This article is mostly Andy quotes from Amalgam Illness, chapter “Medicine, controversy and mercury.” He says it so eloquently, there’s not much for me to add. (I have reorganized it a bit and added some emphasis in places.)
Science is the system of thought where observers collect data which is taken to be true if it is reproducible, then construct theories which are the simplest explanation of all data know at the time. Any observer may make a new observation that present theories can’t explain. In fact, one of the less well-known requirements of a scientific theory is that there must be some hypothetical future observations which would prove it false. If these observations are made, the theorists should go back to the drawing board and science should advance. Theories consistent with all possible observations (e.g., any symptoms not corresponding to a disease in my medical school textbooks are psychosomatic) do not qualify as science – they are more akin to religion.
The morality of science is that observation is truth. Theories are just clever poetry written to describe observation. Observers perform the most fundamental task of science, and there is never a growing burden of proof for an observer – each observation is as true as any other.
To be scientific, a hypothesis must meet with three criteria:
- it must be consistent with other reproducible observations,
- it must be simple
- there must be an obvious and objective test to prove whether it is right or wrong.
Dogmatic thinking consists of defining a body of theory as true, ignoring observations that are not consistent with the dogma and inventing some catch-all explanation for the observations that can’t be ignored….In dogmatic medicine, symptoms are either in the textbook or in the patient’s head. In real science, there is always the choice that the theory (the textbook) is wrong – or perhaps just incomplete.
There is no requirement in scientific medicine for placebo controlled trials, etc. before something is considered ‘scientifically proven.’ This is just a dogmatic requirement.
The takeaway from Andy’s discussion are these:
- your observations are as valid as anyone elses
- if you see something multiple times, consider whether it may be true (i.e., taking a certain medication or supplement always makes you sick. Consider that it might be bad for you, no matter what your doctor or naturopath says.)
- Just because it’s in a text book or medical paper does not make it true. Look to your and other’s observations.