Continuing to think about my post from yesterday, I realized very clearly that people often confuse explanations and truths. What I mean is that explanations and truths are separate. You can have an explanation without knowing it is a truth, just as you can have a truth without knowing the explanation. Sometimes, it seems people believe an explanation is a truth or that a truth is not not real without an explanation.
A very obvious example is the question, "Why is the sky blue?" For most people, they will not be able to give an explanation. However, that doesn't mean the sky is any less blue, unless it's cloudy or night time of course. "The sky is blue," remains true whether people can explain it or not.
This is very important in professions like teaching, medicine, and athletics where not every truth has been explained yet. I hear many teachers, doctors, and athletic coaches brag that they follow an "evidence-based practice". This means they supposedly make all their decisions based on the available research. This only proves ignorance in my opinion. There is simply too much research lacking to make all decisions in this way.
I one hundred percent believe that when good research is available it should be consulted and that the quest to discover explanations for truths is beyond valuable. However, that does not mean that a lack of explanation is a reason to believe something is not true. After all, most of what we "know" is still considered theory. There are very few "laws" that have been discovered and until a theory is deemed law, it is still open to question and debate.
Some practical examples of what I'm talking about include fat loss, personal health, and learning. Many people believe that fat loss is simply, "calories in, calories out," and that is fine. However, this is just theory and one that is losing evidence fast. Whatever the explanation for fat loss eventually turns out to be is irrelevant for actually losing weight though. Bodybuilders figured out decades ago how to lose body fat while keeping muscle mass. If you have a desire to lose fat, talk to a bodybuilder. They know the truth whether they have the explanation or not.
Personal health is another example. The government says to eat whole grains and dairy everyday for a certain number of servings. This is the "best" way to maintain optimal health. They have plenty of explanations why if you care to look it up. However, more and more people are discovering that going gluten and dairy-free makes them feel better. With or without an explanation, the truth is obvious to them - and subjective as mentioned yesterday.
Finally, education is becoming more and more like the medical profession and public health field. There is an explanation for everything and a theory describing exactly how students should be taught in every situation. However, if a teacher has seen results from a particular method for the last twenty years, there is no reason to discard it because it violates the latest theory. I strongly believe that twenty years of results contains far more truth than the latest theory.
At the end of the day, truth trumps explanations. The one principle that all of these professions should follow is the maxim of "do no harm". As long as they are not harming a client, patient, or student, then it shouldn't matter whether they are using evidence based practices or anecdotal based practices to get results.