Are you annoyed by the people who are explaining you the benefits of Ayurveda? Or maybe the ones who often cite scientific research about healthy food? Probably, if you are not really into yogas, you think that Ayurveda is bullshit. And if you are into it, you might believe science is not enough. But where is the truth?
I noticed that there are so many universal truths which people explain in different ways. Let’s see an example.
Let’s suppose, avocado is very healthy food. What could be the reason for that?
Sample explanation 1
Avocado is full of prana and kundalini. The mysterious cosmic energies flow in this fruit and they fill your body delivering energy, light, and harmony. So, this is healthy for sure.
Sample explanation 2
A group of American scientists made a research with monkeys, feeding them avocado for 20 years. Research shows that monkeys were able to read, write and use facebook after this. So, this is healthy for sure.
Sample explanation 3
I have tried to eat avocado only for 5 months and now after this I feel better, sleep better, feel much energy, have no illnesses and can float above the ground. So, this is healthy for sure.
Sample explanation T
(The T here means “Technical”, not “Truth”)
The truth is that avocado has many polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats that help to decrease levels of bad cholesterol and by this way to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Also, it has lutein which is antioxidant, and these things fight free-radicals in our organism reducing the risk of many diseases. That means avocado helps to reduce the risk of many diseases. So, this is healthy for sure. (Source: some random page)
So many such different explanations. For sure some of them are wrong. How to understand which one is wrong and which one is right? Let’s see.
Wrong and right
In the ancient times, when there was no technology to find those polyunsaturated fats, people already knew that avocado is healthy and ate it. How was it possible? How could they manage it without all those machines and computers analyzing what is polyunsaturated and what is not? Probably explanation 3 was used in this case. If you eat something and you feel better – high chances it is a healthy thing. Is explanation 3 the right one?
The experience might be distorted very much. For example, one does not eat avocado all the time. Maybe Vietnamese people eat rice all the time, Kyrgyz people eat meat all the time, and Americans eat burgers all time, but most people eat various food. Suppose I feel bad today. What was the reason? Raw avocado salad or pizza I ate yesterday? How can I know? Maybe I got sick because it was hot outside and I had a heat stroke. To understand your experience very well, you need to do many experiments and see the results. So, the answer is science?
Well, science proves many things. Recently World Health Organization proved that meat can increase your risk of cancer. But then there are articles arguing that “Don’t worry, you can still eat it!” Science is an ongoing argument. Science itself has many ways to explain the same things, especially modern science about the brain, psychology, and particle physics. Many things that are considered to be proven might be still questionable. Some guys even questioned Isaac Newton.
Another problem with science is that we KNOW that junk food is not healthy, that smoking kills and alcohol damages our brain, we still do all these tortures to ourselves. WHY? I don’t know why, but in the old times when there was no science, people were also torturing themselves by various kinds of junk food. So, the knowledge, what is often provided by science is not enough. We need to feel by ourselves first, that if you do this then you feel like shit. And even more, we need to know, that if you don’t do this then you feel great. How to explain to party people, that they would feel much better during the party and after party if they would not consume alcohol? How to convince them to try?
In ancient times, they found a method to convince people. Wise men who tried things on themselves and know them from their experience (which might be distorted, though) faced huge masses of uneducated primitive people without any knowledge beyond their village. No health mechanisms yet discovered. No research was made (so, we cannot use explanation 2). Many people might not believe or even listen to explanation 3.
But things still should be explained. So, let’s invent some vital force, call it prana or kundalini or qi or mana or whatever and explain things by means of this. Ah, avocado has prana! So I should eat it!
Nowadays many people try to run away from such things, claim themselves atheists or truthists or whatever else and believe only explanation 2, or even only T. They might be right, but the problem is that science is not that powerful yet to explain everything. And even if it is, simple people without extensive education cannot understand many modern scientific concepts.
Free radicals you say? I believe this is some kind of new age bullshit. Free radicals flowing through my body? Like qi? No way! But wait, American scientists have proven that! OK, I believe then.
The same happens when dowsers explain Hartmann lines – they claim there are some lines around the earth, intersections of them are harmful, and in these times when scientists make selfies with Higgs bosons, these Hartmann lines can be found ONLY by means of dowsing. But hey, German scientists have proven that! OK, I believe then. So, various people can USE science to prove any bullshit they believe.
You can check what is pseudoscience, and find so many interesting entries there like hypnosis (which works somehow), neuro-linguistic programming (taught for executives of companies by certified specialists), polygraphy (but they use it in movies!), technical analysis in finance (the way how people actually make lots of money). They all are not science.
But wait, technical analysis actually works for some people! Meditation worked before they have proven its benefits. The avocado was healthy before they found those polyunsaturated things inside it. So, science might be late to explain things we found by our experience first. There WAS Pluto out there before they made some photos of it. If someone says that Feng Shui is nonsense – wait, scientists might prove it later.
And the worst thing about science – it is sometimes wrong. Science also comes from some experience called experiments and the results might also be distorted. Intentionally or accidentally. Science is also affected by prevailing beliefs about the universe. What a renegades were Galileo and Copernicus at their times when they denied prevailing concepts about the position and rotation of the Earth (±16th century)! And now, when many sciences are still developing, many things are not well understood, it does not seem safe to me to claim, that “Hey, they proved this a year ago! So, it’s right!”
Finally, when every aspect of our life became researched by übersmart people, who argue among themselves, how can we understand them? I can understand sophisticated concepts of finance like CDS because I was educated in that. But what about health? My question was: is avocado healthy or not? And then they say: “polyunsaturated”, “oxidant”, “cholesterol”. I don’t get these words!
Consider this example, the famous formula discovered by Albert Einstein:
We think that it is right and might apply to calculate how much energy is there in you or in me. But this formula is just a special case valid for an object at rest, it is very simplified. Every one of us is moving (at least because the Earth rotates). The modified formula for moving object is this one:
Is it the final version? I am not sure. The point here is that every scientific explanation we hear is a simplification for our simple minds made by smart people. Sometimes they are so much simplified that it sounds like tale rather than science.
What to believe?
Before we had this:
Wise people discovered patterns of the world by observation or experience and created tales to explain it to people.
Now we have this:
Smart people are discovering patterns of the world by observation or experiment and are creating tales to explain it to people.
If you are wise, you can gather experience or observe the world by yourself.
If you are smart, you can do experiments or observe the world by yourself.
If you are smart or wise but do not have time for involving yourself in experiments you need to believe tales. It’s up to you what kind of tales – scientific ones or magic ones.
People who are not smart nor wise would not read this article (because of that p… word in the title), but you must understand, that there are people who are unable to get the meaning of experiments, they are unable to find any patterns by observations. Tales are the only way for them to understand things. Let’s create good tales for them.
All explanations are needed, but for different people. And at the same time, all explanations are not reliable.