The Mad Biologist Receives Odd Emails
I received this email:
I live in Monterey, California. I would love to share this story with your readers. My children went to a school in which pseudoscience was taught to them. However, it was something more insidious than "intelligent design." It was Qigong taught as science. One of my daughter's classmates fell unconscious while she was performing these exercises. Then the Qigong instructor ran to the victim and began moving his hands over her body, telling the students that he was healing her by moving his hands over her which was manipulating body energy or "Chi."
There's a petition too:
Over the past three years, the International School of Monterey, California, a public charter school, has had two "doctors of medical qigong" from the International Institute of Medical Qigong instruct their student body in "medical" qigong exercises. This was done without parental consent or notification. These "doctors" are not licensed by the State of California. In fact, to become a doctor of medical qigong, one has to learn among other things how to project energy balls, how to treat Spirit or Demon Possession, how to use hand seals and incantations to paralyze spirit entities, Faith Projection and Incantations, and finally how to understand psychic and sorcery attacks. The basis for these beliefs is the belief in a universal life force called "chi." This was also taught to the children.
In fact, one exercise that the children performed had them hold out their arms to the side and raise them over their heads. At this point, they were told that they were pulling energy ("Chi") out of the earth and it was populating their body organs, then as they lowered their arms they were told that they were returning the excess "Chi" to the earth.
The school has stopped the practice, but has refused to inform parents that their children were exposed to these pseudoscientific and occult beliefs. The school's charter is now up for renewal with both the State and the County. We the undersigned are requesting that both the State and the County refuse to renew the school's charter and withhold state and federal funding until the following steps are taken:
1. The School fully discloses to parents what the children were taught, including all lesson plans, tapes, and other relevant materials.
2. The school fully discloses all internal documentation about "qigong" and how "medical qigong" became part of its curriculum.
3. The school presents to all students the scientific view of Qigong and the non-existence of "Chi."
If these steps are not taken, then we the undersigned are requesting that the school’s charter and public funding be halted immediately.
Additionally, we the undersigned are asking that the state adopt a policy for schools that mirrors the 1998 federal law that states that employers cannot force their employees to perform these “exercises” without written consent from the employee because these activities could conflict with employees' religious beliefs or lack thereof. If employees cannot be required to engage in these, surely children should not be required to engage in similar practices in school that offend the beliefs of the children and their parents?
Are schools really teaching kids that they can pull energy out of the ground? Is there a cultural or political agenda here that I'm unaware of? And why didn't someone tell Bush that you can pull energy out of the ground by flapping your arms? It beats the hell out of switchgrass.
Update: figuring out what specific behaviors infringe on others' religious beliefs sometimes is quite tricky (e.g., sex ed). But teaching kids that they are sucking energy out of the ground is just daffy. That's as ridiculous as intelligent design.
(crossposted at Mike the Mad Biologist)