This example will provide the reader with a faint idea of the absurdity of trying to express the principles of a great scientific method of mind-body care that is founded in nature and, therefore, intimately connected with true physiology and biology, in the terms of an old and fallacious system that seems to be able to do nothing so well as it propagates disease and death. The old system plays all manners of wicked tricks--poisoning, cutting, slashing, peppering, burning, blistering and electrocuting.
Why should we try to express Hygienic views in the inaccurate and confused terms of medicine? We can agree with them only if we make the same errors and mistakes that they make. If we express our principles in the same terms in which they express their mistakes, we will be understood in the same language. In making use of an established idiomatic thought and speech in which to convey new concepts and new discernings, we are severely handicapped. If we express our new thoughts in conventional ways, they will be understood in conventional ways and this means that they will either not be understood at all or will be but faultily understood.
Medicine's is a conceptual world that belongs to the remote past. If we attempt to use the older terms in the hope that they will be read by others with the same meanings for these that they have for us, we gravely err. Inasmuch as their conceptual world is radically different from ours, they read these words with the old meanings. The older terms convey to the reader the older thought forms and not those that may be in the mind of the writer. In our writing and speaking, we must always take into account the differences between the intellectual world of those who have been reared in the ancient traditions and who have not emancipated themselves from these, and the intellectual world in which we live. Without any reference to which of us is right, the difference exists and must be reckoned with. We may appropriate the older terms and change them to suit our purposes, but they will still be understood by others in the traditional sense. If we draw them to Hygiene and attempt to mold and adapt them so that they become integral to a different system, they will be so understood only by those of us who are drenched in the different system.
It has been urged: let us not cavil about words. Ideas are what we want--principles, not phrases. But this objection overlooks the fact that ideas are expressed in words and if we choose the wrong words, we express wrong ideas.
On most subjects we desire to communicate ideas and, hence, we use plain and understandable language; but if we have no ideas to communicate, or our ideas are false and, consequently, it is not desirable for them to be understood, we employ language that enables us to conceal the weak points and discourage close examination. Whoever investigates medicine will find mystery! Mystery! Mystery! He will find no principles at the bottom of the system, except such as are at variance with all the known principles of life and are, consequently, false--hence the necessity of profound study and of specialty of language. Medical reasoning is an anomaly. There is nothing like it in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. The show of words without rational meaning and the greater show of technicalities thrown in as a cover for ignorance, are perfectly marvelous, but exceedingly useful. They overawe the ordinary reader, causing him to retire into reverent silence. There is nothing like a few Latin and Greek terms with which to silence annoying questions without answering them.
Much of the dietetic care of the sick was of a character that we could hardly endorse today. Recounting his care of a woman patient, Dr. Jackson says: "So I kept her under the same simple diet of bread or pudding or gems or porridge and milk, with an addition of stewed dried apples . . ." He says that he allowed her nothing else, "not so much as a strawberry between meals." We think that it is quite evident that, good as were the results obtained by the early Hygienists, much better results could have been obtained had they not relied too heavily on cereals. Graham had not advocated a cereal diet, but too many Hygienists were so enthused about whole wheat that they permitted this to dominate their thinking in the realm of diet.
The seduction of Hygienists by an idealistic illusion of a tropical utopia is to be greatly deplored. The tropics, as they exist today under the prevailing earth conditions, are not the superior habitation for man that the earth as a whole must have been before the change of earth's climate. The excessive heat of the lower altitudes, the great humidity of some of its regions, the poverty of some of its soils, the prolonged dry seasons, the excessive rainfall of the wet seasons and the failure of many of man's finest foods to thrive under tropical conditions, are factors that render the tropics less fit for human habitation than the exploiters of tropical colonization schemes picture for us. It is not surprising, however, that many Hygienists have felt the lure of the tropics and while there is not room in the tropics for more than a third of earth's present population, they have urged us to "return" to what they fondly believe was man's original home.