Sunday, February 8, 2009
One of the blogs that I follow, Science Based Medicine, is quite interesting and very informative. It is also surprisingly pathetic, in that the very people who write about how wonderful science is and how stupid complementary and alternative medicine is (CAM), have absolutely zero inclination to just try things and see for themselves what happens. I.e., the bloggers on that site seem to completely lack the intellectual curiosity that, in my opinion, basically defines science. Or perhaps they don't, but you wouldn't know it.
A particularly memorable argument involved breathing techniques. I don't particularly care for what they claim to do (energize, refresh, or whatever), but it is perfectly reasonable to assume that how you breathe can influence your state of mind. It's why we tell angry people to "take a deep breath" and calm down. It's why nervous and jittery runners tend to get stitches more often. I listed a few of the exercises--which basically induced a mild state of hyperventilation, which as anybody knows makes you feel a tad loopy. The truly pathetic thing? The person wouldn't even try it. Breathing!
Which I find kind of ironic: you blog about science, and yet have no curiosity to investigate plausible claims?
I'm almost always willing to try new things. I have my limits, of course--the things have to make sense, at least. Just the other day I read that newspaper is a great glass cleaner. Guess what I'm going to do this weekend?
I've tried going vegan (didn't work out, though I'm still a vegetarian), making my own cat food (still doing this) and laundry detergent (this, too). I've tried different furniture polishes on our pseudo-antique furniture, settling on olive oil (Pledge for when the stuff needs a really good shine). I've experimented with ways to kill aphids, and how to keep basil alive. I've tried several different things on cuts--honey is my favorite.
Science is all about systematically trying out what's only slightly plausible, within reason. Right now, I'm currently running an experiment which, according to the current paradigms used, shouldn't work, but since the actual experiment has never been done before, we'll just have to wait and see what the evidence says (actually, I didn't want to run the experiment, but since I'm just the tech, well).
If you don't try something, you'll never figure out what works, why it works, and how to make it better. I'm always looking out for tips and tricks to: save time, save money, save effort, do things better, do things faster, eat healthier. Most of these tips and tricks are useless to me--no such thing as coupons, here--but every now and then, I find things where I think, "Hey, that might work."
It's why we now have the Heap, our affectionate nickname for a box of potting soil and kitchen scraps which will hopefully turn into compost over these next few weeks, and I'll be raising tomato plants well into the summer. There's a first time for everything, and the first step to the first time is having an inquiring mind.