October 29th, 2009
An article in this Tuesday’s New York Times Science section was absolutely fascinating in a variety of ways so I felt I had to bring it to your attention.
First the skinny - a recent paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association calls into question the long held belief that cancers move linearly; that a cell acquired a mutation and little by little grew from there. Mutations are not supposed to revert spontaneously. But apparently, they sometimes do. Patients sometimes have spontaneous remissions - they get better when they “shouldn’t” and sometimes without medical intervention - and this is blowing some doctors’ minds.
I’m wondering if this isn’t the first glimmer of a real sea change in our understanding of how healing happens. There have been many moments like this throughout history. Like everyone knew the earth was flat until everyone knew it wasn’t.
So it’s a very cool, very momentous development, but what’s also wonderful is this delicious moment in between paradigm shifts. . . this transition time when people’s minds are in the process of being bent and molded into new shapes - metaphorically speaking, of course.
I love it particularly from a Sleight of Mouth/Polya Patterns standpoint. How is it that people believe what they believe? At what point does a stack of evidence finally convince someone of the alternate viewpoint?
Just get a load of this amazing quote of Dr. Robert Kaplan, chairman of the department of health services at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“At the end of the day, I’m not sure how certain I am about this, but I do believe it. The weight of the evidence suggests there is reason to believe.”
Isn’t that great? How equivocal can a person be in one sentence? Is he running for office?
Maybe Dr. Kaplan needs heavier evidence. But truly, it’s probably just a matter of time before he’ll completely shift from one belief system to another. In the meantime, I hope he enjoys this remarkable, in-between, state as much as I do.