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Letters

TWiV 195 Letters

[we began be re-reading part of Deena's email from TWiV 193]

Ben writes:

Hello TWIV Crew,

I must first apologize it has been a long time since I have listened to the podcast but I promise to get caught up. I am seeking guidance from you as fellow scientists here. On a matter of personal and professional development I was curious as to the most effective and sanity preserving ways you deal with pseudo-science and or the complete lack of acceptance of science and evidence based medicine by some people. A little background I am entering graduate school going for a PhD and when I try to have discussions with my non-science friends or acquaintances I get hear a lot of science bashing and evidence based medicine bashing. I know this has been experienced by you all in the show many times, XMRV and chronic fatigue being an obvious example. On a personal level I have experienced it myself but in a strange way, a sort of reversal of the normal paradigm. I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Dissorder), I know its a controversial issue but I have it, and have been prescribed by my physician for some 15+ years now a medication to help me focus. It's worked for me wonderfully, I did well in High School, excelled in sports, have had great work success, got my B.S. in Biology, preformed independent research as an Undergraduate with great success and now I am going to be working on my PhD. Yet I have people out there that are telling me, I don't have a disease I don't need to be medicated (despite the fact that it works and I am successful), I just need more "fresh air" and to exercise and eat right and get more vitamin D and see posters like "Childhood is not a disease, don't medicate children" I try to have rational, science and evidence based conversations with these people but I am just a crony of western medicine or am only treating the symptoms not the cause, etc. I worry that a child who is in my situation may not get the help I got.

I just don't know how to deal with people like that who refuse to accept evidence or only accept anecdote when it works for what they believe (not that anecdote is ever a good argument). I am a man of truth, that's why I love science. It upsets me when people don't want to hear evidence or don't accept the scientific method. I tell them questioning is good but you have to also examine evidence not anecdote. I truly want to educate people and greatly enjoy it but am saddened by people who refuse to learn, and worry that people like that could run our country and in turn try to control my life based on unscientific beliefs. Rarely someone is honest enough to tell me they didn't know something and that I taught them something and changed their mind (and it felt really good, hence why I want to be in an academic setting). How have you learned to deal with people like that refuse to learn. I don't want to give up on them but is that necessary? Should I just pick my battles? I know your podcast has been extremely successful in educating people, especially outside the academic setting, do you feel like the battle for knowledge and education is being won? Sometimes I actually become saddened that people are not willing to learn, or accept evidence, but I don't want to let that ruin my career of seeking truth.

I thank you for reading this I know you are all very busy. I don't expect this to be read on air (if you do feel free to trim it as you see fit) but do sincerely hope for a response of some kind time permitting via email hopefully maybe a few words from each of you since you all may have different opinions, or strategies that have helped you all to success as scientists.

Thanks

~Ben

P.S. My girlfriend and I both went to see Vincents talk at the University of Washington when he was here a while back. Being a Plant Biologist myself and only part time Virology enthusiast it was a bit out of my area but love to support your cause!

 

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