For their unorthodox views, some physicians are being treated as medical heretics. Google’s search engine algorithm has essentially ended traffic to their websites.
In Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, firemen don’t put out fires; they create fires to burn books.
The totalitarians claim noble goals for book burning. They want to spare citizens unhappiness caused by having to sort through conflicting theories.
Censorship Is Control
The real aim of censorship, in Bradbury’s dystopia, is to control the population. Captain Beatty explains to the protagonist fireman Montag, “You can’t build a house without nails and wood. If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood.” The “house” Beatty is referring to is opinions in conflict with the “official” one.
If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it.
A Nobel Laureate Copes with Conflicting Opinions
When making decisions, we often face conflicting theories. Daily, we face choices about what to eat. Although the government issues ever-changing dietary guidelines, thankfully, the marketplace supports personal dietary decisions ranging from carnivore to vegan. We are free to choose our diet based on our evaluation of the available evidence and the needs of our bodies.
When we face health issues, decisions become tougher. There is an orthodox opinion, and there are always dissenting opinions. For example, the orthodoxy recommends statins to reduce high cholesterol. Others believe high cholesterol is not a health risk and that statins are harmful.
Nobel laureate in economics Vernon Smith was taking a prescribed statin and recently observed the impact it was having on him:
In the last week I had a very clear (now) experience of temporary memory loss. I did a little searching and found this article summarizing and documenting the evidence over many years.
Such incidents have been widely reported, but the problem did not arise in any of the clinical trials, but neither were they designed to detect it.
Smith had to weigh the purported benefits against the side effects:
Statin effectiveness in reducing heart/stroke events needs to be weighed against this important negative. Since I am actively writing, this is a primal concern for me, and I have stopped taking it.
A free person understands that there is no one “best” pathway. Although experts have knowledge, a free person takes responsibility, makes a choice, and bears the consequences. We never know what the consequences would have been had we made a different choice.