Today I went to swim to Agua Azul, a water park 15 minutes walking from home. I used go there frequently in my teenage years. I scouted the location as a potential workplace. On paper it was ideal: it has a restaurant, a pool, a gym, and yoga classes, but in practice everything was in very poor conditions and uninspiring for work or exercise.

The waters are sulfurous and the smell is quite pungent. People with bone ailments tend to come here for balneotherapy. It is interesting to contrast what Wikipedia (science) says about its effectiveness vs the popularity it has enjoyed over thousands of years.

I find this more and more: reading about natural remedies or alternative medicine on Wikipedia tends to discourage you from trying it out, in my own experience I suffered from sciatica for almost a year before going to a chiropractic because Wikipedia (at the time) said they were phonies, but I had so many people recommend a particular chiropractor in the town where I lived that I thought I might as well try it.

The results were astounding. Wikipedia had warned that the effects would only last two weeks and the effects would be minor, in the duration it was correct, but my quality of life was much better after attending my sessions so that it was worth the money I paid and more, and eventually my symptoms disappeared. In my worldview at the time, Wikipedia was authoritative in the matter because it was science based, but from then on I make a point of never dismissing anything because science says it does not work. I can only verify from my own experience, and I do not care if it is because of the placebo effect, if it is my mind-body-spirit doing the magic because it believes in the solution, then all the better.

I take care of not dismissing scientific research, or disparaging science in general, it’s a wonderful tool for certain things, but not for studying humans. It’s an instrument that describes how things are, not how things could be or how things should be. I feel like science is missing a subjective branch, a kind of Goethian Science which accounts for the inner experience.

Goethe makes a distinction an interesting distinction between art and science in The Experiment as Mediator between Subject and Object

The pursuit of scientific knowledge requires an approach directly opposite to the creative arts. An artist better finish a work without letting the public in on the process, since no advice, or helping hand, is likely to do any good. But once the work is finished and exhibited, the artist must take criticism, good and bad, to heart, learn from it and use it in preparation for his next project. In scientific endeavors, by contrast, it is advantageous to communicate at every step of the experiment, even preparatory ones, with the public. No scientific theory, or system, is tenable unless all its particulars are scrutinized in public discussion.

So, even though Goethian Science is subjective, there is still a consensus that this subjectivity is shared between human beings.

The human being himself, to the extent he makes sound use of his senses, is the most exact physical apparatus that can exist

This reminds me of Buckminster Fuller’s Everything I know lecture

Man having, then, no rulebook, nothing to tell him about that Universe, has had to really find his way entirely by trial and error. He had no words and no experience to assume that the other person has experience.

We can communicate subjective experience to each other, but this is a kind of underdeveloped science for which we possess very crude tools. Consider the following problem: your task is to prove which OS is better for daily phone use, Android or iOS. How would you do it? User satisfaction surveys? Measuring task completion success? Hooking up people to MRIs to see brain and thus emotional activity as they use their phones? I do not have an answer to this question, I just point out the unsatisfactory tools that current science provides.