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V. Limitations of Scientific Inquiry


 The scientific establishment is fond of pontificating about ethics in research and the media often treat scientists as authoritative sources. Yet the fact that we live in a body consuming biosphere divided by a primal conflict between predator and prey leads me to wonder about this and ask the question: How important are ethics when compared to the importance of attracting grant money, and doing the business necessary to win in the game of survival and sacrifice?

The formal enterprise of research has always been an open conversation among scientists. That conversation takes the form of studies published every month in thousands of peer-reviewed journals and then echoed by newspapers, magazines, radio and television the world over. Even at its best, that scientific discourse is often a confusing contest of conflicting claims, as scientists test theories by experiment and make new observations. Such debates, where in new facts perpetually overthrow old assumptions, are at the heart of science.

 With universities graduating more doctorates in science and engineering than the economy can absorb, and the pool of available government funding for grants shrinking, the conversation may become distorted. Science may become not just an intellectual competition but also an economic competition for scarce resources and even survival. Maybe in the competition, honest and ethical behavior among scientists can show signs of distress, endangering one of the crucial pillars of the whole edifice. Maybe an ever fiercer competition for research funds, burgeoning commercialism and a growing willingness by scientists to sidestep traditional checks and balances can undermine the quality of information the public receives about advances in science and medicine. Maybe science can be corrupted by commerce. Many experts agree that the public should take new scientific discoveries with a grain of salt: the bigger the claim, the more the salt.

Psycho-neuro-immunologists and health psychologists do not claim to eliminate mystery from existence. They do not claim to eliminate the discovery of disease and death. They do not claim to eliminate mystery of immunity and life. They do not claim to eliminate suffering, sorrow, and abomination from the conflict of predator and prey that divides our body consuming biosphere and characterizes the drama of life and death, game of survival and sacrifice and test of success and failure experienced by life forms. They do claim to offer a way of coping with major life altering events that will put individuals in the best position to be able to believe in themselves, take control of their lives, and be optimistic about their futures. 

These claims are in line with my purpose. My purpose is; to use truth and knowledge of theory based on scientifically reproducible discovery to produce a standard of conduct that is most likely to result in the most powerful physiological responses of health possible; and to use the most optimistic myth and fantasy based on mystery to produce emotional balance in my mind that is conducive to happiness and health in my life. My purpose in combining this foundation of truth and knowledge of theory with this most optimistic framework of myth and fantasy is to produce health and happiness.  I think, believe, and expect that many scientists are aware of the distortions created by market forces and compensate by scrutinizing the claims made by other scientists with care and loyalty to the truth. I follow with great interest the work of scientists who study the power of the mind body connection.  



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