Stranger Than Fiction: When Getting It Wrong is Right

Sometimes in history, things the wrong thing may be a portent of the right. In a perverted twist of the law of unintended reactions, the medical industrial complex adopted the Caduceus instead of the more appropriate Asclepius.

Why a Mistake or Providence


The Caduceus got its start was in 1902, at the instance of one single officer. The US Army adopted the Caduceus to the uniforms of the officers of the Medical Corps. Today, it is common to see the Caduceus as a symbol of the medical profession.

In January 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned about the growth of the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address. Originally he spoke about the Political-Military-Industrial Complex but dropped the political. Included in the industrial part of his thinking was the medical-pharmaceutical industries.

The reason for his warning:

Ever increasing profits
lead to ever increasing greed
which leads to corruption.

What does this have to do with the caduceus, with its two snakes and wings, used as a symbol of medicine instead of the correct Rod of Asclepius with only a single snake.

Professionals tended to use the rod of Asclepius while commercial organizations use the Caduceus symbol. While the thinking may be that the professionals are more aware of the correct symbol, there is another factor that needs to be considered.

The Caduceus is the symbol of the god of the market place, Hermes. Also known as the patron god of commerce and the fat purse.

Likewise, Hermes was the special protector of the traveling salesmen. Additionally, Hermes was the spokesman for the other gods. He also had the gift of a silver tongue. His use of smooth words enabled him to make the worse things look and sound good. (note: my computers word checker corrected me to eliminate the suffix men from two entries. Actually, at the time, it was men, not women. This is the history. Why rewrite it for the sake of being PC).

While some might consider it a better symbol for some congressmen and congresswomen, used car salesman and the guy who sells ice-cream to eskimos, I say they got it right.

Think about it. while there are a lot of wonderful doctors who truly try to do the right thing, the entire system is broke. Why do more and more people get sick every year...from their hospital stay. Why do we keep hearing about scandals regarding chemo therapy and antibiotics. Why do we hear of scandals regarding drug approvals that are found to do more harm than good.

The reason, the profit greedy medical, pharmaceutical complex is serving the right god. The god of greed and fat purses.

Again, this is in no way meant to disparage the wonderful doctors who are trying to do the right thing. This is the system that is causing the problem.

Stuart L Tyson, in Scientific Monthly wrote, "The Caduceus, representing the god who would be better suited as a " conductor of the dead to their subterranean abode" and "...his emblem would seem more appropriate on a hearse than on a physician's car."

No Stuart, considering that the hospital industry is the third leading cause of death, the medical profession got it right. The profession on the whole is doing more harm than good.

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