One of the biggest questions I get when I tell people about atomistic and holistic biases is whether this affects Western medicine. Well, yes. It actually does. And secretly behind the scenes for quite some time now, I’ve been familiarizing myself with a series of medical innovations that quite simply haven’t diffused. Why? Because they don’t fit within Western medicine’s cultural biases.
WHAT?!? Are you saying you know more about medicine than doctors?!? Who in the heck are you?
Exactly. Even saying things like this sets off people’s intuitions of authority.
Medical doctors are brilliant. They’re great. I’d far rather have a surgeon do surgery on me than me do surgery on me. However, doctors are also human. And all humans blindly copy culture from the people they’re in awe of without them even realizing it. And so, the Romans blindly copied atomism from the Ancient Greeks whom they were in awe of. And then everyone else in the West blindly got atomistic biases from the West because they were in awe of them. The result is that baked into the very structure of medicine is an atomistic structure. You can see it in the way medical care is delivered. Medicine divides up the body into lots of tiny subspecialties. If you have back pain, you go to a back doctor and that doctor looks at that localized region. The problem is that the body is all interconnected. Very often, the problem with your back often originates with a lack of dorsiflexion in your foot. Those forces are then transmitted all the way up your legs and express as a back problem even though the real issue is the foot. How many unnecessary back surgeries are performed around the world? We just don’t know. But we’re committed to helping doctors create awareness of their cultural biases so that we can make sure that medicine’s cultural blindspots don’t cause it to miss out on simpler and less harmful opportunities for care.
If I’d met Tony Molina straight out of college, I would have thought he was straight up nuts. My reaction would have been “WHAT?!? Are you saying you know more about medicine than doctors?!? Who in the heck are you?” I would have gotten #Triggered and blindly defended my culture. And I would not have been behaving scientifically. Science isn’t about intuitions about human authority. It is about the evidence. And so, when I met Tony Molina more recently, I still thought he was kind of nuts, but through The Straight-A Conspiracy and The Bryan Callen Show, I’d seen the ways in which ideas didn’t diffuse. And so, I spotted something. Here was a man who had done everything his culture had told him to do. He’d pored over the data. He’d learned what it all added up to. And he had confronted people with that data…only to be repeatedly dismissed because he didn’t have the right credentials. Humans–including doctors it turns out–don’t respond to facts. They respond to stories. They have to get WHY things work. They have to get WHY doctors don’t get these things. And they have to be told a story where none of this is anyone’s fault. We all blindly copied a culture from our parents. Now, it’s time to reflect and evolve a better culture. It’s time to ask simply “Why Doesn’t Western Medicine Turn Us On?“