The Test of Time

Never before in human history has such a concentrated release of creative expression occurred in such as short time as in the American experience. Unparalleled technological advances, scientific breakthroughs, athletic dominance, military and commercial superiority just to name a few, all in the space of two and some odd centuries.

As is so often the case, a country’s greatest asset often conceals its underlying limitations. Rugged individualism and unrestrained materialism have unleashed a storm of progress, especially when set against a backdrop of the slow but steady progress of ancient cultures. But this progress has its limits.

Consider the field of medicine, for instance. Modern Western medicine gathered momentum through the invention of anesthesia and penicillin, not to mention with the advances in sanitation. The scientific method, applied through the lens of Cartesian reductionism, has led its brightest scientists deep into the cells of man. But the question remains as to whether this insight has given him perspective on the matter of health, especially when it comes to chronic disease.

Sometimes it’s best to take a few steps back when you’ve gotten too close to a problem. To my mind that means looking to the systems of medicine which have stood the test of time, systems which were built on results more so than upon the understanding of the mechanism by which the results were achieved.


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5 Responses to The Test of Time

  1. Zach says:

    I think you really hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. With the technological progress curve we have had in the recent past, it is easy to get stuck on the system of “see a result, figure out the result’s mechanism”. Our progress has been fast enough to only make this system a little unwieldy. Yet what about when there are clear results that sit outside our current scientific understanding, with little hope of finding it soon? Do you cover them up and hope they go away?
    Covering up data points that don’t fit the theory is bad science, but the pressure to keep humanity on the current exponential technological progress curve is high. I think our smarmy and sanctimonious attitudes really hurt our ability to progress in some areas. They blind us from seeing things with subtle effects and only allows us access to those things that undeniably hit us in the face. I think this is part of the reason that our chronic disease management is so bad; those diseases and their cures usually have subtle causes and subtle solutions. A little humility would go a long way towards seeing what really works and what doesn’t, regardless of how we understand the method of action.

  2. David R says:

    Our health system as it has evolved is astounding in terms of the detail of its consideration, not to mention the masses of resource it mobilizes on a daily basis. Its results, however, are very mixed, and the very matter you highlight here, the inability to step back and really look at the whole picture, has become a terrible limitation. It seems to me there is yet much room for the kind of innovation and insight that comes from a generous and genuine motivation that is clear of ego and greed.

  3. Lady Leo says:

    The test of time is a good measure for choosing health care options. There seems to be quite a high price to pay for the immediate solution that many of the modern therapies promise, especially for chronic disease. When the side effects slowly breakdown other essential systems in the body where is the upside? Many of the time honored solutions also require time to correct the imbalance. There are myriad new life saving technologies that are with out a doubt thrilling, but to then, with a wholesale like distain, dismiss thousands of years of medical artistry is almost insane. Hubris would be an understatement! There is a place of balance where the individual is treated specifically for their situation with the methods chosen based on being the best course of therapy for them, not restricting anything based on prejudice or ignorant polarization. As in most other services purchased today, a sensible approach to our own health care options is still “buyer beware”. Thanks for the subject it matters to everyone.

  4. Kolya says:

    Many great scientists and doctors have been the brunt of alienation and even persecution just for questioning the underlying foundation of scientific or medical methodologies. You have to wonder what’s really behind this whenever there is such vehement reaction to such inquiries. They say that “necessity is the mother of invention”, but behind all progress have been individuals asking questions – what? why? how? – and we must continue to ask these questions, particularly in the wake of systems that are mediocre at best.

  5. Steve Ventola says:

    Interesting to consider medicine. There is what we consider conventional and alternative and somewhere in between there is complimentary medicine. Having been faced with a chronic concern and doing what I can on altenative basis there comes a time to consider how conventional and alternative medicine can find ways to complement each other. I am at that junction point and realize that any aberrant attitudes regarding conventional and alternative medicine need to be seen and released to open the way to a sensible approach to a chronic concern that may include both approaches. Results is what matters and stepping back as you say to see a whole process in action and considering it as rationally as possible is a way I am seeing as essential. It is good to cleanse the attitudes of antagonism that tend to be involved in parties aligned with each approach and open a way for a true complimentary approach to occur increasing the potential for beneficial results to follow.

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