According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Israel’s Dan Shechtman knows how difficult it can be to think differently from a consensus of scientists.
In 1982, Shechtman discovered the patterned but nonrepeating atomic structures of quasicrystals. Members of the scientific community ridiculed Schectman, calling his discovery nonsense, a physical impossibility and denouncing him as a “quasi-scientist.” Yet, last week Shechtman’s discovery won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry! The opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal noted,
“Today, Mr. Shechtman’s observations have been fully validated and quasicrystals are beginning to have commercial applications. But his story is a reminder that a consensus of scientists is no substitute for, and often a bar to, great science. That’s especially so when the consensus hardens into a dogmatic and self-satisfied enterprise.
Isn’t there another field in which a similar kind of consensus has taken hold, with similarly unpleasant consequences for those who question its core assumptions?”
What about healthcare?
Is it nonsense to question if health and illness are totally physical in nature, and therefore all therapies should be physical ones?
I’ve noticed a growing acceptance of alternative approaches to conventional Western medicine. U.S. News recently reported some of the surprising findings of the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. The report noted that three out of four health care workers turn to some form of complementary or alternative healthcare option. Doctors and nurses were even twice as likely to do so than non-clinical health workers.
I believe the beneficial effect of spiritual thinking–seeing ourselves as more than a physical body and keeping our thoughts in tune with an all-loving divinity–can bring about favorable health outcomes. Many may be skeptical of this approach, but as Shechtman’s experience proved, what’s outside the box today may be tomorrow’s Nobel Prize.