People tend to limit their reading to sources that agree with their beliefs. We find ourselves mostly preaching to the choir; our message usually doesn’t reach those who most need to hear it. I recently received an inquiry from a science-based medical doctor asking how to approach others in building a bridge to clarify so much misinformation.
My first thought was that you can build a bridge but the real challenge is persuading people to cross that bridge. Like leading a horse to water…
How to approach others? That’s a tough question. The best approach varies with the individual and with where he is in his journey. Confrontation seldom works: it just makes people angry. It is counterproductive: it only serves to make them invent more rationalizations to defend their beliefs. Although sometimes anger can be a good thing. I got an e-mail from an acupuncturist who was incensed by an article I wrote saying that acupuncture was not based on good evidence. He set out to prove me wrong by looking up the evidence behind what he had been taught by his teachers about acupuncture’s efficacy for specific conditions, and when he couldn’t find any, he realized that his teachers and his textbooks had misled him with lies. He gave up acupuncture and went back to school to learn a science-based health profession.
If someone has never had his belief challenged and thinks it a universally accepted truth, it might do some good to show him otherwise. When I was in the dentist’s office earlier this week he asked me what I thought about detoxification. I told him I thought it was a pseudoscientific concept with no scientific validity, that proponents couldn’t even tell you what those “toxins” were, much less measure how much had been removed, and that there was no evidence that detox objectively benefitted patients. He had me repeat this to his assistant who was currently doing a detox. She looked at me very strangely and I may have created an enemy for life. But just possibly I may have started a small crack in her certainty that might someday widen to let accurate information seep in.
Some people respond to accurate information. I belong to the Healthfraud discussion list on Quackwatch and we have had several people thank us for providing accurate information, debunking false information, showing the fallacies in arguments for claims, and helping them learn about the scientific process. They tell us they have discarded their previous false beliefs because of what they read there.
When I spoke at a local college I mentioned that diet supplements are not regulated like FDA approved drugs and have been found contaminated with everything from insect parts to prescription drugs, and that dosages sometimes vary wildly from what the label says. One older student got very upset and said she was going right home to clean out her cabinet and throw all those products away.
I have gotten e-mails from people who decided not to waste their money at the Amen Clinics or on treatments with the DRX-9000 spinal decompression machine after reading my articles.
Unfortunately, many people do not respond to accurate information. Some people choose to form strong beliefs on hearsay or personal perceptions or ideological grounds without any input from science. Scientific information is irrelevant to them so they are not likely to change their minds no matter how much evidence from scientific studies you throw at them. It is useful to ask people what evidence it would take to change their minds. True believers frequently say nothing would change their minds: they know they are right and they are sure that testing would only serve to demonstrate the truth of their beliefs. It’s a waste of time to talk to these people.
I met a believer in dowsing and I gave him a book explaining the ideomotor effect, showing that dowsers had never been able to pass controlled tests, and debunking dowsing in detail. We held a public debate afterwards, and what he said was as if he had never read the book. He managed to just ignore everything in it: his “pro” side of the argument boiled down to two points: he’d personally seen it work and lots of people believed in it. That was enough for him.
Then there are people who are capable of responding to new information but don’t want to hear it. Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind’s made up. It’s more comforting to have a belief and stick to it than to deal with uncertainty.
Something I haven’t tried yet but want to: ask them if they know of something that doesn’t work but that some other people believe in. Once you find something they reject, you might be able to argue that logical consistency requires that their pet remedy be rejected on the same grounds. For instance, if they reject bloodletting to balance the humors but accept reflexology, you might point out that during the many centuries bloodletting was used, there were far more testimonials from patients and doctors than there are for reflexology today. So if they accept reflexology on the basis of testimonials, they should logically accept bloodletting on the same basis. If they reject bloodletting because science showed it didn’t work, they should look more closely at what science says about reflexology.
Humor can be effective in making a point, like the comedian who said “Of course science doesn’t know everything; it KNOWS it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it would stop.” And like Mark Crislip’s
The best strategy would be to guide people to discover the truth for themselves and claim it as their own, but I’m afraid I don’t have the patience or the psychological acumen to carry that out. It’s too bad Socrates isn’t around to help.
I am not foolish enough to think I could ever influence true believers; but even for them, it might be possible to plant a tiny seed of doubt that might be reinforced by future experiences and might eventually grow into a plant. Dripping water can wear away the hardest stone over time. But realistically, I can only hope to reach the fence-sitters: those who have not yet irrevocably made up their mind.
I hope readers will share their own success stories and bridge-building ideas in the comments section.
<!–<!–(1) “Alternative Flight.”
Incoming Post Search Feeds:
liberty generator tube
latest indian mision mars
Dr biochemistry gmail edu
techno fruhstuck correspondence heart beat
ppsspp monster hunter freedom unite tablet
NASA comet ison update
Modern marvels regenerative medicine
nasa nibiru 10 11 2013
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Season 4 Episode 12 Change of Heart - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Family Medicine On Air: What Med Students Need to Know About Direct Primary Care - Video - October 30th, 2014
- The upper limb, part 2, Al-Iraqia college of medicine - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Atlanta Medicine Show - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Season 1 Episode 17 Portraits - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Seasoun 4 Episode 7 Promises, Promises - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Season 4 Episode 5 Halloween 3 - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman S06E21 The Fight - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Brand new 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT for sale in Medicine Hat - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Dr Quinn Medicine Woman S06E22 A New Beginning - Video - October 30th, 2014
- BAD MEDICINE BON JOVI foro sol 2013 - Video - October 30th, 2014
- Testimonial 1 for Energy Medicine by Elaine: Bridging The Gap between Medical & Spiritual - Video - October 30th, 2014
- "3D in Medicine" A free 2-hour live seminar with an international panel of experts - Video - October 30th, 2014
- FDA awards grants to stimulate drug, device development for rare diseases - October 30th, 2014
- See the Birth of Modern Medicine in These Photos - October 30th, 2014
- Study Indicates Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Status in Females Not a Factor in IVF Success - October 30th, 2014
- Advances in forensic medicine discussed - October 30th, 2014
- Watch: Early Days of Modern Medicine Shown in Haunting Photos - October 30th, 2014
- IBM Watson lends analytic power to genomic medicine - October 30th, 2014
- Three-company collaboration announced for advancement of aging research - October 30th, 2014
- Old Crow Medicine Show Wagon Wheel Acoustic Cover Darius Rucker - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Medicine Cabinet Makeover WEBINAR - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Dive into Worldbuilding! Illnesses, Ailments and Medicine - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Perioperative Medicine MSc overview (2015/16 entry) - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Wagon Wheel, by The Obsoletes (Old Crow Medicine Show Cover) - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Alternative Medicine Treatment For Postherpetic Neuralgia - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Big Red Rock - The Good Medicine Band - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Science Based Medicine Workshop TAM 2013 - Video - October 29th, 2014
- EWC MEDICINE & HEALTH OCT. 2014 - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Xray REVISION FOR FAMILY MEDICINE DIPLOMA - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Download Textbook of Family Medicine Expert Consult 8th PDF - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Download SOAP for Family Medicine PDF - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Snake Oil: Fake Medicine, Recognizing It, and How to Deal With It - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Current state of personalized medicine - Video - October 29th, 2014
- Ancient Medicine + Pepper's Secret - Video - October 29th, 2014
- BK Ultrasound, Powered by Analogic, Enters Emergency Medicine Market - October 29th, 2014
- Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York Presents 12 Scientific Abstracts at 2014 ASRM Conference in Honolulu ... - October 29th, 2014
- N-of-One Selected by Intermountain Healthcare to Provide Deep Clinical Interpretation for Cancer Genomics - October 29th, 2014
- Medicine shortages - October 29th, 2014
- Erica Erwin: Medicine makes for angry cat, exasperated owner - October 29th, 2014
- Overview of Hunterdon Healthcare's Integrative Medicine Program - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Thyroid Gland Problems Hormones - Alternatives to Surgery Functional Medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- How To Get Prescription Safety Tips Side Effects, Health, Functional Medicine part-1 - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Download Principles of Regenerative Medicine Free PDF - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Training 2 : The Medicine Ball - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Discover Health and Medicine at Lancaster - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Medicine man 15s - Video - October 27th, 2014
- "No medicine, no life" Part 2 - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Michael Paul Caruso - good medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Is your teen abusing cough medicine? - October 27th, 2014
- Drug for Rare Blood Disorder Developed at Penn Receives Orphan Drug Status from the FDA - October 27th, 2014
- TRUAGE Science Made Simple 3 , anti-aging medicine singapore, top anti aging products singapore - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Reworking Health: Translating Siloed Research into Medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Robert Matthew, MD, GHC-SCW Family Medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Debra Shenoi, MD, GHC-SCW Family Medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Crystal Frohmader, PA-C, GHC-SCW Family Medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Mark Tomaino panel - Medicine X Entrepreneurship Special Event - Video - October 27th, 2014
- RFR Featured Property: 1304 W Medicine Lake Dr, #2 - Video - October 27th, 2014
- MyMEDxHalo - Personalized Medicine, Amazing Financial Opportunity - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Equine Emergency and Critical Care Medicine Print Replica by Louise Southwood Mobi download - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Vinny medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- LFO Monsta - Soulcry // Chill Trap - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Berry's reaction while taking medicine - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Health, Medicine and Sex with Jonathan Lazare, MD - Penile Implant Demonstration - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Hdz Forgot to take his medicine (Must Watch!) - Video - October 27th, 2014
- A Merry heart is Good medicine with No Bad side effect - Video - October 27th, 2014
- Earthing: Natural Medicine to help you Lose Weight, Sleep Better and Have More Energy! - Video - October 27th, 2014
- St Anne's Episcopal Church Receive Tribute & Medicine Help By Charles Myrick of ACRX - Video - October 27th, 2014
- A tragic quest for Amazon 'medicine' - October 27th, 2014
- InSilico Medicine, CCARL collaborate to improve personalized medicine projects in multiple sclerosis - October 27th, 2014
- Opponents to protest trade deal - October 27th, 2014
- Janis Saunders, MD - Phoenix, Arizona - Parkway Medical - Family Medicine - Video - October 25th, 2014
- Martin J. LaFollette, MD - Abrazo Medical Group Denaro - Phoenix, Arizona - Family Medicine - Video - October 25th, 2014
- Clingy pandas dont want to take their medicine (Panda Severler iin) - Video - October 25th, 2014
- MiMedx Group - Company Presentation - Video - October 25th, 2014
- Tim Hall - Professional Integrative Medicine - Video - October 25th, 2014
- simple slide show on personalized medicine - Video - October 25th, 2014
- Here I will show you how to say 'Take this medicine.' with Zira.mp4 - Video - October 25th, 2014
- Montana Medicine Show - Video - October 25th, 2014
- I'm Good - Coordinated Health Sports Medicine Spot - Video - October 25th, 2014