Deceptive Diagnoses

John B. Shea
Sept. 28, 2005
Catholic Insight
Reproduced with Permission

Language is a means we use to communicate some aspect of reality. In speaking about science and the practice of medicine, what we say must be in keeping with the facts. Because language has great power to do good or evil, it must convey the truth, and that truth must not be concealed or denied by ambiguity, euphemism, falsehood or obscure terminology.

The following are a few examples of ways in which the scientific and medical establishments, by the misuse of language, in recent years have misled the public.

Why play word games?

Since the eighteenth century, the western world has been in the grip of atheism. In the meantime, some countries, fearing chaos, and motivated by tyrannical ideologies, resorted to brutal regimes such as Communism and Fascism. In the more democratic countries, in Europe and north America, Christian culture has been opposed by morally relativist and utopian ,but subtly tyrannical capitalist or socialist regimes.. Divine law and the natural moral law have been largely replaced by an ethics based on pragmatic notions of 'justice', 'autonomy', and 'beneficence' that are entirely defined by the State. Richard Rorty, a philosopher who does not believe in objective moral truth has stated nonetheless, that by the use of rhetoric "one can change one's desires into the truth." Pragmatic ethics holds that he who makes the definitions wins the debate, and that "public debate must be shepherded and fostered by an elite that is prepared to seize rhetorical primacy, and mold existing institutions, or create new ones, for that purpose." (Pragmatic Bioethics, pp. 181-190). Witness the political dominance of judicial interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms over public moral practice in Canada.

The powerful elites who rule in the western world have big agendas that include world population control and access to world resources among other things. It is in the search for power to control public debate and public opinion that they play their word games of obfuscation, euphemism and falsification of scientific fact. Many in the medical profession simply follow suit.

What can we do?

It is the duty of the Catholic Church with her social teaching to "proclaim the Gospel and make it present in the complex network of social relations, thus enriching and permeating society itself with the Gospel." (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, p. 28.) A great effort to learn and to communicate the Church's moral teaching and gain an adequate understanding of the relevant science and cultural aspects will have to be made by Catholics in the various professions, business, finance, science, the judiciary and politics. In this effort, each must, as St. Paul told the Philippians, "never act in a spirit of factiousness and to study the welfare of others, not his own." Worldly utopias are a diabolical illusion. Catholics and other Christians must, each in his or her own walk of life, try to manifest to others, by prayer, work and example, that, as St. Augustine said "Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart shall not rest until it rests in thee." (Confessions Book 1. Chapter 1. No. 1.)

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