Friday, June 4, 2010

Here's to the Late Martin Gardner And His Criticism of the Cult of Naturopathy c1957

here, I go back to THE scientific skepticism wellhead -- my 1957 copy of Martin Gardner's “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” (ISBN 0486203948) which Wikipedia describes as “a classic in the literature of entertaining scientific skepticism [...and] perhaps the first modern book of scientific skepticism of pseudoscience" -- and partly quote from what it says about naturopathy:

“Chapter 16 – Medical Cults. In no other field have pseudoscientists flourished as prominently as in the field of medicine. It is not hard to understand why. In the first place, a medical quack – if he presents an impressive facade - can usually make a great deal of money. In the second place, if he is sincere, or partly sincere, the healing successes he is almost sure to achieve will greatly bolster his delusions. In some cases, of course, the doctor is an out-and-out charlatan [..] there are two great secrets of the quack’s success. One is the fact that many human ills, including some of the severest, will run their course and vanish without treatment of any sort [p.186...] the other [] due to the fact that many of life’s ills are wholly or in part psychosomatic […] in this chapter we shall glance at four outstanding medical cults, all of them founded by pseudoscientists, which have won many millions of disciples in the United States […] the first medical cult of any importance in America -- homeopathy -- had its origin in the mind of a German doctor, Samuel Christian Hahnemann. He published his great opus, The Organon, in 1810 [p.187...] Hahnemann believed that as the drug became less 'material' it gained 'spiritual' curative powers [p.188...] the homeopathic error was to take both these limited truths, exaggerate them to the point of absurdity, and apply them universally to all medicines […] 'allopathy' [is] a homeopathic term, now obsolete, for orthodox medicine […] the cult spread rapidly over Europe in the 1820’s, reached England and America in the 1840’s, and came to its pinnacle of success about 1880 in the United States [p.189...] naturopathy, like homeopathy, is a world-wide medical cult which had its origin in Europe. Unlike homeopathy, however, it has no single founder […] in essence, it is a complete reliance on 'nature' for healing […] hundreds of strange methods of therapy clustered about the movement, so it is not easy to say exactly what the tenets of naturopathy are [p.191...] hundreds of schools calling themselves naturopathic sprang up here and there in the early years of the century. They were as frowsy as could be imagined […] there was little unity of beliefs behind these schools [ includes] iridiagnosis is the diagnosis of ills from the appearance of the iris of the eye […] anyone who thinks no medical movement could be more insane than iridiagnosis, is much mistaken [p.193...] shrewder schools of naturopathy have abandoned indiagnosis [p.195]."

Note: one big thing that has change regarding naturopathy is that naturopathy codified their tenets and belief-set in the late 1980s.  That set of nonsense, insanity, and absurdity can be best found as sponsored by the State of Oregon.

002. for Gardner's Wikipedia page, click here.
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