Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine – Volume 8, Number 1 Quackery
Dr. Terrell is Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C. With enactment of medical licensure laws in the latter without, and among those with higher incomes.
half of the nineteenth century medical practitionersbegan an attempt to define and enforce upon the Practitioners of orthodox medicine, on the whole, American public our notion of what ought to be deserve to have failed in our attempt to abolish orthodox and permissible in healing. The various states alternative practices by means of law. Similarly, our granted exclusive privileges to diagnose and treat failure to persuade the public more thoroughly of the diseases to certain groups of practitioners who held superiority of our methods has earned the leakage to themselves to be more scientific, more valid, and more other types of practices. Medical licensure laws render effective than others. The century-old maneuver has to Caesar authority God has deposited elsewhere. God places the physical health of individuals into the hands ofthe individual, the family, and the church (see 1 Cor.
Reporting in the January 28, 1993, New England 6:15-20). Whether such laws "worked" or not is Journal of Medicine, Dr. David Eisenberg and others secondary to their biblical propriety. The civil state describe a representative survey of a significant portion figures in only for contagious diseases in which coercive of the United States population regarding its use of isolation measures are called for. The civil ruler's power unconventional therapies. Their findings are amazing: (1) is coercive. Except for contagious diseases where One-third of the English-speaking, adult population coerced measures may be beneficial to the whole used unconventional therapies in 1990, (2) Only one in community, medical care is a business contract or a four of those who used unconventional therapies told ministry of compassion and mercy - hardly fit tasks for unconventional therapies spent about $10 billion in theprocess, comparable to the amount spent out-of- Conventional medicine's inability to thoroughly persuade pocket for hospital care, (4) the number of visits to the public of its superiority has less to do with its public providers of unconventional therapy (425 million) relations perhaps than with its science.' Most orthodox exceeded those to primary care physicians and the medical practices stand on rather little proof, majoring average charge per visit was $27.60.
groupthink acculturation. Even the positive Outcome It would appear that the attempt by mainstream medical data we have tends to be narrowly conceived and practitioners for years to control the healing arts has tested. The fluoride that might have hardened our tooth failed both by means of the legal coercion of medical enamel against decay may also have weakened our licensure statutes and by persuasion of the public of the cortical bone. Focus on a decrease in dental caries will miss the increase in hip fractures later in life.
conventional medicine does dominate the mainstream,the nearly half-billion annual visits to practitioners of Medical training is as much an acculturation process by other more or less outcast providers can't be thrust which initiates are inculcated in "our" way of thinking aside as insignificant or a quirk of the poor and ignorant.
Use of unconventional therapies is significantly more argumentation over definitions, theories, logic, and common among those with some college education than philosophy that more often marks other higher Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine – Volume 8, Number 1 education is less prominent in medical education, where therapies has been greatest where patient participation the engulfing of masses of pre-digested “facts” occupies has been least. Great things are accomplished in surgery, where a patient's responsibility is, basically, tosign an op permit and hold still for the anesthetic. Great What makes unconventional therapies thrive? things are accomplished in pharmacology where thepatient has but to take a pill, inhale a puff, or stick on a 1. The incurability of many ailments. Dr. Eisenberg and patch. While many, too many, patients prefer that his coworkers found that it was the chronic or recurrent approach, there are others who wish to retain a sense diseases which collected more devotees of alternative of control. Unorthodox therapies, accurately or not, medicine - back pain, allergies, arthritis, insomnia, may offer this sense, which is one to be encouraged headache, etc. The natural history of these kinds of since God did place this responsibility first with the problems is commonly one of exacerbations and individual (1 Cor. 3:16,17; 7:12,19,20, 2 Cor. 7:1).
remissions. Human tendency toward post hoc ergopropter hoc "reasoning" will provide many "proofs" of 5. Simple (simplistic?) rationales.2 The rationales of effectiveness that were only coincidental remissions, orthodox medicine are exceedingly well-developed, even for unconventional therapies of no intrinsic value.
beyond the ordinary practitioners ability or interest to Jesus addressed the illogic of post hoc reasoning when impart to many patients. Unconventional therapies may He taught the error of imputing a specific sin as the more often have rationales that are easier to grasp.
reason for the tragedy of a building collapse (Luke13:1-5). Some would have believed that since the dead 6. A conspiracy view of orthodox medicine. Insofar as men were sinners, and the tower had fallen on them, medical care has become a state-granted monopoly, that the tower fell because of their particular sin. Not this view is partly justified. The in-group plays footsie with the political powers-that-be to keep others out.
Some people respond to being put out by determining 2. Inordinate desire. Americans, in particular, don't take to thrive and be happy on the outside. The more "no" for an answer to their dilemmas. Sarai's desire for licensed practitioners restrict the allowable practices of children was inordinate, prompting her to offer Hagar to others the further the unlicensed practitioners are driven her husband (Gen. 16:1-5). Any therapy, orthodox or from the orthodox center toward a periphery that unorthodox, should be sought within a biblical set of contains ever more bizarre practices. Massaging the priorities. We are not free to go to any extent to be rid of a physical ailment. Paul sought three times that his organs or analyzing the fibers of the iris for diagnosis is illness be removed (2 Cor. 12:7-10). He could have let to a physician with standard training intractably his life orbit whatever that thorn in the flesh was.
irrational. Even if we grant that some orthodox therapies Instead, he boasted in his infirmities and determined to may contain a grain of truth, even if we recall the pigheaded blindness of past orthodox medicine, thesepractices and rationales just can't be swallowed, and 3. Unsatisfying experience with conventional therapies.
we don't want to be associated with them.
Orthodox practitioners should be intrigued by thequestion of why, if our therapies are superior, and theirs Perhaps, occasionally, our scientific formulations do us are inferior, people continue to pursue the latter.
a disservice by impounding our imaginations. The What do they receive elsewhere that they do not medical mainstream also does a disservice to the people receive from us? Could it be, sometimes, that our by seeking to "guard" them from exercising their God- mechanistic approach omits healing of the spirit? Omits given responsibility to attend to their own health. Even if love? Even at our therapeutic best, where we all of orthodox medicine's worst opinions about understand mysteries, do we lack love? (1 Cor. 13:2) quackery are valid, the health effects alone of removingthat authority from the public will in the long term be 4. Proper locus of control. The success of orthodox worse. The unorthodox practitioners also have been Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine – Volume 8, Number 1 harmed by the monopoly in that they have been denied biological change as a treatment. Ergotamine, digoxin, legitimate access to the marketplace. There is a way for vincristine, and quinidine are examples. For intrinsic us to avoid association with them without denying them danger, what has quackery to compare with cutting their desire to sell their services. Title licensure could open the chest, stopping the heart and lungs, sewing in accomplish that separation, the way that a trademark artificial heart valves and vessels, followed by years of does. Mainstream physicians can and do acquire waffarin therapy? It would seem that this article should legally-enforceable exclusive use of certain titles, such have begun by defining its terms. Surely some listing of as board-certified obstetrician, to give the public a what is and what is not quackery is forthcoming! Is means to distinguish one school of therapy from chiropractic in our out? What about orthomolecular psychiatry? Colonic irrigation? Chelation therapy? Is it hypocritical for the mainstream to characterize That no definition of "quackery" has yet been offered is unorthodoxy as "quackery?" It is, to the extent that we part of the point. The line that would circumscribe by law make our treatments the only ones legally quackery would vary according to at least a couple of available to the public without proof of efficacy. There factors: (1) The rigor of adherence to hard science in are very many mainstream therapies which stand on shaky ground. Studies of treatment outcome are not as common as we believe, nor generally that impressive (legitimately) use therapies whose mechanisms we don't when they do exist. Quackery is often scored for understand very well. (2) The rigor of adherence to keeping people away from the really effective therapies.
well-conceived therapeutic outcome analyses. Again, No doubt it does at times. So long as it is a choice of much conventional medicine would fall outside the line.
the individual to do so, however, the only way to stop it We prefer to judge insiders by our intentions and is by using civil police power to prevent it. Such use of outsiders by their results. When in conventional the power of the state is not only illegitimate, it is also medicine the mechanisms are unknown, we plead the proving to be impossible according to the revelations of empirical results. When the empirical results are against Eisenberg, et al. The millions of units of self-governance us, we plead the cogency of the mechanisms.
embodied in the hearts of individuals are often electingto shop in one of these unorthodox markets. Caesar is The most honest definition of quackery is that it not sufficiently omnipotent or omnipresent to prevent it.
approaches that are anathematized by a politically- "Quackery" practices are also warned against by the empowered in-group. As the in-group changes in its mainstream as dangerous in themselves. That is an views, now incorporating a previously denigrated interesting charge. In particular cases it may be so.
practice, such as acupuncture, or expelling a previously Overall, however, quack remedies more likely suffer acceptable approach, such as frequent feeding and from a lack of power to achieve anything at all cream diets for peptic ulcers, the territory of quackery biomedically, one way or the other. By any rationale it changes inversely to orthodoxy. What quackery is, strains credulity to see how sitting under a cardboard ultimately, is traceable more to what the definer believes tetrahedron, or wearing a quartz crystal around the about epistemology. How quackery is to be treated is neck, eating a garlic clove daily, or taking chemicals ultimately traceable to what one believes about diluted to the point that not one molecule of the original economic and political freedom. In empirical medicine chemical likely remains in the water, could be harmful in we would like to hold that we believe what we see.
itself. It is rather the orthodox therapies that more often Actually, in considerable measure, we see what we contain biological power, but a power that can cut two ways. Many of our orthodox medicines are dangerouslypoisonous in larger doses or in patients with certain Christians, especially, should be circumspect in our vulnerabilities such as renal insufficiency. Their beneficial treatment of quackery, for we as a group are vulnerable effects are secured by dosing low enough to use the to exclusion on grounds that we hold human beings to Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine – Volume 8, Number 1 be a body/spirit unity, materially affected by spiritual Endnotes
events, and that the Bible is pertinent to medical care.
Those positions are already formally anathematized by 1. Smith, R., Where is the Wisdom.?, British Medical Journal, the larger culture of medical orthodoxy.
2. Gellert, George A., M.D., M.P.H., [letter] New England Whenever Christians in recent centuries have advanced Journal of Medicine, Oct. 14, 1993, pp. 1202-1203.
a belief in the potency and pertinency of biblical inputsto understanding, we have been subject to recital of a particular piece of history to put us back into our place.
In summary, a piece of revisionist history may be The doctor sits before the august tribunal to which hehas been called. He is nervous. His license has beenchallenged; with it his livelihood is threatened includinghis ability to pay back his education loans. He has beencalled a quack in the news media. He has been chargedwith malpractice. His error is that he maintains that apatient's behavior follows a track around his corebeliefs and that the best way to help some patients is toexamine these issues at the center of gravity of theperson.
The tribunal represents, however, the overwhelminglydominant belief in the profession that reality is the otherway around. The behavior, they say, is the core and thebeliefs, if they exist at all, are an electron cloud orbitingthe behavior. Each one of those beliefs dutifully exhibitsthe Heisenberg uncertainty principle, being ultimatelyindefinable in precise location or precise velocity.
Indeed, the doctor's case is injured by the fact thatadherents in his own camp have refused to examinebeliefs and behavior with any sort of precision, holdingmore safely within generalities and platitudes anddescribing specific biblical application to real life issuesas "legalism." Pressure is applied. Dr. Galileo recants his scientificheresy. He will cease to deal with the patients' corebeliefs as controlling aspects of therapy. Reality is asthey say it must be After all, they are licensed physicians. To be anything else in health is to be aquack. Heaven forbid!

Source: http://bmei.org/jbem/volume8/num1/terrell_quackery.pdf

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