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Treatments are not safe because they “only” affect the vulnerable

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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I saw someone make this disturbingly careless argument recently:

“If a side effect of a treatment was only severe because the patient had a rare vulnerability, then the problem was the vulnerability, not the treatment.”

Nooo! That is not how this works. This isn’t a rare attitude, unfortunately, but it is rare to see it spelled out so boldly, with such naked disregard for the vulnerable.

Most side effects only hit a few vulnerable people hard enough to cause real trouble. That is just their nature. That does not mean that we say, “Oh, that risky treatment is safe then, because the only people it ever hurts are just a few unlucky weaklings. Sucks to be them!”

Which treatment in musculoskeletal medicine would be so bizarrely defended as safe because it hurts “only” the vulnerable? Hint: It’s the one that has been defended the same way routinely for decades, by the same dedicated apologists who cannot stand to hear a discouraging word about it.


Answer: .kcen eht fo ypareht evitalupinam lanipS.

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