Review of Reviews,  6 (1892), 284–85.

Some Remarks on Matteism and its Critics. With Special Reference to the Cancer Committee's Report



Editorial, News-Commentary


Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Heterodoxy, Homeopathy, Quackery, Controversy, Boundary Formation

    Accepts that George W Potter and the other members of the medical committee which examined the efficacy of Cesare Mattei's medicines for the cure of cancer are 'justified in lifting up their horn on high and claiming all the credit which belongs to those who have subjected a very important claim to a scientific test and found it wanting'. At the same time, however, it is far from being proven that 'Matteism is a fraud, a delusion, and a snare', and the doctors of the committee are not justified in advising the public to 'abjure for ever all reliance upon his oddly named globules and electricities'. Indeed, it is 'curious how unscientific some scientific men become when they give rein to the passion of intolerance'. After all, it is more than probable that the orthodox practices of surgery would cure no more cancer patients than the application of heterodox remedies in a straight contest of 'Matteism versus the knife'. (284) The best practical advice to a cancer patient is, as soon as any lump is discovered, to let a doctor 'cut it out root and branch, even if there is a doubt whether it is cancer [....] it would be foolish to delay in order to try Matteism or any other 'ism, orthodox or heterodox'. If, on the other hand, the disease is at an already advanced stage, Mattei's homeopathic remedies can at least 'diminish the local pain' and 'improve [...] general health', and, as such, they should not be 'denounced as mere fraudulent quackery'. In fact, when the remedies are used in cases of 'Heartburn and indigestion' the sickness rapidly disappears 'as if banished by a magic wand'. Concludes that the 'moral of the whole controversy is that there ought to exist a competent, permanent, scientific tribunal which would undertake the experimental observation of the operation of all remedies whatever'. (285)

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