Sunday, December 10, 2006

Distrusting the Medical Establishment

For a while I've been saying I don't trust a thing the medical establishment says. It occurred to me to really question, isn't it a bit arrogant of me to say I value my own opinions over thousands of people doing research for decades? No, for these reasons:

  • Conflict of interest: health care and food are absolutely huge economically and therefore politicially - for instance, I've heard the sugar lobby is the largest in Washington; hence the presence of sugar in everything, including plenty of foods where it really doesn't make sense (like ketchup). There are too many people who benefit too much from studies or opinions being swayed certain directions.
  • Individuality: I believe strongly (granted, because of personal observation) that people's reactions to various inputs (sunlight, foods, etc) vary far more widely than is given credit; to follow a general rule just isn't much use. Not only that, but people live in widely varying situations and have widely varying habits - it may be quite reasonable to tell someone who lives in Tucson to try to avoid the sun, but in Seattle, I think it's healthy to make a point to get more. Observe yourself and do what appears to work for you. Granted, you won't know long-term outcomes til too late, but you can at least make more educated guesses.
  • Complexity: Humans are the most complex system we know of, and we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of understanding how we really work.
  • Conflicting reports and poor results: Every decade the medical establishment seems to completely change its story, and the United States, supposedly following these instructions, has only gotten less healthy. Besides which, I've seen too many cases of doctors diagnosing things wrong or treating things wrong first hand.
So, I eat what makes me feel good and take what actions seem to make me feel good. I eat as much unprocessed organic food as possible, and I greatly enjoy sunlight. Maybe I won't overshoot my life expectancy - or, then again, maybe I will - but one way or another I'm going to have a really good ride.



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