The Invention of Talk
Av og til byr studiene på uventede gleder. Som denne kommentaren i British Medical Journal, til legers voksende (2002) skepsis til at det eksisterer medisinsk informasjon på nettet, og særlig til at pasienter kan komme til å finne den:
Somebody has just invented talk. We humans have so far communicated entirely through the written word, signs, smell, and touch. This new medium seems to have devastating power. It is probably a “transformational” technology. Everything will change. Individuals can exchange large amounts of information rapidly, far more rapidly than with the written word. People can ask questions to check that they are understanding and are understood. Up to a dozen people can use talk to interact at once. Using amplification and broadcasting, it may be possible for one person to talk to millions. People can whisper, shout, curse, brainwash, and cast spells. Derivatives of talk—poetry and song—may be even more powerful than talk itself: they are like crack to cocaine.
This new medium has powerful therapeutic potential. Some visionaries have even suggested that talk alone, unaided by drugs or surgery, may be able to heal. Unfortunately there is also huge potential for harm. Terrorists have already begun to talk. There is growing evidence that most talk is not based on evidence. In short, most of it seems to be rubbish. Worse, there often seems to be a gap between what people mean and what they say. The opportunities for misunderstanding are immense. These anxieties have naturally led to calls for regulation, and the World Health Organisation, the American Medical Association, and the European Union have already produced quality scales which, it is hoped, will allow potential listeners to identify high quality talk.
Motstanden blant leger har gjerne kommet til uttrykk gjennom skepsis til kvaliteten på det som fins på nettet, og til pasientenes muligheter til å kvalitetssikre den informasjonen de tar i bruk. Det er uten tvil et godt poeng. Men onde tunger har også villet hatt det til at legene frykter at informasjonsmonopolet skal ta slutt. Til det har David Blumenthal tørt bemerket:
…since the medical profession had an elevated status in society for many hundreds of years before it had any useful knowledge, the professional status of physicians may be largely independent of any monopoly of medical knowledge.