Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Hippocratic Oath

Bob is fond of omitting key information about something when that information tends to be adverse to his position. This is sometimes called "quote mining" but I like to call it the "lie of omission". But whatever you call it, Bob is a true master. However, it's completely dishonest since he leaves out crucial information that typically deflates his argument.

For example, during Bob's coverage of abortion last Tuesday, he started talking about the Hippocratic Oath. Here's what he said (Bob's emphasis is shown in italics and his sound effects are in brackets):
I'm gonna give you a doctor's perspective, kind of a medical perspective, on this issue of abortion and I thought the first place I would go is the Hippocratic oath. We've all heard about this, right? Doctor's take the Hippocractic oath. Have you ever actually read the Hippocratic oath? Did you know that the Hippocratic oath itself specifically addresses abortion? And specifically says, 'we will not do this.' [Bob chuckling] Most people are completely unaware ... that's what it actually ... I've got a copy right here [paper shaking] of the Hippocratic oath. It was written in about 400 B.C. from Hippocrates and I'm going to read you ... I'm not going to read the whole thing, just an excerpt of it. 'I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest, any such counsel, and in like manner, I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.' It's in the actual hypocratic oath. I wonder if abortion doctors are taking that oath? [whistles]"
Well, first of all, the section that Bob read was a translation from the original Greek text from 400 years before Jesus. You can find plenty of translations of this classical oath online (here's one from MIT and another from Nova on PBS). Bob asserts that this classical oath is what doctors are pledging when they graduate medical school. However, most new doctors actually swear to a modern version of the oath, such as this one written in 1964 by the Academic Dean at Tufts Medical School. Note that this modern oath says nothing about abortion.

Getting back to the classical oath, it's very telling to see what Bob didn't mention. First, the classical oath starts out with "I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia an Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses..." That's right, the classical oath starts out by calling the names of a bunch of Greek gods which Christianity specifically rejects. Shouldn't the entire oath be rejected by Bob based on this fact?

But wait, it gets better. The classical oath also rejects surgery when it states, "I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work." This is obviously not the case in modern medicine and has not been for hundreds of years.

It's ludicrous for Bob to use this oath that nobody follows in his "discussion" of abortion as if it had any relevance. Once again, we see that Bob provides no substance in his his arguments, if you can call them that.


Brian said...

What exactly did he omit? He stated it’s the Hippocratic Oath from 400 B.C. Since you are such a devote listener of Bob you also know that just because it starts by acknowledging Greek gods that would not completely prevent its use in Bob's eyes (Bob wears a wed ring, celebrates Christmas, celebrates Easter, uses the terms Monday, Tuesday, etc...Which all have their origins in pagan religions). So who is doing their own "quote mining" now...oh wait you are just simply fabricating something that no one even said.

Now I understand that you feel upset because he isn't arguing your point of view, but that really isn't his’s yours. Bob has never claimed to be unbiased, in fact he states frequently (as you must know) that he is biased and he is presenting a biased argument. Then if someone is willing to come and debate him in person he will take them on. So I suggest to you that if you have such a level of expertise to correct Bob (that wasn't meant to be sarcastic) then please show your credentials and get on the show and debate him face to face. I would love to see it.

Anonymous said...


First, Bob is purporting that doctors must take this 2,300 year old oath (which is untrue) which implies that the oath has some sort of importance to modern medicine. Bob omitted the fact that this oath also prohibits surgery. Therefore, this oath obviously has no practicality to modern medicine and it is nonsensical to use this oath as rational reason to prohibit abortion.

I'm not sure what "credentials" or "level of expertise" are required to debate Bob. In fact, I'm not sure what "credentials" or "expertise" Bob possesses to have a radio show. Do you know? Bob is well aware of this blog, yet he has made no effort to contact myself or any of its authors for an on-air debate.