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5 Examples Of Americans Thinking Foreign People Are Magic
Posted: 12 October 2010 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Cracked, again.  Yes, but it pretty much makes fun of how Americans will buy into any load of mystical gobbledygook horse shit if they think that it comes from tribesmen or foreigners.  Because they’re wise and full of mystical lost knowledge about fruit and sacred mud and whatnot.  Riiiiiiight.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Dead Monky - 12 October 2010 10:12 AM

Link

Cracked, again.  Yes, but it pretty much makes fun of how Americans will buy into any load of mystical gobbledygook horse shit if they think that it comes from tribesmen or foreigners.  Because they’re wise and full of mystical lost knowledge about fruit and sacred mud and whatnot.  Riiiiiiight.

I agree in principle, but there is great knowledge to be gained from foreign history and practices.
example: 75% percent of our currently manufactured medicinal pharmaceuticals were in use for centuries by native tribes in the jungles around the world. Modes of dress and utility can be found around the globe. Tools and utensils, such as the chinese wok, the teepee, are examples of perfection from experience.
There is much to be learned from abroad, but of course there is no need for worship or mysticism.

However, to instantly dismiss some of those magical wisdoms is also short sighted. What is the power of Chi? maybe a connection with the magnetic field of the earth? What about “forbidden places”, where it was later determined that those places were dangerous due to radiation or radon. While there is nothing magical about those dangers, in context of lack of knowledge of science these identifications of beneficial (magical) or dangerous (unholy) places were basically sound. Scientific research into those areas have proven to be productive.

[ Edited: 12 October 2010 12:01 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 October 2010 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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75% percent of our currently manufactured medicinal pharmaceuticals were in use for centuries by native tribes in the jungles around the world

Do you have a source for this umber? I have to admit I’m pretty skeptical. There’s no question most medicines come from analyzing plant chemicals, bt there is a big question as to whether selecting the chemicals to study on the basis of general principles or random chance versus selecting them on the basis of traditional use makes any difference. Most traditional medical therapies, remember have turned out not to work when properly tested, so the track record fro native wisdom, whetehr from European folk traditions or those of other continents, is awful.

As far as “intantly dismmiss[ing]” magical wisdom, I think that is completely appropriate and an entirely different conversation than looking at whether plants in use as folk medicines have real value. Chinese herbal concotions may or may not have medical benefits, but there is no such thing as Chi. That is pure pseudoscience.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 October 2010 12:29 PM

75% percent of our currently manufactured medicinal pharmaceuticals were in use for centuries by native tribes in the jungles around the world

Do you have a source for this umber? I have to admit I’m pretty skeptical. There’s no question most medicines come from analyzing plant chemicals, bt there is a big question as to whether selecting the chemicals to study on the basis of general principles or random chance versus selecting them on the basis of traditional use makes any difference. Most traditional medical therapies, remember have turned out not to work when properly tested, so the track record fro native wisdom, whetehr from European folk traditions or those of other continents, is awful.

As far as “intantly dismmiss[ing]” magical wisdom, I think that is completely appropriate and an entirely different conversation than looking at whether plants in use as folk medicines have real value. Chinese herbal concotions may or may not have medical benefits, but there is no such thing as Chi. That is pure pseudoscience.

We have had this discussion before and you stipulated that many modern medicines are plant derived. Plants which were used (with more or less effectiveness) for centuries prior to modern medicine. The benefits of modern medicine is the ability to refine and/or synthesize most of these “natural” substances to achieve faster, targeted and controlled results. I am not advocating the use of natural products, but merely tried to show the connection and influence native medicine has had on modern medicine.

http://www.manataka.org/page1859.html

As to terms such as Chi, how can we dismiss out of hand that the word Chi is a term that was used to idicate some “natural force”.
I am a firm believer in science as it is based on study, analysis, and conclusions of factual events or conditions. And in that respect one might say that Chi is pseudoscience, after all these words were invented long before science became the standard. But a “rose is a rose” by any other name. I believe it is premature to dismiss all pre-science (pseudoscience) philosophies as unworthy of consideration.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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We have had this discussion before and you stipulated that many modern medicines are plant derived.

Right. But this is NOT the ame as saying most medicines come from plants that were used in natural form as medicines by prescientific people. The medicines we use that are derived from plants have been discovered in a variety of ways, but my understanding is that most of these were not investigated by scientists primarily because of previous anecdotal reports of benefit in traditional use, and that in fact most studies of plants used in folk medicine turn out to show the remedy doesn’t in fact work. Now, it’s true that almost any plant can be found to have been tried as a remedy in some group of people somewhere in the world at some time, so you could claim every plant is a folk medicine by this criteria. But my point is that the fact that medicines come often from plants does NOT mean that folk medicine use of plants is a guide to which plants will ultimately provide useful medicines. What I am asking you for is evidence that I am mistaken, especially since you cited a specific number, which suggested you had some particular evidence in mind.

Chi doesn’t mean some “natural force.” It is a very specific kind of magical energy that fits into a particular cultural mythology, just like the Western theory of the soul or vital humours. No scientific test looking for Chi or physical effects/structures associated with it has every provided good evidence it exists. Therefore, the rational, scientific assessment is that it doesn’t. And since the smae is true for every other magical energy yet claimed (chiropractic’s “innate intelligence,” the vitalist forces behind homeopathy, gthe spiritual and demonic forces behind Medevial European explanations of illness, and so on), the rational assessment is to say such magical forces don’t in fact exist. This is provisional, as any scientific assertion is, but it’s provisional like the theory of gravity is: Maybe someday it will be overturned, but it would be silly to ignore the huge amount of evidence for it and the absence of evidence against it right now. So yes, belief in magical forces can reasonably be dismissed pending the production of any reliable evidence for them. Otherwise, there is no point in claiming we can make judgements about anything, and we might as well all just believe whatever e feel like and accept all claims, with or without evidence, as equally true.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbalism

May I ask if you believe that our current state of medicine would be the same without input from “ancient remedies”?

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Posted: 12 October 2010 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hey, Write.  Read down a little and look at the section ‘Modern Era.’

“The second millennium, however, also saw the beginning of a slow erosion of the pre-eminent position held by plants as sources of therapeutic effects…..The rapid development of chemistry and the other physical sciences, led increasingly to the dominance of chemotherapy - chemical medicine - as the orthodox system of the twentieth century.”

And not much of what’s in the wiki discounts what mckenzie was saying.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Write4U,

First of all, I can’t help but notice that you’re not making any effort to answer my question. If you are confident that “75% percent of our currently manufactured medicinal pharmaceuticals were in use for centuries by native tribes in the jungles around the world,” it should be possible to find some empirical support for this claim.


I don’t know what it means to say “our current state of medicine” woould be different without “input” form “ancient” remedies. Of course, the present would always be different if the past wasn’t what it was, but that’s not really meaningful. Have we learned anything at all of use from traditional folk medicine? Sure! Have we had to jettison most of traditional folk medicine in favor of things that are safer and more effective since we learned to prefer scientific evidence over traditional and anecdote? Absolutely! Is the presence of an idea in some culture somewhere for a long time real evidence of its trut? Nope!

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Posted: 12 October 2010 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 October 2010 03:10 PM

Write4U,

First of all, I can’t help but notice that you’re not making any effort to answer my question. If you are confident that “75% percent of our currently manufactured medicinal pharmaceuticals were in use for centuries by native tribes in the jungles around the world,” it should be possible to find some empirical support for this claim.


I don’t know what it means to say “our current state of medicine” woould be different without “input” form “ancient” remedies. Of course, the present would always be different if the past wasn’t what it was, but that’s not really meaningful. Have we learned anything at all of use from traditional folk medicine? Sure! Have we had to jettison most of traditional folk medicine in favor of things that are safer and more effective since we learned to prefer scientific evidence over traditional and anecdote? Absolutely! Is the presence of an idea in some culture somewhere for a long time real evidence of its trut? Nope!

The link I provided seems persuasive to me.
Aspirin is just one “minor” example of a drug used for thousands of years, without the benefit of scientific knoweledge or in the shape of a little white pill. It clearly states that “secondary metabolites” were known (not by their scientific name of course) and used for thousands of years (even by primates) to maintain good health.
Again, I am not advocating herbal medicine as a substitute for modern medicine, but to me, there is a clear and established line of advances in medicine tracing back to the ancients.
We stand on the shoulders of those who came before.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dead Monky - 12 October 2010 02:59 PM

Hey, Write.  Read down a little and look at the section ‘Modern Era.’

“The second millennium, however, also saw the beginning of a slow erosion of the pre-eminent position held by plants as sources of therapeutic effects…..The rapid development of chemistry and the other physical sciences, led increasingly to the dominance of chemotherapy - chemical medicine - as the orthodox system of the twentieth century.”

And not much of what’s in the wiki discounts what mckenzie was saying.

I was not arguing the merits of herbal medicine, just the linear development from herbal concoctions to modern medicine. Without analysis of the active medicinal ingredients in certain plants we would never have known how to synthesize them. Modern medical pharmaceutical knowledge started with the recognition of the beneficial or harmful properties of certain plants, roots, herbs, trees, minerals, etc.
Source: http://www.biologyreference.com/Re-Se/Secondary-Metabolites-in-Plants.html

[ Edited: 12 October 2010 04:22 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 October 2010 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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mckenzievmd
I read 75% a long time ago, and cannot cite the source. Thus today (50 years later) this may no longer hold true. But it was an attempt to bring attention to the fact that herbal medicine in no small way laid the foundation and fostered development of modern pharmaceuticals.

[ Edited: 12 October 2010 04:37 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 October 2010 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Aspirin is, as you say, one example. I’m just not convinced it’s representative. As I understand the drug development process, companies compile banks of chemicals extracted from a variety of sources, including plants, and then select some for preclinical testing based on chemical/structural characteristics that suggest a posisble benefit. Or natural phenomena are observed, such as a fungus that seems to kill off competing fungal species nearby, and the organisms involved tested for active agents that have potential medical implications (say, as an anti-fungal in this example). Of course, most of these ideas go nowhere, but those that do become useful agents.

I’m not convinced a significant percentage of the drugs we have found to be useful are, like aspirin, investigated and proiven useful based on their use as herbal products in folk traditions. And the bulk of the research with this starting point that is done, mostly through NCCAM, also fails to porve a benfit. So while I agree that folk traditions have contributed some useful ideas, I think the general trend of using this as an example of why we should respect these traditions and take theri claims seriously is mistaken. I think the examples given are the exceptions, not the rule, just like the examples of idiosyncratic geniuses reviled in their own time and later proven to be right are not representative of the underlying truth that idiosyncratic geniuses scorned for their wacky ideas usually turn out to be wrong. If our goal is to find what works, we should be open to the possibility that folk traditions may be based on some underlying truth, but we should also recognize that this is usually not the case, that most of these investigations will lead to failures which should move us to reject those traditional uses, and that we might more effectively use our resourcves investigating ideas with a theoretical foundation more reliable than folk traditions.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I have no objection to that analysis. After all Newton was proven wrong also, yet still functional under given conditions.

[ Edited: 12 October 2010 04:49 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 October 2010 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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W4U, I have to agree with Mac here.  Let’s go through a few.  Antibiotics, one of the major classes of medications - while many of them were found from bacterial and fungal extracts, none were used for that purpose prior to 20th century chemical processing.  NSIDs.  Iboprofen, naproxyn and Tylenol are the majority of pills used and none have an ancient origin.  Birth control pills were developed in laboratories, and are among the most widely prescribed medications. 

I agree that a few Brazilian tribes chewed bark that contained salisylic acid to alleviate pain in spite of causing severe stomach irritation, but they weren’t a major part of the world’s population.  The same goes for quinine and opium. 

Almost all of the folk remedies that were used worked because people’s systems repair themselves so the idea that “I drank a potion and I got well” wasn’t cause and effect, just conditioning based on a random product and the person getting well anyway.  One that I liked when I was a child that some neighbors gave to their kids was sulfur and molasses in spring to clean them out.  And you could certainly see that it was pulling all the horrible toxins out of the kid’s body by the terrible smell of his excrement.  At least that was their reasoning.  Only later did I realize that the normal gut bacteria eat the sulfur and convert it to hydrogen sulfide, so what was coming out smelled like highly concentrated rotten eggs.  However, it had nothing to do with cleaning them out.

And, Newton wasn’t proved wrong. His calculations were just less precise than Einstein was able to calculate.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Occam. - 12 October 2010 06:31 PM

W4U, I have to agree with Mac here.  Let’s go through a few.  Antibiotics, one of the major classes of medications - while many of them were found from bacterial and fungal extracts, none were used for that purpose prior to 20th century chemical processing.  NSIDs.  Iboprofen, naproxyn and Tylenol are the majority of pills used and none have an ancient origin.  Birth control pills were developed in laboratories, and are among the most widely prescribed medications. 

I agree that a few Brazilian tribes chewed bark that contained salisylic acid to alleviate pain in spite of causing severe stomach irritation, but they weren’t a major part of the world’s population.  The same goes for quinine and opium. 

Almost all of the folk remedies that were used worked because people’s systems repair themselves so the idea that “I drank a potion and I got well” wasn’t cause and effect, just conditioning based on a random product and the person getting well anyway.  One that I liked when I was a child that some neighbors gave to their kids was sulfur and molasses in spring to clean them out.  And you could certainly see that it was pulling all the horrible toxins out of the kid’s body by the terrible smell of his excrement.  At least that was their reasoning.  Only later did I realize that the normal gut bacteria eat the sulfur and convert it to hydrogen sulfide, so what was coming out smelled like highly concentrated rotten eggs.  However, it had nothing to do with cleaning them out.

And, Newton wasn’t proved wrong. His calculations were just less precise than Einstein was able to calculate.

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The links I provided show that herbal medicines were studied and written about centuries ago by early scientists in China, India, and Europe. There seems to be a whole library of medicinal plants, herbs, roots, barks, and minerals long before modern medicine became the norm.
Nowhere in this post have I argued that herbal medicines are preferable over modern medicines, though note must be made that many modern medicines have been pulled from the market, due to risk factors and negative reactions, even today.
All I did was to show a progressive sophistication in the field of medicine. I cannot see why anyone would feel insulted or threatened by that.
I take Zocor, not some herbal concoction for my cholesterol. But while in the hospital for irregularity in my heart, I was prescribed coumadin (warfarin), without proper cautionary explanation (or literature) of the inherent dangers with that specific drug. I nearly died from internal bleeding (my heart sack filled with blood and had to be drained or I would have died). I shall never take that drug willingly again. I’ll try something more natural first, if it exists.
Neverteless, I have great respect for the motives and competence of medical professionals (my wife is a nurse), but we are far from perfect yet. Thus to say that tribal witchdoctors and later serious herbalists were charlatans is false and smacks of hubris.
The gist of my posts was to show that modern medicine did not spring up spontaneously without benefit of prior existing knowledge of those times, but was a natural evolution of Medicine (as it has been for most areas of scientific inquiry).

I choose the example of Newton to prove that in spite of flaws and lack of adequate knowledge, working models in science and medicine may well be established. Apparently Nature is a great laboratory for experimentation with defensive biochemistry. Most of life on earth seems to do very well without any knowledge whatsoever, except for the interference by “knowledgeable” man.
All I ask is that history of early (natural) medicine be given some credit, when due, even if interspersed with ritual and prayer.

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Posted: 12 October 2010 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Wow,
what a fun discussion, CFI at its best.

I agree, with McK, Occam, but, also Write4U,
in that, I also think you’re talking slightly past each other.
But, only slightly.
Other than that, communicating quite well… and wonderful food for thought, or should it be considered herbal stimulation?

[ Edited: 12 October 2010 08:16 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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