Integrating nonsense and birds adapting to radiation

Today, I thought I would share two interesting articles I recently read. The first, “Integrating Nonsense” by Timothy Caulfield takes a critical look at the growing popularity of integrative health clinics and programs. I find myself in full agreement with what he says, and in the last two paragraphs he uses some humorous analogies to help demonstrate what integrative health really is:

If I am wrong and science is not the standard by which universities should judge their science-based programs, why should universities stop at integrative health? Why not develop an integrative physics program that has renowned physicists working closely with astrologers and experts in the ways of ancient Chinese astronomy? There could also be an integrative engineering program that teaches students how to build bridges and fix passenger jets using the healing powers of nature.

We should punt the concept of integrative medicine from Canadian universities. We must accept that science sets the standard, and science is not about uncritical integration. It is about the rigorous and dispassionate search for the truth.

The second article is about how birds near Chernobyl have adapted to low-level radiation, “Birds near Chernobyl have adapted to low-level radiation“:

At high doses, radiation can have terrible and lethal effects on humans and nonhuman animals alike. But what if organisms could adapt to low-levels of radiation? This is what an international group of researchers are suggesting in a bird study published recently in Functional Ecologyreports The Economist.

This is incredible. I didn’t realize it was possible for such complex lifeforms to adapt to something so hazardous. The birds have adapted by producing extra glutathione, which has powerful antioxidant effects, and even seems to protect them from low-level radiation. Humans also produce glutathione. This doesn’t mean we could adapt to nuclear radiation though, at least not in the short-term; I don’t think nuclear power is worth the risks.

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