Credo, non credo, whatever

Watch out for beliefs.

[Judge] Rodenberg found Daniel has only a “rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. … he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”…Johnson, the parents’ attorney, said everyone should be able to get medical care that follows their beliefs. “The Hausers believe that the injection of chemotherapy into Danny Hauser amounts to an assault upon his body”…The Hausers, who have eight children, are Roman Catholic and also believe in the “do no harm” philosophy of the Nemenhah Band. The Missouri-based religious group believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.

But what the Hausers ‘believe’ is beside the point here in the most fundamental way. It’s beside the point in the same way as it would be beside the point to ‘believe’ that one could stand in front of an approaching high-speed train and be undamaged because one was holding a magic amulet. The Hausers’ ‘beliefs’ make no difference to what is happening inside their son’s body and to what would change that, any more than anyone’s ‘beliefs’ make any difference to what a moving train does to a human body. The train does what it does, lymphoma does what it does, chemo does what it does. What’s needed here is not belief but knowledge. The oncologist knows what chemotherapy does to lymphoma, and the Hausers don’t know, and they apparently don’t know that they don’t know and don’t know that the oncologist does know – or else they do know but choose to decide not to ‘believe’ it. They shouldn’t do that, any more than they should tell their kid to stand in the path of a high speed train while holding a magic amulet.

Rodenberg wrote that Daniel claims to be an elder in the band, but does not know what that means. Daniel also says he is a medicine man under Nemenhah teachings but can’t say how he became a medicine man or what teachings he has had to become one. He also noted that at age 13, Daniel can’t read. “He lacks the ability to give informed consent to medical procedures,” Rodenberg said…According to Daniel’s court testimony, he believes the chemo will kill him, and said: “I’d fight it. I’d punch them and I’d kick them.”

His parents have failed to make sure he knows how to read, and have apparently failed to correct his mistaken belief that the chemo will kill him as opposed to probably saving him. Beliefs are beside the point here, and being beside the point, they are lethal.

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