Australian Politics & Current Affairs
By Nick Kenny
Last month marked two standout episodes in Australia. Firstly, we had the mandatory introduction of plain packaging tobacco, “plain” apparently being government code for “skeletal dead bloke called Bryan”. Meanwhile, we had yet another episode of some halfwit insisting on their right to deny their child proper healthcare, and administer some “Homeopathic” snake oil regimen as a vaccination against life-threatening illnesses instead. Interesting contrast.
The first incident shows a government obsessed with enforcing the health and longevity of its population at all costs, and to hell with any social liberties. The second cuts straight through this obsession, and exposes a massive failure in public health systems, here and throughout the developed world.
Let’s get one thing straight: Homeopathy, iridology, naturopathy, kinesiology, organic diets, or anything else that comes under the title of “alternative” medicine are all, by definition, either rubbish or at high risk of being exposed as rubbish. These are methods that have not been proven by empirical testing, cannot be proven by empirical testing, or their practitioners refuse to submit them to empirical testing.
They exist for a few reasons. Firstly, our intense obsession with health makes for expectations that cannot possibly be matched by legitimate modern medicine. Unfortunately, death is certain, despite your best efforts.
Secondly, we have a tendency to find illness where none exists. For every remedy to something serious, like hepatitis or smallpox, we find something new to agonise over, like “toxins”, or “diurnal depression”.
And finally, modern medicine is only a few generations old. We haven’t yet found infallible cures for every illness, leaving our brief yet monumental progress open to all sorts of criticism. These three facts send droves of health-panicked people in search of something, anything, to stave off death, cure the incurable, or deal with an illness that exists only in the imagination.
The counter-cultural advice? Go find yourself the nearest “ancient remedy”, that has never once been subject to a single clinical trial, and open your mind and your wallet to the power of “natural” healing. Well if it’s good health you want, you’d be well-advised to stay as far away from anything “natural” as you can. “Natural” is a life-span of thirty. “Natural” is an infant mortality rate of one in ten. “Natural” is pestilence, plague, and malnutrition. It is chronic tooth decay, it is a fatally infected intestine, and it is a cluster of bubonic welts that appears inside your throat overnight and kills you in your sleep. It is death by a single mosquito bite.
Alternatively, they look to some “mystic” non-Western culture to provide them with some “ancient secret remedy”. Wanna know the secret? You’re being stooged. These are nothing but old wives’ tales from impoverished, uneducated, and superstitious cultures. Here’s a clue: if something is “ancient”, there’s a fine chance it is either useless, or downright harmful. Don’t believe me? Well why not try the “ancient” Western remedy of blood-letting next time you have a strange ailment, and see how far you get? Go on, give it a crack. Don’t worry – our properly educated and trained medical practitioners will be standing by, with all the fruits of modern science and technology, to save your life if anything goes wrong.
This is not some isolated quackery practiced by a few idiots. This is a mass movement, globally raking in billions each year, and it is growing enormously. It would be comical to watch if it wasn’t so serious – these snake oil hustlers often prey on the dying and desperate, hoodwinking them out of thousands of dollars in savings, and brainwashing them away from the legitimate medical assistance they need. Their nonsense filters through the minds of gullible adults, denying their children the right to the same high-quality healthcare as afforded to everyone else. They are pitch exhausting battles against conventional medicine, propagating flagrant myths that undermine the slow, yet steady, advances the medical community has made against devastating epidemics, cancer, and heart disease. And to top it all off, they now have access to federal funding to not only “research” their hocus-pocus, but to also teach it to naive university students, drilling their quackery into the minds of an entire generation.
We did not suffer the sacrifices of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment to have a pack of swindlers, “ancient healers”, or plainly ignorant hippies dictate to our government, our health system, and our universities what does and does not constitute science and progress.
If this government is as serious about public health as it makes out, it will end funding to any pseudo-scientific “alternative” rubbish, it will force the supplement and “new-age” industries to back up any claims with empirical evidence based on peer-reviewed, double-blind testing, it will legislate against any public or private health rebates for non-conventional treatments, and it will give every Australian child access to all the incredible benefits of Western civilisation’s single proudest accomplishment – modern medicine.