Reclaiming power over your health in the misinformation age
This book is the culmination of a journey that began by my trying to understand the appeal of snake oil, scams, and hoaxes–what I would call medical bullshit–and to develop some kind of defense against bullshit. When I started this journey, it seemed that the problem was simply one of calling out certain fake cures as bullshit and explaining why it was bullshit. But as I got deeper into this project, I saw that this wouldn’t work for several reasons.
First, there is new bullshit happening all of the time. As soon as I completed this book, it would be out of date. We are seeing this phenomenon big time with all of the misinformation coming out around coronavirus.
Second, if we define medical bullshit as healthcare professionals (or pseudo-professionals) trying to sell medical products to people who don’t want or need them, we can see that this isn’t just a problem with a few fringe quacks. This is a multibillion-dollar industry that includes supplement manufacturers, many diet and other health books, and a wide range of alternative medicine clinics.
Third, if we define medical bullshit as care that is overly expensive and potentially dangerous to the people it is supposed to help, we must also take a careful look at mainstream medicine, including pharmaceutical companies, surgeons, and doctors.
I believe the fundamental problem here is that healthcare has been built around a model where experts have all of the knowledge and power (the expertocracy) and everyone else is dependent upon these experts for health advice and the treatment of illness. This, of course, is very advantageous for people in the expertocracy; it leaves most of us vulnerable to being led into potentially regrettable decisions by experts who don’t know us or our values and being exploited by fake experts who are interested only in our money.
This book is about taking your power back. This book will teach you to:
- Determine whether the latest miracle diet is worth pursuing
- Speak the language of doctors and surgeons
- Find the latest research on health conditions affecting you or your loved ones
- Understand the differences between a real expert and a dangerous quack
- Serve as an effective advocate for your loved ones when they are in the hospital
- Use your deepest values to guide sound decisions around serious issues such as surgery and chemotherapy
- Avoid supposedly miraculous treatments that may actually worsen your health
- Assume responsibility as the leading expert on your own health