I finally managed to access the online anthropology syllabus yesterday (it seems every other website our teachers direct us to has some kind of trouble). There I discovered we don't do the unit "Modes of exchange/Inequality, class, and economy," which includes the text book reading with the faulty "more people are starving" statistic until after the midterm, so I've got a long while before I have to fight that battle.
For this week, one of the readings was Body Ritual Among the Nacirema, a satire of American medical practice in the form of the commentary of a perplexed anthropologist. On one level, it argues that practices that seem bizarre to us might have a purpose. But I can't help thinking of another point relating to the essay: if we justify our practices because they seem to work (from the experience of a single given individual), we are no better than someone who says, "I drank my own urine and got better, it works!" There are many ways something can appear to work when it doesn't, only careful studies reveal what really does. It's shows quite a bit of faith in our doctors that we listen to them without carefully scrutinizing their claims, even if that faith is justified.