Last time we left on talking about how medical science asks you to believe on blind faith.

A vivid example of blind faith is when you are told that worms have human rights because they share more than half our genes (we are really closer to flies). When some scientist announces that the nature vs. nurture debate has been settled because evidence exists that a given percentage of our political opinions are passed down genetically (but they don’t explain how genes cause opinions), nothing has been solved. The truth is that this is something that consists of hard to verify assertions. This is the most important fact about the physical world.

Some of the reasons for bad explanations can be seen through our government policy. Everybody has a strong opinion on extremely complex government policy issues. No matter who we talk to among the 250 million adults in the US, each one has an opinion about how the government handles a situation. How is that possible? The armchair quarterback has a more insidious relative…the armchair politician, who has a second-cousin …the armchair nutritionist.

These folks talk about nutrition and politics as if there are only a handful of variables involved. But for every nutrition – and diet – related issue, there is someone on each side who staunchly opposes any view that conflicts with their own. For example, a large number of people avoid animal products because they’re sure of the unhealthiness of eating meat or drinking milk. Some people are low-carb advocates, and they’ll tell anyone willing to listen that improving health comes by cutting out a large chunk of their carb intake. These strong positions don’t just apply to animal products and carbs, but also GMOs, saturated fat, water, and pretty much everything else you can imagine.

People who read research all day long tend to not have extremely strong views on any particular issue. And that’s because of three distinct reasons. First, there is decent research on both sides of many controversial issues. Second, research is an ongoing process, given that the entire medical field is based on the scientific method (which is iterative by nature). Third, “published research” does not equal “fact.” Much of the published literature has important methodological flaws. And due to the controlled nature of research, it won’t ever capture the full spectrum of human effects, especially given the relative lack and/or excess of funding for certain topics as well as other issues. One thing for certain is that in medical and nutrition research, there are more unknowns than knowns, and anybody who pretends otherwise is automatically suspect.


David Deutsch – A New Way to Explain Explanation