IT has often been noted that a special and peculiar difficulty exists in getting a philosophic idea into the heads of individuals ordinarily receptive to every other class of idea. Writers who venture into the foggy regions of prophecy about the wonders of the world of the future and the Utopian state of existence seem incapable of giving any philosophic consideration to their material.
Certainly the optimism that is displayed about the omnipotence of Science and the inevitability of progress through it is rarely tempered by the warning of Goethe that everything which tends to free our spirit without giving us an increasing mastery over ourselves must be pernicious.
Science has acted and should act a tremendous part in the development of civilization. The fields of chemistry, physics, astrophysics, engineering and biology regularly yield rich harvests of discoveries which, when applied, contribute to our comfort and wisdom. Whether we are in fact comfortable and wise in quite a different matter, and one which depends on how we practise the art of living.
Only by correct living can we obtain the maximum of happiness in life; and correct living implies a not inconsiderable amount of physical and mental education and discipline. In such personal questions the scientist cannot hope to gain any assistance from his science, for the creator must always be infinitely greater than that which he creates.
A recently published book entitled The Birth of the Future [The Birth of the Future, by Ritchie Calder. Published by A. Barker & Co., London.] makes very interesting and entertaining reading, although we are obliged to dissent and recoil from a certain number of the predictions. The author is a journalist who was lucky enough to succeed in bearding the leaders of various branches of science in their dens and extracting from them descriptions of what they are doing and what they hope will be done.
The account of his odyssey in the lands of Science is written up in racy and picturesque language for popular consumption. Some extracts from it will serve a useful purpose in illustrating the folly of those who expect that scientific processes can change or modify the natural laws which govern life.
In the chapter entitled “The Health of the Future” suspicious are early aroused that the author is going to make himself the mouthpiece for current medical lunacies, when we read the hoary old superstition that many diseases are due to germs and that health results if these germs are scotched.
“If you can afford to have a bacteriological examination to discover that pet germ of yours, they (Inoculation Department of St. Marys Hospital, London) will give you a vaccine made of that. Otherwise they will give you what is really a germ cocktail made up of all the germs commonly found in peoples throats. One of these germs will be the germ which is liable to attack you, and in being protected against all the germs you will be protected against it as well.”.
True he makes some apology to common sense when he tells us beforehand that the “pet germs” only take effect when the “system is undermined”. There is to be explained, however, why the health authorities at St. Marys Hospital ignore the fact that a person who presents himself for a vaccine has his system undermined from some cause or another, or why they are satisfied to discharge him supposedly vaccinated against certain unpleasant symptoms, and his health still in the undermined condition.
Apart altogether from this abstract question of the persons health, it is admitted in orthodox circles that these vaccinations are no certain protection, and there are many authorities who are uneasy about the ultimate effects in the body of foreign proteins. Also many eminent physicians, deny the germ theory of disease and hold that germs are Natures scavengers whose duty it is to dispose of morbid matter in the tissues.
Another quotation shows how far so-called medical science has succeeded in deceiving the ever-gullible public.
“While he was on the track of this virus, Dochez isolated what he thought might be the virus of influenza. This is a much more deadly proposition, more deadly than a Zeppelin raid or a poison- gas attack. Tens of thousands die every year during the very short duration of the epidemics.”.
Tens of thousands do not die every year from influenza, but from ignorance and orthodox treatments. Influenza is an acute disease; and it is becoming more and more realized that Nature never intended us to die from simple acute diseases. All these sicknesses whether they take the form of smallpox or mumps or influenza are only efforts of the body to eliminate poisons stored up in it through faulty metabolism.
Unfortunately orthodox medicine though never formally repudiating that theory always refuses to recognize it in its treatments. Non-specific vaccines, antipyretic drugs and heart tonics together with gruel, beef tea and stimulants are loaded on to the unfortunate victim and only too often turn the scale against recovery. Whereas fasting on cold water in the majority of cases is all that is necessary.
Some pages are given to the “new and vital Science of Nutrition”, and great enthusiasm is shown at the remarkable results produced by various vitamin extracts, as revealed by experiments in the Mellanby laboratories and elsewhere.
“Vitamins have to be viewed with the eyes of faith, but I have seen with eyes of horror the meaning of them, or at least of the lack of them.”.
The prophetic itch then supervenes.
“In a great factory where you are producing the meals of hundreds of thousands of people, it will be possible (when Science has succeeded completely in conserving in tins, not only the taste by which our palates will judge the food, but the vitamins and all the other elusive properties) for one Government nutrition expert to safeguard and guarantee the public all those essentials.”.
It is undeniable that various types of feeding experiments have opened our eyes to the dangers we run in eating many of the products laid before us by modern industry. It is very doubtful, however, that deficiencies in food can be met with by administering substances like calciferol (vitamin D), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and others. The chemistry of Nature is the chemistry of Life itself, and is of incredible subtlety.
Much of it, in the nature of things, will always remain a mystery. The only way to insure for health is to live on natural foodstuffs in a condition as near as possible to that in which they occur in the life cycle. The substitution of test tube products to make up for deficiencies is pregnant with menace.
One cannot talk about the future of modern medicine without talking about hormones. Hormones are chemical agents of extraordinary complexity manufactured in certain glands throughout the body and are discharged directly into the blood stream when required. They preside over growth, metabolism and sexual function, and their absence or deficiency leads to death or catastrophic changes in the body.
More absurd and extravagant claims are made in the fields of research on these secretions than in all other branches of medicine combined. Under headings such as “The Chemistry of Mother Love”, “Dividing the Jekyll from the Hyde”, “People who change their Sex”, “Gland Treatment of Disease”, we get in this book a series of predictions that makes us wonder where the race is heading to. The writer says:.
“To most of us mother-love is the soul of motherhood, the touch of the Divine in animals as well as human beings.
Yet I have seen mother-love in a test tube.”.
That is the sort of thing that passes for progress in medicine to-day. The fluid he did see in the test tube was a hormone is isolated from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland whose physiological influence is so associated with the maternity process that virginal rats injected with it behave like rats recently parturient.
If such a substance is to have any practical value it would seem to be indicated to compel many married women to occupy themselves with their offspring at the fireside instead of careering around outside at bridge parties and dances. I would prefer, however, that someone else should plead for its inclusion in the pharmacopoeia for that purpose.
The following extract is hardly meant to be taken seriously. Considering, however, the number of inoculating therapies that have been rushed on the public on just as flimsy and ridiculous a basis, it behoves us to be on our guard.
“Consider the prospect: a missionary, armed with a hypodermic syringe conducting a crusade in the underworld ! Imagine the Old Bailey judge ordering a certain extract of anterior pituitary instead of passing a sentence of ten years imprisonment! And visualise the clergyman, preaching charity and goodwill to all men, taking as his text a chemical formula.”.
The plain unpalatable fact is that in the whole domain of hormonology there has not been discovered a single substance which promises to be of any permanent value. The case of insulin is typical of the lot. It is a hormone of the pancreas which has been universally used for over a decade for diabetes; yet despite the spectacular immediate results of its administration, more people than ever die from the disease, and its use is the greatest obstacle to the proper understanding and treatment of the diabetic condition.