Friday, July 30, 2010


Hello, readers! Welcome to my blog. No. I'm not a doctor. Neither am I a scientist. I'm a retired Montessori teacher who was facially disfigured by a drug that contained silver that was prescribed by an MD over 50 years ago. You can read my story on my website,

Being injured by a doctor's mistake so early in life taught me a powerful lesson, namely the importance of evidence-based medicine as opposed to “healing” systems based on philosophical or religious beliefs. The first is scientific. The second hit and miss, but mostly miss.

It is only within the last one hundred or so years that medicine became scientific. Before that, through most all of human history, belief, religion or philosophy-based systems of medicine have been the only kinds available. If you read the history of civilization or just do some genealogical research, you will discover how really bad and ineffective they were. In fact often they were worse than useless. They were downright harmful, yet in spite of that belief-based medicine is experiencing an incredible resurgence. Today it is called by many names like “natural”, “alternative”, “complementary”, “integrative”, “CAM”, “holistic”, “mind, body, spirit” and probably a few more not thought up yet.

I suspect that there are many reasons for the present resurgence of belief-based systems of medicine which were long ago shown to be dangerous and ineffective. In this age of empowerment, we humans desperately want more than ever to believe that we have complete control over our destinies and can fix everything wrong, very comforting thoughts in times of sickness. Even when all the facts indicate that we are deluding ourselves, no one wants to give up hope.

Throughout history people have been searching for perpetual happiness but have never been able to find it. Religions and philosophies have searched for it. So has psychology. Some believe that perpetual happiness just isn’t possible on earth. Others delude themselves into thinking that it is possible here and right now and, like gamblers, no matter how many times they are disappointed or hurt, they grab at every straw that comes along, latching on to or buying every product that promises happiness or things that they believe will give them what they need to be happy such as excellent health.

While most of us have an innate drive to make the world just and to eliminate evil, pain, disease and suffering and while most of us who live in industrialized nations believe that we really can make the world a little better or rather more just and less evil and less painful and that we can make people healthier, there are some among us who are convinced that life on earth really can be made perfectly safe and wonderful all of the time, or at least that it can get very close to that perfect state for them.

While there have always been Utopians who have believed that, what strikes me as strange is that today’s pie-in-the-sky idealists believe that they’ve found the secret to perpetual happiness in “natural” medicine. This is based on the philosophical belief that Nature is good and provides health and happiness to those who learn her secrets and follow her dictates, ignoring the mountain of evidence which indicates that that simply is not true.

Either the believers have led very sheltered lives with little contact with nature, perhaps never having seen a cat kill a mouse, and have never studied history or biology or else they are utterly deluded forgetting completely about things like poison ivy, arsenic, poison mushrooms, cobra venom, cancer, the virus that causes AIDS, earthquakes, tidal waves and all the other afflictions Mother Nature sics on the earth and all the creatures who inhabit it. While most proponents of belief-based medicine never seem to think that their ideas about healing and optimizing health are based on philosophical beliefs and not objective, consistently reproducible evidence, in my experience if you keep asking them for objective evidence demonstrating that their beliefs are accurate, it soon becomes clear that it is this philosophy or belief that “natural is good”, rather than objective evidence, upon which their systems of medicine are built.

Being facially disfigured as a teenager, I never had the luxury of indulging in such lovely delusions about Good Mother Nature and a Wonderful World. I had to face reality head-on and learn swiftly how to get around obstacles put up by ignorant people who denied me basic life necessities like jobs and apartments. I learned early on that deluding oneself or putting one’s head in the sand usually results in far greater harm than facing facts and living in the real world.

Being injured by a doctor’s mistake early in life taught me the necessity of independently and objectively verifying important things such as the benefits and risks of specific drugs and therapies.

Since in the last twenty or so years we have seen a resurgence of belief-based medicine which many proponents promote and sell as evidence-based medicine, either deliberately being deceptive because they believe that is the best way to sell their goods and services or because they themselves really do not know the difference between beliefs, opinions and facts, the veracity of which is supported by objective, consistently reproducible evidence, I hope to shed at least a little light on the matter on my blog.

However, before that, I want to make it absolutely clear that it doesn’t bother me in the least if people want to practice belief-based medicine. I think that adults should be able to do whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt others. What does bother me a great deal is that more and more promoters of belief-based, unscientific medicine claim, and many honestly seem to believe, that they are practicing scientific or evidence-based medicine when they don’t have a clue as to what that really is. Quite frankly, that delusion or deceit, whichever it is, scares the hell out of me. It is downright dangerous to anyone who innocently believes them and it is the reason that I have the moxie to write what I call a “medical blog”. I believe that I am far better qualified to tell people about safe, effective, cost-efficient medicine than people who practice belief-based medicine even when they call themselves doctors and physicians and even when they do that legally. In my opinion, unless they practice evidence-based medicine, they are neither doctors nor physicians no matter what their state licensing bodies have decreed. In my opinion, governments who permit such individuals to call themselves doctors and physicians are totally wrong, are endangering the public and are reinforcing and legitimatizing the "alt docs" in their delusions or deceptions.

My blog is intended to give you a framework to use to help you find and evaluate doctors, drugs, “remedies” and therapies and to distinguish between the real and the make-believe. I cannot offer medical advice. I cannot diagnose or treat diseases or recommend doctors, drugs or therapies. I can only hope to give you good pointers on how to evaluate these things for yourself so that you can find a doctor whose judgment you trust and learn where to look for accurate medical information before you have a serious health problem.

Scientific or evidence-based medicine doesn’t have all the answers. No one ever said that it did. It’s results are never guaranteed. And it can harm you, even kill you. However, it is the one and only system that greatly increases the odds that you will be effectively treated for a disease or prevented from getting one. If you know where to look and which doctor to choose, scientific medicine can tell you what is known, unknown and suspected about any medical condition or disease that you have. You are free to accept or reject evidence-based medicine, but you can’t make informed decisions without it.