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Thread: Eyesight and Other Senses

  1. #11
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    They're called Healers for a reason

    Wizards can “mend broken bones in a trice,” and they can regrow teeth (easily, apparently) and bones (with more difficulty).

    Personally, I doubt that
    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    they have a very weak understanding of anatomy
    They certainly have a good understanding of the skeleton and there is no evidence that their knowledge of the rest of human anatomy should be much worse.

    Nor do I see any evidence to support the theory that
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    They might even still be working with the humoural theory!
    None of the healers in the books make any reference to the humours or to keeping the body in balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    (to paraphrase Ron: "Doctors? You mean those Muggles who cut people open? Nah, they're Healers."). For one thing, they seem to think performing surgery to be barbaric, and prefer using potions and spells.
    Personally, I think that cutting people open is barbaric and, for most Doctors, it’s a last resort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    The way I see it, wizards are good at curing symptoms, but their general ignorance of human anatomy prevents them from curing the root of the problem. So a wizard with cancer might have all of his symptoms attended to, but he'd still have cancer.

    So why do wizards live so long? Well, I think that's another Rowling thing. Frankly, I don't see how so many would live into their hundreds, even with magic.
    I disagree. Healers aren’t Doctors. The simplest explanation (in my opinion) is to assume that their name is their job description; wizards seem to be literal.

    The human body is (usually) very good at repairing itself. Left untreated, even broken bones will mend, though not particularly well. Muggle “complimentary medicines” from acupuncture to homeopathy don’t actually do anything, they simply rely on the fact that the human body tends to repair itself over time.

    In my opinion, healers use magic and potions to encourage the body to repair itself, they speed up the natural repair process and encourage re-growth of things that human medicine “knows” can’t be re-grown. That could (possibly) even include a cure for cancer, but I’d be happy to argue either way if there was a good story in it.

    What healers can’t do is improve on the pre-existing conditions. If you’re born with poor eyesight, or poor hearing, you’re stuck with it. If you’re deaf, and your ear is chopped off by a sword, the healers can re-grow the ear, but you’ll still be deaf. The same applies to eyes (sorry ahattab33) or even a congenital heart condition. I’d argue that magic is better than medicine except with regard to “birth defects” (this would also explain JKR’s (later deleted) reference to a witch with a hare lip in CoS).

    Longevity could similarly be explained by assuming that wizards repair mechanisms are better than Muggles, and their cells degenerate more slowly. With this logic it might be possible for a wizard to live with the natural degeneration of old age, creaking bones etc., for decades. This, too, could explain why Ron's great Aunt Muriel is always in such a bad mood.

    N

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  2. #12
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    Maybe they have good understand of the skeleton because it is a part of our body that is very physical and it is something that can be studied after a person is dead. Nerves and organs and the like, however, are more complex. Just think of how barbaric the doctor who studied the functions of these parts had to be: disecting a human eye, cutting into a person's brain while they are still alive. These do seem fairly barbaric when they are just said plainly.

    Maybe wizards never studied human anatomy as far as Muggles did just because they saw their whole process as barbaric. Sadly, there is no other way to do it, so wizardkind was doomed to remain dreadfully behind Muggles in terms of medicine.

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  3. #13
    Inverarity
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    I'd like to make a couple of points, because there is some fanon popping up here that I see all the time that annoys me.

    1. It is not canon that wizards have an average lifespan of 150+ years!

    Yes, Rowling said that wizards tend to live longer than Muggles, and Dumbledore was very old (though not 180!). We can postulate a number of reasons why wizards might have longer average lifespans, but a longer average lifespan is likely to mean 80 or 90 (that's an average, meaning half don't live that long, and half live a bit a longer, and a very few, like Dumbledore, live a lot longer); not 150-180! And Dumbledore seemed to be atypical in every other way, so it doesn't seem likely that he's a typical example of wizarding longevity.

    2. It is not canon that wizards are immune to Muggle diseases.

    I don't know where this came from. I'm pretty sure Rowling never said it. I guess it's based on the fact that wizards are always described as having "wizarding diseases" like dragon pox and spattergroit, which has led people to assume that they don't get Muggle diseases like measles and colds and cancer.

    Well, first of all, how do we know that wizards don't get colds or cancer? Because it's never mentioned in the books? Because we assume magic can cure Muggle diseases (but not wizard diseases)? Maybe, but again -- not in the books.

    Secondly, maybe dragon pox is cancer! It seems likely to me that a lot of "wizard diseases" are just names wizards came up with for the same diseases Muggles get. They obviously don't have a lot of knowledge of Muggle medical science, so why would they know what Muggles call cancer or smallpox?

    Now, returning to the subject of this thread: wizard clearly can cure some things magically in ways that Muggle medicine can't match. Broken bones and other injuries can be healed overnight. Poison can be neutralized. Probably some diseases can likewise be cured instantly, or almost instantly. But we also know there are afflictions they can't cure. St. Mungo's has long-term care wards. Maybe some of those afflictions are things they just don't understand.

    If they can cure broken bones and wounds with a wand, then it's not surprising they consider surgery barbaric. But maybe because they're not so good at internal medicine, they have no idea how to cure an aggressive cancer that won't go away with a Healing Charm. The Muggle treatment (surgery or chemotherapy, which is basically injecting poison into your bloodstream and hoping the cancer dies before you do) would seem quite barbaric to them, because frankly, it is barbaric; it's just the only thing we have right now.

    Also, given their infrequent contact with Muggles and the fact that they seem to be behind the times in most respects, a lot of wizards probably still think of "surgery" as what Muggles practiced from medieval times until about a hundred years ago. Until we gained a better understanding of anatomy (and the germ theory!), "surgery" was highly experimental, brutal, and more likely than not to kill the patient. Early doctors tried things like packing wounds with dirt, for example.

  4. #14
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    Adding to what Inverarity has said, if you look at the Black Family tree they weren't blessed with longevity. Most died in their sixties/seventies - that's not that ancient.

    Also, regarding cancer, in real life most humans who die of old age actually have a form of cancer, but as they get older and their cells don't reproduce the cancer is very slow-growing. Perhaps the Blacks did get cancer which is why they died relatively young.

    Okay, eyesight. Well we cure it with lasers, Healers would think that's dangerous, plus they don't have the electricity to work the equipment.

    Regarding Dumbledore's age. I thought JK Rowling did say he was 150. Of course that does seem far too old - perhaps she said 115 and we all misheard. But Griselda Marchbanks is older than him because she examined him when he did his NEWTS.

    Sadly, there is no other way to do it, so wizardkind was doomed to remain dreadfully behind Muggles in terms of medicine
    .
    Do you think that they're dreadfully behind? There form of medicine seems pretty advanced to me. They can't cure eyesight, but the bone healing, the antidotes for poisons Wolfsbane ... they all seem highly advanced forms of medicine.

    Regarding leeches - do you know that in some hospitals they use leeches and also maggots (maggots eat away rotten tissue) as part of the healing process. No, I'm not talking about underdeveloped countries. There are special medical leeches bred for certain forms of medicine in the UK.

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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Maybe they have good understand of the skeleton because it is a part of our body that is very physical and it is something that can be studied after a person is dead.
    True.

    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Nerves and organs and the like, however, are more complex. Just think of how barbaric the doctor who studied the functions of these parts had to be: disecting a human eye, cutting into a person's brain while they are still alive. These do seem fairly barbaric when they are just said plainly.
    However, you don’t need to cut people up to figure out how organs work. The Weasleys keep chickens, I’m sure Molly puts the occasional one in the pot. Wizards need to eat (Gamp’s Law) and killing and butchering animals gives people a lot of information about how organs work, and what they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Maybe wizards never studied human anatomy as far as Muggles did just because they saw their whole process as barbaric. Sadly, there is no other way to do it, so wizardkind was doomed to remain dreadfully behind Muggles in terms of medicine.
    There are other ways to do it. Most organ functions can be determined from animal dissections. Muscles can be felt through the skin. Healers dealing with badly broked bones, or goblin inflicted injuries (nothing says leave us alone like an axe in the skull, or a sword through the ribs) will have given healers a lot of knowledge about what falls out of a body when someone else slices it open. Perhaps the wizarding healing texts all date back to the Goblin rebellions.

    There is also the possibility that Gellert Grindelwald had his own Josef Mengele, too. I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that there are other possibilities.

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  6. #16
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northumbrian
    There is also the possibility that Gellert Grindelwald had his own Josef Mengele, too. I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that there are other possibilities.
    It really does require dissecting bodies to figure out how organs, bones, nerves, muscles, etc., all work together. Of course we have always had a general idea of how organs work, from butchering animals and from seeing wartime injuries and the like. Even ancient people knew where the heart and lungs and stomach were, for example, and had a general idea of what they did (organs like the liver and the pancreas, not so much). But we didn't gain much real knowledge until people starting cutting up corpses and examining them, and doing experimental surgery on live subjects.

  7. #17
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    According to JKR:

    Albus Dumbledore
    1881 - 1996
    Brilliant and often controversial headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore is most famous for his 1945 defeat of Grindelwald and his steadfast championing of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. Dumbledore's self-proclaimed proudest achievement, however, was featuring on a Famous Wizards Chocolate Frog Card.


    So, he was a sprightly 115 when he died.

    To agree with Inverarity there is no proof that wizards are immune to Muggle diseases. Hogwarts suffers from outbreaks of the common cold, just like ordinary schools do. But:

    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    But maybe because they're not so good at internal medicine, they have no idea how to cure an aggressive cancer that won't go away with a Healing Charm. The Muggle treatment (surgery or chemotherapy, which is basically injecting poison into your bloodstream and hoping the cancer dies before you do) would seem quite barbaric to them, because frankly, it is barbaric; it's just the only thing we have right now.
    Wait a minute, where has it been established that “they're not so good at internal medicine?” It’s a valid opinion, and I wouldn't rubbish a story based on that premise, but is it true? We don’t know.

    There is no reason to assume that they are bad (or good) at internal medicine.

    In the only long term ward we know about the patients were suffering from mental problems: memory loss (Lockhart), dementia brought on by curses (the Longbottoms), Bode also had memory loss (and thought he was a teapot), and the other resident mentioned (I think) barked like a dog. These aren’t patients suffering from a terminal illness, they’re patients who need constant care for their own safety and well-being. Not evidence either way.

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  8. #18
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    In the only long term ward we know about the patients were suffering from mental problems: memory loss (Lockhart), dementia brought on by curses (the Longbottoms), Bode also had memory loss (and thought he was a teapot), and the other resident mentioned (I think) barked like a dog. These aren’t patients suffering from a terminal illness, they’re patients who need constant care for their own safety and well-being. Not evidence either way.
    Maybe that has something to do with the fact that they did walk into the permanent brain damage (or something like that) ward, and not the terminal illness ward. Also, I doubt that there is something like that. Terminally ill Wizards would probably take a happy potion and stay at home, not draw their days out in a hospital, would they?

    We never actually see an instance of Muggle medicine being superior to what they do at St Mungos, for example. Like the stitches – they didn't work, did they?
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  9. #19
    ahattab33
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    Originally posted by Kara:
    Like the stitches – they didn't work, did they?
    Just a quick jump in on this discussion: I believe the situation you are referring to was Arthur Weasley, after being bitten by Nagini:

    "Do you mean to tell me," said Mrs. Weasley, her voice growing louder with every word and apparently unaware that her fellow visitors were scurrying for cover, "that you have been messing about with Muggle remedies?"

    "Not messing about, Molly, dear," said Mr. Weasley imploringly. "It was just -- just something Pye and I thought we'd try -- only, most unfortunately -- well, with these particular kinds of wounds -- it doesn't seem to work as well as we'd hoped --"

    "Meaning?"

    "Well...well, I don't know whether you know what -- what stiches are?"
    ....

    "Well, you know, they do work well on non-magical wounds," said Hermione fairly. "I suppose something in that snake's venom dissolves them or something..."

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, American Version, page 507
    It is never discussed elsewhere, the use of this kind of Muggle remedies on Wizards. Though, as primative technology such as glasses works to correct Harry, Arthur, and Dumbledore's vision, if they had an injury that didn't involve magic, then theoretically they could stitch it up, or have it fixed at a Muggle hospital, if the need arose.

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  10. #20
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    Alright, let's just do a quick write-up of what we know wizarding medicine.

    Wizarding medicine can fix broken bones (and even regrow bones). It can cure most poisons. They can stop the flow of blood and replenish blood through the use of different potions. They can heal minor sprains and cuts with the wave of a wand.

    Wizarding medicine can't regenerate severed limbs, fix eyesight and possible other senses as well. Wizarding medicine can't fix problems that have existed from birth. They cannot regenerate organs such as eyes.

    But this has me think: how can it be possible for wizards to create bones out of nothing (Skele-grow), but they can't create whole limbs? Could this possibley relate to the wizarding world's good understanding of bones, but reletively poor understanding of nerves and muscles and all other parts of the body.

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