HAPPY NEW YEAR. I generally do not make “doctor” remarks on this blog, but this is the once per year exception I grant myself. It is time for my annual New Year’s rant. Sit back and enjoy while I try to fix the world by calling out internet health and nutrition BS, again.
Special Note: This is an update to my annual New Years’ rant. This version started in 2014 and is updated yearly. Why am I qualified, and you should listen? Around this blog, I use the pseudonym of DrDan, but in real life, I’m a board-certified pediatrician, Dan Mikesell DO, FACOP. I have earned a voice.
I started this “tradition” in 2010, the first year of the blog in response to the wacko dietary and health advice I was seeing all around me. I cracked and whipped off I Call BS, what I would call an “I’m mad as h_ll, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” post. It felt so good, and it was a great public service announcement.
This is not medical advice, just my educated outlook on the problem of false and misleading medical and health advice on the internet. See your doctor if you need medical advice.
The issue continues to worsen. The BS is everywhere. Homeopathic remedies populate the local chain drug store. Made up science, and conspiracy theories abound. Add in the general disregard for the truth and science, and they think they are free to say anything.
Even the mainstream media is spewing the cr_p. There is good old Dr. Oz talking about superfoods to fight infections. Even CNN recently had one of the biggest internet “food experts” commenting on food contamination. She was almost entirely wrong. Apparently, her degree in computer science skipped biology 101.
You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
We now live in a culture where everyone thinks that “I’m entitled to my opinion” implies that all opinions are equal and that ignorance is just as good as scientific knowledge. No, sometimes you’re just wrong.
You can have your own opinion but not your own facts. 30 minutes of Google does not make your beliefs fact. A flat-earth, anti-vax loudmouth on the internet agreeing with your beliefs is not “fact.” You can find support for any wrong idea.
The Fools of Social Media – It is on you if you fall for the BS.
Social media is full of health and nutrition “advice,” almost 100% false. If you saw it on social media or most websites/blogs, it will almost for sure be wrong.
In previous years, I called some of them “well-meaning but clueless.” But now I believe they are either outright shysters or just too uninformed/uneducated to understand facts from fiction.
They want you to believe only they have the magic or secret knowledge. They will have compelling stories sprinkled with pseudo-scientific BS, and if you don’t know better, you might believe it.
The more sophisticated ones will have “scientific” references. DON’T TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT. Most of the references either don’t exist, don’t say what they claim or are just packed with fake science.
Even if you read the reference, if you are not used to reading scientific articles, things like conclusions that are not supported by the details of the article or bad statistical analysis may still escape your detection.
And don’t forget that one study/article is by no means acceptable proof of anything to real doctors.
Cleansing or Cleansing Diets
Why is it that the bloggers and “experts” who are recommending cleansing activities are also the ones expounding their wacko diet information? If their recommendations are so great, why do they need cleansing?
Your liver and kidneys do this work for you. They don’t need the help of these “experts” and their made-up BS. When your liver and kidneys do need help, you need a lot more than a made-up “cleansing” can do.
Any blogger or other “expert” who is suggesting “cleansing” should be automatically in your “do not trust anything they say” list — more total BS.
They sound so good. High cost and no sound scientific evidence or even close to believable claims. A new version of “snake oil.” Shameful. Absolute BS.
“Alternative” cancer treatments
Alternative cancer treatments seem to be the rage now. To think all you really needed was a coffee enema or a juice cleansing is just amazing to me.
These are the most shameful scam imaginable that will kill you or your family when you are at your most vulnerable.
Oncology is one of the most data-driven, rapidly advancing areas of medicine. Oncology, over the years, has been very successful in gathering and analyzing data. And then coming up with new innovative treatments and sharing those treatments across the world for all to benefit.
I did my pediatric oncology training at St. Judes and referred many patients there over the years. St. Judes and their adult equivalents are true heroes on the front line of medicine, giving selflessly to society and their patients.
DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID.
Nobody can stop you. If you are on either end of the bell-shaped curve in your belief, you most likely to be WRONG. It is shameful for you to preach or impose you believe on others.
So What To Do With All This?
Here are some helpful clues to look for when evaluating these things.
Keywords/phrases that should make you run the other way
- Cure – you know nobody can guarantee a cure. If they do, it is a lie.
- Boost, support, or promotes the immune system or something else. – Don’t fall for these BS phrases, which means they have no proof it really does anything. Show me a proper study. They just want your money.
- Emerging studies or emerging science reveals. The snake oil is smelling strong.
- Leading experts – you can be sure they aren’t – I call BS ever time.
- Colon health – again, show me the studies and define your terms.
- “Detoxifying” or “cleansing,” Please see above.
- Non-GMO – I boycott any food that says that. Fear-mongering is not nice. Companies that exploit fear for profit over science need to be boycotted.
- “Natural” – almost always used to mislead you to believe something is safe and effective. Almost for sure, not effective or minimal effect. Also may not be safe.
- pH- if they talk about changing the pH of your blood, it is wrong or, if true, very very dangerous (but it is not true).
- Clean eating or “real food”- totally wrong. See this article.
- Other bothersome phrases: wellness, organic, poison, toxin, toxic, amazing, trick, hack, secret, alternative are all keywords that should automatically raise flags of concern.
Where the information comes from is another clue:
- Social Media – WRONG with few exceptions.
- Friend or relatives – Almost always wrong.
- Your mother – usually better than you think
- Your doctor is usually good but not always. MD or DO only, please.
- Infomercial – BAD… really bad…. always
- Doctor or Dietitian (R.D.) from your hospital system – Almost always good.
- There are many nutrition “degrees” people are getting now. I only trust R.D.s.
- An advertised product is almost always bad.
- Advertised drugs. You probably don’t need the expensive prescription drug with side-effects that include death for a “disease” which you didn’t know existed.
- “Expert” on morning TV – frequently bad so watch for the keywords above.
So who do you believe?
- Most doctors are good resources for you. But a few have gone to “the dark side.”
- Your local nonprofit hospital system will usually have your best health in mind.
- Major websites like WebMD, the CDC, and your local hospital system will all have helpful information. Most medical practices have websites with trusted links. Mine did.
- Even your insurance company wants you healthy, and many provide excellent resources. Even if your insurance company is a blood-sucking leech on society, a healthy you is still cheaper than a sick you. Let them help you.
- DO NOT go to Google. I love Google, but they do not verify information in their searches (not their job), and you are very likely to get very bad information. Google is not your doctor and not a health professional.
- If they tell you the AMA or doctors don’t want you to know a secret, hold on tight to your wallet and run hard in the other direction.
- NEVER make a significant change in your diet or exercise program without consulting your doctor.
- Anti-vax is a hoax and has killed many children. Vaccines have never caused autism, but the deadly diseases the vaccines prevent do kill. I have seen it.
- Alternative cancer treatments are killers. These are the most shameful scam imaginable that will kill you or your family when you are at your most vulnerable. Get to a board-certified oncologist you trust.
- Your 1 hour on the internet “researching” does not equal your doctor’s years of training. You are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts.
- If it sounds stupid or too good to be true, it probably is stupid and too good to be true.
Now I feel so much better.
So if you believe the liars and shysters shame on you.
Special note: I will be approving all comments. If you want to disagree, start your own blog and say whatever you want. My blog is not your public platform. I will publish comments that I consider scientifically sound, but ranting or pseudo-scientific BS will not be published so don’t waste your typing. If I don’t like it, I will delete it.