Spoiler alert. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the scientific method.
Over the past year we have been witness to the many layers of science and have watched with a close eye, how the process of the scientific method plays out. Unless you are in a field that involves this process, chances are you have not thought about it since grade school. For a refresher, the scientific method is a process for experimentation. It helps us explore observations and answer questions. It can be thought of as a series of steps.
In short, it should look similar to this:
-Make an observation
-Ask a question
-Construct a hypothesis
-Test-(so many steps here)
Although these steps are linear, the process is not. Not only has a consensus about the origin and effectiveness of treatments regarding the current virus not been reached, there are multiple hypotheses, by many highly credentialed scientists and educated individuals, looking into the cause, continuation, and effectiveness of treatments regarding the pandemic. This alone, is an obvious reason as to why we should all be questioning the science.
The results that have come out of “shot” trials are extremely fresh. It may be years, if not decades, before fully knowing the risks and benefits across multiple cultures, age groups and health conditions. This is exactly why questioning is part of the scientific method. In addition, this science experiment directly involves you, your community, family and children. You have an ethical responsibility to question everything! You also deserve a respectful response with objective, factual information, in return from those is a position of power.
Unfortunately, phrases such as “Thank G for science.” “Oh do you have a degree?” “Let me guess, Dr. Google.” “Trust the science.” “Let me guess, anti- (fill in the blank here),” have been used to shame the general public into believing that they do not have an obligation nor right to actually question the science. Ironically, many celebrities who do not have degrees in epidemiology or based in science, appear to be using their fame to reinforce these messages.
We are existing in a culture that would have you believe you need a panel of fact checkers to decide what information you should be aloud to read and question. This very process of filtering out information directly goes against the process of true science. If you happen to be someone who is curious and has questions about the effectiveness of treatment and possible side effects, you are often labeled as a “conspiracist,” “uncooperative,” or “uneducated.” These words are coercive and meant to guilt and shame you into submission. There has also been a push to divide those who question into certain political camps. There is nothing political about asking a question. Do not fall for this. There is nothing selfish, odd or difficult about asking basic questions when it comes to your freedoms and making potentially life altering decisions regarding your physical and mental health. It should also be noted that those below the poverty line, which includes a high proportion of marginalized communities, are less likely to advocate for themselves in a doctor’s office and are more likely to follow directive even if it may harm them. Considering our government and medical establishment's history, this is a valid concern. So if you fall into this category, know that I see you and acknowledge this process will be even more challenging for you.
Another overlooked part of the scientific method is intuition. Yes, I said intuition. Intuition is in fact part of science and we all have the ability to listen to our intuition. A major role of intuition is to provide a concept of which direction research should take. It also provides a barometer to wether or not we need to ask more questions, conduct more research and collaborate in more depth.
Science in NEVER FINAL. External factors are always changing which will always impact medicine. Subjects are also always changing and evolving, as should the study and science around physical & mental health. Imagine if in the 1840’s it was not allowed to ask the question- Can hand washing reduce the spread of disease? This question (a practice already common in many cultures before studies were formally conducted) lead to confirmation, through the scientific method, that in fact, yes, hand washing is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent and stop disease. Ironically, this questioning lead to the practice currently being touted by the CDC as one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of this current virus. Remember this the next time you are told to be quiet and trust the science.
If you are feeling shamed, stuck, silenced, confused, worried or any other less than emotion here are a few tips to help you.
- Trust yourself. It does not matter if you have never trusted yourself, you can start today.
- Know you are not alone. It may come down to you, your source energy/higher power in the room, but you are enough. You can add me to your corner and you will never be alone.
- Educate yourself and others as much as you see fit. There is not law, yet, about educating yourself about anything that impacts yourself or your family.
- You do not need to be an expert to have an opinion, thought or question.
- Not all experts have your best interest at heart. Consider funding sources of studies and those who disseminate them.
- You will always be the expert for your body and your child. It is a gift to have other experts in their field working in collaboration with you. The center of everyone’s circumstance, is themselves. This includes doctors and educators. They are part of your team, not above you.
- Observe what those in power are doing. Not what they are saying.
- You do not need to prove yourself to anyone. Spend time with those who make you you feel valued. Disengage from those those who make you feel shame, defensive, or afraid.
In health and happiness,