Medical Conspiracy Theories

I just read a very good article titled, “Half Of Americans Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories.” I liked two things about the article; the solid information it gave and the kind treatment of the half of Americans that were the focus of the article.

I remember most of my college education as an amorphous mass of experiences, but I do remember two times when the light bulb went off. One was in Dr. Robert Keen’s Biostatistics course. The other was in Dr. Jim Spain’s Biochemistry. The first course had a lot of rote things to memorize, and lots of filling pages with numbers. I put that stuff in the amorphous category. Then something clicked in my brain, and I thought to myself, “heck, this stuff works!” Using statistics, you can say things with certainty that you could only guess at without. In the Biochemistry course, there was again a bunch of rote learning, and then, in one moment, I “saw” in my minds eye, how chunks of protein with active sites could be manufactured and put into production in cells. Again, the light bulb went off and I’d gotten it.

Both these events happened in graduate school, and were probably in and of themselves, a good enough reason to go to grad school.

The article I just read ended with a sentence saying that the world is a complicated place, and that a lot of these medical conspiracy theories are intuitively compelling. It did not say that this particular half of Americans are stupid, or that they should have paid better attention in high school biology, but that given their level of education and their circle of acquaintances, this understanding of the state of medical affairs in our country is understandable.

I was lucky to have been able to attend Michigan Tech, and to have been influenced by such great teachers as Drs. Keen and Spain. In those days, one could pay for a year’s school by working and saving hard for a summer. Those days seem gone for good in our country, and we as citizens are the poorer for it. I propose a return to the days where anyone with the intelligence and drive to attend college can afford to do it, and do so without incurring crippling debts that are very difficult to pay off.

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