One of my favorite quacks—and I use that term affectionately is a lady named Hulda Clark. She has a theory that all diseases are the result of chemicals and parasites (using the term “parasites” to mean any bacteria, virus, fungus or actual worm). More specifically, that what goes wrong is that modern chemicals interact with parasites and cause them to go through their life cycles in “the wrong place”.
So, while your body may be able to handle Ascaris going through your intestines, if it gets into your liver and interacts with propyl alcohol, bang, you get cancer. I may have that muddled. But the basic idea is there: wrong organism, wrong place, wrong chemical — disease.
Of course, the only thing more common than propyl alcohol is Ascaris, so it’s hard to get clean. However, I met many people whom she had cured of “terminal” cancer when I went to her clinic. (Not just cancer, either. And whatever her motivations are, greed does not seem to be among them.)
I thought of her fondly while reading this Pop Sci article on chemicals. We carry around, literally, thousands of different chemicals, largely unknown both in terms of how they affect us singly and how they interact with each other. That’s before we get around to medicating ourselves.
There are a few mentalities that I find interesting, which that tiny webspace illustrates. First, there’s the idea that “this it the new normal”, according to a scientist in D.C. Keep that in mind: It doesn’t really matter if these chemicals are going to kill you, don’t expect anyone to acknowledge anything too challenging. (And getting rid of these chemicals would be very challenging indeed.)
Second, there’s the idea that “we’re living longer so we must be doing something right”. Well, not really: What if shortened life spans in previous centuries had to do with cosmic rays? I’m just pulling that out of thin air, but it shared thin-airspace with “we must be doing something right”.
Third, there’s the comment that, well, whatever the issue is, it’s too trivial to waste time on. It’s only a few extra sick kids after all—this idea is based on the example of leukemia used by the article’s author—and we’d do better to use that money for helping kids presumably not killed by exposure to chemicals. (Interestingly, the name on the comment is “Shannon Love”. ChicagoBoyz’ Shannon Love spurred a very early post. Dunno if it’s the same one.)
There’s a certain class of people who absolutely hate “quacks”, where “quack” is defined as anyone who doesn’t conform to the current conventional medical wisdom. On the other hand, I consider Ignaz Semmelweiss sort of the patron saint of this blog.
Clark is an interesting person. Very nerdy. Into research. I would have liked to question her on certain things about her philosophy (in which I see certain apparent contradictions). But to me the question of “does it work” is junior to the question “why does it work?”
And since I used her “zapper"—a device that cycles a low level current at various frequencies through your body to kill these parasites—to quickly knock out some debilitating allergies that had been plaguing me for years, I’m less inclined to worry about those contradictions. She could be completely wrong, but I still can breathe.