The Scientific Method Can Flaw Our Thinking

Picture from “The Scientific Method Today”:

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My friend had suffered from severe depression for many years. One day he came to me and asked for advice.

“I have tried everything out there,” he said, “and nothing works.”

“What have you tried?” I asked. He got his fingers out, and started in with his list.

The first five fingers

“First, I tried antidepressants, several different kinds; gave it a good sincere try for many months. No help. Gave them up.

“Second, I tried vitamins and minerals, many different kinds; gave it a sincere try for many months. Didn’t work. Stopped taking them

“Third, I tried exercise, many different kinds; sincere try; strenuous; many months. Felt better immediately after workouts. Didn’t seem to last long-term. Seemed no real point in continuing that huge effort.

“Fourth, meditation. Have you any idea how many different kinds there are out there? Really went at this. Long effort. Tried really hard. Didn’t help. No point in going on with no results, eh? I did find some comfort in the stillness and quietness of the mind sometimes. Didn’t last.

“Fifth, tried music. Gentle  music. Kept this up for a long time. I did enjoy listening to the music. Didn’t lift my depression permanently though. Stopped listening. Kinda sad, eh?

The second five fingers

“Sixth [he had to switch to his other hand], enzymes. I had heard that dysbiosis can cause brain problems. Gave it a proper trial. Did settle my gut down a lot. I enjoyed eating more. Didn’t help my depression though. So I stopped that. Enzymes can be expensive if you take as many of them with every meal as you are supposed to do.

” Seventh came positive thinking and repetitive self-affirmations. Looked on the bright side of everything even though things were really awful. Kept telling myself that I was OK endlessly. On and on and on. Know what? I didn’t believe that crap. After an interminable period of time, I stopped. What a relief!

“Eighth, socialization. I was told I had too few friends and that I didn’t get out and socialize enough. That was why I was so morose all the time. So I gave it the old college try, eh? Found a few new friends. Really enjoyed their friendship. Tried to go out every week and socialize. What agony! I think it  made me even more depressed, although I don’t think that’s possible. Finally, after doing this like what seemed forever, I finally realized that this was definitely not lifting my depression, so I stopped the agony and stayed home where I was more comfortable, eh? I was less depressed at home. What’s the matter with solitude anyway?

“Ninth came EFT [Emotional Freedom Technique]. The big Kahuna. This guy said it would fix me up in no time. So I started in with this, even though I didn’t think it would help. You tap your head and body in various places and repeat the same boring words over and over again. This is supposed to get your energy moving and clear out your depression. Stupid technique. I kept at it for awhile and got no results. No point in going on if you don’t get any results, eh?

” Tenth. I tried punching a bag and yelling a lot. Get the anger out, eh? Felt good. Really good. I pounded the living daylights out of that bag for weeks. Didn’t help. No real value in yelling at a bag if you go back to being just as depressed as you were before, right?

Running out of fingers

“Eleventh . . . ” [he ran out of fingers, and was still going to plow on . . . ]

I raised my hand as a signal for a possible pause . . . he sighed deeply . . . and let his long list die a premature death. I was proud of him. He had suffered unspeakable agony and it really wasn’t my place to deny him the full list of things he had tried without success.

“Do you want to hear about my experience with depression?” I gently queried.


“Depression is the natural result of unwanted circumstances.”


Science and the one variable approach

“The scientific  method has a tendency to teach us to look for one variable that will resolve the riddle we are grappling with . . . uh . . .  the riddle with which we are grappling. [Gotta follow the rule about a sentence not ending with a preposition, eh? :o]

“We tend to work pretty hard to find the ‘one magic bullet’ that will permanently resolve the presenting issue.”

I went on: “If you had continued on with some of the things that you tried, and added some new ideas (like dancing, say, or maybe walking in the woods) and continued on with some of them, you would probably be well ahead of yourself by now, maybe even well.”

Free Butterfly Screensaver - The dazzling beauty of these unique  creatures really makes you think about the treasures that

This butterfly was once a caterpillar. Photo from:

Forest Waterfall. Photo from:

Placid Lake. Wander in the woods and along the streams and lakes . . . see them . . . feel them . . . smell them . . . drink them in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Photo from: …………………………………………………………………………………………….

I decided to take another tack:

“Let’s put it this way. I think it was Justice Brandeis who said something like this:

‘If we would just realize that life is difficult, things would go a lot easier for us’.

“Whatcha mean?”

So I suggested he put in place–permanently–this “medical model”:

Step one: Start low.

Step two: Go slow.

Step three: Don’t stop.

Step four: Add new ideas.

Step five: Repeat above steps.

[Five steps is all the fingers on one hand, right?] 😮

Depression is a many-splendored thing. It’s a multi-variable problem. It yields to a multi-factor approach.

Would it surprise you to learn that my severely-depressed friend got better?

Gradually . . . step by step . . .  over time . . . glorious time.

To your happy health!

Doc Meek, May 5, 2010, at Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

7 Responses to “The Scientific Method Can Flaw Our Thinking”

  • Very interesting and so true! Depression starts in our minds. Change our thoughts and habits and we change everthing. Great post!

  • Kazi:

    Doc, you are right on the money with this. I’ve personally witnessed the approach you suggest here work. It took months and there are still weeks when the cloud attempts to return. But as long as the person keeps returning to the things that help, it passes. Previously, they would spend weeks, even months behind closed doors in bed.

    Great post.

  • Dear Kazi, Thank you for your enlightening endorsement of a multi-factor approach to healing depression. Your realism and optimism combined make a powerful combination. Your site is a healing site. Thank you! I am grateful for your good influence in the world. Blessings, Doc

  • Dear Martha, I am grateful that you know depression can be healed as the person takes an active involvement in their own wellness. I like your online marketing savvy on your website. Thank you for what you do. My wife Jeannette is a great entrepreneur and we all owe a great debt to people like you two that promote with integrity in the marketplace. Blessings, Doc

  • Uinise Langi:

    Great post! You covered all/most of the remedies for depression out there nicely. And they still come home to roost…lol! Love the suggestions.

  • This is my first time I’ve come here. I discovered a lot of interesting stuff in your pages especially it’s discussion. From the comments on your content, I presume I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Sustain the good work.

  • Doc, you are right on the money with this. I’ve personally witnessed the approach you suggest here work. It took months and there are still weeks when the cloud attempts to return. But as long as the person keeps returning to the things that help, it passes. Previously, they would spend weeks, even months behind closed doors in bed.

    Great post.

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