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Cognitive Science of Acupuncture & Qi (4) Sensemaking -Turning complexity into simplicity

What is Qi in acupuncture? Regardless of the specialty, what is expertise (or intuition)? How do experienced acupuncture doctors detect Qi, intuitively diagnose their patients, and treat their diseases? How should young therapists learn acupunctue to become experts and masters?

To answer the above questions, I have started my research project.

Qi is invisible. A few acupuncture masters with 50-year-clinical experience claim that they can see Qi. However, we cannot prove Qi scientifically.

Qi has its nature -both good Qi and bad one. Especially, bad Qi does not flow out of the patient's body. It accumulates at certain part of the body. Then, the patient suffer from diseases.

Bad Qi often reflect subtle abnormalities on the skin of body surface -at abdomen, back, arms, legs, and other parts. The skin may become slightly dried or humid, harden or soften, blighter or darken. Also, other clinical changes can be observed.

Experienced acupuncture doctors don't usually overlook such subtle abnormalties due to bad Qi. They have diagnostic methods such as visual inspection, ausculton, medical interview, and palpation.

In short, most acupuncture doctors cannot look at Qi but detect Qi through detecting subtle abnormalities of the patient's body.

The same holds true for NDM research, part of cognitive psychology. We, NDM researchers, cannot observe the process of intuitive thinking in the expert's mind (or brain). Also, we cannot scientifically (especially neurologically) prove how human intuition occurs.

As a matter of fact, all people always intuitively think something in daily life. For instance, any of us suddenly gets a good idea, finds out the best solution for an unexpected problem, intuitively evaluates other person's performance, etc.

Likewise, intuition works when the expert makes a judgment and decision. Intuition is not special for anyone.

To study intuition and tacit knowledge, one of the useful methods is to have an interview with the expert. The researher should ask the expert remember the moment when she or he had to find out a creative idea or make a crucial judgment and decision to cope with a difficult problem.

This is the key concept of Naturalistic Decision Making, NDM. The method to study the expertise or the process of intuitive thinking is called Cognitive Task Analysis.

Qi and intuition --Both acupuncture doctors and NDM researchers cannot see them. However, Qi reflect symptoms on the body surface. Intuition affect the expert's performance. We study the essence of Qi and intuiton by observing the patient's dieases and the expert's performance.

The original meaning of the word, 'Sensemaking', is how people understand the gradual and subtle changes of the problem and environment. This word also has another meaning --turning the complicated process of thinking into the simpler one.

As people have more experience, their thought processes become complicated as the yarn tangled up. One of jobs of NDM researchers is to make their thought process clear through cognitive interviews. It looks like we are unwinding the yarn tangled....


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