Planet Earth

The doctor's long lens of evolution

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMar 28, 2006 8:30 AM

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Interesting report out, Evolutionary biology research techniques predict cancer. Medicine has been around for thousands of years, from the "healings" of shamans to the "theoretical" paradigm of Galen. It seems possible that until the last 100 years or so

medical techniques were just as likely (or more likely in many situations) to exacerbate illnesses

as they were to help. The medical arts might be an outgrowth of our psychological biases, not materialist considerations (an analogy with financial "analysts" might be appropriate). Purely empirical sciences focused on proximate aspects of phenomena are often groping blindly in the dark, so the inclusion of microevolutionary theory can add in the elimination of alternative hypotheses. Modern medical science has progressed very far, but the integration of the temporal and spatial perspective of evolutionary science may help us in outwitting nature by cutting off the pathological dynamics at the pass.

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