Allegory of the Cave

I have been trying to reconcile my feelings with the tension between conventional and alternative medicines. Each side argues fiercely why the other side is flawed, lacks evidence or is plain wrong. I wonder if we can just be a little more civil. Yes I do recognize there are unethical individuals taking advantage of the public who may be potential victims,  as there are predators disguised as health professionals. But in all fairness, we don’t know everything. We are continuously searching for solutions and hoping to add new knowledge to understand this world a little better in hope to improve the health and wellbeing of the public.  Why do we need to resort to such hostility?

I always enjoy Plato’s analogy with the Allegory of the Cave.  Plato described through the Allegory of the Cave that men were prisoners chained inside a cave which was dark and without light. They could only see the shadows of objects from outside of the cave.  So naturally, their realities were made up of these shadows.  When one man was able to free himself from the cave, he was initially shocked to realize the shadows were not real but soon realize there was a whole new world of real objects outside of the cave to be discovered. When he returned to the cave to share his discoveries, other prisoners who were still chained to the cave were not to accept his new reality and argued that he was wrong.  See the link below for the video describing the Allegory of the cave.

I am not suggesting whether conventional or alternative medicines are either prisoners or free men who have escaped the cave. I think we all agree that we do not know everything. Clinical Practice changes as we gather new information or new evidence. We are all still learning. We can agree to disagree and we can share our views respectfully. But the strong stubborn attitude to condemn the other side is wrong may just prevent us from having a flexible mindset to make new discoveries in our own field.

What do you think? You have any strong thoughts around conventional or alternative medicine? Have a wonderful Friday and thank you for reading my post.


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My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a practicing pharmacist in Kingston Ontario, Canada. This blog is for me to share my ideas, opinions and perspectives on how medications are used in our health care system. Note that these posts are my own opinions and do not represent the opinions of my current or former employers and / or organizations that I may belong to. Any possible case scenarios described in my posts would be modified to maintain patient confidentiality. This blog is not a platform for professional advise for patients or health care providers and the content is not meant to support any clinical decisions or replace professional opinions. Also the images are either taken or created by the author, or adapted with permission. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts!

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