Fahrenbach tells us that Comanche men used to tie bags of “medicine” next to their pertinents. Inside these bags were things like wolves’ teeth, special stones, perhaps hair taken from an enemy, and other suchlike items.
The medicine provided by these objects protected Comanche warriors in battle. The medicine gave both courage, battle prowess, and a certain level of invulnerability.
Which sounds a bit like a contradiction. You are either invulnerable or you are not. And perhaps the Comanche warrior would be invulnerable in the absolute sense of the word, were it not for his enemies also have their own medicine, which provided that enemy with their own certain levels of invulnerability.
Medicine could overpower medicine.
Now you, dear modern reader, confident in your science and sophisticated, and, most of all, superior understanding of causality, smile at the simple nature of the Comanche and their flawed theories of cause. After all, you have a cellphone, and maybe even a computer, which are amazing scientific achievements, in which you take pride because, well, you live in the same culture as the men who created these wonders. Which was very clever of you: to be born right.
If you were to imagine yourself sent back and time, and transported to the Great Plains, you, being noble, would try to instruct these naive peoples on just what cause is, and why “medicine” does not work.
You’d get an argument, though. Comanche warriors would fill your ears with innumerable stories of how their medicine increased after, say, a sacred stone was added, and how this enabled them to win an impossible victory over a stronger enemy. And how when they had failed to fulfill a vow through mishap or, worse, via inattention, their medicine failed them.
They carried their medicine with them always, and their very survival was supreme evidence of the efficacy of medicine.
They knew by these proofs that medicine works. And your banal hectoring lectures on how “science is a process” or “science is self-correcting” or “we now know” or or “gold-standard randomized trials” or “superstition” or on and on and on, would only serve to increase the confidence these warriors had, not only that their medicine worked, but that you yourself were a poor sad creature who understood nothing about the world.
You’d be lucky to get back to your time machine with your hair intact.
But maybe you would have had better luck with your lectures had you taken off your mask.
After all, it’s hard for listeners to make out a muffle.
Pardon the brief post: I’m uncommon busy this week.
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