When science failed

Science is a useful tool for human beings to explore and understand the world. However, as with all tools, people have misused science for their own detriment.

Albert Einstein wrote a letter in 1939 to President Franklin Roosevelt urging him to build the atomic bomb, believing the Germans would make one soon. But later on, after the devastation had been caused by the US dropping the atomic bomb in Japan, he regretted this letter, saying:

Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would have never lifted a finger.

In medicine too there have been several such cases.

Thalidomide was marketed as a cure for morning sickness to pregnant women. However this resulted in children being born with malformed limbs and only 40% surviving.

Taking a lot of antibiotics has been proven to cause major problems. Bacteria inside such a person’s body develop immunity towards the drugs, thus making diseases harder to cure.

When it comes to food, there are several cases too.

Trans fats were invented in the lab in the early 1900s by hydrogenating vegetable oil and marketed as a modern wonderfood. They were said to stay soft when refrigerated and thus, very convenient to use. However, after several decades of widespread use, in the 1990s, people started to realize the connection between trans fats and cardiovascular diseases which had increasingly begun to occur in the population.

Processed foods have been repeatedly shown to cause major problems. As a way to fight such artificial foods, we even have the Paleo diet movement today which tries to follow the diet of our caveman ancestors.

So, on the whole, it seems that from a risk evaluation perspective, humans are better off following the natural and ancestral methods when it comes to food and avoiding phamaceutic drugs (unless facing major and urgent problems). Our body becomes stronger and develops immunity as a result of contacting some minimal infections. Similarly our bones get tougher when subjected to minor stressors which can be caused by walking, sprinting and deadlifting.