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Diagnostic humility

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

From Ben Cormack, having a bit of a rant about pseudoscience and amateurism in back pain diagnosis:

“The worlds best researchers admit they can’t reliably diagnose [back pain], so why can you?”

People do constantly talk like they “know” what causes back pain, or at least have a very strong suspicion, and it’s almost always delusional. The specific mechanisms of back pain are mostly as impossible to know as what Bilbo had in his pocketses. We need a lot more diagnostic humility.

Like clockwork, when I boosted Ben's pro-humility sentiment on Facebook, someone instantly chimed in with the serious opinion that “It’s all energy!” I have many readers who might have posted that satirically, but this was 100% earnest reiki and psychic-healing propaganda: “Back pain starts with feelings and energy,” she insisted when politely challenged. 🤦🏻‍♂️

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