Why do we need science to confirm what we already know?

This question has been bugging me for some time now….

I was sent an article by my friend and amazing photographer Louie Schwartzberg about nature. I think the article he sent demonstrates the stupidity in the world and particularly the Western world. 

The article starts: “A large body of research is documenting the positive impacts of nature on human flourishing. Why nature? No one knows for sure.”

Really?? Most people on this earth know that being in nature is good for us. Not one person has ever told me that they feel better in Shanghai or Delhi, for example, compared to being in the forest, by the sea or up high in the mountains. 

The same thing goes for physical exercise such as walking. We needed science and scientists to confirm that it was good for us before doctors could recommend walking to their patients. 

We are so obsessed with science, yet our trust in science has never been lower. According to a Virginia Commonwealth University Life Science Survey, over 50% of the respondents question whether scientific research has created as many problems for society as it has solutions. 

I on one hand love research, but I am incredibly skeptical about most of it and scrutinize it carefully when reading. Research on vaccines, on glyphosates (as in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) found in the crops that we eat, GMO and drugs for ADHD makes me all very suspicious. The scandal last year around the sugar industry creating false research AND covering up negative research was incredible and slipped past no one. 

This is not a subject I generally speak about with friends, as often they’re of the opinion that if it is allowed and recommended, then it is good and we should all believe it. Those discussions rarely end well. I am not saying that all research is bad, but before taking a decision on any of the above matters, we should really read as much as we can about them, reviewing all sides of the available data. 

I suppose it is our lazy minds (read the book “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman, on this subject if you have not already), that holds on to the fragile string of hope that although we do not trust in science, it is better than nothing, so we’d better just go along with that.  

If there is one thing that I wish for in 2018, it’s that we as a society wake up and listen more to our own inner wisdom. There is primordial knowledge inside each one of us that knows that love, nature, walking and mindfulness is good for us. We don’t need science to prove that. And when something intuitively sounds wrong, then question it and become knowledgeable about it. It has never been easier than it is today. 

P.S. What is really interesting with this article is that it demonstrates that just looking at nature on TV has a great impact on our well-being. 

And just now reading the Expedia travel trends report highlighting that the fourth most important decision maker when choosing a destination for travel is “Going somewhere where I can take memorable pictures.”