Janie B. Cheaney: It just makes sense

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 31st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Sometimes so-called common sense really isn’t quite enough. Here’s WORLD Radio commentator Janie B. Cheaney.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: I’ve been delving into health research lately—something I’ve never been inclined to do. But necessity is the mother of inclination.

Sorting good information from not-so-good is similar to sorting beans. Say, kidney beans from red beans, which look enough alike to make your eyes cross.

To take one example: infrared saunas.

Two doctors I’ve encountered through a video series on brain health have recommended infrared saunas. It’s a trendy therapy among millennials these days.

Here’s the rationale: the body retains harmful toxins that can interfere with its normal healthy functions. Sweating is a natural process which allows the body not only to cool itself but also to discharge toxins. Saunas are a way to promote healthy periodic sweating.

Now, infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body from within, thereby increasing the amount of toxins in sweat by up to 20 percent—seven times the amount of a normal sauna. So it just makes sense to include a visit to your local wellness or whole-health center to avail yourself of this cutting-edge technology.

It made sense to me—until I dug down and uncovered lots of skeptical research. Most of it is based on a simple medical fact: internal detoxification is the job of the liver and kidneys, not sweat glands. There appears to be no objective research that supports the claims of infrared saunas.

The 20-percent figure comes by way of inference from a sliver of research cited in one textbook. The textbook authors themselves deny any connection to infrared technology.

Still, when plain common sense comes backed up by doctor recommendations and glowing testimonials, it’s hard to resist. Especially given a widespread mistrust for the medical establishment.

Common sense is a valuable resource, like drugs, friends, college professors, democracy, feelings, and human reason. Yet none of these are truth per se. And all of these can let us down or steer us onto the wrong path.

Common sense supported the sexual revolution, at least as a majority of the population understood it. Nothing would stop the raging hormones of adolescence, so it was just common sense to educate kids about taking precautions and leave them alone. And why make it so hard for two people to leave a miserable marriage? Why not allow no-fault divorce?

The larger picture of family breakdown and rising illegitimacy is not within the simple one-plus-one of common sense, so while deeper arguments got made, they did not get heard.

Abortion, drug legalization, and same-sex marriage followed the same commonsense logic. Against them, opponents could only frame big-picture arguments, which don’t work unless everyone acknowledges the picture frame.

I’m not against common sense—or alternative medical therapies, for that matter. But it’s only Square One. The situation may warrant further knowledge and deeper thought. And the objective must always be in mind.

What’s the big picture for us? Temporary comfort, or God’s glory and truth?

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


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