Any study that involves Humans has trouble accounting for the mystery that is the human mind. That is why clinical trials are so in favour of the double blind trial; neither the test subject or the person applying the test know whether the person is getting the treatment being tested or the placebo. It should eliminate the role played by the human mind. It is that powerful and yet we often dismiss it with – it’s all in your head.
There is the famous scene at the end of the Harry Potter books where Harry asks if something is real or whether it is all in his head and Dumbledore answers with some snapping rhetoric that the two are not mutually exclusive – just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Scientists don’t like the dubious nature of the mind. This drug works so well because it does A, B and C, not because you believe it is going to work. The craze of drinking a tablespoon of cider vinegar doesn’t re acidify your body’s systems because we have a whole physiology that works to stabilise your internal environment. So why do people feel better if they do it? Because they believe it is making an effect. Does it matter that their belief is based on something that some people, think is wrong? That’s the situation with a lot of things in the world and so long as nobody is exploiting their beliefs does it really matter?
Why this reflection this week?
I am studying fascia in the human body as part of my PhD studies. There are a number of different beliefs about what this structure does, connected to established science by varying degrees.
I had a friend who recently broke her wrist and although she has been going through physio she had reached 50 degrees of movement and hadn’t seen any improvement for a few weeks.
Do you want to try something? The science behind it is a little … It certainly won’t do any harm. That was the conversation over a zoom meeting. One week later and she visits the physio again. She is now at 70 degrees of movement. Did the fascial treatment do that? Was it her belief that it was going to make a difference that actually made the difference? It’s not a controlled study. You can’t do double blind trials on treatments where both the person applying it and the person it is applied to will know what has been done. Does it matter?
It’s a challenge to doing the PhD I wasn’t really expecting