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“Demagoguery by any other name”


“Demagoguery by any other name”

An article in MedPage Today written on January 5th caught my attention. The title is “America’s Frontline Doctors Continue to Misinform on COVID.” The subtitle: “Notorious physician group has now pivoted to inciting fear about vaccines”.

This article might be appropriate for the editorial page of a newspaper. In my opinion, it is distinctly NOT appropriate for a medical newsletter that purports to present information to physicians so they can make up their own minds about the issue in question.

I have been reading the comments (and contributing to them) in the hopes that dialogue might ensue, which indeed it has. But making the association between our about-to-be-ex-President's rambling confused thoughts and legitimate licensed physicians who are searching for effective ways to treat the new corona virus before hospitalization is required is not helpful dialogue.

I know it's easy to throw the "opposition" all into the same box - but I feel this is unworthy of our profession. We are theoretically trained to think critically. We may experience some difficulties when we attempt to actually use those critical thinking skills - conventional medicine is pretty insistent that all treatments must be in lock step with the "standard of care". Nevertheless, critical thinking is a skill which it behooves us both to cherish and to maintain. That “standard of care” changes more frequently than we might realize.

There is so much emotionality surrounding this whole issue of potential pre-hospital treatment of the new SARS COV 2 virus that it makes my head spin. How the information is interpreted appears to depend primarily on the organ lodged between the ears of those who hear it.

Information is information. It may be accurate, or inaccurate. It may be given in the spirit of sharing information, or in the spirit of attempting to modify the behavior of another person.

We all know that our eyes see what we expect to see. Remember the video of the basketball game during which a guy in a monkey suit walks across the field of vision? How many of us failed the see the monkey suit because we were focused on counting the number of times the ball was thrown at the basket?

Just saying.. the vaccine is experimental - no other RNA vaccines have been tested or approved before this one. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad vaccine - just experimental.

There is concern about mandated vaccination - with, I think, good reason - but that does not mean that vaccination has in fact been mandated.

Let us be very careful to separate in our own minds information from demagoguery. Just because a demagogue comes down on the side of the angels does not mean that the demagoguery is any less misleading.

One commentator wrote: “To suggest that the science is settled on this vaccine or this virus is disingenuous. Studies are ongoing and will be for a long time to come. This is not an FDA approved's a vaccine that received an emergency use authorization from the FDA… In an age where everything is politicized and divisive...I hope we can all agree that the preservation of the freedom of the patient to choose their course of treatment should be considered paramount… Attacking a person for their difference of opinion isn't likely to encourage them to change their opinion.”

A thought-provoking article, indeed.