Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Case Against Medicine

I know, I’ve been gone a while. Life’s been busy and as far as medical and other WTFery, I sometimes get weary of writing about all the ludicrousness I come across.

Having spent a good portion of the last six months not in cyberspace, I can’t say I miss it, but I do miss talking about topics that interest me.

I just finished reading What if Medicine Disappeared by Gerald E. Markle and Frances B. McCrea. Markle and McCrea are professors of sociology, not medical doctors, which I haven’t yet decided if that helps or hurts their credibility in the field of discussing how the disappearance of the medical profession [generally doctors, surgeons, specialists, pharmaceuticals and hospitals] would effect the morbidity and mortality of the world’s population. They conduct ‘thought’ experiments based on this hypothesis, which is to say they ‘think’ about how things would be, though their discussions of the subject are backed up with interesting facts and figures taken directly from articles published in all the premier medical journals such as JAMA and the Lancet to name a few.

I find it interesting that they use medical studies to prove their points that various aspects of our medical profession are overrated, overpriced and under-efficient. That’s not really news, is it?

Overall I found the book, a rather quick read, to be interesting and thought provoking, especially that one of their main conclusions was that if tobacco products disappeared, the effect on life and health in our nation [and very likely the world] would be far more profound that if doctors disappeared. Meaning far more lives could be saved by the removal of a toxic substance that permeates our society, than would be lost by the removal of those dedicated to healing.

My only complaint about the book is the style is a bit too conversational. Theories are presented interspersed with narrative about the authors eating dinner, raking leaves and watching the flora and fauna around their home as if they were attempting to novelize their story. Without those useless asides, I think the book would have been an even quicker and more informative read.

Overall, despite the mistrust with which I hold the medical profession these days, I can’t say I’d like to see the outcome of a society without doctors, trauma surgeons and emergency rooms. A far more interesting thought experiment would be to imagine the impact on our world if pharmaceutical company stockholders, medical insurance companies and politicians disappeared. I’m sure we’d all lead much happier and healthier lives then.

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