Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.
It’s very sad and distressing to see some colleagues (not too many thankfully!) who are supposedly medically trained but indulge in pseudoscience or conspiracy theories, often without scientific methods to prove their “claims” or “beliefs”.
Often, they will use some scientific information or data and explain it in a “twisted” way that there is no scientific sense to their explanation.
The danger lies in the harm they cause by confusing or triggering doubts in the public to the point of rejection of life-saving vaccines, medications or simply indulging in behaviour that may harm their health.
A colleague said the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic is unnecessary as less than five per cent of patients worldwide have died because of the infection. That’s just less than two million deaths so far and compared with the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, cancer or even tuberculosis that has claimed equal or more lives but there’s no lockdown to address these conditions.
That argument totally misses the point as one cannot compare Covid-19 with motor vehicle accidents, cancer or even tuberculosis.
That’s because the potential for Covid-19 to spread throughout the whole population in every country, crippling healthcare systems and causing millions more to die is very real if we don’t do anything or enhance public health measures.
On the other hand, if we don’t do anything, the number of motor vehicle accidents or cancer deaths may rise but in no way will it ever have the potential to cause massive damage to our healthcare system, causing it to collapse in such a short span of time like the pandemic did.
On the same note, the spread of tuberculosis and the effective treatment available are simply incomparable to the speed and the width of the Covid-19 spread or the lack of effective treatment.
Imagine five per cent of the Malaysian population suffering life threatening conditions and needing ventilatory support. That would be 1.65 million people!
And even if these 1.65 millions are spread over a year, that would mean every month there are 138,000 patients on ventilators needing beds in the ICU. For the record, the October 2020 Health Ministry info graphics showed there were only 1,515 ventilators nationwide.
Clearly, we need to do everything to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing which will cause uncountable loss of lives. Cancer or motor vehicle accidents will not reach those proportions compared to Covid-19 no matter what we do or don’t do.
Another claim is that vaccines may cause infertility, rare neurological diseases or other side effects.
These claims are based on isolated reports from recipients of vaccines but conveniently ignore the other scientific data to show that the same “side effects” are also seen in patients who are not receiving the vaccines.
The scientific proof is of course whether the effects occurred regularly enough in vaccine recipients that the differences are statistically significant.
Often, they are not, but the alleged “claims” are repeated often enough and become the “truth”.
Therein lies the danger of sowing doubts in potential vaccine recipients that the uptake or acceptance rate is affected, especially when it’s disseminated by healthcare professionals or doctors.
Often also, nothing is discussed about the potential harm and dangers of non-vaccination and that the diseases can be significantly harmful or life-threatening without vaccination.
Healthcare professionals and doctors play a critical and influential role in health advocacy and patients’ acceptance of preventive measures, treatments or compliance to medical advice.
The trust placed in doctors must never be used for self-serving agendas.
The motto “First do no harm” must be foremost on every doctor’s agenda as pseudoscience, conspiracy theories or non-evidence based practices/self-beliefs can and have done much harm to the public and patients time and time again.
Medicine is about true science and every doctor trained in science must never stray from how they are trained.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.