This article highlights the “problem” with science and medicine based on science. Anyone who attends my Yin classes regularly knows I am a big fan of the scientific method and what it has done to empower the human condition. This empowerment, however, like most things, has been both a blessing and a curse. The reason for this is, ultimately, whether the fruits of any labor are net positive or negative depends primarily on how we use them.
Currently, the fruits of science are being used by a culture that is driven mainly by a hedonistic capitalist drive that encourages us to satisfy our wants and desires by purchasing things. I am not against capitalism, and I am not against enjoying life; however, I do think these ideas have their limitations and may need tempering with other concepts like compassion and environmental awareness for the human race to ultimately survive.
So, while I am a big fan of the scientific method and its use to help us discover things about our condition as human beings, I also recognize it’s limitations, and it has many. One of them is science is, after all, an activity undertaken by human beings, and human beings make mistakes and are notorious for not being objective. Yes, we try to use the scientific method to be more objective, and when used correctly, it does seem to get us quite a bit closer.
However, what the article above highlights is how while sometimes the people doing research may be objective, how the public consumes that information makes a difference. Remember that the elected officials making our laws and policy decisions are not, for the most part, scientists or researchers and are not necessarily objective. They read the same articles that you and I do. They can hire experts to advise them, but as the report highlights, those experts are also human, and humans are easily biased and can be corrupt. If I know you want a particular answer, it can be difficult to give you a different one, especially if I feel my livelihood (or funding) is at risk.
So science at its best is free of these things, but science, like our yoga practice, is not perfect and as a result, we need to be careful about blindly accepting scientific findings or believing that science or modern medicine cannot be flawed. At the same time, science is, when appropriately used, probably our most potent tool at getting at the relative truth about the reality in which we live.
So, while there is not necessarily a problem with the scientific method, per se, it does not exist in a vacuum. The scientific method is subject to politics, corruption, societal pressures, bias, etc. because human beings are susceptible to all these things. Not only are the findings subject to these influences, but sharing the findings with the public is also subject to these influences. Does a study make the cover of a major publication, does a new law get written because of it, does it change the recommendations of a governing medical body?
In short the ‘problem’ with science and medicine is the problem with everything else, the ego. If people were more interested in truth than protecting the interests of a self that is ultimately illusory, then there would be no problem.
Please keep an eye out for the follow up to this post where I share a TEDx Talk by Dr. Sarah Hallberg about how you can reverse type 2 diabetes by ignoring the current medical guidelines.