Science, colonialism, & postcolonial
Anti-cholera inoculation, Calcutta, 1894
House rule #1:
Categories are universal
“Because it is assumed that disease labels may change but diseases themselves are universal, few question whose diagnostic instruments or labels should be valorized in clinical research protocols.”
The utility of RCTs in determining the effectiveness in treatments pre-supposes the categorization of conditions and symptoms.
Conditions that are categorized as a single disease in a (Western) biomedical context are understood as multiple distinct diseases in the Tibetan medical context, and vice-versa.
House rule #2:
Evidence is unambiguous
“Here the question that is seldom asked is: ‘whose outcomes count?’” (p. 673)
RCTs assume that the evidence from a trial is incontrovertible and not open to interpretation.
Tibetan and western doctors center different data and create different evidence when looking at the effectiveness of a treatment.
House rule #3:
Isolation of active ingredients
[I]t is generally assumed that reliable remedies can be reduced to a few basic active ingredients that can be evaluated singularly for their effectiveness.” (p. 673)
RCTs like those required by the NCCAM are often incompatible with the treatments in Tibetan medicine, which might include many carefully prepared ingredients.
Western science is deeply invested in the idea that physiological processes like disease and the compounds that affect / alleviate them are discrete and can be isolated.
Photo by Waldemar Mordecai Wolffe (via Wellcome Collective)
Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Photo by Muneer ahmed ok on Unsplash
Photo by pina messina on Unsplash
relate to scientific realism.
What is “a cold”? a category of virus? a collection of symptoms? an epidemiological pattern?
e.g. what takes precidence? the sensory data an ultrasound or sensory data from the patient’s urine and pulse?
relate to fixation of visual evidence in Amann and Cetina
Plays directly into the marketability / patentability of a treatment Tuesdy
Relate to nutrition
Relate to Hacking and causalism
Note on "aboriginal"