contain 5-10% errors. I will readily acknowledge that this is true of the five books I have written. Any author's Book is a snapshot of their knowledge in time, and the more time that goes by, the more likely that author would be to revise or correct their original work. So some questions you can ask about a book:
the interest of preserving the knowledge, but we ought to label it as such, and not put too much positivity into it until we see it work ourselves. And ultimately use the book as a starting point for your experience, not an end point. At my school we advocate a practice to establish as a habit: take at least one herb a day and study its effects in yourself. This can expand into clinical experience with patients. One of the great old Eclectic writers, Eli Jones, put it this way: “I have aspired throughout my career to learn at least one therapeutic fact a day.” Jones waited until her had two decades of such practice and experience before writing his first book.
•Exactly who is the author? What is their experience? How can you find out what their experience is? •Are they writing from experience, or are they copying from other books and repeating rumors? (Too many instances of “. . . is said to be . . .” or “. . . according to so-an-so.) •Do they have an agenda or ideology? Are they writing from one “school” of herbalism. •Could they have distorted their information, or practiced selective citation in order to reinforce some dogmatic opinion. •Could they be exaggerating their certainty about the facts they espouse to be true? (Too many instances of “is” and not enough “may be.”
One variant of the Authority Trap/Book Trap is the Doctor Trap – the idea that what a doctor writes must be more authoritative than a non-doctor. Publishing companies are crucially aware of this , and use it to sell books. In one of my own books, the company hired a PhD reviewer and featured his name prominently on the cover so they could put Doctor in the title. In my opinion, all of the traps above have affected how contemporary herbalists have read and interpreted the writings of the Eclectic school of medicine in this generation. In my next column I will continue on this topic, and turn my sights on contemporary myths and misconceptions on the subject of Specific Medication.
The best general approach is to maintain a critical, curious, and inquiring attitude toward the old books. Be aware of your own tendency to shut off critical thinking in the face of Authority, or The Book. We may repeat things from the old books, in