The Cost of Scientific Medicine

Many patients faced with serious illnesses seek the assurance that their practitioners are using proven healing methods. Many practitioners also seek the security that the therapies they use have been proven by scientific research. Yet, few ask the question:

What is this proof that so many seek, and what are its limitations?

In modern “scientific” medicine, the nearly ubiquitous standard of proof uses the methodology of “randomized, controlled and double-blind” experiments. While each of these features of medical research serves a clear and understandable role, they also limit researchers to studying substances and procedures that act on the mechanisms of life, rather than those that work with the individual blocks of the embodied spirit. Such remedies can’t cure disease; they can only manage and control it. Yet, in our modern society’s urgency for the security of proof, we’ve played this semantic game with our lives and convinced ourselves only experiments that conform to that methodology are “scientific.”

Classical Chinese medicine is actually MORE scientific than modern so-called “scientific” medicine. I make that bold assertion based on its willingness to investigate the true nature of life, rather than reducing it to a mechanistic model of the individual as a very complicated biochemical machine. Yet, few seem to recognize the severe limitations of the physical model of modern western medicine, perhaps because they’re distracted by its empirical form and the impressive technologies that serve it. Though medical researchers have developed:

  • sophisticated knowledge of the physical expression of disease, modern science frequently over-simplifies the issue of causation.
  • many pharmaceutical therapies that control the expression of disease, there are few that promote resolution.

The simple fact is that medical research seeks to serve the personality rather than the embodied spirit.

The efficacy of most therapies is measured by their ability to temporarily control symptoms and clinical signs. Little progress can be made by modern medical science toward reversing conditions that are considered progressive and degenerative, because that would require practitioners to discriminate  individual challenges and process. Helping patients reverse most chronic diseases requires that one treat the individual rather than the disease. In addition to the massive financial toll of modern scientific medicine, it has another greater cost. The true cost of scientific medicine is that it limits our efforts to:

controlling the expression of pathology, rather than individually probing its resolution.



  1. Hydrogenous says:


    You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

    • Can you be more specific?

      I think science is a systematic investigation of nature, and how to interact with it to pursue some goal. What many of us know as “science” is just the FORM of science based on the “modern western” worldview. Both our language and ‘common logic’ conceptualize our world consisting of objects with fixed measurable qualities. So, the science we know is the science of that world. But, it that the only coherent way of seeing the world?

      My approach to CM sees the world (and each individual) as dynamic and responsive. This world consists of directional movements, rather than “objects with fixed measurable qualities.” The main focus of this worldview is to identify and differentiate stagnating influences (邪 – xie), rather than classifying the manifestation of distress expressed in various symptoms and signs.

      • MikeTheInfidel says:

        'What many of us know as "science" is just the FORM of science based on the "modern western" worldview.'

        There is no such thing as 'western science.' Science is science, period. What you're doing is magical nonsense.

        • Do you know anything about this “magical nonsense,” or are you just practicing your invective?

        • Oley Smith says:

          Mike, you sound more like an animal and less like a human in that your statements are DOGmatic and CATegorical making you seem incapable of the characteristically human ability of abstracting, an ability that is necessary to practice the art of science. Since it seems that you you don’t know, or maybe have forgotten, I will remind you. Science is a method. It consists of making a prediction, or hypothesis, and then conducting an experiment to test that hypothesis. If your experiment proves your hypothesis you do it again, often several times to see if you get the same result. If you do then you have a valid model. Tell your friends. That is the scientific method. But here is an aspect of the method that I feel isn’t emphasized enough. A valid model does not mean that that is how things are, it simply means your model is valid i.e. The model is not the thing, the map is not the terrain, the menu is not the meal ect. If someones model is tested and proven valid even if it seems bizarre and strange to you it is still science. Example: The Chinese model of physiology says that the blood houses the shen/spirit/personality. Is this magical nonsense? What happens if you drain someone of their blood? Do they still have a personality? What happen to the personality of everyone who has their blood drained? Conduct some experiments and see what happens, then tell you friends, if you have any.

  2. Your article clearly displays a lack of understanding of medicine. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and all other health care professionals are trained to consider the patient, not to just consider the disease. Any therapy, any treatment, or any practice that can cause actual, quantifiable improvement to the condition of the patient is tried.

    The reason you don't see many researchers looking for something that will "work with the individual blocks of the embodied spirit" is because this "embodied spirit" hasn't been shown to exist. If you can provide a working definition, and provide a measurable interaction, we can determine if this spirit actually exists. If it does, medicines that work with it will be explored; if it doesn't, then we'll carry on with our current model.

    Think of it this way: pharmaceutical companies are large, greedy corporations that want as much money as possible. Don't you really think that they'd research this "embodied spirit" if it meant that they could sell cures designed to work with it?

    And finally, I leave with this: The Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic act, with the Durham-Humphrey Amendment, requires all medications and all treatments to be both safe and effective. If it's discovered that a drug that was rushed through the process is not safe, not effective, or both, it will be pulled from the market. It's to make sure that patients are not damaged by the treatments we give them.

    Take care.

    • Wow, so many misunderstandings! I hardly know where to start. You seem to suggest that I disparage medical professionals in some way. Quite the contrary! I have boundless respect for the HUMANITY that many medical professionals are able to maintain, even with their intensive scientific training. I’m not writing about the people who practice western medicine, but the worldview from which it arises. The power and utility of (western) scientific medicine needs no further apology for a public that is already well exposed to its strengths.

      The “embodied spirit” is my translation of a classical Chinese medicine idea (精 神, jingshen), which has been largely eliminated from modern CM doctrine. I use it to make the point that individuals are more than complex biochemical machines. They have individual volition, which may be either consciously expressed or seen in somatized stress, which has certainly been shown to contribute to many diseases.

      Well, we agree on one thing. Pharmaceutical companies are trying to maximize their profit. As such, they have a vested interest in maintaining the current consumption model of temporary control of “abnormal” physiological metrics. They constantly look for new substances, including many used by various herbal traditions, and they make their money by having many diseased individuals having continue their therapies indefinitely. Even when they were not originally designed for such long term application, such as many psychiatric medicines, that has become their most common application because curative therapies are too labor-intensive and expensive.

      I understand that the FDA is charged with approving therapies based on their proven safety and effectiveness; I’m asking: What does it mean for a therapy to be “proven effective?” How do we measure effectiveness? Might we be missing something, such as restoring the physiological function that led to an individual’s disease in the first place, rather than simply providing a temporary patch?

  3. That’s some serious invective you got going there. What scares you so?

  4. MikeTheInfidel says:

    This is utter rubbish.

    "Such remedies can’t cure disease; they can only manage and control it."

    Funny, it seems to have cured smallpox quite well. And it can cure all manner of diseases, in specific people.

    • You know, vaccinations are an interesting example, far from straight-forward, and peculiar among (western) medical therapies. Maybe evolving our immune response to epidemic disease has a broader historical purpose for human civilization. Try checking out David Clark’s “Germs, Genes, and Civilization.”

      Yet, that really isn’t the point. Something bother you about my contention that various experiential phenomena have an impact, both for better and worse, on “physical” health?

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