If They Believe That—Medicine

What's wrong with medicine? Most people think it should be free, and today it is for a lot of people. You get what you pay for.
---Reginald Firehammer
Superstition and Medicine

(The following is adapted from "Truth and Superstition".)

One set of beliefs that are undeniably important to all people, both because everyone considers them important and because, when acted on, they have profound consequences, are those beliefs we have about the nature of our bodies, health, and disease. Depending on one's particular medical beliefs, for the same malady or symptoms one might secure the services of a witch-doctor to "drive out the evil spirits," with rituals and potions, or, with a different set of beliefs, agree to allow the brain surgeon remove the small tumor that is causing the problem. That in this day and age, medicine of the witch-doctor variety is gaining acceptance, even being promoted by and financed by our government is not only alarming, but almost impossible to comprehend.

There is a certain vagueness about the nature of health which makes it susceptible to superstitious beliefs. For example, the relationship between medical procedures and the actual progress of disease is often difficult, and sometime impossible, to determine precisely. If someone suffers from some disease and their doctor ("witch" or otherwise) prescribes a medicine and the disease is cured, the cure will undoubtedly be attributed to the wisdom of the doctor and the efficacy of the medicine. It has been observed before, in most cases where someone seeks medical assistance for a problem that is subsequently alleviated, the same result would have occurred if the patient had done nothing, so, in most cases, one's belief in medicine, both that which one, "takes," and that which is, "practiced," is not based on reason, but on anecdote and isolated experience, usually reinforced by a thoroughgoing faith in "authority."

In medicine, at least, there is a, "hard science" part, which anyone who has taken a highschool biology class is able to understand the general nature of, even if the details are beyond them. It is easy to see there is a great difference between the use of antibiotics to cure a strep infection and taking a concoction of roots and blood to cure elephantiasis. Both the nature of the disease, in the case of strep, (its cause by little bugs called streptococci) and the function of the antibiotic (it kills the little bugs) can be rationally understood. For those who take a witch-doctors concoction for elephantiasis, neither the cause of the disease or the function of the concoction are understood and the belief in them has other sources than reason (although, it is not entirely without reason, because even blind superstition must be rationalized).

Most people have never learned much, if anything, about biology, and even the explanation that a strep infection is caused by bacteria and antibiotics can kill some infectious bacteria is not really understood by them. Their faith in antibiotics is as superstitious as the faith of the witch-doctor's customers. For the general population, confidence in, "medical science," is no more rationally founded than their faith in religion or government.

If you tell your child that people can be cured of disease by sticking needles into them they will be incredulous, especially if you are proposing to stick the needles into them. They are even less likely to believe that needles ought to be stuck into them when they aren't even sick, because "it will keep them from becoming sick." It is obvious to them, the way to make someone better is not to cause them more pain. This view on the child's part is entirely rational and reinforced with a degree of emotional reluctance to be stuck with needles, but is nevertheless mistaken, because they do not have all the facts. Within the scope of their limited knowledge, however, their conclusion is the best their reason can come up with, and they should not be forced to change their opinion, until they can understand the facts. (This does not mean they may refuse the medication, however, only that they do not need to agree that it is good.)

Their opinions will change when they have all the facts, so long as their opinions continue to be shaped by reason, which is unlikely if their minds are being warped in government schools. What is more likely is that they will join the ranks of millions of adults whose faith in medicine is little more than superstition, and except for the language, is as scientific as any bushman's faith in incantations and conconctions.

It is not surprising that so many people are duped by things such as acupuncture. After all, they already know diseases can be both cured and prevented by sticking needles into people. Their confidence in injections of antibiotics, vaccines, insulin, steroids is not based on any understanding of how any of these things work, but only on the external evidence (they worked before), the testimony of others, and, of course, the Doctor's authority. They have the same kind of evidence for acupuncture, so why wouldn't they believe someone twiddling a needle in their thigh won't help them loose weight, or cure their fear of heights, or anything else for that matter. It will probably work for their pets, too.

The majority of mankind that believes in true medical facts, such as the effectiveness of antibiotics and vaccines, believes them, not rationally, but superstitiously. Nevertheless, what they believe is really true, and actually works, and they came to those beliefs without understanding the scientific reasons why they work, without a rational basis for their beliefs. This convinces most people they do not need to understand how something works, or how anything works, to be able to discover what really does and does not work. Because people believe so many things that turn out to be true (luckily for them), not through understanding why they are true, but because it is what they have been taught, what everyone believes, or what their authorities say, they become convinced they really do not need to understand how or why something is true (unluckily for them). The fact that most people's faith in medicine is actually superstition, and not rationally based, is the reason that quackery is so successful.

Quackery Here are some of the "wonder" cures that people are willing to spend hard earned money for, even to die for.

Shocking Cures:

Have something bothering you? Have an ache or pain, a chronic condition that nothing else will relieve, or even a terminal illness? No need to suffer any longer. Just zap your trouble with a little juice and your troubles will be over. At least that's what millions of people believe?

         · Micro Current Trivia
         · Advanced Pain Control Store
         · TENS & TENS-Like Units

Like most medical scams and quackery, there is a legitimate medically-sound version of the procedures or products the quacks promote, in this case, electricity. Electric shock defibrillators are used to restart the heart of those who would otherwise die from ventricular fibrillation. Electronic devices such as pace-makers and similar devices used to control pain or spasms, such as one successful in some patients with the intractable pain of interstitial cystitus.

These legitimate uses of electricity and electrical devices is the result of careful clinical examination and experimentation (research) and are based on a clear rational understanding of the both the physical and biological processes that explain "how they work." These legitimate uses are used by quacks to lend an air of legitimacy to their own devices and processes. The following is an example of how these scams are put over. (You don't need to read it, it's mostly for reference, but an example of how these scams are made to sound legitimate.)

         · High Voltage: The Megabrain Bioelectric Interviews

These are nothing more than deceptions, scams, and outright fraud. Most are so outrageous, it is almost impossible to believe anyone could actually be fooled by them, yet they are not only believed, but defended vehemently. Many organizations and companies have even been taken in by them. There is no end of examples, but here are some of the more common popular medical scams today.

Snap, Crack, Pop - Miracle Massage - Chiropractic:

This is a very strange kind of quackery. Even those who have proven that it is nothing but bunk, still give it a nod of respectability. For example this quote from the link that follows completely debunking Chiropractic:

"Accurate information about chiropractic is not easy to get. Most publishers, editors, and broadcasters are unwilling to examine this topic in depth and to publish critical information. As a result, most reports reaching the public express what chiropractors would like people to believe. This Web site will enable you to deepen your understanding. If you decide to seek chiropractic care, it may also help you find a suitable practitioner."

         · Chirobase

Why would someone that knows chiropraters are all con-artists help anyone find a "suitable" one? Baffling!

On Pins and Needles - Acupunture:

"Despite a lack of scientific support, acupuncture is used in the treatment of depression, allergies, asthma, arthritis, bladder and kidney problems, constipation, diarrhea, colds, flu, bronchitis, dizziness, smoking, fatigue, gynecologic disorders, headaches, migraines, paralysis, high blood pressure, PMS, sciatica, sexual dysfunction, stress, stroke, tendonitis and vision problems."

         · Acupuncture

Something Smells - Aromatherapy:

Certainly, some odors can make you ill, but can they make you well? There is no reason to suppose so, but that does not matter when it is what you want to believe.

         · Aromatherapy

Snake Oil - Colloidals:

If you will swallow this stuff, you will swallow anything:

         · Colloidal Mineral Supplements: Unnecessary and Potentially Hazardous
         · Colloidal Silver: Risk Without Benefit

So Little, It's Nothing At All - Homeopathy:

This amazing medicine, which you can make at home, makes you well by giving you a poison that would make you sick, in the same way you are already sick, but won't make you sick because it is diluted. In fact, it is diluted so much, there is no poison left.

Truly amazing! We don't mean the medecine, we mean that anybody believes it.

         · Homeopathy
         · Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake

Holy Wholly Holey Holositic Medicine:

This place uses every quack remedy and medical scam in existense.

         · Rose Hill Medical Center

If you ever need a list of the latest in medical chicanary, this is a good one from thier web page:

"Our Integrated Approach to Cancer Treatment Utilizes: Detoxification, Colonics, Chelation, Food Based Nutritional Programs & Juicing, Immune Boosting Supplementation, EDS Testing, Thermography, Mistletoe Therapy, I.V. Vitamin C, Mushroom Extract, High Dose Antioxidant Therapy, Homeopathy, Micro Current Therapy, Neuromuscular Therapy, Massage, Aromatherapy, Orthomeolecular Supplementation, Probiotic Therapy, Phytotherapy, Echinacea, Systemic Enzyme Therapy, Organotherapy, Thymuspeptides & Hormones, Hydrazine Sulfate, oxygen Therapy, Immuno Therapy, Immune Modulation, Physiotherapy, Hydrocolon Therapy, Reflexology, Reiki, Neural Therapy, Relaxation, Christian Counseling"

That's right, "Christian counseling," just in case everything else fails. There are a couple of things missing, however, therapeutic magnets is one, and coffee enemas (may be covered under colonics), which our US Government supports.

This is a wonderful place. Here is what they can do for you:

"Rose Hill Medical Center offers a comprehensive program of complimentary services for cancer patients based on natural principles of healing. Our physicians address causative factors through testing, utilizing nutrition, detoxification, and natural therapies seeking to restore balance to the whole person. Those who have chosen a traditional approach to cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation will also benefit from our nutritionally based protocols, experiencing an increase in energy, improved immune function, decreased pain, corrected nutritional deficiencies, and an improved quality of life."

Somebody's quality of life is sure being improved, and a lot of people are loosing weight in the area of their wallet. This seems like an ideal institution for a healthy NCCAM grant.

Drawn to Therapeutic Magnets:

Once, when I was a boy, a small sliver of iron became imbedded in my eye. My doctor used a small magnet to remove the sliver. It was a very effective therapeutic use of a magnet.

Magnetic fields are also used by some very sophisticated diagnotic machines.

As far as can be determined, there is only one other very important use of magnets in the medical field, which is to draw a lot of money from suckers.

         · Magnet Therapy

Vitamins by Any Other Name - Poly-MVA:

Poly-MVA is a compound that contains various minerals, vitamins, and amino acids such as lipoic acid, palladium, B 12, and other B complex vitamins. It is promoted as a nutritional supplement that is a nontoxic alternative to chemotherapy.

The only known benefit of Poly-MVA is the health of marketers bank account.

         · Poly-MVA

And here's an example of how this scam is promoted:

         · Brain Tumor and Cancer Hospital

Seeking Alternative Poisons

Although it is hard to imagine, some people are not able to find a suitable medical scam or institution of quackery to give their money to in their own country. Fortunately for them, there are in other countries, even more clever medical practicioners skilled in the art of financial surgery. Here are two articles from the San-Diego Union-Tribune with details on some Mexican medical break-throughs (break-downs).

         · Borderline medicine
         · High hopes, false promises

Government Promotion of Quackery

Quackery is alive and well funded by the US Government, and nowhere is it more rampant than the scandalous National Institute of Health (NIH).

         · Medicine men at NIH

The NIH has a special department entirely for the purpose of promoting medical sCAMs, that is CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

         · FINAL REPORT of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy

"The Commission advocates spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to promote unscientific beliefs that would include treating cancer with herbal teas and coffee enemas; diagnosing ailments throughout the body by pushing down on the patient's arm; and manipulating supernatural forces to treat serious illnesses. The report implies that anything marketed as "CAM" should be taught in medical schools, included in health plans, and widely incorporated into government policies," from an objective evaluation of the report from The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF).

         · NCAHF Position Statement on White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Here is a paragraph by paragraph analysis of the nonsense superstition your White House leader is planning to use your money to finance.

         · Analysis of the Reports of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy

The following is the NCCAM home page. If you are easily disturbed by the knowledge your money and government resources are being used to promote bunk, and worse, to divert resources from legitimate medical research, you should not follow any of the links here that describe what they are doing.

         · NCCAM National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

If you found the previous page disturbing, the following will be intolerable, becasue it boldly proclaims their intention of spending your money on this nonsense.

         · NCCAM Funding: Appropriations History

Here are the figures in case you would prefer not going to the page.

1999: $50.0 Million
2000: $68.7 Million
2001: $89.2 Million
2002: $104.6 Million
2003: $113.2 Million

Government Inhibits Legitimate Medicine

Whether intentional or not, the government is engaged in a two prong attack on medicine. (The more government becomes involved in medicne in any area, the more harm it will do to the quality of medical service in America.) While the NIH is promoting quackery, another government agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing everything it can to inhibit the progress genuine medical progress.

         · Theory, Evidence and Examples of FDA Harm
         · FDA Review from The Independent Institute

And, for further edification, this page has links to excellent articles by Michael Fumento:

         · The FDA and its Junk Science

If you have doubted the superstition is the dominant source of beliefs for most people, that fact that most people are willing to believe blatant absurdities and even submit to them, when the matter it hand is there own bodies and health, should convince you. If there was one area that people would be expected to demand truth, rationally understood truth, it would be in the matters of their health and physical well being. In fact, for most people, the opposite is the case.

For those who do demand the truth and will accept nothng less, here is where you can get good information on medical scams and quackery found at every level, from the government to your local drug store.

---Reginald Firehammer

         · The National Council Against Health Fraud
         · Quackwatch