by Patrick Quanten
Medical science is fighting back. It is desperately trying to dismiss all other voices as being unscientific, as being self-indulging, as undermining the good medical authorities are doing, as being rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. In their approach to anything that does not fit into their boxes they are dogmatic, stubborn and fearful. But rather than having another yes-no conflict discussion I would like to view the arguments and then everybody can make up their own mind.
The first remarks I hear on the question as to how people learn, the basis of all scientific learning, sound to me controversial in themselves. The medical authorities tell me that, in the early days, people learned through their own experiences and they used to tell each other stories about their experiences so others could benefit from them. This exposes people to a lot of unreliable stories but then, luckily, science happened! Stories were replaced by science.
It is pointed out that personal experiences may display only part of the truth and that stories about those experiences may distort the truth. Sometimes because people embellish the truth or because they sometimes simply don't tell the truth. Observations made by a person under a particular set of circumstances may not reveal the full truth about an event and so people were given the wrong information, the wrong impressions. It is easy to see that happening, as we can all experience something of the sort in our own life. What the authorities are pointing out here is that a personal observation is not necessarily the whole truth and that in order to do better we need to know this and furthermore we need to be prepared to test what we have observed in order to discover the real truth
Science did prove about a hundred years ago that even when we observe things under test conditions we cannot distil an objective truth. It has been demonstrated very clearly that ALL influences play a significant part in the observed test result, the influences we are aware off and those we are not. The reason for doing the test, the setup of the test, the belief of what one is about to see, the circumstances of the test, the observed results of the test and the interpretation of those results are all factors that alter the conclusions.
Science knows that all tests are leading to scientific stories, of which truth and non-truth cannot be separated on the basis of the tests done.
Now I can understand why the medical scientific community was convinced that blood letting prevented a lot of serious illnesses and even cured some. What they had observed and what they had tested lead them to believe this. Later in history different tests were done to prove them wrong.
Luckily medical science has developed that much that this is no longer happening in modern times. Thalidomide is a sedative that was used as medicine against pregnancy sickness. The medical profession tested it and found it to be perfectly safe, even for pregnant women. It came onto the market supported by these test results in 1957 and was removed from the market in 1961 because of observations that it was far from being safe.
Luckily that never happens anymore. Diazepam is a sedative that was used during the seventies and eighties and it became very popular with doctors as it was perfectly safe and non-addictive. Later observations proved their beliefs about diazepam to be wrong and it turned out it was highly addictive. It was replaced by more short-acting benzodiazepines. Diazepam is today a much prescribed drug under the heading of "muscle relaxants".
Each year, in every country of our western society (they all have sovereignty and decide independently), drugs are taken of the market. All these drugs have been given a clean bill of health when they obtain a licence. They all have been proven to be effective and safe by the medical scientific community, only to be forced to acknowledge that this is not the case some time later. In the USA, up to the end of November of this year, 2018, the total number of drugs taken of the market by the industry themselves amounts to 70! When one country takes action, others carry on using the same drug, backed by the local medical authority's scientific point of view that "more investigation is needed".
Medical authorities spend a lot of time dismissing beneficial health claims from other sources. They acknowledge that people may think they had a beneficial effect when in fact it can be proven the treatment itself had nothing to do with it. Here is a list of the reasons they give to explain why people may believe they benefitted from treatments that don't work.
- The natural course of a disease. - Every disease runs a natural course and so whilst it gets better by itself any interaction during that time may give the wrong impression that the interaction itself is responsible for the benefit.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When you take a homeopathic medicine to quickly relieve your cold symptoms and it gets better quickly, the medical profession says it is the natural course of the disease, not the remedy. When you take antibiotics it is the treatment that made you better quickly.
- Diseases are cyclic. - Diseases come and go by themselves and so any improvement you may notice may well be due to the cyclic nature of the disease rather than the intervention.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When an epileptic gets fits on a more regular basis the medication is increased and it is said to be responsible for the improvement.
- All human beings are suggestible. - Believing that a certain treatment is going to make you better will induce that better feeling without you actually being better. The treatment is not making you better; your belief system is.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. The doctor tells you that reducing your salt intake lowers your blood pressure, and it may do, although test have clearly proven that salt intake has no influence on the blood pressure whatsoever.
- The wrong treatment may get the credit. - People very often do more than one thing to try and improve their situation and any of these may have had a positive effect, not just the treatment you believe to have caused you to feel better. Of course, when people are ill a lot of things are often changed, such as eating and drinking habits, activity levels, work or sick leave, more sleep, being pampered, but these are true even when doctors prescribe treatments.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When you have the flu are you improving because of the antibiotics or because of the fact that you haven't been able to eat for two days, or because you have been sleeping for two days, or because you have been off work for a week, or because of the full moon, or because of a change in wind direction, or because of .................?
- The diagnosis may be wrong. - Sometimes people have miraculous cures from incurable diseases when afterwards it emerges that they never had the disease in the first place.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When your cervical cancer is totally cured by laser treatment does any doctor inform you that studies have shown that up to 80% of diagnosed cervical cancers are in fact not cancers?
How reliable is an expert's opinion if he wrongly tells me I have an incurable disease?
- The prognosis may be wrong. - The doctor may judge your life-expectancy to be shorter than it actually is. Any treatment you have in the mean time may give the impression of you living longer as a direct result of that alternative treatment.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When you are having medical cancer treatments and your life goes beyond the timing set by the specialist it is courtesy of that treatment, not of a wrong prognosis.
- Temporarily mood improvement gets confused with a cure. - It is not because you are feeling better that you in fact are any better. This is not a cure and the disease will become apparent again sooner or later.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When you take anti-inflammatory drugs for your arthritic pains and start to feel better it is because your joints are actually better, or so the doctor lets you believe.
- Psychological needs affect your behaviour and perceptions. - What we really want to see is very often what we will see, even if that is not the reality. We need to perceive ourselves as being better, so we indeed see ourselves as better.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. When an oncologist shows you that your tumour has shrunk we feel much better about ourselves although we are still dying of cancer.
- We confuse correlation with causation. - It is not because two things are happening at the same time that one is necessarily the cause of the other. There may be a link but that does not mean there is a causal link. All other influences also play a part in the end result.
The same consideration is not given to a medical intervention. The medical profession assumes a causal link between the bacteria present and the infection. No causal link has ever been established for any of the known infectious diseases. No causal link is established for any known cancers.
According to the medical authorities one can base medical care on several pylons.
Expert Based Medicine is a medical system that is based on the opinion of the expert. Whatever the expert says goes. The only truth one relies on is the opinion of the expert. This, of course, leaves a possible wide gap between the different knowledge and expertise of the single experts involved. UNACCEPTABLE to the modern medical society. Better to make all experts stick to one and the same story.
Experience Based Medicine accepts the experiences of medical practitioners as the basis of their practice. But since an experience is a very personal matter and dependent on a great number of variables, one cannot come to a consensus about treatments. UNACCEPTABLE to the modern medical society. Better to replace personal experience by trial experienced protocols.
Evidence Based Medicine is looking for proof to underpin theories they have put forward. First a statement is made on an assumption. Then a controlled set of circumstances has been decided upon to find proof for this theory. UNACCEPTABLE to the modern medical society. Better to do away with the resulting false results and the many difficulties surrounding randomised trials.
Science Based Medicine is the very best option, as science is always right and provides real answers to real questions. For this, we use the double blind studies as the gold standard. We work within the scientific paradigm and we use a self-correcting system of peer-review.
The peer review system entails a kind of police force that patrols the literature and enforces the current scientific view. All articles and documents that are being submitted for publication are scrutinised and judged for false assumptions and incorrect statements. This process ensures that no mistaken belief enters the professional literature and by avoiding this potential pitfall the profession is able to keep the core pure and conflict free, which means "everything must adhere to the known facts". The discussions and differences of opinions that do occur will remain within the known framework of the medical structure, whereby it is known what is "right" and what isn't.
Not only does the peer review operate on the literature but it also is the basis on which positions higher up the hierarchy of the medical profession are being handed out. You can only become a Head of the Department in a hospital if you have proven to work well within the system and have demonstrated your commitment to serve the system. This ensures that the hierarchy is chosen for continuity of the established medical belief system and working habits. Inherently very little will change about the structure, except the details within the structure, which will be named as scientific progress.
Effectively this means that any "odd" idea will not find any space for publication within the high profile literature. It makes it appear as if nobody else has these ideas and it ensures that no connections can be made between people who individually may not be able to provide new insights but who together could weave a web that might undermine an entire protocol. Keep the enemy isolated and you remain easily the strongest force.
When on the odd occasion an article does see the light of day in a reputable journal it takes no time for the profession to act, and act vigorously. Promptly lots of articles are being published everywhere to prove the opposite and if necessary the author will be attacked and quickly broken. The price here is the public opinion, the public perception. As an authority, the last thing you want is doubt to establish a foothold within the population, which reflects badly upon your expertise and your good faith. A recent public example of this we saw when Dr A Wakefield as a well respected gastroenterologist published an article in which he stated that years of collecting data made him believe that the medical profession should take a close and hard look at a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism and bowel disease. This story broke in the national press and obviously created quite a stir. I remember a news broadcasting just four days later in which a professor categorically stated that their research into this matter did not reveal a link and that the published paper was fraudulent. Years of observation that lead to a question were dismissed by results of in dept research only four days after posing the question!
And then there is the scientific paradigm. Science states quite clearly that a paradigm is necessary to provide a framework in which research can begin. In other words, before you do any research you need to put down, and agree upon, some ground rules about what is true and what isn't. It is a set of assumptions governing how we interact with and interpret the world. Or more officially we can say that a paradigm constitutes a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.
The historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, gave it its contemporary meaning when he adopted the word to refer to the set of concepts and practices that define a scientific discipline at any particular period of time. In his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (first published in 1962), Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as: universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners, i.e.,
- what is to be observed and scrutinized
- the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject
- how these questions are to be structured
- what predictions made by the primary theory within the discipline
- how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted
- how an experiment is to be conducted, and what equipment is available to conduct the experiment.
- vaccines protect against diseases
- chemotherapy cures cancer
- specialists care improves overall wellbeing
- nature makes terrible mistakes that the medical profession needs to correct
- measuring and testing gives an objective evaluation of health status
Before we do any kind of investigation or research we set out a number of rules that will guide us in a certain direction, and we abide by that direction. We assume certain things to be true, which means that we assume other things to be untrue. These assumptions cannot be tested. It is the basis on which we begin to work. It is, in essence, an arbitrary decision and it effectively excludes certain lines of investigations. The medical profession asserts that life is a chemical and mechanical interaction, not an energetic one. An example of this is the assumption that when a germ is being observed in an unusual place it must have travelled there from somewhere else. This assumption (the germ theory) is included in the paradigm. One that is excluded is the assumption that water can carry and deliver an energetic message to other tissues (homeopathy). Hence, homeopathy can never be proven to the medical profession. To them, the assumption is wrong and thus is all possible proof wrong too. Other examples of assumptions, not proven statements, within the medical business are:
Because the paradigm dictates what is observed and measured, how it is done, how the research must be done, what equipment needs to be used, and how the test results get interpreted, the paradigm actually reinforces itself. It "proves" what it says, simply because everything else is being excluded. Everything gets evaluated by the evidence that already exists and that in itself conditions and shapes the collection and the interpretation of all subsequent evidence. So, it is by breaking through a paradigm that humanity is able to see the world, nature and the universe in a more comprehensive way and that we become capable of understanding it at a deeper, more integrated level.
It may be useful to point out that science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge. It takes all observations and tries to make sense of it by creating a theory of explanation. By adding to this theory all subsequent observations and testings the theory gets refined and evolves closer and closer to becoming truthful knowledge. No observation in science is dismissed. No assumptions are being made, although scientists are well aware of the fact that they think and act in predetermined furrows. Science, however, is willing, although reluctantly, to shift paradigms as happened when it turned out the earth was round, not flat, when we demonstrated the earth was not the centre of the universe, when we observed matter not to be solid but consisting mainly of space and when we understood matter to be made out of energy.
The medical profession is still stuck on paradigms that science has left over the past one hundred years. How is this possible for a scientific community to still live in the beginning of the twentieth century? It is possible because medicine is not science. Medicine is an applied science. So, when you want to use a scientific model to create something, you need to make that model the basis of what you want to create. This is where you choose your paradigm. How old is the western medical system? It is roughly about two hundred and fifty years old. This is a time when Newtonian physics was still the norm. Hence, it is logical that the medical paradigm is based on Newtonian science, and since a paradigm reinforces itself, the industry built on these assumptions has not shifted at all, although science has moved on a long time ago. The applied scientific model remains as it was back then and quantum physics, special relativity and the uncertainty principle are all missing from this applied science.
Medical research has defined the double blind study as their gold standard for proving the net benefit of a specific treatment. In more recent years, under very specific conditions the profession has bypassed this gold standard. When we talk paediatrics the medical profession has declared it to be morally unacceptable to not treat ill babies, which is a necessary part of the double blind study, when they "know" that vaccines save lives, when they "know" that adult medication can save children's lives. It is no longer acceptable not to treat cancer patients with "potentially" life-saving chemotherapy. Because it has been decided that it is morally unacceptable the double blind test is no longer used in the development and licensing of newer drugs. This is how anti-AIDS drugs began life as a treatment for a so called viral condition that hadn't even been understood yet. Decisions of this kind are riddled with dogmas.
A dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. No proof required. We know.
So, medical research is done within the framework of a certain paradigm, built on strict dogmas. Medical research serves to "prove" what we already believe.
In contrast, science is not out to prove a specific theory. Science is collecting all data and observations, accepts those to have value, and attempts to understand and explain what is happening. All explanations that are plausible, meaning "we can't prove this is not to be the case", stand side by side and people are free to use whichever one they prefer, without being shouted down or being ridiculed. By continuing to exchange ideas, observations and experimental data they hope to, eventually, come to a consensus. When all scientists agree that one particular theory explains everything the theory covers, this theory becomes a scientific truth. That is why we now know, for sure, that the earth is round, that energy produces matter and makes it function, that making an observation or taking a measurement changes what we observe.
The methodology of the scientific community is totally opposite to the way the medical research is done. Medical science is not out to explain why you are getting cancer. It endeavours to tell you that a certain behaviour shortens your life with a certain percentage or that a certain treatment possibly cures the problem in a certain percentage of cases. In real science terms the equivalent would be a statement that says that there is a 65% change that tomorrow morning the sun will come up.
Science is not investigating and speculating on the impact of smoking on lung cancer. Science knows that smoking does not cause lung cancer, and it knows that for sure because of observation. Observation is the basic tool of all scientific research and since everybody can observe everybody can contribute to scientific research. Observation shows us that some people who never smoked get lung cancer and some people who have smoked all their life do not get lung cancer. Therefore one is not the cause of the other. Is there a link? Sure, science knows for sure that everything influences everything else. So billions of unknown influences have an impact on what we experience, but none is the cause of what we experience. From a scientific point of view, end of story.
Indeed, let's end all story telling.
Let's look for the entire truth, not a list of possibilities.
Medical science isn't even an honest applied science since it no longer applies the truth science has already discovered.
And medical science for sure isn't a science.