Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multiculturalism and Medicine

Here is part of the Wikipedia definition of multiculturalism:
Multiculturalism has a number of different meanings. At one level the term means the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this sense multiculturalism approximates to respect for diversity...

In a political context the term has come to mean the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central. Multiculturalism as "cultural mosaic" is often contrasted with the concepts assimilationism and social integration and has been described as a "salad bowl" rather than a "melting pot."
Does this work for medicine as well? That is, do we respect and value Galen as much as we do Anton van Leeuwenhoek? Galen believed that our health was governed by humors in the body. Leeuwenhoek is considered the father of microbiology. As far as I can tell, no one of significance is suggesting that bleeding people with leeches or applying herbal enemas to bring a patient's humors into equilibrium is equivalent to examing tissue samples under a microscope to perform a diagnosis.

Why not?

Penicillin or leeches? Hey, it's all one to me, man.


Jeff Burton said...

without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central

There's the beating heart of multi-culturalism, in all its illogical and self-refuting glory.

K T Cat said...

Really. Isn't diversity itself a form of cultural imperialism? There are plenty of cultures that want the rest of the world to just go away.

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