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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/338

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334
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

tions, its cause would probably have been discovered and its ravages arrested. This probability becomes a certainty if the disease, as has often been asserted, is caused by diet or by residence in certain localities.

Lacking an authoritative standard of such an apparently simple thing as the human diet leaves the people a prey to any glib-tongued person who has any strictly original views to advance or pet theories to advocate. A certain magazine article which recently ridiculed most modern theories of diet and laid special stress on pork and beans as the ideal dietary of the vigorous and progressive, is a fair sample of the mischievous and pseudo-scientific writing which catches the popular eye and may do untold harm. The people deserve and should have a dietary standard, and there should be some competent and properly-equipped body, like the council on pharmacy and chemistry of the American Medical Association, who will spend the necessary time and trouble to settle the questions, not alone of the physiological diet, but of the proper bodily exercise, of ventilation, heating, bathing, etc., etc., in short of personal hygiene; as well as the problems affecting the public health, the pollution of streams and the extinction of tuberculosis.

Furthermore, any new system of therapeutics or any alleged new remedy should be submitted to this body of experts for trial, and approval or condemnation, before it should be possible to advertise it to the public. A variety of methods of treatment are from time to time exploited and no one has the legal right to supervise them or to decide whether, on the one hand, they can do what they are advertised to be able to accomplish or, on the other hand, whether they can be trusted not to harm and injure the people.

If the government can inspect food, it certainly has a right, and should exercise it, to determine, for example, whether or not any newly-advertised method of treatment is safe and appropriate. The objection may be raised against such a proposition as the foregoing that it would be an interference with the personal liberty of which our country is so justly proud; to which the obvious reply is that it is not suggested that any one who wishes to submit to any special course of treatment for a particular disease should be prevented by law from doing so, but every one has a right to know whether the claims of any newly-advertised remedy can be substantiated. In other words, it is no infringement of personal liberty to force a person who professes to have a new and valuable remedy to prove that it is at least not injurious before he shall be allowed to exploit it.

In the material world we have studied everything that grows or exists that can be marketed or used for man's sustenance or comfort, to extend his knowledge, beautify his home, or divert his leisure, but man himself in his most necessary functions, to wit, as an animal,