Well, this is a turnabout. In New Scientist, Jo Marchant writes about “Heal thyself: The power of mind over matter.”
Given that New Scientist has long championed the view that the mind doesn’t exist, it’s unusual that the story is not about why mind is powerless over matter. And in this coverage choice, the writer departs from the PZ Myers dictum that mindfulness is bunkum But we digress.
Promising “A free drug can help treat many disorders with no side effects: our minds,” Marchant offers six examples, including
Trials looking at the effects of meditation have mostly been small, but they have suggested a range of benefits. There is some evidence that meditation boosts the immune response in vaccine recipients and people with cancer, protects against a relapse in major depression, soothes skin conditions and even slows the progression of HIV.
Meditation might even slow the ageing process. Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, get shorter every time a cell divides and so play a role in ageing. Clifford Saron of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues recently showed that levels of an enzyme that builds up telomeres were higher in people who attended a three-month meditation retreat than in a control group (Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol 36, p 664).
Here’s the link to the first 4.5 of the 6. They want you to subscribe, to read it all conveniently – and if they keep going this way, it may be worthwhile.
In fact, if New Scientist keeps on this way, they will make life difficult for UD News. They were always such a ready source of crackpot cosmologies and psychologies, and fevered Darwin cult crusades, etc. A break from the more demanding coverage of real science news, often welcomed. Well, they’re better off with this, and UD News must just find other sources of lighter moments.
*Note: There’s a history here: In 2008, New Scientist’s Amanda Gefter launched an attack on non-materialist neuroscience, accusing Mario Beauregard (The Spiritual Brain) and Jeff Schwartz (You Are Not Your Brain). They replied, pointing out that their dispute with materialist neuroscience ( = you are your brain, and your brain is just neurons puppeteered by genes) is not mere ideology; they have not found the materialist approach useful in clinical practice. Meanwhile, in 2009, Gefter and New Scientist ended up in a legal clash with Darwin-doubting British M.D. James Le Fanu, over Gefter’s characterization of him – and the story was pulled from their site. Here it is. Gefter apparently opined, “If common sense were a reliable guide, we wouldn’t need science in the first place.” O’Leary replied, “Well, I think Gefter should try a little common sense, and maybe she wouldn’t be in this [legal] mess.” Also, Brit libel laws are in dire need of reform. Whatever Gefter said (and who really cares?), Le Fanu should not have been able to cause that kind of trouble to a pop science tabloid.