Observational Reality vs. Scientific Proof
Western thought is heavily based on reason and one of the key underpinnings of
reason is scientific proof. We therefore all are somewhat slaves to that which is
“proven” and this reliance produces a critical weakness in that much of what we
considered “proven” is often subsequently proven wrong and much of what we
intuitively suspect is right remains unproven. The more I go through life, the more
I’ve become aware of the shortcomings of scientific proof and the more I am
compelled by what I would term “observational reality.”
Here is a sweet example of observational reality: uncommon amounts of super-aged
people, say those who live beyond the age of 100, eat chocolate. My wife and I were
blessed to have two grandmothers live to age 100 and they were both chocoholics.
One of the oldest people to ever live, Jeanne Calment, who lived to the ripe age of
122, also was known to love chocolate and had a daily “dose.” At some point in the
last couple of decades, scientists seemed to have noticed the same and so, as
scientists are wont to do, they set out to find if there was a scientific explanation.
They found that indeed there are elements of chocolate that provide several health
benefits, but only if taken in large doses and specifically, the best way to access
those benefits were through dark chocolate. These findings unleashed a torrent of
dark chocolate products in the marketplace. But, here is where the science and our
grandmothers diverge. You see our grandmothers ate regular milk chocolate like
M&M’s and generic Hersey bars, not fancy and expensive craft dark chocolates and
I’d venture to say, neither did Jeanne Calment. You see, dark chocolate doesn’t taste
as good as milk chocolate and as a result perhaps you would not eat as much of it,
thereby reducing the effectiveness of the whole notion. In fact, it could well be that
dark chocolate is actually less effective than milk chocolate because fewer people
love dark chocolate enough to make it a habit. Maybe it all has little to do with the
chemical elements in the chocolate, and the benefit is largely as result of the simple
daily elation of taking a minute to enjoy something that tastes great. Who knows?
So I think its fair to say that science has not caught up with our grandmothers yet.
Science has found some elements, which seem to help explain, but they haven’t
gotten to the complete explanation and it’s a fair bet that they wont for quite some
The point here is that you don’t need to know the science to know what is effective
in life. The “why” is interesting, but not a requirement. If you observe that a
preponderance of very old folks eat chocolate, then you’re likely well served to
imitate that wonderful habit. Enjoy the chocolate today, the science will eventually
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