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Naturopathy and Liberal Politics: Strange Bedfellows

Yesterday’s post by Wally Sampson and an offline discussion with David Gorski have moved me to post something that I wrote in 2001. At the time, I was a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners. I’ve previously mentioned that experience here.

During that tenure I wrote a treatise on the tenets and practices of ‘naturopathic medicine,’* hoping to change the opinions of several others on the Commission (no such luck). In an early draft I included a section titled “The Political Philosophy of Naturopathy.” My ally on the panel, emeritus New England Journal of Medicine Editor Arnold “Bud” Relman, advised me to remove it, citing its tangential relevance and the possibility of it irritating rather than persuading. He was right, of course, but it now seems reasonable to hall it out of the mothballs. Here it is, with minor revisions and, I hope, a provocative postscript.

…………………

The Political Philosophy of Naturopathy

I was surprised, during one of the Commission meetings, to hear a brief discussion implying that the licensing of naturopathic physicians is a ‘liberal’ initiative. The reason for my surprise is two-fold. The first is that liberal politics has, for at least the past one hundred years or so, been associated with exposing the truth (The Nation advertises itself, with some justification, as a journal for “the most skeptical people”). How likely is it that “naturopathic medicine” could emerge with its pretensions intact after a hardnosed, leftist, investigative report by Jack Anderson or Ralph Nader?

I’m also surprised because the history of naturopathy is anything but liberal. Anti-vaccination and pro-Laetrile forces have been allied for years with other antisocial movements, most notably the far-right anti-fluoridationists. A 1978 study found that organizational participation in the Laetrile movement was strongly associated with “disapproval with fluoridation” and right-wing politics.[1] The modern catch phrase “freedom of choice in health care,” which is echoed in the AANP position paper on cancer, was coined by the founders of the pro-Laetrile “Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy,” every one of whom was a member of the John Birch Society.[1]

The discussion of “vitalism” vs. “mechanism” in the Textbook of Natural Medicine [2, 3] is infused with the same sort of sectarian zeal that one finds in discussions of “creation science” vs. evolution in other forums. Pat Robertson could use entire paragraphs from that chapter, simply by exchanging those words. The flavor of large portions of naturopathic literature, with its defiantly anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, conspiracy-theory rhetoric, is reminiscent of the far Right. It’s no surprise that the pockets of the country in which naturopaths maintained strongholds prior to the recent “CAM” fad were also strongholds for wacky, anti-government movements.

The early history of naturopathy makes it an even stranger bedfellow for the Left. The most influential naturopath in the U.S. for the first half of the 20th century was the German immigrant Benedict Lust. In 1918 he published his Universal Directory of Naturopathy, whose introduction is reprinted in the Textbook of Natural Medicine. The document includes several of the ideas that have been discussed here, including the following:

[“Allopaths”] have sought to cure disease by the magic of pills and potions and poisons that attacked the ailment with the idea of suppressing the symptoms instead of attacking the real cause of the ailment.

Medical science has always believed in the superstition that the use of chemical substances which are harmful and destructive to human life will prove an efficient substitute for the violation of laws, and in this way encourages the belief that a man may go the limit in self indulgences that weaken and destroy his physical system, and then hope to be absolved from his physical ailments by swallowing a few pills, or submitting to an injection of a serum or vaccine, that are supposed to act as vicarious redeemers of the physical organism and counteract life-long practices that are poisonous and wholly destructive to the patient’s well-being.[2]

The remainder of the passage is filled with similar fascistic reprimands, excoriating humanity for its immoral behavior—”the real cause of the ailment.” This is not surprising, given the German heritage of every major ‘founding father’ of the field; it’s also not surprising to learn that the Nazis favored “natural healing.”[4]¶

That history is not merely of academic interest. Modern naturopathic philosophy persists in this view, even if it has softened somewhat. It can be seen in this passage:

Naturopathic physicians contend that most disease is the direct result of the ignorance and violation of what would be called “natural living laws.”[3]

It can also be seen in the strange, priggish, preoccupation with bowel function:

A healthy lifestyle could be generalized to include…the maintaining of proper elimination.[3]

It is found in the vastly complex “therapies” and Calvinistic lifestyle prescriptions that are so common in the field. One wonders if today’s idealistic graduates of Bastyr University can hear the authoritarian tones echoing from

…the patient must… make a total commitment to their [sic] health and well being in order for the treatment to ultimately be successful.

The newest school of naturopathy is the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. It boasts that it is the only one affiliated with a “real” university. But this is no ordinary university. It is the flagship of the World University Federation, a front organization for the Unification Church. Recall that this is the cult of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, from whose name its more common designation, the “Moonies,” is derived. Rev. Moon is famous for his bizarre, right wing, megalomaniacal eruptions, including these:

Therefore, as individuals and families you have to absolutely follow True Parents (Mr. and Mrs. Moon). Your opinion cannot stand against TrueParents.

You must understand what I have in mind and take my commands as strict orders.

Let’s say there are 500 sons and daughters like you in each state. Then we could control the government….

The time will come, without my seeking it, that my words will almost sense as law. If I ask a certain thing, it will be done. If I don’t want something, it will not be done.

The true sovereign is not the American president nor the English king, but the Lord of the Second Advent (that is, Rev. Moon)…Americans must listen to me and follow me.

How did naturopathy ever become affiliated with the American Left? I can only imagine that this sprang from the Sixties and the essential lapse of critical thinking, especially among young people, that accompanied the social upheavals of the time, laudable and not so laudable. I was a college student in the early 1970s, and can easily recall the intellectual laissez-faire that was encouraged, even required of otherwise intelligent people—including students who, only a few years previously, would have been expected to learn the tools of critical thinking as part of their college educations. Thus “other ways of knowing” and “differing paradigms” (a mangling of the writings of Thomas Kuhn) had suddenly become de rigueur.

The problem is that there really is knowledge. Streptococcal pharyngitis is dangerous, and so far we really have only one sure way to reduce the danger. Heavy metal toxicity is rare, as are food allergies and chronic yeast infections. Sugar in the diet doesn’t have anything to do with ear infections. Childhood immunizations really do, dramatically and safely, prevent terrible diseases. An acute asthma attack needs to be treated with a bronchodilator. Goldenseal doesn’t act, in any significant clinical way, as an antibiotic. And so on. There aren’t, when it comes to safety and efficacy in medicine, “other ways of knowing.” So far, the only way humanity has found to understand the objective world is through scientific research, and the knowledge gained through science is cumulative, even if at some level it remains tentative.

……………….

Although I didn’t attempt to embarrass the liberal, ND-advocating politicians on the Commission with this material, I doubt that I could have done that. Even at the time I wasn’t so naive as to predict otherwise; I was more interested in exposing their hypocrisy.

Since writing that piece I’ve found additional, tortured ‘integrations’ of classical, fascistic hectoring with kinder, gentler approaches to naturopathic ministrations. An example is a piece written by a student at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona; while mostly touchy-feely, it also includes this (emphasis added):

Act in Cooperation with the Healing Powers of Nature; Address the Fundamental Cause of Disease

The counseling relationship begins with a reverence for life, the purpose of life and what it means to be human. The architect of the human has created a complex design consisting of emotional, psychological and spiritual components that manifest the fear of the unknown…

When disease is viewed as the enemy, randomly striking, then the doctor performs heroic acts on the sick individual who has taken on the role of the powerless victim. In contrast, when disease is viewed as a lesson, never random, ideally the doctor takes on the role of teacher and mentor, and the patient becomes an active participant in the healing process.

“Sectarian” is the term favored by Dr. Sampson. He is, obviously, correct. Those who favor separation of church and state might wonder why the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine administers a Loan Repayment Program for students and grads of “accredited” naturopathic schools.

………………….

¶ In Nazi Germany there were striking parallels to current “CAM” politics in the United States. Ref. 4 below, which is available online, demonstrates several:

More Goethe, Less Newton

Kötschau’s demands were sweeping: the thrust of the Nazi revolution must be to replace the mechanistic thinking of recent medicine by a new and more organic (biologische), holistic view of the world. It was not enough…for surgery to make techical advances; indeed, the primacy of technical or mechanistic thinking had stifled the search for alternative methods and made difficult the preservation of valuable traditional therapies. Natural methods of healing (Naturheilkunde) had as a result been replaced by exclusively physicochemical models and techniques; time-tested methods such as homeopathy had been supplanted by modern pharmacology and mass-produced chemical products. Kötschau complained that two, separate sciences had developed: one for the laboratory and one for the bedside. Science had become ‘separate from the people.’ Kötschau called for a new philosophy of medicine, a philosophy that would reorient medicine toward ‘more Goethe, and less Newton.’

Sound familiar? Other choice quotations:

Natural medicine was not something…invented by the Nazis. New in the Nazi period was the government’s apparent willingness to revive and regulate certain of these traditions and to place them on a par with other forms of medical practice.

The natural health movement enjoyed support from the highest levels of Nazi leadership [Hitler, Hess, Himmler].

Academic medicine, [Gerald Wagner of the Nazi League of Physicians] charged, used complicated methods to diagnose problems in particular parts of the body, while ignoring the person as a whole.

Under National Socialism…natural methods…would have to be regulated so that ‘anyone who wants treatment by a natural healer can rest assured that the healer has been adequately trained in the art of his trade.’

Sound familiar? More:

A broad reorientation of German medicine…

Organic care stations were being planned for Munich and Dresden…

The formation of a Committee for a New German Science of Healing…

…the establishment of professorships in the New German Science of Healing at German universities.

The intent of the congress…was ‘to bridge the gap that separates academic medicine from the feelings and desires of the people.’

Professor Alfred Schwenkenbecher of Marburg, in his opening speech before the congress, hailed an era of new thinking in medicine, characterized by ‘a retreat from purely scientific attitudes.’ German medicine had come to a crisis, or turning point, from which would come a new kind of medicine, one ’closer to the people’ and dealing with ‘the wholeness of the human personality.’

…physicians must become both ‘allopaths’ and ‘homeopaths’…in the future there must be no difference between school medicine and organic medicine.

…if something is good for the Volk, it doesn’t matter where it comes from—whether that be the university professor, or the herbalist.

…the purpose of preventive care was to strengthen the organism so that it can fight illness on its own…

Kötschau argue that the goal of the New German Science of Healing was not to eliminate curative healing but to render it unnecessary.

Sound familiar? The Weisbaden Congress of 1936, where much of that language had been used,

concluded by issuing a resolution that German medical science had won its worldwide reputation by virtue of its love of truth and its exacting research standards; the congress resolved to test the methods of natural healing using these same strict and unbiased standards.

Sound familiar and even more so? It was a Golden Age of ‘integrative medicine’:

In the years following the 1935 and 1936 Nuremberg and Weisbaden meetings, natural healing enjoyed unprecedented status in Germany. The government established homeopathic hospitals and funded popular lectures and exhibits on organic medicine. Several journals of the movement expanded publication. Natural medicine was for the first time in many years taught in German universities; plans were made to establish a number of professorships in this area. Orthodox medical journals reported on the value of natural healing for internal medicine, pharmacy, and surgery; in 1936 Berlin’s Academy for Postgraduate Medical Education offered courses on homeopathy.

 
 

 

 


1. Markle GE, Petersen JC, Wagenfeld MO. Notes from the cancer underground: participation in the Laetrile movement. Social Science & Medicine, 1978;12:31-37. Available here.

2. Pizzorno JE and Murray MT (eds.) Textbook of Natural Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1999.

3. Bradley RS. Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine. In Textbook of Natural Medicine. pp.41-49.

4. Proctor R. The “Organic Vision” of Nazi Racial Science. In: Racial Hygiene. Medicine under the Nazis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988:223-235. Available here.

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* The Naturopathy Series:

  1. “CAL”: a Medico-Legal Parable
  2. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 1
  3. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 2
  4. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 3
  5. Another State Promotes the Pseudoscientific Cult that is “Naturopathic Medicine.” Part 4
  6. Colorado is Nearer to Promoting Naturopathic Pseudomedicine—Aided by the Colorado Medical Society
  7. Naturopathy and Liberal Politics: Strange Bedfellows
  8. Open Letter to Dr. Josephine Briggs
  9. Smallpox and Pseudomedicine

Posted in: Faith Healing & Spirituality, Health Fraud, Politics and Regulation

Leave a Comment (29) ↓

29 thoughts on “Naturopathy and Liberal Politics: Strange Bedfellows

  1. skeptyk says:

    Thanks for this, Kim. As old lefties, my spouse and I have been appalled at the trends of anti-intellectualism and pseudoscience that have become prominent. Whatever happened to working class intellectuals? We left/prog/lib types pat ourselves on the back that we can see through delusion and deception, but there is a blind spot when it comes to medicine.

    Some of us have stopped going to organizing meetings because they so often devolve into arguments. Not debates about the issue at hand (counter-recruitment, agriculture policy that supports local farms, socialized medicine, whatever) but about the wonders of CAM and the evils of vaccinations. On average, those of us willing to speak for reason (and with reason) are in the v small minority, although sometimes others will agree with us in a private aside.

    This attitude runs strong across the Left. It is maddening.

  2. John Snyder says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m glad you dusted it off. Your references to the Nazi parallels are chilling. What immediately springs to mind is the prospect of the current cultural, anti-rational CAM trend feeding into a more national/governmental ideology. Particularly given the political moment in which we find ourselves. Although President Obama seems to place a priority on evidence-based science and healthcare, it remains to be seen what exactly that means to this administration. The co-opting of the term “preventative” by the CAM community may create just enough fog around the issue to be persuasive if Obama isn’t sufficiently surrounded by the right evidence-based advisors. According to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges,

    “While the Obama administration has not expressed support for naturopathic medicine specifically, or any form of integrated medicine for that matter, administration representatives have noted the intention to shift from an illness-based model of medicine to one that is prevention-based – a model of care in which naturopathic doctors are suited to function very effectively. States Obama in his health care plan:

    ‘This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.’

    We’re not out of the darkness yet…

  3. Citizen Deux says:

    I think each of these beliefs stems from a mistrust of the status quo, and thus finds adherents on the left and right side of the spectrum. You will find as many “anti-governmentalists” on the left as you will the right. What has really failed is the promotion of science and critical thinking skills. Slick marketing (concealing less than savory agendas) and appeals to emotion seem to trump rational discussions, as mentioned above.

    As professional members of scientific communities, we must engage the average population and lift the veil in order to restore confidence in our approaches to problems. We must further reinforce the notion that sometimes there is no ready solution to a problem.

  4. David Gorski says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m glad you dusted it off. Your references to the Nazi parallels are chilling. What immediately springs to mind is the prospect of the current cultural, anti-rational CAM trend feeding into a more national/governmental ideology.

    Actually, I’ve long been meaning to write a post, either here or elsewhere, about alternative medicine in the Nazi regime.

    What’s also very interesting about the topic is that the Nazis were also very big on preventative medicine. A lot of what they proposed was actually science-based (diet, exercise, and “natural living”), and some of it was far ahead of its time. For example, the Nazis were the first to provide strong epidemiological evidence of a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. They did it more than 20 years before the Surgeon General’s report. They acted on this data, too, with tobacco control programs and the whole nine yards. Indeed, the Nazi regime developed the very best cancer control programs if its day. Ironically, enough, the Nazi tobacco control efforts foundered on the very same things that endanger such efforts today: The tax money to be collected. As the war turned against it, Germany desperately needed more and more tax money for its war coffers, and tobacco taxes were an easy source of income. As the war wore on, Nazi anti-smoking efforts foundered against the shoals of the need to find money to keep funding the war effort anywhere they could and the love of soldiers of a good cigarette. Indeed, if I recall correctly, by the end of the war the cigarette tax labels on cigarette cartons and packs all bore pictures of Hitler.

    But cigarettes weren’t all. The Nazis acted against environmental and workplace hazards (for example, enacting restrictions on the use of asbestos), had strict food standards (bans on carcinogenic pesticides and food dyes), and emphasized the early detection of disease (“men were advised to get their colons checked as often as they would check the engines of their cars…”).

    All of this is documented in another book by Robert N. Proctor (Kimball cited his Racial Hygeine) called The Nazi War on Cancer. It, too, is a fascinating read, and its first chapter is available online:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0691070512/ref=sib_fs_top?ie=UTF8&p=S00O&checkSum=H%2FQibSQUWKyOihktg5yLuko2UVvRqgX3aMTMIx8j7B0%3D#reader-link

    It also brings up rather disturbing questions about how a totalitarian, fascist regime’s fetish with the volk and “healthy living” as tool to maintain the overall health of the volk could actually lead to some good, even in the most evil of regimes.

  5. MichaelHartwell says:

    I think a lot of your surprise on the leftist embrace of naturopathy comes from the belief that fascism and the nazi party were examples of right-wing philosophies.

    A year ago I read a book on fascism by Jonah Goldberg were he argues that fascism was a sister movement to American Progressivism and Socialism.

    Watch a half hour into Triumph of the Will and you will see German workers arranged like Army troops, pledging to work for the state. Fascism is a collectivist Marxist ideology that embraces central planning. The left-wing parallels of fascism are not superficial.

    I enjoyed your post overall and I agree with most of what you said, but I don’t see the 1960′s as the start of this problem. I think there’s a lot more leftist anti-intellectualism that will come to the surface now that the Republicans are out of power.

  6. Blair T says:

    Kim, I think your NEJM editor friend was right to tell you to pull the piece. Generally speaking, I think any argument that makes a connection with Nazis is a cheap shot. Whether you like it or not, liberal lefties appear to be the most muddle-headed about CAM quackery. I believe this is partially due to a greater willingness on the left to reject authority combined with the post-modernism ideas that tell people that ‘truth is relative.’

    If CAM flourished under the Nazis it seems that it is more likely because the Nazis as a political movement were upending the traditional authority in general .

  7. Dr Benway says:

    Ah, I now recognize that fishy smell clinging to the word “holism.”

    Holism = totalitarianism. Doctor as healer not only of the body but also of the spirit. Doctor as moral guide.

    Blech. Thanks, but no thanks. Too much of a crusty “Don’t Tread on Me” Yankee for that.

    My small essay of the day echos this theme of politics vs. science: Why NCCAM Reminds Us of Tampons.

  8. Mully410 says:

    Good post, but I am pretty tired of Nazis. It seems that the Nazis are frequently brought out to support many weak arguments (ie…Ben Stein) I’m not saying your arguments are weak, in this case, but Nazis?

    Don’t get me wrong, I despise Nazis as much as the next guy. Heck, they are about the only group you can still rip without being called politically incorrect.

    If I knew Latin, I think I’d create a new logical fallacy like: Ad Nazium Argumentum or something like that. lol.

  9. David Gorski says:

    Whether you like it or not, liberal lefties appear to be the most muddle-headed about CAM quackery.

    It’s a bit of a strawman argument to imply that Kim was arguing that liberal lefties aren’t the most muddle-headed about quackery. To me it was quite obvious that he was expressing a sense of amazement at the irony of liberal lefties right now cozying up to a treatment methodology that in the past was often associated with the far right wing.

    If CAM flourished under the Nazis it seems that it is more likely because the Nazis as a political movement were upending the traditional authority in general.

    Nope. Naturopathy fluorished under Nazi-ism because its preexisting philosophy aligned with much of the Nazi biomedical movement that likened the Nazi movement to “applied biology” or the “physician” to the volk. Nazis were attracted to naturopathy because they viewed it as more volkish and “German,” in contrast to that “Jewish,” “non-holistic” scientific medicine. Note that Benedict Lust’s Universal Directory of Naturopathy was published in 1918, a good 15 years before the Nazis came to power.

    Of course, the Nazis were good at “integrating” naturopathy with scientific medicine as well.

  10. daijiyobu says:

    To quote [the often quoted] Voltaire:

    “those who can make you believe absurdities [like naturopathy's claim that within the scientific is the science-ejected & -unsupported] can make you commit atrocities [epistemic & fascistic otherwise!].”

    I’ve always found naturopathy, from within as I was within, to basically require that the brain be turned off and one become a zealous automaton [atrocious!!!].

    This is the opposite of higher education: it is seminarian.

    Dr. A., you post reminds me of Sokal’s hoax: Sokal somewhere writes, reflecting on it all, that as an ‘old Leftie’ he felt absolutely offended by current Left advocacies for POMO ideological epistemic relativisms.

    I personally like Randall Bradley, ND’s chapter on naturopathic philosophy because of how dumb-assed it is [3rd ed. of TNM]: like he argues [falsely] that vitalism is true because ‘life defies thermodynamics’ [entropy]…just as the evangelical creationists fallaciously do.

    He does state on his web page

    (see http://www.heartlandnaturopathic.com/history.htm ):

    “a new wave of students was [were?] attracted to the philosophical precepts of the naturopathic profession [read: articles of faith / sectarian framings], bringing an appreciation for the appropriate use of science [read: 'science so long as it supports our sectarian preconceptions'] and modern college education [read: 'the place to expand our market without so much as a whimper, as North Americans are so science-illiterate anyway they'll swallow our nonscience as science whole'].”

    Hmmmm.

    Modern college education, for naturopathy: science as the sword of an ‘unethical sectarian pseudoscience’.

    As [somehow] a Phi Beta Kappan…I am disgusted by what ND’s think they can do academically: redefine categories in the most absurd manner, and step all over human rights, with that so distinct attitude of sectarian righteousness.

    So yes, I do see the taint of ‘do as we say, no questions asked sectarian fascism’and even ‘ramrod straight right-ness’ all over them while:

    science is ‘in flux / evolutionary’; & rightness is ‘stiff / dogma-preserving / orthodoxy’.

    Anecdote: while at the University of Bridgeport and severely disgusted by my homeopathy class particularly, at about the year 2000 during that course’s midterm, I received the exam and stapled a note to it I’d written that morning, and walked out.

    That note stated that I found the instructor and ‘it all’ [naturopathy] “doctrinaire”.

    And that was my last moment in ND school, after 4 years of getting mindfraked.

    I was told later that the instructor, Howard Fine, ND [homeopath: see http://www.bewellliving.net/bewell_016.htm ] then when off on a tirade in front of the class after reading my note.

    My motto in this ‘long war’: sinn fein [though I do not possess an Armalite].

    -r.c.

  11. Sastra says:

    In addition to “anti-government” sentiments, I suspect one of the other major threads that ties the left and right together in alternative medicine is religion: a rejection of “scientistic materialism” in favor of the recognition that we are “spiritual beings.” My very politically liberal friends are huge fans of alternative medicine, and, when questioned, they all fall back on vitalism, spirituality, personal experience, and the need for faith. A Mormon friend who is also into homeopathy and energy healing cites the same things, giving it instead a Christian spin.

  12. Dr Benway says:

    Godwin’s law concerns inappropriate analogies to Nazis. It doesn’t apply to historical discussions involving, well, the Nazis.

  13. David Gorski says:

    Precisely. Kim’s discussion is not Godwin-worthy; it is a simple discussion of history.

    Not every invocation of Nazis in a discussion invokes Godwin’s Law. In fact, Godwin’s Law was in reaction to the observation that Internet discussions (at the time on Usenet, but these days more in the blogosphere) very frequently degenerate into sloppy and ahistorical analogies with and comparisons to Nazis as a tool to liken one’s opponent to Nazis. A certain “friend” of mine by the ‘nym of Orac has a whole series whose sole purpose is to make fun of such overblown Nazi analogies, namely a character known as the Hitler Zombie, which eats the brains of its victims, rendering them stupid and ignorant enough to make such idiotic Hitler/Nazi analogies:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/history/hitler_zombie/

    A couple of examples of truly Godwin-worthy Nazi analogies:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/baseball_and_the_neverending_hunger_1.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/02/far_far_sooner_than_expected_the_monster.php

    By the way, there is a term for this: argumentum ad Nazium.

  14. Dr Benway says:

    Ok I’m now going outside to appreciate this beautiful spring day.

    I would appreciate feedback regarding my tampon essay, specifically my idea that CAM and medicine can’t be separated along the lines of “proven” verses “unproven,” but rather it’s the basis for judgments of prior probability that truly separates the two.

  15. Dr B and David G,

    Thanks for havin’ my back.

    Dr B,

    The tampon essay is great. I left a comment there.

    r.c.,

    Right you are. We sure can’t rely on anyone else.

  16. Jurjen S. says:

    MichaelHartwell wrote:

    A year ago I read a book on fascism by Jonah Goldberg were he argues that fascism was a sister movement to American Progressivism and Socialism.

    And if he hadn’t been motivated by trying to support a predetermined conclusion, he might have realized himself that what he was writing was utter shite. Liberal Fascism was a joke, and a spectacularly unfunny one at that. Goldberg is the worst kind of political ignoramus, namely one who doesn’t realize exactly how little he actually understands.

    Fascism is a collectivist Marxist ideology that embraces central planning. The left-wing parallels of fascism are not superficial.

    Fascism and its cousin Nazism are highly authoritarian, and statist where other socio-political structures (e.g. the Spanish Catholic church in Francist Spain) cannot be harnessed to carry out the Party’s will, but that does not make them left-wing, and certainly not in the way that we associate with present-day American left(ish)-liberals.

    The Fascists in Italy, the Nazis in Germany, the Nationalists in Spain, all were perfectly content to co-operate with private industry (and, it should be noted, the reverse was also the case; Krupp, BMW, IG Farben, Fiat, Standard Oil, the list is extensive) in a way and to an extent that would be anathema to Marxist doctrine. If the left-wing traits of Italian fascism, German Nazism and Francist Nationalism were “not superficial,” then why did the Spanish civil war even take place?

    I will grant you that fascism (in its various historical variations) is not right-wing in the sense of what we typically think of as right-wing in the United States. But that does not make it left-wing by default. The way my history teacher (and I should point out that I grew up in western Europe) characterized it is that fascism is the extreme authoritarian ideology of the economically slightly right-of-center. It has collectivist tendencies, certainly, but also welcomes private industry and tends overall to be socially conservative.

    It’s also worth noting in the context of Dr. Atwood’s post that the Nazi love of alternative/integrative health can arguably be attributed to a greater extent to the fact that they were German than to the fact that they totalitarian (let alone supposedly left-wing). The popularity of naturopathy and homeopathy in Germany predates the Nazis, and it’s outlasted them as well.

    Pursuant to Dr. Gorski’s observations about the main thrust of Dr. Atwood’s piece, and the latter’s invocation of Nazis, is that Dr. Atwood’s point is not that you have to be a Nazi to support CAM, but rather, that you don’t have to be a leftist. Supporters of CAM can be found all along the political spectrum.

  17. Jurjen S. says:

    MichaelHartwell wrote:

    A year ago I read a book on fascism by Jonah Goldberg were he argues that fascism was a sister movement to American Progressivism and Socialism.

    And if he hadn’t been motivated by trying to support a predetermined conclusion, he might have realized himself that what he was writing was utter rubbish. Liberal Fascism was a joke, and a spectacularly unfunny one at that. Goldberg is the worst kind of political ignoramus, namely one who doesn’t realize exactly how little he actually understands.

    Fascism is a collectivist Marxist ideology that embraces central planning. The left-wing parallels of fascism are not superficial.

    Fascism and its cousin Nazism are highly authoritarian, and statist where other socio-political structures (e.g. the Spanish Catholic church in Francist Spain) cannot be harnessed to carry out the Party’s will, but that does not make them left-wing, and certainly not in the way that we associate with present-day American left(ish)-liberals.

    The Fascists in Italy, the Nazis in Germany, the Nationalists in Spain, all were perfectly content to co-operate with private industry (and, it should be noted, the reverse was also the case; Krupp, BMW, IG Farben, Fiat, Standard Oil, the list is extensive) in a way and to an extent that would be anathema to Marxist doctrine. If the left-wing traits of Italian fascism, German Nazism and Francist Nationalism were “not superficial,” then why did the Spanish civil war even take place?

    I will grant you that fascism (in its various historical variations) is not right-wing in the sense of what we typically think of as right-wing in the United States. But that does not make it left-wing by default. The way my history teacher (and I should point out that I grew up in western Europe) characterized it is that fascism is the extreme authoritarian ideology of the economically slightly right-of-center. It has collectivist tendencies, certainly, but also welcomes private industry and tends overall to be socially conservative.

    It’s also worth noting in the context of Dr. Atwood’s post that the Nazi love of alternative/integrative health can arguably be attributed to a greater extent to the fact that they were German than to the fact that they totalitarian (let alone supposedly left-wing). The popularity of naturopathy and homeopathy in Germany predates the Nazis, and it’s outlasted them as well.

    Pursuant to Dr. Gorski’s observations about the main thrust of Dr. Atwood’s piece, and the latter’s invocation of Nazis, is that Dr. Atwood’s point is not that you have to be a Nazi to support CAM, but rather, that you don’t have to be a leftist. Supporters of CAM can be found all along the political spectrum.

  18. skeptyk says:

    Thanks, Jurjen S., for your comment. I had been composing a comment about using Jonah Goldberg as a source, but I kept being a bit ranty.

  19. David Gorski says:

    Actually, I was going to write a rebuttal of Hartwell’s citing of Goldberg as well, but Jurjen also saved me the trouble.

  20. cuntaface says:

    This is not directly related to the post above but I thought that the authors of this blog might like to be informed as to the true origins of all bullshit SCAM modalities. It came to me in a waking dream brought on by hours of ECG studying (I’m a 2nd year med student). All the SCAM prophepts Hahnemann, Palmer etc were spawned via a giant incestual clusterfuck of spastic zombie cousins. Trust me on this one I’ve done the research, well as much as they did anyhow.

    P.S. Sorry for casting aspersions on zombies I know many undead consumers of human cerebral products argued long and hard against letting said clusterfuck go ahead

  21. Michael says:

    I am quite happy to have someone else compare what is essentially a reliance upon faith for CAM and for creationism. Yet in the former, liberals want it, and in the latter, liberals don’t. I’m a liberal, and I’m much more consistent–both rely upon a belief rather than scientific support.

  22. Dr Benway says:

    Last night I read one of Dr. A’s old posts describing a baby who had balloons stuffed up its nose by a naturopath. The balloons were inflated for some quacky reason and a few thousand bucks. The baby died.

    If we form a PAC I vote we name it: CODE RAGE!

    CAM is evidence that our profession suffers from a rage deficiency syndrome.

  23. daijiyobu says:

    If you want ND balloons in your nasal cavity, to adjust them pesky fused cranial bones, here’s a lead, per

    at 1st AANP president Sensenig’s practice page, and the first dean of the UB ND school mentioned in the above post, where we’re told

    “our focus is on the use of science based natural medicine [...and we treat via] Bio Cranial Therapy”

    (here, http://naturalhealthct.com/what_we_do.htm ; background is here, http://www.biocranial.com/Patient_index.htm ).

    Here are some of his scientific / science-based [not!] concepts, handed to me personally in 1998

    (see http://www.scribd.com/doc/8506762/UB-Naturopathys-ScienceEjected-Vitalism-Autoentheism-Such-Woo ).

    Highly NOT RECOMMENDED, stem to stern.

    -r.c.

  24. Jurjen S. says:

    Cuntaface, the polite term is “metabolically challenged,” or possibly “vitally impaired,” rather than “undead.”

  25. DLC says:

    It’s almost as if embracing “Naturopathy” is some sort of fashion statement, like some politicians and red ties.

  26. MichaelHartwell says:

    Jurjen S, I think you and I agree a lot more than you realize. Nazism can not be placed into the camp of either of America’s modern-day major political extremes. Although private corporations were allowed inside Germany at the time, their actions were heavily controlled by the state (and thus protected by the free market – which is consistent with both the left and the right today).

    I didn’t read it as Dr. Atwood telling us that any political stance can embrace CAM. I saw it as showing how Naturopathy was a right-wing concept that migrated to the left in the 1960s, and the author finds it strange that the left would embrace it today.

    With bedfellows like the John Birch Society, it’s impossible to deny that right wingers have been snookered by this branch of pseudoscience. My point was simply that there is a flaw in the following chain of logic.

    A Nazi’s used CAM
    B Nazi’s are like America’s right wing
    C Therefore, one would expect CAM to be a hallmark of the right

    B is the flaw. We can disagree where the Nazi party would fall on the modern American spectrum, but its irrational to say it would land on the far right.

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