Thursday, June 21, 2007

Truth is Not Discovered by a Majority Vote [Serge]

In many news reports regarding bioethical issues, we are often confronted with large medical groups giving their opinion on certain issues. Because of the societal authority that doctors possess, these "recommendations" are frequently given a privileged place in the debate, regardless of the quality of the thinking or reasoning that was used to come up with the "recommendation.

Here's an obvious example. ACOG issues this press release at there national meeting calling for increased insurance coverage for contraception because it is a "basic health necessity". If taking contraceptive medication is a health necessity, than what condition exactly is the medication treating? Do we now consider fertility to be a pathologic condition that necessitates treatment? Oh wait, isn't there an entire group of women who pay out a large amount of money to OB-GYNs in order to treat their infertility? So is infertility a pathological condition that needs treatment, or is it a sign of health? It is quite confusing, and is further evidence of the poor thinking of this group.

This is another story which should cause us to be skeptical. The AMA is going to vote on whether or not internet and video game addiction is a recognized medical pathology. Now, maybe this "addiction" should be recognized, and maybe it shouldn't (count me as skeptical), but I know for sure that the true answer to that question is not based on a popular vote. Furthermore, the AMA, which is a huge organization of many types of physicians is then going to give the American Psychiatric Association their recommendation, and the APA "takes the AMA's recommendations seriously, said APA medical director Dr. James Scully." I thought that these matters should be settled by those with the most knowledge, but instead a popular vote from other docs will settle this issue.

Next time you confront with a recommendation from a medical group, please be skeptical of there conclusion. How did they come to this decision? Was it a select committee (which occurs often), or a general vote from the delegates? Was there research reviewed, or were these docs only acting on their own opinions and ideologies? The more you look into it, the less convincing these opinions really are.

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