What is quackery? Who is a quack?
I saw this on a documentary the other day.
During the great plague and other diseases physicians would practice their art wearing a mask shaped like a ducks bill, filled with all manner of herbs and spices to keep the diseases at bay.
This is how the term quack was originally conceived - and has been used ever since to describe medical practitioners of all kinds.
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Those who would persuade you not to try safe, workable alternatives would call such treatments "quackery," and those who would help you toward wellness as "quacks."
John W. Campbell, Jr.4 was a remarkable modern writer and thought-provoker, who was commemorated by naming a crater on the far side of the moon the "Campbell" crater.
A "Quack" According to John W. Campbell, Jr:
"Now let's consider for a moment what's meant by a 'quack' in the medical field.
"The usual charge is that a quack is someone who uses an improper treatment, one which does not help, or actually injures the patient, while inducing the patient to pay for his mistreatment, and keeping the patient from going to a licensed doctor and getting the treatment he needs. That a quack is in the business solely to make money at the expense of suffering humanity.
"Now any time A disapproves of B emotionally, he'll attribute B's actions to some generally demeaned motivation -- 'just for money' being the most common, with 'just for his own pleasure' being a runner-up.
"Let's be objective about this business of what a quack does. Suppose a man, calling himself Dr. Jones, treats a patient who has a lethal disease, and uses a method he knows for a positive fact will not save the man's life. He charges fees, and sees to it that the patient doesn't go to any other therapist -- just gives him some drugs that do not save him, but let him die slowly.
"That set of actions fulfills exactly what the [medical establishment] accuses those awful, nasty, wicked quacks of doing.
"It is also precisely what an [establishment medical] doctor does when he treats [an cancer] patient; he knows that the standard treatments for [cancer] do not work, do not save lives. [Cancer], treated by the [medical establishment] methods, means [continuous pain, disfigurement and possibly] death.
"The [medical establishment], moreover, does everything in its power to make it impossible for the victim to get treatment from any other therapist who might be able to do better, and most certainly couldn't be less effective.
"The patient [may], moreover, wind up broke, and his family in debt -- a charge constantly leveled against those wicked quacks! -- by the time he dies.
"But this is not quackery, of course.
"Why not? Because the doctors know they are doing their best, with the best of intentions -- despite the [medical establishment's] convictions that he must be evil -- and actually does better than the [medical establishment's] best?
"Oh . . . I see. That never happens, huh . . . ?
". . . how about that unlicensed non-M.D. -- that charlatan, that fraud, who'd gotten crackpot ideas from studying silk-worms and wineries, no less! -- who started treating human beings for rabies? That chemist, with only half a brain, Louis Pasteur?
"Or how about that licensed M.D. charlatan, expelled from the hospital and the medical society -- Semmelweis? [Semmelweis solved childbed fever and demonstrated the importance of cleansing hands before touching patients.]
"Or take a few other notorious quacks like Lister -- who was most violently attacked for his temerity in opening the abdomens of living patients. (Ethical doctors of the time never opened the abdomen until after the patient died.)
"And Ehrlich, another chemist, who invented the concept of chemotherapy.
"Every time someone outside -- or even inside! -- the field of medicine brings up a break-through discovery, he'll be labeled a quack. The field is too emotional.
"He'll be charged with being a fraud, charlatan out after money, a blood-sucking leech. . . .
"Actually, it's pretty clear, the definition of 'quack' is someone I believe to be dangerous, evil, destructive and unprincipled!
"Trouble is -- the term 'quack' was -- in their own place and time -- violently hurled at many men we consider today among the greatest medical heroes. [Semmelweis], Jenner, Koch, Harvey, Ross, Lister, Pasteur, Ehrlich, Sister Kenny, even Roentgen, who didn't even try to practice medicine!
"One very certain thing about the field of medicine: it is not, and never will be a field of objective science. It's too deeply dominated by emotional factors."
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