Errors of False Reasoning


May 1860


by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


All error arises from false reasoning. If man knew when a sensation was produced on the senses, his senses or knowledge would be prepared to receive it without fear; but being ignorant of it, he receives it, sometimes as a sweet morsel that he rolls under his tongue, until at last he finds, to his sorrow, that he is hugging a viper that will sting him to death. Now if mankind knew these enemies and how they came and got into their house or mind, they would be on the lookout, and their knowledge would be a protector. But the wisdom of the world has set up a standard superior to the wisdom of God and supposes its opinions must be taken for truth, without any doubts or questioning. This standard is based on the old superstition that went hand-in-hand with all other superstitions. Science has been ridding the world of its errors, but the science of life is in the hands of the most ignorant class of persons the world can produce; who undertake to be the teachers of a science that they know nothing of. How long would the world suffer a chemist to blow up every person venturing to stand by to see him produce a phenomenon by which the world would be put in possession of some scientific truth, and then hear him explain that it is a scientific experiment governed by the laws of chemistry; the effect being just what he knew before it took place? It strikes me that he would be put in prison for malpractice, but you stand by and see a physician do the same thing and think it alright.

For instance, a physician, from his theory, which is based on the lowest grade of ignorance and superstition, produces a chemical change in your friend and blows him up or kills him from his science, and your friend gives him the credit of being a scientific man! Now to kill a person by the theory or science of the faculty is one of the easiest things in the world. It is as easy as to take a vessel lying at a wharf in Portland, and going on-board of her in the dark, undertake to pilot her out of the harbor, where you have never been yourself, but have seen someone go in fair weather, and as you have the name of a pilot, to pilot man's soul to the other world. The Captain invites you to pilot his vessel, so you get the vessel underway, and in a short time are right among the ledges. If it lightens up, and you see there is no chance for escape, you show your science by letting the vessel have her own way. If the current and tides carry her clear, you get the credit of showing great skill in not getting lost before, or in a worse place.

So it is with the doctor. He is called to see a patient who is a little nervous, is in the dark, or rather afraid of going out. So this blind guide called “doctor” or pilot undertakes to pilot him through the valley of death and land him safely on the shores of health. The Captain or patient gives up the helm to this blind pilot, who shows his chart and points out the dangers of the coast. The Captain is now in a very nervous state, for he thinks he is deceived. He thought there was not much trouble, but he finds by the pilot that he has been blown away by the breath of superstition and ignorance into the gulf of death, where he is a stranger. So he and all his friends or crew give up to this blind guide, because he shows his chart of the coast. Now the Captain is nervous and wants to know all the dangers, so the pilot sits down and commences giving a scientific account of all the rocks and quicksands and shoals, not forgetting to tell how many had been lost on the coast. He shows how the wind and tides vary sometimes. You think you are clear, and in the next minute a flash of heat strikes you on the cheek. This is called “hectic,” and it is always an indication of a shoal called “consumption.” Then comes a crackling sound called “cough.” This shows that the tide of life is nearly on the turn.

Now comes the science. If the tide is rising, the wind is fair and nothing happens, you will go clear. But if the tide is ebbing, and the wind is rising, it is not certain how it will come out. As it is, it is not worthwhile to rack the hulk any more by pumping her life out. So make the helm fast, and wait for Nature to do her work. So all acts are suspended, waiting for the tide of life to carry her clear. And if by chance you come into the river of life, you are lucky.

Then this false guide, who has been the means of all this trouble, comes forward on deck and speaks in the language of his science. “I have piloted a great many persons before, but you have had the narrowest escape I ever saw! And if I had not been on the lookout, you and all hands must have been lost.” But one old tar, who has been posted up in this kind of knowledge, based on superstition, sees into the imposition and shows that the pilot has not shown one sign of scientific knowledge. Now he gets the credit of a great deal of science and receives all their thanks! This is a fair illustration of the medical practice. It is based on ignorance, and not one single fact is explained by their theory. Phenomena are produced. So they are by the spiritualists. Both theories produce phenomena, but the world is none the wiser, for they establish an error for a truth, and mankind has to suffer for their explanation. Their theory makes disease, and mine cures it, so we are just in opposition to each other. I know how they get the world into trouble, and they don't. By means of their belief, they kill more by trying to get them out of their trouble than by getting them into it, for they don't save any. But if they let them alone, the sick sometimes get well of themselves.

Now put man in possession of a science that will teach him that thought is matter, governed by another power; and also that his own belief is the cause of his trouble, and to correct his belief is the cure. Then he will see that he cannot become the dupe of such persons, as he is now. It would teach him that there are two ways of doing everything in regard to disease. There is a way of making disease and also a way of unmaking it. The science of this world is to make disease, and the science of truth is to destroy it. One is the science of an opinion and superstition, and the other is the "SCIENCE OF TRUTH."

P. P. Quimby

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