About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« Get Your Miracle Elixir | Main | And Another Thing »

April 8, 2002

F. Scott Fitzgerald Had Something to Say About This

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Posted by Derek

Not much time to post tonight, since our 22-month-old came down with a sudden fever. She's fine otherwise, though, in case anyone's wondering. I'm sure that, as a blog-baby, she'd play well with "Gnat" Lileks.

I've already had several e-mails about my snake-oil outburst in the previous post. No one's come out for the pro-snake-oil position yet; I guess that audience doesn't read me, which is something I can certainly live with.

It was probably the contrast between the ads I mentioned and what I know that medicine can accomplish (see 4/4 and 4/2 postings below.) I've noticed that Sydney Smith over at Medpundit takes issue with both the degree of my gloom and the degree of my optimism. He's got a point about some of the things we can do now (vaccinations are always a good example to adduce,) but I wonder about the popular perception of medical treatment. Large groups of people are worse than I am, in both directions.

There are two mutually exclusive wrong ideas that the general public has about medicine, I think. The first is that there's nothing useful out there, they're just going to mess around with you and waste your time and money, you're going to get what you're going to get, why fight it, etc.

Contrast that weltanschaungwith the second major group: the ones who feel entitled to have everything that goes wrong with them fixed. If one doctor doesn't give them the satisfaction they're after, they go to another. If one medication doesn't cut it, then there's another that will. Generally, there's a sense among this population that any condition can also be traced back to its cause, that person, action, or thing that made them sick. After all, the default setting is perfect health, so something must have happened!

There's a subset of people who manage to believe both of these things at once: these are the big-conspiracy types, who are sure that the doctors and the evil drug companies are ganged up against everyone. (It's an odd viewpoint, when you consider that those two groups - although they need each other - don't always get along very well.) I've had people seriously explain to me that "they" have cures for all these terrible diseases already lined up - "they're" just waiting until everyone's sick enough to make the market really huge.

I give those folks my standard answer to all conspiracy buffs: "Yeah. . .that's what they want you to think. . ."

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