Developing the path of scientific enquiry. Is scientific enquiry a path? Examination of the boundaries of methodology, measurement, reason, revelation. Is this a new alchemy? This blog is a companion to the book
The Path of Scientific Enquiry

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I am an unashamed sceptic. I ought to feel empathy with sites such as science-based medicine (SBM) but I don't because all that I observe is bias. It is important to place this bias in a context, and that comes back to my scepticism. I am sceptical of all knowledge that arises out of human conditioning.

Our human conditioning arises as attachment to the 5 khandas and such attachment leads to suffering. But within this suffering lies a political and economic system that is geared towards war and wage-slavery and accumulation of wealth to the 1%. Within this overview there is power and influence that cascades down throughout all the institutions and transactions within our society. This influence is not always immediate. There is not a member of the 1% tasked with engineering our education system yet our education system churns out wage-slaves generation after generation.

The institution of science also does not have a member of the 1% in charge but because of the amount of money the 1% have their influence is extremely powerful. At the whim of a member of the 1% a university establishment could survive, and university administrators have to be conscious of this. If a university wanted to research GMO's they know they could incur the wrath of BigFood as demonstrated by what happened to Seralini.

At the same time BigPharma has similar influence. When you look at the legal actions being conducted by the Society for SBM you can see attacks on alternative therapies. Who financially gains the most from attacks on these therapies? BigPharma. It is not necessary for BigPharma to directly step in with a wad, it is sufficient for SSBM to know that their activities will continue to be funded because what they do is in the interest of BigPharma. Scientists whose questioning leads them to investigate naturopathy from a negative standpoint know that there will be support. Scientists who would like to promote naturopathy want to investigate the benefits of naturopathy, but will not have financial support. But neither of these are science as science is supposed to be objective.

When I was doing my MEd it was a course requirement to have case studies so I interviewed 20 people who had experience in the area my dissertation was investigating - anti-racism. I chose 20 black people who were active in promoting black interest in Manchester, and drew inferences that contributed to my M Ed. This approach of case studies is termed qualitative research. My sample was biased, no random choice of people, such randomness is not a requirement of qualitative research even though it is the bedrock of quantitative research. For my dissertation to be considered part of education research I only needed to include transcripts of the case studies.

Another description of such case studies could be anecdotal evidence, it was the anecdotal evidence of these 20 people which was accepted as qualitative research. When it comes to these alternative therapies there is much anecdotal evidence that needs to be investigated. It is not sufficient for sceptics working with SBM to dismiss the anecdotes, and establish new data based on their own criteria - whether valid or not. There are case studies that need explaining and it is not sufficient to effectively call all these people liars because their anecdotes do not fit in with a particular experiment that the SBM chooses. I believe there are strong connections between naturopathy and Ayurveda, is the SBM being scientific to dismiss the centuries of practice and anecdote that makes up the Ayurvedic tradition? Because the SBM is dismissing evidence as opposed to investigating it I consider the SBM approach indicates bias, and as such must have its conclusions questioned. Statistically the SBM are biased.

I am now going to discuss acupuncture. For you to judge the validity of what I have to say I must put out there that I have regularly been to acupuncturists and believe they have helped me. If I make an experiment in which the sample is 1 and observe through a qualitative approach whether acupuncture is beneficial, acupuncture would measure better than mainstream western medicine. I would however not claim any statistical or scientific basis to this experiment I have just conducted.

I do however greatly welcome any appropriate scientific investigation into acupuncture but to do this the tools of science are limited. If we choose the laboratories and machines of western science establishments then acupuncture is unlikely to measure as successful. This is because these science methodologies have eschewed historically investigation into phenomena such as the chi which following the Bacon dichotomy has become embraced as religion. However acupuncture was an established tradition of healing long before Bacon's sensible taxonomy was manipulated by blind academia.

For science to be statistically seen as having investigated acupuncture without bias this tradition needs to be explained as false. I think this would prove difficult. There is an understanding of the human body that is at the basis of acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture and TCM in general sees the chi as flowing through meridians (chi channels) in the human body, and if these channels become blocked then disease arises. To unblock this chi needles are placed along the meridians and this produces healing. This methodology has been understood for centuries.

At the same time another criterion of generally accepted science has been repeatedly demonstrated by acupuncture treatment, the treatment can be repeated and still work. It would be easy to design experiments that could demonstrate this. But if this were demonstrated it would be hard for acupuncture to be dismissed. Equally it would be hard to dismiss the centuries of tradition amongst more people than western medicine has treated. To refute acupuncture SBM sceptics do not involve themselves in empirical verification nor do they examine the documented nature of centuries of treatment. Instead they carry out experiments using their own methodologies that do not measure chi in any way, and then decide that acupuncture cannot be scientifically proven. This ignoring of evidence is biased, and this lack of empirical investigation is biased. So statistically the methods of SBM are again not acceptable.

The SBM characterises the sceptic movement on the internet and elsewhere. These sceptics do not investigate science itself, they don't investigate the bias that science shows especially with regards to phenomena that fall outside of the "normal" purview of science. Yet as a sceptic that is something I would like to see investigated. Based on this cursory examination of their supposed scientific method, I have to conclude the SBM and the wider sceptic movement are not investigating with appropriate scientific rigour with regards to phenomena outside their rigid purview.

Given the influence of BigFood and BigPharma, it is a reasonable observation to see the bias of these organisations and people as being affected. I am not suggesting causality, nor direct funding, nor even a lack of integrity on the part of the members. It is simply this. What they do is support BigFood and BigPharma. Do they want to do this?

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