doctor disease

kjkhoo at kjkhoo at
Fri May 11 21:50:42 PDT 2001

Sorry to butt in at this late stage, but it seems to me that Wojtek dearie having identified the quacks, appears to tar herbal and other 'traditional' medicines as quackery as well. It might be sobering to investigate the number of current drugs on the market which had their origins in herbal medicine.

I think Feyerabend's teasing should have been salutary. Herbal and other medicines, no matter that their explanations may sound weird to "modern" ears and minds, were based on some form of empirical observations of what worked and what didn't. Sure, from the viewpoint of contemporary science, such observations left a lot to be desired in the sense of being systematic, controlled, etc.

But for the longest time ever, they were just dismissed as quackery, as modern medicine rode roughshod over everything in its ascendancy to dominance -- hegemony? Acupuncture, when it was first reported on in the western press, was covered with not a bit of a smirk. It has since then come to be accepted as having rhyme and reason, quite completely explanable in contemporary scientific terms, although quite different from the Chinese medical system.

In the case of the most complex of these "traditional" medicines, e.g. ayurvedic and the Chinese, there are complex explanations for health and disease, and in the case of ayurvedic, almost mappable onto modern medicine. But, the development of both systems were truncated in the context of the ascendancy of modern medicine, quit a typical instance of, in this instance, the rise of a hegemony. I believe many now acknowledge that that was a loss.

So yes, quacks should be exposed. But it need not be the case that the systems of thought which they base their quackery on is also necessarily fraudulent.

As for the Rand report, right there on page 2, there's a long example given where it would not appear that complexity is the problem so much as incompetence.

KJ Khoo

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