Is Western Science Superior To Taoist Science?

A High-Medical Diagnosis of a Lethal Paradigm

Is Western science superior to alternatives, particularly Taoist science?

In what follows I argue that modern science is not superior to Taoist science.  Further, I argue that modern science does not have the practical, theoretical, or ethical high ground from which its participants can look down on alternative paradigms, particularly the Taoist paradigm.  Indeed, I will argue that modern science has proven itself to be wrong in both theory and practice, and lethal because it is not true to Nature. 

In my post on the Hong Kong Diet I quoted the following passages from the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Medicine Classic (YEIMC; Huang Di Nei Ching), the foundational text of Taoist medicine, written in the third millennium BC:

"In the northern direction there are vast snow-covered mountain ranges, and beyond, dark and cold seas whose ocean waters provide the salty taste.  All of these conditions are connected with the kidney energy....Excesses of salty flavor can harm the blood, but the sweet flavor will neutralize it." 

“In the north, the massive glaciers and deep dark seas give rise to coldness and a salty taste from the ocean.  The salty taste stimulates the kidney and nourishes the bones and inspires fear in people.  In harmony it provides quietude but in extremes it causes great freezes and hailstorms that destroy.  Fear and salty can be overcome by reasoning and bitter, which are the attributes of its controlling element, the fire.”  

Some readers of the post reported being “put off” by these quotes.  Often, people who have never studied and therefore do not understand Taoist scientific theory believe that their inability to make sense of these passages shows that Taoist science is not science but superstition.  Many Western people are highly ethnocentric––they strongly believe in the superiority of their culture––so it does not occur to them that their inability to immediately make sense of Confucian-Taoist scientific statements reveals weakness in their own understanding of Nature, not the inferiority of Taoist science.  If they have a so-called "higher education" in Western science, they naturally look down upon allegedly lower/inferior ways of thinking, particularly those from non-Western sources, such as the Confucian-Taoist.  

I may demonstrate the empirical accuracy or theoretical potency of those passages in a future post, but for now I want to address this assumption that modern science actually holds the scientific high ground.  Has Western science proven itself superior in theory and practice to all alternative paradigms, including, in this case, Taoist science?

Not by a long shot.

Is Western Science On High Ground?

I consider it relatively easy to show that Western science (including philosophy, the first science) does not hold the practical, theoretical or ethical high ground from which its participants can look down on alternative paradigms, particularly the Taoist paradigm.

As shown in the seven-volume series of books Science and Civilization in China, initiated and edited by celebrated historian Joseph Needham, prior to the 16th century, Confucian-Taoist scientists made many discoveries and produced multiple inventions far in advance of Europeans guided by the fundamentally Abrahamic-Platonic-Aristotelian paradigm (the central concepts of this paradigm remain the foundation of modern Western science to this day).  

These include decimal mathematics, paper and printing, the mechanical clock, guns, multistage rockets, the magnetic compass, the ship’s rudder, manned flight, the steam engine, paper money, and both brandy and whiskey.  Robert Temple presents the evidence in a form accessible to the layman in his book The Genius of China.

In the realms of medicine and nutrition, Confucian-Taoist physicians made a number of important discoveries long before Western science, as shown in the table below.

Next, genuine science must have a theoretical unity.  Since Nature is One and all things are aspects of that One, a genuine science should have a universal theory that applies to all phenomena.  Western science has no such unity; indeed we should speak of the Western sciences, not Western science.  

As noted by Yale-educated cultural anthropologist Bruce Holbrook in his book The Stone Monkey: An Alternative, Chinese-Scientific Reality, the mere fact that Western science has measured many physical, biological, psychological and social phenomena and expresses all the results mathematically does not constitute theoretical but mere notational unity.  Western science does not have a unified theory of all phenomena; Western physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, and philosophy all have different theoretical foundations.  For example, physics uses the Einstein's theory of relativity; whereas biology uses Darwin's theory of evolution.    

In contrast, Taoist science has a unified theory for making sense of all of Nature, based on the binary code of yin-yang first elaborated in the I Ching about 1000 BCE, practically 2689 years before the German philosopher Gottfried Liebniz invented binary arithmetic.  Liebniz may have been the first European philosopher to closely study Confucian-Taoist science.  After studying Confucianism and the I Ching, Liebniz concluded that Europeans could learn much from Confucian ethics and that the I Ching evidenced major Chinese accomplishments in philosophical mathematics.  He was correct but largely ignored. 

Diagram of I Ching Hexagrams owned by Gottfried Liebniz.

Source:  Wikimedia 

The I Ching (Yi Jing), or Book of Changes, presents the fundamentals of this unified theory of Nature.  Here are five of the fundamentals:

  1. Nature (Pinyin: Tian-Di, literally Heaven-Earth) consists of perpetual, orderly movement and change.
  2. In its perpetual motion, Nature generates two equal, opposite, complementary and interdependent poles, forces or actions––yin (centripetal, contracting, condensing, collecting, cooling, negative) and yang (centrifugal, expanding, dispersing, outgoing, heating, positive).  In the I Ching the yin action is represented by a broken line and the yang action is represented by a solid line.  Yin pole is also represented by 0 (and even numbers) and yang pole by 1 (and odd numbers).  Western science identifies these poles as matter (yin) and energy (yang).  
  3. The interplay of these complementary opposites––i.e. yin and yang forces––produces “the tens of thousands of things,” i.e. all phenomena.
  4. All finite things––including human beings––are temporary events/aspects of One Infinite Nature.
  5. No finite phenomenon is absolutely yin (absolutely material) nor absolutely yang (absolutely energy).  

I want to emphasize that these statements are derived from patient, care-full and direct observation of the movements of natural phenomena, not items of dogma believed because some authority or god pronounced them.  Taoist scientists accept these axioms because all empirical evidence confirms them and no empirical evidence refutes them.  I invite you to test them yourself.  

The I Ching uses binary code to generate 8 trigrams and 64 hexagrams, each of which represents natural events (phenomena) according to how each event-phenomenon in question is generated by interactions of yin and yang (in Western lingo, relatively material or relatively energetic) factors.  These determinations are made by studying the phenomena––summer, spring, fall, winter, heaven, earth, fire, water, lake, mountain, thunder, wind, etc.––with the common senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell).   For example, the characteristic colors emitted by a phenomenon reveal where it lies on the spectrum from predominantly yang (red spectrum) to predominantly yin (black spectrum).  

Binary Code of I Ching

Solid line=yang=1; Broken line=yin=0

Credit: Shutterstock

One reason that Western people find Taoist scientific texts and statements bewildering is that Taoist scientists (physicians) use the yin-yang theory (binary code) and its derivatives (chiefly five element theory, briefly discussed below) to comprehend all Natural processes– physical, biological, chemical, psychological and social–– whereas Western science treats these domains as disconnected compartments, with different theories for each compartment.  

This bears repeating:  Contrary to ignorant statements of Western commentators who have never taken the time to study and understand Taoist science under the tutelage of accomplished masters and doctors of the discipline, this is an empirical science––thoroughly based on empirical data obtained by the common senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, etc.)––not a set of "religious beliefs" produced by flights of imagination, nor a mindless worship of Confucius or Lao Tzu.  Taoist science frequently references the I Ching, Confucius,  Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, the Yellow Emperor's Internal Medicine Classic and other classic texts and sages only because their observations and theories have been repeatedly tested and proven true over more than 4000 years of application. 

Taoist science recognizes that Human Nature is an aspect of Nature, so it also recognizes that all basic elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), conditions (dampness, dryness, heat, cold, wind, precipitation, freezing up, thawing out, etc.), and seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) that occur in the whole of Nature are also represented in cycles, functions or structures of Human Nature (i.e. human physiology).  The predictive and explanatory power of this paradigm far exceeds anything Western science has offered.  Space constraints prevent me from going deeply into this, but the following table will enable a sincere student to begin to grasp the point.  

Western science "skeptics" typically dismiss Taoist science as primitive, unsophisticated and ignorant "pseudo-science", or mystical and religious, because it identifies wood, fire, earth, metal,  and water as fundamental elements present in Human Nature.  Yet these same "skeptics" regard Western science as sophisticated, despite the fact that it also identifies these elements in human physiology, as follows:

  • Corresponding to wood, which Taoist science logically uses to represent all vegetation (since all vegetation is literally composed of cellulose, i.e. wood), Western science recognizes that the vegetative (autonomic) nervous system, which governs all of the vegetative (plant/wood-life-like) functions, is a fundamental element in human physiology.  
  • Corresponding to fire, Western science uses the word inflammation, a word derived from the Latin inflammare "to set on fire," and clearly containing the word "flame" (=fire).  Moreover Western science also recognizes that inflammation (fire) is fundamental to human physiology, since it is required to destroy pathogens and heal wounds.  Further, Western science agrees that human life depends upon burning fats (hydrocarbons) and sugars (carbohydrates), and that our metabolism reduces fuels (food) to ash, water and carbon dioxide, just like a fire.  Indeed, biochemists routinely state that "fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate."  Finally, Taoist science recognizes electricity (lightning) as a form of fire, and Western science certainly admits that electricity is a fundamental element of human physiology, particularly in the function of the heart.  Thus Western science does recognize fire as a fundamental element of human physiology, even if it obscures this fact by using Latin terms or alternative terms like "oxidation" or by failing to acknowledge that electricity is a form of fire. 
  • Corresponding to earth, Western science uses the word enteral, a word for the digestive system, chiefly used in discussing nutrition, which is related to Latin terra, "earth."  The word inter "bury in earth" came from enter, which came from the Old French enterer, which came from the Latin inter "put in the earth, bury,"  which came from in- "in" (from the PIE root *en "in") + Latin terra "earth."  This is logical and empirical since burying food in the gut (interring/entering food) enables the body to grow, function and flourish, just as interring/entering fertilizer (food) into the earth (soil) enables plants to grow and flourish.  Certainly the enteral system is a fundamental element in physiology. 

I should not need to prove that Western science agrees with Taoist science in admitting that metal(s) and water are critical elements in human physiology.  This is not the place to prove the empirical foundation of all the phenomena and forces recognized by Taoist science.  For the moment, suffice it to say that the fact that Taoist science recognizes in Nature and Human Nature the presence of some phenomena and forces that are unknown to Western science does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that Taoist is pseudo-science or superstition, for, as I have already shown above, Western science has no grounds to claim a monopoly on scientific discovery and lagged behind Taoist science for at least a millennium.  "Western science has not discovered or confirmed x" is not evidence that x is not present in Nature, nor is it evidence that there is no way to confirm x except by Western methods.  The idea that only Western science can discover or confirm truth is known as scientism, a permutation of ethnocentrism.

Another feature of genuine science is Humane purpose.  Taoist science recognizes that we cannot develop an empirically correct, logically consistent, universal theory, unless we have one overriding purpose:  serving the flourishing of Human Nature as an aspect of the whole of Nature.  Western science expressly denies having such purpose, avowing that "we seek knowledge for knowledge's sake," a circular, meaningless purpose, like a dog chasing its tail.  

Western science's lack of theoretical unity is due to its deliberate lack of Humane purpose.  Since there exist infinite phenomena and potentially infinite ways of conducting research, without this purpose, would-be scientists have no idea what to investigate or how to conduct research, and end up pursuing many dead ends, with the result seen in modern Western science: a proliferation of narrow "academic disciplines" unable or unwilling to communicate with one another, each producing its own petite data, theories, technologies, and often harmful or lethal side-effects, as I will shortly illustrate.   

Indeed, I argue that, due to lack of Humane purpose and true theory,  Western science wages war on Nature, including Human Nature, with mounting collateral damage and civilian casualties proving that its fundamental Abrahamic-Platonic-Aristotelian theory (model) is not true to Nature and the practices and technologies based on this model are maladaptive. 

Is Western Science At War With Nature and Humanity?

Let's start with the history of war.  Confucian-Taoist science enabled Chinese civilization to flourish peacefully for more than three millennia before Western intervention.  In contrast, Western civilization, operating by the principles of Western science, founded on conceptual framework provided by the Abrahamic religions and the philosophy-science of Plato and Aristotle, has had an exceptionally conflict-ridden, bloody history.  

In A Study of War, esteemed political scientist Quincy Wright ranked the relative warlikeness of historical civilizations based on four criteria: (i) habituation in cruelty arising from bloody religious rites, sports, and spectacles, (ii) aggressiveness manifested by frequency of active invasions in imperial or interstate wars, (iii) military morale indicated by discipline of armies and reserves, and (iv) political despotism manifested by completeness of territorial and functional centralization of authority with absence of constitutional and customary limitations.

Wright identified Chinese civilization as one of the most peaceful of historical civilizations, whereas Western civilization ranked as a moderately warlike civilization, and Classic civilization ranked as warlike.

Now let's compare Taoist and Western science in the field of agronomy.  As documented in Farmers of Forty Centuries, prior to Westernization, Chinese farmers following Taoist agronomic principles continuously farmed the same fields for 4000 years without loss of fertility and without use of hazardous agrochemicals.  Furthermore, the Chinese people maintained  good nutrition during that time, as evidenced by good general health and fertility as well as cultural development.  

When the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health and Environment studied 6,500 rural Chinese in the 1990s, 90% of whom were rural people eating locally raised foods and and a traditional diet, they found low rates of of diet-related chronic degenerative diseases compared to the U.S.:  overweight, obesity, cancer (colon, lung, breast, leukemia, childhood brain, stomach, liver), diabetes, and coronary heart disease.1 

In contrast, during a mere 200 years the agronomy of Western science has produced the following results:

  • Pollution:  Food, water and air contaminated with toxic agricultural chemicals that cause cancer and neurological diseases.  Farmers with substantial exposure to pesticides have a doubled risk of prostate cancer, up to five times greater risk of lung cancer, and 2 to 4 fold increased risk of colon cancer.2, 3, 4  Pesticide exposure has been linked to disorders of skin, gut, nerves, lungs, reproductive organs, endocrine function, and cancer.5 Agrochemical exposure has been found to doubled risk of Parkinson’s disease.6  (I just scratched the surface, for more details visit Beyond Pesticides 
  • Super-pests:   In an escalating war against Nature, Western agronomy has aimed to increase crop yield by use of poisonous agrochemicals and genetic engineering.  The result has been the emergence of super-pests and super-weeds, and in the long-term, this 'scientific' technology that was intended to decrease crop losses actually increases crop losses.
  • Depleted aquifers: Since 1900, the U.S.A. has depleted about 1,000 cubic kilometers (264 trillion gallons) of water from underground aquifers.7  Agricultural fertilizer run-off has created dead zones devoid of animal life in many areas of the U.S. –– especially along the East Coast, in the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico which has the second largest dead zone in the world.8  
  • Land degradation and desertification:  World-wide, about 52% of agricultural land is moderately to severely degraded, affecting 1.5 billion people.  Every year, 12 million hectares of cropland is lost to drought and desertification.  Land degradation directly affects 74% of the world’s impoverished people.9  Modern intensive mono-crop agriculture has rapidly degraded topsoil, and if current rates of soil loss continue, all of the world’s top soil could be gone by 2076.10  A 2021 study reports that an estimated 35% of the cultivated area of the U.S. Corn Belt has lost all organic carbon-rich top soil it once had.11
  • Human disease: More than one-third of U.S. adults is obese.12  It is projected that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million adults) will be obese in the U.S.13  Seventeen percent of U.S. children and adolescents are obese.13  Between the 1970s and 2008, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. doubled for children aged 2-5 years, quadrupled for children aged 6-11 years, tripled for children aged 12-19 years, and doubled for adults.13  A 2019 study  concluded that poor diet is responsible for 11 million annual deaths globally, more than any other health risk.14     A 2017 study reported that 45% of 702,308 U.S. adult deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes were linked to either inadequate intake of certain foods and nutrients widely considered vital for health, or overconsumption of foods considered harmful.15  Modern agriculture promotes intake of harmful foods by making them abundant and inexpensive, while it reduces intake of beneficial foods by making them flavorless and ugly (unappealing), as applies to many commercially grown plant foods, or scarce and expensive (compared to 'factory farmed' and mono-cropped foods). 

Thus Western ‘scientific’ agronomy has produced an agriculture that sickens and kills farmers, degrades and depletes water and soil, and produces food that makes people fat and sick.  This is strong evidence that Western science is not superior to Taoist science and is at war (odds) with Nature.  That people regard the theory that produced these outcomes as ‘logical’ and ‘scientific’ is a remarkable testament to the human capacity for arrogance and self-deception.  

Following principles of Confucian-Taoist science, Chinese farmers sustained agriculture successfully for 20 times longer than Western ‘scientific’ agriculture has been in existence, and Western ‘scientific’ agriculture has during its short reign progressively destroyed both soil and human health, yet Western science apologists think they can judge Taoist science as ‘inferior,’ 'superstitious,' 'mysticism' and unworthy of attention? There is no better example nor condemnation of ethnocentrism, modernism, scientism, and evolutionism.  

The fruits of Western 'scientific' agronomy illustrate the key characteristics of  modern Western science:  ignorance of and discordance with the Way (tao) that Nature works, short-range logic, and technology with harmful or lethal side-effects.

I'm only getting warmed up.  I've examined this patient thoroughly and the dis-ease is extensive and terminal.  Western science is homicidal and suicidal, and has provided the data to condemn itself. 

Western science evidently considers it highly logical and scientific to have everyone deposit their urine and feces in potable water, then ‘clean’ the water with toxic chlorine.  A 2020 publication reports that water chlorination “may add several kinds of disinfection by-products (DBPs) (600-700 in numbers) in the treated water such as Trihalomethanes (THM), Haloacetic acids (HAA) etc. which are detrimental to the human beings in terms of cytotoxicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity and carcinogenicity.”16  These DBPs have been linked to reproductive dysfunction in both human and animal studies.17  DBPs have been linked to decreased semen quality in humans.18  

Taoist scientists solved the soil fertility and human excrement problems by following Nature.  In Nature, all excretions of all creatures are composted.  Recognizing that humanity is natural, Taoist agronomy turned human excrement into fertilizer and returned it to its home, the soil that produced the food people ate.  As Joseph Jenkins explains in The Humanure Handbook, contrary to common belief, properly composted human manure––humanure––is perfectly safe for use to fertilize soil used to grow human food. 

Nuclear power is alleged to represent the highly advanced understanding of Nature produced by Western science.   Nuclear power plants in the US accumulate 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel annually.  This spent fuel is placed in a storage pool of circulating cooled water to absorb heat and block the high radioactivity of fission products.  Ten years after use, the surface of a spent fuel assembly releases 10,000 rem/hr of radiation; for reference, a dose of 500 rem is lethal to humans if received all at once.  The US EPA set radiation exposure limits in permanent waste storage facilities over one million years.  Once again, short-range logic and lethal side-effects: We ‘scientifically’ raise our standard of living, with the side-effect of saddling our progeny with deadly radioactive waste.  I call it poisoning our progeny so we can have a party

The pharmaceutical ‘medicine’ of Western science is an interesting case study as well.  While producing ‘scientific’ drugs, pharmaceutical corporations release drugs and other chemicals into the surrounding environment. A 2022 study found that pharmaceutical pollution––in other words, Western "medicine"––poses a “global threat to human and environmental health.”19   The study involved measuring the concentration of 61 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) at more than 1,000 sites along 258 rivers and in 104 countries on all continents.  Only two places were unpolluted:  Iceland and a Venezuelan village where the indigenous people do not use modern medicines.  At 19% of all of the sites monitored, the concentrations of antibiotics exceeded levels expected to enable bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.  

Numerous organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have declared antibiotic resistance to be a global public health concern.  In the USA alone, antibiotic resistant pathogen associated hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) cause 99,000 deaths annually.  In 2006, about 50,000 Americans died due to two common HAIs, namely pneumonia and sepsis, costing about $8 billion to the US economy.20  Thus, just as Western agronomic science produces super-weeds and super-pests, Western medicine’s pharmaceutical ‘science’ produces super-pathogens and untreatable diseases as a side-effect of ‘treating’ treatable diseases.  With ‘medicine’ like this, who needs poison?

In accord with a breezy anti-biotic (anti-life) attitude, Western science treats conception as a disease to be prevented by pharmaceutical intervention.  The side-effects of hormonal contraception include "nausea; weight gain; chloasma; cervical extrophia and leukorrhea; hypermenorrhea; spotting and breakthrough bleeding; galactorrhea and pituitary tumors; choreiform movement disorder; endometrial cancer; and, hepatic effects.  Fetal exposure to exogenous estrogens and progestins has been reported to result in increased risk for the heart and neural tube defects."  Women who use oral contraceptives have increased risks of breast and cervical cancer.  Is it really a surprise that when you suppress the fundamental female functions––that is, suppress the essential femininity of females––you produce serious diseases and malfunctions of the female organs, or increase the risk of birth defects?  

Western science assumed that a woman's hormones are separate from her cognition, so imagined that one can disrupt the female hormonal system to prevent conceptions without affecting her ability to select a compatible partner for a long-term relationship and child-rearing.   In fact, oral contraceptives interfere with a woman's Natural ability to identify a compatible partner.  University of Liverpool researchers found that women taking oral contraceptives prefer men who emit body odors genetically similar to themselves, in contrast to women not using contraceptives, who prefer men who emit genetically dissimilar odors.25  Thus, whereas women are by Nature attracted to men who are genetically sufficiently different to ensure progeny have genetic strength, Western "medicine" in its infinite stupidity gives them The Pill that makes them attracted to genetically incompatible partners.  While using the hormonal contraception, a woman is likely to choose a genetically similar partner who will not be attractive to her when she stops using the pill.  Thus under the influence of hormonal contraception a woman will have sex with and get attached to a man to whom she is not naturally attracted; then, when she stops using the contraception, she will no longer be attracted to him, and if they try to have children, they will have problems conceiving, an increased risk of miscarriage and long intervals between pregnancies.  Thus hormonal contraception shows how little Western science understands Human Nature.

Contrary to assumptions of Western science, women cannot be isolated from the whole of Nature, so if we mess with women, we mess with Nature.  For example, when women who have ingested contraceptive hormones urinate into water, the hormones end up in the waterways.  There they are devastating marine life: "Male fish exposed to estrogen become feminized, producing egg protein normally synthesized by females. In female fish, estrogen often retards normal sexual maturation, including egg production."  So hormonally suppressing the femininity of human females has the lethal side effect of de-feminizing female fish and feminizing male fish.  That modern science either could not predict such side effects or did not care to prevent them shows how little modern science understands the Way (tao) of Nature.  

The flesh of these poisoned fish contain enough estrogen-mimicking chemicals to cause breast cancer cells to grow.  Consequently, if women who did not take the pill eat the fish, they incur an increased risk of breast cancer.  Breast cancer is then treated by amputation, hormone blockers and deadly radiation and chemotherapy; which altogether deprive a woman of womanhood.  Thus, divorcing the desire for sex from the desire for children results in the widespread destruction of women, particularly of the organ designed to nourish children;  who would have guessed?  Given that the essence of femininity consists of the ability to lovingly nourish children, I conclude that modern science doesn't even understand that people who desire to divorce sexuality from love (marriage) and child-bearing (family) have a deeper disease, namely, alienation from Human Nature and insufficient love of children.  

The title of a case report  in the Ulster Medical Journal announces that “Chemotherapy causes cancer! A case report of therapy related acute myeloid leukaemia in early stage breast cancer.”21  Another study reports that among 71 patients treated for breast cancer with a selection of chemotherapy drugs, the cumulative risk of leukemic complications was 25% at 37 months after the start of the chemotherapy, and the relative risk of leukemia was 339 because 2 cases were detected whereas only 0.0059 cases were expected.22  Thus, Western medicine’s pharmaceutical ‘science’ treats cancers with drugs that cause cancer patients to endure more cancer.  

It has been estimated that prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in the United States and Europe.23  About half die despite taking the drugs correctly, the other half die due to errors.  Johns Hopkins University patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S., making medical error the third leading cause of death.24      

In short, the Western science medical system creates diseases and sickens and kills patients––is homicidal––, exactly contrary to its alleged purpose.  This may explain why conventional physicians have an alarming rate of suicide.  One doctor commits suicide in the US every day, the highest suicide rate of any profession.  The number of doctor suicides––28 to 40 per 100,000––is more than twice that of the general population (12.3 per 100,000).  Further, of all medical specialties, psychiatry is near the top in terms of suicide rates.25

Thus the people trained to use Western science to help people with their physical and mental illnesses are unusually likely to develop fatal mental illness, statistically far more prone than the people they are supposed to help.  This may mean that in any encounter between a patient and a Western science physician, the chances are that the patient is healthier than the physician.

Bruce Holbrook, a Yale-trained cultural anthropologist who completed a apprenticeship with a traditionally trained Confucian-Taoist medicine physician, commented on this in his book The Stone Monkey: An Alternative, Chinese-Scientific Reality:

“The will to commit suicide is defined by Chinese doctors logically as the gravest disease.  As the brilliant sociologist Emile Durkheim explained, it is usually the result of recognizing that, to put it roughly, one is not serving the function of one’s social position.  It is hardly a mystery, then, that the suicide rate of Western physicians is much higher than that of the general populace, and that the suicide rate of psychiatrists is twice that of physicians….In the case of our would-be healers, the function of their social position is to heal, but their roles serve to transform illnesses into other illnesses.  Since this is a matter of life and death, the healers who recognize it sometimes develop the symptom, suicide, of this scientific-paradigmatic disease.  When those whom a medical paradigm kills off are among its most talented healers, that paradigm hardly constitutes ground for judging another, and the fact that it is sick itself, is basically disease-causing, is plain.” [Emphasis added.]

I've only scratched the surface, but the above suffices to show that Western science does not occupy high ground, and is not justified in claiming superiority to Taoist science.  

Western Science Is Wrong 

Historian Joseph Needham noted that "The sciences of China never dreamed of divorcing science from ethics, but when at the [so-called] Scientific Revolution the final cause of Aristotle was done away with, and ethics chased out of science, things became different, and very menacing."  Indeed, as I have briefly shown above, Western science has proven itself a menace to humanity.

Confucian-Taoist science maintains that in order for a system of knowledge to be right about Nature, it must be right in all common senses of the term:  factually, theoretically, and morally right.   That this accords with common sense is shown by common usage of the words "right" and "wrong" in the English language.

The word "right" is derived from the Latin rectus which means "straight, aligned."   Right knowledge or theory thus means knowledge or theory that aligns or accords with Nature, including Human Nature.  Right action means action that aligns or accords with Nature, including Human Nature.  This is why we use the word “right” to refer to both statements true to Nature––e.g. “water is a heat sink” is right––and to good moral behavior––e.g. it is right to treat your neighbor as you want to be treated. 

The word “wrong” is derived from the Proto-Germanic wrang which means “crooked, wry, twisted.”  In other words, “wrong” means not aligned with Nature.  Wrong knowledge or theory thus means knowledge or theory that is crooked or twisted because it does not align or accord with Nature, including Human Nature.  Similarly, wrong action means action that does not align or accord with Nature, including Human Nature.  That’s why we use the word “wrong” to refer to both statements not true to Nature––e.g. “heat contracts and descends” is wrong––and to bad moral behavior––e.g. it is wrong to steal or harm your neighbor.   

Confucian-Taoist science recognizes that only right knowledge leads us to right action, action that accords with Nature, which is good or moral because it enhances human life (survival, health, fitness, and reproduction) over the long term; whereas wrong knowledge always leads us to wrong action, action discordant with Nature, which is bad or immoral because it undermines human life (survival, health, fitness, and reproduction) in the long term.  

Consider now the meanings of "true" and "untrue."  True means "in accord or harmony with Nature" as well as "faithful or loyal" (He was a true friend).  We can say that a true statement or theory is faithful or loyal to Nature.  Similarly, untrue means "not in accord or harmony with Nature" as well as "unfaithful or disloyal."  A false statement or theory is unfaithful to Nature.   

Since Human Nature is an aspect of Nature, Confucian-Taoist science recognizes that there can be no such thing as scientific knowledge that is true to Nature yet harmful (untrue) to Human Nature, nor can there be any such thing as knowledge that is untrue to Nature yet beneficial (true, faithful, loyal) to Human Nature.  Therefore, you can judge the truth or falsehood of a theory by its fruits:  If practical (technological) application of a theory harms Nature––including especially Human Nature––it follows that the theory is untrue to Nature, i.e. wrong. 

As I have shown, practical application of Western science routinely harms Nature including Human Nature.  Thus, I confidently say––diagnose––that Western science is wrong.  That is, it routinely does harm (is morally wrong) because its theories are not in accord with (true to) Nature, which means they are not properly empirically grounded.  That means:  Western science doesn't understand the Way (tao) Nature works because it is not founded on a proper empirical investigation of things. 

"It's not science itself but its use that is the problem," many would argue.  This is more of classic Western science thinking; it falsely assumes that you can isolate the use of a tool from the structure/design of the tool itself.  Both Western science and its use are problematic, because the way it can be used is dictated by its nature.  The use of a tool is limited by its design.  You can use an axe to chop wood, but not to eat soup.  Western science is by design––by its basic conceptual constituents––chiefly useful for destruction.  This because it is based on the Platonic-Aristotelian idea that we can best understand Nature by first dissecting––that is, destructing––any whole into parts to study in isolation, then attempting to put the fully dissected––and consequently now dead––body back together.   In Taoist science, we call this "using one part to obscure the whole."  

One of the main errors of the Western conceptual framework is a gross overestimation of human ability to control or reconstruct, fix or re-engineer Nature (including Human Nature).  This hubris may be logically derived from a fundamental assumption of the conceptual framework of the Abrahamic religions, namely the belief that humans or at least human minds are not of Nature themselves, but supernatural aliens who have been injected into Nature from outside by a God.  This God literally dictated things into existence ("let there be light, etc.") and issued a list of laws for every thing to follow or be destroyed ("the wage of disobedience is eternal death").  Abrahamism depicts man as  "made in the image of" this supernatural God, which implies that man is not an aspect of Nature (and  therefore subject to it) but, like this God, man is dictator over Nature, able to force it to take the form he imagines to be desirable.  

The Tao Te Ching on the other hand warns that no one can control or revamp Nature, and attempts to "fix" or "engineer" Nature according to human ideas will inevitably backfire:

Of those who wish to take hold of all-under-heaven and act upon it, I have seen that they do not succeed.

Now,  All under heaven is a sacred vessel, 

Not something that can be acted upon.

Who acts upon it will be defeated,

Who grasps it will lose it.  

Tao Te Ching 73 (29), Mair translation

I already demonstrated the truth of this above in my listing of the "side-effects" of many "advanced" Western technologies.  Since humankind is an aspect of Nature, the Western war on Nature is a war on humankind.  "Who acts upon it will be defeated, who grasps it will lose it."  What goes around, comes around.  

In summary, when I say that modern Western ‘science’ is not superior but is wrong, I mean two things:  

  • First, on the whole and in the long run, it offers and operates with a model (paradigm, theory) that fundamentally does not align or accord with––is not true to––but misrepresents Nature
  • Second, because its theoretical basis is fundamentally false, on the whole and in the long run, action based on its theories does more harm than good.  

In brief, the ongoing multilayered discord, dis-ease, degeneracy and destruction occurring in Western civilization can all be traced to one underlying cause: a false conception (misunderstanding) of Nature called Western science, which is ultimately due to insincere or incomplete investigation of things.  

As the data I cited above indicates, Western science and civilization are in terminal crisis and it is only a matter of time before the Western Death Star implodes, destroyed by its own lethal side-effects.  You can go down with the Western scientific ship or you can find an alternate means of transportation that has proven capacity to foster Human well-being in the long run.  By virtue of being in accord with Nature, Confucian-Taoist science will survive this crash and shows the Way forward.  


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