Faith-based medicine, one of my favorite targets, is raising its ugly head again, this time with the help of a celebrity, Don Imus, who is using quack medicine as an attempted remedy for his cancer. (Thanks to Troy Patterson's blog for bringing this to my attention.)
Sadly, Imus has what sounds like a very aggressive form of prostate cancer, which will almost certainly prove fatal without, or even with, treatment. I can hardly blame a man facing such a dark future for wanting to try anything. And I can't find fault with people who want to try such things in addition to treatments that might work. But when they abandon the only medicine that might work, it's a death sentence, and the person who convinced them is, in my opinion, a quack who should be jailed.
One of these quacks is trying to capitalize on Imus' misfortune. (I won't name him or link to his web site, you can follow Troy's link if you really want to see his drivel.) Imus has been convinced that a concoction of haberneros peppers and garlic will cure his cancer in just two weeks.
Once again, I'm struck by the parallels between religious faith and medical faith. Both require you to accept unprovable, unproven, and illogical "facts." And worse, in order to accept these illogical beliefs, you have to reject logical, rational thinking, the very science that has done so much to make our lives long and healthy. By learning as a child to put faith and authority before curiosity and investigation, religion makes adults who are unable to distinguish good science from bad, quackery from competence, and cures from useless concoctions.
When Don Imus dies, what will this guy who advocates haberneros peppers have to say?