Friday, August 8, 2014

How We Know What Isn't So - book report

The book in general was somewhat of a repetition going through the realms of pseudoscientific beliefs and testing. However I picked out the few basics that really stuck to me once done reading.. it is a bit lengthy but worth the read!

“How We Know What Isn’t So”

                Throughout this book it addressed many topics and brought about questions that society deals with in everyday life, most without even knowing. For instance it focuses on information as a whole. It explains some questions as to why we believe erroneous claims, how people tend to believe and seek association with those who believe what is beneficial and similar to their own views, as well as how science challenges info that goes against our beliefs even if we are not going against the beliefs ourselves. It focuses on why certain information is favorable, social characteristics that are widely accepted and even analyses why people can be susceptible in believing exaggerated beliefs, even when they never witnessed such information first hand.
                This book also caught my particular interest when it focused on medical services such as “quack” procedures that are giving potentially false hoped to the clients. This part was the most interesting, especially considering it brought up information that was also introduced within our text. The book talks about how people tend to look past one’s own body healing processes and believe that the recovery process was only possible because of certain procedures. Most of these so called procedures go against what medical science can actually prove. The book notes, that even if the treatment is useless, but the rate of success is high, it will make the procedure seem to be beneficial and the reason for recovery. Within both texts, it brings up a good example which is ancient medicine. A particular example is how people believed that feeding ground bat to an individual would boost their vision simply because bats are known for their keen sight.
                Speaking in terms of ancient medicine, should we really be giving these pseudoscientific approaches the credit for something the body is able to master? Are medical practitioners really able to talk up their failures while still holding their unproven claims to be beneficial? Let’s think of how many remedies there are for colds, and even sinus infection relief. Some say if you put Vix in a pot of boiling water, it will help open up your nasal passages. Now, this doesn't work for me if I’m really sick but I still believe this will be a beneficial cure for others. Is this really so? Or is it my body actually healing itself in the process and I should not be giving credit to a simple “home fix”?
                Lastly I feel as if this is all in the will to believe. As the book focuses on how such unsupported facts are believed so easily, it’s because “facts” like these are just simply easy to believe. Most people don’t want to fight to reject such claims especially if they are believed by so many. Think back to high school. If the majority of the classroom agrees on one answer, but you believe in another, wouldn't you automatically assume you are wrong? Ought the majorities answer to be true? Humans tend to steer away from engaging in negative behaviors such as going against common beliefs publicly.

                If people started speaking out couldn't some of these false claims and “positive” energies be refocused into what is actually true and real? Why look solely into the hope of believe in something, while possible spending thousands, just so you don’t go against quack procedures that might not work? Can we indeed disprove some of these everyday beliefs that may actually cause people to believe in falsities rather than what is actually happening? The ability to predict the future, come up with quack cures for diseases such as HIV and AIDS, and promoting exaggerated thoughts are just beliefs continually passed on with no scientific evidence. People are extremely passive and tend to put hope into many events, predictions, and beliefs that just aren't so. 

So in order to add a bit of creativity to this, I actually decided to post on facebook (since my facebook is private the link won't show the conversation) and promoted a false claim that is drawn up by herbal medicines. I took the approach that my grandmother was very sick with the stomach flu used Amaranth, a particular herb that is said to help the flu, in order to cure her. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim! Some people believe this MIGHT possibly help, it was taken right off of an herb chart I received when I went touring in Salem, Massachusetts (yes, Salem says something right there). The responses I received ranged from the thanking of the herb for her speedy recovery to a person even saying the same thing worked for them! Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe after a day or two the flu simply ran its course and her body was able to cure her? Why didn't anyone comment saying they don't believe this or indeed it didn't work for them? People follow common trends and beliefs much easier than speaking up. I was amazed by how on point the book was with this trend.

I found an awesome site that basically outlines issues the same way the book did. Brings about common beliefs and scientific reasons why they are not the reason we are "cured"... but yet people still turn to them! Focus on the introduction about the FDA!!!

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