When a revolutionary new technique or therapy is described, it can take a while for science to catch up. Funding must be obtained to conduct studies. Studies must be performed, reviewed by committees of the researchers’ peers, critiqued, refined, and replicated.
This process takes years, and often decades. Much of the medical progress in the last fifty years has resulted from studies that build upon studies, from step by step incremental experimentation, with each step extending the reach of our knowledge a little bit further.
This evolutionary progress over the lifetimes of the last few generations has encouraged us to think that this is the way that science progresses. Yes, it is a way – but it is not the only way. There are scores of important medical procedures that were discovered years, or decades, or even centuries, before the experimental confirmation arrived to demonstrate the principles behind the treatment.