“Science” – is it actually science?
I’ve had a lot of cause to think about science this week, or mainly about our attitudes to it. I had a two-day run-in on Messenger with a friend (at least I hope he’s still a friend), which got quite heated about whether certain aspects of healing were scientific. It was very interesting and brought up some serious flaws in both our attitudes towards science. The problem doesn’t lie in whether science is reliable or not, but in what we actually believe is scientific. During the course of this altercation, it became clear that a lot of things that both of us (for different reasons) assumed are not scientific actually are scientific. However, this can also go the other way, as a lot of things people assume are scientific actually aren’t. This isn’t the fault of science, but more often than not sensational tabloid headlines convincing us that there is science behind the unscientific, or at least bending the facts. Here’s a great article by Chris Kresser on the dangers of this and the limitations of studies in general…
Not many people actually go to the source – the studies themselves. They believe the headlines that start with “Studies show…” or “Scientists prove…”, but dig deeper and such articles are not as reliable as one might think… Just look at the whole cholesterol and saturated fat “research” that triggered decades of preaching by conventional sources, and of course the media, about the benefits of low fat high fibre diets, which, among other influences, have led to massive obesity and metabolic disease epidemics worldwide. How did that lunacy happen? It was probably a mix of his own ego and money from the sugar industry lobbyists that turned “researcher” Ancel Keys from the straight and narrow… This amusing two-minute video explains what happened…
Even now, when most people who take an interest in such things have realised all of that was a load of nonsense, there are still people (often fat, ill people) clinging to the old idea that eating saturated fat and cholesterol has been “scientifically proven” to be harmful, whereas in reality, the low fat “science” was warped all along. On the other hand, there have always been studies that show the tremendous benefits of low carb ketogenic diets, but since they were unpopular for a long time, most people were taken in by the headlines quoting the dangers of “artery-clogging saturated fats” and never had a look at the research to the contrary… Consequently the vast majority assumed that those who did know early on, such as Dr. Robert Atkins, were promoting unscientific “extreme” weight loss diets that would harm us in the long run. I was taken in myself, even though my body cried out with relief on all levels every time I swapped carbs for fats. Had I stayed on an Atkins-type diet instead of just using it now and again to drop a few pounds that I gained on my “healthy carb” diet, I might never have become as ill as I eventually did. I listened to “science” over my intuition, and every time I’ve done that, it’s not ended well.
You will notice that sometimes in this piece I am putting the word “science” in inverted commas and sometimes not. When I mention “science” I mean the warped “Chinese whispers” view of science that most people think is real science. This is not an article to criticise science and all… just “science”… oh, and people afflicted by the new religion of “Scientism”.
Recently I was puzzled to see in the media images of teenagers demonstrating against what they saw as the woo-wooists. They stood in their masses – teenagers with banners with such slogans as “Science works, bitches!” Well, yes, sometimes it does, for some things, and sometimes it was never science in the first place. When my contemporaries and I were that age, we never even thought about science; we just took lots of acid and mushrooms, smoked weed and attempted to fiddle with each other’s genitals as often as possible. To agree with the establishment would have been unthinkable… My, how times have changed.
I cannot think of a better explanation of Scientism than that of my friend Phil Brisk who has described it perfectly in these three paragraphs from his new book about near death experiences:
“What does it mean to be a genuine sceptic? Quite simply, it means being open-minded enough to follow the data, the hard evidence, wherever it leads, without clinging to the comfort blanket of our pre-existing beliefs about how the world is meant to work – and without slyly editing or twisting or in any other way filtering the evidence before us so that it’s made to merely validate those pre-existing beliefs. This twisting and filtering, unfortunately, is what I’ve noticed an awful lot of scientific materialists tend to do. They are confronted with extraordinary (and extraordinarily well-corroborated) evidence of the kind I’m about to present you with here, and they instinctively reject it because it doesn’t fit their worldview.
Rather than deal honestly with the hard evidence, these card-carrying, ideologically driven scientific materialists are sometimes willing to go to quite remarkable lengths to distort or reject it. They do the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and covering their eyes, refusing even to acknowledge, let alone talk about, the facts before them. On no grounds whatever, they rubbish even the most impeccable research. They frequently malign the researchers themselves, accusing them of base incompetence – or downright dishonesty.
For this reason, I’d call this type of scientific materialists pseudo-sceptics. They rather ostentatiously wrap themselves in the robes of science and reason – but, ultimately, they are not scientific and rational at all. They’re less about following the data and more about promoting and defending, at times savagely, their particular belief system – a belief system we can call Scientism – and if Scientism sounds to you more like a religion than anything to do with honest, rigorous, open-minded scientific enquiry, then perhaps that’s no coincidence. How ironic. Because the sad fact is that four hundred or so years after the scientists and great rational thinkers of the Western enlightenment sought to set us free from the stranglehold of medieval religion, today’s scientific materialists have effectively created a new anti-rational and quasi-religious belief system of their own.”
I have noticed in the course of my healing journey that people on both sides of the scientific fence totally misinterpret what I did to heal (and the millions of others who have done the same as I did) and how I came by the information that healed me. There is usually a simplistic view held by both extremes that I somehow “went against all science” and healed myself by “alternative means”. This of course is scoffed at by the “scientists” as probably inexplicable spontaneous remission… or that I was never even ill… and/or that I’m now giving dangerous advice that will be of no use to anyone and lead them from “real medicine”. To the “alternative” people who assume the same about how I did it, it’s a triumph over the “evil establishment” and an endorsement for everything from coffee enemas to lucky whale’s teeth… Well, to me neither view is anything like what happened.
At some point, after years of wrestling with the confusion surrounding “conventional” and “alternative” I found a few voices in the wilderness talking some real sense. Of course, I didn’t immediately realise that they were talking sense; at first they were just more stuff I’d discovered that I was keen to try out in my desperation. There were a few great influences back then, some doctors, some not, some scientifically minded, some not, but the ones whose methods worked all seemed to have a particular theme: taking away the influences that make us ill because we are not adapted to them as a species. It’s as simple as that. Some of these visionaries just used commonsense to figure out what’s going on (it’s not hard), but some really backed up their claims with hard science.
I will use two as examples here: neurosurgeons Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride and Dr. Jack Kruse. These two amazing visionaries have helped thousands if not millions around the world to heal themselves while conventional medicine struggles to catch up. I have seen them both described as “unscientific”, “quacks”, “shysters”, “snake oil salesmen” “dabbling outside their field” etc etc as well as geniuses worthy of a Nobel Prize. So what’s really going on?
While science is absolutely 100% spot-on at figuring out things like structural engineering and electronics, there are some limitations to that approach when it comes to something as many-faceted and subtle as healing the human body. It’s reasonably easy to test the efficacy (and it has been done) of a low carb diet, the dangers of blue light, the hormone-balancing effects of cold thermogenesis or the miracles of emotional balancing techniques, but can science really cope with a trial on how ALL of those factors together affect us? No… For that we have to experiment on ourselves, so the true miracles go undocumented except where people meet to share experiences online or in person.
On the face of it, both these amazing doctors seem to be throwing out a lot of science and sounding more like the hippies on the woo-woo side of the fence, but are they? I had the wrong view of them for a while, thinking they were totally rebelling against the conventional, and this is probably what attracted me to them, but in reality all they say is very well backed up in science. Dr. Natasha’s area of expertise is in the field of diet – her GAPS diet is very low carb and uses a lot of probiotics to rebuild the gut flora. When I first heard about her, the establishment was only just accepting that the gut flora had such an effect on even the gut, let alone other aspects of the immune system… but it now clearly does. With each passing year, Dr. Natasha looks less like a quack. If you think she is, you are way behind in your science knowledge.
In the course of my argument with my friend, I felt helpless because even though I knew there must be science, I didn’t know where to find it and thought that gastroenterology still reckoned steroids cure IBD, certainly not good bacteria to rebalance the microbiome. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It seems that in the last five or ten years, the goalposts have shifted massively and there are 800 studies to back up what Natasha has been saying for a long, long time. Here’s evidence:
That will teach me to be such a hippy and ignore science!! Okay, they are way behind Natasha et al in real world applications and really don’t have any answers so far apart from reseeding the damaged gut with somebody else’s turds (which is promising but has some serious downsides), but at least they are looking in the right ballpark. Natasha wasn’t so mad after all. Did she know the existing science? You bet she did… She was courageous enough to research the science outside her small niche of neurological expertise, and then open minded enough to relate her findings to knowledge that has been in almost every culture since the dawn of time. Does she know every single thing about the balance of the gut bacteria that any human needs at any given time in their healing? No, but then neither do the research scientists. However, her methods are safe and effective.
So what about Jack Kruse? Why was he such an inspiration to me? Well, let’s take a look at the picture below to create an analogy. It’s a picture of a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. For the purposes of this article, I am comparing each piece of the puzzle to an area of scientific research and the finished puzzle to a human in perfect health, or at least the components required for a human to regain/maintain perfect mitochondrial health. Let’s say the sky represents light and sunlight, the rolling hills represent diet (changing with the seasons), the water represents hydration, grounding etc, the people represent gut bacteria and the church represents the emotional balance of the individual.
As far as I see it, Natasha has found the pieces that mostly centre around the people – the gut bacteria, as that is her area of speciality. She might have about 200 of the 1,000 pieces, with a few obviously dotted around in other areas too, but she is mainly inspiring to people who still believe it’s all about diet. Jack, on the other hand seems to me to have perhaps 800-900 of the pieces, maybe even more. He has a solid understanding of the gut, but his work in the field of light, water, magnetism, EMFs, sunlight… even the emotional side and more blows away the detail I’ve seen in anyone else’s work. Actually it’s very often the most educated and science-aware who find Jack’s work really impressive. The rest of us mere mortals glaze over at the level of science he deals in and just waits for some applicable protocols.
To the uninitiated, Jack seems to be a bit eccentric, adding two and two and making seven a lot of the time, but look deeper… If you look at any of his blogs, they are full of very advanced science and rich with citations. Jack’s not even saying anything new; he’s just putting existing science together in a way that few have done before… but he’s crossing disciplines, which most scientists never do. This doesn’t mean he’s unscientific; it means that he is using the jigsaw pieces manufactured by previous brilliant minds to put this huge jigsaw together. And oddly, as that jigsaw takes shape, it’s clear that a great deal of this science has been just a very long way back around to what so many systems of medicine over the millennia have deduced from personal experimentation, anecdotal evidence, intuition and common sense.
Does Jack Kruse have all the pieces? I think he’d be the first to admit he doesn’t. Nobody does, but what I love about Jack is his open mind – he is always learning, always looking for new evidence from all quarters – hard science, massive collections of anecdotal evidence, N=1 experiments and intuition. Now that’s what I call a researcher.
So, do I disapprove of science? No, not at all. I actually use science all the time; I’m just not always aware of it because I’m more interested in practical applications than learning all the research. I have an artistic mind, not a scientific one. So… and I understand it’s a matter of trust… I have decided to study the people who I believe understand the science but also look beyond it when necessary. More and more of the best doctors and scientists are coming over to this way of thinking, and their findings seem to be very similar – remove the disconnections with our ancestral heritage, and more often than not, the body fixes itself. It’s not so much of a leap of faith as it used to be even a few years ago when I had to throw away my skepticism and pick somebody to trust. I was lucky my intuition took me to a good place, because even I will admit there are some raving loonies out there.
It’s actually not a problem trusting these people anyway because they are not advocating what the “scientists” believe they are – acupuncture needles, back cracking, homeopathy, colour therapy or other so-called woo-woo; they are merely telling us what to subtract from our lifestyles to allow the body to heal as it’s designed to do. No danger whatsoever… So why are they so maligned? It’s down to pure ignorance of what they are actually saying and a lack of curiosity to look beyond the tabloid newspaper “science”-based headlines and go and see the real research for themselves. It might just surprise them.
To return to the jigsaw analogy, yes, Jack or some other scientific visionary might be missing 100 of the pieces or more, but the picture is still pretty clear with 800 or 900 in place, so get to it – don’t sit there eating pizza and watching Netflix, waiting for your warped idea of “conventional science” to give you all the pieces in a nice tabloid headline. It’s unlikely to happen… at least for another 100 years or so. Also, if you are one of those who say it’s all unscientific because the sum of the parts doesn’t resemble the jigsaw piece depicting a pure blue section of sky that you know is scientifically correct… well… that’s your lack of a wider vision and inability to solve the puzzle, not the fault of science… or the science deniers.
I’m totally happy to let people with a more scientific mind than I have do the research rather than spend a load of time criticising them because 100 pieces are missing. Those 100 pieces are probably all mixed up with the pieces lying around from several other 1000-piece jigsaws anyway, so they’ll take a long time to find even by somebody with a keen scientific eye. I know that even if I discovered a piece, I’d probably not even recognise it myself… Can you be sure you would… honestly?
So, I will continue to biohack myself with these two geniuses’ ideas, and those of a few more who I trust. Having had to unwind so many health problems, my intuition is pretty well honed now, and what works well on my body is the only thing I truly believe in. If I find that those methods tie in with science, which they often do if I bother to look, I’m happy, but I don’t really care one way or another. The general layman like me would probably do well to spend just as much time developing intuition and discrimination as they do on whether something is scientific or not. To have a truly open mind, we need both.
Even the Buddha said, “Question everything, even what I tell you!” and nowadays in spiritual circles, there is a saying that “…the next Buddha will be the sangha.” The sangha means “the collective”… and in this science-obsessed world we have forgotten the power of the collective.
When I first found forums and Facebook groups full of people telling their spectacular weight loss and healing stories from dropping carbs, observing circadian rhythms etc, it was impossible for me to ignore it. It is also impossible to pass off as “anecdotal” when it involves such huge numbers, and wise doctors and scientists don’t. When I tried these methods, it worked for me too, and since then so many people I have told about it or worked with have had dramatic results too… and more and more doctors are using these methods on their patients with dramatic success.
If you are stuck in “Scientism”, it is unlikely that you will ever find this kind of magic or be able to look beyond the most recent double blind trial, presuming you even do go and look at it rather than read about it in The Sun. Does this make you a true scientist? I believe not. It makes you a “scientist”.
All the chemical medications that modern medicine uses in the name of science are admittedly very clever, blocking certain pathways to fool the body in certain ways, but there’s usually an “Oops!” somewhere down the line as it disrupts some other essential system. For all his massive knowledge of science, Jack’s teachings all come down to a very simple message:
Not exactly dangerous advice, and certainly not the ramblings of a snake oil peddler, but of somebody well versed in science who has the humility to also take lessons from Mother Nature, the greatest scientist of all.
To be too trapped in the strict belief in science and how exactly we think it should look when the jigsaw is assembled – very different from the individual pieces of the jigsaw that many of us are obsessed with – means that we miss an awful lot of magic – real science, built out of a clear understanding of previous science but being open to its limitations. Being stuck in militant “Scientism” reminds me of the joke about the religious man trapped in his house as the floodwaters rise:
When the water came up to his ground floor window, a boat passed by. The man in the boat said, “Jump in! I’ll take you to safety!” The religious man replied, “It’s okay, my God will save me!” When the water came up to his first floor window, a boat passed by. The man in the boat said, “Jump in! I’ll take you to safety!” The religious man replied, “It’s okay, my God will save me!” Soon he was trapped on the roof, and a helicopter hovered overhead. The man in the helicopter said, “Climb the rope ladder! I’ll take you to safety!” The religious man replied, “It’s okay, my God will save me!”
Predictably, the man eventually drowned. When he got to Heaven, he said to God, “Why didn’t you save me?” God replied, “I sent you two boats and a fucking helicopter! What more do you want?”
Can boats sink? Can helicopters crash? Sure, even the best made ones, but I’d rather put my faith in those who know how to put a boat or a helicopter together than try to build my own. Actually, I am daft enough to go the other way and jump off the roof into the flood every time I see a twig floating by, as I find it hard to identify the boats and helicopters. Yes, I will put my faith in the master builders, master jigsaw puzzlers, the true scientists with open minds rather than the “scientists” who clutch desperately to one piece of the jigsaw – or often a piece of the wrong jigsaw – under the delusion that it’s the whole picture – the sort of visionless “scientist” who would stand in the middle of a pile of helicopter parts, stare at the rotor blade and say, “That’ll never fly!”