Chinese Medicine is Not Science(1)

By Fang Zhouzi, PhD. Biochemistry (USA)
Published: 2007-02-07

Last November the “Chinese Medicine Research Institute”, established in 1955, changed its name to the “Chinese Medicine Science Institute”. The addition of the word “science” to the title is one of many recent attempts to end the debate about whether or not chinese medicine is scientific.
It would be foolishly easy to rely on this wordplay to end the debate. Creationists in America established the “Scientific Institute for the Creationism”, yet academic circles do not recognize creationism as a scientific principle. While there is debate among western scholars over the effectiveness of various chinese treatment methodologies, for example acupuncture, there is a clear consensus among them over whether or not chinese medicine is science: it is not. Both the American Institute of Health and the American Society of Medicine throw chinese medicine and other folk medicine into a broad category called “alternative medicine”. And the famous organization of skeptics, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, consistently blasts chinese medicine as superstition, sorcery, and pseudoscience.
Supporters of chinese medicine are often criticized. They respond that their critics do not understand chinese medicine; and that only those who are involved in the industry are truly qualified enough to criticize it. By this logic, only palm readers, fengshui masters, and tarot-card readers have the credentials to be skeptical of their own trades. It’s not necessary to have been an chinese medicine practitioner in order to criticize it; so long as one applies the same scientific standards of evaluation that they apply elsewhere, that is sufficient. Modern medicinal knowledge is very well equipped at judging the claims of chinese medicine, and as long as modern medicinal knowledge is present it trivial to disprove them.
If one uses the widely accepted testing standards that are the core of science, namely defensibility, testability, measurability, and provability, to analyze chinese medicine it would be easy to believe that it is not scientific. Without diving into the numbing topic of what science is. But by coming from the angle of “what science is not” I can clearly show why chinese medicine is not science.
Science stresses innovation, not ancient superstition. Thus in science there are no required readings or unquestionable tenets. Modern students of medicine that are interested in medical history read Hippocrates, Galen, Mansuri, Harvey, and others.

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