Friday, September 24, 2004

Voltaire on Medicine

In the 18th century, the French philosopher Voltaire said*,

"Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of which they know nothing."

Luckily, we have learned a great deal about medicine over the last couple of centuries and know much more than in Voltaire's time. We now use much more sophisticated equipment and treatments based on much better knowledge and understanding of how the body works. We still have a long way to go, but at least we have left Voltaire's medicine behind.

Back in Voltaire's times they were using traditional herbs and poultices to correct the body's blocked life force or to remove evil spirits. We now know there is no life force or evil spirits.

Spurious Complementary & Alternative Medicine (SCAM) now uses traditional herbs and poultices to correct the body's blocked life force or to remove evil toxins.

Maybe progress hasn't been made by everyone.

The world of SCAM still has treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic that are based on the belief of an energy force circulating in the body. The evil spirits have now been replaced by unknown toxins.

Voltaire was right. Times have changed and Voltaire's quote no longer applies to Evidence Based Medicine. When applied to the current SCAM practices, the quote's accuracy is stunning. If you're still thinking of using SCAM, just remember the life expectancy in those years wqas about half of what we have today.

*Actually it is much more likely Voltaire said "Les médecins sont des hommes qui prescrivent des médecines dont ils savent petit, guérir des maladies dont ils savent moins dans les êtres humains de qu'ils ne savent rien", but let's not be pedantic.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."

Thanks to Ken Davis for passing on the quote.


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