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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