Why a New Theory (Cont'd)
Why did the Institute determine that a reexamination of the very foundation of the life sciences was in order? Something is wrong. Our healthcare system is in worse shape than anyone is willing to admit, and the situation just continues to deteriorate. We’re seeing diminishing returns even as expenditures continue to rise every year. As the American population ages, an increasing number of adults are afflicted with chronic diseases. That’s to be expected. But now chronic diseases are afflicting children and young adults. Obesity is now recognized as a disease in its own right. And the obesity epidemic is growing despite concerted efforts at intervention. More and more people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year. It is another epidemic that continues to grow despite concerted efforts at intervention. Another unexplained phenomenon that fits a similar pattern is the increasing number of infants that are diagnosed with autism every year.
These disorders are not caused by pollution or vaccinations or diet. Our interventions are not failing because we lack the will or the money or the technology. The interventions fail because they are based on a flawed understanding of what is causing the disorders. All of these disorders are related. They all have the same root cause. That common cause is the gaping hole in our scientific knowledge as it relates to the life sciences.
Each year, Americans spend more on healthcare and become less healthy. That result is counterintuitive. In every realm of human endeavor where technology plays a significant role, the technology does tend to get more expensive over time. But in all fields other than healthcare, the additional costs are more than outweighed by improved results. No one would seriously debate the fact that medical technology has greatly improved over the years. But few would argue that the increased expenditures on medical technology have resulted in commensurate gains in overall health.
For centuries, the primary goal of medical science was to prevent or cure infectious diseases. By the mid twentieth century, medical science had made great strides in that area. Modern medical science is very good at preventing and curing infectious diseases.
Since far fewer people are dying from infectious diseases, people are living longer. As the infectious disease problem has receded into the background, the problem of chronic degenerative disorders has moved to the foreground. These disorders have many names. Most familiar “aging-associated diseases,” such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes are chronic degenerative disorders. So too are other systemic dysfunctions that are not typically recognized as diseases, such as erectile dysfunction, declines in homeostatic capacity, minor declines in memory and cognitive functions, declines in kidney, pulmonary, and immune functions, declines in exercise performance, etc.
All of these problems are labeled “chronic” because medical science has not devised any means of preventing them or curing them. Typical estimates of health care expenditures allocate about $2 trillion of the $3 trillion per year that we spend on healthcare to the treatment of these chronic, incurable disorders and diseases. Since all of these disorders are associated with aging, and our population is getting older, this problem just continues to grow.
The problem is not our medical technology. Additional investment in more expensive equipment and drugs is not the solution. The problem is that the underlying scientific knowledge is flawed. A simple analogy would be the following. Suppose we still believed that the earth was the stationary center of the universe, and that the sole reason for the moon’s apparent motion was that the moon revolved around the earth about every 24 hours. No matter how much we invest in rocket technology, we would still be unable to land a rocket ship on the moon. Until we acquired the scientific knowledge relating to the movement of the moon relative to the earth, our moon missions would fail. The problem is not with the technology; the problem is that the underlying scientific knowledge is flawed. There is a gaping hole in our scientific knowledge.
The Hypothesis creates a new, comprehensive conceptual framework that fills that gap. Updating the scientific knowledge will allow our healthcare system to utilize its technology in an efficient and effective manner that will inevitably result in the eradication of all chronic degenerative disorders.