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Faith Is Not Good Medicine
By: B_D_ice  |  February 28, 2010


Dear readers, we are lucky enough to live in an age of modern medicine. We exist in an age where treatments for everything from minor headaches to cancer undergo rigorous testing, and have to beat a placebo by a significant enough amount to even be considered as a functional treatment. This means we have the luxury of being able to receive quality treatments and know that there is at least a good possibility that whatever treatment we are undergoing will be effective.

However, as with any scientific progress, there are people who would rather trust in a book written by men thousands of years ago. I am of course referring to people who believe in Faith Healing, also known as Faith Based Medicine.

Faith based medicine is, in short, the use of religious beliefs and rituals to attempt to cure sickness, heal wounds and infections, and other medicinal ailments. While the concept of healing someone without harsh chemicals that make you lose your hair is noble, I have to extend my most sincere and honest "FUCK YOU!" to faith healers, and a very similar "FUCK YOU!" to the people that opt away from biomedical treatments in favor of faith healing their sick children.

"But, I can do with my faith as I choose! It's my right to have a religion and choose to incorporate it into medicine!"

I'm not trying to de-convert anyone here. If you have a religion, great. If you go to church every Sunday, more power to you. I'm going to go ahead and agree with you and reference the Aussie-dude from House and say there is no problem incorporating prayer with medicine. However, prayer, like every other behavior has a proper time and proper place. The proper place for prayer in the world of medicine isn't in the operating room, it's in the waiting room. If you want so badly to add prayer to the list of treatments your kid received for his heart failure, that's fine, but don't make it the only one, especially when his condition is treatable.

Furthermore, making your kid pray to god to make him healthy can do much more harm than good. What if he doesn't get better? Are you going to tell him he didn't pray hard enough, or that god decided to love him a little less that day? Again, prayer is all fine and dandy when used in compliment to other treatments, but using it my itself when there are other alternatives is negligible homicide.

Let's play pretend for one moment. Let's say you have a kid, and that I don't give too much of a shit about your stupidity plaguing the earth. Just for the sake of argument. Your kid gets sick, and can't eat. He's two, and he gets sick. His throat is sore, he's congested, he's got liquid bowel movements, and a bit of trouble swallowing. Most people would think, "Oh, my offspring has become ill. I should take him to a physician!" But not you, you decide that now is the perfect time to edumacate your toddler on the teachun's uh Jebus Cripes. You don't call a doctor, you call a pastor, and you begin faith-healing. Now, aside from the "trouble swallowing" symptom, one could almost conclude flu, or a really bad cold and upset stomach, but when the symptoms persist, most reasonable people would take the child to the doctor, or even buy some children's Tylenol Long story short, your kid dies. The blame lies on you and whoever helped you bring that poor toddler into this world.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "It sounds far too far fetched, and wouldn't happen. Nobody could have seen these symptoms being deadly!" Unfortunately, this exact situation already has.

On January 24th of 2009, little Kent Schaible passed away from treatable symptoms in his Pennsylvania home. His symptoms were severe, uncomfortable, and debilitating, yet they were entirely treatable by simple antibiotics, or even some children's Tylenol

"At no time that day, nor in the week-and-a-half prior, did Herbert and Catherine Schaible seek medical treatment for their son despite his sore throat, congestion, liquid bowel movements, sleeplessness and trouble swallowing,"

This is not the only case, and it's not something that gets blown out of proportion by the media. It happens about once a month, really, and it rarely makes the news. Mr. And Mrs. Schaible let that little boy suffer for days, offering only prayer and the power of their god to save him. While I am sorry that they lost a son, however stupid a reason, I am infinitely more sorry that two-year-old Kent had to suffer from their lack of common sense until he died.

As sad as this is, we've probably all heard about the opposite side of the story, where people have been miraculously healed by speaking tongues or the laying of hands or something like that. The people who believe this clearly underestimate bot the placebo effect, (which applies to everything from pills, to surgery) and the fact that once-in-a-lifetime-events statistically happen to everyone about once a month.

I do my best to respect other people's religious beliefs, but I cannot help but fail when I hear about kids who are denied medical treatment, because they are minors under the care of people who would rather turn to God, Allah, or Yah-weh to heal their children, especially when the symptoms can be treated by normal biomedical means. Fuck faith healing, fuck faith healers. They're already fucking you.

More on the Placebo Effect
http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect?currentPage=all

And the full article on Kent
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20091008_Faith-healing_parents_charged_in_death_of_infant_son.html


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