Why is magic is so tempting?

Human beings are by nature trusting — of people, technology, everything. Often, we’re too trusting, with tragic results.

Science and medicine are very recent additions to human life. Yes, you may have heard about Greek “medicine” but it had no experimental basis, it only had the name. All that talk about the four “humors” (blood, phlegm, and yellow and black bile) did not help a single one of Hippocrates patients. The germ theory of illness is a recent arrival. Use of statistics in epidemiology is even more recent.

My mother in the early 1950s (before the Salk vaccine), hoped that camphor would keep polio away. It didn’t. But as soon as the vaccine was crated and made available, she vaccinated her kids. She was raised in a very superstitious milieu, but that was because, where she lived, in a very poor little town in Imperial Russia (now Poland), the only remedies were religion and superstition, but as soon as she had access to modern medicine, she took advantage of it.

In short, I am old enough to remember how life was without vaccines, without X rays, without chemotherapy, and this is why I am so happy to have modern medicine and medicines working for me today. I am old enough to say “thank you” after my dentist saves yet another tooth.

If you are too young to remember, why not read some history? The Middle Ages may sound romantic today, but they gave us the big plague. Read about how things were before anesthesia, before clean water, before birth control, etc. Or watch some TV and look at how Beth (Little Women) died, how Marianne was “saved” by bloodletting, etc.

Please don’t resort to magic, superstition or  fake doctors.  Read this article and use quackwatch.org  to find out about health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct. You can use my forum and blog if you have questions about skin related myths, etc. I will be happy to answer questions or suggest reliable websites where you can go for more information.

The Royal Society of London’s motto, Nullius in verba, is Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it”. It was adopted to signify the fellows’ determination to establish facts via experiments. When somebody offers a magic potion, ask him (her) for the evidence that it works.  What could I accept?  A scientifically designed experiment where 100 people used the concoction and 100 used a placebo or something to that effect. Show me! Don’t take their word for it.


In the meantime, keep healthy and keep safe. Take the vaccine, not the camphor.

Clarification: I still knock on wood, as my mother and aunts used to do. Somehow, they feel nearer me when I do that.






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