Labels are a cognitive double-edged sword. We need to categorize the world in order to mentally capture it – labels help us organize our mental maps of the overwhelming complexity of things and to communicate with each other. But labels can also be mental prisons, when they substitute for a thorough, nuanced, or individualized assessment – when categorization becomes pigeon-holing.
We use many labels in our writings here, out of necessity, and we try to be consistent and thoughtful in how we define the labels that we use, recognizing that any sufficiently complex category will be necessarily fuzzy around the edges. We have certainly used a great deal of electrons discussing what exactly is science-based medicine, and that the label of so-called alternative medicine is really a false category, used mainly for marketing and lobbying (hence the caveat of “so-called”).
We get accused of using some labels for propaganda purposes, particularly “antivaccinationist” (often shortened to “antivaxer”). Also “denier” or “denialist”, as in germ-theory denier. Even though we often apply labels to ourselves, no one likes having an unflattering label applied to them, and so we have frequent push-back against our use of the above terms.
As with many such terms, Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*
Newsweek has a very provocative and yet incredibly too simplistic piece for the public and patients on its cover story – One Word Can Save Your Life: No! – New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.
The piece is actually well written and highlights facts that have been apparent for some time. More intervention and treatment isn’t necessarily better. Having a cardiac catheterization or open heart surgery for patients with stable heart disease and mild chest pain isn’t better than diet, exercise, and the prescription medication treatment. PSA, the blood test previously suggested by many professional organizations, isn’t helpful to screen for prostate cancer, even though the value of the test was questioned years ago. Antibiotics for sinus infection? Usually not helpful.
Certainly doctors do bear part of the blame. If patients are Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*
Experts say over 100,000 lives a year could be saved in the United States if patients focused more on preventive medicine. What is preventive medicine? What can you do in your everyday life that may make a long-term difference?
On this Patient Power program, you will hear from two board certified internists from the UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinics in Western Washington. They will discuss how having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician who you check in with regularly –- even when you’re well –- gives you the best chance at staying healthy.
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