Why Woo Woo Works by David R. Hamilton PhD

The Surprising Science Behind Meditation, Reiki, Crystals and Other Alternative Practices

Why Woo Woo Works David Hamilton“The Oxford University Press’s definition of woo-woo is ‘Unconventional beliefs regarded as having little or no scientific basis, especially those related to spirituality, mysticism, or alternative medicine. The term is believed to have been coined in the 1980’s, possibly in imitation of the wailing sound associated with ghosts and the supernatural.”

I first came across the author David Hamilton (a former R&D scientist who developed drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer) in conversation with Colette Baron Reid on her podcast Inside the Wooniverse in the episode entitled “Why Woo Woo Works”

Inspired by the placebo effect and how some people’s conditions would improve because they believed a placebo was a real drug, he left the pharmaceutical industry to pursue the subject of how the mind and emotions can can improve mental and physical health. 

“Meditation is an example of how a mystical practice becomes mainstream once the science is known and enough people are doing it.”

In addition to reducing stress, meditation can result in higher levels of the telomerase enzyme, which can slow the rate of ageing at a genetic level.

An advocate for kindness, Hamilton suggests that the opposite of stress is not calm (one of the effects of the absence of stress), but kindness. You can read some of his favourite kindness quotes here:

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” HH the Dalai Lama

The Power of Imagination

“To a large extent, the brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary, and this underpins some aspects of the placebo effect. When you imagine that something is happening, it really is happening as far as your brain is concerned, and it releases the chemical substances necessary to confirm that what you’re imagining is indeed real.”

plants in vases

Photo Elle Hughes @Pexels.com

In his book, Hamilton discusses the many aspects of different spiritual practices and a few alternative therapies. He shares the most recent science behind why they work.

Some of the subjects covered are Mind Over Matter, Meditation, Trapped and Released Emotions, Nature, Reiki, Crystals, How Perception Changes Your Reality, Consciousness, Telepathy, Distant Healing and Prayer,The Right Conditions and The Law of Attraction.

A few things I knew intuitively that I hadn’t seen proven by science was the power of intention (of the healer), the effect of empathy by a medical practitioner and the difference it makes to pain thresholds having plants in a (waiting) room, or in any room.

“As airy-fairy as it sounds,we might find that on occasion, we could swap a couple of ibuprofen for a peace lily or a rubber plant.”

I really enjoyed the book which I ordered immediately after listening to him in the podcast, it’s an excellent summary of a few topics that are making significant improvements in the health and well-being of people,  it’s very accessible to read or listen to.

Further Reading

A Prescription of Kindness by David Hamilton, Dec 4, 2022

Interview with David Hamilton at The Mind Solution Podcast