Ted, I would suggest you consider a few things before coming off so elitist. First, consider who you are writing to. Second, consider whether or not your comment helps the original poster in any way shape or form, which is the ultimate purpose of our forums. And, finally, pay close attention to what I actually wrote.
If you would look through some of my other writings you would realize a few things. One that I have written about running fire and other qi gong deviations previously and very often write cautions, etc. about proper qi gong and tai chi training. Second you would have noted that my teachers are extremely qualified and in authentic lineages and I am qualified in my own right.
There is a problem with many practitioners in the martial arts who feel they have "accomplished" something. They tend to look at other avenues of training as inferior or worse just plain garbage. The problem with this is the same with any elitist stance in that there is both many avenues to accomplishment and there are differing levels of accomplishment for different people.
In a public forum such as ours you need to always keep in mind proper context. In this post for example the person was simply asking a direct question about getting started with qi gong. They were not asking about becoming an advanced martial artist, about developing powerful fa jin, about becoming a gifted medical qi gong healer, about floating, fasting for weeks, or anything else - simply about how to get started. My suggestions were appropriate and to the point for this particular person in this post, nothing more, nothing less.
There are a multitude of qigong routines that can easily be learned, safely and effectively, from books and/or DVD's like the ones I mentioned in the absence of personal instruction. True, this is not always ideal. Yet, if you paid close attention to my post you would have read this - "For people with just general interest in improving their health and energy most qi gong routines are better than doing nothing." And this is true. Not everyone has access to a teacher and not everyone even cares to take it that far. But for those general practitioners they will learn something that relaxes them, improves their circulation, and they will be better off for it. The dangers of qi gong and tai chi come more (nearly exclusively so) from over practice and incorrect/forced breathing and not from qi gong itself. Most accomplished practitioners understand this and let go of their fear and trust in the naturalness and organic nature of qi gong movements.
The truth is that most beginners, except perhaps for very rare few with extremely heightened natural sensitivity, neither practice enough nor move enough energy to create any significant disruptions.
Along that thought, not everyone wants to take their practice deeply. Some will start, learn some basic techniques, get some benefits and leave it at that. Others will start in one fashion or another and have a desire to delve more deeply into these arts. For those instruction will be required. Again, this is not the persons case and scaring people from qi gong to make yourself seem more accomplished is both unethical and shows a poor understanding of that organic nature of qi gong.
To continue with the importance of a teacher, yes, for accomplishment it is crucial. But ask yourself this. Would you learn more from a textbook written by Yang Cheng Fu, for example, than you would by a teacher with 3 years of experience even though you are meeting them personally? Obviously in this case the text is valuable. And while deep levels of these arts are unattainable and even dangerous without personal instruction from an accomplished master, this is not what most people are looking for. They will find that if and when they need to. Many of these teachers will not even take beginners, they expect at least some level of accomplishment before they will even teach.
As far as teaching goes, again if you read my post, you would see that I referred the poster to a very senior student of a well respected, purely authentic lineage holder of the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan - not just some run of the mill instructor. Grandmaster Chu is respected around the world in Tai chi and in other martial arts circles not for his academic knowledge, his large seminars, or whatever other garbage teachers stand on rather he is respected for his verifiable, tested, and demonstrable abilities. Obviously I care about the quality of instruction when it is available and appropriate.
You would also note that the two DVD's I recommended are of this style, can be at least started from the DVD and then when time permits can be corrected, etc. by this teacher who has classes near the poster (which I also mentioned in my comment). Again, not everyone can attend classes on a regular basis. The books I recommended are from another senior student, an extremely gifted qi gong healer, again with verifiable results, and years of experience. They talk about running fire, etc. not controlling the breath and all of the important points for those who need to learn in the absence of personal instruction. They are not just books with pictures of movements. In fact the books are 95% theory, cautions, etc. and 5% about these very simple easy to learn and effective routines. And, again, yes, you can learn and derive great benefit from these dvd's and books.
From your perspective the high percentage of the world that has no access to accomplished instructors should just sit down and wait until they are reborn into a place where such exists. This I don't agree with, nor will anyone else.
I won't even entertain your statements about qi except to say that qi is not a belief system, so, no, I don't "believe" in qi - it simply exists as does qi gong in all its naturalness and I'm thankful for that and am happy to share that with others in whatever way they can take it in.
To summarize in very easy terms:
Question - I want to Jog 1/2 mile 3 days a week for health.
Ted - Find a professional coach and don't move an inch until you are carefully guided into being a fully accomplished runner.
Chad - Then jog if you want, it's better than sitting on the couch. If you like it and want to run some races later ask around and get some tips from friends/more experienced runners. If you want to go to the Olympics after that, find a professional coach.
-- The short to take from all of this - don't make qi gong into something mystical and proprietary that only those in the know can do. It's natural, just enjoy it.