What we know or think we know about the world comes down to what others tell us about it. From the time we are children, we believe what we are told. From our parents telling us to go to bed on Christmas Eve or Santa would not come to our house, to our college professors discussing particle physics, we heard it, we believed it.
More powerful than what we read, research, or even learn from experience, good or bad, our belief system is generated from what we are told by those we trust.
Important point: we believe what we hear from those we trust. Let us look quickly at the relationship and history between science and trust. Part of the reason science took hold in the 17th century, influencing what we believe even to this day, was the concept of a “gentleman.”
In those days, people trusted what they were told because the social norm was to tell the truth based on individual and family honor. Science was a gentleman’s art, and strict unspoken regulations about reporting their findings were recognized.
Therefore, science was believed by all and, to this day, we look to science for answers to all of the questions in our universe. Put simply, we trust scientists to tell us the truth. This conflicted with the trading class of the time as traders then, as now, strongly exaggerated or simply lied about things in the name of making a trade or a sale.
Today science is commercialized. The barrier that was present in the 17th century has been removed, and “science,” as we now know it, is commercialized and driven by the almighty dollar. That leaves us in a tough predicament. Who do we trust?
In the 17th century they could not trust the trading class, as they were selling something. Today, it is difficult to trust scientists as they, too, have become salesmen (selling everything from products to politics). What do we do? My suggestion is this: Remain suspicious of everything you hear.
Find a friend, confidant, or doctor whom you have a relationship with and who can possibly scrutinize the medical literature for you with your best interest in mind. It is also wise, as I like to tell my patients: “never ask a barber if you need a haircut.”
Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at http://drwilley.com.