The collapse of faith in medical professionals

After folks in the “medical community,” to the extent that is even a concrete thing, went from arguing that our country should bear unfathomable economic and humanitarian losses to stop the spread of the coronavirus to endorsing and even participating in massive rallies virtually overnight, anyone with half a brain understood that they were going to take a significant credibility hit. I’ve witnessed a lot of people go from being “I don’t know what opinion to have on the coronavirus, but I will defer to the experts” to “were the experts lying to us all along?” For some, these events have changed the way they classify themselves politically. There’s nothing like getting laid off and finding the sacrifice was literally for nothing to change your perspective on power.

Everything that is broken about academia is broken in the medical community, which is really just a subset of academia. The activism that has destroyed the intellectual content and prestige of humanities departments is now present in professional schools, including medicine, law, and business. If you want to understand how The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine were caught publishing studies based on fake data or why what doctors prescribe to treat an illness is suddenly a hot-topic political issue, this is why.

These are no longer empirical fights, but political and cultural fights. And that is going to be profoundly unacceptable to many stakeholders.

It is easier to roll your eyes at this trend in other professions than it is in medicine, however. Most people need to have confidence that when a loved one is in the hospital, the person treating them is not viewing them as subhuman merely because of their political opinions. Most people want to be able to trust the things their pediatrician tells them about keeping their kids healthy.

People need to believe their doctors are ethical, and that is thoroughly shot now.

Here’s a poll from Pennsylvania that was done in April and then just recently. The shift in public opinion and political polarization is incredible.

Yeah, I don’t think 66% trust in doctors is a good statistic at all. If one out of three patients thinks their doctor is a political quack, that’s going to be a source of major problems in the industry.

In April, 87% of Republicans had a good/great deal of trust in medical professionals. That is down to 35% now. And I doubt what appears to be a primarily politically motivated flip-flop on social distancing is going to be forgotten anytime soon. This level of distrust and resentment is going to be quite durable.

Among Independents, the shift is also huge, from 88% to 66%.

Democrats have not materially changed, from 99% to 91%. I’m not sure this communicates anything about the coronavirus itself, so much as Democrats liked the shutdowns because they are consumed with hating Trump and (in their heart of hearts) had a tremendous case of Schadenfreude over the economy. Now the medical community is perceived to be endorsing mass gatherings that they themselves like, so there’s no source of cognitive dissonance for them.

When I look at data like this, all I can think of is, wow, we have seen peak vaccinations.

5 thoughts on “The collapse of faith in medical professionals

  1. Your article encapsulates the situation so well, I think. My husband is a microbiologist and surgeon and he began telling me very early on that the situation was misrepresented. Within a couple of weeks of the beginning of the panic he told me the statics were not different than those of a regular flu season. At the time if I tried to explain this to anyone I was practically shunned. Not the case now. The “academic” medical types are the worst, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Family Practice culture. Just try to get out of your family practice or pediatric doc’s office without feeling like you were asked to reveal every family secret from guns to drinking habits to cabinet locks to infant seats.

    About a month ago my husband started showing me the CDC graphs and explaining and interpreting them. A few weeks ago he told me he no longer trusts the CDC, and that he feels really, really shocked about this. However, he was extremely critical of what went on during the AIDS epidemic decades ago, and we all know who was one of the main doctors/bureaucrats in charge of THAT. He still gets livid just thinking of the lives which could have been saved but weren’t. Maybe it will turn out to be a good thing that we all can see now what the real motivations of these bureaucrats are (if we want to).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The other problem is Obamacare, and the Left’s insistence on government command and control. Messing with individual discretion over individual cases like this, is extremely negative. All that should drive anything are the individual facts of a specific case. All generalizations, or “rules,” or “standards” are to be taken with a grain or more of salt. This is the true scientific method in all matters empirical. Not orders from the top, from idiots and fakers who do not know your facts and often enough, don’t even know theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking over much of the conventional wisdom we “know” about medicine and health and I am shocked at how poor the science is. My faith in doctors and medical organizations is less than zero when it comes to chronic disease and diet… in that if they say one thing I’m quite certain the opposite is true.

    I have zero faith in experts these days because I understand what it takes to be considered an expert – a willingness to fall in line with the crowd and an unwillingness to rock the boat. An expert who rocks the boat is no longer considered an expert, he is now thought to be a crook or a quack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tell folks all the time that there are two kinds of opinions on health care: (1) people who have experienced a medical catastrophe themselves or in their family and (2) people who haven’t. Anyone who has had the agonizing experience of trying to make decisions in a crisis with the information you are provided (usually more statistical than mechanical knowledge, and if you are a quantitative person at all, you are likely to be unimpressed by their grasp of statistics), then you have had a powerful disillusionment with “scientific” authorities (and the government and the health care business model). In fact, the belligerence and lack of humility that people use the word “science” with now says a lot about the insecurities involved.


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