Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2008 June 26

The Toolbox

We live in a world where we are bombarded with information. Anything you hear about, you can instantly access a wide range of opinion, news, evidence….

The TV news runs stories about chemicals in baby bottles, about scary drug side effects, about evil vaccines causing autism. People with various motivations post serious misinformation on the net. My radio wakes me up with adverts about a blinky light that cures your chronic back pain and helps you quit smoking.

It can’t be easy not having the tools to decide what is a valid source of information.

For example: my neighbour announced yesterday that along with being a hypnotherapist, he is one of the few local certified tarot card readers.

Does this certification increase or decrease my faith in this guy’s skills? Hmmm….

But then I am living in the area where recently an educational assistant initiated a sexual abuse investigation based on information from her psychic. Full story here. In the immortal words of ICHC: Education: UR doin’ it wrong.

In Alberta, a woman is suing her chiropractor, the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors, and the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness based on the fact that she became paralysed after neck manipulation damaged both vertebral arteries. I have a mixed reaction to this. In part, I think it’s about time. Chiropractors have no evidence for the things they do, and their claims, outside of the possibility of directly causing harm as in this case, may cause people to delay seeking real medical help until their health problem is out of control. Treating period pain: go for it. Treating asthma: fuck off and tell the patient to go to a real doctor.

Plus, don’t get me started on the whole anti-vaccine lobby they often seem to be aligning themselves with.

On the other hand, I feel that people should be keeping themselves informed and not relying on the government to play nanny for them.

What is wrong with people? Surely it’s obvious that the blogsite of sumdood (this one included) is not a great place to get medical information. Surely it’s obvious that if you can’t get hold of the actual research yourself, you might want to doubt what you’re hearing. Surely it’s obvious that if a person is looking to make money from your problem, you might want to seek a second opinion. Surely it’s obvious that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The greatest tool people have to protect their own health is skepticism. Question everything. I can defend the decisions I make for my patients rationally, with evidence. I don’t mind the confrontation, it keeps me sharp. I will direct people to my sources so they can judge for themselves.

Question the woo as much as you would question me. Make them do the same.



  1. Well said! Definitely a frustrating part of being a family physician these days.

  2. Probably TMI but for period pain…..I would still go to my GP.

  3. I think it’s also unfair to immediately pass judgement against chiro

  4. I have done some research on chiro. I’m not immediately passing judgement. A chiropractor who is a good “mechanic” is one thing, but any chiropractor who “prevents” infectious diseases and “treats” asthma is a scam artist, pure and simple.

    And Dragonfly: me too…

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