Traditional Chinese Medicine – Science or Pseudoscience?
A Response to Paul Unschuld


This article was motivated by the interview in Issue 103 of The Journal of Chinese Medicine (October 2013) with

Professor Paul Unschuld. Although Professor Unschuld is a prolific translator of Chinese medicine texts, and thus

a gatekeeper to vital information for practitioners who do not read classical Chinese, this interview (together with

other communications from Professor Unschuld) raises questions about his perspective on Chinese medicine. It

appears that Unschuld characterises Chinese medical theories as ‘magical’ – i.e. pseudoscientific – thinking. This

article examines the tacit beliefs which appear to underlie the work of Professor Unschuld (and that seem to be

shared by other prominent authors such as Joseph Needham and Ted Kaptchuk) that deny Chinese medicine equal

status with modern biomedicine – as being based on scientific fact. In addition, the question is asked: Should

Chinese medicine be subject to verification by the methods of Western biomedicine, and if so, which part(s) of

Chinese medicine meet that standard?


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