PBS: Wowing Us With Woo

The infomercials have invaded publicly-funded teevee in the guise of “medical programming.” How fucking wonderful.

Robert Burton appears less than impressed:

Last week, I turned to my local PBS station, KQED, and ran headlong into yet another program of medical self-promotion. Mark Hyman, M.D., a family physician, was talking about “brain fog” and “broken minds” and how such “conditions” could be cured or prevented by using “The UltraMind Solution” — a combination of books, DVDs and home questionnaires.

Before I could change the channel, I heard Dr. Hyman make the following comments: “The way we think about disease, mental illness, and our brain aging, actually has nothing, nothing to do with how our body actually works … The way we think about disease is all wrong … the name of the disease tells us nothing about the real reason or the causes of them. Diseases don’t exist.”

Looks to me like they do.

If Dr. Hyman is correct, then we should disregard present medical knowledge and research. And yet, to justify his pet theories, Dr. Hyman cherry-picks from the very medical literature that he thinks approaches disease from the wrong perspective. Take, for example, his opinion that “the most remarkable scientific finding of the last decade is that you can have an inflamed, sore and swollen brain.” And from his blog site: “New research proves that almost all brain problems are connected to or caused by inflammation.” Indeed, Dr. Hyman opines that “if you treat the inflammation, the symptoms go away.”

Wow, that’s brilliant. And I suppose next he’s going to tell us that since hemophilia, traumatic amputations and Ebola all involve bleeding, Bandaids will cure all.

An appropriate analogy would be a bacterial sore throat. The streptococcus organism causes the sore throat; what we see on examination of the throat is inflammation of the underlying tissues. But it wouldn’t make sense to say that the inflammation caused strep throat; rather it would be a response to the strep. In order to blame inflammation as the primary cause, one has to abandon the traditional disease model — the position that Dr. Hyman takes at the start of his program.

Note to Dr. Hyman: Association is not causation.

Although associating Dr. Hyman with PBS has apparently caused a precipitous decline in the quality of their science programming.

PBS: Wowing Us With Woo
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One thought on “PBS: Wowing Us With Woo

  1. 1

    And I suppose next he’s going to tell us that since hemophilia, traumatic amputations and Ebola all involve bleeding, Bandaids will cure all.Well, you should apply antiseptic first …PBS’s programming seems to have gone downhill since the right wing decided to go on their jihad in the last presidential administration. Yet one more thing we can thank those assholes for.

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