It has been a distracting week. Good weather (finally), my boys home for the start of summer break, NBA playoffs, and nothing of real interest to write about in the world of pseudo-medicine has popped up in my feed. I got nothing substantive to write about that really interests me. Really. Which is odd given the volumes of pseudo-medical material that comes through my feeds. Readers can stop here. I have spent hours on the web looking at BBQ and bread and butter pickle recipes and the best burgers in the US (Portland. Of course. And a place in my old neighborhood). I keep coming back to iA Writer and think, screw it.
But just because I have nothing of substance to bloviate about doesn’t mean I can skip my every other week commitment. Nope. But I have plenty of fluff I can write about. I am certainly not the deep thinker of the blog, but let’s see what I can collect from the shallow end of pool to this week. Prepare for a Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales entry.
You still reading? Please. Do something else. Trust me. There are better ways to spend your time than to read what follows. I know. I am struggling, and losing the battle, to write it.
There was a Harvard Harris poll that suggested:
65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.
That number includes 80 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats. Eighty-four percent of voters said it is hard to know what news to believe online.
What can you believe online? Besides SBM? Fake news. Alternative facts. They have been the grist for this blog’s mill from the beginning. I have two areas of expertise: infectious diseases and pseudo-medicine. And the articles on medicine and infomercials for the pseudo-medicine du jour that show up in my feeds or in my local paper are, more often than not, wrong.
I have long wondered about my local newspaper: if I see errors and mistakes on topics I really know something about, how much is inaccurate in articles on topics about which I don’t have any knowledge i.e. everything else on the planet? That some of the articles are in the Living section, and therefore considered more entertainment than news, is not an excuse. I judge a person by the company he keeps.
But what happens if there is widespread acceptance of false news and alternative facts? After all, there is stuff circulating on the internet, so there must be something to it.
Perhaps we can guess from the world of pseudo-medicine what the world based on fake news and alternative facts will be, and it isn’t pretty.
The consequences of using fake news and alternative facts as your standards are grim. Time, money, hope and life lost. Because of anti-vaccination fake news we have seen outbreaks this year of measles in Minnesota, Italy, and Romania (all foreign countries to me, oh yeah sure doncha know). So far. We haven’t even reached the half way point of the year. And anti-vaccinationists are making headway in Texas, denying vaccines to children who have had physical and mental abuse.
I remain amazed at how little medical societies are involved in pushing back against pseudo-medicine. They seem not to care about fake news and alternative facts. My professional society, the IDSA, has been mostly silent for the last decade as the anti-vaccination industry has expanded and vaccine-preventable illnesses have boomed. They IDSA is probably are gun shy after their Lyme debacle, another area of pseudo-medical inaction. The IDSA guidelines have been in ‘review’ seemingly forever and as a result the only Lyme guidelines in the National Guidelines Clearinghouse are the alternative ILIADS guidelines. Perhaps why in Pennsylvania the ILIADS guidelines were the only input for the law mandating insurance payments for alternative Lyme treatments. The only thing necessary for the triumph of fake news for good men to do nothing.
At least those in the news media are speaking up against the charges of providing fake news. Not so in medicine, where fake news and alternative facts are embraced.
With the shruggie approach to pseudo-medicine we have seen the increase in Integrative Medicine departments in almost all the major medical institutions in the US. Fake news and alternative facts has given the opportunity for patients to receive fake and alternative medicine from Harvard to Stanford and beyond. At the top medical centers in the US you can find acupuncture, reiki, therapeutic touch, homeopathy, reflexology, and chiropractic a.k.a. fraud.
And it is only getting worse. The opiate crisis has been a boon and a boom for pseudo-medical providers, where they are offering their magic as the treatment of chronic pain. Even the FDA may be buying into the nonsense of chiropractic and acupuncture for chronic pain.
truth (small ’t’ despite starting a sentence) or an approximation of truth, is important in medicine. While I do not expect the bulk of medicine to abandon its science/evidence base, a double standard is becoming standard and growing.
And what is the average person, with no expertise in medicine or pseudo-medicine, to do? Believe it all, ignore it all or pick and choose? What to do about all this? Got me. I got nothing.
Not that it will matter in another 25 years or so. We are all doomed, or so the fake news would have us believe.
You read this far? I warned you. That was time you will never get back. But at least the pain is almost over.
Hopefully in 2 weeks I will have something to write about.
In the meantime, if you feel the urge to comment, try and limit it to bread and butter pickles, BBQ, and best burgers.