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2000/04/09 글 게시판을 옮깁니다.
CSICOP 홈페이지의 글대로 원문을 게시합니다.
한국 스켑틱 보고서, 뉴에이지 추종자가 점령한 국가
A Korean Skeptic's Report: New Ager-Occupied Territory
아래 Skeptical Briefs(CSICOP Newsletter) 2000년 3월 호에 게재된 '한국
스켑틱 보고서..'는 1998년 하반기 '정신과학진흥법안'이 논의되던 때에
CSICOP에 한국의 뉴에이지 실상을 알림과 동시에 세계 스켑틱스의 도움
을 받기 위해 작성한 것입니다. 1998년 8월 21일 국회 과학기술정보통신
위원회 소속 국회의원들 에게 보낸 서신에 (5명의 노벨 상 수상자가 참여
하고 있는) CSICOP에서 뉴에이지 문제를 계몽하고 있다는 내용과 함께
이 보고서에 대한 CSICOP 회장 Paul Kurtz의 답신을 포함시켰습니다.
그럼에도 '정신과학진흥육성법안'은 국민회의 정호선, 한나라당 이상희 의
원 외 19명 이름으로 1998년 9월 16일 정식 발의되었습니다. 전 후 과정에
강건일 박사는 또한 신문, 방송에 문제를 환기시켰으며 방송에서도 강박사
의 의견을 다룬 적이 있으나 주로 주간지에서 이 문제를 중요 기사로 취급
하였습니다(홈페이지 게시 글 참조).
이 법안이 계속 추진되지 못하고 현재에 이른 이유는 복합적인 것입니다.
강박사의 노력이 반영되어 법안 발의 의원들 명단에서 많은 과기정통위소
속 의원의 이름이 빠져 있는 것이 아닌가 추측합니다. 또한 이들이 강박사
가 만든 언론, 방송의 분위기를 놓칠 리가 없습니다. 또한 기치료 등이 자
신의 분야라고 주장하며 법안 추진에 반대하여 데모까지 벌인 한의학계의
반발이 아마도 결정적인 효과를 가져왔을 것이라고 봅니다. 여기에 더하여
비리혐의로 수사를 받게 된 정호선 의원의 행동제약이 기여했다고 생각합
'신과학 바로알기'에 관련 내용을 약간 소개했으나 이 법안은 정호선, 이상
희 의원 등과 한국정신과학학회의 합작품입니다. 최근 홈페이지에 게시한
'주간조선 특집편' 에도 그런 내용이 있지만 이 법안이 확정되지 못한 것
을 안타깝게 여기는 분위기가 우리 주위에는 남아 있습니다. 어느 때건 다
시 부활할 소지가 있습니다. 예의 주시하고자 합니다.
'한국 스켑틱 보고서..'는 1998년 하반기 강박사가 가졌던 격앙된 마음이
반영된 글입니다. 그후 CSICOP에서는 이 글을 외국 사례 등을 취급해 온
Skeptical Briefs에 실렸으면 한다는 편지를 보내 왔습니다. CSICOP의
review 보고서 도착이 늦어지고 시간이 흐르자 강박사는 점차 정과학진흥
육성법안이 진행되지 않는 마당에 한국의 부정적 실정을 있는 그대로 노출
하는 것이 바람직할 것인지, 생각도 했습니다.
그래서 CSICOP와 다른 일로 서신을 교환하면서도 이 보고서를 언급하지
않은 채 review 보고서가 도착하면 그 때 최종 게재여부를 결정하리라고
마음먹고 있었습니다. 정신과학진흥육성법안에 대해서는 이제 어떻게 할
도리가 없는 만큼 아마도 법안이 계속 추진되거나 통과된다면 기록으로 남
기기 위해서라도 게재할 것이라는 마음이었습니다.
그러던 중에 놀랍게도 2000년 3월 호에 글이 게재된 것을 발견하였습니다.
사실상 이 보고서는 기록적인 성격이므로 중요내용을 전부 포함시키느라
약간 긴 편이었습니다. 따라서 CSICOP에서는 약간 줄였고(서양 대체의학
과 관련된 부분을 빼었습니다) 특히 앞부분(1. propagandized science 까
지)은 상당부분 손을 대어 (1. propagandized medical science)라고 소제목
을 바꾸어 실었습니다.
그런 과정에서 강박사의 뜻이 잘못 표현된 곳도 발견했습니다. 그래서
2000년 3월 31일에 CSICOP에 메일을 보내 review 보고서를 보내 오지 않
은 데 대한 유감을 표시하며 몇 자 글을 삽입하여 잘못 표현된 것을 수정
할 것과 기타 오자 내용을 지적하였습니다. 만일(그렇게 할지는 모르나) 이
보고서를 인터넷에 올릴 때는 수정된 상태에서 올리라고 주문했습니다.
CSICOP는 2000년 4월 8일 저자의 주문대로 하겠다는 회신을 보내 왔습니
다. 아래 인터넷에 오른 대로 게시합니다. 후에 보니 수맥부분도 그렇고
약간 표현 상 문제가 있었습니다.
이 글은 1998년까지의 한국 의사과학 실정을 정리한 기록이라는 점에서 그
자체 의미가 있다고 봅니다(원래 작성한 대로라면 기록으로는 좀 더 완벽
했을 것입니다). 그러나 여러 학자의 이름이 소상하게 거론된 점 등 반드
시 이렇게 했어야만 했을까 생각의 여지가 남습니다. 그러나 이 모든 것,
한국 정신과학학회의 활동이 미약해지고(?), 정신과학진흥육성법안이 폐기
(?)되었기 때문에 이런 생각을 가질 것이라고도 봅니다. (강건일 박사)
Home : Skeptical Briefs newsletter : March 2000
A Korean Skeptic's Report:
New Ager-Occupied Territory
A deep attachment to tradition and an aspiration to wealth are
cherished values of the modern South Korean. As the nations of the
world become increasingly interdependent in the emerging information
age, the cultural bonds of tradition can be the foundation of stability
and resilience in aquickly developing nation like Korea. The desire for
economic prosperity is a powerful motive for a massive technological
and societal transformation, and Korea is quickly becoming a fully
developed industrial nation despite the recent economic setbacks.
However, tradition has also been a detriment to Korean skepticism and
scientific literacy. For example, Koreans are born believers in qi
(pronounced "chee") the foundation of traditional Asian philosophy and
medicine. In the context of culture and philosophy, belief in qi does not
itself constitute scientific illiteracy. There is however a strong, uncritical
trust in the powers of traditional medicine based on qi, at the expense
of good medical science.
1. Propagandized Medical Science
Out of the admiration of Western affluence, emulation was the obvious
starting point, fueled by a patriotic competitive spirit. Because of this,
most of the pharmaceuticals currently produced worldwide are also
produced in Korea; and for a decade or so, Koreans were surprised by
the simultaneous achievement of wealth and health.
The fact that Korea does not itself develop new pharmaceuticals seems
to be a natural consequence of competition by emulation. There is
current discussion in Korea about progressing to pharmaceutical
research and development, but unfortunately, this has heavily focused
on the development of unique breakthrough drugs from traditional
Korean herbal medicines. The idea is, in effect, to excavate the wisdom
of our ancestors to build the foundations of Korean medical and
Needless to say, this attitude has coincided with poor medical science
education associated with traditional sectors. Outmoded traditional
therapies have been conserved, and education is devoted mostly to
memorizing facts in books. This attitude can be compared to the
medieval European monks who used to faithfully hand-copy the medical
treatises of Galen. Traditional medical and pharmacology students must
still memorize antiquated medical doctrines to earn their degrees. No
one questions whether these traditional dogmas are valid to teach or
Traditional Korean Medicine (TKM)-acupuncture and herbal therapy-is
not very much different from traditional Chinese medicine, in terms of
its principles of yin-yang and the five elements theory. If there is
anything native in TKM beyond minor modifications, it is the theory of
physical constitution formulated by the nineteenth century philosopher
and traditional doctor, Je-Ma Lee.
According to Lee's theory, human beings can be classified into one of
four categories according to the size of their lungs, liver, spleen and
kidneys. Each category or "form" is specific in its temperament,
propensity to disease, suitable diet, and particular herbs for maintaining
health and curing disease. Ironically, the great modern promoter of this
pseudotheory is Dr. Myung-Bok Lee, former professor of anatomy at
the School of Medicine, Seoul National University.1
2. Retrograde Medical Policy
Corruption and a reckless pursuit of in-group interests are deeply
ingrained in Korean society from industry to the public sector.
Educational institutions are not at all immune to this phenomenon.
There are a few who recognize that Korean problems can be cured
only by the spirit of science, rationality, objectivity, and honesty.
In Korea, there are two accreditations for medical doctors: the WMD
for doctors of Western medicine, and the TMD for doctors of traditional
Korean medicine. All doctors are trained for six years. In addition there
are Western Medicine Pharmacists (WMP), who are trained for four
In 1996 a separate "Traditional Medicine Pharmacists" (TMP) was also
established. The creation of the TMP accreditation, circumventing
WMPs' discretion in dispensing traditional drugs, was the result of
furious conflicts between TMDs and WMPs beginning in 1993. Both
sides staged mass demonstrations and threatened the shutdown of their
clinics and pharmacies. Student boycotted classes, and at least two
Ministers of Public Health and Welfare were forced to resign after
arraignment for their misadministration.
Looking at this conflict, it is clear that its cause was the government's
misleading policy. In the 1960s there was only one traditional medical
college. The government increasingly permitted new colleges, beginning
with two in 1970s. Korea now boasts eleven such colleges, producing
750 TMDs each year. The new TMDs are now so accepted and
influential in the mainstream, that it was inevitable for them to fight to
limit the influence of WMPs in the prescription of traditional drugs.
It is truly amazing that in a nation where Western health professionals
and modern pharmaceuticals are in ample supply, a policy promoting
TKM was adopted. Few seem to realize that the policy caused not only
the TMD-WMP conflict, but has also led to serious national health
Few in Korea are aware, even in this day and age, of the fact that
acupuncture, folk remedies, and herbs are mostly neither effective nor
safe. Amid the propaganda of TKM professionals, the government's
assurance of special consideration, and the public's uncritical belief,
Korea is seeing an unprecedented boom period of acupuncture and
herbal remedies. The Korean government even dispatched a special
team of dignitaries to China to learn from that nation's medical policies.
Korean policy makers then took the retrograde step of emulating these
3. The "Scientification" of Pseudoscience?
Korea is in critical condition because traditional medicines are
promoted-in addition to official government recognition-by scholars and
scientists who regard the defense of TKM as a sign of national pride
in Korea's cultural heritage. They insist that it is an irrefutable science,
and even defend it in the name of science.
The following is an editorial from the widely read Korean newspaper,
ChosunIlbo. The writer clearly makes no distinction between Western
medicine and Western cultural influence.
The government should not overlook the fact that Western medicine
and pharmacology is, needless to say, growing in importance with
the trend of growing globalization; traditional medicine and
pharmacology should also be esteemed. As long as the responsibility
for traditional medicine rests on us, and demand for such medical
treatment still exists, more vigorous policies should be adopted. One
possible way is to establish a traditional medical college at Seoul
An influential medical historian, Sang-Ik Whang of the School of
Medicine, Seoul National University, stresses that science existed prior
to the dawn of modern science, although its institutions and
methodology were somewhat different from those of modern times. He
expanded this idea to say, in effect, that the holistic medical doctrines
of past eras, whether Hippocratic humors, Indian Ayurveda, or Chinese
qi, are all true sciences.4 He has obviously given full sway to Thomas
Kuhn's relativistic view of science.
There is a paradoxical belief in Korea that although traditional medicine
already is true science, TKM nevertheless needs to undergo
"scientification." The goal of scientification is to give scientific validity
to traditional medical dogmas like yin-yang and qi force. The
Pharmaceutical Society of Korea openly announced studies in this
direction, rather than discarding and burying the old supernatural
The attempt to find scientific proof for acupuncture is particularly
noteworthy, since a principle researcher-Zang-Ho Cho-is also a
renowned scientist. In his investigation, he inserted needles into
acupuncture points of the foot that are theoretically connected to the
eye and the visual centers in the brain through the meridian. He then
measured blood flow and oxygen levels on the visual region of the
cortex by MRI. It was reported that there was a plus/minus 5 percent
change observed with the acupuncture, compared to controls. It seems
suspicious, however, that whether the percent change is plus or minus
is explained by assuming the influence of an untested tenet of
traditional medicine: yin-yang constitutions.5
4. New Age Boosted by 210 Ph.Ds
In 1986, a book entitled New Science Movement, dealing with the
thoughts of those who were arbitrarily called "New Age scientists"
(including Fritjof Capra, David Bohm, Ilya Prigogine, Roger Sperry, et
al.), was published by the New (Age) Science Study Group. This
organization is a group of eleven prominent scientists and scholars
sponsored by the DaeWoo Cultural Foundation. Although the book
generally presented skeptical opinions from a scientific viewpoint on
holistic claims, they made a blunder by christening New Age claims as
the "New Science," more or less on equal terms with the achievements
of Galileo.6 From then on, New Science has become accepted
terminology widely applied to all New Age parasciences.
In 1994, New Agers rose to higher prominence when the Korean
Society of Mind (Psychical) Sciences was founded. The founding
ceremony opened with a demonstration of a fourteen-year-old girl's
"eyeless vision," and a declaration to investigate similar paranormal
phenomena. The society consists of over 800 members: professors,
research scientists, students, and others-including 210 Ph.Ds. One of the
society's projects was to also study the various types of folk medicine
and phenomena in three "sections": I Ching in the Traditional Thoughts
Section; qi and spirits in the Bio-Qi Energy Section; and clairvoyance
and telepathy in the Potential Ability Section.7
It is futile to detail the contents of the Society's regular symposia: their
topics are anything but skeptical inquiry. They have been providing TV
stations and newspapers with all sorts of paranormal claims in the
name of the New Science. One such claim is that discrete radiation
from an ancestor's remains, if damaged by water vein radiation, would
pursue descendants and permanently injure them.8 In spite of this kind
of "science," no one seems to suspect that the Society's staff, because
of their backgrounds, are simply New Agers worshipping parascience.
A board member of the Society, Gun-Woong Bang9 published a book
entitled New Science Will Change the World. In this book, he discusses
various New Age topics such as qigong, morphic fields, auras and
Kirlian photography, homeopathy and water-memory, vibrational
therapy, cold fusion, perpetual motion, biological transmutation, Mesmer
and subtle energy, teleportation, etc.
The book has been widely read even by young students, becoming a
bestseller. Bang was asked to give a talk before the National Assembly
Members' science study group. According to the press report, the
chairman of the study group concluded that New Science research
should be strongly supported by the government, since the potential of
such research promised to change the world economic map. Afterwards,
they even held public hearings-the step prior to a government
enactment to support New Science research.10
The scientists belonging to the Society received a hefty grant from the
government for a feasibility study. They concluded that underlying
evidence of pyramid power, music agriculture, and vibrational therapy
are based on reasonable science, and that they could be the foundation
of working hypotheses for scientific investigation.11 Apparently they
have not referred to the numerous articles and papers of skeptics on
these very subjects.
5. The Role of Korean Skeptics
With a patriotic attitude toward traditional medicine in the public and
wide media coverage, profit-motivated New Agers are thriving and
given full respect in Korea. Koreans at large, regardless of educational
background are attracted more and more to superstition, and are
recoiling more and more from good, solid science and reason. This
trend has actually been promoted by influential scholars and
government policy-all in the name of science.
A response to the pseudoscience trend in Korean society has only
recently been organized. A newly established organization, Korea
Pseudo-Science Awareness (KOPSA), promises to be effective. In order
to fight back, organization, intelligence and the right tactics will be
indispensable. Sympathizers to reason and science will be called on as a
group force. But KOPSA also needs advice and assistance from
accomplished skeptics abroad.
1. Dr. Myung-Bok Lee wrote in 1993 a bestselling book entitled If You
Know Your Constitution, Your Health Is Guaranteed. He even taught
this concept in an educational TV program. His method of reading the
constitution is based on the muscle testing of applied kinesiology. No
one knows he is simply teaching a sympathetic magic. [Return]
2. The Western versus Traditional dualism of the Chinese medical
system is unique but far from ideal. In Japan, traditional doctors were
not trained after 1885. When chairman Mao Zedong took over mainland
China in 1949, he inevitably and politically emphasized TCM. China, in
fact, has made efforts to augment the western system up to the point
that about 15 to 20 percent of patients become TCM-dependent (B.L.
Beyerstein, and W. Sampson. 1996. Skeptical Inquirer 20(4): 18-26).
3. The editorial titled Traditional and Western Medicines Should Be
Complemented appeared in ChosunIlbo on May 18, 1996. The tone is
nothing different from that of most Koreans who regard Western
medicines as inroads of Western culture in their territory. Naturally
they believe that in Korea something modern and unique should be
created corresponding to the Western one. They are not going to accept
that science is an universal way of thinking and finding the truth.
4. Dr. Sang-Ik Whang expressed this view in the book review of
Modern Drug Discovery Stories, which appeared in MunwhaIlbo on
April 23, 1997. The title of the review was "An Argument Against
Determining Statement that Traditional Medicine is Unscientific." The
book, written by me, was simply an account of drug discovery stories
but it was stated in the author's introduction that modern drugs created
from the 19th century by applying scientific method to the finding of
efficacy and safety are valued different from traditional ones. Open
supporters for my views are rarely encountered. [Return]
5. This appeared in JungangIlbo on June 12, 1997. Dr. Zang-Ho Cho
presented the result at the National Assembly special guest lecture.
Later, it was reported (MunwhaIlbo, March 5, 1998) that the result was
published in PNAS-USA (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 2670-2673).
Kyung Hee University informed me that the press expression of
yin-yang constitutions was erroneous and yin-yang in the paper simply
denotes two separate groups of opposite signals. Additionally, it was
reported that the reproducibility of their work had not been tested and
proved by other researchers. [Return]
6. The publisher of New Science Movement, Sung-Bom Lee, is also a
member of the New Science Study Group and an arduous promoter of
various New Age publications, including those of Fritjof Capra and
James Lovelock. Strange enough, those New Age books in his New
Science Series were found to be mixed with orthodox science books
such as Ever Since Darwin by Steven J. Gould and Anatomy of a
Scientific Discovery by Jeff Goldberg. In Korea around thirty translated
books of new age authors were published and those books have been
widely promoted and recognized as the twenty-first century advanced
7. These were found in ChosunIlbo (October 20, 1994 and May 6, 1997).
The Korean Society of Mind Sciences is a legitimate science association
registered at Ministry of Science and Technology. President Dr.
Choong-Woong Lee of the Society, electronics professor of Seoul
National University, expressed his having special interest on telepathy
communication (MunwaIlbo, April 16, 1997). There is another new age
scholar group called "Future Foreseers." The key member of the group
appeared in the newspaper is Dr. Jun-Sik Choi, professor of religious
studies of Ewha Woman's University. According to the press report
(ChosunIlbo, April 29, 1997). Dr. Choi organized an international new
science symposium inviting authorities on UFO, cold fusion,
superefficient machine breaking the second law of thermodynamics and
human special ability. [Return]
8. The article was written by two members including a board member
of the Korean Society of Mind Sciences in one of the series of "Water
Vein and Health" in ChosunIlbo on August 25, 1996. In another article
of the series (September 1, 1996), they cited Rupert Sheldrake's morphic
field and Lyall Watson's "The Hundredth Monkey Story." [Return]
9. Dr. Gun-Woong Bang, one the most popular New Age promoters in
Korean earned a Ph.D. in materials engineering from Northwestern
University, U.S.A. and presently a senior researcher of Korea Research
Institute of Standards and Science. He is well versed in Korean
philosophy classics. When I contacted him asking for a detailed story of
the girl's eyeless vision, he telefaxed me seven pages of the story
including some of his philosophy. [Return]
10. According to ChosunIlbo (July 23, 1997), Rep. Sang-Hee Ri, former
minister of Science and Technology invited Dr. Bang to the seminar.
Dr. Bang informed me that Rep. Ri is presently less positive and
another Rep. Ho-Sun Chung is active enough to organize the public
hearing on April 16, 1998. Detailed setting of the hearing was known to
be made by Dr. Min-Yong Park, Yonsei University engineering
professor. Dr. Park told me that the New Science discussed in the
hearing was not specific but the one broadly embracing contents of Dr.
Bang's book New Science Will Change the World. The Naeway
Economic Daily (April 16, 1998) reported that the law would direct to
the promotion of Ki related researchers and practices including
qualification standards of qigong therapists and special (super) ability
11. Reporting this with a title of "Mysterious Space Energy"
(MunwhaIlbo, June 30, 1997), the newspaper inserted a big photograph
of pyramid in which sat two researchers including principal investigator
Dr. Mun-Cho Chung of Korean Institute of Science and Technology. It
is obvious for them to believe as well as pyramidology Backster effect,
unnaturalistic vibrational therapy and Robert Jahn's PK. Although Dr.
Chung promised to send their research report on my request, it did not
reach me. [Return]
About the Author
Gun-Il Kang earned his Ph.D. degree from the University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. A former pharmaceutical chemistry professor at
Sookmyung Women's University in Korea, he wrote ten science related
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