Unfair to knock TCM because of one mistake

A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner administering acupuncture on a patient.
A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner administering acupuncture on a patient. PHOTO: ST FILE

The letter by Dr Ong Siew Chey (What is TCM diagnosis based on?, April 18) was an unnecessary attack on the very core of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment philosophy. One mistake by a TCM practitioner does not justify throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

To leap from this complaint of the uncertain utility of TCM to the conviction that it must then be useless is, according to physicist Carlo Rovelli, the failure to grasp the utility of uncertainty, bringing about the "origin of much silliness in our society". Is science-based medicine the iron-clad practice that it is made out to be? Albert Einstein was humble enough to proffer that "if we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research".

While experts revel in their scientifically proven practices, people should acknowledge that they do not know everything.

Thus, to denigrate TCM just because it had its roots in primitive and herbal cures is to commit the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam, or arguing from ignorance, that something is false simply because it has not been proven true.

Amos Wu Pom Hin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Unfair to knock TCM because of one mistake'. Print Edition | Subscribe