Opinion, Theory, and Fact
I was walking out of the gym with my friend when he saw someone he knew and interrupted our conversation. He called over to a woman across the room and said: “our vitamix arrived yesterday.” She responded,“you’ll love it. You’ll feel so much better after you detox!”
“Detox?” I interjected, “Detox from what?” My friend spoke next telling this woman that I was a doctor, goading her into the debate. She wisely said, “I know about you doctors and I also know how much better I feel since I started detoxing – you have your opinion and I have mine”
Despite my friend’s displeasure, there was mutual agreement to end the debate, each party assured there was no convincing the other.
On the drive home I was seething with frustration. As a scientist by training my world is structured by an understanding that information can be categorized as fact, theory, or opinion. Two plus two is a fact. Evolution is a theory, so complex that near impossible to prove as fact, but supported by tens of thousands of scientific observations. Opinion is merely a deeply held belief.
Detoxing the colon or blood may have at one time been an opinion and later a theory but with the scientific tools available today it can easily be tested to determine if it is a fact; and if disproved not only would it not be a fact but then it can no longer be a theory, and certainly not an opinion. Two plus two equals five is just factually wrong – you can’t have a theory that says it may be correct, and you can’t have an opinion that it is correct because the fact is indisputable.
Getting back to the detox story. If one is to detox then there must be a toxin present that is going to be removed by the purported intervention. If the toxin is present then it should be measurable. In order to make such a claim as being detoxed a simple scientific experiment can be designed to measure the toxin(s) before and after the intervention to prove that they have been removed. This isn’t rocket science, nor is it trying to take evolution from theory to fact. This is as straightforward as high school chemistry lab.
My frustration with the detox debate and so many health care topics like it in our contemporary culture is the abandonment of science and the willingness to accept as truth assertions that can be easily tested. When and why did we become so gullible? It’s as if we’re buying snake oil again.
Clearly I feel very strongly about this, what about you? Leave a comment, and let me know.
Dr. Bruce Feinberg