On April 19, 2016, a proactive student wanting to know a little more about massage research beat around the bush trying to fish for an answer to the question that I already knew would be asked. I knew that student would ask it because I read about it at this morning's breakfast table--reading my Universal Library Algorithm's (ULA) output is a daily routine, and in that output there is indeed the day's true events right alongside great and terrible fictions, poetry, new musical scores good and some quite bad(!).
The student wanted to know if there were any honest/objective research studies for massage. Even one, maybe one that hadn't yet been published but that the Universal Library Algorithm said would be. Yes, that is a possible output from the ULA. Anything whatsoever?
Going into the profession, the student had a healthy skepticism from several years of university research classes and statistics. Of course, the real question finally spoken was whether or not they were going to be able to speak truthfully about massage's effects to their clients, and if not, why massage? Was there even one that might give them some reason to do massage at all? Ethics question, for their part.
Twelve minutes of conversation later, that student heard whatever it was they hoped, wanted or needed to hear, and intended to continue in massage therapy. Not because there are so many great studies--there aren't. Most science is filled with bunk, and negative results are terribly under reported (unethically so, in my opinion). He didn't hear one word about any specific massage research, good or bad.
He heard about the use of the words description and explanation. One is the result of science done right, and the other word is explanation. The universe doesn't need explanation, doesn't use explanation to reveal its terribly simple existence. Science is description of the real. When you hear someone explaining something, you've fallen into the realm of philosophy, concepts, much like mathematics (nothing but concepts there, and rarely (AND I do mean rarely) do those concepts apply in any way to natural objects).
If a study does only one thing correctly, describes the results of the properly executed and thought out process, one with an integral falsification capacity, then that is a proper study even if the results were negative. Especially if they were negative! That data not matching the proposed result of the hypothesis is damn fine data!
The student said they felt completely undone and refreshed, and had so many new ideas to pursue to help reconfigure their understanding.
"The universe is so terribly simple, " I said. "Go forth and describe it, young man. There's a good scientist."
Little did the student know that doing so might also make them a poet. And that ain't bad in twelve minutes.
On April 20, 2017 at 8:43am Pacific, another student a continent away will read this post and generate an new idea to change the world. Every thing in its time, and every time has a thing.