We are sicker than we have ever been, according to Brian Clement. He is not a physician. Rather, the CBC reports that he “claims to have a doctorate of naturopathic medicine and a PhD in nutrition from the University of Science Arts and Technology”, despite the fact that a) the university president is quoted as denying this claim and b) the university is reported as being a diploma mill. You may remember Clement from the news: when two Native American girls in Ontario decided to stop chemotherapy, they went to his Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida to undergo alternative therapies.
Clement was a guest speaker of the Wholistic Fair taking place at Dawson College, Montreal, on September 18-20. His Friday talk was entitled “Food IS Medicine: The Scientific Evidence”. I was curious to know why people turn away from medicine to embrace the pseudoscience that he sells at his institute. Desperation is certainly an appealing explanation, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear his arguments, his cherry-picked data, the logical fallacies he would tout, and to see first hand the impression that he makes on a crowd. So I went.
Fear is a tool that he wielded during his talk, specifically fear of technology. We are sicker now than we have ever been, he told us, but also that we have a “dependency for care”. Hundreds of years ago, people didn’t commonly have to take pills, he continued. The reason, obviously, is that there were no pills to be taken. We seek healthcare now more than ever because medicine has tools it did not possess in the 1800s: precise surgical procedures, targeted therapies against cancer, and medication that can turn death sentences into controllable, life-long conditions. “There was a period of time, can you imagine, when humans didn’t need glasses,” he said. There was a period of time when we didn’t haveglasses and could not correct bad vision. Our hormones are also apparently out of whack because of polyester clothes. “People [back in the days] were absolutely independent, responsible,” he reminded us. This disturbing story is as old as humanity: our once-pure ancestors sinned against nature and the clock is ticking on our redemption.
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