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Holistic Medicine Backlash:
Just for the Hippies!
by Luis Miguel Luna, Third Year
Mechanical Engineering Technology
After reading James Arn’s arguments for alternative medicine, I felt like I needed a painkiller. To push unfounded claims such as the ones outlined in that article was, at least, irresponsible in the highest order.
There’s a reason that “western society has a fascination with modern medical science.” Simply put? It works. I was shocked to see that James actually invoked the placebo effect, a discovery of modern medicine by the way, in his defense of alternative medicine. Sure, I’ll play along.
What’s the difference between believing that you feel better and actually feeling better? SURVIVAL. I can feel real damn good about the knife in my back as a result of adrenaline, shock or stubbornly choosing to do so, but ask any intelligent, sensible person if they’d rather have that fixed and they’d say yes in what few blade-obstructed heartbeats they have left.
The same applies to any medical situation. When was the last time anyone heard of an “alternative” treatment that nearly eradicated epidemics like polio, measles, small pox, cholera and numerous other diseases and medical problems? I’m sure a ton of people bought into the alternative medicine hucksters when it came to all of these maladies too. But choosing to waste time, money and resources in feeling good about them doesn’t mean anything when you’re in a wheelchair or dead.
Moving on from what I thought was the most idiotic part... No, wait. He actually admits that functionality isn’t important when it comes to medicine. Not only that, but we should pour millions of dollars into treatments that have not been proven to work under repeatable, testable circumstances. Brilliant. The article says that alternative medicines are “generally less expensive and have fewer harmful side effects than conventional treatments,” and that “traditional medical doctors claim that alternative treatments are not as effective as conventional medicines, branding them as placebos. Still, progressively more people are convinced that they are effective.” Make no mistake, alternative medicines are placebos. That is why they are cheaper and ineffective. As for more people being convinced about their effectiveness, a happy lie doesn’t make anything true. Neither does a large group of people believing something make it true, just ask anyone who thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe.
Moving on to the less infuriating arguments, eating organic is not an alternative suggestion. Every doctor you will ever meet will tell you the good old diet and exercise line for improving your health. The fact is that much of the “food” we eat today is a load of high Fructose garbage wrapped in grease and artificial flavorings. There are genuine scientifically provable, medical benefits to eating healthily and plenty of literature on the subject (a few books written by Michael Pollan, for example). It’s not an alternative, people just forget that it’s the first option.
As for acupuncture, maybe it has merit. I haven’t seen these studies, but if what James says is true then that’s great and there’s a reasonable scientific explanation for such success that we simply do not know. With research into acupuncture, maybe we will be able to harness the reasons behind its success. But then it won’t be an alternative will it? That’s because, to quote a friend: There’s a name for “alternative medicine” that actually works. It’s called MEDICINE.
In light of full disclosure, I’m off to get what some would call a holistic and natural treatment for blinding rage at ignorance. It’s called sleep. Doctors and scientists have been recommending it for years.
Dear Mr. Rees,
I was recently catching up on back issues of Reporter, of which I am a big fan, and I was a little disturbed by your comments in the 12/11/09 Editor’s Note.
To quote you directly, “Christmas doesn’t have to be some overbearing religious holiday, it’s just a wonderful excuse to take the time to feel something in an otherwise bleak world.”
As a Catholic, I was quite offended by your choice of words. I am not a religious zealot who forwards all of the “Keep CHRIST is CHRISTmas emails” and I am not insulted by those who choose to wish me “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” However, the roots of the Christmas holiday are undeniably based on a religious occurrence ... namely, the birth of Jesus, whom Catholics revere as their one true God and savior.
Now, I am well aware that religion is a very tricky subject and I do not easily take offense. But for the editor of a magazine, a literary publication whose sole purpose is to reach an educated readership at an institution of higher learning through the written word, I am a bit taken aback that you would not choose your words more carefully.
I find the Christmas displays that appear in early November to be overbearing. I find the 24 hour Christmas movie marathons to be overbearing. I do not find anything whatsoever overbearing about the religious implications of a holiday that brings joy to so many people.
I’m sure it is difficult to write an appealing editor’s note to such a diverse readership, and I applaud your efforts ... I just hope that future efforts can be fashioned in a way that communicates your opinion without slighting the opinions of others.
Elissa Nyerges, Fourth Year
Professional & Technical Communication