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Beware of pseudoscience and its results

Ah, medicinal science. With your bounty of assorted pharmaceutical tablets, catheters and colostomy bags, what can’t you do?

Throughout the world, medicinal practices are used daily to treat human afflictions. And with researchers working double time, testing and retesting formulas and hurling beakers full of boric acid at annoying coworkers, the timely discovery of the newest panacea could be mere seconds away.

Crude attempts at medical treatment have probably been with humans as long as language. For this reason, medicine has a long paper trail of barbaric and untrustworthy shenanigans; from carving open people’s craniums with seashells to reduce brain swelling and “let the spirits out” (a.k.a. trephination) to allowing starving leeches to feast on large blood clots, the ancients tried practically every machination imaginable to ease physical pain and psychological trauma.

Nevertheless, a larger percentage of modern people put more faith in medicine than in God, which is ironic considering that doctors still make mistakes at an alarming rate.

This is not to say that the fruits of medicine are entirely feckless or that doctors are misanthropic, spiteful rats.

The malignancy associated with medicine is this: the faith placed in doctors and “scientific” medicinal research is a dangerous product of hegemony and, like a car mechanic, takes advantage of people’s ignorance of subject matter.

But are modern medicinal techniques the final answer? Are the current practices as universally authentic as many believe them to be?

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Everything is in flux.” This means that nothing is ever guaranteed eternal truthfulness, despite what the powers that be may assert.

All doctors agree that a regular dose of vitamin C, calcium and complex carbohydrates lead to a healthy lifestyle — today.

But what of tomorrow? Running used to be healthy, now it’s bad for your knees. Alcoholic beverages used to be deleterious, now they help to unclog arteries and can be of assistance during coronary failure. Early reports of cigarettes claimed that they were benign recreation, but now they’ve proven to the cause of one of the most life-threatening acquired pandemics ever.

Instead of deifying medicine and science, it’s more practical to be weary and to take what the “authorities” say with a skeptical grain of salt. Does this sound paranoid? Yes. But with the monumental mistakes doctors have made in the past (i.e. frontal lobotomies, laudanum, not cloning Shakira, etc.), being cautious is justifiable.

It’s important to remember that not every laboratory study mentioned on the nightly news deserves a two-thumbs-up approval rating. In fact, some medicinal research is improperly conducted, harmfully misleading and platitudinous.

Take for example a study investigating the relation between sex, shaving and strokes in men.

Medical researchers in Wales had a sneaking suspicion that men with five o’clock shadows would suffer more strokes and heart attacks than baby-faced angels.

The results of the study were shocking, claiming that men who don’t shave daily have a 70 percent greater probability of falling victim to strokes than habitual Mach-3 users.

The study also observed that men who don’t shave regularly were likely to be unmarried and could expect orgasms with lower frequency. The logical conclusion drawn from these results? Fuzzy men get less sex. Less sex means more strokes.

This particular study spanned 20 years.

With doctors, students and researchers all looking for the one idea that has eluded everyone else, that one noteworthy discovery that will guarantee a nod in the history books, the social blunders of pseudomedicine are running rampant under the guise of truth.

As conscientious consumers, it’s our job to question what we’re being told. For all we know, another retraction may be just around the corner.

University Wire