Moving Forward - Part III
Where skeptics have driven the natural health communities away, sociopaths have charmed their way in, insidiously steering perception to that of active conspiracy for harm from the opposing side. As the general population, some of us have chosen to support the worst in the skeptic community, while a large portion have become enchanted by the siren calls of the sociopaths and well-intentioned influencers allied with them, driving a wedge in any constructive communication.
Many legitimate scientists fear engaging in dialogue with “the other side” in fear of giving it a platform. First off, they already have a platform. A bigger one, at that. Second, the goal should be speaking to those open to dialogue, not those with a predetermined message for a purpose. Trust me, there is a difference and can be identified.
As Daniel Dennett remarked during a conversation with three of his peers years back, while discussing moving forward in communication on another issue they view as an impediment of science, ‘There is no polite or inoffensive way to say to someone, “Have you ever considered the possibility that you have wasted your life on this?”’ He then remarked, “but we have to say it.”
I agree and in context of this industry, or field of communication, for both sides of the binary messaging, there is an inoffensive way to say it because neither the health mavericks or the skeptics are wasting their lives. Both have a purpose, both have (for the most part) good intentions and the world needs both. We need dreamers and visionaries who want to believe and pursue even those ideas that are just beginning to form, and we need skeptics to keep those pursuits in check and distinguish between the plausible needing a closer look and the ridiculous. Regarding both sides, in most cases, it is the finer details that need amending, not the overall ideology. The finer details have caused such a deep dichotomy to form that rather than contributing to one another, we have developed a full out war of philosophy in which neither side is winning or can win.
Both Sides, Stop Discrediting Everything
It is tempting to default to derision, to gain enjoyment from mocking those we see as doing harm through misinformation, especially when those we are mocking are in a position of power. I’m sure many of the skeptics leading this movement gained inspiration from the likes of Christopher Hitchens, who was at one time my personal hero. A decade ago, even five years ago, I would daydream of possessing his level of wit and skilled debate so I could lead the charge on many of the topics which personally troubled me. I still live by a piece of advice from his book, “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” where he advises to wake up each morning and think of what angers you most about this world, and make sure it still angers you. If it doesn’t, you’ve become complacent.
Every day I wake up and I am still angry. Angrier, even. That said, I am confronted with the wall of reality and everything I understand I am powerless against. I am confronted with the reality that my anger cannot be directed at most individuals contributing to it, for they are not my enemies and they need not be my adversaries. I am also increasingly glad I do not possess Hitchens wit or his skill of debate. In fact, the thought of live debate bothers me. It takes me months to fully form my thoughts and positions into temporary spheres of clarity and vision, every day slightly adjusting my perspective. The very nature of debate pits two ideas against each other in a contest for dominance. This is not constructive for growth. I seek private correspondence, written communication with necessary delays for emotions to subside, and reflection after addition of new information.
Even in identifying many of the players I suspect are the conmen, acting without certainty is unwise. Often new information leads to doubt and acting without certainty risks loss of credibility with those I consider allies. This is not a public war, nor can it be a public war. Martyrs cannot be made. Change on both sides of the fence will not happen overnight, friendships will not form immediately. It will be a slow fight, but as I quoted in “100 voices,” when influence matches influence, truth prevails.
For anyone reading this on either side of the fence, I hope to not fight this alone. Skeptics need to stop discrediting everything natural leaders do. I will say again, many of these individuals are highly intelligent people, doctors or self-taught, that have spent their lives dedicated to learning what they believe is best for themselves, their family, and their followers. Most walk the walk and follow their own advice. Some of their advice is practical, great, and even at times very profound. Attacking everything they say or do does nothing to help. It contributes to the rift.
Likewise, I have actively petitioned my friends in the natural community to stop attacking everything Big Pharma, the agricultural industry, and others do. Big Pharma has a lot of greed and issues, but we are living better, healthier lives thanks to them in many cases. As Dr. Holland and I spoke about in our published talk, we see a lot of room for boundaries being crossed between pharmaceuticals and the natural industry. We need to work together to pursue truth, while engaging in respectful dialogue to find out why someone believes what they do; especially when those people command an audience.
Expertise is a funny thing. We expect our experts to be confident (which they aren’t) and we follow confidence because we associate it with expertise (which it is not). Even in Hydrogen, a world-leading expert who I’ve developed a friendship quipped to me just a few months ago, “I’m not so sure about this whole Hydrogen nonsense.” I laughed and we talked. What he really meant was that as he understands it more, as the evidence grows, he is unsure of the conclusions and direction that many of the researchers have gone down. I share this skepticism. The data cannot be thrown away, but the conclusions can and need to be questioned. This is the only way we can expand our knowledge and continue to learn when, how, and why it works. Hydrogen remains to be his largest area of interest (and mine), but the very expanding expertise brings knowledge of its limitations. While I am hesitant on drawing conclusions, and he even more so, many others are screaming through the streets that “hydrogen water or hydrogen gas is a miracle.” The exact truth that the Nietzsche quote at the beginning of this blog describes.
Training our minds is as important to our health as training our bodies or following a proper nutritional plan. One of my first blogs, meaning one of the first I have written, not yet published, details how to train our minds to expand our ability to think. Hopefully, one day I will be able to share it. I wrote it as a preface to an imagined conversation with a skeptical thought leader. I do have a couple in mind. Ironically, I do not have an audience large enough to justify a thought leader to engage with and the very nature of my writing, particularly blogs like this, ensures that gaining an audience will be exponentially harder.
In the battle between truth and integrity as well as effective sales and marketing (which is my background and I fully understand), I have chosen the path of truth. I have chosen to assault both sides of a war because I do not believe the war should exist. I am on neither side and want dialogue with both. If after reading this blog, you determine I am your enemy or my messaging is counter to your thoughts and philosophy, I ask of you this: engage with me, preferably privately so we can speak fully. I want to talk.