Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Educare to Educere

(I initially wrote this just after the last autumn Swine 'Flu scare.
My questions are still to be answered in many areas!)

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur.
There seems to be a Tsunami in the medical field vis-à-vis the new “Swine” ‘Flu, an insult to that poor animal! Every article (and blog) tells us about it but does not answer many questions. I think this is an opportunity to ask those awkward questions. I am looking for answers, not knowing the answers myself.
I had trepidation to write this note up until I read about educere, like what Socrates used to practise, there was no “authority” defined as we read in Theaetetus: (written by Plato in 360 BC translated by Benjamin Jowett) “Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs; but differs, in that I attend men and not women; and look after their souls when they are in labour, and not after their bodies: and the triumph of my art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the young man brings forth is a false idol or a noble and true birth. And like the mid-wives, I am barren, and the reproach which is often made against me, that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself, is very just-the reason is, that the god compels-me to be a midwife, but does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own soul, but those who converse with me profit.” Every medical student (and scientist) would do well to read this advice of Socrates.
• Why was the WHO in such a great hurry to raise this to pandemic level?
• Multiple drug resistant tuberculosis has been spreading to all countries like wild fire; could kill millions if left unchecked reminding us of the great white death epidemic. Why is that not a pandemic?
• Where is the controlled study to show the effect of Tamiflu against the new “Swine ‘Flu virus, in our evidence based medical system?
• Has the new vaccine been tested against the virus in a large study? How are we certain that it will be effective? Is this vaccine safe to give to all age groups, especially when we are ignorant of its true validity? Primum Non Nocere.
• What happened to the millions of dollars worth of Tamiflu stockpiled for the imaginary pandemic of bird ‘Flu? The manufacturers must have had the last laugh last time.
• Will the linear projection of large deaths due to the imaginary dread of the new virus materialise? Do the non-linear universe and the human body follow the linear laws?
• If this whole fear mongering fails to materialise who do we hold accountable at the end of the day?
• Do we not know that fear, especially of millions in the world, might weaken their immune system?
• Does the host resistance play any role in the final outcome of the fight between the virus and man? If so, why are we not doing something to build good resistance against the virus?
• Why do we not accept similar untested, but inexpensive, remedies available in many other systems like the Chinese, Indian Ayurvedic and homeopathic systems? Russian scientists have demonstrated viral (and other germs) destruction using particular frequency of subtle energy non-invasively! Our positive sciences understand only 5% of the total energy in this universe while the large 95% needs to be explored for common good. Why are all those efforts classified as pseudo science? What is the definition of science, anyway? To me the present scenario looks like science is what accepted scientists think it is! Wetenschap is wat wetenschappers doen!
• All these, and many more questions, beg more questions than answers! Let not our untested expensive interventions be worse than the patient’s disease. Educational system was changed by the Romans from educere of Socrates’ time to educare of today, where the authority prescribes what the students should learn from outside! That is the bane of medical, nay, all sciences. Let us go back to educere from educare.
“Science is a kind of glorified tailoring enterprise, a method for taking measurements that describe something — reality — that may not be understood at all...One may even suspect that there is more to reality than measurements will ever reveal.” Michael Crichton (1942-2008.-Harvard trained medical doctor turned science fiction novelist).

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