A Man of Science

So I was at my Doctor — I don’t remember why — and I asked him what that damn thing on my lip is. It had just come up that day, but it seemed like I got one pretty much every year. He checked my glands — saw they’re not swollen[1] — and told me it’s a cold sore. I asked him if I should put Campho-Phenique on it. He replied that I could, or I could put peanut butter on it.

“Peanut butter? Will that help?“

“Probably not. But neither will Campho-Phenique. A cold sore is a virus. We don’t have a way to kill any virus. Nothing will help.”

I knew that. I was pre-med. I can tell you the difference between antigens, antibodies, antibacterials and antibiotics. I can tell you how the goddam Kreb cycle works. I also know the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. I’m a man of science and a motherfucking genius.

I got home and my wife said: “What the hell is that thing on your lip?“

I told her it’s a cold sore.

“Well, put some Campho-Phenique on it!“

I patiently explained that we don’t currently have a way to kill a virus. That it wouldn’t help.

“Whatever, genius boy. Don’t kiss me.“

Damn thing got as big as a baseball. I finally put Campho-Phenique on it and it went away. Over the next few years I tried using it and not using it. When I used it, it went away within two or three days. When I didn’t, it hung around for a week or two.

It was not “the power of suggestion”; quite the opposite. I’m so damn stubborn I didn’t want the shit to work! I wanted to use it, have it fail, and get that big “W”; the “Win”. I wanted to say: “See? That crap doesn’t work! Stick with me, Woman! If you have any more questions about how the world works, you just ask me. I’ve got it all figured out!”

Of course, you might not have been able to understand me when I said that — because my lip would have looked like I was growing Quatro from Total Recall — but I would have known I was right. That’s the important thing; my ego could strut back and forth, doing a victory dance with my intellect.

So the shit worked without my permission. It worked even though I don’t understand it. It even worked without my believing it.

The same thing’s true of antibiotics. Yeah, *I* can tell you the mechanism by which they are effective, but that doesn’t make them work better for me than they do for you. And long before I learned how they work — and I had green shit dripping out of my dick from a night on 14th street in D.C. — I didn’t care how they worked; just give me a bunch before my damn pecker falls off!

It’s also true of Tequila. It doesn’t say anywhere on the bottle that “If you wanna get knee-walkin’ commode-huggin’, snot-slingin’, goat-fuckin’ drunk… YOU GOTTA BELIEVE!” That shit will work just fine without me exercising any faith.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the “scientific method” is defined as: “The principles and empirical processes of discovery and demonstration considered characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation, generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.”[2] That means that if I set up an experiment where I go through certain steps, and I get an anticipated result every time, the experiment is said to be “proven scientifically”. It’s repeatable, with expected results materializing.

When I got sober it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, it’s just that I had no desire to do business with that motherfucker. I didn’t pray for anything. There came a time a few months into it that I could not go on. It wasn’t so much that I was going to drink, but I was damn sure going to kill myself. There seemed to be no release from the pain without alcohol. I had to make it stop. I fell on my knees and asked Him to give me peace. He gave it to me.

When I have asked him for strength, He has given me that. When I asked him to remove “that thing inside me that makes me want to drink every motherfucking day of my life” He removed it.

That is the essence of “scientific method”. When I pray, I get the results I was looking for. Pretty much every time (as long as it’s not too selfish).

I don’t understand it. Really, I don’t even believe it’s going to work. But that’s not what’s important. It’s a lot more important that God believes in me than that I believe in God.

[1] Swollen glands indicates that the body’s immune system is actively fighting something. The body knows it can’t do anything about a virus, so would not be activated. If your glands are swollen it means you have a bacterial infection, and should get some antibiotics to help your body fight it. Antibiotics are useless against viruses.


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Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn’t be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions.

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought- life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.

Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

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* Swollen glands indicates that the body’s immune system is actively fighting something.The body knows it can’t do anything about a virus, so would not be activated. If your glands are swollen it means you have a bacterial infection, and should get some antibiotics to help your body fight it. Antibiotics are useless against viruses.

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