Saturday, November 4, 2017

When Rabbis Quack - In Print

Several months ago I critiqued an as-yet unpublished Hebrew manuscript on alternative medicine by a vaccine-opposing rabbi called Rephoel Szmerla. The book has since been published in English, under the title Alternative Medicine in Halachah, and was the subject of this week's cover story in Mishpacha magazine (which was somewhat of a puff-piece for the author, but also interviewed physicians who firmly disputed the validity of alternative medicines).

The book's chapters discuss auras, chi, reiki, energy healing, distance healing, meridians, acupuncture, applied kinesiology, emotional freedom techniques, dowsing, homeopathy, radionics, crystal healing, geopathic stress, feng shui (the mystical practice of it, not the furniture arrangements), iridology, reflexology, and other forms of quackery. For almost all these things, the author manages to find sources in the Gemara or Rishonim which discuss them. He thereby simultaneously claims to refute the possibility of their being idolatrous and demonstrates them to be authoritative and also effective, which he further supports with quotations from quacks. (The only one that he rules unacceptable is feng shui.)

The author claims that those who argue against such alternative medicines due to their being "scientifically undetectable" have been influenced by "Greek philosophy" and will end up as heretics. He stresses that accepting the truth of such treatments even without a scientific explanation or even a double-blind test of their efficacy is an essential part of Jewish identity, as per the declaration at Sinai of naaseh v'nishma, we will do even if we do not understand.

My critique of the book, When Rabbis Quack, warned of the danger in encouraging people to use alternative medicine and discouraging conventional medicine. It became the most-read post of all time on this blog, with nearly 20,000 hits, and it also reached some important people in the charedi community. I would like to think that I can take some of the credit for the published version of the book having the following first paragraph:
The purpose of this sefer is to clarify the halachic status of various alternative therapies. It is not my goal to encourage people to discount conventional medicine. Indeed, rejecting standard medical treatment will sometimes constitute a transgression of the commandment, You shall take great care of your lives (Devarim 4:15). In the case of a serious condition, one should seek rabbinic guidance before pursuing alternative therapies in lieu of conventional care.

This is a welcome statement, albeit that I do not think that people with serious conditions should ever refrain from conventional care, and I dread to think what kind of "rabbinic guidance" readers of this book might seek; it could well be Rav Chaim Kanievsky rather than Rav Firer.

Still, the thrust of the book unfortunately stands in stark contradiction to this disclaimer. It is not just about "clarifying the halachic status of various alternative therapies" - it argues for their efficacy (using such absurd "evidence" as contagious yawning being a demonstration of the influence of energy from "auras"). And it is not only all about not only encouraging people to believe in all kinds of quackery, but it also encourages them to see conventional medicine as problematic in that it leads people away from belief in Hashem. The penultimate paragraph of the books declares that "Contemporary medicine is the product of modern science, which denies the existence of Hashem and His Omnipresence." That statement is not only utterly false, it is also dangerous.

The Mishpacha article concludes with a quote from Rabbi Szmerla about the unreliability of science, arguing that just as scientific theories from 100 years ago have been disproven by modern science, "What will happen in the next 100 years? Anyone who believes modern science has all the answers is naive." Now, I don't think that anyone believe that modern science has *all* the answers, but that doesn't mean that there is any reason to take quackery seriously.

We've heard such dismissals of modern science before, and as before, it demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the history of science. Science does not "keep changing"; rather, it keeps being refined. First it was discovered that the earth is spherical; then it was discovered that it is a slightly flattened sphere; then it was discovered that it's slightly more flattened at one side then at the other. At no point will science change its mind and decide the earth to be flat. Likewise, at no point are the fundamentals of physics and physiology going to be utterly overturned.

Telling people that scientists don't know what they're talking about is plain silly. Telling people that with regard to medical science is actually dangerous.

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The original critique of Rabbi Szmerla's book can be read at the following link: When Rabbis Quack. On a different note, you can read my article about the Balfour centennial at this link, and you can download my monograph on the Chicken Wars at this link.

123 comments:

  1. "Likewise, at no point are the fundamentals of physics and physiology going to be utterly overturned."

    Yes. That's what they said after Newton. The fundementals will never change. Ever. And apply universaly.

    Until quantum physics came along.

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    1. And Newton remains an extremely accurate approximation, which is absolutely fine for 99.9% of cases.

      Doctors are never going to decide that smoking is healthy under normal circumstances. They might one day find that in 0.1% of all cases its costs are outwayed by its benefits.

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    2. You're right. Quantum physics showed that Newtonian physics are garbage, so we no longer use Newtonian physics at all, and have gone back to the Aristotelian physics endorsed by the rishonim.

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    3. Yavoy. I think it's 99.8% of cases but you are of course missing my essential point.

      As for G3, which version of 'who wrote the avos stories?' are you following this year? Your response shows you understand my point very well.

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    4. ********: What is your "essential" point?

      Newton's laws are a correct description of the behavior of objects at the scale and speed that Newton studied and that we encounter and use every day. Every freshman physics class starts with the study of Newtonian mechanics. They are not the most fundamental laws that we know of, but they are the correct approximations that you get out of those fundamental laws when you want to understand how everyday objects work. This is exactly the same (better actually) than any law in medicine which is less fundamental and more approximate.

      IOW, Newton's laws are more precise and fundamental than "falling off of balcony will kill you" which is the basis of the Torah law of Maakeh.

      Do you have a better example?

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    5. I don't know who in particular wrote the avos stories, and I don't see how that's relevant.

      Why do you use different names on different sites?

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    6. David

      The point is that after Newton, physicists thought that Newtonian dynamics can explain EVERYTHING in the universe and nothing else would ever be needed.

      In that belief they were totally and utterly wrong.

      I am not suggesting for one moment Newton was wrong or has been superseded.

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  2. Let all those who believe in this nonsense do their own thing. Let Darwin sort them out. המבין יבין.

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    1. The problem with letting selection of the fittest govern the success of this nonsense is that vaccinated persons who use scientifically sound medical practice can still be victims of this quackery, by way of communicable disease.

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  3. Quantum physics overturned nothing, as it reduces to Newtonian physics for anything not almost infinitesimally small.

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    1. Depends what you mean by overturned. Certainly, in the sense that Newtonian physics is a very good approximation to the more accurate theories of modern physics in most situations it has not been overturned. And it is still used to great effect by those who design bridges, cars, airplanes and the like who need pay no attention to quantum mechanics or relativity. This would go according to the view, as one professor teased me when I was a grad student in particle theory 40 years ago, "theory is just a convenient mnemonic for experiment". In that sense, relativity and quantum mechanics are just minor tweaks to Newton, at least for everyday situations at the human scale (and several orders of magnitude up and down.)

      On the other hand, if you view the point of the scientific enterprise as developing a deep understanding of the structure and processes of the physical world than it is fair to say the Newtonian physics has been overturned. (which of course, G*3 does not mean that Aristotle has become correct) A modern physicist's conception of spacetime, matter and gravity are quite different from Newton's.

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  4. "He stresses that accepting the truth of such treatments even without a scientific explanation or even a double-blind test of their efficacy is an essential part of Jewish identity, as per the declaration at Sinai of naaseh v'nishma, we will do even if we do not understand."

    There literally is no reasoning with people committed to irrationality.

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    1. Right - it's absolutely delusional.

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    2. That quote is slightly disingenuous. Szmerla doesn't claim that any proven theory is anti Jewish and only the unproven can be classified as Jewish. I don't know if THHGTTG has been translated to French (his native language), but I doubt he is knowledgable enough about Sci-fi to recognize such logic.
      As far as I can recall, he merely says that knowing how something works is not a prerequisite to believing in it's efficacy and/or importance, homiletically comparing it to נעשה ונשמע

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    3. > he merely says that knowing how something works is not a prerequisite to believing in it's efficacy and/or importance

      That's true. The problem is when knowing *how* something works is confused with knowing *that* something works.

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    4. "On the other hand, western cold medicine recommended by my doctor appeared to make my symptoms feel temporarily better..."

      Does such a thing still exist? I thought that the most over-the-counter treatments for colds (aside from pain relievers) have been proven ineffective.

      "I do it whenever I feel a cold coming on..."
      I get that "cold coming on" sensation occasionally too, but without the cold. I'm afraid that doesn't count as an anecdote.

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    5. Ephraim

      Wrong thread, but I found your response.

      1. Sure, there are OTC as well as prescribed medicines to treat symptoms of colds and allergies. I don't know if they've been proven ineffective, but I do know that they are still sold in pharmacies and they've been recommended by my doctor fairly recently. Pain relievers didn't work on me either. They also gave me adverse side effects that caused me to see a gastroenterologist.
      2. To be more accurate, the anecdote is that I used to have colds much more often, and severe. I now have them far less frequently, and when they happen, far more tolerable.

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    6. 3. Also, I used to predict the oncoming of a real one with far more accuracy :)

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    7. "he merely says that knowing how something works is not a prerequisite to believing in it's efficacy and/or importance"

      Typical alt-med strawman slur. Scientists do not reject crackpot remedies because they're based on crackpot (and often idolatrous) theories, but because they don't work. On the other hand, purported "evidence" for alt-med is legitimately met with skepticism because they're based on nonsense theories. Any such study should be examined closely for flaws and should be reproduced before being accepted as legitimate evidence.

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  5. Acupuncture has been shown to work in thousands of cases including my own. l used a practioner who was also a registered physician.

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    1. Yes. Placebos can be very effective.

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    2. Ah the joy of not having experienced acupuncture first hand and thinking that billions of chinese are complete twits.

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    3. Experiencing a medical treatment firsthand give you no special insight into its efficacy. In fact it makes you much more susceptible to biases and trickery.

      This is not a bias against old and largely ineffective medical treatments. Modern treatments are subjected to the same scrutiny and many that were thought efficacious were thrown out after they were carefully studied. Look up HRT.

      Many millions of people in the West underwent many, many treatments like bloodletting that we now know are not useful and don't use any more. So the fact that many Chinese were wrong about some aspect of medicine is not at all surprising; in fact it is expected. Almost all real and effective medicine is a very recent invention.

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    4. FWIW, I remember when my younger brother had terrible eczema all over his body for many years when he was a child. It is quite heart-wrenching to look at old pictures of him. My parents took him to get treated by standard doctors and dermatologists, but the treatments seemed to only make it worse. Desperate, they took him to a Chinese doctor trained in eastern dermatology, who gave him a cream and tea that started healing him immediately after many years of suffering. Many other parents going through the same thing found out about this and had similar success with this doctor.

      I too, had occasional eczema (on a much, much smaller scale) and after having only mild healing results from western eczema medication, I found that the same eastern medicine was much more effective.

      In addition, I have tried quackery treatments such as kinesiology and energy healing for minor ailments, and not even their placebo effect worked for me. However, despite being very skeptical of acupuncture at first, I have noticed a significant immediate healing effect on these very things. I since learned how to do acupressure on myself (same essential concept as acupuncture) - I do it whenever I feel a cold coming on, which seems to prevent it from happening, or significantly minimizing the symptoms in a way that I've never felt cold symptoms before. On the other hand, western cold medicine recommended by my doctor appeared to make my symptoms feel temporarily better, but worse over the course of the cold. I know it's anecdotal evidence and doesn't prove anything scientifically, but this is my experience after trying so many different things (for minor ailments at least). I do what I experientially find to be in my best interest.

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    5. David O:
      You overlook that gedolim (and entire western and the eastern worlds) from many generations swore by bloodletting, cupping, etc.
      (Note, someone in my old shul who is a licensed acupuncturist does cupping; has two sets of the cups that he brought with him from China where he originally learned his acupuncture and I guess cupping.)

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    6. David o
      I once had a patient who suffered from stress at one point she felt so tense internally that she couldn't cooe with herself and decided to end it all and slashed her wrists. She told methat the moment the blood started to flow she felt relief and no longer wanted to die. I guess that was the original benefit of blood letting.
      But the wouldnt confuse chines doctors with those who killed George Washington. Just because blood letting was uktimatelu useless does not mean that acup doesn't work.

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    7. David O:
      You overlook that gedolim (and entire western and the eastern worlds) from many generations swore by bloodletting, cupping, etc.


      I think that is consistent with what I said. Just because lots of people think it works, doesn't mean that it works. They don't do bloodletting today.

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  6. You are obviously totally ignorant of alternative medicine if you mix all together and claim all methods are quackery. Some are and some are not. My Aetna health policy for example covers acupuncture. Aetna would be delighted to hear that they cover quackery. And I do have personal family experience in treating conditions with acupuncture not treated by conventional big pharma-sponsored remedies. Homeopathy is also a proven approach. Other methods may be not, and or not be suitable for us. HaRav Belsky ZT’L for example classified Reiki as avodah zarah. The bottom line, a series person (or one pretended to be) would first do a research before claiming an expertise on this issue.

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    1. Homeopathic medicine is 100% pure water. It has been proven to work... as a placebo. A paracetamol would be more effective.

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    2. Aetna and any other health insurance are perfectly happy to cover anything, so long as you pay for the privilege.

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    3. I think reiki is az because at the highest levels you do find an elil, some being that is directing the system and asking for allegiance. In this it is quite different from other modes of alternative medicine.

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    4. One of the fundamental differences between western and non-western medicine is that wesetern medicine assumes a standard response to treatment. Non-western medicine realises that actually we are all different, especially at the nefesh level that it is aiming to treat, and does not think that everyone will respond the same way to the same treatment. Think of your own response to the question: would you like an omelette a) first thing in the morning before davening, b) swhen starving hungry, and c) after a good meal.

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    5. WRT to Aetna, if what you have really is something like chronic pain of unknown cause, it maybe cheaper for them to send you to the acupuncturist than for continuing medical treatments that are also not working.

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    6. By definition, alternative medicine is medicine that doesn't work. If it worked, it would just be called medicine.

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    7. @David ... it maybe cheaper for them to send you to the acupuncturist than for continuing medical treatments that are also not working.

      I had a chronic back pain, and physiotherapy for which insurance had to pay ~$200/visit did not do anything. Then 10 sessions of acupuncture @ $60/session has cured me.

      @Avi Alternative medicine differs from traditional one that it does not require $150K to get FDA approval, which makes sense only when you patent it, and you can't patent a natural remedy by definition.

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    8. NYS requires it be covered. As well as many other treatments that increase medical premiums. (Fertility treatments, for one.)

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    9. " My Aetna health policy for example covers acupuncture. Aetna would be delighted to hear that they cover quackery."

      Oh, they know it's quackery. But it's good marketing. It means more customers.

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    10. "Non-western medicine realises that actually we are all different, especially at the nefesh level that it is aiming to treat"

      1) Non-western medicine doesn't recognize the nefesh.
      2) Western medicine does recognize that we are different. Saying otherwise is parroting alt-med propaganda.
      3) If we were all that different then it would be impossible to know that any treatment works. A homeopath couldn't boast having decades of experience, since he has zero experience treating his next "oh so different" patient.

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    11. Of course homeopatahy works. There are companies making millions off it. It works for them

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    12. @Avi Alternative medicine differs from traditional one that it does not require $150K to get FDA approval, which makes sense only when you patent it, and you can't patent a natural remedy by definition.

      It also differs by not working. Silly me, thinking that detail was more important.

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    13. 1) Non-western medicine doesn't recognize the nefesh.
      actually if you look properly it does exactly that.

      2) Western medicine does recognize that we are different.
      not when it coems to trials, the researchers are looking for a standard effect of a medicine. it is of course true that people react differently but drug dosages are mostly mg/kg body weight. 10% of people have a non standard reaction to ssris that expose them to serious side effects; do you see that in the dosaging?

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    14. Avi
      You really should read 1984 to understand how your thinking is manipulated by the choice of words that are used.
      In my time western medicine has changed from calling itself modern to orthodox to conventional in response to the rise in interest in other systems and the need to give itself the upper hand.

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    15. @Alternative medicine differs from traditional one that it does not require $150K to get FDA approval, which makes sense only when you patent it, and you can't patent a natural remedy by definition.

      Are eating a health diet, exercising, cessation of Tobacco use patentable? If not, how did they make into "western" medicine?

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    16. @David ... it maybe cheaper for them to send you to the acupuncturist than for continuing medical treatments that are also not working.

      I had a chronic back pain, and physiotherapy for which insurance had to pay ~$200/visit did not do anything. Then 10 sessions of acupuncture @ $60/session has cured me.


      You are confirming my point. Both treatment were probably useless for you, but one was cheaper.

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    17. "In my time western medicine has changed from calling itself modern to orthodox to conventional in response to the rise in interest in other systems and the need to give itself the upper hand."

      "Alternative medicine" is itself a neologism, the term dating to the 70's. Today the term "complementary medicine" is also marketed to those who don't reject real medicine outright. Another neologism is "integrative medicine" for the touchy-feely types who'd rather feel better than get better. (Incidentally, the word "natural" is also thrown about, even though they really mean "supernatural".) All these terms are relatively young; the crackpots keep changing the terms to give themselves the upper hand.
      What's good for the goose is good for the quack.

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    18. To Mr. "Skeptic"
      I notice that you present a great show of polemics against Western medicine. Let's assume for the sake of argument that you have successfully poked holes in their proofs of efficacy. Can you please present positive evidence for alternative medicinal methods? Not polemics, not snark, just good solid evidence that everyone can evaluate.

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    19. @ Dovid Tzvi

      I have tried to make the point that the way evidence is set up is designed to exclude the kind of effect that alternative medicine provides, the one off individual story of the kind that many many comments on this blog have written about in their personal lives. It will never and can never reach the level of scientific evidence, and those that worship this kind of proof as a requirement for accepting anything will never be satisfied. This does not mean that it does not work, just that its effect cannot be 'seen' from within the science framework.

      The point at which people accept this kind of evidence is when they experience it themselves, as happened to me. At the point when you see a dramatic change, even if a subtle one, there is no denying the truth of your empirical experience.

      One of my points is that the kinds of experiences and effects of alternative medicine are aligned with the kinds of experiences and occurrences of religion in general.

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    20. @"Skeptic"
      Fascinating! So you contend then that those many, many of us who have never experienced alt. medicine's gifts should in fact be skeptical of its claims? Secondly, should we actively seek out practitioners simply because they claim to have experienced it personally?
      Even assuming that evidence is not all it's cracked up to be certainly lack of evidence is?

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    21. "I have tried to make the point that the way evidence is set up is designed to exclude the kind of effect that alternative medicine provides"

      Why kind of effect are you referring to? And how does it differ from the effect of real medicine? Suppose we're talking about curing high blood pressure. The effect of a cure can be measure by measuring blood pressure. What's the effect for curing high blood pressure by alt-med? Is it different?
      Migraines: The effect of a cure can be measured by the resolution of symptoms, reduction in frequency and severity. Why is the effect not measurable if it's caused by alt-med?

      "This does not mean that it does not work, just that its effect cannot be 'seen' from within the science framework."

      Interesting claim. But can you prove it? This is special pleading. Somehow, alt-med works, but can't be proved withing the science framework? Why not?

      In any case, what do you mean by cannot be "seen"? Does it mean someone's cured from cancer but "science" still sees the tumor? Does it mean the allergy is cured but the poor fellow is still experiencing what those obscurantic allopaths call anaphylaxis?

      "One of my points is that the kinds of experiences and effects of alternative medicine are aligned with the kinds of experiences and occurrences of religion in general."
      But cures are objective and can be verified by all. It should not make a difference what the source of the cure is.

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    22. @Dovid Tzvi
      Be skeptical of all general claims, but if you haven't experienced the possibilities inherent in alt.med don't rubbish the possibilities.
      'evidence' is just a part of the power games of the establishment. I do appreciate that there are other issues going on there, such as the need to establish safety which started after the thalidomide disaster (ever seen someone with phocomelia, I have, and my mother took tablets whilst my sister was on the way).
      What those practitioners have experienced personally may well be true, but that is no guarantee that you will also get an experience..... It really is individually variable.

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    23. @ Ephraim
      Nope I can't 'prove' it. same problem. It means that someone got a genuine cure but others didn't, and the cure doesn't show within the overall picture. The poor fellow is no longer having anaphylaxis, but others are.
      Cures are indeed objective, but the system avoids attributing them to alt.med at all costs. They are classified as spontaneous resolution, or just dropped from the register. As they say the devil is in the detail. For your example of high blood pressure. Mr. J. needs one kind of approach and Mrs. r needs a very different one. The official version can only track one kind of intervention and apply it uniformly to all patients with high BP. So only Mr J shows up. The other people with this kind of intervention show no effect so they are 'failures'.

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    24. @Ephraim

      BTW I have actually treated someone with high blood pressure using acupuncture; over the course of a fwe weeks the blood pressure slowly but surely came down to normal.

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  7. "homeopathy is also a proven approach"

    http://www.wired.co.uk/article/homeopathy-challenge

    I guess that makes you rich...

    Though I suppose that any true believer in homeopathy with free access to water and a thimbleful of any lucrative substance would be a billionaire. The one downside, of course, is never being able to drink petel/ribena again. After all, the more you dilute the strongest it gets.

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  8. Every so often medical advice is more or less turned completely on its head. Three examples that come to mind are heart stents, exposure to sun, and consumption of foods with cholestorol and saturated fat. (Perhaps coincidentally, the US is behind the curve on all three).

    However, it's not the way to bet. Even more to the point, if you want to go against the existing consensus, the absolute worst thing to do is ask a Haredi Rav.

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    1. Don't forget vitamin C and the common cold.

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  9. I suggest a review of the new book discussing R' Belsky's views on alternative medicine. It is quite good.

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    1. This one.
      https://www.judaicapress.com/products/shulchan-halevi-on-alternative-medicine

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    2. Thank you very much for providing the link.

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  10. Interestingly enough, medicine and medical care is a classic example of where, in many cases, today's standard treatment for a particular issue will, in several years hence, be found to be no longer recommended 'in all cases' at best or harmful at worst. Use of antibiotics springs to mind. "No longer recommended" is a common phrase in medical literature. Even when the 'no longer recommended' was best practice for many years and subject to all manner of peer review.

    That is not to say for one moment that today's recommended practice should not be followed. Of course, doctors and healthcare professionals need to follow current best practice.

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    1. ha ha best practice is more than a little subjective....

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  11. The post starts with a valid premise, then proceeds to overshoot the finish line and veer off into invalid territory.
    If the book actually says, as you assert, that people who question the Gemara's medicine are headed toward heresy, then you are correct to attack it.
    But if the book merely points that conventional medicine, - or conventional wisdom of any sort - is not always right, and in fact, is frequently wrong, then you are wrong to criticize him. One need not be a wild eyed mystic to be very skeptical of what passes today for modern science. To the contrary, the clearest and most-level headed thinkers I know scrutinize every claim allegedly said to be the "consensus" of scientists. That's true in every field, from palentology to climate science to health sciences and everything in between. Scientists have their dogmas like everyone else, and are susceptible to bribes, grant money and funders more than anyone else. The word "scientist", whatever that means, confers no more legitimacy upon a man than buying a white coat does.

    Is science always wrong? No, of course not, and I am sure the author if this book doesn't claim so either. The proper approach to it, no less than the approach to claims of holy men, is: כבדהו וחשדהו.

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    1. The problem with the anti-science crowd is that they see continuous learning and refinement as bad, and static knowledge as good. You literally can't reason with such people, because their mind was made up hundreds or thousands of years before they were born.

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    2. absolutely. global warming oops climate change nonsense, and in my field the doctor has been converted by the drug companies into a salesman - statins, pre-diabetes, aspirin, osteoporosis (the normal range was set for 25 year olds so that half of 70 yr olds were automatically in the abnormal zone creating a market, and not that the treatments work of course).

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    3. @Skeptic,

      Do the world a favor. Stop going to doctors. Period. For anything. Ever.

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    4. @avi
      My medical information was based on a book from the founder of the Cochrane collaboration, an international organisation that evaluates medical research and practice at a high academic level.
      I assume your response is some kind of rational analysis of this - obviously you wouldn't need to defend modern medicine any other way - but I don't quite understand it /sarc

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    5. DF: You are confusing science with scientists. You are right that scientists are people. It's the results that count.

      To see that this is true, mathematicians are people too. Do you doubt that any reviewed mathematical result from a reputable source is true? The reason that you don't is the verification in math is very precise, not because mathematicians are more upright folks. So when a scientific result has undergone careful repeated verification, the odds of an error are vanishingly small.

      Is science always wrong? No, of course not, and I am sure the author if this book doesn't claim so either.

      If the author supports homeopathy, then he is denying the atomic theory of matter along with lots of other repeatedly verified fundamental theories of physics and biology.

      Do you really suppose that the atomic theory of matter is still subject to question?

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    6. ACtually he isn't; homoeopathy uses techniques to make an impression on the energy (tzurah - the Greek Forms) of the water, not it's atomic structure. Think lehavdil for example that the Marahal says that the melacha of maka bepatish is the completion of the tzurah of the object.

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  12. The reason why Western medical practices change is that a great deal of effort is put into constantly trying to improve them. Why would anyone want to use methods which make the grand claim of having avoided improvement since ancient times?

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    1. Such as the use of food to fill an empty stomach perhaps?

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    2. You mean pasteurization, refrigeration, fertilization, and automation, among other modern discoveries that have enabled both increasing the food supply and making it safer?

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    3. No I mean the act of placing edible matter in the mouth chewing it and swallowing it to fill the stomach and ease the feeling of hunger. Obviously the quality of food and the amount of production have changed dramatically over the past centuries due to technology but the end act hasn't changed at all. :-)

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  13. student of the history of scienceNovember 6, 2017 at 8:25 PM

    "Science does not "keep changing"; rather, it keeps being refined."

    Bless my soul! The Great Lord Kelvin Still Lives!
    http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Kelvin.html

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    1. I think that you are missing the point. Even relativity and quantum theory did not discard the previous physics. Newton is still taught, but cannot be used at the quantum level or at speeds close to the speed of light (and some other cases sensitive to gravity). In that sense it was a refinement. In a way that the overthrow of the pre-scientific theories of Ptolemy and Aristotle were not.

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    2. student of the history of scienceNovember 7, 2017 at 9:19 PM

      I think it is you who are missing the point. Not only are you calling Einsteins relativity and QM a "refinement" of Newtonian physics, you are also calling the discovery of nuclear physics and radioactive isotopes which pushed estimates of the age of the Earth back BILLIONS of years a mere "refinement".
      Utterly laughable.

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    3. It was refinement of our overall understanding. That is why Newton is still taught today in the first physics course that everyone takes and is still sufficient for a wide range of problems. If you are correct that Newton was "overturned", then why is he still taught and used. How are today's bridges standing? This is completely different from the break from Aristotle and Ptolemy to Kepler/Galileo/Newton with the invention of modern science. The physics and astronomy of Aristotle and Ptolemy are studied for the history of thought, not as a science.

      you are also calling the discovery of nuclear physics and radioactive isotopes which pushed estimates of the age of the Earth back BILLIONS of years a mere "refinement".

      I think that you are confusing the Biblical literalism with physics. There was never a consensus in physics for a young earth. Kelvin put a floor on the age of the Earth with the assumption that it was molten and cooled, but realized that it did not align with other estimates such as that from Darwinism. The discovery of radioactivity solved that problem.

      We're not going to wake up one day and find that blood doesn't circulate, that the brain is not the seat of thought, that the Krebs cycle is not really used store energy, etc.

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    4. We're not going to wake up one day and find that blood doesn't circulate, that the brain is not the seat of thought, that the Krebs cycle is not really used store energy, etc.

      brain isn't the seat of thought, that's in the nefesh. and the krebs cycle is about sugar breakdown for energy production. just sayin'

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    5. student of the history of scienceNovember 8, 2017 at 6:12 PM

      For goodness sake, David, have you ever heard of the term "paradigm shift"? Did you know that it was applied to the fundamental understandings of modern science after Kepler/Galileio/Newton?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm_shift#Science_and_paradigm_shift

      If your only standard for science being overturned is Aristotle and Ptolmey, and anything less becomes mere refinement, then I'm afraid this reflects more of your desire to deflect criticism from Rabbi Slifkin and less of a desire to have an honest discussion about the inherent uncertainty within many fundamental theories of modern science.

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    6. brain isn't the seat of thought, that's in the nefesh Irrelevant. The Brain is the seat of thought in the sense that the heart and kidneys were described previously. It's not moving back to the heart.

      and the krebs cycle is about sugar breakdown for energy production. just sayin'

      Which is stored in ATP which is then used for driving various processes requiring energy, no? Anyhow are you saying that maybe it really doesn't happen?

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    7. @student, not sure where you are going with this. There is no precise definition for "refinement". Choose whatever word you want, say "foo" for something that is a change that doesn't invalidate prior conclusions are "bar" for something where the prior conclusions are overturned and shown to be invalid. So then Newton was "fooed" and not "barred" because he is still taught and used everywhere for practical applications. In order to you conclude that you can safey ignore modern science and take off into homeopathy-land, you need to show that the atomic theory of matter is likely to be "barred" (i.e. overturned like some parts of pre-scientific Aristotle and Ptolemy) and not "fooed" like Newton. Quantum physics did not "bar" atomic theory.

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    8. @David
      Relevance appears to be subjective. Where thought is is actually at the heart (scuse the pun) of the difference between Chazal's model of the person and the modern Enlightenment one. Chazal (and alternative medicine) see the heart (often as not a reference to the nefesh habehamis) as the source of emotions (cf TCM) and providing thoughts (hirhurei halev) that rise up to our consciousness. Sitting inside the brain but not physical is the middle part of the nefesh hasichlis, the koach hamevaker, which is the source of our logical chit chat. As R. Chaim Vital points out these have to be quietened so that the mind can begin to reflect higher wisdom. In the modern map, there is nothing other than the brain so thoughts must be a collective effect of the neurons. Please choose.

      Anyhow are you saying that maybe it really doesn't happen?

      I hear you, of course it happens. I just viewed energy storage in terms of fat as per standard physiology. The Krebs cycle is viewed in terms of the breakdown of sugar for energy production and of course that requires the temporary ATP storage as a mode of transfer. But I take your point.

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    9. @ David @student
      Thomas Kuhn made this shift the basis of his book. It is true that the calculations are not different macroscopically before and after Einstein, but the conception of what things are has radically changed. And as he points out that conception (the paradigm) is outside science, it is not provable, one can only make proofs based on the assumptions given in the paradigm because they provide the framework for the proof in the first place.

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    10. student of the history of scienceNovember 9, 2017 at 2:54 PM

      "In order to you conclude that you can safe[l]y ignore modern science and take off into homeopathy-land,..."

      Ah, now I see what you have been trying to do all this time with Ptolmey and Aristotle overturned by Kepler/Galileo/Newton standard.

      But you're making a straw-man.
      Please bear with me on this:
      Claiming there can be efficacy in alternative healing methods which don't stand up to modern scientific scrutiny doesn't REQUIRE claiming that all of modern science could be *completely overturned*.

      Alternative healing advocates are merely claiming that modern science isn't the be-all-end-all. There can be important truths about the natural world that can go completely under its radar until the next paradigm shift.

      It is still hubris on your part (and Rabbi Slifkin and others on this thread) when you believe with perfect faith that if modern science doesn't recognize its efficacy, then it CANNOT be effective.

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    11. Skeptic,
      If we're getting technical here (this is totally irrelevant), Krebs Cycle is not the breakdown of sugar. Krebs Cycle takes place in the matrix of mitochondria, and sugar is actually not able to pass through the mitochondrial membrane. You must be referring to Glycolysis, which is the process that breaks down sugar to produce ATP. (Incidentally, the breakdown of sugar itself produces very little ATP.) The residue from this breakdown does proceed to the krebs cycle, but by this point, the "sugar" is long gone. It's also interesting that you guys chose to pick out krebs cycle, as the Electron Transport Chain yields WAY more ATP for the cell.

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    12. " and less of a desire to have an honest discussion about the inherent uncertainty within many fundamental theories of modern science."

      Irrelevant. Straw man. Even if all of modern scientific theory is 100% wrong, it would still be useful. The system of planetary epicycles seems hopelessly convoluted today, but it works! Yeah, gravity may not really exist, but things still fall at (more/less) the rates determined by Newton.
      Likewise, anatomists may someday located the twelve "meridians", but acupuncture still won't work better than a placebo. Physicists may develop a microscope that can detect that something still remains in hyper-dilutions... but homeopathy will still be not better that water.

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    13. Chazal (and alternative medicine) see the heart (often as not a reference to the nefesh habehamis) as the source of emotions (cf TCM) and providing thoughts (hirhurei halev) that rise up to our consciousness.

      This is the typical counter-factual reinterpretation that changes Chazal and the Rishonim from normal intelligent people into something like Yoda. Like many others, they thought that the heart was the seat of thought because of its centrality and changes in heart-rate that result from thought and feeling. We know that is wrong because you can replace a heart and the person has the same thoughts, while brain damage impairs various thought functions and is correlated to where the damage occurs. If Chazal and the Rishonim were alive today, they would speak of brain in place of heart (where they are not speaking figuratively).

      More importantly, as we move forward, we learn more and more about brain function. We will not shift back to the notion that the heart is the seat of thought.

      I hear you, of course it happens.

      Are you sure? Maybe in 100 years, we will see that the Krebs cycle was the imagination of the atheist scientists. That is what is being argued with the "100 year ago, things were differnt" angle.

      Claiming there can be efficacy in alternative healing methods which don't stand up to modern scientific scrutiny doesn't REQUIRE claiming that all of modern science could be *completely overturned*.

      Yes it does. Homeopathy and atomic theory (and lot of other stuff) are not compatible. If atomic theory is correct, homeopathic medicines are water. This is besides the fact they don't work.

      It is still hubris on your part (and Rabbi Slifkin and others on this thread) when you believe with perfect faith that if modern science doesn't recognize its efficacy, then it CANNOT be effective.

      It is hubris to say the sky is blue? It COULD be pink with purple polka dots, but we looked and it isn't. If not, why not?

      What you are calling "faith in modern science" is actually "we checked and your theory is wrong; you might want to build upon what others have already discovered."

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    14. @David
      Like many others, they thought that the heart was the seat of thought because of its centrality and changes in heart-rate that result from thought and feeling etc.

      I used to think exactly like you, that Chazal were working with the knowledge that they had and of course today they would have thought different.... until one day the penny dropped and I realised that they had a broader and deeper knowledge of the world than we have, and saw further, and knew better. Despite their apparent lack of 'science'. And I understood that what they said was true. even today. And that I had been looking at the world through a pair of sunglasses called science, and when I took them off what Chazal were saying suddenly became rather clear.... Maybe you should look up the words 'tonal' and 'nahwal'

      Maybe in 100 years, we will see that the Krebs cycle was the imagination of the atheist scientists

      No, the Krebs cycle is there, perhaps in 100 years or sooner we will see the control system that lies behind it, and see the energy itself that the physical molecules embody.

      If atomic theory is correct, homeopathic medicines are water. This is besides the fact they don't work.

      Homoeopathy is working on the backside of the molecules, the tzurah. I remember once not being able to sleep and coming downstairs to see what I could take just to get to sleep. I found homoeopathic chamomile and had a go. It was quite interesting, within a few seconds i felt a wave of relaxation start over my head and pass right down through me leaving me really calm, and I went off to sleep. weird but that's what happened. btw I'm not into homeopathy.

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    15. @Skeptic
      Perhaps I sound like a broken record here, but can you prove what you're saying? I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here but most of what you write simply sounds like unsupported "Kabbalah"-babble. Can you prove or demonstrate any of it? Surely you realize that your word alone is meaningless?

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    16. @ Dovid Tzvi
      That's one reason why kabbala is called 'sod' - for the mystic having these experiences he has nothing to prove it, it's a secret. I guess that's why everyone had to see kabolos hatorah, otherwise all the David Ohsie's and friends would have just laughed at Moshe rabenu's story. So no I can't prove this stuff. I totally agree with you that this gives room for a lot of trickery to creep in.

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    17. @Skeptic
      "I guess that's why everyone had to see kabolos hatorah, otherwise all the David Ohsie's and friends would have just laughed at Moshe rabenu's story." Yes, all of David Oshie's friends would have discounted Moshe Rabbeinu's story...as would the Rambam and all other Rishonim who state that Maamid Har Sinai is at the root of the Jewish belief in Toras Moshe. Come to think of it, who wouldn't discount that story? Are there Rishonim (or prominent religious Jewish thinkers) who say it would be reasonable to accept the Torah without har sinai??

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    18. Whoops! Turns out I was talking to a troll this whole time! Nicely done Mr. "Skeptic" but I won't continue talking to myself for your amusement. Have a great day.

      Delete
    19. student of the history of scienceNovember 13, 2017 at 4:03 PM

      @David Ohsie

      Claiming there can be efficacy in alternative healing methods which don't stand up to modern scientific scrutiny doesn't REQUIRE claiming that all of modern science could be *completely overturned*.

      "Yes it does. Homeopathy and atomic theory (and lot of other stuff) are not compatible. If atomic theory is correct, homeopathic medicines are water. This is besides the fact they don't work."

      Um, no it doesn't.
      It's fascinating how you can spout such ignorance with such confidence.
      Maybe you should look into how Homeopathy is supposed to work before you formulate an opinion:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=49&v=4HXE-aHj7Tc

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    20. Student of the history of science:
      I remember watching that video. a friend made me watch it.
      Near the end of his video, he quotes a study published in the Lancet in 1994. This video was published in 1997.
      In 1997, the authors of the article published an update to their 1994 study:
      Linde 1997, meta-analysis, 89 trials.
      The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. Further research on homeopathy is warranted provided it is rigorous and systematic.

      Linde produced a follow-up paper in 1999, which concluded:
      The evidence of bias [in homeopathic trials] weakens the findings of our original maceen published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials… have negative results, and a recent update of our raceview for the most “original” subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments.

      Linde co-authored a brief article in the Lancet in December 2005. In it he wrote,
      We agree (with Shang et al) that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust…Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.
      (Stole this text from a comment on YouTube, the author, Alan Henness, writes the truth in a nice and succinct way)

      It's fascinating how people can spout such ignorance with such confidence.

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  14. another book called alternative medacine in halcha came out recentlly as well by the teachings of rav belsky written by his son..... what about that one?

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  15. Chicken 'quacks' + alternative medicine quacks + other religious quackery is turning Judaism into well you know the saying. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, well I guess it a duck. ACJA

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    1. If you keep hearing the word quack then maybe you are the duck. :-).

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    2. Quack Quack. Quack Quack. Skeptic - your comment brought a smile to my face. : - ). I need to duck. Rav Slifkin speaks Emes about many things.

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  16. The disclaimer should be giving the full pasuk. We must use our intelligence instead of visualizing or dreaming up images. See Guide to the Perplexed 1.3.2
    וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י לֹ֤א רְאִיתֶם֙ כָּל־תְּמוּנָ֔ה בְּי֗וֹם דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה אֲלֵיכֶ֛ם בְּחֹרֵ֖ב מִתּ֥וֹךְ הָאֵֽשׁ׃
    For your own sake, therefore, be most careful—since you saw no shape when the LORD your God spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire—
    אמנם 'תמונה' הוא שם נופל על שלושה ענינים בסיפוק. וזה שהוא יאמר על צורת הדבר המושגת בחושים חוץ לשכל - רצוני לומר תארו - והוא אמרו "ועשיתם פסל תמונת כל" "כי לא ראיתם כל תמונה"; ויאמר על הצורה הדמיונית הנמצאת בדמיון מן האיש אחר העלמו מן החושים - והוא אמרו "בשעפים מחזיונות לילה וכו'" וסוף הדבר "יעמוד ולא אכירמראהו תמונה לנגד עיני" - רצונו לומר דמיון לנגד עיני בשנה; ויאמר על הענין האמיתי המושג בשכל. ולפי זה הענין השלישי יאמר בו ית' 'תמונה' - אמר "ותמונת יי יביט" - ענינו ופרושו ואמיתת האלוה ישיג
    The term temunah, on the other hand, is used in the Bible in three different senses. It signifies, first, the outlines of things which are perceived by our bodily senses, i.e., their shape and form; as, e.g., "And ye make an image the form (temunat) of some likeness" (Deut. 4:16); "for ye saw no likeness" (temunah) (Deut. 4:15). Secondly, the forms of our imagination, i.e., the impressions retained in imagination when the objects have ceased to affect our senses. In this sense it is used in the passage which begins "In thoughts from the visions of the night" (Job 4:13), and which concludes "it remained but I could not recognize its sight, only an image--temunah--was before my eyes," i.e., an image which presented itself to my sight during sleep. Thirdly, the true form of an object, which is perceived only by the intellect: and it is in this third signification that the term is applied to God. The words "And the similitude of the Lord shall he behold" (Num. 12:8) therefore mean "he shall comprehend the true essence of the Lord."

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    1. As I understand that Moreh he is saying that one has to be careful that the images one perceives are genuine ones, i.e. coming from higher levels, and not products of our own imagination.

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  17. This article is another stunning example of the arrogance and ignorance of contemporary proponents of scientism and reductionist materialism.It is noteworthy that Rabbi Slifkin leads off his critique, with a derogatory title - "When Rabbis Quack" and a derogatory description of Rabbi Szmerla as a "Vaccine Opposing Rabbi". The fact of the matter is that there are virtually no double blind placebo control studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated populations to unvaccinated populations. The few studies that have been done demonstrate much higher rates of morbidity and mortality in the vaccinated populations. Science and particularly medicine have been very wrong many times in the past. It was not long ago that Eugenics was accepted science, and was being promoted in the leading universities in the US. It was not an innocuous academic exercise, but led to legislative action resulting in the compulsory sterilization of over 60,000 US citizens.Edwin Black points out that ultimately the US Eugenics movement, led to the Holocaust as the Nazis justified their racial policies as "Applied Biology". Rabbi Slifkin and David Ohsie have put modern science and medicine on a pedestal where it does not deserve to be and unscientifically discounted ancient methods of healing that may be effective and helpful to people.

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    1. The fact of the matter is that there are virtually no double blind placebo control studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated populations to unvaccinated populations.

      "The first thing a man will do for his ideal is lie." There are heaps of double-blind studies of vaccination. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=double+blind+safety+vaccines

      That's enough to invalidate your comment, but I must say that the "you're a Nazi" association was a nice touch.

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    2. "The fact of the matter is that there are virtually no double blind placebo control studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated populations to unvaccinated populations."


      You are not entitled to make up "facts":
      1) Efficacy of nine-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccineagainst pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease in The Gambia: randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

      2) Prophylactic quadrivalent human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) L1 virus-like particle vaccine in young women: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled multicentre phase II efficacy trial

      3) The Efficacy of Influenza Vaccination in Elderly Individuals:
      A Randomized Double-blind Placebo-Controlled Trial

      4) Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of SPf66 malaria vaccine in children in northwestern Thailand (Here, the vaccine was found ineffective)

      5) Efficacy of pentavalent rotavirus vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in infants in developing countries in Asia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

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    3. I bet you didn't look into what was used as the "placebo" in these vaccine trials.
      (Hint: it isn't always saline solution)

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  18. Nice non sequitur. I especially enjoyed how it is so enthusiastic, bordering on feverish!

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  19. Perhaps I should have clarified when I stated "the fact of the matter is that there are virtually no double blind placebo control studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated populations to un vaccinated populations" that I was referring to safety studies although I thought that was clear when I mentioned that the few studies that have been done demonstrate higher morbidity and mortality among the vaccinated. For those interested in such a study try this one from Pub Med https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360569/
    titled The Introduction of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis and Oral Polio Vaccine Among Young Infants in an Urban African Community: A Natural Experiment. Most striking is this comment in the conclusions section "It should be of concern that the effect of routine vaccinations on all-cause mortality was not tested in randomized trials. All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis. Though a vaccine protects children against the target disease it may simultaneously increase susceptibility to unrelated infections".
    Insofar as the studies cited by Ephraim, the placebos used were only to demonstrate efficacy and not safety. In fact it can be argued that using an aluminum adjuvant as a "placebo" as opposed to a saline solution, as was done in the HPV trials is akin to scientific fraud.
    I never called you a Nazi and you know that. I was demonstrating how an arrogant reliance on the popular science of the day, which was later falsified,helped lead to the Holocaust as well as many other atrocities. This is still true today particularly in the practice of medicine.

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    1. "I mentioned that the few studies that have been done demonstrate higher morbidity and mortality among the vaccinated."

      That doesn't mean anything. The question is not whether there are risks from vaccines, but whether the risks outweigh the benefits. How many people are run over by ambulances and firetrucks?

      Now for the studies:
      Side Effects Associated With Influenza Vaccination in Healthy Working Adults (Conclusion: "Influenza vaccination.. is not associated with higher rates of systemic symptoms when compared with placebo injection")

      Adverse reactions to influenza vaccine in elderly people: randomised double blind placebo controlled trial.(Conclusion: "Only local side effects were more common in vaccinated patients and all side effects were mild.")
      Measles-mumps vaccination in the FRG: an empirical analysis after 14 years of use. II. Tolerability and analysis of spontaneously reported side effects ("...no new risks of the vaccination could be identified and that the frequency of side effects is in good agreement with the findings of other authors. It therefore can be assumed that the relative risks of the vaccination continue to be distinctly outweighed by the benefits.")



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  20. I like the way you took my comment out of context. I will spell it out for your readers so there is no misunderstanding."The fact of the matter is that there are virtually no double blind placebo control studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated populations to unvaccinated populations". "The few studies that have been done demonstrate much higher rates of morbidity and mortality in the vaccinated populations". I am referring of course to long term safety studies comparing all health outcomes including all forms of morbidity and mortality similar to what is required of all pharmaceuticals with the exclusion of biologics such as vaccines. For an example one such study that was done, here is the link to pub Med for you to chew on it. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
    /28188123 the title is "The Introduction of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis and Oral Polio Vaccine Among Young Infants in an Urban African Community: A Natural Experiment" Of striking note is this paragraph in the conclusion section "It should be of concern that the effect of routine vaccinations on all-cause mortality was not tested in randomized trials. All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis. Though a vaccine protects children against the target disease it may simultaneously increase susceptibility to unrelated infections".
    The studies you cite above are for short term efficacy and not long term safety or even efficacy.The HPV trials have come under considerable criticism due to the fact the the "placebo" used was an aluminum adjuvant - AAHS Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxy Phosphate Sulfate - which is the same adjuvant used in the vaccine. A real placebo would have been a relatively inert substance such as a saline solution.
    You know I did not call you a Nazi. Edwin Black has demonstrated very convincingly how false and fake science which had been widely accepted in the US in the early 20th century by the intellectual establishment, led to the Holocaust, after being embraced by the Nazis. I stand by my criticism that there is an arrogance here that elevates "science" or more specifically popular science to the point where it becomes dangerous and to the point where it becomes cult like and even religious like. The fact that you need to make fun of people and belittle them as ducks and quacks illustrates this quite clearly. Of all people,Rabbi Slifkin who was himself the victim of an entrenched,arrogant, power structure, should be sensitive to people who think outside the box,speak truth to power, and "challenge" widely accepted dogma.

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    1. there is an arrogance here that elevates "science" or more specifically popular science to the point where it becomes dangerous and to the point where it becomes cult like and even religious like.

      I don't think it's just an arrogance, it's that scientific knowledge replaced religion as the agreed provider of an explanation for things, like the us dollar is the world's reserve currency, the one that everything else is traded against (even gold is valued in dollars). Once Aristotle fell, and he fell hard, there was no explanation of 'why' in physical terms, and science took over and filled that vacuum. So anyone coming with a different kind of explanation is outside the system.

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    2. " I stand by my criticism that there is an arrogance here that elevates "science" or more specifically popular science to the point where it becomes dangerous and to the point where it becomes cult like and even religious like. "

      Nonsense. Alt-med cranks are even more megalomaniacal. Whereas, even the winner of the Nobel prize in medicine will not claim a panacea. Salk saved (by now) over a million lives. Did he claim to cure ALL diseases? Did he claim to have prophetic ability which inspired his work? Did he claim to discover deep religious "truths"? Yet, the founder of chiropractic would answer yes to all the above questions.
      Many alt-med systems also claim to diagnose and cure all. And many are indeed religious in nature, even if they do downplay the spirituality when propagandizing to non-suspecting, naive or non-sympathetic audiences.

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    3. Jonas Salk is a perfect example of how arrogance combined with science and medicine can lead to crimes against humanity. Salk experimented on prisoners,patients in asylums, and children in orphanages in order to develop his Polio Vaccine as well as as influenza vaccine. This despite the fact that there was no informed consent and even though it was long after the Nuremberg trials were held when he should have known not to experiment on human beings.His vaccine was contaminated with SV40 virus which is likely causing many cancers today. It is not clear that the benefits of his vaccine outweighed the risks. It is even possible that the vaccine caused more cases of polio than it prevented such as in the infamous Cutter incident.

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    4. Anti-vaxxer: You didn't respond to my comment. You just saw "Salk" and cut & pasted a tirade from crackpot websites. Not an honest response.

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    5. " Even smallpox turned into a harmless condition at the end"

      Smallpox had a very high mortality rate, not to mention complications among survivors. I don't know what you're talking about.
      In any case, nothing you or any anti-vax crank say or write has any bearing on the validity of alt-med. Even if medicine would still be practiced by "leeches", alt-med would still be nonsense and ineffective. The topic of this post was crackpot medicine, not vaccination. Don't change the topic.

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  21. Worth adding to the vaccine debate that the diseases vaccines treat were in steep decline long before the vaccines came along. The interesting exception is polio, because polio only causes problems if caught during infancy (infantile paralysis) not as a baby, so as hygiene and food quality and quantity improved dramatically it was caught later on in life. Even smallpox turned into a harmless condition at the end, and it's elimination was due more to case isolation than vaccines.

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  22. Skeptic is making stuff up now and is probably trolling. He has also claimed the moon landings were faked and that the CIA can do ESP. Put on your tin hats.

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    1. Pathetic. You forgot to add that I was born on Mars, have three fingers on each hand and have an iq less than a chicken's.

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  23. It's amazing how the most factually uncontroversial posts bring the out the greatest number of unhinged conspiracy theorists.

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  24. And the Slifkin blog became a haven for anti vaxxers......

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  25. I did not cut and paste anything and you did not supply any links for your claimed safety studies. Speaking of the flu vaccine, my neighbor a woman in her 60s, died a few years ago from Polymyositis. This is an auto immune disease that if you will peruse the scientific literature you will see that it can be triggered by the influenza vaccine. You likely will not be warned of this potential "side effect" when you go into your local CVS to get "Your" flu shot so I am doing you the favor and letting you know now. As far as leeches go they are indeed used nowadays for things like reattached limbs in order to help the circulation while the limb heals. The topic of this article started off with an Anti Semitic caricature of a rabbi/duck accompanied by a derogatory title, with the lead off sentence derogatorily referring to Rabbi Szmerla as an anti vaccination rabbi. The science of vaccines as can be found on Pub Med as opposed to the censored stuff you find with Google,does not support the current public health paradigm.

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  26. Hey, anyone want to talk about the Kennedy assassination? Looks like we're on a roll here.

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    1. Nothing to talk about - it was obviously Rafael Cruz!

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    2. Nah it was a suicide with a nail gun.

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    3. Actually this is clear proof that David Ohsie is right; LHO was behind Kennedy yet the projectile that kills him comes from in front. LHO was obviously using one of those Einsteinian bullets that modifies Newtonian motion.

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A Mezuzah Miracle?

Here's a really freaky story. Four girls in my niece's class broke their hands or arms in the last ten days. The teacher decided...