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Massage Today
March, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 03

The Corruptibility of Facts

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had an interesting prediction where secondary knowledge, which is what we learn from books, the media, what we are told and taught, would replace experience as our basis for judgment.

It appears his prediction has come true. Today, most people's opinions and beliefs come from what they are told (in some form), not what they have experienced first hand. Most people act on theoretical knowledge instead of their first-hand experience.

For example, we constantly experience that politicians cannot be trusted to do what they say they are going to do during the campaign. Yet election after election, we vote for candidates whose speeches and writings make us feel good or support the beliefs we have about some aspect of society, regardless of the politicians past actions and record. We vote for the candidate who promises the most from the government trough, find ourselves feeling let down post-election, but repeat the pattern.

When the secondary information we have accumulated contradicts our personal experience, we have been trained to ignore our experience. We decide we must not have complete knowledge of the subject so we should believe what we have been told or we think that our experience must not be typical. For example, the vast majority of people surveyed in the U.S. were very happy with their health care, yet they believed the system was failing most people. A total disconnect.

Sadly, we do not use our experience to judge the validity of facts and figures, which can be rigged to "prove" pretty much anything. Instead, we judge the validity of our own experience by them. It is easy to manufacture information. Research is a classic example of this. Anything can be proven with a research study or a poll. It just takes manipulation of the variables, asking the "right" questions the "right way," or omitting a few things. We all know that some people will do virtually anything to have their way. Yet most of us never make the connection between the corruptibility of man and the corruptibility of facts. It is frightening how well we have been conditioned to accept secondary knowledge unquestioningly. It is how we are controlled and manipulated to do things that are against our own best interests.

Remember, the art of politics is to get people to do what is against their own best interests. Good propaganda is 80 percent truth and only 20 percent lie, thus it is plausible, yet misleading and deceiving. Propaganda (partial truth) is bombarding each of us everyday. We all need to apply more discernment and have more confidence in our "gut" feelings. The massage profession is not isolated from the corruptibility of facts. Our associations tell us how good it is for us to accept and support laws that take away our scope of practice and saddle us with ridiculous, insulting taxes like establishment permits and background checks.

This is not to say we should not learn or trust secondary knowledge at all. Research can be valuable and accurate. We have to learn from books and teachers, as there is not time to learn everything by experiencing it. Unfortunately we live in a very corrupt society that justifies human suffering in the name of profit or power. Whenever either is involved in something, be very wary and skeptical. (Adapted from an article by Michael Masterson.)

A Moment of Opportunity

In 2000, MDs in Israel went on strike. The death rate dropped so dramatically that funeral directors protested the strike. Emergency care and other vital services were maintained during the strike. There were just less visits to outpatient facilities, no elective surgeries and fewer prescriptions written. A similar trend happened quite some time ago in California when doctors went on strike. There has never been another doctor strike in the U.S.

Joseph Mercola, DO, puts it very well in an article he wrote, stating, "There is no question that traditional approaches for acute traumas (heart attack, stroke, accidents, etc.) are valuable and should not be abandoned. However, overall, when drugs and surgery are used to address chronic illness, it is generally a prescription for disaster."

Hospitals and doctors are invaluable for traumatic injuries. But when it comes to maintaining robust health and preventing illness, healthy living and personal responsibility is the key. Both secondary and experiential knowledge demonstrate this to most people. Yet we continue to allow allopathic medicine to dominate our health care system.

The massage profession could be a bright light for the public. We are the perfect profession to demonstrate and teach healthy living and personal responsibility for one's health. This would, of course, include providing the number one wellness modality - massage.

Sadly, we are groveling at the feet of the medical profession and politicians, hoping to be integrated into their sickness paradigm. This is like trying to mix water and oil. Massage is missing its greatest opportunity for success by having a minimal entry-level education requirement, reducing itself to barely a trade, where we are is the ideal profit point for schools and associations, not for therapists and the public good. Massage and health are not equated. Generally, we provide only massage, not health care. That is not to say we should be treating disease or trauma. However, we should be trained in health, not just massage, and our practices should include a broader range of services, education and products that support people in achieving high-level wellness. Of course, we have to live it to promote it, and that is difficult to do as a profession when most therapists are unaware of the concepts of health, wellness and nature cure. There is so much potential for our profession to grow into this field and the new government-run, rationed-care system will create a huge demand for alternatives, assuming it does not outlaw them. Will we rise to this challenge or succumb to the allopathic monopoly?

May the awakening energy of spring and March Madness enliven your days. See you here in May with an interesting personal experience.

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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