Medical Elitism and Alternative Medicine

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Dec 22, 2012, 1:46:54 AM12/22/12
Artists are frequently accused of being elitists; but the most elitist group in America I've found to be the doctors.

It's understandable why doctors in America would be elitist. The length, rigor and expense of medical education makes it accessible to only a very small portion of the population. This works against them in two ways.

One is that a lot of people dislike this attitude. Another, more important, is that it leads to a closed-mindedness that we see especially in AMA's dealings with holistic medicine practicioners. It is one thing to be proud of an accomplishment, such as getting an MD in America. It is quite another to think that, in the whole history of humanity, nobody except practicioners of Western allopathic medicine came up with any useful or workable treatments. Pride is fine; destructive exclusionistic arrogance isn't. The bottom line is, given the length of human history and the number of smart people that have lived this length of human history, it is not only likely but inevitable that some of these people came up with something worthwhile.

In fact there have been many useful and workable treatments in all sorts of places, from ancient China and Rome to the Incan Empire and the Native American medicine men. The medical profession benefits vastly from researching these treatments and applying them where they can be applied. If the claim is that these treatments are not based on the scientific method, then it should be possible to research them today scientifically. The problem has been that it has been extremely difficult to get grants for such research, and this has stood in the way of bringing these treatments to light.

In a recent discovery of a 6th century BC tomb in China, were discovered medical texts describing heart transplant surgery. Buddhist zen meditation technique has been found to increase health and happiness. Any number of people have cured any number of disorders through herbs, shamanism or faith healing. Western allopathic medicine does not hold a monopoly on viable medical treatments, and medicine stands much to gain from researching and applying these other treatments where possible.

The attitude that these treatments are hogwash or quackery is not even rational. Reason says that, given the length of human history and the number of smart people who get born every year, some of these people will have come up with something worthwhile. The attitude that this isn't the case is not reason, sanity nor intelligence. It is elitism, and it is ignorance. And neither of the above are creations of reason.

They are creations of an institutional groupthink and a refusal to open one's mind to anything other than it.
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