On morality, herbal remedies, and scientific methodologies — A correspondence between Dr. Russell L. Blaylock and Dr. Miguel A. Faria

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Dear Miguel,

I just read your magnificent papers recently appearing in Surgical Neurology International (SNI). Your rebuttal to the comment on your original article on ethics and morality was a masterpiece of scholarship and reasoned logic.(1) It was a delightful tour of moral history. You made a well-reasoned argument against the leftist mentality of excluding ideas that are contrary to the accepted leftist paradigm. This is a holdover from the Marxist idea that since Marxism/Leninism is “scientifically” determined, no further discussions are needed or should be allowed — in their view such additions to the argument only create confusion and discord. As I wrote in my article on contrary views as a “mental illness,” not only are these contrary views considered by the left as a social irritant, but also they are dangerous to the social body and therefore should be treated as such.(2)

I also particularly enjoyed your handling and discussions of the blatant double standards exercised by such critics — that is, how the leftist-leaning medical journals are at liberty to expound endlessly, most often with extremely poor scholarship, on their views of the perfect society and in discussing every leftist pet theory and dogma. They do so as if these issues have been settled and are a forgone conclusion.

Your discussion of the twin pillars of Western Civilization was excellent.(1) So often the secular humanist conveniently forgets that the entire tenor of modern civilization is the echo of four millennia of Judeo-Christian moral influence. I also frequently ask the secular humanist the question — name all the moral principles created by the seculars and not borrowed from Judeo-Christian theology. They will name restrictions against stealing, murder, taking others property, etc. — all taken from the Ten Commandments. When penned down they finally come up with rights to abortion, homosexuality, redistributive justice, etc., which shows their duplicity — redistributive justice violates the Eighth and Tenth Commandments; abortion violates the Sixth Commandment; homosexuality violates both the Old and New Testaments and the First and Fifth Commandments. Like most leftist dogma it is consistently inconsistent — they want it both ways.

When the secular humanists claim that a person is fully moral without a trace of religion they are ignoring that all are affected by Judeo-Christian moral teachings even if at a subconscious level. So, at present they may claim to be free of Christian influence, but they are deceiving themselves and others.

My only disagreement with your paper is when you write, “These altruistic individuals keep their religion to themselves (as it should be)….”(1) In fact, as a Christian one is obligated to profess belief in God and in Jesus as one’s savior and to preach the word to the entire world. The leftists propagated the idea that religion should be a “private thing” and be kept from the public square — that would be a violation of Jesus’ teachings.

This was an excellent paper and I hope all will read it with great care.

I also enjoyed your two papers reviewing the multi-volume tomes by Dr. Plinio Prioreschi.(3,4,5) They were very nicely done reviews of a very interesting historical work. I would take exception to your conclusion in your review of Volume 1 that the herbal effects and acupuncture are most likely due to autosuggestion and placebo effects.(3) The concept of the “placebo effect” is undergoing a radical revision in that these are not psychological phenomenon but rather elicit physical changes within the brain that result in physiological changes. Acupuncture has been shown, for example, to be secondary to a release of endorphins from the CNS and can be reversed using naloxone. The herbs have been shown to affect a great number of cell signaling processes and membrane receptors.

I am not as entranced by the “scientific method” as you.(6,7,8,9) It has great usefulness within a small segment of the universe, but for the vast majority of phenomenon it is useless. There is a lot more to life and existence than can be tested in the laboratory. Interestingly, it is within the world of physics that we are seeing this elucidated. The more they look the more bizarre the world appears and less certain are its laws. In fact, we see the physicists telling us that we must have faith that a lot of what they say is true. Virtual particles are a case in point — they appear out of nothing and disappear in a like manner. The whole concept of matter has undergone a radical change — now there is only one form of existing “substance” — energy. Now that matter is nothing more than a conformation of energy the universe becomes less certain in physical terms and more subject to mysterious forces, what in the past we called the supernatural. The Bible tells us that the world is made of things that cannot be seen (energy) and that God created the universe by His word. As for energy, the world of science cannot accurately define it and when it no longer moves — it disappears into nothingness. In essence, when this nothing is moving, it has properties and when it no longer moves, it does not exist. It makes the miracles of the Bible seem a lot more reasonable and possible and the world of science far less assured.

Excellent articles. Your scholarship is very, very impressive.

Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
Theoretical Neurosciences Research, LLC

References

1. Faria MA. Religious morality (and secular humanism) in Western civilization as precursors to medical ethics: A historic perspective. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:105. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/religious-morality-and-secular-humanism-in-western-civilization-as-precursors-to-medical-ethics-a-historic-perspective/

2. Blaylock RL. When rejecting orthodoxy becomes a mental illness. Hacienda Publishing.com, August 15, 2013. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/when-rejecting-orthodoxy-becomes-a-mental-illness-by-russell-l-blaylock-m-d/

3. Faria MA. A fascinating look at primitive and ancient medicine by medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:87. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/a-fascinating-look-at-primitive-and-ancient-medicine-by-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

4. Faria MA. A journey through time to ancient Greek medicine with medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:100. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/a-journey-through-time-to-ancient-greek-medicine-with-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

5. Faria MA. Another medical journey to ancient Rome and Roman medicine with medical historian Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 15-Jun-2015;6:104. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/another-medical-journey-to-ancient-rome-and-roman-medicine-with-medical-historian-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

6. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part I). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(2):211-214. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/public-health-social-science-and-the-scientific-method-part-i/

7. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part II). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(3):318-322. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/public-health-social-science-and-the-scientific-method-part-ii/

8. Blaylock RL. Regimentation in medicine and the death of creativity (Part 1). HaciendaPublishing.com, March 14, 2015. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/regimentation-medicine-and-death-creativity-part-1-russell-l-blaylock-md-ccn

9. Blaylock RL. Regimentation in medicine and its human price (Part 2). HaciendaPublishing.com, March 20, 2015. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/regimentation-medicine-and-its-human-price-part-2-russell-l-blaylock-md-ccn

Dr. Faria Replies:

Dear Russell,

Your comments are very instructive and insightful as usual. I always appreciate your thoughts, your praise, and even your constructive criticisms.

As to the herbal effects, Dr. Prioreschi and I both were referring to ancient preparations that for the most part had limited pharmacologic value. As disappointing as it may be to many of us, who in admiration wish to attribute medical knowledge to the ancients, medical knowledge that unfortunately they did not really possess — herbal preparations, even those containing opium, were not specifically used for analgesia but for a variety of contradictory conditions for which they had little or conflicting effects if any. The fact is that the ancients knew much more about the preparation of plant poisons than herbal remedies, probably because of the immediate effects in the former and the principle of vis medicatrix naturae (i.e., “the healing power of nature”) in the case of the latter. Most ancient preparations were improperly prepared and did not have enough active pharmacologic substance (i.e., the active principle) to be therapeutically effective. This was discussed and supported with extensive evidence by Dr. Prioreschi in reference to the pharmacopeia of both primitive as well as Graeco-Roman medicine in the work you cited.(1,2,3)

As for acupuncture, I had kept an open scientific mind, but here too I was surprised, but was again persuaded by Dr. Prioreschi’s evidence and arguments. Prioreschi was not only a practicing academic physician and pharmacologist, but also an experienced investigator, possessing a degree in experimental medicine. He actually conducted some of his own research as well as thoroughly reviewed the literature. He was also a Latin and Greek scholar, who reviewed and translated original documents.

The fact is that despite apparent societal evolution, the discernment of purportedly new scientific trends, not to mention the outright premature disclosure of scientific information in vogue,(4,5) some general psychological principles are intrinsic to the nature of man, have been since recorded history, and remain true and possibly eternal — and the susceptibility of man to placebo effect and autosuggestion are two of them, even if they are associated with apparent structural and physiologic neuronal changes. The chronicles of man reveal that has been the case in all of recorded history. And thus, it appears that Solomon’s precept, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun,” is and remains eternally true.(6)

Again thanks for your continuing interest in my writings.

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Hacienda Publishing, Inc.

References

1. Faria MA. A fascinating look at primitive and ancient medicine by medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:87. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/a-fascinating-look-at-primitive-and-ancient-medicine-by-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

2. Faria MA. A journey through time to ancient Greek medicine with medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:100. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/a-journey-through-time-to-ancient-greek-medicine-with-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

3. Faria MA. Another medical journey to ancient Rome and Roman medicine with medical historian Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 15-Jun-2015;6:104. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/another-medical-journey-to-ancient-rome-and-roman-medicine-with-medical-historian-plinio-prioreschi-md-phd/

4. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part I). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(2):211-214. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/public-health-social-science-and-the-scientific-method-part-i/

5. Faria MA. Glyphosate, neurological diseases — and the scientific method. Surgical Neurology International. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:132. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/glyphosate-neurological-diseases-and-the-scientific-method/

6. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11, New International Version (NIV).

This article may be cited as: Blaylock RL, Faria MA. On morality, herbal remedies, and scientific methodologies — A correspondence between Dr. Russell L. Blaylock and Dr. Miguel A. Faria. HaciendaPublishing.com, July 4, 2015. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/on-morality-herbal-remedies-and-scientific-methodologies–a-correspondence-between-dr-russell-l-blaylock-and-dr-miguel-a-faria/

Copyright ©2015 Miguel A. Faria Jr. M.D.

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