'Many forms of alternative medicine, such as those on the worryingly popular Natural News website, are promoted on the basis that they are more natural than what’s on offer from mainstream doctors – as if that should be prioritised over whether they really work or are safe.
The anti-vaccine movement is based on the belief that it is desirable for a child to get infected with measles because that’s how we would have encountered these microbes in nature. And the natural childbirth industry flourishes despite modern medicine transforming birth from something inherently dangerous to inherently safe.
'These sentiments are partly a reaction to countless instances of bad behaviour by Big Food and Big Pharma. But we should be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far the other way. Our ancestors’ lives were difficult and short. As a woman, my natural fate would have been a continual struggle to feed a succession of children who may not have made it to adulthood – and that’s if I survived their births.
In some countries, that’s how things still are. In those places, people are crying out for the benefits of modern medicine and a modern food supply. “The naturalistic fallacy is something you can indulge in from a position of prosperity,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, a London-based writer and sceptic.'
Clare Wilson, writing for the New Scientist (free registration), gives us something to think about:
Photo: Even 'natural' landscapes have been shaped by humanity