Oxymoronically Speaking: Medical Science

Yes, you read that correctly. I am claiming the term medical science is an oxymoron. With that said, I am not attacking doctors, nurses, or most other health professionals. I am saying the chant “Follow the science!” as applied to the recent pandemic is misleading and inappropriate.

“Follow the science!” How many times have we heard that phrase in the last few years? From climate change to the pandemic, we’ve been told to “Follow the science!” When COVID-19 made its debut around the world, this became the mantra of politicians, talking heads, bureaucrats, and sadly, many in the upper echelons of the health care profession.

Of course, they were chanting this term as justification for closing down the world, putting millions of people out of work in the United States alone. We must “follow the science” in deciding how to deal with the coronavirus. The problem is the people chanting this phrase, including many people with multiple degrees and Mensa level IQs, fail to see the fallacy in their chant. The practice of medicine is not a science.

Notice I said the practice of medicine is not a science. As I noted above, I am not attacking doctors or other health care workers. The vast majority of them are doing the best they can to protect, prevent, and cure the maladies we encounter. Still, the idea that we should blindly follow the prognostications of so-called medical experts is absurd, especially when they claim science supports their beliefs.

We should follow the science if valid scientific evidence exists. Sadly, in the practice of medicine, there is more anecdotal evidence and information than true science can accept. The problem is we, as a people allowed so-called experts to skew the meaning of the term science.

The primary definition of science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” Now, science is defined in multiple ways to fit the viewpoint of those wanting to use the term. That is why we at one time spoke of the hard sciences and soft sciences.

Hard sciences are areas of study and experimentation such as chemistry and physics. Soft sciences were and still are areas of study such as psychology, sociology and political science. One might consider medical science somewhere in the middle, leaning heavily to the soft side of the specturm.

Medical research does fall into the larger picture of science, in that it involves systematic study and observation. Where it falls down, scientifically speaking is in the area of experimentation. True experimentation requires the ability to control all the factors involved. For example, developing nuclear fission required finding radioactive material that could be brought to critical mass, thus releasing a tremendous amount of energy in less than a heartbeat. In other words, an atomic bomb blast. If all the conditions are met, the result will be the same every time!

Medical experiments cannot happen in that fashion. For example, consider alcohol poisoning. Consuming too much alcohol too quickly may lead to someone’s death. If doctors or other researchers were going to determine that amount through experimentation, they would be injecting human test subjects with varying amounts of alcohol to determine exactly how much over what period of time would cause bodily functions to cease.

Obviously, experimenting with human beings in this fashion cannot happen in a civilized society. That is why when you research fatal blood alcohol content (BAC) you will find statements indicating coma, then death may occur above levels ranging from 0.40% to 0.50%. That data came from BAC data gathered by law enforcement, hospitals and medical examiners. With that said, people have survived BAC levels as high as 1.48%, the world record for drunk drivers.

Other forms of so-called medical science have similar problems. It is possible, to experiment on humans in a very limited sense, under tightly controlled circumstances. If you’ve been following the pandemic you know efforts are being made to shorten the development time for vaccines and medicines to treat the viral infection. With that said, the results will not be much more accurate than the information on alcohol poisoning, because not everyone will respond the same way to the medicines.

If you doubt the last paragraph or other assertions made up to this point, consider this. Every year when flu season comes around announcements are made concerning the probable effectiveness of the vaccines. I have never heard of a vaccine being 100% effective, and in many cases, some people feel vaccines do more harm than the flu. For the record I am a vaccine supporter, but the data clearly shows medical “science” does not have the ability to develop vaccines or medicines that are 100% effective.

One final point on the idea of following the science as it pertains to medicine. During an interview concerning vaccines recently, an “expert” discussing the issue of the pandemic and various proposed cures made an interesting statement.

The individual was asked about the controversy concerning drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. These drugs have reportedly been successful in treating COVID-19 patients, but they are not approved by the FDA or CDC for that purpose. When asked about their use the response was that doctors regularly prescribed medicines for illnesses or conditions “other than the one for which the medicine was developed.”

This “off label” use of prescription medications is legal. It is also risky, but doctors can use their knowledge of the drugs and their patient’s condition to make such a call. During the interview, the statement was made that off label prescriptions went as high as 25% in some cases. Another source said such off label use of drugs in psychiatry and similar fields went as high as 31%.

The bottom line is this. Medicine, along with some other disciplines, involves science to a degree. However, as opposed to the hard sciences, the results are seldom guaranteed. That is why the early pandemic models forecast death totals ranging from several hundred thousand to over a million in the United States alone. It is simply not possible to guarantee results when it comes to matters such as medical issues, the climate, or for that matter tomorrow’s weather forecast.

The final point is this. When someone says follow the science, he or she is saying follow the best guess we have at the moment. That may be good enough in many cases, but shutting down the world on a guess, even a highly educated guess, is a bit much.

© oneoldcop.com – 2020

About S. Eric Jackson

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2 Responses to Oxymoronically Speaking: Medical Science

  1. Pingback: The Saga of Rosy and June: Looming on the Horizon? | An Old Cop's Place

  2. oldcowdog says:

    Outstanding! I’m reminded that these are the same people that followed the science and used leeches to cure ails! 🙂

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