We live in an era where we have more access to scientific knowledge than ever before. With every passing day, there is another proof study proving that limiting sugar or eating only raw foods will help you lose weight, prevent disease, and improve your overall health.
There are also many studies showing that drinking green tea helps keep your heart healthy, and research indicating that stress may be linked to higher blood pressure and poor cholesterol levels.
In fact, according to Harvard Health, “stress can increase blood pressure and contribute to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in arteries).”
So how has our understanding of health changed over time? Well, let’s look at some examples!
Healthy behaviors such as eating well, exercising, avoiding excessive alcohol, getting enough sleep, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins all go hand-in-hand with good health. On the other hand, poor health habits like consuming too much junk food, smoking, drinking excessively, and lack of exercise are clearly detrimental to overall wellness.
Some things are just better for you than others – something that we could probably agree upon even if we were living several thousand years ago!
Fortunately, we now know about most of these benefits, so why not make it a habit to do them? Here are some interesting facts about the importance of science in improving your health.
During this period, we have what is known as the enlightenment or Age of Reason. This was a time when people began to question many things that had been accepted as true in past centuries.
Prior to the enlightenment, most European countries were ruled by monarchs who claimed to be divinely inspired. Scientists and philosophers believed that only an intelligent being could create such beautiful natural wonders as mountains, rivers, and plants.
This perception of nature as designed for human use only lasted until the early 18th century, when British scientist Robert Hooke discovered bacteria. His studies revealed that there are very little space and water left for growth within these natural features.
Another key discovery during this era was Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. Not only does his theory explain why planets orbit stars, but it also explains how big galaxies are supported completely by their own gravitational pull.
Newton’s theories not only changed our understanding of physics, they also helped dispel some myths about God. By explaining the workings of the universe through mathematical formulas instead of supernatural forces, he showed that everything from planets to galaxies to life itself can be explained with just logic and reasoning.
Running parallel to the enlightenment was another movement called rationalism. Rationalists believe that knowledge comes exclusively from experience and education, not innate talent or inspiration from deities.
To put it simply, if someone without formal training says something is impossible, you should listen more closely than before.
The Scientific Revolution
During this period, starting around 1500-1600CE in Europe, the way that we understand science changed radically. Scientists began to question many of the fundamental assumptions about how the universe operates.
These new scientific ideas were founded on two key concepts: natural philosophy and experimentalism. Natural philosophers believed that everything in the world is made up of four main components: spirit, air, water, and earth. They also thought that energy flows naturally throughout the whole cosmos from one thing to another. Experimentalists believe that you can test theories by doing experiments to see if they are true.
By the end of the Renaissance, scientists had built upon these foundations to develop a new theory about what makes things happen. This theory was called classical physics. Classical physicists still believed in the existence of spirits, gravity, and other such forces, but they no longer considered them the most important part of nature.
They instead focused on matter because they felt it was more basic than energy. According to their theory, matter is made of small particles called atoms, which are the smallest amount of anything material. Atoms come together to make bigger objects like rocks or people.
But while ancient Greeks believed in atomism, there was never any real proof until the early 20th century. After that, lots of different experiments confirmed that atomic theory was correct! For example, when an element is burned, its constituent parts explode out into the atmosphere as gases.
The Age of Reason
During this period, scientific knowledge was in its infancy. Technological advancements were limited to basic needs like food production and medicine.
New discoveries were few and far between, but those that did happen seemed to come from somewhere beyond our planet.
The Earth was seen as a static place with unchanging resources. It was thought to be at it’s natural state eons ago and would remain so for all eternity.
No one could predict when or if an earthquake would occur, thunderstorms were ignored in their unpredictability, and hurricanes were simply not factored into daily life planning.
It is important to note here that none of these theories have ever been conclusively proved wrong. But over time they lost favor with the larger proportion of society.
With each passing year people became more skeptical of claims made about nature’s ways. This skepticism extended to beliefs in divine intervention and astrology.
A growing number believed that claimed miracles were little other than clever deception.
Scientific methods and experiments
Historically, most cultures relied on scientific knowledge that had been passed down to them through word of mouth or by having people with more educated experts teach you those basics.
However, as technology advanced, it was possible to do some things yourself. For example, if there were no definitive answers in science about whether or not smoking is good for your health, then someone could have gone into the woods and collected their own samples of smoke to see if they would get healthier from it.
In an experiment, participants do not know whether they are being tested against a placebo or another substance that seems legitimate. This removes bias as a factor in determining results because people can’t tell if what they are using is working due to the experimental design.
A classic example of this is a clinical trial for a new weight loss pill. One group gets a placebo tablet every day while the other group receives the actual medication. People who want to be part of the study are asked about their reactions to the pill, but they don’t know if they’re getting the real thing or the fake.
Another way to perform a double blind experiment is to have both parties involved in the test agree to change something about themselves – either by doing more of one activity or less of another– before knowing whether the altered behavior worked.
A placebo effect happens when you believe that your health will improve, but it is not due to medication but to your perception. For example, someone may feel better about themselves or their appearance after spending time with friends, so they begin to believe that the medicine they are taking helps them look good.
A placebo effect was first identified in the early 1800s by an Austrian doctor named Samuel Hahnemann who noticed that some patients were healed from disease even though there was no known cure. He referred to this as the “power of suggestion” and considered it to be a form of magic.
However, today we know what causes the placebo effect to occur and how powerful it can be. It comes down to something called expectancy theory. People expect the drug being administered to work, so they get healthier.
But while the drug has nothing active in it, people still feel happier, sleep better and have improved overall wellness.
The scientific method
The term “scientific” comes from Latin, meaning “seeking the truth.” Before there was an organized way to gather knowledge, people relied on myth, legend, and hearsay to determine if something was true or not.
If you wanted to know what happened before we had written records, then you would have to rely on your own experiences and those of others who lived close by. As time passed, some people’s stories were forgotten as they were out-dated, so historians use narrative analysis to try to piece together how things went down.
It is important to remember that while these methods are helpful in determining whether or not something is believable, they will never prove that it did not happen. Only facts can do that!
With this being said, let us look at the most famous way to learn about topics…the scientific method.
Debates and controversies
One of the biggest shifts in how people perceive knowledge comes down to what you are looking at when assessing truth. In earlier times, there were no rules for determining which answers were more valid than others.
People would pick and choose from different sources and put an emphasis on information that made them feel better about themselves or their beliefs. This is why we have stories like the one about the man who believed he was Jesus Christ because his tribe had always done so.
Skepticism is our innate tendency to question things, to look into whether they are true by using logical reasoning and evidence. It’s what makes us good scientists and researchers.
But today, skepticism has itself become a source of controversy. Some say it is a way to avoid learning new truths and challenge your current understanding. Others use it as a tool to challenge misguided ideas and assumptions.
These days, skeptics are often seen not just as individuals with opposing viewpoints but also as enemies of the state.