Humans have a strange fascination with our health and the health of our loved ones. Whenever you speak to someone, a morbid curiosity of any abnormality is often revealed. Ranging from that strawberry birthmark on their neck to the complex workings of the digestive system, people spend a lot of time talking about health.
With the variety of websites out there seeking to inform, even if the author themselves may not have substantial authority to give advice, we spend more time than health-care workers themselves on any diagnosis we learn we have. Many people, with some embarrassment, would admit they have stayed up until 3 a.m. perusing websites like Web MD. They then proceed to click on as many websites as they can, cramming in any information they find. If a self-professed expert has few if any grammar mistakes, and appears to cite many studies, what they put in writing appears to have credence.
Armed with our new information, we write our list of what we feel are our best options for treatment. We quote what we have heard to our doctor. If the doctor disagrees with our opinion, there can be the tendency to assume selfish motives of trying to profit off of us. After all, didn’t we study on this? Haven’t we picked up recommended books on what we think is wrong and what the solution is? The people we read sound intelligent, and what they say resonates with our way of reasoning/intuitive conclusions. They have many anecdotes that are convincing. It’s in print. The power of things in print cannot be underestimated in their tendency to influence us.
How can a person know what’s true? How can we check the validity of what we’ve read? How do we know the anecdotal evidence isn’t fabricated? How can we think critically and objectively about these things?
One of the goals of a school is to teach us to think critically. They don’t give us information to soak in and expel on a test that we then forget. A good academic regimen gives us the ability to understand the foundational logic, the why something is true. The scientific method, while it doesn’t apply to everything one thinks and believes, gives you the basic tools to building upon prior knowledge. This is an active learning process, rather than just absorbing things passively.
For those of you who have forgotten the scientific method, here it is:
- Observe something.
- Ask a question about it.
- Make a hypothesis about it, a tentative answer to the question.
- Conduct an experiment.
- Analyze the Data. Form a conclusion.
To sum everything up, while it is important to inform yourself and discuss your healthcare options with your doctor, you want solid information as you both work together to your health.
P.S. This article is obviously very awkward. Nonfiction is the direction I am looking to getting published, with my main interest being toward school-age children. I know the vocabulary needs to be age-appropriate. Looks like one of my intensive study periods I tend to get into!