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No one actually believes those myths? Oh, yes they do!

 •  • 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.

Fairly often I get criticisms of like these:

  • “Old news!”
  • “There’s nothing new here.”
  • “Everyone already knows this stuff.”
  • “No one actually believes those myths.”

Is that so? I haven’t met a myth yet that “no one” believes. Myths are damn near all anyone seems to believe!

The Internet brings together people from wildly different backgrounds. I have a lot of knowledge I take for granted that is downright exotic to many other people, and vice versa. My inbox overflows with inquiries like this:

“Is it really possible for a 30 year old like me to develop a lower back pain? And what could be the cure of this Lower Back Pain?”

There are a few clues there that this person is quite new to the topic. 😜 Probably knows almost literally nothing about back pain… as little as most of us know about the mating habits of tropical fish, how to fabricate a microchip, or how to fold a fitted sheet. A patient like that needs basic information, and plenty of it. And that is what most patients are like.

And yet it’s not just the average patient that needs basic information. You know how I know? Because I have been studying this stuff since 1997 and yet I still regularly learn “basic” things. Because that is how learning complex things works.

For instance, recently I learned about “bipartite patella” (a congenitally split kneecap). Never heard of it before! Despite writing two books about knee pain. I don’t know how I missed it, I just did. There’s just a lot to learn in this life.

That happens regularly to me, but it definitely does not happen just to me.

For instance, many massage therapists around the world are relatively untrained — in many places there are no certification standards at all, or quite minimal — and often know so little that they don’t even know how little they know (Dunning-Kruger effect, or at least the oversimplified version of it). Massage therapists say some really ridiculous things, vividly demonstrating their profound ignorance of biology and medicine.

Some professionals — even if they were well-trained originally — haven’t cracked a book in 10-20 years, and have squeaked through with the bare minimum of continuing education — education that focused on “techniques” and “methods” rather than the book learnin’ they actually needed. The need for continuing academic education is effectively infinite and yet perpetually underestimated and neglected in favour of “practical” and “applied” knowledge of much more dubious value.

So, yes, presents a lot of news that is “old” news to some, information that “everyone” already knows, and busting of myths that “no one” actually believes.

But that is a feature, not a bug.

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher