| || |
I like to say that I practice evidence-based medicine, because I am of a scientific mind and bias. Unfortunately the scientific literature these days is increasingly biased by the funding sources. In medicine the funding is predominantly Big Pharm, because they have the most to gain from offering medicines that are widely used. It is becoming more and more apparent that the scientific studies that come to light are just a small sampling of the studies that are actually done, creating a bias by omission. Big Pharm has reason to hide studies that show that their products are ineffective or worse than placebo because of side effects.
Here's an excellent Ted Talk by Ben Goldacre as to why you (and I) should be skeptical of the science that is generated by our current system.
When I was in medical school one of my teachers was Dr Thom. He often invited us to participate in his "Parachute Study". We weren't eager to participate, because the study consisted in going up in an airplane, and having half the group jump using a parachute and half the group jump without a parachute. The point is that in many cases, Common Sense is adequate to determine the relative risk or benefit of a treatment. We don't have to have a Parachute Study to know that it is better to wear a parachute if you are going to jump, than not to. A parachute isn't a 100% guarantee that you will land on earth uninjured or even alive, but it for sure will give you at least some chance. To jump without a parachute is to have no chance.
There is a limit to what we can know from conventional science. And even if we do not know, we must make choices. My choices are informed by everything that I know from science, personal experience, and assorted education. I recognize that I as a person have personal biases. It is impossible not to. The first step in keeping an open mind is to recognize and admit your own biases.
Author: Teresa Gryder
Integrative Physician and Student of Life, Medicine, and the River.