None of us had any say in what strengths or weaknesses natural selection chose to endow us with, and all of us benefit and/or suffer from genetic predispositions of our evolving bodies and minds.
According to evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins,
“Most of what we strive for in our modern life uses the apparatus of goal seeking that was originally set up to seek goals in the state of nature.”
Nevertheless, our minds have the ability to inquire, investigate, reason, and therefore, as British historian, philosopher, mathematician, social critic and logician, Bertrand Russell, said,
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
The Good Life
Most people seek the best nourishment and medicinal treatment for their bodies, and the best sustainable lifestyles – the most trustworthy advice on everything from beauty products that may (or may not) prolong the appearance of youth (and flattering fashion and makeup tips) to solutions for chemical imbalances, neurological dysfunctions and psychological issues – in essence, we all seek “the good life” or at least a better one.
“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge” said Bertrand Russell, but, in an age of information overload, how can we know what “knowledge” to be guided by? Whether looking for advice on the latest cosmetic surgery techniques or searching for wellbeing through alternative remedies, ideas on fitness, weight loss, diet pills or how to make serious life changes, how can we know what information merits being considered, especially online? Internationally renowned journalist, Christopher Hitchens, proposes: “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” So although a product, treatment or well-intentioned piece of advice may claim to be worthy by presenting itself as “ancient”, “traditional” or “believed to be true”, “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd,” said Bertrand Russell.
The Enemy of Truth Isn’t the Lie
So who’s advise should we listen to? Marketing and publicity professionals who are experts at convincing us of the truth about something be it true or not? Or those offering the best personal experiences and emphatically passionate “testimonials”? “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought,” said John F Kennedy. When it comes to advice, be it how to nourish and care for our bodies, how to deal with social issues, or how to resolve medical problems, such “persuasive” myths abound. Many companies and entities profit by offering products, services or treatments backed up only by incredible “unbelievable but true” personal testimonies (that were they not about a “product” with a price tag one might misinterpret as religious belief, considering statements like “it changed my life!” “I BELIEVE in product X”). While describing the possible symptoms of “Viruses of the Mind”, Richard Dawkins states that, “The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn’t seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as ‘faith.” Neuroscientist, philosopher, author and co-founder of Project Reason, Sam Harris, adds, “Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another.”
Therefore, one might say that a healthy body depends on a reasoning mind choosing information and advice based on facts that can be backed up with evidence, with scientific studies, controlled tests and data that can withstand questions of “how” something works, “why” it’s beneficial or what active ingredients or unique attributes makes it “the best”. It’s about making decisions based on “critical thinking” as Sam Harris would say, based on “science and reason” as Dawkins asserts. Yet, contrary to what we might expect, in an age where science and technology forms part of nearly everyone’s life, “It has become almost a cliché to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics,” says Richard Dawkins, and in his television documentary, The Enemies of Reason, he discusses a particularly bizarre modern trend.
The Brain-Dropping Syndrome
In part, The Enemies of Reason documentary explores how it is that we’ve become so accustomed to having the comforts and benefits of science (wherein we have better health, more free time and a longer lifespan), that some people are veering away from “proved” scientific methods in favor of “traditional” remedies, “ancient” cures, and “lost wisdom” that perhaps never was wisdom at all, but superstition, myth, legend, hearsay and unfounded opinions “without the discomfort of thought”. For some this is a (good-intentioned) desire to return to nature, “being open minded”, perhaps without realizing that, at the level of our evolved consciousness, it’s akin to choosing (deliberately) to return to ages of ignorance. “There’s this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out,” says Richard Dawkins, and this “brain dropping” syndrome appears to go hand in hand with (aside from religious notions that Dawkins refers to in his book The God Delusion) weight loss techniques, faddish diets, secret herbs and potions, cosmetic procedures, homeopathy, untested “ancient” herbal remedies, beauty procedures and old-wives-tale-style advice that appears (to the horror of many reasoning minds) not to be decreasing in popularity. Yet, for those of who wish to lead more “natural” lifestyles isn’t that what SCIENCE is all about: “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment,” also defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as: “the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.”
Does this mean that natural remedies, herbal cures, eastern ideologies (such as yoga, meditation, relaxation therapies, massage) are useless? Are holistic, and ancient-wisdom-inspired products and techniques incompatible with reasoning minds and modern evolving bodies? That’s exactly what this website seeks to explore.
Asking for Proof
Our aim is to take a close look at modern (pharmaceutical / high-tech) and ancient (or New Age) remedies, therapeutic techniques, products, services, popular trends and commonly accepted opinions to evaluate their worth in light of what is known (based on tests, studies, scientific proof) and evaluate which ones may offer viable solutions to everyday problems or needs. We endeavor to review products, services, and trends in order to recommend ones of value by offering reasons “why” and questioning those that may offer little or no proof to backup their “beneficial” claims.
What Aught We to Do?
We join philosopher and cognitive scientist, Daniel C. Dennett, in asking “what ought we to do?” with all the information and possibilities at our disposal. “Thanks to technology, what almost anybody can do has been multiplied a thousand fold, and our moral understanding about what we ought to do hasn’t kept pace. … You can have a test-tube baby or take a morning-after pill to keep from having a baby; you can satisfy your sexual urges in the privacy of your room by downloading Internet pornography, and you can keep your favorite music for free instead of buying it; you can keep your money in secret offshore bank accounts and purchase stock in cigarette companies that are exploiting impoverished Third World countries; and you can lay minefields, smuggle nuclear weapons in suitcases, make nerve gas, and drop “smart bombs” with pinpoint accuracy. Also, you can arrange to have a hundred dollars a month automatically sent from your bank account to provide education for ten girls in an Islamic country who otherwise would not learn to read and write, or to benefit a hundred malnourished people, or provide medical care for AIDS sufferers in Africa. You can use the Internet to organize citizen monitoring of environmental hazards, or to check the honesty and performance of government officials — or to spy on your neighbors. Now, what ought we to do?” – Daniel C. Dennett.
Making Decisions Based on Valid Evidence-based Reasons
Instead of offering advice on how to spy on your neighbors, this website strives to investigate elements that makes life worth living (or at least more comfortable) – health, wellbeing, fitness, weight loss, beauty, cosmetics, fragrances, fashion, lifestyle issues, culture and leisure – with an analytical (critical) approach. We hope to help readers choose products, services, treatments, even cultural and leisure activities (that will enhance their lives) by asking vital questions and looking for proof behind claims. Our intention is not to tell anyone what we “think” they ought to eat or drink or how to deal with weight gain issues or hormonal changes, but to provide a basis for people to make their own decisions with valid reasons.
Who We Are
We are enthusiastic researchers; hungry information diggers. We explore what medicines and natural products make people feel better or worse, what ancient remedies have some basis in fact and which don’t; which diets have been proven effective and which haven’t; what therapies may help certain conditions and which are probably a waste of time and money. We investigate ways to help mature women cope with changes in midlife as well as offer suggestions on fun, frivolous topics like fashion, fragrance and cosmetics. We look with inquisitiveness at what’s known about the psychology (and biology) of romance, dating and love; wining, dining and relaxing on beaches, and take to heart Daniel Dennett’s words, “If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things.”
With our own evolving bodies and reasoning minds, we (a small team of inquisitive individuals) join Richard Dawkins in affirming, “The universe is a strange and wondrous place. The truth is quite odd enough to need no help from pseudoscientific charlatans.”