Last Saturday June 11, at the Lick-Wilmerding high school in San Francisco, California, the Pine Street Foundation hosted a day of rousing debate featuring acupuncturists and acupuncture students. There were 3 rounds of competitive debate of thought-provoking topics of potential direction-changing impact to traditional Asian medicine in the United States today.
Round 1 featured eight teams debating the below-listed 4 topics:
1.Resolved: Contemporary Chinese medicine as currently defined by the People’s Republic of China is superior to all other international variations of Chinese medicine.
2. Resolved: Acupuncture as a medical intervention should be disallowed because its mechanism of action cannot be scientifically proven.
3. Resolved: The replacement of traditional Chinese medical vocabulary that describes diseases, pathologies and treatments by modern scientific medical vocabulary is an important development and should be encouraged as the standard.
4. Resolved: Chinese medicine is a fad in the U.S. and its viability, as an independent medical intervention does not have a dynamic future.
The winners of round 1 continued on to round 2 to debate one of these two resolutions:
1. Resolved: The sustainability of important cultural habits (cultural relativism) should allow the continued use of animals as Chinese herbal medicine, including endangered species.
2. Chinese herbal medicine attempts to extend the current age limits of the human lifespan (aka: anti-aging “herbal tonics for longevity”) should be welcomed.
The winners of round 2 went to the third and final round of debate:
Resolved: Chinese medicine should be embraced as an essential part of the U.S. national health-care reform.
You can imagine that it was difficult for non-participating acupuncturists not to have strong opinions regarding the topics and at times it was difficult to vote on the various teams’ debating abilities rather than the topics themselves. It seemed however, that even for the acupuncturists who were debating the unpopular sides of the topics it only strengthened their own resolutions of their chosen profession.
You might ask what I was able to take away from the debate? My favorite quote comes from a member of the Jade Monkeys team who argued the negative side of the second resolution of round one. He stated, ” Let us never put a period where a comma should be used.”
If competitive debate of topics important to traditional Asian medicine is something you just can’t miss they are going to have their second annual day of debate in March 2012. Find out more about the Pine Street Foundation at: