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Metaphysics of the Tea Ceremony

by Dean Radin

I've posted a few more articles on my evidence page, including this one: Metaphysics of the tea ceremony: A randomized trial investigating the roles of intention and belief on mood while drinking tea, by Yung-Jong Shiah and myself. Our objective was to test, under double-blind, randomized conditions, whether drinking tea "treated" solely with good intentions would enhance mood more than drinking the same tea. We used oolong tea.

This was a follow-up to an earlier, similar study testing whether intentionally "treated" chocolate would result in improved mood, also under double-blind conditions. Both studies showed that the treated substance resulted in better mood. The latest study also studied the role of expectation to see if it modulated this intentional effect. It did, to a highly significant degree.

The bottom line is that if you believe/expect that you are consuming a specially treated substance, that belief alone will strongly influence your mood. But if the substance is also intentionally "treated," then it will influence you even more. And vice versa—if you don't believe, you're less likely to see any effect.

This is related to the sheep-goat effect, long observed in psi studies, and to placebo effects in medicine and to experimenter expectancy effects in a wide range of areas. These effects have not been warmly embraced in science or in medicine despite the evidence that they exist because of a core assumption that underlies much of scientific epistemology: objective measurements are supposed to be completely independent of observation or psychological factors. This assumption works well enough to be useful in many contexts, but it's not universally true.

When core assumptions are found to be incorrect, that's where real progress begins.

  • 1 Comment
  • Anonymous Icon

    cougarB2010 Aug 22, 2014

    Dean, I'm really glad that you're still doing what you're doing, and I follow the controversies re TED Talks and Wikipedia, and I sometimes write rebuttals that refer readers to the IONS research pages. I was not aware of your evidence page. Thank you for reporting it here. I wish I had known about it before.

    Earlier today, the IONS newsletter directed me to Cassandra Vieten's Noetic speech on the TEDxBlackRockCity website, and somehow, I found myself reading comments on the YouTube of that speech. I had written two defenses suggesting that the skeptics go to the IONS.org site, research tab, as well as quoting your book Entangled Minds--the Hans Berger stuff and your great comment about the origin of the double-blind methodology on page 23. But I've now gone back to that discussion and added a third comment to direct followers of that YouTube to your evidence page. I'm bookmarking it, because it's exactly what I've needed for years.

    As for me, and the reason I was reading this blog, you recall my proposal regarding "Intentional Chocolate." I have to report to you that I'm two or three years behind my proposed personal timeline, but I'm still on task. I don't know if you recall that timeline--It was on the last page. I wish I had sent you an electronic copy, because then you could see it.

    The reality is that the job has become a bigger and more complex task that I thought it would. You can never tell where spirit will lead--otherwise, spirit wouldn't be necessary. So I think it's all good.

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