Book recommendation for those who like REAL science

For those of you who like to read about science/ the process and thinking of science – I’ve been re-reading “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan.

It’s an interesting read about why people believe so many ideas that have no evidence (flat earth, psychics, prophecies, aliens, etc) but don’t believe science. While some fringe ideas are cool to think about, even cooler are the wonders of nature and science – look at how an octopus changes its colors, how medicine has increased human lifespan and quality, the interconnectedness of ecosystems, etc.

What is it about people that they want to believe these fringe/conspiracy ideas with no proof, but will deride science because as they learn more, the ideas may change?
It’s quite an indictment about our science education – often taught as just facts to memorize to younger grades, then older kids aren’t required to take much more than that.

Anyway, if this type of discussion interests you, I highly recommend this book!!!

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark: Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan: 0884184345306: Books


I get a kick out of advocates of alternative medicine like Acupuncture and Homeopathy.

I tell them I don’t know much about it, but if it as effective as they say, it should have been put to the test in controlled scientific studies. I asked them to cite some. That usually ends the discussion, as they think their fanatical devotion to a healing modality obviates the need for any scientific validation.

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The same with “natural” treatments. My neighbor had an inflamed pancreas and her gall bladder removed. Her MIL insisted that there were “natural” cures instead of medical interventions.

And when ever someone spouts how good “natural” things I, I want to shout – Like Bella Donna? Hemlock? Unidentified mushrooms?

Yes, there are safe natural treatments that can help with some conditions, but “natural” isn’t always the way to go, especially with acute symptoms from pancreatitis and the like.

I do have to say – chiropractic has really helped with my back troubles over the years. Many people think it’s quackery, and yes, there are bad chiropractors out there.

But where an MD would give me a pain pill and send me off, a chiropractic adjustment has me pain free and able to move in a very short time.

My dad had neuropathy in his hands and couldn’t do tasks like button a shirt. His regular doctors had nothing to offer to help with this issue. I asked my chiropractor who then treated him (gentler treatment on older folks) and within 3 months he could button his shirt and do more with his hands.

I’ve seen claims that chiropractic can cure cancer, etc. which I don’t buy into. Even my Chiropractor doesn’t believe that. But it can definitely help with certain conditions, and I’ve lived it first-hand!

As I have noted, Chiropractors are a diverse lot. The best of them know their limits and function more or less like physical therapists. The worst of them think they are supermen healers and can cure anything


The same with Steve Jobs. They detected his pancreatic cancer early when it was curable. He dilly-dallied looking into “natural” cures. Buy the time he consented to conventional therapy, it was too late.

My Doc sent me to a chiropractor. He took thermo images, and all sorts of stuff to show me how much I needed his help. And, he kept increasing the frequency of needed visits the worse I felt telling me it was part of the process. He never showed me any of the imaging to show improvement. I finally went back to my doc and told him find me other help. He did - sent me to the most amazing massage therapist - who trained under an old school osteopath with positional release techniques. He had the longest active license in my state. I was so sad when he retired and moved elsewhere. I never felt better and gradually reduced the needed frequency and got rid of all the OTC pain meds. He also taught me excercises/positional that helped me strengthen the muscles that supported my body.

One big reason is because we all are prone to lazy thinking. It takes effort and energy to engage your cognitive brain processes to figure something out. It’s much easier to allow your instinctive decision-making system, the one we use to avoid immediate threats to our safety and well being, than it is to really think things thru.

There are lots of ready-made answers sitting in our memory banks that are handy to grab and use to make a knee-jerk decision when presented with the cause-and-effect questions we run across in our daily lives.

So the easy off-the-shelf answer to your question would be “it’s human nature.” But the real reason(s) require a lot of mental work to learn about the mental machines behind what drives human nature.

So… you can expect a lot of “it’s human nature” answers to your question. :slightly_smiling_face:

And it’s people like that who give chiropractic a bad name.
I was lucky, my chiropractor would treat me, then discharge me when the issue resolved (usually a few weeks).

and nobody’s human nature wants to be lied to, fooled, or cheated. With no evidence or even evidence to the contrary, people still hold on to their beliefs rather than change them.

In the 1990s a couple I knew came to believe (from some christian author) that the economy was going to fail. They cashed out all of their retirement money (they were in their 30’s). But when the crash didn’t happen, they didn’t stop believing.

I think these theories are also the allure or superiority of “knowing things that nobody else knows” – the future, or the “hidden truth” – what the powers-that-be don’t want you to know.

I remember when I was a kid I was fascinated by ghosts, ESP, fortune telling, horoscopes, etc. It seemed magical, and it was interesting. But gradually I noticed that none of it was true. One person’s anecdote just doesn’t cut it as being proof. So I gave up that magical thinking and look back at it as part of the folly of my youth.

Was it Yogi Bera who said “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future?”

Seldom do predictions come true because of black swans. Who could have forecast COVID? Who correctly forecast the 2008 mortgage crisis? (Very few people.)

Most people expect the future to be more or less an extension of the past. Then a Black Swan comes along and changes everything. However, forecasting some calamity is profitable because it is an effective way of marketing investment newsletters.

There have been quite a few scientific studies on accupuncture that demonstrate its effectiveness.

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Might be. You probably know more than me. Problem with acupuncture has been it is hard to do double blind studies, as patient and researchers both know when needles are being stuck in the flesh.

Punching a hole in living tissue and causing trauma by twisting a needle must result in something. It could be a placebo effect or it could be the body’s reaction to that trauma in close proximity to an associated nerve or maybe it causes some other natural healing process. But I remain a skeptic regarding acupuncture.

There’s about a gazillion reasons people have peripheral neuropathy. Some are acute and go away with no intervention and some are chronic and never go away. Some progress to a certain point and stop and some progress slowly and never stop. Some versions (axonal) affect the nerve core conductor and some affect the insulating myelin sheath.

I agree. However there is no incentive to run expensive clinical tests on a these remedies without the ability to patent them.

Is this something that should be done… how to do it.

There are a few studies being done. Search for acupuncture and get 442 studies:

Keep in mind the same folks who invented acupuncture and still use it today are also the ones who currently recommend ingesting ground-up animal horns to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders.

Some surgeons have told me that acupuncture takes longer and is not as predictable. In the OR time is of the essence for minor surgery.