The Journey Begins
Medicine and Health are among the commonest topics of Internet searches. Searchers are often perplexed by conflicting advice. If not, perhaps they should be.
We are constantly bombarded with information about scientific and medical matters, possibly from journalists and sources that do not understand it. Most people lack the ability to interpret it. Medical Science Explained aims to help people to understand how decisions in medicine are made without getting too complicated and it helps them to make their own decisions.
This is not high-powered for those with degrees in science and mathematics. It is designed for ordinary, intelligent people who want answers to frequently asked questions. It is for people with an inquiring mind and people who like to ask questions rather than just accepting what they are told. However, it may also give useful insight to those embarking on degrees in medicine and allied subjects as well as the natural sciences. It may be useful to politicians and civil servants who are involved in decision making in the field of health. Many questions will not be answered here as it cannot cover everything, but it should leave the reader better able to set about finding the answers.
I started this website in early 2019 and finished just before the end of 2020. However, I still edit things to keep them all as up to date as possible. The year 2020 saw the need for a whole new chapter on COVID-19 as it was so important and there was so much bad information around. Later, I decided to add another chapter about the lessons that must be learned from the pandemic for when the next one strikes. The following list shows the sections or chapters of this website. Just click on the topic in blue to go to that chapter or part of the site.
The emphasis is on medical science as that is where the reader is probably most interested, and it is where the author’s expertise lies.
After a short introduction there is a brief historical review. This means relatively brief as it is by no means a comprehensive account, as that would be impossible. It shows how scientific theories and thought have developed over the years and how methods have changed. It will also show some of the fundamental errors that have been made. As Edmund Burke observed, “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” History gives perspective to the present and warnings from the past. That is why knowing and understanding history is so important.
After that comes a section on looking for evidence. The Internet gives a vast amount of information but quantity must not be confused with quality. Where should we look? Which websites tend to be reliable and what are not? Only about a quarter of people who seek medical information on the web look at who is providing it. That is a serious error.
This is followed by sections on the basic scientific methods used in medical research so that the reader can gain some insight into what is involved and where there may be uncertainty. Ethics is also mentioned as it is important. There is also a chapter on maths and statistics in medicine, but do not be scared. It is kept simple, sticking more to principles than complex mathematics.
There is a section on public health, including screening programmes, vaccine scares, electronic cigarettes and air pollution from motor vehicles. I added a chapter on COVID-19 as events demanded it. I had planned a single chapter on nutrition as it is so important but often misrepresented. That one chapter become four.
We then look at several forms of complementary and alternative medicine and ask how they stand up to objective appraisal. Do they really offer a better form of treatment? Do they work at all?
We move on to some controversial diseases. I call them that as they range from the genuine but misunderstood to the frankly fabricated. Some are just poorly understood. They include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigues syndrome (also known as ME), systemic candidiasis and sensitivity to radio waves. The verdict on each varies.
The topical subjects of global warming, alternative energy and motor vehicle emissions are considered.
Finally, I was going to include a section on health inequalities to look at why there is a class and gender difference between life expectancy as well as years of healthy living and what may be done to improve this. However, the topic is vast. Instead, I finish with a chapter called “Still searching for the Age of Reason”. The Age of Reason started around the 17th century but even in the 21st there is still a dire lack or reason seen in everyday life.
Seek evidence- not passion