I was recently asked what I thought about this skeptical piece on the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the USA,:
"Mao's Barefoot Doctors: The Secret History of Chinese Medicine." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc.,
24 May 2011. Web.
29 Dec 2011. http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4259
Unfortunately, I found it full of inaccuracies and misconceptions. I wish skeptics would be more careful of their facts when they try to correct misunderstandings. And I wish other skeptics would be more careful of their facts when reading their works.
To Allan and others,
I've now read the skeptoid report your
mention. I'm afraid I do not consider it a reliable description of the
history of traditional Chinese medicine either in the West or in Asia.
Three big problems (IMHO).
1) He overstates the
condition of Western (allopathic) medicine in urban China during the
time period he discusses. China has always had a shortage of doctors
trained in modern medicine. I'm not sure if they do now or not. I'd need
to find reliable sources (and I don't trust the PRC gov't.) Also since
the Chinese system includes MDs with three styles of training (Western
style with a post-graduate MD degree, as well as those with basically a
four or five year bachelor's style MD degree) you'd have to be careful
to define what you're measuring exactly.
2) He ignores the
that led to the rise (and perhaps end) of the "barefoot doctor"
phenomena. (It was in part an attempt by Mao to undermine the influence
of Western trained or influenced intellectuals who happened to be
working in healthcare.)
3) He ignores the entire history of Chinese traditional healthcare systems prior to the time period he discusses.
short, although I am not familiar with other works by the author, I
don't think this one is terribly helpful for those trying to understand
these things. You might try seeing my article, http://www.csicop.org/si/show/china_chi_and_chicanery_examining_traditional_chinese_medicine_and_chi_theo and perhaps more importantly the shorter, earlier article that is in the reference list to this article.
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