gwen (gwenix) wrote,


The only thing I don't like about Chomsky's blog is that it allows for no commenting, so I will post a criticism here.

On March 26, Chomsky posted the following,

Monbiot radically misinterprets the Hippocratic principle, "First, do no harm." According to Monbiot's interpretation, a doctor violates the Hippocratic oath by giving someone an injection, because the puncture harms the skin. No one has ever interpreted the Hippocratic oath that way. What the principle has always been understood to mean is that the doctor's entire intervention should not be undertaken if it is expected to be harmful to the patient. In that case, it is better to do nothing.

The post is longer, as can be seen here. It is concerned with the historical ramifications of the practice, which is probably much more interesting than my nitpicking, but there is a problematical factual error at the start.

The original Oath actually forbids the killing of a patient. I have the text for my Myth and Science class, and there is a paragraph devoted to:

I will not give a fatal draught to anyone if I am asked, nor will I suggest any such thing. Neither will I give a woman means to procure an abortion.

Oops. But then again, I never agreed with that passage.

Also, realize that this Oath also later states that the doctor must not cut, nor should he charge for training other doctors; the former obviously being a problem for modern methods of healing, the latter being obviously long forgotten. So hey. Besides, the Oath is no longer required of doctors to take when they become so.

Anyway, that's my hole poking. If you're interested in the full text (different translation than the one I have), it can be found here.

Yes, I do question everything. :p

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