A Request to Debunkers
Spoiler Alert: The request is simple. Please become part of the solution.
I am a patient of the health care system. I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, told that there’s no cure, and prescribed a cocktail of drugs for the rest of my life. I know many of you are in the same condition.
As part of what I describe as my “healing journey”, I have been exposed to a lot of different practitioners within the conventional health care system as well as the CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) set of practices. As someone diagnosed with a condition, you tend to look for answers in many places, especially when you are the type to not want to give up hope.
I have read a lot, I have talked a lot, and I have met with many people just like me, people who have refused to give up hope, and many of them are no longer patients of the health care system. I believe there is always hope, and I believe that we can create a much improved health care system. But we can’t do it alone, we need to work together to create this system.
“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘WE’, even I-llness becomes WE-llness” ~ Malcolm X
For several years, my thoughts and beliefs have steered me to the value of taking a collective approach to creating “Healthy Communities”, connecting People, Patients, Practitioners, Partners, and Promoters to create a better system, and that brings me to the topic for this article.
About a year ago, I had assembled a team to create an event in our community called “Creating Healthy Communities”. One of the key items in our planning was to find a Keynote speaker that would attract an audience, and one of the first names to come to mind was Clara Hughes. We reached out to her agent and found out she was probably unaffordable, but the agent came back with a couple of other suggestions, one of which was Timothy Caulfield. I looked up Timothy’s profile on twitter and found he is “Professor of health law & science policy, Trudeau Fellow & author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash”. I was very intrigued, this seemed like it would be a good fit. I watched a video and it is obvious that he is a dynamic speaker that knows how to engage an audience, so I started following him on twitter. What I found is that Timothy also describes himself as a “skeptic” and a “debunker”, and as you can tell by the title of his book, he’s not fond of celebrities using their high profiles to market claims that are not well supported. I also found that he is profoundly pro-science, which is something that I respect.
Timothy is one of many “debunkers” that I have found on twitter that are deeply critical of CAM practitioners and alternative medicine because they are not backed by solid scientific evidence. Before I proceed, let me say that I respect that as I have seen some marketing material and questionable practices from some practitioners in this space. This is not a field that is perfect by any means.
But let me start my request, as a patient of the health care system diagnosed with a chronic condition told that there is no hope for returning to health and prescribed a set of prescription drugs for the rest of my life.
PLEASE STOP DEBUNKING EVERYTHING. WE NEED YOU ON THE TEAM TO CREATE A BETTER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.
The terms CAM, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, etc. don’t have to incite anger in your very core. When a doctor recommends a prescription drug to me because I have been a bit anxious of late, I will look for “alternatives” and there are many, and they don’t have side effects. When I was diagnosed with a condition, I became part of the conventional health care system and I take a prescription drug, yet I look for “complementary” approaches to manage my condition. And there are many, and they don’t come with side effects.
Virtually every practitioner that I have ever met in all areas has tried to help me in their best possible way, to the best of their knowledge, to HELP ME. They all list a series of success stories, yet none of their approaches work for everybody. Each has its set of problems, and each has its set of claims that don’t quite stack up ALL of the time. And I have no problem with debunkers debunking the far-fetched claims, both within and external to the conventional medical system.
Science is part of the answer, a big part of the answer, yet it is not the only answer. There are limitations to science in its ability to create a perfect environment for randomized control trials that take into account the actual environment that we live in. Science cannot possibly test for every possible permutation and combination of environmental factors that DO contribute or MAY contribute to poor health.
The current approach of “debunking” ALL things “alternative” creates an environment of conflict, one that doesn’t need to be there. We don’t need to line up and take sides, trying to prove that our “side” is right, and the other “side” is wrong. When I’m looking at my health, there are NO SIDES, only a TEAM that is helping me improve my health.
Debunkers, please become part of the solution.
And Timothy, please bring your friends.