More Quackery From Rabbis And Doctors
A few weeks ago, in a post entitled When Rabbis Quack, I wrote about a forthcoming sefer, bearing glowing approbations from many rabbonim, which advocates for various forms of energy healing and other such forms of quackery. Over the last few days, I was alarmed to come across further examples of people endorsing such things - both rabbis and physicians! If you'd prefer not to be depressed, don't read this post and just skip to the end to look at an endearing picture of a different type of quackery.
First was Rav Meir Mazuz, one of the leading rabbinic figures in the Sephardic community in Israel. In his weekly shiur, he said that the cure for cancer is eating and drinking dates, water, carrots and pomegranates, and not chemotherapy, as is usually thought. Rav Mazuz further stated that doctors are hiding this from the community so that additional patients come to them for chemotherapy.
What Rav Mazuz described is just one of a long list of diverse bizarre ways in which various people propose to cure cancer, including applying corrosive pastes, coffee enemas, shark cartilage, and all sorts of different remedies. In proper studies, none of these have been found to be effective. Advocates therefore resort to claiming, as Rav Mazuz did, that doctors secretly know that these treatments work yet conspire to hide this information, in order to financially gain from their own useless forms of treatment. Having dealt with oncologists when my father died from cancer, I find this suggestion reprehensible. It's also ridiculous; when doctors themselves contract cancer, they still go with mainstream medicine!
On the plus side, at least Rav Mazuz stated in the lecture that he is pro-vaccines. So at least his followers are only at risk of dying from untreated cancer, not of infecting people with measles.
The next example of quackery that I came across was a link that someone sent me, which, they said, showed that there is scientific evidence for some forms of energy healing. The link was to an article with the bold title that "Science Confirms That People Absorb Energy From Others." The article quoted a Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee, described as a physician and therapist, who "followed the results of an investigation" and concluded that it provides evidence that people can absorb positive or negative energy from others. The problem is that the investigation that Dr. Bader-Lee followed showed no such thing. Rather, it was a study on algae which showed that they can secrete enzymes which enable them to digest neighboring plant matter. That does not have the slightest relevance to people absorbing energy from others, unless we are talking about physical energy and they were eating them. (Also, Dr. Bader-Lee does not seem to actually exist - she appears in no Google search other than with regard to the subject matter of this article.)
Finally, while I was reading about the previous two cases, a physician that I know started promoting homeopathy. Homeopathy has long dismissed by scientists as utter bunk, because (a) most controlled studies show that it has no effect beyond placebo and (b) homeopathic remedies don't actually have anything in them. But homeopathy is making something of a resurgence with new claims of "scientific evidence" that homeopathic substances contain "nanoparticles" which have an unexplained medical effect. Now, I am somewhat out of my depth here, but it seems to me that this is no different from bizarre cancer remedies or energy healing, with which there are a few eccentric scientists/ doctors who initially propose it, but the overwhelming majority point to serious flaws in their claims. Regarding nanoparticles, see this article, this one and this one.
As promised, I am finishing on a happy note, with an endearing picture of a different type of quackery: one of several ducklings which hatched last week at The Biblical Museum of Natural History. It is just one of several species that have been born at the museum lately, but definitely one of the cutest!
"I'm too cute to be fed to a snake!"