A Framework for Assessing Truth

I am a skeptic by nature.  What I mean by this is:  if you tell me that A causes B, I cannot accept that at face value.  You must tell me by what mechanism does A cause B.  I apply this to just about everything that I am analyzing.  A good understanding of organic chemistry, physiology and biology can really help when trying to decipher whether a particular course of action is likely to be effective or just a waste of time and money.

The internet is a wealth of information and an overabundance of unsubstantiated claims.  To support the dissemination of this information, wherever you look, someone is trying to sell you something  and that’s what keeps the internet alive!

Many of the controversial debates – vaccinations, GMO’s, alternative medicines, etc. consist of one side making assertions and the other discounting them.    The problem I see is that often each side is demanding absolute proof from the other side that what they are asserting is truth.   In the real world, truth is a probability estimate – and there’s always a margin of error.  We can say that it’s highly unlikely that there exists a black swan with white polka dots, but we can’t absolutely know since we can’t survey every square inch of the universe to make certain that there is indeed no black swan with white polka dots!  (thanks to Ravi Zacharias for the illustration).   When looking at biological systems, we must seek for the best possible explanation, proposing the mechanism of action for the observed effect.  Experiments can be performed that can demonstrate similarities and differences.   For instance, we know that candida flourishes in the presence of iron.  Remove iron from the environment and candida languishes.  Red blood cells need iron to form hemoglobin.  Remove iron from the diet and anemia can result.

When debates occur over what causes or exacerbates autism, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, there are many proposed answers to the questions.   Processed foods, vaccinations, sugar, GMO’s, plastic containers, microwaves, teflon, barbecue grills, air pollution, coal, nuclear energy, high frequency electronic waves, etc. are some of the proposed facilitators of modern ailments.   What I want to hear from the proponents of each theory of cause and effect, is this:  what is the cellular action of each of these cause agents?  How do they affect the human biology?  Don’t just say: “it’s poison”.  Tell me what normal cellular function is disrupted – and prove it.   When the problem is properly assessed, then the solution can be developed.

I don’t believe GMO’s cause cancer.  I don’t believe vaccinations cause autism.  I don’t think electric wires cause schizophrenia.  Or that space aliens are experimenting on random humans.   I do believe that much of what we think is settled science, is not really settled.  The human body and mind is much more complex than we can imagine and there is much yet to be discovered.  Here’s to more science and less rhetoric.