How much do we understand – or need to?

Sunrise on the farm

Not a very practical post today, but rather a way for me to collect my thoughts (you have been warned – potentially rambling blog post ahead; the sort that gives blogging a bad name)

Ever since we started the farm and especially since we started farming organically, I have felt conflicted in many of my beliefs.

Originally the decision to farm organically and to apply for organic certification was, to a large degree commercial, and to a lesser degree for environmental reasons, but since practicing organic principles I have been finding that my personal decisions have increasingly become more and more in line with the farm methodology.

On the weekend I heard that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is releasing a draft report that declares homeopathy is ‘not efficacious’”. This made me worry again about the backlash of scientific comment against practices that many people find effective and that may be found in the future to be effective.

I feel that our society is often frighteningly authoritarian in terms of accepting and implementing things that are endorsed by the scientific community and this has some major limitations and exclusions that are being overlooked.
The most major limitation of the process of scientific research is the fact of funding. A few multinational companies can exert enormous influence over the types of research and perhaps even the outcome of results (in a range of ways, but most innocently by deciding what research is published). Concepts that do not have commercial application will obviously not be funded for research over those that do. In agriculture an example of this could be; self-sustaining methods of farming would be far less likely to be scientifically validated than farming methods which require inputs that can be commercially profitable (eg. seed that needs to be purchased yearly).
A minor limitation of the concept of scientifically validated ideas is that when the scientific community disputes an idea as being unscientific or not provable is that it overlooks the fact that an enormous amount of our world is not understood – that is the reason there is scientific research! The community radio show I was listening to when I first heard about the draft homeopathy comments is presented by a panel of doctors. They mentioned comments that compared the effectiveness of homeopathy with that of the placebo effect in what I perceived to be a dismissive tone. But do people actually understand the science behind the placebo effect? That a placebo effect can be measured I would assume means that something in a human system is occurring.

The most major exclusion from scientific scrutiny I feel is religion. I find it quite amusing that many people, who would deride some organic or biodynamic beliefs, may then happily go to church.
I am coming to find that farming organically has made me more aware of nature and I am becoming a lot more comfortable with my developing beliefs that organic farming is the way we all need to be practicing. I feel that it produces food that is healthier for us (I do believe in the concept of more nutrient dense produce), healthier for the soil and healthier for the other members of this earth (plants, animals and fungi) and I do believe that there are many things that we cannot understand and quantify, such as different types of energy. Energy that perhaps is the basis of homeopathy (the idea of an ultra-diluted solution retaining the imprint of the original material), energy that is perhaps what makes some places feel restful or uncomfortable, energy that can explain the placebo effect, energy that can explain why some people recover unexpectedly from illness, why some people do not.
Anyway, I feel happy now with the decisions I have made, and can now accept that sometimes I will continue to practice behaviours that will not harm but that may not be proven yet in a peer reviewed scientific journal! And most importantly not feel that I am being naive in doing so rather considering that it is just an area of research that is still being explored!
Happy farming, and believing.

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