There are three kinds of research studies. (Actually, there are many many kinds of research studies, but for the purpose of this article, I’m making it three.)
First, there’s what I will call “black box” studies. In these, you try something out on experimental subjects and see what happens. The actual internal mechanisms driving the results are not necessarily known: “Oh, when we fed the rats mushrooms and green tea, some of their cancers went away.” Interesting and useful outcomes, but cause and effect are ignored.
Second are population studies in which (not necessarily accurate) conclusions are drawn from statistical studies involving large groups of people: “We found that 50% of people who had heart attacks had normal cholesterol levels. We therefore conclude that…” Again, underlying causative mechanisms are not part of the picture.
With both black box research and statistical studies, the importance of cause and effect are effectively dismissed: the underlying cause of an observed effect is never known. This is a fundamental flaw; we can’t trust the evidence we get from black box and statistical studies because they don’t address causality. For this reason, I pay very little attention to these first two kinds of research studies.
The third type of research is basic science, where ideas are developed and tested from the ground up. Insights gained in one study become the driving force for designing the next one. Professor Nobuto Yamamoto did—and still does—basic science research. He spent a quarter of a century examining—in minute detail—the basic molecular biology and immunology supporting his discoveries, alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase (Nagalase) and glycoprotein macrophage activating factor (GcMAF). There’s no black box, no statistics, just a complex trail of experimental insights that collectively form a colossal infrastructure upon which his final conclusions are based. He didn’t try out a new, unknown and potentially toxic drug on a bunch of people; he did the basic science research and figured out—exactly, precisely, down to the submolecular level—how cancer breaks our bodies, and then he showed how to fix it using the body’s own systems as his therapeutic tool. It’s a brilliant, Herculean, masterpiece of work, and Dr. Yamamoto deserves a Nobel Prize for his efforts. He also deserves to have his ideas widely understood and taken seriously—an outcome that has not yet happened.
Dr. Yamamoto is healthy and active at age 84. I feel that for him the best reward of all would be to see, in his own lifetime, the world’s cancer and HIV patients benefit from his work.