Saturday, January 07, 2012

Has the Popularisation of Science failed?


Interesting article, filed under Quackery!
And I cite.

Near universal access to the internet and media in developed countries has shaped the way individuals interact with society and the medical profession in the broadest sense.

Some wonderful resources are available online to patients, ranging from Macmillan (a cancer support charity) to sites dedicated to tumour-specific trial data, to help guide them through the life-changing consequences of living with cancer.
However such openness of information
(which has unquestionably empowered individuals affected by illness and their carers) also has a negative side that is ignored at patients’ cost.

The process of peer review is vaunted by the scientific community as crucial for safeguarding of intellectual rigour and standards.

Paradoxically, most peer-reviewed cancer literature is inaccessible to patients, and thus if doctors do not communicate their meaning, patients are likely to turn to a multitude of readily available free sources of information on the internet.

There is no distinction online for the general public between high quality and low quality information or indeed good science and bad science.
In this arena, unsubstantiated pseudoscience and storytelling stands on an equal footing to peer-reviewed, evidence based medicine, but without regulation of content, provenance, or the need for disclosure of conflicts of interest.

And then the article goes on to examine the claim that ingesting Shark cartilage pills can cure cancer. It does not and remains one of the most glaring examples of how quackery is exploiting the desperation of terminally ill patients.
And I also find this

Some people suggest that patients seek alternative therapies because they are looking for the hope that orthodox medicine struggles to provide.

True as that idea may be, the attraction of alternative medicine is also fuelled by the widespread popularisation and availability of misleading claims, based on appalling pseudoscience, that are all too often proffered by individuals with financial conflicts of interest.

Sound familiar?
My point, exactly!

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