Inadequate Knowledge and Narrow Views

How do we distinguish worthwhile health information from false advice?

By W. E. MACPHERSON, M. D., Associate Dean, College of Medical Evangelists, Los Angeles

An almost unlimited supply of informa­tion on the subject of healthful living is available. There are many sources of such information. Obviously some are worth while and others are not. Certainly the de­pendability of the divine source cannot be questioned. The only accurate way to deter­mine the dependability of other sources lies in a careful analysis in regard to their scientific reputation.

Many pseudo scientists are responsible for a considerable amount of misinformation which is broadcast to the public, and accepted to a greater or lesser extent. Nevertheless, those who have had the privilege of making careful analyses of the available data have learned many practical facts which could and should be followed by those who are attempting to live scientifically and physiologically.

It is obvious, then, that in order to accom­plish the most good in a teaching program directed toward better living and better health, those who are giving the instruction should be adequately and accurately informed on the subject. The horizons of such a program of healthful living are broad. The various sub­jects can be classified for practical purposes. They include well-recognized divisions, such as diet, exercise, rest, recreation, sunshine, etc. Such a classification is well known.

Dangerous Tendency in Restricted Views

There appears to be a tendency for too many people to select one limited field of an otherwise broad program, thereby obtaining a restricted, if not microscopic, view of a very broad sub­ject. It is obvious that such a policy results in the practical exclusion of many important prin­ciples. It is entirely inadequate, and the re­sults of following it are not only questionable, but dangerous.

Such a policy leads toward fanaticism from which no particular good can come. For ex­ample, there are those whose vision of a health program is entirely limited to the field of diet. The importance of a proper and adequate diet cannot be minimized, of course, but the fault lies in an inability to see anything else worth while. Still others forget diet and advocate exercise. Others claim that sunshine by itself will cure all diseases and restore an individual to good health.

This attitude may be amplified to the extent of dangerously limiting and restricting the diet. Three authentic examples are given: (I) There is the individual who conscientiously subsists on raw foods. If he lives a relatively sedentary life, he may obtain enough calories, but, as is frequently the case, he develops gastrointestinal disturbances which are cleared up satisfac­torily when a more rational dietary is followed.

(2) Some who have eaten extremely large quantities of canned nut foods to the exclusion of almost everything else, become irritated when a physician suggests that the cause of their complaints is their diet, which they erro­neously assumed was strictly "health reform."

(3) During recent months, since vegetable juices have been used in large quantities, there are those who have been greatly surprised when the doctor informed them that the cause of their yellow color was the enormous amount of carrot juice which they had been drinking.

These examples are not given with the pur­pose in view of stating that raw foods, nut meats, and carrot juice are harmful, but only to bring out the principle that even good things may be overdone and may cause harm if per­sistently followed to the exclusion of other practices. Another thing to consider is the question in regard to what should be done with sound information when it is obtained. Ob­viously it should be put into practice.

There are certainly many examples of people who know a great deal about a suitable pro­gram for healthful living, but who fail to follow the advice which such information contains. It is very easy to criticize someone else for such failure, but let it be recognized that those who make accusations may be at fault themselves. For example, it might be convenient for one to follow an adequate and proper dietary, but because of the inconveni­ence of a daily routine, adequate rest, exercise, and recreation might be neglected. On the other hand, it might be convenient for one to get plenty of exercise, rest, and sunshine, but either inconvenient or undesirable to follow a proper dietary regime.

Some of the items in the classification of what to do to live healthfully are obviously of more importance than others, but it is rea­sonable to recognize that if one is to live con­sistently, he must get a long-range view of the entire balanced program, and follow it to the best of his ability. The doctrine of healthful living is worthwhile. If it is to accomplish what it should among Seventh-day Adventists and among others who are taught its principles by us, it is reasonable to believe that the teach­ers must be adequately educated in regard to facts, and that these facts must be properly weighed, balanced, and put to use in a reason­ably practical way.

Only when these principles are accomplished will there be evidence that a consistent program of healthful living is advantageous. Only then will definite progress be made in this important part of the work of this denomination.

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By W. E. MACPHERSON, M. D., Associate Dean, College of Medical Evangelists, Los Angeles

November 1941

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