Dr. Google is a liar

It started during yoga class. She felt a strange pull on her neck, a sensation completely foreign to her. Her friend suggested she rush to the emergency room. It turned out that she was having a heart attack.

She didn’t fit the stereotype of someone likely to have a heart attack. She exercised, did not smoke, watched her plate. But on reviewing her medical history, I found that her cholesterol level was sky high. She had been prescribed a cholesterol-lowering statin medication, but she never picked up the prescription because of the scary things she had read about statins on the internet. She was the victim of a malady fast gearing up to be a modern pandemic – fake medical news.

While misinformation has been the object of great attention in politics, medical misinformation might have an even greater body count. As is true with fake news in general, medical lies tend to spread further than truths on the internet – and they have very real repercussions.

We already see the consequences of this with abusive parents not vaccinating their children based on clearly disproven lies and nonsense, but it also extends to other medical issues. What’s especially interesting is that this affects people with higher educations a lot more than people with lower educations – might overconfidence be a slow and insidious killer (have a cookie if you catch that reference without Googling/DDG’ing)?

In any event, while people not vaccinating their children should obviously be tried for child abuse, I can’t say I can really care about what people do to their own bodies. If a grown adult wants to trust some baseless Facebook nonsense or whatever over qualified medical personnel, then she or he should be free to do so – and suffer the consequences.

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