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Why people seek out alternative medicine

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on are updated regularly over the years (see updates page).

One of many excellent points in this article about former naturopath Britt Marie Hermes: The naturopath whistleblower: ‘It is surprisingly easy to sell snake oil’.

I know many wonderful doctors, but they are mostly the ones I’ve chosen to get to know professionally and personally, so of course I like them. The physicians I’ve encountered more or less at random as a patient are a different matter: too many have been stereotypically arrogant and incompetent. (And I think it’s particularly bad for chronic pain patients, who are more likely to run afoul of obnoxious ignorance. Many doctors who otherwise good at their jobs fail patients with chronic pain.)

I think there’s no question that there is a complicated medical “attitude problem,” with many causes, and that it’s a major factor in driving people to alternative medicine, which a lot of people see as a lesser of evils. Many seek it out while holding their noses, with a sheepish reluctance, painfully aware that “it’s probably bullshit.” But they do it anyway, because one too many doctors refused to listen, scoffed at their worries and theories, or otherwise failed at bedside manner or even basic good manners. Of course there are other factors, but this is the one that skeptics chronically underestimate.

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