This excerpt is best understood in context. Gordon Waddell, the respected Scottish orthopedic surgeon and back pain expert, is commenting on a debate between back pain experts at the Ninth World Congress of the International Association for the Study of Pain. The debate had an unusual premise: “You’re on a desert island with severe back pain, you do not know what you know now, and you want some advice to help you cope with the pain. A hot-air balloon is being sent to help you. There is only so much room in the hot-air balloon, and a whole spectrum of back experts to choose from. So who would you allow on board?”
Surgery is not the answer for back pain, and it doesn’t work. So I’m now going to jump out of this hot-air balloon and leave the other two hot-air experts to battle it out. But the trouble is, it’s very easy for back specialists to set themselves up as experts. Beware of amateur experts who step out with their own speciality. Beware of high-tech experts who blind you with science or pseudoscience. And beware most of all of the bullshit artist who can sell the idea to you and convince you that their treatment is better than everyone else’s — odds are, they’re wrong. So throw out the experts and fill up the balloon with malt whisky, which will probably do your back more good than the experts.