What Comanche Medicine Tells Us About Modern Medical Science

What Comanche Medicine Tells Us About Modern Medical Science

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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  1. Hagfish Bagpipe

    How how. Heap big medicine, pale face.

  2. Incitadus

    What amuses me is the way they’re touting the M-95 mask now which was
    basically developed for something like sheet-rock work and is now claimed
    to trap viruses. Magical thinking attends pretty much every aspect of the

  3. john b()


    Blame the Shingles shot

  4. Vermont Crank

    As an Algonquin-Irish Catholic I approve this observation by David Cole:

    I have a theory that American Injuns fucked up this country somethin’ awful by being so easily killed and pacified. It’s really quite astounding the speed with which the natives were vanquished. It doesn’t mean they didn’t fight hard, it doesn’t mean they didn’t score some early victories and even a few meaningless later ones (i.e., Custer). But Jesus, they got cleansed from a continent with a historically unparalleled rapidity, and then, once pacified, they gave up. No guerrilla wars, no terrorism. By the end of the Civil War, it was clear that the Indian Wars, though not over, were a simple matter of mopping up (those no-immune-system alcoholism-prone wood-and-stone hunter-gathering featherheads never even tried to spike rails or cut telegraph poles at a time when that would’ve crippled American expansion).

    I think white America got spoiled, and tricked into believing that all racial problems could be handled as easily and with equal finality. You see that in the Reconstruction-era document I wrote about last year; Radical Reconstructionists dismissed the possibility of widespread future racial problems in America, assuring Congress that blacks would never leave the South and race mixing would never become commonplace because mixed-race children were genetically sickly and would simply die off.

    “We coughed on the Indians and gained a continent. Now we just have to cough on the mulattoes and again, problem solved!”

  5. Shadowbass

    Well, it Might have worked. The Comanche were among the toughest and brutal of all the Great Plains tribes. It took centuries for first the Spanish then Mexicans then American settlers with repeat firearms to final Subdue them. Powerful medicine indeed. Heh, I know a sports team or two kind like to send one too…

  6. Cary Cotterman

    Incitadus–I’ve used N-95 masks for sheet-rock work, sanding, cutting through stucco walls, sawing bricks, etc. I fit them to my face as closely and firmly as possible. After the jobs were done, I removed the mask, and still spent time blowing dust snot out of my nose and hocking up dust loogies. These dust particles are far, far larger than any virion, yet they got through the N-95 mask. The Face Diaper Cult does, indeed, rely on magical thinking.

  7. Incitadus

    Yea it’s pretty funny how they’re being pushed like some magic bullet. My wife
    recently came down with covid and a couple of days later when I saw my doctor for a regular visit
    he jumped up and rushed out of the room to quickly change into into an M-95 mask. When I jokingly
    said oh I thought you were getting that for me he blushed and said ‘Oh’ do you want one? I said no
    they were as useless as the one I had on. He was so unhinged he forgot to give me a covid test.

  8. ATheoK

    “Cary Cotterman January 11, 2023 at 2:58 pm
    Incitadus–I’ve used N-95 masks for sheet-rock work, sanding, cutting through stucco walls, sawing bricks”

    Before the pandemic, Dupont’s official description of N-95 masks stated:
    The masks catch 95%, by weight, of small particles. Usually down to size 10 microns.
    Some PM 2.5 microns were caught as air pathways clogged.

    That 5%, by weight, doesn’t catch are mostly the particles smaller than 10 microns.
    It takes a lot of particles smaller than 10 microns to add up to that 5% of the particles the mask did catch.

    In simple terms, Pm 2.5 microns and smaller are rarely caught by N-95 masks.

    Sub-micron viral particles are rarely caught by the N-95 mask. Most viral particles sail through N-95 mask surfaces like mosquitos flying through chain link fences.

    After, Fauci and Birks announced their ‘mask guidance’, they also demanded that manufacturers of N-95 masks to ‘correct’ their mask physical performance descriptions. To disguise N-95 mask inability/inefficiencies.

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