In this week’s spotlight I would like to take on the issue of evidence. What is good evidence? When can we rely on it? Should we expect evidentiary material to accompany claims and assertions? I mean, what real evidence is there for many spiritual contentions?
This week I posted a video featuring actual television commercials from the 1950’s for cigarettes. The ads featured physicians endorsing smoking. One ad even showed the Surgeon General approved of smoking. Doctor after doctor endorsed not only smoking but particular brands. Camel cigarettes boasted that general practitioners, surgeons, throat specialists, diagnosticians, neurologists, radiologists, etc., all preferred Camel cigarettes. Doctors regularly appeared in these commercials and sold the idea of safe, healthy smoking to the public. So—is the doctor’s word good evidence? Or is the answer to that question something like, “It depends on motive?”
Motive is always important when you examine evidence. For example, when I first developed the patented technology known as InnerTalk, I conducted the initial studies. We looked at things like reducing the anesthetic requirement during cosmetic surgery but, because I was the lead investigator, it was fair to assume that I might be biased. After all, this was my technology and I stood to gain if and when it was proven to be effective. I therefore enlisted all the outside independent researchers I could to run their own studies and in the end, repeated double blind studies, the most rigorous of experimental designs, demonstrated efficacy across a multitude of domains.
For me, the evidence required repetition, over and over, and by independent teams at leading institutions where character and qualifications could not be disputed. Do we all need that sort of hard evidence before we accept a new idea, a new product, and so forth? Probably not—but then what sort of evidence do we need?
Today we see claims everywhere. The media is full of fabrications, embellishments, baffle gab, and hyperbole. Sometimes the claims are about products and sometimes about people. We are told we can get rich simply by following some secret XYZ scheme, but of course we must buy the secret scheme to learn how to do this. We are told that some new pill will magically restore our memory power but does it really work? We are told that there is this tremendous break through by some guru of this or that, but that science is lagging and they won’t tell you for probably years what the guru can tell you now. Are we to go away believing this nonsense?
Bottom line, what we choose to believe today is fraught with multiple opportunities to get it all wrong. Unfortunately, we live at a time when we need to be doubly suspicious of the claims people make. We need to do our homework before buying into a lot of the craziness out there. For me, I want evidence but I’m willing to listen. Tell me about a miracle this or that and I want to investigate it, verify it, and when I do—I can go away certain that at least I have checked it out. To that end, I suggest you do the same since more often than not, the unbelievable turns out to be just that—unbelievable because it is false to facts!
My thoughts, what are yours?
As always, thanks for the read and I’d love your thoughts on this one.