WYSONG HEALTH LETTER
Dr. R. L. Wysong
May 1988
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ATHEROSCLEROSIS REDUCED BY TOUCH
     In an atherosclerosis study, 60% reduction in plaque formation in one of two groups of rabbits fed the identical diets was noticed.  As it turns out, this group was being fed by a technician who took the rabbits from their cages before feeding, and caressed and handled them before returning them to their cages.  Handling was the only variable. We either reject the results as being too absurd to be believed, or reassess our worldview. 
     Disease does not occur in a biological vacuum.  There are direct neurological links to both the cellular and humoral segments of the immune system.  These handled rabbits demonstrated that higher-level affects (touching, loving) modulate lower level immunity and disease resistance. 
     Reference:
          Cancer Topics, September 1987
 
GREAT MINDS ARGUE WHOLISM
     R. Buckminster Fuller is considered one of the best minds of the present century.  He is a geometrician, architect, philosopher and world ecologist.  His most visible accomplishment is the geodesic dome that was erected at the 1967 Montreal Expo.  His more esoteric works reveal profound contributions in terms of understanding the world.  After a lifetime of studying the inherent shape and geometric patterns in the universe, he concludes that whole systems, from bacteria to man, to the Earth, and even the Universe, have qualities that transcend the description of any of their parts. Without full consideration for these composite wholistic qualities, it is not possible to understand our world. 
     As a child, most of us have large questions. But at school, we are told never mind these big questions, like “Where did I come from?” and “What are the stars made of?”  Never mind and learn A B C.  The student continues through school into college and becomes more and more specialized.  Fuller argues we never have a chance to return to the whole, to the original questions we had in the beginning. 
     The educational system is designed to create specialization.   We are given tools for learning but only to assist us in understanding specialized parts of our world.  The more educated we become, the more funneled we are, the more sieved through smaller and smaller holes, until we are intellectually cubby-holed.  Specialization is necessary for progress, yet specialization usually renders one more vulnerable to non-predicted change.
     For example, biological extinctions throughout history have occurred primarily as a result of overspecialization.  It could therefore be argued that the present trend toward more and more specialization without integrating these specialties into the whole renders our educational system, as well as the occupations it trains, vulnerable.  We become less capable of adapting to new paradigms of thought that would shift the meaning and purpose of what we do. 
     Fuller finds that in describing synergy, wholeness, as it exists throughout the Universe, he must use language and methods of expression that for the average student, are difficult to comprehend.   For example, his definition of human is: “Humans are each a special case enfoldment and integrity of the complex aggregate of abstract weightless omni interaccommodative maximally synergetic nonsensorial Universe of eternal timeless principles.” 
     He makes a strong case that all systems, whether human or geometric, contain properties not explained by their parts.  For example, alloys of metal create a unique emergent quality.  When I say emergent, I am referring here to a new quality that exists in the whole, but does not exist in the part.  For example, if the tensile strength of chrome, nickel, iron, carbon and so forth are measured, there is no way to predict the tensile strength of the new alloys created.
     Similarly, humans are something other than the skin that we shed, the nails that are clipped and the hair that is cut off.  There is, in effect, a flow-through of material from the food that we eat, to that which is lost or excreted, yet neither in the food, nor in that which is lost, is a description of the whole of the person themselves. 
     The reductionistic method of breaking wholes into smaller and smaller parts to explain questions about the whole is doomed to failure.  Yet this is how the majority of science, in particular the life sciences, proceeds.  We could argue from Fuller that whole food, as it exists in nature, contains qualities not represented by processed, fractionated parts.
     The complex web of interdependency, synergism and emergent qualities that exists at all scales, is the essence of the real world and must not be ignored. 
     Szent-Györgyi won 2 Nobel prizes.  He argued that at every step of analysis, subtle qualities exist which are not in the parts.       This comes from a lifetime of reductionistic study.  He states, “We must not lose our bearings, or we may fall victim to the simple idea that any level of organization can best be understood by pulling it to pieces, by a study of its components, that is by a study of its next lower level.   This may make us dive to lower and lower levels in the hope of finding the secret of life there.  This made my own life a wild goose chase.”
     Recognizing the existence of these emergent qualities changes our field of vision.  We focus less and scan more.  With this skill, we will be much more likely to develop the wisdom of peripheral vision, a wisdom that permits adaptation and the flow of new truths and discoveries. 
 
UNTANGLING DEFINITIONS
     “Natural” is a word that risks losing its intrinsic meaning.  Particularly has this been true since consumer surveys demonstrated that “natural” on a label was the most effective of any slogan in increasing sales.   But “natural” fruit juice may contain only 5% fruit juice, “natural” shampoo might contain a half a dozen synthetics and a “natural” human or animal food might contain food fractions, processing additives, purified synthetic amino acids, mineral salts and synthetic vitamins.  Furthermore, these foods can be processed by methods that alter natural ingredients and create new synthetic species such as racemized amino acids and carbohydrates, oxidized and isomerized fatty acids, and Maylard protein-carbohydrate complexes to name a few. 
     Dollars, the race for sales, have a way of distorting definitions.   Taken to the extreme, everything can be considered natural since everything is made of atoms (or ultimately energy), and atoms are natural.  Or put another way, since humans are natural, it therefore follows that whatever humans do is natural.   This confusion of terms conveniently blurs the distinction between what is natural and what is synthetic.  The resulting obfuscation helps food producers minimize or eliminate natural food, their strongest competition.  The goal of the food processing industry, that everyone eat from packages confident that they are not sacrificing health, becomes all the more accessible. 
     In this discussion, I am here restricting the use of the term natural to the archetypal character of the Universe.  Things natural are physical and biological phenomena that are spontaneous, not artificial, manufactured or otherwise anthropogenically altered. 
     What is food by definition?  Food is nourishment.  Nourishment is that which fosters life, growth and health.  Food can therefore be viewed as being much more than what is simply consumed per os.  In addition to what we actually eat, sunlight, air, magnetism, gravity, circadian rhythms and perhaps many other as yet identified factors and forces all may provide nourishment in one form or another.  Natural food in its broadest imaginable sense can therefore mean our natural environmental context.  It may even be taken so far as to be considered everything that is not the eater.  Since by definition all organisms are a part of the      Universe, not extraneous to it, integration with the Universe implies dependence on it. 
     Oxygen is perhaps the most critical of foods, since its deprivation can result in death in minutes.  Other foods, however, may also be essential even though their absence may create health disturbance only after many years of deficiency, or perhaps never result in any clinically apparent effects at all.  Determining all effects of deficiency or excess depends upon the ability to analyze perfectly, to discern all subtleties of less than optimal health.  Unfortunately that ability, that science, is still in its infancy.  Cause and effect relationships, nevertheless, continue and can ultimately rob us of health. 
     Food by definition must also predate the eater, since an organism could not arise without the preexistence of the nourishment upon which it depends.   Natural foods of course were extant prior to the origin of life, and thus fit the definition.  Modern processed foods are a late arrival after the fact, and thus do not fit the definition.  In this regard, we can change the terms of the old “which came first the chicken or the egg” conundrum to “which came first, the chicken or its food.”  The answer is obvious in this case.  By this definition of food we can decide what is best to eat.   Therefore, by this definition, any of the modern concoctions, having arrived after the fact, so to speak, cannot be considered to even be food. 
     The definition of food suggests that it is (1) natural, (2) holistic and (3) preexistent.  The modern reductionistic analytical approach defines foods as (1) unnatural, (2) isolated fractions and (3) arising after the life forms it is meant to sustain. 
     If the natural character of a food is altered with no apparent ill effect, can we conclude that natural could be replaced with synthetic without consequent? Fouling our own environmental nest and perfuming, coloring, fractionating and embalming our food supply are all one in the same phenomenon.  The recent ability of humans to disrupt macro cyclic balances and alter food context, has changed all the parameters, but not the rules, of the great life phenomenon.  All life has now become unwitting subjects in a new gigantic experiment.  The results so far are not encouraging.  At least 70% of the diseases afflicting modern humans are a direct result of an environment alteration – be it the environment of the food we eat, the air we breathe, the land upon which crops are grown, the atmospheric canopy, and our entire context.   All interplay to affect health or disease.  
     Therefore, definitions become critical.  “Food” is not just anything we put into our mouth. A “natural” environment is not defined by whether it results in immediate disease or death. We can clear the semantic smoke from the air by filtering all the nonsense with the genetic context archetypal model. 
 
THE SPURIOUS 100% COMPLETE CLAIM
     How can the claim be made that anything is 100% complete, let alone a synthesized modern processed diet?  It would seem that this claim would be immediately dismissed simply because it assumes that which is preposterous, namely that here, at this point in time, the science of nutrition is a completed science.  If all knowledge is not held, how can the claim be made merely because a food can be fed for several weeks to an animal and disease not result?  This presumes we know all manifestations, not only of gross deficiency, but also of subtle imbalances.  This claim requires the ability to measure, at the biochemical level, sub-optimal enzyme systems that will not manifest disease until, perhaps, the last quarter of life.  This ability is, of course, nonexistent, and is not even within the realm of possibility at this time.  Not only is nutrition not a completed science, it is probably the least developed and most challenging since a complete understanding of the field requires a complete understanding of essentially every other discipline.  Pillars representing every other field of knowledge at the top, at the pinnacle, support it. 
     The claim that a diet is 100% complete – and some manufacturers guarantee it – should not be permitted.  It leads the public to a level of confidence in human knowledge and nutritional expertise that simply does not exist, and thus puts them at risk.  It serves only one purpose, to sell product.  Nutrition depends upon basic sciences, such as chemistry, physics, physiology, anatomy, and just about every field of thought and inquiry that exists.   In none of these sciences would anyone claim 100% complete knowledge.  How, therefore, can a product that is derived from an aggregate science such as nutrition, which depends upon these basic sciences, legitimately make a 100% complete claim. 
     The faulty nature of the analytical reductionist approach in nutrition is manifest in the ongoing discovery that manufactured foods are not 100% complete after all.  Processed foods, for humans as well as animals, are not properly balanced with fiber, trace minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, or vitamins.  These discoveries are only the tip of the iceberg.  A price will be paid by humans and their dependent animals who defer to the claim that any processed packaged product is 100% complete.
 
HOSPITALIZATION:  LESS IS MORE
     When President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955, he spent 7 weeks convalescing in the hospital.  He was permitted very little physical activity and was virtually carried from place to place by corpsmen.  A recent randomized controlled trial of hospital discharges 3 days after myocardial infarction reveals surprising results.  This study was to determine if patients, treated with coronary reperfusion therapy, such as thrombolysis, angioplasty, or both, would survive better after a short stay or after a long hospital stay.  Over the past 25 years, the length of stay in a hospital has decreased from about 7 or 8 weeks to approximately 8 days at present.  This is for uncomplicated myocardial infarction.  Uncomplicated means that within 72 hours after admission, there were no further signs such as angina, heart failure or arrhythmia.  In other words, the common everyday heart attack.  Two randomized groups were made with 179 patients.  Eighty patients were randomly assigned to either an early 3-day hospital discharge, or a conventional 7-10 day discharge.  Then these patients were followed up at the end of 6 months.  The results are as follows:
     Of those discharged early, 6 had hospital readmission, whereas of those discharged after the longer stay in the hospital, 10 had a readmission.
     None of the early discharge group had reinfarctions.  Five in the long-stay discharge had readmission for reinfarctions.  
     Three of the short stay had angina and eight of the longer stay had angina. 
     Those discharged early returned to work an average of 40 days after discharge, whereas those in the later discharge group returned to work an average of 57 days after discharge. 
     The group staying only 3 days averaged a cost of about $12,000, whereas those who stayed 7-10 days had a cost upon discharge of approximately $18,000.  
     By all criteria measured after 6 months, the group discharged after 3 days had better results – and it was certainly more cost effective.  You could pay more, stay longer, and get sicker!
     An even more extreme approach is now being advocated in parts of Great Britain, where they are treating patients exclusively in the home.  This has not met with great enthusiasm in the United States.   But increasing pressure is being placed on the medical care system to decrease costs in this burgeoning industry, which is creating a tremendous financial drain on our economy.  Prolonged hospitalization and inactivity have proven harmful by causing physical deconditioning, promoting deep venous thrombosis and demoralizing patients and their families.   Results should supercede medical special economic interests.
 
ARSELIN, A NATURAL PESTICIDE
     Through the generations, plants in the wild have developed the capability of protecting themselves against a variety of threats.  Genetic variation, natural selection, dormancy, seed dissemination and inherent pest control all contribute to the survival of plants. 
     Many of the important agricultural grains contain antibiosis chemicals against attack by various predators including insects, bacteria, viruses and fungi.  So why do we use the thousands of tons of pesticides on crops in this country? 
     The answer, in part, lies with the distance that has been created between the domestic varieties of plants and their wild counterparts, as plants have been cultivated with particular target characteristics in mind.  These would include the ability to flourish on lands fertilized by the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) fertilizers, tolerance to weather, and high yield and weight.  These factors were perceived to work to the benefit of the agricultural industry.  But at the same time that these artificially imposed selective processes were occurring, plants were losing innate defense mechanisms that affected their survival.       One of these is the ability of plants to create natural pesticides.
     For example, the common bean, Phaseolus bulgaris, contains a carbohydrate binding lectin protein called Phytohemagglutinin (PHA).  PHA protects the against the common cowpea weevil.  However, PHA is incapable of protecting against the two most important pests, the bean weevil and the Mexican bean weevil.  However, the wild version of Phaseolus does have resistance against them.  Wild beans have a protein called arsilin, which protects wild species against weevils.  Arsilin is controlled by a single Mendelian gene and which can be easily transferred from wild accessions into cultivors by back-crossbreeding. 
     Arsilin is inactivated upon heating, so it does not affect the nutritional value.  Pesticide chemicals produced by plants are not without danger to humans and animals.  Some can interfere with the digestive process, such as enzyme inhibitors, or directly exert toxic effects, just as they would on an insect pest.   Crops specifically selected to be grown on weakened soils, and to be dependent upon artificial pesticides, and bred to produce yield rather than nutrient content, have seriously jeopardized the food supply.   The solution is to look at the prototype, the archetypal model.  In this case, breeding to incorporate the arselin gene into the domestic bean is a step in the right direction.  Other efforts being made by some organic producers are to select specific variants of plants high in micronutrient concentrations.  Selection for health and safety rather than yield and profit should be the ultimate objective of food producers.
 
COUNTER-INTUITION
     There is nothing within the components of a lever system to predict the laws of leverage.  There is nothing within two separated bodies in space that would predict that halving the distance between them would quadruple their interactive attractiveness.  There is also nothing that would predict that if an automobile is traveling 65 miles per hour and you hold a flashlight out the window and turn the flashlight on pointing in the direction of travel, that the speed of light will not be the 186 thousand miles per second – the speed of light – plus the speed of the vehicle.   It will still be 186 thousand miles per second.  If we are traveling in the same automobile at 65 miles per hour, and we throw a baseball 50 mph in the direction of travel as we are traveling 65 miles per hour, the speed of the baseball will be 115 miles per hour.  The contradiction cannot be explained.
     In the life sciences, there also are many non-rational events.   For example, handling mice at young ages can increase the resistance to age-related disease as compared to mice who are not handled.  Although the mechanism has been explained in a reductionistic way with the discovery of hippocampal receptors that develop in the brain and their role in glucocorticoid feedback mechanisms, how touch causes this is a total mystery.  Here’s another example.  393 coronary care patients in California were split into two groups, unbeknown to the patients, or even to the treating physicians.  Prayer groups were arranged to pray for one half, but not for the other.  People in different parts of the state, remotely removed from the area where the patients were, prayed for half of this group.  The groups were comparable in terms of age and severity of medical condition. 
     Those patients who were the recipients of prayer, did much better in several categories.  For example, only three of the prayed for group required antibiotics compared to sixteen of the unprayed for.  Only six suffered pulmonary edema compared to eighteen of the unprayed for.  None of the prayed for required intubation compared to twelve of the unprayed for.   Distance, as we mentioned, of the prayer from the prayee made absolutely no difference at all.   Prayers were coming from all parts of California.  Additionally, the denomination of the prayer made no difference at all.  Prayers came from Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and others.  Another mystery is why handling rabbits decreases atherosclerosis in spite of being fed a highly atherogenic diet.  We need to make a change in our worldview to accommodate these phenomena.  We cannot assume that truth is only a product of that which we can visualize. We have as yet to devise any method or protocol to achieve fundamental truth.  We just cannot seem to get this all inclusive knowledge that we seek.  We are mere specks in a universe, governed by laws still undiscovered.  After all, why would we assume at this particular point in time, that the few laws we have discovered are all that exist.
     We must take the position of student, rather than master, and must have a worldview that allows the incorporation of ideas and experimental results that do not fit tradition or orthodox thinking.  Presuming incomplete knowledge is complete is a sure way to be forced to relearn the great lesson of history, we are usually wrong.
     Reference:
          1986 issue of Medical News, the March 3 issue, Dr. Byrd, a cardiologist, studied 393 coronary care unit patients at San Francisco General Hospital. 
 
TREES
     Within the next 50 years, Earth’s climate may change more than since agriculture began some 10,000 years ago.  Before this time, Earth boasted a rich mantle of forests and open woodlands covering 6.2 billion hectares or roughly 15.3 billion acres.  (A hectare is about 2.471 acres.)  Today, however, this has been reduced by nearly one-third to a level of only 4.2 billion hectares.  Deforestation has taken place at a rate of 150 million acres a year.  That’s 410 thousand acres a day, 17,000 acres an hour, almost 300 acres a minute.  Our rain forests alone are being removed at a rate of 28 million acres a year with 10% of the plant species becoming extinct each year.  In fact, it is estimated that in the near future there will be greater mass extinctions as a result of habitat destruction that at any time in geologic history.  This rate of habitat removal is equivalent to the size of Austria disappearing from the Earth every year.  Fifty thousand trees fall in the world’s rain forests every few minutes and only 40% of Central America’s original forests remain.  In the short time you are going to spend reading this one topic, about 60,000 trees will fall. 
     The reasons for this escalating decline include: 
     Land clearing for crop production.  Clearing and burning of our forests account for about 20% of the carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere each year,
     Commercial timber harvesting is a part of the modernization process in third countries.  Poor economies are more willing to sacrifice natural resources to help feed themselves and to develop as a third world country. 
     In the Pacific Northwest there are 25% fewer workers producing 10% more lumber and this is attributable to more efficient mills and a huge international market demand. Poor commercial planning has forced timber companies to seek out new timber supplies from national forests and the U.S. Forest Service.  Old growth timber is targeted first, because it is viewed as over mature wood, which must be cut or lost anyway.  It yields the best timber.  Old growth is fine grade and knot-free.  80% of the      National Forests old growth is available for logging. 
     Cattle ranching requires clearing earth-wide. 
     Many trees are vital components of survival to the economy for their rural poor.  Many rural areas rely on timber to cook their meals and heat their homes.
     Deforestation is also linked to acid rain, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen compounds, heavy metals, ozone, insects and so forth.  Forests anchor soils.  Deforestation can lead to vast losses of topsoil, especially on sloping hills and highly erodible wind-prone areas.  Erosion transfers sediment to river channels, which aggravate local flooding and can contribute to premature silting of reservoirs downstream.  Sediment can also kill stream fish such as salmon and trout, which require clean, fresh, cool water to live. 
     Defoliation increases the available water supply because the amount lost to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration decreases.  However, if there are dry spells, the land loses the ability to absorb water, resulting increased runoff that can lead to flooding depending on the amount of rainfall.  Also, increased levels of carbon dioxide lead to increased precipitation, an average of 7-11% worldwide. However, in many regions, this increase will be offset by higher temperatures and therefore higher rates of evaporation, decreasing crops natural supplies of water. 
     Perhaps the most serious consequence of deforestation is the loss of biological diversity.  Although it is true that extinction is a natural part of life patterns, the present rate is at least a thousand times that of the preceding tens of millions of years as estimated by geologists.   This is a genetic information implosion.   Accelerated deforestation translates into accelerated extinction.  The tropical rain forests contain half of all the world’s plant and animal species. 
     Extinctions do affect humankind.  For example, the African clawed frog, an example of an endangered species, could produce a whole new family of antibiotics.  Then there is the greenhouse effect.  Life cannot exist on this planet without vegetation to remove carbon dioxide and restore oxygen to the air.  The global cycling of carbon is critical to life.  The Earth’s soil and vegetation hold about two thousand billion tons of carbon, three times the amount in the atmosphere.  When trees are cleared and harvested, the carbon they contain, along with that in the underlying soil, is oxidized and released to the air.  This reaction occurs slowly with normal decomposition, however burning greatly increases the rate of this reaction.  This build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses leads to an increase in atmospheric temperature, which could lead to increased respiration rates for trees.  When the respiration rate outpaces the rate of photosynthesis, trees release more carbon dioxide to the air than they can remove.  This build-up of carbon dioxide, which increases temperature further, increases the rate of respiration, hence we have a vicious cycle that goes on and on.  If the rate of respiration exceeds the rate of photosynthesis for an extended period of time, the trees will simply die.  It is impossible, it appears, to tamper with any part of the web of life without affecting all other parts.  
     Even if all deforestation were halted today, millions of hectares would have to be planted to meet future fuel wood needs and stabilize soil and water resources.  Most tree planting over the last several decades has been aimed at increased supplies of marketable timber, pulp and fuel wood for cities.  This is for economic, not environmental, benefit.  But expanding commercial growth of timber to meet the needs of the paper and lumber industries would decrease the pressure on virgin forests.  It would also mitigate the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  We must shift emphasis to the more complex tasks of:
     Starting nurseries in thousands of villages earth-wide.
     Encouraging the planting of multi-purpose trees along roads, on farms and around homes and buildings.  The effect of these trees should not be discontinued.
     Encouraging rural peoples to plant to meet their own needs.  This type of “grass roots” approach to local involvement in planning and implementation helps people to perceive their own interests and success.  Involvement is the best education for helping people to realize what is behind a cause. 
     Look at the economical value of just one tree.  A tree’s worth, during its lifetime, is $196,250.   A tree living 50 years will generate $31,250 in oxygen, $62,000 in air pollution control, $31,250 in soil fertility and erosion control.  This does not account for the value in timber and products produced such as fruit and nuts. 
     We are the first generation, to be faced with decisions that will determine whether the Earth our children will inherit will be inhabitable or not.   It is not a matter of somewhere, somebody, sometime – it is here, now, and me. 
     The new frontier mentality was innocuous because much of the Earth was as yet untouched and puny technology of that time was simply swallowed up by the vast resources of the planet.  The gigantic Earth lungs easily purified the campfire and minor land clearing and trail cutting did little to disrupt even the local environment let alone do anything on a macrocyclic earth-wide scale.  However, now, we as a community on spaceship Earth have the ability to reroute major rivers, dry up thousands of acres of wetland, consume millions of acres of forest and change the very nature of the air, water and food every living creature on the planet uses. 
     This was brought vividly into focus for me recently when a wooded area across from our offices was being cleared to increase the length of an airport runway for the local municipal airport.  This was a beautiful forest abounding with wildlife.  There were deer, rabbits and the like.  Soon there was this marauding, huge, tractor-driven machine that drove into the forest one day.  It reached out with a giant claw, grabbing the tree, sawed it off with one stroke, tipped the corpse horizontally and then fed it into a giant shredder.  Within minutes the tree was a pile of chips.  It was absolutely amazing that this tree had lived for almost a hundred years and in a matter of minutes it vanished.  If you compare this with what is required with only an ax in hand, you can see that the main difference between now and the past is the ability to compress time.  We are able to destroy faster than the healing mechanisms in our environment can heal.  Being alert to this uniqueness in time is essential to reversing trends that can affect the entire globe. 
     When destruction and consumption exceed renewable resources, we cut the branch we sit on.  Being aware, being alert, is not doomsaying or whacko environmentalism, it is the seed for change that can mean our very survival.
 
VAMPIRES AND THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
     There are only two verified vampires.  They are bats and humans. The vampire bat obtains its meal by making a cut in the skin of its host and then lapping the blood as it trickles from the wound.   Human vampires are of the medical sort.   Since before the time of Hypocrites, bloodletting, the making of incisions in the skin to release harmful humors, was practiced with vigor up until the early part of the 20th century.  Bloodsuckers were also used for bloodletting.  In the year 1833, 41 ½ million leaches were imported into France for this purpose.  Suction cups were used to draw blood from the wounds by skilled venesectionists.       Even the prestigious medical journal of Great Britain, The Lancet, is named after the surgical instrument that was used by venesectionists, the lancet.   South America healers still practice bloodletting as a means of removing demons from the body.  George Washington, on the day that he died from a course of inflammatory upper respiratory disease, had more than a quart of blood removed.  It is argued today by medical science that bloodletting was nothing but mere witchcraft with no true scientific basis.  But this is difficult to believe, since some cause and effect relationships must have been observed on countless thousands of people over a period of more than two thousand years.  There must have been indications.  There must have been positive results.  Everyone before our present era was not an ignoramus.  Because today we cannot understand a mechanism does not discount the fact that it could have worked and may still work. 
     I am not advocating the return to bloodletting.  I am just suggesting inability to understand does not mean anything.  It was shown by Pierre Louise as early as 1840 that perhaps more harm than good was coming to patients and that there was perhaps a weak rationale for bloodletting.  Yet the medical community continued the practice for almost 100 years thereafter.  The medical community is resistant to change.  It’s not confined to the less intellectual minds of the past.  There is no indication that humans in the past were any less intelligent than we are today or were not moved by the same rational processes we revere today.  Many practices, many beliefs, are held not necessarily because of their validity – but because it’s customary, because there have been instances of success, because of a world view that incorporates the practice and holds it in place. 
     We face the very same thing today.  Medical, social, and political practices are not necessarily there because they are the products of a rational process.  History is the teacher.  If leaders in medicine and science performed improper practices in the past, why could not such similar improper beliefs be held today?  Must we not therefore be careful about holding to any particular practice or method?  Can we be sure that it is the only way?