Problems with ‘Logic’

“Reality is only an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”
Albert Einstein

I believe that pseudo-logic and pseudo-rationality have become the latest religious fad in the latter half of the 20th century. I use the word pseudo, as I often see reasoning that only holds true within a very limited set of variables, thus there is an implicit denial of variables that do not fit within the hypothesis (for instance the role of emotions in illness). To be more specific, it appears that our prevalent mode of consensual reality (particuarly within medical ‘science’) is founded on a reductive and simplistic shade of science, and that understanding the complexity of any real human dynamic is still decades away from being within the realms of rational understanding. This simplistic approach is perpetuated by both dogma within the research world and self-interest from many of the financial sources of research (amongst many other factors)

This system of belief sits uneasily with virtually every traditional belief system in the world (where a concept of the soul and the aliveness of nature is common), and perpetuates a post-colonial illusion of intellectual hierarchy and the dismissal of ‘the native’ as subordinate. Not surprisingly, white man remains at the the top of this self-perpetuated hierarchy.

In all my work both clinically and in teaching, I aim to empower people’s sense of their individual reality (making sense our your life and your world) and their ability to make choices within this. So many of us have been taught to dismiss many of our experiences of the world, particularly those of fascination, wonder, imagination and love. This is often because they do not fit in with the current epistomology favoured within our education system. We have been repeatedly indoctrinated that thinking is superior to feeling, and that ‘superstition’ is something we have evolved away from.

Rationality has its place within our understanding of ourselves and our world, but no more or less than any other way of knowing. For instance, would you rather chose your life’s partner on the feeling in your heart or on a critical analysis of their character?

Presumably most would chose the former, and given this how does it make any sense to ignore the role of the heart and our experience of life in making ‘medical’ decisions. Could it be that rationality is a crude tool to assess reality and risk leaving out a lot that is important (feelings, love, belief, wonder, spirituality)?

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

My practice, as many other holistic practitioners is based on an experiential, participatory, person-centred and holistic model of therapeutic intervention. For this reason, any research that doesn’t take account of these can only be considered crude primary data to me. For instance even the ‘best’ DBPCT multi-centre study I would consider a crude tool for looking at the complexity of what happens in a clinical encounter.

Themes to question ‘rational fundamentalism’

  • Complex systems / Multi-variable systems –  we can only ever approximate reality with the incomplete data set we are using. To what degree do our current methodologies actually relate to real life? If not, which do we trust more – our experience of life or a neat model of it?
  • Are case studies really statistically useless as the protocols of EBM would suggest? How much do we value individual experience? How much do we value our experience? How much do we hand over our experience to an establishment authority?
  • All my treatments are participatory – that is they require the patient to participate in their healing. If someone came who wasn’t willing to make any effort themselves, I wouldn’t expect particularly good results. How does participatory medicine fit into a randomised and blinded model? Can it be placebo controlled?
  • The experience of the herbs is part of the therapeutic model. For instance the taste is part of the effect (e.g. it is well researched that the bitter taste alone stimulates a gastric responce). How is it possible to blind this in a trial?
  • The case for need in healing as opposed to ‘desire to test’. Intention is everything and no single incident of healing between two people at one moment in time is ever reproducible. What about the psychology of those who would willingly enter a trial compared to those who would not – is this significant?
  • Questions about the randomisation model. This immediately dis-empowers the patient. I suspect this will have a strong nocebo effect.
  • The assumptions behind clinical trials – what does a disease focused rather than a person centred approach really mean. This has big implications for selecting patient groups since only if you are operating in a disease centred model does a trial on a group of ‘asthmatics’ make sense. Each of those ‘asthmatics’ is a different person, potentially benefiting best from a different treatment.

A short story about the big flaws in research

A drunk is found searching the street in the middle of the night. On approaching him a friendly passer by asks what he is looking for.

‘My wallet’ he says.
‘Where did you loose it?’ they ask
‘On the next street along’ says the drunk
‘So why are you looking here?’  asks the passer by curiously
‘Well, that street doesn’t have any streetlights’