Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/871

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that which perfectly accords with our own notions. That we are not partisans in this matter should have been inferred from our frequent habit of giving replies to one-sided statements, as is done in the present number, and also from the fact that we have published sharp reflections upon the regular school of medicine. The article entitled "Quackery within the Profession," which appeared in the March number of the "Monthly" of last year, sufficiently attests this: it was an unsparing denunciation of the quackish tendencies that are growing up within the limits of the old orthodox medical school.

We are much inclined to accept the view taken in that article, which is that "systems and cures of any class or description" adopted by any school of medicine are of the nature of quackery. We agree with the writer when he says: "There is no system, or cure, or charm, or nostrum, known to the profession; our calling consists solely in the rational study and treatment of disease on common-sense principles." Whether a valid "system" of practical medicine will ever become possible is doubtful, but it is sufficiently certain that the present state of science does not warrant it; and, in this condition of things, any one method of cure to be generally followed must be misleading and injurious. Yet, to the mass of the people, there is something fascinating in a medical theory that can be put into a neat and simple formula. And the effect of this is more pernicious in proportion as these formulas are made the rallying-cries of the different schools of medical practice. These schools are candidates for popular favor. The patronage of the physician comes from the people; the people are ignorant and prejudiced, and easily taken by catch-words and clap-trap; while the doctors, as a class, are sufficiently human to avail themselves more or less of this state of facts in the way of business. The tendency of practitioners is to magnify the differences among the several 'pathies, and thus to favor the notion that some one of them contains the fundamental truth, while all others are essentially erroneous, and, as the people are generally educated to identify themselves with sects and parties, they are well prepared to become partisans in the matter of medical treatment. Thus doctors and laymen react upon each other to strengthen injurious prejudices. As Dr. R. O. Beard remarked, in an article upon "The Schools of Medicine," which we printed last February: "Rooted in the professional ignorance and bigotry of almost a century ago, fostered by the bitter rivalries and exclusivism of opposing theorists, these differences have been taken up and fed by popular opinion, until they seriously embarrass the progress of medical knowledge, and tend to destroy all faith in the science and art of healing. The medical fraternity at large, and of both schools alike, is responsible for this unfortunate condition of affairs. When professional men, who, supposably, represent the best phases of liberal thought and scientific culture, lend their names to the partisanship of mere theory, and array themselves under sectarian titles which signify their adherence to an exclusive dogma, it is small wonder that the laity should follow in their footsteps, and cast their views into the yet narrower mold of unreasoning prejudice."

The fact is, medical practice is far in advance of medical theory. Physicians can do a good deal more than they can explain. The advice of the old judge to the young judge—"Refrain from too much expounding, for you will generally be right in your decisions and wrong in your reasons for them"—is not without its bearing upon the medical profession. Medical philosophizing may be well, but it must be kept within limits, or it will certainly mislead in practice. The doctor who