Health research – it’s a new story every day! From contradictory studies on whether chocolate and wine is good for you, to the heated debate about the use of statins, it seems every week researchers propound new theories about how to be healthy.
Additionally, questions regarding the reliability of evidence -based studies are on the increase. Only this month, CTV reported a study from McGill University that looked at the little critters used in the research many of us trust to produce unbiased data. It turns out that lab rats themselves are not unbiased! They are influenced by the gender of the researchers. Apparently, the rats like males better than females when it comes to who implements the research! And that bias may have skewed results of much of the data produced in health research.
This got me thinking: if rats and mice behave differently in these studies according to the gender of the individuals caring for them, is there really such a thing as a ‘blind’ or ‘double blind’ study? We all have thoughts and feelings – even participants in a research study. There may be many factors involved that have not yet been taken into account.
Health research can be often helpful; but the strong pressure that researchers and scientists are under to produce breakthroughs and to publish papers, as well as current marketing practices, human opinions and traditions, and fear and politics, can all play into the mix of how we view health. So, is the data we have come to rely upon and trust really neutral or objective? We need to ask the question, “Is this the only way to learn what is good for our health?”
Actually, a lot of the answers lie within us. They appear through what’s called “intuition.” In your ordinary daily affairs you probably already listen to your intuition, which some call a “gut feeling” or “sixth sense.” But it is much more than this, and is a much under-used ability.
Albert Einstein, who made his great discoveries through observation and reason long before many of the scientific tests were available to prove his theories, thought a great deal about intuition. He said,
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Thinking of intuition as a “sacred gift” gives it a much deeper relevance to our lives. Intuition is the gift of our connection to the divine. It guides, protects, reassures and changes how we think in ways that are immeasurable. It impacts every corner of our lives, including our health. And we all have it.
A Jewish writer in the Bible makes it clear that “there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” Jesus also spoke of the spiritual nature of intuition when he said that the kingdom of heaven is within each of us, and is “like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field.”
So what would have us disregard this treasure – this intuition – that we all have? The human mind often overrides our intuitions so that we distrust them. And, if you are like me, you often later regret doing so. Lack of confidence in being able to make our own decisions is often a reason; but mostly it is due to fear, especially with regard to our health. We fear the body – what it can do to us! And much of the reporting on health studies feeds that fear.
The validity of research data and its impact on our lives has also been called into question by individuals in other fields. For example, celebrated and controversial Canadian naturalist and writer, Farley Mowat, was deeply critical of the overuse of data. A re-airing of a 2009 CBC interview with him in a memoriam of his recent passing, shared his ideas about data regarding the natural world, of which he was so passionate. He said –
“I believe that knowledge comes through feelings … that defy logic, and defy rational analysis or data. Data is the death of knowledge.”
All that we know about our health today will probably be disproved at some point in the future as our beliefs about health change. The invalidation of various claims is happening all the time. As well, the methodologies and practices that constitute “evidence-based medicine” are also changing as fast as the various theories and data sets are. How much more important then to turn to our intuition, that spiritual connection – the kingdom of heaven within – for confidence and guidance in making decisions about our health.