Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery Religion

Religion versus alternative medicine

Many have been the times that I’ve pointed out that many forms of “alternative” medicine are in reality based far more on mystical, religious, or “spiritual” beliefs than on any science. Indeed, one amusing event that provided me the opening to launch into one of my characteristic (and fun) Orac-ian outbursts occurred a couple of years ago, when the U.S. Catholic bishops declared that reiki is not compatible with Catholic teachings and shouldn’t be offered in Catholic hospitals. Then, earlier this year, the fundamentalists weighed in, when a preacher from the Poconos named Kevin Garman declared reiki to be a “sin.” Of course, from their respective religious viewpoints, both the U.S. bishops and Garman were correct in a way. Reiki is, after all, faith healing. The difference between reiki and Christian faith healing is that reiki masters don’t invoke God as the power that heals; rather, they invoke something called the “universal source,” which actually sounds a lot like God.

Now the Jews have joined in, except that they don’t limit their dislike of alternative medicine to just reiki. A group of Jewish rabbis have just declared alternative medicine to be based on idolatry:

Senior Religious Zionism rabbis have stated that some alternative medicine methods are “based on idolatry”.

The religious leaders are calling on the public not to turn to holistic therapy or seek studies in that field without thoroughly examining the nature of the treatments through a person with knowledge in Halacha and medicine.

The rabbis continue:

“Without taking a stand on the efficiency of the various types of these treatments, we thought it right to warn that some of them involve elements studied in different idolatrous sects. Therefore, each method must be examined individually by a person proficient in the medical field and halachic field.”

The letter was signed by six senior rabbis from the Religious Zionism movement: Haim Drukman, Dov Lior, Yaakov Ariel, Elyakim Levanon, Shmuel Eliyahu and Yehoshua Shapira.

The rabbis conclude their letter by calling on those studying alternative medicine to do so “only in an educational framework supervised by scholars examining the material studied.”

It amuses me that the rabbis don’t take a stand on the efficacy of the various types of alternative medical treatments. It would appear that they care far less about whether these treatments actually work than they do about their perception that they are blasphemous and based on idolatrous beliefs. I also find it rather odd that the rabbis would care far more about Jewish law (Halacha) than they do about whether these therapies actually work.

In contrast, I care far more about whether these therapies actually work or not and what the evidence is supporting them (which is usually little or none) than I do about the religious underpinnings of much of alternative medicine. That’s why I do what I do: Analyze various forms of alternative medicine from a science-based perspective. In contrast, the U.S. bishops, our fundamentalist preacher, and these rabbis care far more about the fact that many alternative medicine therapies are based on religious or mystical ideas that conflict with their religion than they do about the evidence supporting or refuting their efficacy.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

44 replies on “Religion versus alternative medicine”

Is this really that much of a surprise to you? I’d be shocked if you were more concerned over the religious implications of a treatment than its efficacy, because you’re a doctor. I’d expect you to worry about the efficacy and leave the religious angle to the priests and rabbis and what-have-you. Equally, I’d expect a rabbi to leave the efficacy question to the doctors and concern himself with the religious implications … which is what is actually happening. Better that than assume that expertise in one field automatically makes you an expert in any other, which is what everybody else seems to go around doing.

I would beg to differ, for once. Priests and rabbis aren’t doctors, as a rule. Whatever you may think of their belief system, it would be arrogant of them to make statements on the medical efficacity of anything, just as it would be impertinent of a medic to tell you whether or not you should believe in a god.

Since those who believe in mystical beings, be they gods or unicorns, are probably the most likely to fall for pseudo-medical fairy dust and mumbo-jumbo, why shouldn’t the priests of whatever faith they officially subscribe to issue a call to order? it’s a pretty logical, really.

I write this thinking of the Catholic nun who swore to me homeopathy works. To compound the sin, she used to be a nurse (I have since learned never to trust medical advice from a nurse, unless she’s my daughter). If sCAM can be extirpated from those most into the religious stuff, maybe we can all have a shot at officially injecting some SBM and evolution into the void.

Yeah, I know, wishful thinking. Today’s Optimism Day.


I am not really sure I understood what was your point but if I got it right I tend not to agree with you. Your comment seems to propose a sort of of equivalence between the expertize of a doctor in his field and that of a priest (rabbi, what-have-you) in his.

Let’s take the naive approach of the path followed by one to become a priest and then climb up in the hierarchy, let’s forget for the moment about the politics and interests. One becomes a priest because of his “calling from God”, then goes higher and higher because the “gift” is stronger in him than in others. Not because he is an expert in the scriptures but because his soul is closer to them.

The Pope, for example, is not necessarily someone who knows best the Bible and the interpretation of it and the life of saints and everything else but rather the fittest, from a purely spiritual perspective, to be the avatar of St. Peter. There are hundreds of experts in dogma and interpretations better than him at that but they are not as holly as required.

Actually, as you can see, the only criteria here is “the choice of God”, His decision. And since this decision is based purely on His unknown will, anybody can be an expert. Or nobody. We have no clue. Hence, priests are no experts within their own system (unless they can show us a telegram coming from Heavens saying “Yo, this guy rulz, he really gets Me. He’s the man!”).

In fact, I think this is exactly Orac’s problem with both CAM and religion, the lack of an objective validation criteria within these systems. They are both highly subjective and both hide themselves behind the same tree: “if is not working for you, it means that you did something wrong”.

I’ll take up with the difference between “efficiency” (the term the rabbis used) and “efficacy” (the term Orac used).

“Efficacy” refers to whether a treatment works to achieve a particular purpose. A treatment can be efficacious and yet be so toxic that few people would take it. Or, a treatment can be efficacious, yet so expensive and inconvenient that it is inefficient for society to provide.

“Efficiency” refers to the resources required to deliver the treatment and is not a measure of whether the intended outcome is achieved. Accupuncture is a more efficient form of healthcare than surgery.

A related concept is “effectiveness,” often used in the phrase “cost-effectiveness.” Effectiveness is a combination measure of efficacy and toxicity. An efficacious treatment might not be effective. Properly, effectiveness is determined without regard to resource use.

These may seem like minor points, but if you’re not clear in your mind about how you measure outcomes, and what the various outcome measures actually refer to, then you can’t make appropriate comparisons among treatments.

‘Warlock vs. Priest vs. Naturalist’…

next on Gerry.

Regarding “it amuses me that the rabbis don’t take a stand on the efficacy of the various types of alternative medical treatment”…

I picture shoulders shrugging and an ‘eh.’


@David Well… you are wrong, sorry to say it. “Efficiency”, at least for a scientist, is the ratio between the outcome and the resources spent to obtain that outcome. So, it is all about the “whether the intended outcome is achieved”. If the outcome is zero or close to zero, your efficiency is also zero. Anything that has a positive outcome, at least in some of the cases, has a better efficiency.

If you don’t trust me, wikipedia has a pretty decent article on efficiency.

And one more thing: when you compute the efficiency of a medical treatment the result depends only on the number of treated patients and the number of cured ones. It has nothing to do with toxicity, price or whatever else.

That’s the problem with people believing in your magic, you have to compete with all of the other magic that people are trying to sell. The best way to keep people from leaving your magic for another magic is to convince them to be afraid of the other person’s magic.

Also, while I get the complaint that the rabbis don’t care that these alt med therapies don’t work, the flip side is that they would also advise their followers to avoid effective treatments if they are seen as blasphemous. No one should ever have to suffer because the the tooth fairy might not leave a dollar under your pillow.

A medical doctor has already beat you to it. And he did a much more thorough job on medicine and religion.

I always laugh when someone from the American Medical Association or some other doctors’ organization claims that doctors have no special powers over people. After I finish laughing, I always ask how many people can tell you to take off your clothes and you’ll do it. Because doctors are really the priests of the Church of Modern Medicine, most people don’t deny them their extra influence over our lives. After all, most doctors are honest, dedicated, intelligent, committed, healthy, educated, and capable, aren’t they? The doctor is the rock upon which Modern Medicine’s Church is built, isn’t he? Not by a long shot. Doctors are only human — in the worst ways. You can’t assume your doctor is any of the nice things listed above, because doctors turn out to be dishonest, corrupt, unethical, sick, poorly educated, and downright stupid more often than the rest of society.

They are both highly subjective and both hide themselves behind the same tree: “if is not working for you, it means that you did something wrong”.

Sounds like diet and exercise

“If diet and exercise aren’t working for you, ask your doctor about crestor”

“If religion is not working for you, it may not be your fault. Try science based medicine/metaphysical naturalism. Millions of satisfied customers have. Operators are standing by.”

Why do you think it’s odd that they care about whether it’s idolatry or not? Keep in mind that under halacha (Jewish law), avoda zara (idolatry) is one of the most serious sins. You’re supposed to die rather than commit it. I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t follow these rabbis to care about the substance of their opinion, but at least try to understand the point.

Personally, whether or not I’m committing avoda zara if I use reiki is not uppermost on my mind, but I expect a rabbi to care about it. (Whether or not I care what he thinks is another issue.) This isn’t new, by the way. I’ve seen discussions of whether it’s permissible to do yoga. For what it’s worth, the rabbis on the list aren’t known as fringe or kooks (Dov Lior’s politics aside, but they don’t have much to do with medicine).

As far as I know, none of the rabbis on that list are known for their medical expertise, so I don’t expect them to make proclamations about efficacy. BTW, the letter would have been written in Hebrew, so arguments about efficiency vs. efficacy need to be looked at in light of translation.

The entire issue of halacha and medicine is actually very, very complex. As for Jojo’s flip side: is there actually an effective treatment that would be idolatrous? Does effective medicine generally involve belief in some kind of quasi-religious force? I can’t think of an example that would qualify. If you want to assail religion and medicine, you’d do better to look at the RCA’s flip-flopping on organ donation. Now THAT is a case where the rabbis are interfering with effective treatment.

Alexis is right here. The rabbis are worried about the religious implications of alternative medicine because it’s their job to worry about the religious implications of things. That they happen to be right for the wrong reasons is a secondary issue.

There are some religious groups (most infamously the so-called Christian Scientists) who oppose efficacious treatments on religious grounds. If an adult refuses a treatment on religious grounds, that’s his right; I may think he is making a mistake, but I would not stop him from making that mistake. (Children are a different matter; they should not be denied access to an efficacious treatment solely because of the parents’ religious convictions.)

My take away from this was: “We are Rabbi’s. In our professional opinion, as religious leaders, we believe that some of these practices are against the teachings of our faith. If you want to know about the efficacy of these treatments, ask a medical professional.” I’d actually give them points for only talking to their expertise.

I’ll join the chorus noting that Orac is seriously off-base here. They’re evaluating CAM on the basis of its compatibility to Halacha because that’s their duty. They have no duty, or relevant expertise, to evaluate practical efficacy.

I’m at least partially on Orac’s side here. I don’t think the rabbis should be saying “use physical therapy and not acupuncture, because PT works and acupuncture doesn’t.” I think they should be saying “We aren’t doctors. If you have a question about health or treatment, consult your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.” At some point it’s appropriate to say “this is really not my field, talk to someone who is trained in this.” Is a rabbi really any more qualified to give medical advice than a chef, auto mechanic, or novelist?

The Jewish approach to health and science is actually rather progressive. Saving a life comes far above any law or custom. A Jewish doctor (I know, quite the rarity) can quite happily break the sabbath to perform emergency surgery. A Jewish diabetic can receive insulin derived from pigs. And so on.

I’m with Vicki and Orac here: yes, it’s the job of priests and the like to interpret religious law; but they bloody well should interpret it to give priority to the physical and mental health of their respective flocks. If a religious law conflicts with the people’s legitimate health interests, then the law should be reinterpreted, changed, or kicked to the curb. And priests should NEVER use “it’s our job to apply religious law” as an excuse to disregard or belittle the needs of their followers.

As Jesus said, “The Sabbath is made for Man, and not Man for the Sabbath.” Those rules (allegedly) exist to benefit us; that’s the only good reason to even take them seriously, let alone obey and enforce them.

I always ask how many people can tell you to take off your clothes and you’ll do it. Because doctors are really the priests of the Church of Modern Medicine

Insert tasteless joke about current scandals in the Catholic priesthood here. (Not that any faith is free of that problem… the imam arrested yesterday on sex abuse charges in Toronto, and that whackaloon LDS fundie in the US just sent up the river for a good half-century, are but two of the most recent examples.)

— Steve

BadDragon – the RCA, pandering to the ultra orthodox, are saying that jews should not be organ donors. They can receive organs from goyim/gentiles, but not give them.

I have to say, this really seems mis-aimed to me.  “It would appear that [the rabbis] care far less” about the efficacy of alternative medicine …  because they dared to make an analysis that did not involve the efficacy issue?  That’s like saying that the GMC doesn’t care very much about whether scientific research is correct, because in the case of Andrew Wakefield it restricted itself to the question of “did his research involve unethical methods?  was his behavior unethical?” and did not bring up the issue of whether his research had reached correct conclusions.

If those rabbis had issued a statement saying “remember, ham is treyf, even if it has nutritional value,” I really doubt that anyone here would conclude “oh, so those rabbis don’t even care about nutritional value!”  I see no more reason to draw the conclusion “those rabbis don’t care about the efficacy of alternative medicine” from a statement that says you don’t have to consider the efficacy of alt-med to decide that some forms of it are bad for religious Jews.

Now, if it was a statement pitting the religious aspects of some practice against its medical efficacy, there’d be some traction there; the Catholic Church for example made such an analysis on the usage of vaccines that had been developed in aborted fetal cells, determining that the good that came from the medical efficacy of vaccines outweighed the religiously problematic aspects of their origin.  If they had decided the other way, there would be grounds to claim that they were placing religious considerations above medical efficacy, and argue against such practice.  But where the rabbis’ statement involves no such conflict, it doesn’t seem reasonable to infer that they care less about one than the other.

TBruce @ 21: Oh, yes. The lovely “All doctors aren’t perfect therefore all of modern medicine is a fraud!!!” gambit. I wonder what stuff Auggy’s selling in his spare time, that he sees Orac as such a threat to his livelihood?

Phoenix lady, do you see what is wrong with T-bone’s logic attempts. Do you see what is wrong with your’s? Absolutes like “all” are dead giveaways that a logical fallacy is likely taking place.

Perhaps you should refrain from using those if you want to call yourself a skeptic and critical thinker.

@ TBruce: I was unable to go to your link. BTW, according to the LA Times, cause of death of Mendelsohn was cardiac arrest AND diabetes at age 61.

It seems that Ugh Troll is trying to throw us off the trail of his major resource “Augustinean Encyclopedia” A/K/A where he found this one book written by the gadfly Mendelsohn.

Mendelsohn was against hospital births…advocating for unattended home births and firmly irresponsibly against all vaccinations. If you can tolerate it, you can see the pseudoscience behind his anti-vax stance:

Dr. Robert Mendelsohn M.D.- whale

His resignation from his position at the Office of Head Start was “requested” or else face a public firing…which he of course neglected to mention on his CV.

The book that Ugh Troll quotes is just one of series of pseudoscience books written after his crank theories were rejected by the medical and science communities.

More specifically, the RCA’s problem has to do with a dispute over brain stem death. If brain stem death is not “death” from the halachic POV, then the organs retrieved from a brain dead donor are not usable.

Rabbis issue rulings (both general and specific to the asker) about medical issues all the time. It’s a very active sphere of Jewish law. However, in this case, the rabbis either weren’t asked or didn’t concern themselves with the scientific aspects. The question was solely about idolatry and how it relates to CAM practices. If you went and asked a rabbi with expertise in medical halacha about CAM, you’d get a different answer about permissibility. This isn’t altogether a bad thing–do you really want the medically ignorant issuing rulings about medicine?

Keep in mind that Orthodox Judaism is not centralized. It’s not like the Vatican issuing an edict. These public proclamations are not the rule–generally speaking, you get a religious ruling by going and asking for one. (That said, there’s a lot of politics surrounding proclamations like this in Israel, which as a non-Israeli I don’t pretend to understand.)

@Pendle Witch Mine was just a (tasteless) joke. Anyway, thank you for the explanation.

@Augustine 11 Well… it is nothing like diet and exercise. Tell you why. If diet fails there is a chance to get at explanation why it failed. You will be asked if you followed the rules and if not there is a big chance that there is the problem. You try again, nobody sends you to a custom made for you hell to rot in there.

If you didn’t break the rules, maybe your doctor failed. If the mistake was due to negligence or misbehavior, then you can sue the doctor for malpractice with a good chance to win. I’ve heard of no God or priest sued for malpraxis.

There is a third possibility, there is no effective diet/exercise for your situation. Then there is a good chance for your doctor to tell you that this is out of his league and to send you to somebody else or just acknowledge the incapacity of medicine to help you. Again, very different from the religious approach.

So, no, they are not similar. In one instance you are entitled to an explanation and a way to fight back. In the other… well…take it as it is, it is part of a bigger plan.


Well, that’s what I get for not checking the link in preview mode. Fot spme reason, I can’t make a direct link to the site I wanted, but you can Google “Robert Mendersohn quackwatch” and the first item is the one I meant to link to. Thanks for the heads up about my linkfail!

@ TBruce: I never suffer from linkfail!…I simply do not know how to link.

I read the Quackwatch article and it is “reachable” by keying in:

A few notes on Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.

BTW, he was also strongly against water fluoridation, interventional cardiology, most medicines including antibiotics, medicines for treatment of hypertension and cardio-vascular problems as well as diabetes testing/monitoring and anti-diabetic medicines. Poetic justice then…that he died from cardiac arrest and diabetes.

Just another excuse for the Ugh Troll to go o/t and “inject” his ignorant pseudo-scientific theories about immunology, disease and vaccines.

@ Phoenix Woman: “I wonder what stuff Auggy’s selling in his spare time, that he sees Orac as such a threat to his livelihood?” He has no livelihood (gainful employment). Just a nasty ignorant boring troll who is still nasty, ignorant and boring.

I always ask how many people can tell you to take off your clothes and you’ll do it. Because doctors are really the priests of the Church of Modern Medicine

I always ask how many people can tell you to open the hood of your car and you’ll do it. Because mechanics are really the priests of the Church of Engine Servicing.

I always ask how many people can tell you to take off your clothes and you’ll do it. Because doctors are really the priests of the Church of Modern Medicine

The way to identify a priest is whoever is telling you to take your clothes off? I’m glad I don’t go to church.

I agree with Alexis’s comments – I’m not really sure why Orac is complaining about Rabbis issuing a religious ruling about a medical issue, without attempting to make what is essentially a medical judgement.

Also, the ruling implies (at least in my reading of it) that the rabbis don’t think that the forms of CAM they’re objecting to are efficacious, or at least that their efficacy is highly doubtful. If they were obviously efficacious, they would almost certainly be permissible from a religious standpoint unless they involved straight-out idol worshipping. Of course, if they worked, they wouldn’t be CAM, but that’s a medical call, not a halachic one.

As for the RCA ruling, it’s important to understand that many very respected Orthodox Jewish halachic authorities object to it and do accept the definition of brainstem death. See and .

I find this discussion to be very interesting about what some would say is the intrusion of Rabbis in treatment choice and how others view the “halacha” statement as being “guidance”.

Speaking strictly from a science-based background I say good for the rabbis, yet I have reservations about religious leaders who do not have medical backgrounds, providing “guidance” about the efficacy of CAM…as well as the potential for providing “guidance” on scientifically proven treatment modalities.

A much more heated debate is going on Israel with some ultra orthodox rabbis stating unequivocally that organ donation causes desecration of the body. Those who follow this “guidance” are pitted against the much larger group of Jews and their spiritual leaders in Israel who deem organ donation to be altruistic. And, yes there is a debate between the Chief Rabbi of England and the ultra orthodox rabbis in Israel because of the latter’s viewpoint that organs from Jews should not be transplanted to non-Jews.

Now one of my favorite pastimes is my (very) amateur study of religions. For my own information I looked up the use of porcine cardiac valves for Jewish patients who require cardiac valve replacement and I came across a statement from a rabbi when a question was posed to him by a college professor:

“Pig valves are acceptable; mechanical valves are also an option. An interesting aside: for those Jews who don’t observe the dietary laws, there is a greater probability of allergic reaction to the pig valve! I don’t know the number of traditional Jews who, if given the choice, are allowed to prefer a mechanical valve. Only eating pork or ingredients from pork is forbidden. Similarly pigskin is acceptable for shoes.

Best Wishes,

Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)”

Yes, I think I understand the explanation about the prohibition against ingesting pork and therefore the wearing of pigskin shoes is acceptable, but I cannot figure out why Jews who have eaten pork should have higher rates of hypersensitivity…post porcine valve replacement.

I am unable to find any citations that confirm the rabbis statement…can anyone explain it or perhaps find a study to confirm that there are more allergic reactions in those who haven’t followed the dietary restriction against eating pork?

I actually find this post a bit disturbing – what else should Rabbis focus on but the spiritual aspects of a therapy? Had they delved into making any kind of assertions about the efficacy of alternative medicine, and it doesn’t seem from what you quote that they did, you would probably have ripped into them as well – and rightly so – for overstepping their bounds into an area outside their expertise.

None of the signatories of this letter were “fringe” rabbis. They’re highly respected, educated scholars. (And I’d like to point out that, actually, Rabbis learn a lot more about medicine than most people realize.) They’re concerned about their flock’s spiritual welfare and the danger that people may unknowling commit one of the most serious sins in Judaism, known as avoda zara. That’s their job as Rabbis.

Rabbis – and most of these particular ones in particular – tend to have high respect for a medical doctor’s opinion and often will not issue a halachic ruling (a ruling in Jewish law) on certain issues without consulting medical experts first. On the other hand, they aren’t forbidding people from studying alternative therapies, if that’s what floats their boat. They aren’t saying these therapies will work or not, only that religious Jews who wish to study or engage in them should be aware of the potential spiritual pitfalls and consult or study with someone learned in these issues.

All in all, a very restrained, balanced statement – the kind I would hope people of science would appreciate, rather than attack.

lilady — it could have something to do with sensitization. People with peanut allergy do not react the first time they eat peanuts. It’s the second (or possibly third, fourth, etc time) that the reaction occurs. This is because your body can’t have an allergy to something it has never encountered before. I’m not an allergist, but I would *think* that prolonged exposure to it in the body would eventually have the same effect, though. (So if the first exposure lasts twenty years, it’s not really the same as only being exposed once. But I could easily be wrong.)

Now one of my favorite pastimes is my (very) amateur study of religions.

Mine too, Lilady. We have something in common. So do you “study” religion or do you actually worship too?

What scientific reason is there for a jew to abstain from pork?

What biblical reason is it “OK” for a christian to eat pork.

Is worship a dirty word to you?

What scientific reason is there for a Jew to abstain from pork?

And to be more general, what biblical reason is given to abandon Torah observance?

@ Calli Arcale: Yes, I know about sensitization/allergic reactions to pork proteins. Certain low molecular weight heparins have pork proteins as do porcine collagen injections.

Anaphylaxis has rarely been reported with the use of porcine gut heparins which are used before going on heart bypass and for a period of time after valve replacement and other cardiac surgeries and minimally invasive cardiac procedures. LMWH (low molecular weight heparin) is used in lieu of warfarin (Coumadin) during pregnancy for women at risk of deep vein thrombus…warfarin can cause fetal death or warfarin syndrome…a constellation of severe birth deaths. The field of obstetrics is constantly researching LMWH and possible reports of allergy.

I have searched PubMed, Cardiology and Obstetric sites and again I see no INCREASED risk for the very rare allergic reactions reported for people who undergo porcine valve replacement, who have had IV heparin in the hospital, pregnant women who self inject heparin (all pork eaters) versus the people who abstain from pork.

P.S. Still ignoring ignorant filthy-mouthed troll (Rule # 14)

I was answering more in terms of what the rabbi may have been thinking about when he said that. It’d be purely hypothetical, and coming from a (scientific) layperson at that, but I think I can see where he was going with that.

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