Springingtiger's Blog

February 20, 2016, 22:07
Filed under: autism, disability, Health

Earlier today on Facebook I stumbled into one of many arguments between the supporters of immunisation and those who oppose it. It was the usual debate with the pro-vaxxers supporting their arguments with scientific research and statistics while the anti-vaxxers responded with personal abuse and unsupported anecdotes. I quickly left because it is a way of time trying to get someone with a closed mind to see reason.

There are similar arguments going on between those who support homeopathy and those who don’t. In this case one of the biggest problems is a lack of agreement into scientific methodology. As each homeopathic diagnosis and treatment is tailored to a particular individual it cannot possibly be assessed by the usual blind trials. You cannot have a control group when every group consists of just one person. I tend to agree that the premises of homeopathy are illogical. However I must honestly admit that some homeopathic remedies have served me very well, particularly arsen. alb, and arnica. Most homeopathic remedies do nothing for me, but that is true of any medicine. What I do, because logically a homeopathic remedy can do me no harm, is to try the homeopathic remedy and when it doesn’t work try the always more dangerous allopathic remedy. I like to keep my options open.

Those who believe in the various forms of energy healing face similar problems to homeopaths when defending their point of view. There have been studied that suggest intercessory prayer had positive results and others that suggest otherwise.  Research into the therapeutic effects of meditation have been positive. Some treatments like Therapeutic Touch have been shown to have physiological effects, but no more so than other interventions to promote a positive psychological attitude to recovery. One major problem is that those who find energy healing methods effective and those who don’t have such radically different models of the world that neither can accept the other’s findings. However any research by either will be skewed by observer  bias (something recognised by Saivism over a thousand years before modern physicists discovered it). Because the intention of the healer and often the belief of the patient is a factor in the process, any conventional blind trial is effectively impossible.

Even the testing of medicines by blind trial has its own problems. A number of new drugs have had their launches cancelled because the active drugs were less effective than the placebos they were tested against. Interestingly drug tests suggest that placebos are becoming more effective. The scientists can’t explain why inert placebos are proving more effective than active drugs. They certainly can’t explain why placebos are proving effective even when the test subjects know it’s a placebo. Professor Ted Kaptchuk suggests that what is effective is the ritual of medicine rather than the drug. Which makes one wonder just how much the effectiveness of any medicine depends on the power of the patient’s mind.

Just to throw a final spanner in the works. Today as I was sitting in bed feeling unwell with a cold I felt a need for Orange. not the fruit, not juice, but the colour and the required shade was afforded by a tangerine. I found holding a tangerine actively soothed my discomfort. There is no logic to it, but it worked for me. I have my own views and experiences, they are mine and that’s all anyone needs to know.

Unfortunately people aren’t content to hold their own views. It is almost as if the existence of any contrary opinion somehow invalidates them and so they seek to impose their views on others. The only difference between Rev. Ian Paisley and Dr.Richard Dawkins is that they feel justified in
Imposing their opinions on others while at the same time discounting the right of others to disagree. Whether a vaxxer or anti-vaxxer, a scientist or a homeopath if they are so insecure in their own opinions they are compelled to try and invalidate others, they are denying anyone the right to think for themselves. The only way forward is to share views with an open mind. The point of a theory is not to defend it regardless of evidence, but to prompt investigation. At the end of the day, does it matter of people don’t share your opinion as long as yours is honestly arrived at?


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