“The science of today is the laughingstock of tomorrow.” -Stefan Aarnio
Have you ever had that childhood friend who wouldn’t quit asking “why?” till you were ready to pull your hair out? As irritating as it was, there is a benefit that comes with incessant questioning. You could liken it to peeling back the layers of an onion. Even after uncovering the answer, or so you think, the truth can often change. This is evident in the fact that not too long ago, we (doctors) used to bleed patients by cutting them in fifty or more places to cure disease. It would be problematic, to say the least, if this rationale wasn’t questioned. After all, as humans, continuous investigation is how we assess and measure the practicality of what we do. Such scrutiny lends itself to innovation and efficiency. In our primordial years questioning the factors that made up our environment (weather, seasons, predators, game) equated directly to survival.
In our younger years we are filled with brimming curiosity and the need to question everything around us, “why is the sky blue?, how do bees fly?, etc.” yet, later on in life this quest for knowledge or understanding seemingly starts to erode. Is it that we are too fearful of being shamed to ask a silly sounding question or that are we conditioned to not question things? Perhaps we’d rather choose to “know” what is true rather than question further? In some cases there is clearly no need for questioning as we know that if submerged underwater for long enough we’ll drown, but there are many subjects such as nutrition, where people are quick to cement their position, rather than continue to question the validity of their own information. This becomes problematic when two experts are telling you opposing ideas such as “low carb diets are good and low carb diets are bad”. A good nutritionist will give you some information that will help you find the answers for yourself as they will possess the understanding that they don’t really know what will work for you themselves. As experts, we are really making educated guesses. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of crap. You really think the first astronauts knew things were going to work out? One thing is for sure, there are no guarantees in this game of life!
A field I dwell in, riddled with closed minded thinking, is the exercise realm, filled with so called “experts” who live in a world of sound bites and generalizations they got from YouTube. I myself have quoted smart people in the past thinking it was a viable enough solution. When in reality memorizing the words of smart people doesn’t make you smart, or perceptive, a problem solver or a good critical thinker. Nor does it contribute to good dialogue and communication. You have to understand that the way to succeed in your realm is to learn constantly, treating a patient falls under this category. Practice constantly, and over time maybe you won’t be totally stupid and you’ll have some good guesses/experiments and help some people along the way. That’s just my opinion, for what it’s worth.
As much as getting a college degree is valued. I continue to be astounded by the number of doctors, physical therapists, or people with masters degrees who fail to exercise critical thinking. Assuming that because they read something in a textbook or a study that led them to understand “knee extension machines are bad”, it is then an indisputable fact. Which is also the same as saying “hammers are bad”. While I’m not discouraging people from going to college, depending on your goals it may be completely necessary, an important skillset (maybe the most) needed for any trade/occupation is the ability to take in information, form a hypothesis before conducting a series of mini-experiments and then investigate the results. Some might call this “the scientific method” or something like that…
This sort of reasoning and constant questioning can and should be directed towards ourselves, always evaluating what we know and conducting experiments in an attempt to find what works. There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove”. While nobody is perfect, in my younger years I was definitely guilty of the presumption that I knew the answers, it is never a bad idea to question yourself and your ideas. While you might come across as that annoying childhood friend, you may also find yourself closer to the truth.