SEHN

Visionary Science, Ethics, Law and Action in the Public Interest

Toward an ecological view: Complex systems, health, and disease

By Ted Schettler, M.D., MPH.
February 2006

Complex relationships among genetic, biologic, toxicologic, nutritional, geologic, economic, political, social, cultural, and historical phenomena are major determinants of health or disease. The dominant scientific approach to understanding this complexity involves taking it apart in order to examine more manageable pieces. That approach emphasizes the role of parts and de-emphasizes relationships. Then, in an attempt to understand some larger whole, scientists often construct models built of selected individual variables from the ground up, referring to “independent” variables that combine to determine the “dependent” outcome of interest. (excerpt)

Ted’s article was orginally published by San Francisco Medicine: Journal of the San Francisco Medical Society (January/February 2006 Volume 79, No 1). The article appears on pages 12-15 in this PDF document; however, other articles within this volume may be of interest to SEHN readers.

To read entire article please click here.