Is materialism health care’s Achilles’ heel?

“Turtles all the way down.” That’s the now famous response to a scientist’s inquiry as told in an anecdote by Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time.  After explaining the basics of astronomy and the relationship between the earth and sun, a little old lady expresses her disbelief to the scientist and pipes up, “The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

Hawking continues, “The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, ‘What is the tortoise standing on?’  ‘You’re very clever, young man, very clever,’ said the old lady.  ‘But it’s turtles all the way down.’”

There’s both humor and heartbreak in the old lady’s retort.  Such determinism has propelled the achievements of many a visionary.  It also illustrates the stifling nature of a stubborn dogma that can blind thinkers and shutter what should be the open-minded nature of true science and scholarship.

Today’s healthcare practices offer a similar dichotomy…Read more