Bias and Spin

Mar 8, 2015

By Mark Crislip

We all construct our narrative based on our biases and spin the facts so that the narrative confirms our biases. Among other characteristics, what separates an SBM provider from a SCAM provider is realizing that biases are always active and apply to me as well as everyone else.

My biases are simple: I am skeptical that humans can reliably understand reality without assistance and the best source of assistance is science.

I have a job where the expectation is that I will change practice as information changes. How I practiced medicine 30 years ago is very different from how I practice it today. Still, I note it is harder and harder to change my approaches as I get older. I get more set in my ways and it takes more effort to change as new studies are published. Sometimes it seems almost physically difficult.

Again, it is expected that not only will I change my mind over time, as the sole ID doctor at my hospitals, I will be the one to lead the change. Imagine how much harder it would be to change your mind if you were committed to a universal truth such as those that are alleged to underlie reiki or chiropractic. Years committed to a pseudo-medicine probably renders changing one’s mind virtually impossible.

I will admit there is one bias I cannot fathom, the conspiracy/pharmaceutical shill world view. The idea that those of us concerned with pseudo-medicine are doing so because we are paid by big pharma is just so weird. There are a number of articles on Pubmed concerning medical conspiracies, but the search term “pharmaceutical shill’ yields nothing on either Google scholar or Pubmed. It is a bias that evidently has no research to help understand why people have that opinion. I suspect it is derived in part from the often-remarkable sums paid to some doctors to pimp medications to other doctors. But I can’t even find how common the belief is.

I can kind of understand why people practice and/or participate in the various SCAMs given my understanding of the various fallacies and dysfunctional ways the mind works. It is easy to see how both the practitioners and patients misjudge the efficacy of pseudo-medicine. We have evolved to survive reality, certainly not to understand it.


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7 comments on “Bias and Spin

  • The author ignores one major factor. The scientific world in general, and the medical world especially, is not trustworthy. It is the best we have, granted. It makes steady progress towards truth and the advancement of human benefit, granted. But it is not trustworthy.



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  • The author ignores one major factor. The scientific world in general, and the medical world especially, is not trustworthy. It is the best we have, granted. It makes steady progress towards truth and the advancement of human benefit, granted. But it is not trustworthy.

    On score of 1 to 100, with 1 being the lowest and 100 being the highest level of trust, how do you rate science and the medical world? And why do you choose this rating. Can you cite some examples to support your argument.



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  • the majority of bias and spin comes from islamophobic attacks from new atheists.

    This is your third post with this claim in the past few minutes. And it is just a claim because on each occasion you fail to fill our your argument with any examples or evidence. As such, it can be dismissed quite easily, as Alan4D has done on your two previous posts. John, of the gospel of John perchance. A hit and run poster maybe?

    A rational person will always be an equal opportunity critic of all irrationality. A rational person does not single out one religion and criticize it, but all religions. So your claim that new atheists (A Media Spin term) are specifically “Islamaphobic” can’t possibly be true.

    In support of Alan4D’s argument. Criticism of an idea is a valid expression of opinion. Any idea. Religion is nothing special and it deserves no special protection in any society. It is just another idea open to debate and discussion. There is zero evidence in support of this idea. The act of criticising Islam (Insert any religion here), does not make the critic islamaphobic. A religion that was confident in its identity and the validity of its position should be able to answer criticism with rational response. If it can’t, well the jury will judge it a fail. Criticism never merits hysterical response or action, like adherents to the many and various religions of the world. Your nothing special. Suck it up and get on with worshiping your god. He’s (and it’s always a He”) is going to trash the rational of this world in the after life, so what’s your beef.



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  • Great point. This belongs with what has been called “Anti-science” from the left; GMO, Pharma is evil and anti vaccination. Your growing life expectancy you owe in large part to the pharma companies. If you disagree just carry a card where you refuse any medicine that is developed by modern pharma and happy to oblige.



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  • Michael G Mar 10, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    The author ignores one major factor. The scientific world in general, and the medical world especially, is not trustworthy.

    The point this misses, is that the public perceptions, are frequently via marketing, advertising, and commercial media, which are distinctly untrustworthy.
    The actual peer reviewed science papers are usually beyond the reading and comprehension capabilities of the general public.

    While corrupt, deceptive papers are discovered in reputable journals from time to time (where they have evaded earlier detection), there are usually repercussions when they are!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/03/deeper-ties-to-corporate-cash-for-doubtful-climate-researcher/

    It is the best we have, granted. It makes steady progress towards truth and the advancement of human benefit, granted. But it is not trustworthy.

    Any medical procedure which is in regular use, has monitored outcomes – usually independently at multiple locations.



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  • > Michael G Mar 10, 2015 at 9:03 pm The author ignores one major factor. The scientific world in general, and the medical world especially, is not trustworthy. It is the best we have, granted. It makes steady progress towards truth and the advancement of human benefit, granted. But it is not trustworthy.

    Perhaps the problem of public perception, lies with the retail pharmacies and drug-stores. Lots of their sales are cosmetics and quack remedies which have little to do with medical science, and much to do with marketing hype!

    However, I have a first aid box, and those scientifically designed medical products in it, do work reliably!



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