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March 18, 2008


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In the Chinese language, traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and talk of ch'i (qi) is known as... (drum roll, please): "Chinese medicine" (中医 zhōngyī).

This makes interesting reading.

Basically prior to 1949 the average lifespan in China was less than 50 years. Today it is still only in the low 70s. Why was it so low prior to 1949? Simply because of the lack of medical care. The idea of the inscrutable, wise old man with his mysterious herbal remedies keeping everyone alive and at the peak of health is and always has been a fantasy; albeit a very useful marketing fantasy with which to exploit idiot, ill-informed, molly-coddled Westerners. In short, the trumpeting of the benefits of Chinese medicine (especially the "ancient" variety") is based on nothing but myth. The facts, which are horrible and depressing, contradict the myths completely.

But let's not allow the facts to spoil a great story, for the benefit of quacks, charlatans and liars!

Btw, in 1996, the average lifespan for a Chinese man was 68 years and for a woman 71 years.

Pv: "Why was it so low prior to 1949? Simply because of the lack of medical care."

Yeah. Or maybe "social revolution", "the great leap forward" or "cultural revolution" had something to do with it. "Wedidit" seems abit too simple methinks.

"Wedidit" seems abit too simple methinks.

Non ho capito!

Of course social changes had a lot to do with it. But social changes without antibiotics, vaccination programmes, better hygiene and sanitation and so on would only bring limited change. People would still be dying in in intolerable numbers from malaria, tb and so on. Most of the Chinese population lived in what we would regard as abject poverty and had no access to anything, even if it were available - which it wasn't. The idea of the inscrutable, ancient Chinese medicine man with his herbs and magic remedies is largely a Western fantasy completely unsupported by the facts. Chinese people prior to 1949, much like 18th century Europeans died from what are today curable conditions and illnesses - they weren't spared by ancient Chinese herbal remedies. It just ain't so and never was.
Whatever works is medicine. There's no Western "this" and Chinese "that" about it.

I wrote about this very subject a couple of months ago (not the stem cell stuff, but the 'ancient chinese medicine' crap). With life span data and historical correlations if anyone is interested.


"Or perhaps Maher is just a confused idiot."

Likely. Poor Bill's brain just has a lousy "terrain"* When it comes to ideas, Maher's problem is the "aggregate toxicity" of quack notions in his mind. It's not the invading memes, it's the terrain.


* Maher thinks healthy people can't get infections such as malaria, nor does he "believe in" vaccine science. Relevant quotes include:

"...people get sick because of an aggregate toxicity, because their body has so much poison in it, from the air, the water..."

"I don't believe in vaccination either. That's a... well, that's a... what? That's another theory that I think is flawed, that we go by the Louis Pasteur theory, even though Louis Pasteur renounced it on his own deathbed and said that Beauchamp(s) was right: it's not the invading germs, it's the terrain. It's not the mosquitoes, it's the swamp that they are breeding in."

"perhaps Maher is just a confused idiot"

Leave off the perhaps and this will be a more accurate sentence. Maher is another example of a man who makes sense sometimes, and is a complete moron at others. His anti-vaccination and anti-science rants are pathetic. I wonder who he will turn to when he gets sick.

Can we stop this pretense that "real medicine" is practiced in the West...? Our institutions of medicine are interested in treating sickness and disease, NOT curing them. That's where the $$$ is. The best medicine is the placebo. Period. And our scientifically trained doctors can't explain it. Why should they? Where's the profit in that line of research?


I think the idea is that between "The best medicine is the placebo." and "Period.", there's supposed to be some evidence of some sort (pressing the space-bar does not count as evidence unfortunately). Good luck.

If doctors were only interested in money, they wouldn't emphasize prevention as much as they do. And, of course, everyone loves to claim that modern science doesn't know anything about mundane effects like placebo.

Of course, how can placebo be the best medicine if the very gold standard of medical studies, the double-blind placebo-controlled study, is designed to prove that they get better results than placebo? Placebo is what you expect of inaction plus subjective validation. Treatment includes that plus real, measurable effects.

Oh, and lovely torrent of cynicism and misanthropy. Ever consider that some doctors might be in the business because they want to help people? Did it ever occur to you that decent people might want to take up the medical profession?

Do you seriously think that the eeeee-ville people have magical powers that let them ignore the massive bureaucratic problems that'd come from international million-man conspiracies?

Mark wrote:
"Can we stop this pretense that "real medicine" is practiced in the West...?"

The article itself said:
"(O)ne thing struck me – how ludicrous the labels of “western medicine” and “Chinese medicine” are....(stem cell therapy is) practiced in China....so does that mean it’s not western?"

Mark says:
"The best medicine is the placebo."

I say (horrified):
Mark, you're not suggesting that alternative medicine is nothing more than a bunch of deceptively marketed placebos are you?

So penicilin, anaesthesia, vaccination, organ transplantaion, steroids, skin grafts, etc., etc., are all just as good as ultra-concentrated hydrogen hydroxide (a.k.a. homeopathy)?

If only people had had access to ear candling, cupping, Therapeutic Touch and aromatherapy during the Black Death! It's obvious that the death toll would have been drastically reduced.

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