The Magic Feather Effect

The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
3.9 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The acclaimed author of Pandora’s Lunchbox and former New York Times reporter takes an enlightening, engaging, deep dive into the world of alternative medicine and the surprising science that explains why it may work.

We all know someone who has had a seemingly miraculous cure from an alternative form of medicine: a friend whose chronic back pain vanished after sessions with an acupuncturist or chiropractor; a relative with digestive issues who recovered with herbal remedies; a colleague whose autoimmune disorder went into sudden, inexplicable remission thanks to an energy healer or healing retreat.

The tales are far too common to be complete fabrications, yet too anecdotal and outside the medical mainstream to be taken seriously scientifically. How do we explain them and the growing popularity of alternative medicine more generally? Is there a biological basis for practices like acupuncture, tai chi, chiropractic, and energy healing? Who are the faithful patients and practitioners who tell these stories and speak of such mystical-seeming concepts as qi, chakras, and meridians in the first place?

In The Magic Feather Effect, author and journalist Melanie Warner attempts to answer these questions, taking us on a vivid, fascinating journey through the world of alternative medicine. Crossing continents and sides of the debate, visiting prestigious research clinics and ordinary people’s homes, she investigates the scientific underpinning for the purportedly magical results of these practices and reveals not only the medical power of beliefs and placebo effects, but also the range, limits, and uses of the surprising system of self-healing that resides inside us.

Equal parts helpful, illuminating, and compelling, The Magic Feather Effect is a brilliant exploration of some of the world’s most popular health treatments, the people who seek them, the scientists who study them, and the reasons they may work. 

©2019 Melanie Warner (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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Really Disappointing

Warner had the opportunity to dig in and really examine what is it that makes people feel better with alternative medicine. She did get close several times but again and again veered away from truth and enlightenment by appealing to anecdote and ending with the old canard that MDs just need to be nicer & care about patients. She allowed to flourish the idea that has so hurt America in the last decades- the maturation of post-modernism into a freedom from fact. It's how you feel about something that is important, because the facts are all made up anyway. This could have been a very useful step in the rehabilitation of the American realism, but instead we are treated to the current iteration of witch doctor, shaman, curandero, and faith healer.

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  • Booklover
  • 07-18-20

A MUST listen! Enquiring minds should not worry

A great package of text and performance. One of the best overviews of this subject you will find