sort of allude to this vague idea that we do things that are maybe kind of medical, but only if you say they are, we didn't say it.
[00:09:20] David C. Smalley: Right. So the vast majority of these 800 hospitals — let me be very clear about this — they're not prescribing Reiki. They're not saying Reiki is part of this treatment plan. The vast majority, there are a couple, but the vast majority offer it. If the person requests it just like prayer.
[00:09:37] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:09:38] David C. Smalley: You could say, "Can you pray with me?" And a nurse will say, "Sure." And they'll say a prayer, especially if you were terminal or end of life. And as a non-believer I think that's a good thing. I'll say that out front. I think that that's sweet and that's caring and that's patient care because that person's mental health is extremely important to their wellbeing and their recovery. So if someone requests, "Will you pray with me?" in their final moments I think that's a sweet thing for someone at a hospital to do.
[00:10:02] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:10:03] David C. Smalley: And as a non-believer, if someone was on their death bed and said, "David, will you pray with me?" I would absolutely do it.
[00:10:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:09] David C. Smalley: It would be very hard to walk away and say, "Sorry, bro. This is about me."
[00:10:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:12] David C. Smalley: In that moment, it's not about me. It's not about, you know, your own beliefs.
[00:10:16] Jordan Harbinger: "I'm a little uncomfortable with this and the fact that you're dying. So I'm just going to go over here and check my email."
[00:10:24] David C. Smalley: "I'm going to scroll through TikTok and try not to be loud with your last breaths." That's terrible.
[00:10:29] Jordan Harbinger: It's terrible.
[00:10:30] David C. Smalley: Okay. Anyway, this is starting to sound like a comedy show greenroom. It's very, very rough in there.
[00:10:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:36] David C. Smalley: So back to the question in the situation where someone has cancer — this is the moral question I wanted to pose to you back on your placebo situation. If something doesn't technically or medically work, should we even allow it in terminal patients if it makes them feel like it could work? Like for example, embracing that placebo effect just for the patients' happiness, same with prayer or shaman rituals or native dances or whatever.
[00:11:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, as long as their medical care and stuff — so if your doctor is like, he's getting Reiki right now, but we're still doing chemo because that's what he needs in order to maybe get rid of this cancer then yes, definitely. The only time I have a real problem with this kind of stuff is when someone says, "Oh, Western medicine has failed us. Come fly to my weird clinic in the middle of nowhere, where I can pull the chicken guts out from your stomach, using magic, sleight of hand and make you think I'm removing your cancer." If it costs you your life because you're not getting other treatment, then it's evil. But if you're in a hospital and you're getting chemo and they say, "Take this magic throat lozenge, because it gets rid of the nausea and it will help your chemo and it's a frigging Jolly Rancher," then go for it. Because at this point, you're just trying to treat pain and misery. And if you have to give somebody a little bit of a white lie and it doesn't cause them to suffer and it doesn't cause their treatment any issues or take them backwards, then I find it to be totally moral.
[00:11:56] David C. Smalley: These Reiki practitioners essentially try to make this sound medically and scientifically sound by using the phrase "quantum entanglement."
[00:12:03] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh, yeah.
[00:12:04] David C. Smalley: If someone is like skeptical of this and talks to someone who's a Reiki practitioner or a Reiki master, if you are lucky enough to have one of them grace your presence and you push them on it and they start saying things like quantum entanglement, it sounds like they're talking over your head and you're like, "Well, I don't know what they're talking about. So I'm going to back down because I don't know how to challenge that." That concept is basically used by theoretical physicists to describe when quantum particle pairs interact with one another and create some sort of issue by becoming entangled, which is a real thing, but there is zero evidence that, that can happen with the moving of hands over your body.
[00:12:38] So it's essentially a way of saying Reiki is good because quantum physics is really hard to understand. So just take my word for it. And if you want to fact-check it, good luck getting your PhD in theoretical physics, but it's not a real thing. And no one has actually proven that that can happen, or I wouldn't be covering it on Skeptical Sunday.
[00:12:55] Jordan Harbinger: I assume somewhere along the line, somebody has studied whether or not patients can, or even Reiki practitioners can actually feel their client's energy, right? I remember watching an episode of Bullsh*t with Penn & Teller and they were doing like — what is it? Feng shui and everyone said, "It's science." And they all had different answers for what the way of rooms should be arranged based on the science, which is, you know, not how science works. So there are ways to test if somebody can actually feel any sort of energy from someone else, somebody must have run this experiment at some point.
[00:13:25] David C. Smalley: Yeah, absolutely. And I did an episode like that on my podcast as well. I had a crystal healer in studio and she claimed she could feel the energy and crystals. And I told her, "I didn't think there was any energy and crystals." With her permission, we blindfolded her and had her hold out her hands and she brought crystals from home. And we had her lay her hand out flat so that she couldn't grab it and feel the texture of the crystal. She laid her hand out flat and we just placed different objects in her hands to see which one had the most energy in it. And the one she chose with the most energy was a plastic bottle. I just took it off my water bottle and send it in her hand while she was blindfolded. She's like, "This is very powerful." She was right about 40 percent of the time. So she was actually, you know, wrong 60 percent. And at the end of the show, she was like still, "Maybe I didn't charge them enough the night before. I need to put them out in the sun for two days instead of one." And you know, it just started to backtrack.
[00:14:18] The same thing happens with Reiki. There was a researcher named Emily Rosa. She came up with this really clever way of testing whether or not this therapeutic Reiki practitioner could really feel their client's energy. She tested 21 of them under blind conditions, and they basically did no better than a coin toss. And I've seen other experiments where people have to put these Reiki practitioners, put their hands through a wall and they have to tell you when a person is standing in front of their hand. And again, they're right 50 percent of the time. It's essentially some sort of coin toss.
[00:14:51] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:14:51] David C. Smalley: The only evidence is it is purely random and they're guessing because if you flip a coin to say yes or no whether or not there's a person on the other side of the wall, the coin toss will be just as accurate as the Reiki healer.
[00:15:02] Jordan Harbinger: You know who I will let put their filthy hands all over my body? The sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:15:11] This episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show is brought to you by McDonald's proudly serving communities since 1965. McDonald's is more than a place to get some of that tasty food. It's a place where people connect. For me, it was a place to feel like home, even when I lived in Serbia, Germany, and Mexico. As I mentioned before, I haven't used to go there for the occasional McBeer back in my day is living in Germany. This weekend, we took the family to go strawberry picking — which pro tip get up at like 5:00 a.m. and do that because by the time we got there, there was nothing left, but on the way home, we stopped at McDonald's and I go to the front of the register, order a Happy Meal and the McDonald's crew members like, "Oh, you got to wait a minute because it's still breakfast time. Lunch starts at 11:00 a.m." And it's like 10:58, 10:59. So I stepped back and this other guy goes up to order — and I'm waiting — and the guy ordering just takes forever. Like he's never seen McDonald's before ever been there in his life or something. And the menu switches over to lunch and this other guy waiting patiently for a long time, it goes up and he's like, "Yeah, two egg McMuffins," whatever. And they get like, "Sorry, man. It's lunchtime." And everyone, everyone behind was just like, "Ooh," and in the end they made him his breakfast. And like half the restaurant cheered because we all know that feeling when you just want an egg McMuffin, but it's lunchtime as of two minutes ago. Anyway, so we order our usual Happy Meal for Jayden. He's so excited. He's like, "Where's the toy? Where's the toy?" And I remember those days, so fondly myself — I should dig those happy meal toys out of my parents' basement. They're probably like there's college tuition money in there, I bet, at this point. So we sit down and we bust the thing out and the disappointment is real, right? It's the same toy he got last time. We're in the car at this point. Luckily, I hadn't started going. I run back in and thanks to the McDonald's crew member. We're able to avoid a catastrophic, tired two-year-old post-strawberry picking meltdown. And they were kind enough to let him switch his toy and the way his face lit up, it just reminded — I just immediately went back to my own childhood. Just the definition of happiness when you get the one that you want.
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[00:17:41] Now for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:17:45] Now, you mentioned certification. Not having any sort of scientific background or any sort of reliable way to test anything that hasn't stopped people from trying to certify people for all kinds of things throughout history. So I assume you can get your Reiki practitioner certificate, probably let me guess on the Internet by telling the person or the organization that you can do this. And that's probably good enough.
[00:18:11] David C. Smalley: No, you got to pay like $25.
[00:18:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay. Sorry. Aside from that—
[00:18:14] David C. Smalley: You forgot that piece.
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: I forgot that piece.
[00:18:17] David C. Smalley: So it's one of these things where they sort of walk the line of being medical, right? So in this instance, like I can't certify you to be a black belt in karate because I don't have the credentials to certify a black belt in karate. But if I made up my own form of, you know, David Jitsu, I could just say, "Jordan, you've got the look I can tell you're going to nail it. You're now a black belt in David Jitsu," because I am David and I get to control that, right? So I can control the narrative. So there's no background or social training required. You basically just need a current Reiki master to give you attunement, not atonement, attunement. Well, how do you obtain that? Here's the thing I found one for $26 and six hours of your time, you can be a certified Reiki practitioner. I almost did it, Jordan.
[00:19:08] Jordan Harbinger: Just for the show.
[00:19:08] David C. Smalley: I almost did it just as a joke to go. Here's my certificate. I'm a Reiki, I'm a certified Reiki practitioner. I had the 26 bucks. I didn't have the six hours of time.
[00:19:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I was going to say, it's not that it's not the money. It's the time.
[00:19:19] David C. Smalley: Yeah. It's definitely the time. And you can do it online. You're spot on. You can certainly do it on. And although there are premium teachers who are much more expensive—
[00:19:28] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:19:29] David C. Smalley: There's a Claudia Borges out there who charges $333 for four hours to reach level one. And only after you complete level one, can you apply for level two and pay $385 for level two status and go for another four hours. And then once you do that and you practice for six months, you can then come back and pay $610 for five hours for a level three class. Once you complete that, you're a Reiki master like Claudia, who says on her website, and I quote, "At the end of each class, you will be attuned to the Reiki energy. Attunement is a simple sacred ceremony performed by a Reiki master where the master connects the student to the universal life force energy that is Reiki." I guess it's like 99.5 FM. I don't know.
[00:20:17] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:20:17] David C. Smalley: And then to become a Reiki practitioner, you must receive attunement from another Reiki master. Classes and attunements can be online or in person, your choice. But as you practice this gentle energy healing technique, your spirituality and intuition will grow. In just a couple of hours, you can obtain the skills to use Reiki for yourself, your family, your friends, and even your pets, Jordan.
[00:20:41] Jordan Harbinger: No — well, it's so funny. It's like this deep primal life force energy. You need six hours of this and five hours of that but hey, then when you're done in a few hours, you can use it on your family and your friends and your pets and your intuition will grow, but we might note — never better than a coin toss, never better than a coin toss.
[00:21:02] David C. Smalley: Exactly. And the great part about this class is once you're done with all of that grueling studying and work, you're then certified to teach others and attune them to your Reiki ways.
[00:21:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:21:12] David C. Smalley: Which essentially means you cannot only screw over your friends and family who need to be healed, you can also take advantage of people who also want to help others by using their magical powers by charging them ridiculous prices for nonsensical courses.
[00:21:23] Jordan Harbinger: So it's like a pyramid scheme, except it's not that efficient and you don't have to kick up. Once you're done kicking up, you're off the hook.
[00:21:30] David C. Smalley: It just keeps on giving.
[00:21:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:31] David C. Smalley: It just keeps on giving.
[00:21:32] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my goodness. So how widely accepted as this? Like, you know a lot of people I know who are into super new age-y stuff, even they will tell me, like, "Eh, I'm not really into the Reiki thing," right? So that people have their lines, but it has made its way into popular culture.
[00:21:47] David C. Smalley: Absolutely. But you know, something is still somehow on the fringes when the Catholic church says it's too weird.
[00:21:53] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:21:53] David C. Smalley: In 2009, the Catholic church did a full study on Reiki. Now, what I'm about to say is going to be filled with a lot of Easter eggs. So I want people to pay close attention, take notes if you need to, rewind it. They did a full study on it. And so yes, the Catholic church did a study. And they released these findings saying, quote, "Reiki finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief." And a group of bishops actually said, and I quote, "Reiki lacks scientific credibility and has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy."
[00:22:31] Jordan Harbinger: Not wrong.
[00:22:32] David C. Smalley: They literally perform exorcisms by the way, which we should totally cover on an episode of Skeptical Sundays.
[00:22:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:22:38] David C. Smalley: I want to add that to the list. But then they go on to say that it poses a problem because, and this is another quote from their study, "For Christians to access divine healing is to do so by prayer in Christ as Lord and Savior," which somehow is scientific.
[00:22:56] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, yeah.
[00:22:57] David C. Smalley: But the whole point is that Catholics are worried about exactly how someone is attaining this divine healing without prayer. So could it be demonic, right?
[00:23:08] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, I see.
[00:23:09] David C. Smalley: Are you accessing some level — like are you cracking open, you know, God's back door and taking powers that you aren't actually authorized to use?
[00:23:17] Jordan Harbinger: There's that? And there's also — "We've investigated this and turns out we're still the only game in town," right?
[00:23:22] David C. Smalley: Yeah. It turns out, "We haven't found a way to monetize Reiki," so—
[00:23:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:28] David C. Smalley: Yeah. "We're going to say it's a bad thing.
[00:23:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "We're going to stick to our system. It's a couple of thousand years old. It's been working for us so far and we don't like this new stuff."
[00:23:36] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:23:36] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny when I'm sitting there nodding like, "Yeah. Catholic church, you tell them." No, I don't have anything against — like, I don't have anything against people of faith or the Catholic church—
[00:23:45] David C. Smalley: Sure.
[00:23:45] Jordan Harbinger: —you know as a whole, I would say but rarely do we agree on scientific studies and what is scientific and what is not, I mean, that — you got to give me that one, folks.
[00:23:55] David C. Smalley: Right, right, absolutely.
[00:23:56] Jordan Harbinger: Going back to what we said before about doing this over zoom. Even somebody who's been doing this and really, really, really believes it, right? They have their hand over you. Why bother to do that at all? If you really think you can do this over Zoom, then there's no reason to ever do it in person. And also, why do you need to put your hand close to me if you can do it over Zoom, right? Why can't you just stand across the room? Like, all of this stuff sort of breaks down, even the most sort of diehard Reiki believer has to be like, "Eh, the Zoom thing is a little bit of a play."
[00:24:24] David C. Smalley: Mmm, I don't know, man. I don't think so because you're bringing too much thinky thinky into this.
[00:24:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:24:29] David C. Smalley: Remember it's energy, man. We're getting energy from the sun from 93 million miles away. I mean—
[00:24:35] Jordan Harbinger: Touché.
[00:24:35] David C. Smalley: —energy is energy. So if I can push energy seven inches above your body, why can't I push it through the Internet to, you know, Miami, Florida?
[00:24:44] Jordan Harbinger: True. Yeah. Sure.
[00:24:44] David C. Smalley: And it also depends on how good you are, right? So if you're really good, you can do distance healing according to the Reiki masters which includes virtual chakra balancing. Now, as long as we're making lists of things to talk about on future Skeptical Sunday episodes, chakra is definitely one I want to address.
[00:25:05] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:25:05] David C. Smalley: I've got to, but I'll do my best to kind of summarize what's going on with this distance healing situation. So you basically do it over Zoom or Skype or something like that. You can over FaceTime, you know, whatever, whatever is going to have the best connection for the energy push. And you're right. You would never need to go in person because in order to do this, you're essentially seeing the person and then imagining them receiving the energy. And then if they are willing, they can receive the energy because you can send energy to people without their consent.
[00:25:34] Jordan Harbinger: That sounds creepy.
[00:25:34] David C. Smalley: Right, it does. They have to be willing to accept the energy. So if they don't accept that, it'll just bounce off of them and then they're missing out on free healing, bro. So that's part of the issue. The Zoom calls on average lasts about 40 minutes. Okay. You basically have to talk about how you're feeling, you do breathing exercises so you can receive the healing. And those in themselves can actually be good for you, right? You're talking about why you need the healing. It's almost therapy, right? You're explaining what's going on either physically or emotionally or mentally in your body. And you're expressing to another person what's going on. So you're taking note, you're being aware, you're being mindful. All of those things are real and can help someone feel better.
[00:26:13] But once you do that, then you lay down with a mask on or something covering your eyes. You're supposed to like put a pillow over your head or some kind of towel, something to block your vision. I guess just to make sure this is as creepy as possible for Dr. Reiki wizard to look at you—
[00:26:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no kidding.
[00:26:28] David C. Smalley: —while you're not looking at them. And typically, all you can hear — and actually, I went and read reviews of people who have done distance healing, and they basically just say that all you can hear is the person breathing. Like you just hear a person's breath over and over for 40 minutes. So it's basically like a sound bath but with hot air. And according to thriveglobal.com, which is a holistic healing website for corporations, in order to provide distance healing, the practitioner must and I quote, "Use their imagination."
[00:26:58] Jordan Harbinger: Ah man, why didn't I think of that?
[00:27:00] David C. Smalley: That's what you're missing is the imagination.
[00:27:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:27:02] David C. Smalley: So the first step to distance healing is to attune to the Reiki frequency.
[00:27:06] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:27:06] David C. Smalley: I would have to pay $26 to know exactly what that frequency is. I'm sorry, I can't provide that for today. And then they say it helps you get into a positive emotional state so that you can send positive energy to someone else. But I wonder if it helps, you know, to have good Internet or if you have a bad signal that there's some kind of issue.
[00:27:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. You can't use Google Meet so you can use Skype and Zoom only.
[00:27:26] David C. Smalley: There you go. Skype and Zoom, probably Zoom is going to be the new norm. But they warn you that you're going to see the energy as a white light. So just be sure to imagine them smiling. They say repeatedly as they're teaching you to do this, or as they're talking about how this works, it only works if you have the positive energy, if you imagine positive energy and if you imagine the person smiling. And you'll learn about the symbols and everything in level two, but the way you do it is you basically visualize the person you're sending Reiki to. You imagine them smiling and then whatever Reiki symbol you want to send them, you literally just draw the symbol with your finger in the air and it can send it to them through the ether.
[00:28:08] So you kind of need a photo, right? of the person, so you can imagine them smiling. Or in a best-case scenario, you're watching them on video and you imagine them smiling as you're sending it to their body. So if you don't have a photo and don't know what they look like, and you're only doing this over the phone, the backup backup plan is to then write their name down on a piece of paper while you're talking to them on the phone, draw the symbol next to their name, imagine this imaginary person receiving this, and then you charge them $50.
[00:28:40] Jordan Harbinger: This is so simplistic that — and I've rarely ever said this — this is almost like if you buy into this, you almost deserve to lose your money at this point. The problem is it goes to a scammer. That's where I have a problem with it, but that's unbelievable.
[00:28:52] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:28:52] Jordan Harbinger: Can you Reiki somebody without them knowing it? Speaking of creepy.
[00:28:56] David C. Smalley: You can skadoosh it their direction. And if they are constantly open, they can receive your skadoosh.
[00:29:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:03] David C. Smalley: But if they are not open, it can bounce off of them. They won't receive the healing, but at least there they're staying safe from your nonconsensual Reiki pushes.
[00:29:15] Jordan Harbinger: Got it.
[00:29:15] David C. Smalley: Also, if you open yourself up to this — and I believe this is part of the Catholic church's issue with it — what if that Reiki healer has evil intentions?
[00:29:25] Jordan Harbinger: Uh-huh.
[00:29:25] David C. Smalley: What if they start sending you negative energy? What if they're pretending to be positive, but really they're working for Satan and they start pushing negative energy into you and you're receiving it and think you're getting positive energy — look, I'm just trying to fight fire with fire here, Jordan.
[00:29:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Tricky. Tricky.
[00:29:40] David C. Smalley: Yeah.
[00:29:40] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like maybe you should just stay away from people pushing their energy into you in the first place.
[00:29:45] David C. Smalley: This is a colossal waste of money. And I think like you said, the real danger is with anyone who chooses Reiki over actual medical treatment. So just like what those push-up mats and the rolling sit-up things, diet and exercise, regular healthy diet and exercise is very important. Drink lots of water, eat your veggies, and talk to your doctor about it. But please, stay skeptical of Reiki healing.
[00:30:08] Jordan Harbinger: You're making me rethink my ThighMaster, Dave. Thanks for coming on.
[00:30:11] David C. Smalley: Thanks for having me, man.
[00:30:14] Jordan Harbinger: You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with the godfather of influence Robert Cialdini.
[00:30:20] Of course, as we know from being scammed over and over by everyone online or otherwise, all of these things can be engineered. And we've talked about that on the show. We've had con men on the show who pulled these levers, right?
[00:30:33] Robert Cialdini: And they are levers of influence. They just flick a switch. And we respond automatically. Liking is one of the universal principles of influence because it works so well and so broadly across all of these situations. There is also something called a horns effect, just as there's a halo effect where everything around you, if you're good looking, if there's something negative about you, people then associate other negative things with you. So we have to be sure that our first encounters with people are very positive. When you go into a new situation, when you don't know very much about the people that you're dealing with, expect the best from them that allows you to be generous.
[00:31:23] And the consequence of being generous hits on three of the principles. First of all, people like you more. Secondly, they reciprocate the generosity with generosity of their own. And when they've done that, when they've given to you, they made a decision about making a commitment to your partnership. It's costless. And the other thing it does besides producing a gift that you given to people and the obligation to give back that goes with it, you've established yourself as an authority. And authority is another one that the universal principles of influence. Whatever your business is, you give first.
[00:32:10] Jordan Harbinger: For more on Robert Cialdini's universal principles of influence that will turn you into an unstoppable persuasion machine, check out episode 507 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:32:22] Really appreciate everyone's attention today. I love doing these Skeptical Sunday episodes. A lot of positive feedback from y'all on these. There's some haters, of course, because some people really believe in chemtrails and really believe that they are psychic or whatever. And I can't really do much about that now, can we?
[00:32:38] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn. You can find David Smalley at @davidcsmalley on all social media platforms, at davidcsmalley.com. Or better yet find them on his podcast, The David C. Smalley show. Links to all that in the show notes as well.
[00:33:00] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions, they are our own. And I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. So share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who needs to hear it. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you, and we'll see you next time.
[00:33:32] And thanks again to our sponsor McDonald's. Share your crew story at mcdonalds.com.
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