From the MartialPedia: The nature of qi is highly controversial, and the old controversy in Chinese philosophy as to the nature of qi still exists. Among some traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners, qi is merely a metaphor for biological processes similar to the Western concept of the soul, and there is no need to invoke new biology, much less new physics, to account for its effects. Others argue that qi involves some new physics or biology. Attempts to directly connect qi with some scientific phenonomena have been attempted since the mid-nineteenth century. The philosopher Kang Youwei believed that qi was synonymous with the later abandoned concept of lumeniferous ether. In the early 21st century, attempts have been made to link the concept of qi to biophotons or inner biological energy flow. As of yet, science considers these claims of qi as an independent force to be unconvincing. Claims that control of qi allows one to transcend normal physical and biological processes are widely regarded skeptically by the scientific establishment. There is also controversy between different groups which claim to work with qi for various purposes. Views of qi as an esoteric force tend to be more prominent in the West, where it has sometimes been associated with New Age spiritualism. These views are less prominent in modern communist China, where traditional Chinese medicine is often practiced and considered effective, but in which esoteric notions of qi are considered to contradict Marxist notions of dialectic materialism; China's current government in fact formally embraces anti-spiritual atheism. Many traditional martial arts schools also eschew a supernatural approach to the issue, identifying "external qi" or "internal qi" as representative of the varying leverage principles used to improve the efficacy of a well-trained, healthier than normal body with a given work load. Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches not only assume its existence but believe that the purported subtle energy running through and surrounding the body can be manipulated so as to cultivate increased physical, psychological and spiritual health. Acupuncture along with other practices of TCM, ayurveda and many other traditional disciplines worldwide provide examples of similar beliefs. Properly funded, conducted and repeated empirical research is necessary to determine if the success rate of these CAM approaches is due to: the existence of subtle energy, the placebo effect, and/or various other factors. Skeptically minded followers of the scientific method usually state that the results claimed by martial arts students and patients of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners can be explained without invoking esoteric or supernatural processes. In answer, most proponents of the effects of the cultivation of qi maintain that since modern scientific technologies have to this point been unable to create life out of organic chemicals in their laboratories, and that as qi is a metaphor for the energy of life itself, it is to be thereby demonstrated that the mechanisms of how the subject of such a metaphor would work so far elude the abilities of the scientific community to describe. Opponents argue that qi is merely a form of vitalism, a theory that was largely abandoned in the early 19th century. The concept of qi appears often in Chinese fiction, in which a stock character is that of the kung fu master who has gained control of qi, to the point that he can alter the forces of nature. This character has entered Western consciousness through the martial arts film. Many have also remarked on the similarity between the concept of qi and that of the fictional Jedi's Force in the Star Wars movies, and have suggested that George Lucas may have borrowed the concept, given that the movie was inspired from Akira Kurosawa's 1958 masterpiece The Hidden Fortress. There are qigong masters who claim to be able to manipulate their students from a distance with qi.