The Conceitedness of Man and the Wrath of the Universe

You ever realized that, despite all the incredible, complex things human kind has discovered and invented, the simplest aspects of our world still evade us. We know more about the universe than we do about the deaths of our own oceans.  How crazy is that?

Only recently have I come to expect that some of the simple things shouldn’t be so far out of reach. When I was a child, I accepted there were things beyond understanding. Some things just were, and that was all the reason I needed.

Take the chicken pox, for instance. When I was a kid, there was no vaccine. I remember in second grade, when I looked at my stomach in the bathroom and noticed a handful of spots. Confused, I asked my teacher for help and soon found myself sent home.

The red, itchy spots were manageable with cream. I had no other symptoms and felt just fine for the most part. To me, getting the chicken pox was like a short vacation from school. My grandmother bought me a gymnastics doll I could control with a remote. I watched Sailor Moon and Inspector Gadget, two shows I never got to watch due to the hour bus ride I had to take home most days.

Never did it cross my mind to question why there wasn’t some kind of cure. I don’t think I had a complete understanding of what it really meant to be sick. Obviously, I knew when I felt ill. I could use the word sick and apply it to situations where my body felt compromised. Understanding the biological mechanisms which resulted in my ill feelings or the science behind the medications that relieved me of my discomfort were beyond me. I didn’t even know enough to know what questions to ask.

Recent events, which I largely blame on the stress of being laid off and Mother Nature’s wrath, have brought up these questions for me again. Nothing is more disappointed than sitting with a doctor as they explain the WebMD article they just pulled up on your diagnosis. After clarifying exactly what you have, they proceed to tell you there is nothing they can do. There is no treatment, only six to eight weeks of time, after which the condition hopefully goes away.

This photo, “Doctors with patient, 1999” is copyright (c) 2014 Seattle Municipal Archives and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

I don’t remember if I ever went to a doctor when I had the chicken pox in second grade. If I did, I’m sure their reaction was much the same. “You’ll just have to wait it out; here’s some cream for the itching.” When I was two, I just accepted that. At 24, that’s just ridiculous . This isn’t brain surgery, coming scientists! Cut a girl some slack.

Well, the doctor seemed to have faith in the internet seeing as they were giving me a diagnosis based off of a website. I figure I can put my faith there as well. Allegedly, this thing that has the scientists stumped can be cured by taking lukewarm showers and using clinical strength anti-dandruff shampoo as body wash. I’m not sure if it’s for the itch or part of the cure, but it was also suggested said shower should be followed by Cortizone 10 Intensive Healing Formula.

Also, I’m supposed to avoid sweating but also get a tan. Thanks internet!

If this works, I declare this universe to be the most randomly fascinating place to ever exist. It’s a place where we can create unmanned space craft, shoot it to the very outer limits of our galaxy and still communicate it, and still can’t figure out why the placebo effect works.

All this craziness is why I love to ask big questions. With all humankind has learned, it’s easy to think we are in control. Asking hard questions of ourselves is how we keep ourselves humble and how we realize just how much farther we have to go.

Maybe this is karma, then. I’ve done my fair share of research on health. While my fitness has unfortunately fallen off the radar for the moment, I still do my best to eat well. I try very hard to be healthy and I’ve always felt like I was in control. When my body became weak, I knew it was because of poor choices I made and when it was strong, I knew it was because of great choices I made. But this? This is a question mark. No one has a clue what causes it. No one, outside of theorist on the internet, knows how to treat it.

I have been humbled by the realization that, no matter how much I know about health, no matter how closely I follow the latest science and research, there will always be something I don’t know. There will always be something those scientists can’t figure out. As such, while I may be able to improve my quality of life and reduce my chances of physical misfortune, I am not in control.

None of us are ever in complete control.

Have you ever gotten an illness/condition for which there was no treatment and you just had to ride the wave? Do the things that science can’t figure out ever baffle you? How can we know more about outer space than we do our own oceans? How can we know how to perform a triple bypass surgery and not understand why the placebo effect works?

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18 thoughts on “The Conceitedness of Man and the Wrath of the Universe”

  1. I had a number of mystery ailments when I was a kid. One year, I got chicken pox, and a mystery ailment within a two month span. The doctors just kept making up new names for it (this was before the Internet), and injecting me with antibiotics. Eventually I got over it. I’m convinced, in retrospect, that it was Lyme disease or something similar.

    1. I had my share of mystery ailments as a child too. My parents finally got frustrated with the doctors (who weren’t helping anyway. They were just giving names to conditions) and tried out chiropractic. Obviously that’s not a cure all, but it did the trick for the mystery ailments of my youth.

  2. well tk,have you heard of ocd?The moment the lady psychiatrist told me sherin you need 8 months treatment i decided come what may i don’t want to look like someone taking drugs.I just had enough information from internet and also videos of patients who said if you can ignore repetitive thoughts you can control it.well i did.but sometimes i curse god,sometimes i am disappointed why my brain creates anxieties thinking unlogical things.
    And the mysteries sorrounding us makes our world special right?how about this one for a mystery-where was god when that malasyian plane went down without a trace?or how does the heart beat of an embryo starts simply on the 22 day?

    1. There’s always a balance when it comes to medicine and a natural cure. I wouldn’t be so skeptical of modern medicine if I didn’t know there are a lot of natural ways to cure things. That doesn’t mean we don’t need medicine, because we do, I just wish we would combine that more with natural cures as well.

      As far as the other mysteries you mention, I guess I don’t look to God in those cases. We understand enough about radar and sonar, we have also experienced large aircraft disappearing before, so it’s not really surprising that it can still happen. We don’t know why it happened in this case, yet, but I’m sure we’ll get it eventually. When it comes to the fetal heartbeat, we do know that. The cells contract because of a specific sequence of DNA in each of those cells that is activated which tell those particular cells to become “heart cells.” That’s just crazy fascinating, though that, in the absence of a developed brain telling the heart to beat, the cells already know what’s expected of them. The world is an amazing place.

  3. hmmm…. sounds like a skin condition, I wonder what it is that you have. is it psoriasis? If so, that sucks. I know that comes out of nowhere and you can’t get rid of it. :/

    1. Skin yes, psoriasis no. Thank God. Still, this did come out of no where. The good thing is all sources claim it will go away, but there’s little I can do outside of online remedies to hasten it’s retreat.

  4. We hav quite an idea how placebo works. U need do more homework. As about pox, true, we r yet to figure a way to cure. But a qid dose of acyclovir for over a week started within 72 hrs can cut off complications n protract the course.

    1. I got the information on the placebo effect from looking at various articles about what science hasn’t discovered. My understanding is that we know it does work, but we don’t know why it works. Chicken pox is fine these days because there’s a vaccine.

  5. When I was 7 I noticed I was forming these tiny clear bumps under my skin that itched. Scratching these itchy bumps caused them to pus and vine up my hand and around my fingers subsequently eating away at my skin until I only had 2 layers of skin between the inside and outside of my hand. My doctor guessed it might be Eczema. Several creams and years later proved that guess wrong. No one knew what caused this and told me to wait 7yrs as that’s when the body cycles out diseases. NOT MINE THOUGH! For years I had to scald my hands under hot water to numb them of the itching.

    I did a lot of research trying to find the answer. I’m a researcher by nature so I knew if a doctor couldn’t help me, others like me could. 2yrs ago I got my big break, I stumbled upon a forum discussing the symptoms I suffered and what caused them. I have Contact Dermatitis. An allergic reaction to Propylene Glycol. Don’t know what that is? Go check your shampoo and conditioner, it’s in there. It’s a gelatinous substance that only SOME people are allergic to so they use it in practically everything from food to beauty supplies. It’s even in most all hand soaps so when I use a public restroom I have to bring my own or suffer another outbreak. Thanks science :/

  6. Well I agree that the universe is a fascinating place, I am not sure I agree with your interpretation of what is simple and what is complex and what is well known and what is not known. For instance we know quite a lot about the oceans. Does that mean there aren’t problems we have yet to solve? Of course not. The same is true for space. We know a lot, but there is a lot we don’t know.

    Putting a satellite into orbit is complex. But complex only because incorporates a lot of parts. When you break it down, each part turns out to be rather simple. When one knows a lot of simple things we can put them together and create a system which in its entirety seems complex, but is really just a collection less complex parts. Like us. Of course rockets or satellites are engineered so we know how to build them. We are not engineered so in some ways it might be more difficult to understand how life works because a lot of what we learn about life comes from studying simpler forms of life, or deconstructing ourselves after we die. There have been of course horrible doctors like Mengele who experimented on the living. In some ways that might teach us more, but for obvious reasons is unethical and immoral. In general understanding how life works is challenging because once you deconstruct something that is living, it becomes not living pretty soon! That being said we know an intense amount of information about the human body. So much so that the use of reference material is sometimes needed as it would be nearly impossible to keep all possible problems we know about with the human body all in ones head.

    Finally there is a question about motivation. We know a few things about why placebos work. There is a lot of psychological research done on this topic and I think there are some pretty reasonable sounding answers out there. Some people respond to them more than others. We already know that they cannot be relied on as the sole source of treatment. But if we knew nothing more than this, what of it? Since we don’t rely on it for treatment do we have the interest to study it beyond what we already know? Not really. And it takes money to pay a bunch of scientists (who’ll need equipment) to get at the physiology behind the placebo effect. I suspect with the finite amount of money out there to spend on research there are simply more pressing problems to solve. Now the motivation to go out into space was high. We spent lots of money on a lot of scientists and we did it. Trying to get a manned trip to mars is a problem that we have been working on for some time and we don’t know enough to do it. Hardly makes space seem simple. The more resources we are willing to spend on the problem, the faster it will likely happen since it is certainly not impossible. So motivation to solve certain problems is also important.

    1. Perhaps I should have used the word ‘seems’ in my thoughts. Things that seem way to complex to ever work often have rather simple solutions. On the flip side, what we often perceive to be simple or simple to solve tends to be far more complex than we could have imagined.

  7. Get well soon!!

    The placebo effect confounds me almost as much as what we can figure out verses what we cannot. One of those things I guess that makes me wish I had enough of an education to really understand …

  8. Reblogged this on solpoli and commented:
    The more we explore and learn, the more we simply push the boundaries of our ignorance. Understanding and accepting that we can never know everything about the universe allows us to expereince wonder and that is really the best feeling we can get!

      1. I love it when we have those eureka moments and suddenly our whole perception of something changes and it makes you re-evaluate things for yourself.

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