QUICKLINKS AND VIEW OPITONS
Why Doctors Seem Stupid
Friday, November 08, 2013 10:47 am Email this article
My best friend Larry Hobbs persuaded me to read Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini. A boring title, but a life-changing book. It has already allowed me to understand something that had puzzled me. Earlier this year, I prepared some large posters containing the super-abundant evidence that cholesterol has nothing to do with causing heart attacks and statin drugs such as Lipitor cause harm for no benefit, a fact I have testified to, as an expert witness, in court. If you don’t already know about this, watch Heart of the Matter Part 1 - Dietary Villains. I loaned the posters to a large number of doctors including cardiologists. None of them ever commented on the poster or showed any evidence they had read it. Their office staff, nurses, PAs and patients read it. They told me so.
My first impression was that the doctors were stupid, but I was uncomfortable with that position. You had to wonder why they did not read the poster but their office people did . Chapter 3 of Influence provides the answer. Unlike the office staff, the doctors had already made a public commitment to the belief that lowering cholesterol prevents heart attacks. Hence there was no need to learn, since, as they knew, they would never change from their position no matter what. They valued personal consistency over truth, even I say over their patients’ lives.
I, on the other hand, was trained as a scientist to value evidence above all. I will turn on a dime, whatever my former position risking embarrassment, to adjust to good evidence. I value my patients over any personal appearance of consistency. I (capital I) do not matter. The truth does.
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