Education, Evolution & Ignorance
Now, this week’s guest was a philosopher, psychologist, thinker, speaker, and author, Dr Traill Dowie. Traill came to my office in Bronte in Sydney. This was an unusual episode for me because most of the episodes, most of the interviews and podcasts that I’ve done over the years have been online and as though we needed reminding, we certainly have been reminded during this pandemic, that while it is nice to be able to communicate with people online, there’s nothing quite like being face to face with, you know, with another person.
The power of that interaction and how special it is to be in the presence of others. I know that sounds like an obvious thing to say, but it is so important and we are reminded of it.
It’s actually one of the reasons why this week’s episode, apart from covering a really wide range of topics, was a lot longer than I normally had. I mean, I literally did just lose track of time and got absorbed in so many of the discussions we had, and we covered far-ranging topics. I mean, we discussed…
Now, Traill was introduced to me through Mind Medicine Australia, which is championing the use of psychedelic therapy, which shows great promise in treating some very intractable psychological problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression.
This dovetails into other episodes that I’ve done with Admiral Chris Barrie on this topic as well from a different perspective and Nigel Denning, integrative psychologist. Now, Nigel and Traill are co-directors of Mind Medicine Institute, which has been set up to train health practitioners in the use of psychedelic therapies and why a more integrative and holistic approach and team approach is so important.
We covered a wide range of topics. Of course, we touched on lessons from the past and we talked a lot about indigenous knowledge, which again dovetailed into a wonderful discussion I had recently with Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Knowledge Can Change or Save the World, and this is a theme that I have been interested in for a great deal of my professional life, but we certainly going to be focussing on it more in this year or in the coming time on my podcast. We have so much to learn from indigenous cultures and that’s what I’m keen to explore.
We also touched on education and it’s another interesting theme. This is what holistic is all about. It’s the way indigenous knowledge and education and health and politics. We talked about education as a political instrument, and I loved Traill’s…
Traill uses the term catching on fire with education. This dovetails into another episode I did with the wonderful Professor Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish professor of education, who is now based at the University of New South Wales that was a wonderful conversation, and we talked about the 6 Cs of the education system preparing us for the 21st century.
6 Cs of Education
Those 6 Cs are (1) Critical Thinking, boy, do we need that in this day and age? (2) Collaboration. What a wonderful idea. (3) Creativity, (4) Curiosity, (5) Compassion, (6) Communication – 6 Cs of Education.
Unfortunately, our education system seems to focus on conformity and competition, which reinforces the political narrative. We touch on the word “narrative” as well. I make the point that I used to think that “narrative” was a description of a story. What we are now seeing is actually narrative in the news.
To regular listeners, you will know that I’m now no longer referring to outlets such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian, you name it. These are media outlets, not news outlets. And so this idea of conformity and competition is reinforced not just in our education system, not just in our media outlets, but in our everyday life.
How as humans we co-regulate all the time
Traill and I talk about what has said humans, us, and Homo Sapiens, apart and made us as successful as we are and that is our ability to collaborate, to communicate, to think creatively, our curiosity, our ability as humans to co-regulate which is what made our face to face interview so special because sitting in the same room.
You realise how as humans we co-regulate all the time, looking at facial expressions, looking at body language, listening to tone, and seeing how that impacts us on a neurological basis and on a human basis and how great things can come from those collaborative, creative and communicative experiences.
Another aspect we touch on is evolution because I’m… To regular listeners, you will have heard me say that it came as a surprise to me when I thought of evolution as also a political statement and that is reinforced with the idea of survival of the fittest and the selfish gene, which dovetails very nicely into a capitalist and in particular, a neoliberalist approach to politics and economy. This competition, this struggle for the survival of the fittest. Well, that’s one way of looking at evolution.
Another way of looking at evolution is that something quite remarkable happened after a few billion years when the world was dominated by a single-cell organism and that wonderful thing that happened was the two cells came together and started to form multicellular organisms and the power of multicellular organisms to work collaboratively to make an organism more advanced, more powerful, and more able to adapt.
It’s a really profound part of the evolutionary process. And then when you think about the human body and how the 40 or 50 trillion cells in each and every one of our bodies collaborate and communicate, you start to realise that actually, collaboration, synergism collaboration is really a very powerful way of looking at evolution as well.
While we are constantly bombarded by how God if humans were given a chance, they’d just kill each other or look at what’s going on in Ukraine. I think what we are realising is that our world is dominated by figures, individuals and groups of individuals which have disproportionate power over the masses.
I am a believer that the vast majority of people really want the best for their family, and their community and most people want that and yet the narrative of so-called news is constantly being hijacked to set an agenda of confrontation, of aggression in the doggy, dog world. I think underneath all of this, this isn’t about a conspiracy theory, this is just a business model.
If you had to characterise what these last 40 or 50 years of human history are about. You could put a heading over it cold neoliberalism. You could say that this has been one big business model, and the evidence is in how wealth has been distributed disproportionately now more than ever before. So then we were evolution and education with some things we touched on.
Focus on the Individual
We talked a lot about the current focus on the individual, the work of Jonathan Haidt, who wrote some wonderful books, one of which The Coddling of the American Mind outlined how the focus on the individual and social media have had profound impacts on mental health, which is significant when we talk about trauma or psychotherapy and psychological problems. And mental health is obviously a huge and growing problem.
Then we get onto the subject of ignorance. Ignorance is something that I think is a subject well worth pursuing because ignorance can be a powerful force for learning. I’ve often said that I practise ignorance regularly.
I realise the more and more I learn, the more and more I realise I don’t know. I’m aware of my own ignorance. A thirst for knowledge is something that I find really stimulating.
I’m in this incredible position to have this podcast where each and every week I get to invite people in varying areas all interconnected that I know much more about this subject than I do, and I get to ask them questions and they answer them and my ignorance is improved because I learn from that.
Now, another way of approaching ignorance is through ego, arrogance and hubris. Sadly, the so-called experts which have been leading us on through this pandemic are displaying an ignorance that, in my opinion, is breathtaking. And the underlying force behind that ignorance is their own ego, arrogance and hubris.
I say hubris because when that ego and arrogance start to direct public health policy, then that starts to cost lives. The way this pandemic has been handled, I think I’m up to now 10 Ps of the pandemic. For any of you who want to go back and listen to some other healthy bites on that subject.
It’s interesting I’ve got 6 Cs of education where here are the 10 Ps of pandemic and off the top of my head. I will list them. I think the order of the first eight or nine. You could open up for discussion, but the order of the last piece is almost indisputable.
They are power. What is it? Power Politics, Patent Polarisation. I’ve added Professors in there. They are the so-called experts, Peer Pressure, Psychosis – a subject we touch on and then the last one is Public Health and I do mean that is the last one.
The ignorance that is displayed. Let me give you one example of ignorance. When this pandemic started, I was President of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine and together with its founder and ambassador, Professor Ian Brighthope.
Ian drafted up a letter to every health minister in Australia, every health chief medical officer, the AMA, the NHMRC and the TGA and listed so many references in referee journals outlining why simple interventions like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc and Magnesium would be baseline supplements that should be given particularly to vulnerable people. Because we know people in aged care and deficient, as are the vast majority of the population deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D, is an incredibly important supplement.
There was actually a 2013 article just to name one. 2013 article in the Journal of Endocrinology, pointed out that in ICU (Intensive Care Units), which really was the coalface of COVID in the early days, between 40 and 70% of people admitted to ICU units had a serious deficiency in vitamin D, which has incredibly important anti-microbial immune function ability and that was a 2013 article.
There was a 2021 article reviewing ICU admissions and deaths and hospitalisation, and that was another in another refereed journal that showed that Vitamin D deficiency was a common denominator in the vast majority of people who were hospitalised and died.
I use this as a simple and only one tiny example of the ignorance of so-called experts, which is why I’ve included another P in my pandemic for Professors because the ignorance of these people is actually quite breathtaking and ignorance is fine.
We all suffer from ignorance, and I willingly admit mine is I do too but when ignorance is connected with ego, arrogance and hubris and it informs public health policy, we have a serious problem, as we do.
The fact that you have probably not read a single thing or heard from any public health official that Vitamin D is critical to this pandemic, not to mention chronic disease which is ubiquitous in our society. What’s even more frustrating is that we got a response to that letter from the TGA, saying there is insufficient evidence to show the influence of Vitamin D on viral infections such as COVID.
Another P I may have forgotten to mention is when Patented drugs are introduced, things like Remdesivir or Molnupiravir, and the research is provided by Big Pharma, which, as we’ve heard, if you’re a regular listener, Big Pharma has repeatedly been found guilty over the last 20 years of illegal marketing and fraud. Big Pharma provide the TGA with one or two references and molnupiravir, and these patented drugs are rushed to market, but there’s insufficient evidence to show Vitamin D.
This is what I’m talking about ignorance, arrogance and hubris. Breathtaking. Anyway, so this whole discussion I had this week touched on many, many subjects. It was a much longer podcast than I normally do, but it was a really interesting one. We talked about intellectual humility. We talked about epistemic humility as well and how we apply both of those principles to this pandemic and the general health of our communities.
Another theme I’m really looking forward to exploring is the social psychology behind this pandemic, and I’ve got some great guests lined up over the next few weeks and months. So do stay tuned to leave us some reviews. I always forget to remind you, but go on to iTunes and leave us some reviews. We’ve got some really exciting things.
We are about to launch our Unstress 21-day Programme. Very exciting and a whole subscription that will create a community of like-minded people because we definitely need to connect. I hope this finds you well. Until next time.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.