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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/701

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QUACKERY WITHIN THE PROFESSION.

QUACKERY WITHIN THE PROFESSION.

THE profession is probably unaware of the progress steadily made by medical quackery in its diverse forms and disguises. Quackery which is not medical—in the sense of being practiced by duly qualified men—is undoubtedly an evil, but its consequences are not comparable with the effects of such quackery as is growing apace within our own ranks, and slowly it may be, but surely, undermining the respect and confidence which the profession has hitherto deserved and received from the public. We sometimes wonder that our calling does not command the warm recognition in certain quarters to which it seems entitled For a sufficient explanation of this default in the estimation of society, let us look to the prevailing and almost daily increasing popularity of "systems" and "cures" tacitly, if not avowedly, supported or countenanced by the profession. There is a sentimental and mock-heroic spirit abroad which burlesques the candor of "truth-seeking," and even mimics the impulses of chivalry. We hesitate to condemn any system, "lest there should be some good in it," and we are too tender-hearted and polite to deal honestly by its promoters, even though we recognize the fallacy of their pretensions, and more than suspect their motives. This is not a faithful line of conduct in reference to our profession, nor is it loyal to science, which is one of the many constituent parts and aspects of truth. We know, or ought to know, that a perfectly just and truthful conception of the science of medicine must bar the recognition of systems and cures of any class or description. The art of healing is not a system, and can never be made one. It is simply an intelligent application of the laws of health in the remedy of disease. We study the "symptoms" of a malady with a view to the acquisition of precise knowledge as to its nature, course, and rational treatment. We pursue the investigation of disease over the boundary-line of death, and explore the cadaver with a view to ascertain the effect of the morbid state on the organism and to elicit its organic causes, albeit we too commonly confound effects with causes. We test the powers and analyze the constitution of drugs, and we scrutinize and make careful trial of methods of treatment, to obtain a reasonable acquaintance with their natures and actions. In brief, we take any amount of trouble and resort to every means at our disposal to render the principles and practice of our art rational. This is our duty, and it is the only method consistent with self-respect and professional integrity; but, if side by side with this policy, we cherish a spirit of credulity which renders us ever ready to countenance systems of which we can know nothing—because there is nothing to know—and take a false pride in showing friendliness to quacks and charlatans, the good work we our-