Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Manto and traditional health quakery in South Africa

I lied in my previous post, I have to Lazy Link yet again, because über-skeptic Steven Novella (one of my heroes) has taken on a topic close to my heart: anti-scientific medicine in South Africa. (For those of my readers who don't know, I am South African myself, residing in Durban). Novella roasts our incompetent minister of health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, for assuring traditional healers they need not bother with clinical trails or evidence. While I'm not sure I buy Novella's analysis of President Mbeki's reasons for firing Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, everything else he says is spot on. Rhetoric notwithstanding, science most certainly is not "Western" in any sense other than key elements of it having been invented in Western Europe in the 17th century. And, importantly, emotionally appealing though it may be in South Africa, the argument from antiquity remains fallacious.

This post also again brings to my attention that *I* have failed to address key skeptical questions in South Africa. That's certainly something I intend to remedy.