Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another example to study of clearer thinking

Here is an article about how scientists have noticed a higher percentage of ALS disease among service people.,0,7934548.story

If you read this article, with all due sympathy to the service man who is profiled and who is suffering, the search for the cause and cure will be hampered by incorrect thinking. The scientific method, which I mention in my previous blog posts on better thinking, is not being followed in this description of the problem.

Because there is a higher percentage of service people with ALS than the general population, even scientists who ought to know better seem to be jumping to the conclusion that something in the military "triggers" ALS. This is ridiculous to assume if they do not likewise consider the alternative hypothesis, which is that the volunteer military service unwittingly is drawing from the population of people with a greater future tendency for ALS.

Here is an example of how that would work. If ALS has at least a partial genetic origin, you must realize that genes do not operate on a singular basis. Genes operate in clumps of activity in the body, and genes are interrelated. Therefore, one hypothesis would be that genes that give good physical fitness (and therefore allow a candidate to pass the required physical exams and requirements for service) could have a connection with genes that carry the future possibility of ALS. In other words, if just anyone joined the service, regardless of their physical abilities, age, etc, the rate of the military service ALS would probably be back to being the same as it is in the general population.

People cannot find solutions to complex scientific and health problems if they do not follow their own learning about how to objectively analyze a problem at hand. When one learns how to problem solve in a proper academic environment, one learns not to latch onto one explanation and then go whole hog toward "answering" that "explanation." That is not the scientific method.

In the past thirty years, many science and health studies are ruined by the modern attempt to isolate one cause and one effect. You see this with nutritional studies all the time. The ALS is such a terrible problem to solve that people should use the best of practices to really analyze all the possibilities of cause, in order to most rapidly find a cure, if medically possible. Barking up the wrong tree is not helpful and wastes time, lives and resources. While one examines if there are any "triggers" inherent in military service (and this article implies that none are identified), they should simultaneously have been considering whether the military unconsciously draws upon a population of volunteers (the young and the fit, for example, and with gender and racial profiles) that is most likely to develop ALS.

ALS keeps the mind intact but renders the body to a shell that cannot move. It would not amaze me at all if a disease that strikes at physical capability is naturally in close proximity and interaction with genes that control motor skills in the first place. Therefore, with certain requirements for entry into military service, plus those who are attracted to it in the first place, the ALS gene probably "comes along for the ride" with the most genetically physically fit candidates (whether they are actually working out and fit or not, since I'm alluding to the genetic capability to be a physically fit person).

*Sighs* How undisciplined and unscholarly our scientific and health professionals have become, just like the general population.