World Hypothesis




Explore, 2006

World Hypotheses and the Evolution of Integrative Medicine:

Combining Categorical Diagnoses and Cause-Effect Interventions with Whole Systems Research and Nonvisualizable (Seemingly "Impossible") Healing

Gary E. Schwartz, PhD1
Ernest P. Schloss, PhD2

Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery, and Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

Special Assistant for Clinical Coordination and Planning, University of Arizona College of Medicine, University Medical Center, and University Physicians Healthcare, Tucson, Arizona


Schwartz and colleagues have proposed that to understand (1) the evolution of science and medicine, and (2) the integration of conventional, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), it is essential to consider at least eight universal implicit meta-cognitive hypotheses. According to Pepper (1942), these implicit "world" hypotheses can be applied in every discipline of science. The present paper reviews the eight world hypothesis and proposes an additional hypothesis, termed the Nonvisualizable or "Nth" world hypothesis (adopting the mathematical concept of "N"; for example, as in N dimensional space). Drawing on contemporary mathematics and quantum physics, we propose that certain theories and data - by their inherent nature - cannot be visualized, and therefore may seem "impossible" (if not "unbelievable) even though they are real. Certain seemingly anomalous observations in mind-body and energy medicine, including areas historically labelled as parapsychology or spiritual energy healing, often elicit strongly skeptical and dismissive reactions. We propose that these skeptical and dismissive reactions to purportedly impossible (yet logical) theories and seemingly unbelievable (yet replicable) data can be tempered when the Nonvisualizible (Nth) world hypothesis is understood and incorporated. Integrity in evidence-based science and medicine may require that scientists and non-scientists alike develop comfort and humility in accepting the human mind's restricted ability to envision certain nonvisualizable - yet fundamental and real - concepts and effects, as illustrated in contemporary physics and CAM.

The complete text of this paper can be downloaded as a .PDF file by clicking here.