Even if a perfect working knowledge of the human body and brain were bestowed on us tomorrow, there would still be unknowns in the realm of health. Outbreaks and evolving bacteria. How to get people the care they need. What new health threats will be brought on by the changing climate. These are some of the topics being discussed at the Aspen Ideas Festival’s Spotlight Health session, Thursday through Sunday. And plenty of questions about the mind and body too, since our knowledge, though much improved from the days of bloodletting and accusing every woman of hysteria, is hardly complete.
“How to be healthy” is one of life’s big questions, and it can be taken a lot of different ways. It can mean, “How do I extend the shelf life of this meat sack I inhabit for as long as possible?” It can mean, “How do I kill this organism that’s trying to kill me?” Or it can mean, “How do I get through this one day with my sanity and my sense of self intact?” Sometimes I think it just means, “How can I be okay with not having these answers?”
That’s the invigorating and frustrating thing about covering health—we’re always in the middle of the process. Discoveries are made and unmade, remedies proved and unproved, theories floated then forgotten. Scientists crack one nut, and then another one falls on their heads.