Thanks for the info. I’ll have to read up on some of that!
My day job(s) involve problem-solving, and my gut feeling here is that some things are more complicated than they need to be. It’s a sort of “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” scenario, except curiously inverted to take account of the fact that we now have a sonic screwdriver in the toolbox instead of just a hammer.
My point is that investigators seem far too willing to throw advanced molecular biology at the problem without considering that (a) they need to be searching for something easily detectable or predictable, such that it can be deployed en masse and (b) it needs to be treatable. There’s no point searching for something that can’t be (easily) tested for and/or can’t be modified.
There’s also the “if you don’t have a double-blind peer-reviewed RCT then it’s not valid!” thing, which is being used to trample over all sorts of valid avenues of research where that particular paradigm is not appropriate.
Just to give a specific example that I’m familiar with: there is endless debate over what causes obesity at the molecular level, and TPTB are endlessly bleating that “there’s not enough evidence” to modify dietary recommendations (which have failed miserably). But from a therapeutic viewpoint, it doesn’t matter: the mechanisms that cause obesity are fairly well characterized, and the therapy is straightforward (stop eating bad food - in particular, stop eating in the manner recommended by dietitians as a cure for obesity). The treatment is highly intuitive and is easy to adhere to. If some given method or technology works reliably, we have all the time in the world to find out why it works.
Old-timer doctors and researchers used to be somewhat better at following hunches, simply because they didn’t have complicated tools available, and that generally led to more useful therapeutic innovations.