Atheism, Science and "Alternative" Therapy
I'm an odd bird (but you knew that, natch). I have a background, educationally speaking, in both science (biology, history of science) and religion (history of religion, comparative Semitic philology). So my mind tends to dart all over the place and I can "see both (any) sides" with relative ease, intellectually speaking, even as I may not agree with that I'm studying or considering at any given moment.
Claudia's comment on this thread pissed me off. As you can probably tell from my response to her critique of my comment. Sort of in the same vein, I'm depressed and ashamed I didn't make Jen's graphic about blogger-atheists on this thread, sob. and damn, she's so cute, isn't she? Anyway, here's my question: how do you balance your interest in "alternative" ideas about science, medicine, and the physical world, with your own skepticism about religion, politics, and the corruption of the practice of science?
Here's the thing for me, at least: science is far from perfect, even as the fundies critique it for all the wrong reasons. The problem isn't that "it's all just a theory, someone's opinion." The problem is money, politics, ignorance, racism and sexism. Anyone who has ever worked in science (as I have in a great deal of lab, clinical and medical environs) understands this in a brutal, depressing way. Nobody at Corrente (I hope) would deny that while American research science is fairly impressive, it at the same time is addled with corporate pressure that corrupts and changes the "scientific outcome" of far too many scientific studies. Drugs are the obvious example; I won't even bother to google the long, sad list of drugs rushed to market, despite significant questions and problems brought up in truly scientific research and analysis, because Big Pharma has the political muscle to cause government regulatory agencies to overlook those problems. I'm pretty sure one of my relatives is dead because of corruption at this level (long story). I'm not the only one who feels this way; many friends and family members who are/were science professionals got out or are trying to get out of the research/academic science business for just these sorts of reasons. Don't get me started on how research science is funded in this day and age, oy.
At the same time, I do resist and object to quackery. Hucksters who push garbage like "faith healing" and "drinking moose urine will make you have younger looking skin" and suchlike annoy me greatly. Because they hurt actually effective, sound "alternative" efforts, the good ones of which are trying to expand upon and 'grow' the corpus of knowledge that Western research science has established. But I really don't like the "toss the baby with the bathwater" approach too many people seem to take, as they instantly dismiss anything that starts with "homeopathy helped me with..." or "yoga is really good if you suffer from..." or "Chinese medical research (known as 'Traditional Chinese Medicine') is an established, analytically critical and scientific practice dating back thousands of years, applied to billions of people..." It's just too easy to fall into the notion that "only" the white guys wearing white coats working for an Ivy research lab know what 'really works.'
What have you found that others dismiss works for you, medically speaking? What is your attitude, when you see someone advertising "laser hair regrowth" technology, or acupuncture, or herbal remedies in place of OTC medication? My strongest support for the way I feel about "alternative" medicine comes from my lab research days, when I came to understand how political, social and economic forces that had nothing to do with science, were shaping the practice of science, and the results it produces. It's only gotten worse since my lab days. Lack of regulation has created an environment in which any Big Pharma corporation with the money and the muscle and get anything approved, teen suicide and endemic heart attack rates be damned. Science + Profit = bad results, every time. And if Westerners could get past their racism, they'd realize that those funny looking Indian people who stand on their heads and bend over and touch their toes a lot? Actually pretty healthy, a lot of the time, without paying the lifelong rent of Rx drugs.