Friday, March 4, 2011

The Religion of Modern Medicine

"Scientism" is a term that has been applied to Western science's tendency to consider itself as the only valid way of describing reality and acquiring knowledge. Far from objective science, it is riddled with a self-imposed form of materialistic and mechanistic bias. When it inappropriately and clumsily attempts to impose its restricted worldview upon domains where it has no business meddling, it can no longer be considered legitimate science that is practiced with an awareness of its boundaries. It instead begins to resemble an ideology not unlike a religious form of evangelism. Again, it is more than a bit ironic when conventional medicine attempts to belittle some alternative therapies as "faith-based."

Like any good faith, the church of medicine stands on the authority of its sacred texts. The randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard that assures the purity of church doctrine. The sacred studies are the only source of true knowledge; all other forms of knowledge are held to be inferior. Upholders of the faith frequently quote from the sacred texts in order to disprove and discredit heretical viewpoints. The conspicuous incongruity here is the ever-changing and fickle nature of medical research studies, which frequently contradict one another and are commonly sponsored and funded by the very corporate interests that stand to gain from that research. Hence the true authors of the modern sacred texts increasingly turn out to be the underwriters of the medical-industrial complex.

There is little if any room for dissent inside the cathedrals (hospitals) of medicine and those with innovative ideas are commonly treated as pariahs. The net effect is to ensure that medical doctrine remains hermetically sealed, impervious to outside influences. The medical priesthood maintains its elite status and authority but at the expense of its relationship to those who it was originally intended to serve. When it exhibits such a consistent lack of receptivity to new ideas and insists upon the superiority of its worldview, it can only be compared to a form of fundamentalism, which, in turn, removes it very far indeed from the realm of rationality and logic that it claims to issue forth from.

Is modern medicine more science or religion?

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