So, after a brief hiatus on my part, with too many projects to complete to count, I have time to brows the news from time to time again.
And, after my last post, I have another depressing news item to share from the "what's the harm?" department.
There are news links in Polish here and here (sorry, I could not find an English version).
A six moth old girl was found dead a few weeks ago in the town of Brzezna in the south of Poland, while in care of her parents. It was determined that she had died as a result of malnutrition. After some initial investigation, it was also determined that the parents started using a "natural" approach for the baby's care, including refusal of any vaccines, lack of medical care and a whole bunch of holistic feeding techniques. They attempted to follow advice from a faith healer, who allegedly told the parents to use skim milk and herbs as the baby's diet staple. The healer, called "God's Man" in the area, is well known for advocating abandoning regular medical care and using herbs, fasting and prayer as remedies for any ailments (including cancer!!!).
This case is not the first one for the supposedly "godly" man. A few years ago it was alleged that he had caused a death of a five year old boy, who had kidney problems. After initial, positive reactions to the standard, hospital medical care, the mother took the boy to the healer and believed in his "miraculous" approach, which ultimately resulted in boy's death.
Those two cases are clear answers to the argument for the alternative medicine that I hear very often: "what's the harm?". The answer is very simple, the harm is in believing that unproven, often completely nonsensical treatments can and do work. When someone abandons reason and critical thinking in small cases, it is easy to do the same in cases that can cause harm, death and destruction. Belief in miracles, prayer, alternative medicine (like homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, etc) when your life, or life of your loved ones, is at stake, can really be deadly.