I was reading the comments section of an article about the health of soy burgers. One comment went off topic and was about coconut oil, heart health and her husband. The author of the column points out that doctors do not get trained as much in nutrition and she may want to question his advice. Another commenter points out that the author of the article has no scientific background and to listen to what the doctor says.
That got me thinking about how many times I’ve heard the phrase, listen to “the doctor”. As if an M.D., or the two words, “the doctor” make someone all-knowing and beyond question.
Guess what? Doctors are no different from the rest of us. There are good and bad, highly skilled, barely competent, and doctors who barely have a clue. There are doctors who are ethical, humanitarians, and will do whatever it takes to help a patient. There are also doctors who are drug addicts, addicted gamblers, liars, cheaters, and who don’t give every case the attention they should. The good and bad ones make mistakes and don’t necessarily stay up to date on the latest techniques, science, and information (such as nutrition) as it relates to what you’re seeing them about.
Forget doctors for a minute. Pretend two people go to get their car looked at by a mechanic. One person knows a lot about cars and the other knows nothing. Who would you rather be? Trust me, you don’t want to be the person who spends two thousand dollars on repairs because “the mechanic” said so. Not without doing due diligence. Specifically, looking up what is needed, getting a second opinion, shopping around, etc.. Speaking of due diligence. That is an advisable practice whether you need auto repairs, want to send a child to college, food choices you make, buying or selling real estate, your health, and on and on.
Yes, there are experts in many fields that presumably know more than a person who does not make a living in the trade. That doesn’t mean they should go unquestioned. Two “experts” can examine the same data and reach different conclusions. Then what?
It some cases, like health, there are experts in different fields, or different paradigms within the same field. They will not all tackle the same problem the same way.
As Americans, do we think we are the best in everything? Know more about every topic, and sub topic, and that no one else can possibly have any information of use or benefit? Are we that arrogant?
In reality, I don’t like the term expert. I find it so rarely applies. When I was in college I studied Tae Kwon Do. The master instructor, Master Ra, he was a sixth degree black belt. He referred to himself as an advanced beginner. Said there was still much for him to learn. Given that medical errors are the number three cause of death in this country and how far away we are from cures for things like cancer and heart disease, it is safe to say there is still much to learn in medicine as well.
Western medicine offers one set of solutions. Eastern takes a different approach. Further, there are complementary and alternative fields of healing. It doesn’t take an “expert” to do research of the different choices. To see what is available. To get a second or even a third opinion for diseases. To take into account the uniqueness of a given situation and understand that general advice may or may not be best in a specific situation and given a particular individual’s circumstance and needs.
There are certain skill sets that are not inherent to Tae Kwon Do, so my instructor taught us some Judo to augment our training. Your research may lead you to choose one modality of treatment or health over all others. However, it may also lead you to pick and choose aspects from multiple modalities.
Despite the contents of this blog, I do hold good doctors in high regard. I respect their work and recognize their invaluable contribution to society. I would not pursue a major course of health action without consulting a doctor. But the field itself, and of course all of us humans, come with limitations. My thought is we need to recognize that. To not blindly give our trust to anyone person or field, and to do our due diligence and make informed choices about what to do when we are sick and how to keep from getting sick in the first place.
To some of my western medicine devotees that makes me a quack sympathizer. I just call it being open-minded, and not abdicating my responsibility to be informed and prepared when it comes to my health.
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