Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/362

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IN matters pertaining to the preservation of health, and the cure of disease, it is a fact of common observation that people in general, and educated people in particular, are very apt to seize eagerly upon every new theory or practise that is confidently announced as able to dispel their ills; and all the more eagerly if, in disregard of science and experience, it is strongly flavored with the mystical and miraculous.

The most remarkable modern instance is the extraordinary growth and acceptance of Eddyism, or so-called christian science, and so confident are its claims and so long its list of undisputed victories that they overshadow, and actually seem to make us forget, the real progress of medical science, which continues uninterruptedly, but without any such flourish of trumpets and beating of drums.

Let us remind ourselves for the moment that scientific investigation has established the presence in the world of certain poisons, whose effects on man have been carefully studied and can be confidently predicted, like strychnia, prussic acid, arsenic and opium; that it has furthermore discovered certain other poisons in the animal world, like the bacillus of tuberculosis, of anthrax, of cholera, of diphtheria, the Plasmodium of malaria and the spirochæte of syphilis, equally poisonous to man with the mineral and vegetable poisons, and capable of producing equally definite and specific effects.

It may not have been part of the intent of creation that man should be harassed by the latter any more than by the former; but the conditions of life and of civilization have made us very vulnerable through our appetites. Intended or not, these specific causes of disease are here; and medical science has not only demonstrated their existence, but has further proved beyond cavil that by their isolation and exclusion the diseases which they cause may be limited, and even be prevented from spreading from person to person.

Scientific medicine has further shown that the vital parts of our bodies are subject to certain degenerative changes induced by exposure, by imprudent habits of eating and drinking, by unnatural modes of living, by inheritance, or simply by age itself. Such are the degenerations of the brain, the heart and blood vessels, the liver, pancreas and kidneys; conditions which are accompanied by demonstrable changes