Debunking the Scientific Method
Functional health has received a great deal of criticism from the traditional medicine folks as it is claimed that functional health is not an evidence-based practice, which cannot be farther from the truth. Over the years functional health practitioners have struggled to follow the evidence-based model but not without trepidation. Evidence-based medicine aims to apply the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to medical decision making. The term “scientific method” holds some questionable applications when it comes to the functional health model.
What is the Scientific Method?
The scientific method offers a paradigm of thinking, a way of processing and organizing thoughts in such a manner as to answer a question that has been formulated into a “hypothesis”. It is a set of techniques designed to prove or disprove a hypothesis producing results that are isolated from real environments and are specific to certain issues.
This specificity is in direct contrast to the systemic nature of functional health. The inability of the scientific method to control for all the so-called “variables” that affect an outcome is a real shortcoming in the provision of information that may be important to an issue but was discarded because it was not specific to the hypothesis.
Problems with the Scientific Method
One of the most important problems with the scientific method is the lack of importance of the observations outside the hypothesis. Because a hypothesis only reflects current knowledge, data that may contradict it are discarded only later to find it to be important.
History of the Scientific Method
Developed 400 years ago by a Muslim mathematician, the scientific method was not discussed with any relativity until the late 1800’s when it was commented that the scientific method was an exercise in futility. Yet, the wide range of applications and definitions for the scientific method gave it pause to develop into something that did not reflect reality, it created it.
By the twentieth century, the scientific method had become the only bridge of communication between the lab and the public. It was the rhetoric that created some sense to the studies being conducted to answer the question posed by the hypothesis. However, no matter how good the evidence is, science can never prove the absolute proof to a hypothesis. Scientists need to be open to new ideas and not chained to a 400-year-old ideology that no amount of evidence will change the mind of the proponents of the system.
The National Science Foundation has charged philosophers, scientists and educators at the University of California at Berkeley to come up with a “dynamic” alternative to the scientific theory. Unlike the traditional scientific method, this one would accept data that ordinarily would not “fit”.
Some assert there is no such thing as a scientific method. The “observe, test, hypothesize, retest, predict, analyze and revise” model does not truly reflect how great scientific discoveries are made. They are great for initiating controversy and discussion while trying to code for the most evidence-based finding, but still, variables are not controlled for and the systemic way of thinking so integral to functional health is not tested for in a real environment with all impacting variables controlled for.
What are impacting variables? Look at any study and see how often they control for the amount of sleep, stress control habits, supplement use, medication use, diet, exercise habits or any of the related?
Does the scientific method hold up to the technology and needs of today in evidence-based medicine? Does it allow for the creativity and integrity of a systems philosophy like functional health to thrive in a real environment?
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