Wallace Sampson tells us the real history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Much of TCM, it turns out, isn’t as “traditional” as it is sold as being.


  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    August 20, 2006

    “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?”

  2. #2 Todd Adamson
    August 20, 2006

    TCM, as borrowed by New Age goof ball types who are very good at raping and plundering cultures of which they only have a superficial understanding, is not any one thing and only in the West does it have an official title. Like most alt medicine of the ancient wisdom type, it’s nothing more than a bunch of wealthy rich people pretending they live in a third world culture without the banality of disease, hunger, and abject poverty.

    On the other hand, trying to resolve the complex question of why China developed into an advanced cultural power without a strong scientific system of thought with the simplistic answer than it is nothing more than Confucian authoritarianism isn’t much better. Let’s leave the superficiality to the new age cultural plunderers.

  3. #3 NephSpouse
    August 21, 2006

    I’m going to have to wait for my wife to get home to log me into medscape to read it…

    But I am continually amazed that people believe so hard in something just because it was around for a long time. The answer to why they had that is that there wasn’t anything better. Now there is and they are embracing western medicine very quickly last I heard. At least as quickly as they can afford it.

    If it’s billed as ancient and natural you sure can sell a lot of whatever it is…

  4. #4 PaulC
    August 21, 2006

    Todd Adamson:

    On the other hand, trying to resolve the complex question of why China developed into an advanced cultural power without a strong scientific system of thought

    Actually, Chinese mathematics far surpassed western mathematics through most of history. I’m not sure about science in general, but there was precious little empirical science as we know it today anywhere in the world until a few centuries ago. The claim itself strikes me as highly questionable. The Chinese were as innovative as any other civilization, but nobody was practicing the scientific method, at least in any consistent way.

    I also think that Enlightenment thinking in the West really was something entirely new, and explains some recent differences in scientific progress. But before that point there were several great civilizations in the world, among them China. I don’t see why it requires any special explanation. Note that the cat’s out of the bag on how to do science, so there is no reason for the West to expect to hold on to its advantage.

    BTW, the article sounds very interesting, but it looks like it requires registration.

  5. #5 Crosius
    August 21, 2006

    It’s amazing.

    No one seriously believes that “Stump Water” will wash away warts, that the best cure for uncontrolled bleeding is boiling oil, or that illness is caused by an imbalance of the humours any more.

    Wrap a foreign culture around it, though, and people will buy that sticking needles into your “meridians” in just the right configuration can cure cancer.

  6. #6 Steve
    August 22, 2006

    Unfortunately, the article gives but a quick overview of this Chinese “science”, but it is time that this quackery be released from the bond of “it must work…it’s part of an ancient culture” thang.

    A lot of money is eventually made by pulse-takers who practice on their fascinated friends.


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