The problem with science is that we have made it totally unscientific.
All of us should be able to recall our first scientific experiment in grade school. The formula was simple; create a hypothesis (form an idea of what you think will happen) and then prove yourself right or wrong, using facts and outcome based experiments. Upon doing so, write your closing statement and declare whether or not your guess was, ultimately, proven correct or incorrect. No ego, no need to be right, only a need to be correct.
In the real world that process is called “Scientific Method,” and is only slightly more detailed and/or boring than as I laid it out: The steps of the scientific method are to:
◦Ask a Question
◦Do Background Research
◦Construct a Hypothesis
◦Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
◦Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
◦Communicate Your Results
The very real problem with science today is that it rarely follows those steps and has instead become a mechanism to “prove” what people want to believe, not what is provable. Today’s scientific method exists as follows:
Create your desired outcome
Ignore all research that disproves your desired outcome and harness and embrace that which supports you.
Construct your closing statement
Prove your closing statement by doing experiments using flawed data
Use said experiments to prove your previously formulated conclusion and declare yourself brilliant while also claiming that your findings are now both “settled law,’ and “scientifically proven.”
Countless high profile examples of what we now refer to as “junk science,” have drawn attention over the past many decades. Global warming is one that garners much attention from deniers these days as they claim the “science,” is based on man-made computer models trying to predict a future we can’t possibly predict. Others long ago claimed the arguments for proving the detriments of second hand smoke were clearly manufactured, and anyone who has read a fitness or health article in the past 20 years is wont to turn their head sideways and say “wait a minute, doesn’t this alleged scientific study completely refute the one I just read last year about red meat, eggs, coffee, carrots, sodium, exercise, or any other damned thing I’ve been told has been proven?”
This is not to say that I am not a fan of science. Science has done so much for the human race it is quite literally impossible to quantify…real science, that is; that which is provably true and irrefutably factual, rather than being based on a consensus, which is not science at all.
So I applaud modern science loudly when it admits to mistakes in the past and begins to right its own wrongs, whether those wrongs were based on ignorance, arrogance, or ideology. When Pluto was deemed to not be a planet years ago, that was a moment of true science; “we screwed up, and what we thought we knew, we didn’t and here’s why”. The never ending pursuit of absolute truth using the finest technology available to us is the essence of true science and the ability to say “we’ve found something new and it refutes what we’ve been telling you,” is both refreshing and rare amongst today’s humanity. Similarly, when the very doctor who was initially credited with his breakthrough study linking vaccines and autism had the courage to step forward and admit his study was flawed and wrong, he was to be lauded. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey can continue to make fools of themselves in the face of no scientific support all they want, it doesn’t change the science (or in that case, the lack thereof).
So as we begin to see science stand up and loudly admit to yet another mistake they made, one that at the time was based almost solely on ideology and empathy, we must once again stand up and cheer their efforts, knowing they will be scolded, hounded, and demeaned for continuing to pursue the truth. The latest issue is one of deep dissent and great argument, and one that goes to the heart of human frailty and personal responsibility.
The very same doctors and scientists who decades ago began qualifying and classifying addiction as “diseases,” are now admitting that their research was flawed, their conclusions wrong and their motivations faulty. Many of them, as it turns out, former addicts themselves, are coming forward with everything from formerly falsified research to brand new brain scans and well thought out explanations to attempt to re-educate the American public on exactly what addiction is: nothing more than a compulsion we choose to give into and a failure of character and moral. That is not to say that such people do not deserve help, sympathy and support, but it is to acknowledge that they’re not fighting cancer, they’re fighting their own weaknesses.
The latest prominent scientist to step forward is neuroscientist Marc Lewis, a psychologist and former addict himself, who explains in depth the way an addict changes his own brain and how the power to change it again lies solely on the addict. Lewis’ devastating facts pointing to the low success rate of 12 step programs as compared to cognitive therapy (working with a therapist one on one or doing it yourself) is astounding. The overwhelming majority of addicts who “cure” themselves do so on their own, by simply taking control of their lives. That is not to suggest that it is simple to do so, it is to acknowledge and demand that we start holding people accountable and stop giving them excuses, trap doors, and enablers. Mr. Lewis has a new book out which I would highly recommend if you’re so inclined; at the very least the article below provides a snap-shot of the new debate in the scientific world over their latest mistake.
This argument will perpetuate itself for literally decades. We have educated and brainwashed multiple generations into believing that addicts do not choose their behavior. That they want to stop, and that they are powerless to do so. The addiction recovery industry is worth billions of dollars in America; it will take far more than a few studies and scientists claiming that answer lies solely and squarely within each of us. The HAMS Harm Reduction Network in New York is leading the way and blazing the trail using actual science, actual data, actual results and a very clear commitment to understanding that addiction recovery begins and ends with the addict. It takes no village, no intervention, no support group, and no loving family. It takes one person willing to say “enough is enough.” Once that is said, tools and articles and even random strangers are available to provide various forms of guidance, but in the end, it all rests back on the addict, since he or she has to live with themselves and their choices each and every day.
Sadly, that is not a message this America, at this time, is interested in hearing. And so the nation and its addicts will continue to suffer, playing out some macro version of the ultimate mutually destructive co-dependent relationship.