Honeybees, health, and blinders on researchers

An article about a worrisome major problem has once again brought up a question in my thoughts, regarding processes of science. "Loss of bees could be 'a blow to UK economy'" The article concludes with an urging to get the results of science into the hands of the "conservationists and to the agricultural community" as quickly as possible.

This is all important info. Yet, there is a pathway of communication that is missing, and it is typical of "science" nowadays. That communication pathway is from the "conservationists and to the agricultural community" to the scientists, especially from those in the fringe areas, commonly referred to as "alternative" or "holistic", the folks who habitually look at the whole picture, extending back from the health to the means for preserving or restoring health, and have had success at it.

For example, lists who share fringe knowledge in holistic alternative health, and health is clearly that of all living systems, not just limited to humans. Several times the thread has come up regarding the loss of honeybees, and some have made comments that suggested their own small beehives are having no problems and they have opinions as to why; many of these people are also quite knowledgeable about science in depth. Such data sets needs to be invited and explored by the scientists pursuing solutions to the decline of the honeybee population.

Ignoring sources of data does not seem very scientific to me; yet this seems to be a phenomenon quite frequently seen in recent years, maybe decades. Several times I have puzzled as to the why of this phenomenon, and found it to be a systemic problem with roots all over the place.

Some possible factors include that much of science is funded by grants from corporations that have a vested interest in the form of the outcome of the research; researchers tend to not offend their sources of grant money. Even moreso a similar effect of direct corporate provided research, which is directed by management instead of scientists, because management has only the responsibility for increasing their own business profit to satisfy the investors - who probably have no awareness of what the corporations is doing other than making money. So there is little feedback to solving the actual problems; people are so busy dancing to the tune of the system that provides them income and status.

Another factor I have noticed is what is called "credibility" but maybe sometimes more accurately called "intellectual snobbery" or simply unfamiliarity with the kind of points of view of the holistic folks. And often the scientists tie their own blindfolds even tighter by publicly labeling alternative holistic discoveries as "snakeoil and quackery" which is an automatic "stay away" to onlookers including scientists who then dare not explore those datasets for fear of losing their professional credibility. Quite a snare they have fallen into, and one for which I see no easy escape at this point. Anectdotal data is pertinent observational material that is not yet nicely packaged in the format familiar to most scientists, yet is data nevertheless and can contain the seeds of very useful pathways for research.

Similarly, the field of human health has the same weakness. Research, due to the above-mentioned factors, is mostly constrained to use of things which provide drugs, pills, shots, nuking, or the knife - all things that directly provide income to established business ranging from pharmaceutical manufacturers to GPs. If human health were the actual total goal, that itself would be the golden standard, instead of being limited to a limited set of potential avenues toward solutions which are controlled by special interests, often quite petty special interests.

So the suggestion implied by these thoughts is, in the search for honeybee health just like in the search for human health, if efficous means are actually sought (instead of selecting means that solely provide profit and ego) that the scientific researchers interview the holistic folks who explore these subjects not as a business but doing it for a personal desire to find solutions or to keep adequate wellbeing in a holistic way. Such folks often share such knowledge on lists via the internet, and that might be a source of such data for scientists actually devoted to solving the problems without regard to the sources of their money. Anectdotal data may seem somewhat obscure at first and involve many side issues, but insofar as it is observational data, it contains valid knowledge that might well lead to optimum research solutions.

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  • The arrogance of modern man, I suppose. You tend to see that in many, many areas. Holistic and Eastern medicine gets a bad rap because Western scientists won't even consider its merits. Too many archeologist denigrate the accomplishments of many cultures because they did not have origins in the "civilized" world. Blinders, indeed. Great post. :)

    By Blogger Lynn Andrade, At 9:44 AM  

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