Welcome to Dr. BS Detector!
March 1, 2021
The purpose of this series is to help people to make good decisions about their health. My hope is that readers will, after reading this series, be able to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives.
My name is Joseph Ferguson, MD. After graduating from The University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar, I joined the Peace Corps and served for two years as a science teacher in Sierra Leone, West Africa. When I came home, I got my medical degree from Johns Hopkins and did my internal medicine residency at Virginia Commonwealth University. Healthcareglobal.com rates Johns Hopkins as the top medical school in the world. I founded Fredericksburg Primary Care, PC, in 2004, and it has become one of the largest single-physician practices in Central Virginia. I have also recently formed Fredericksburg Medical Aesthetics, PC, which is focused on helping people to be and feel beautiful. Our world is rapidly changing and new data are constantly emerging. People must stay humble, must be open to new ideas, must be able to adapt their thinking. Otherwise, their beliefs and ideas become stale, outdated and devoid of power. But having the ability to adapt to new data is not the only reason to keep one’s mind open and flexible. All of us have biases and false beliefs and all of us can at least try to discover and purge those falsehoods. The extent to which we seek out and eliminate our own false beliefs is the extent to which we see the world clearly. Physicians are trained to be scientists and a good physician is one who succeeds in thinking like a scientist.
So what does it even mean to think like a scientist?
A scientist takes a rigorous approach to data interpretation. A scientist knows the relative value of different types of data and tries only to reach conclusions that are truly supported by the available data. A scientist doesn’t just understand proper methods of data interpretation; the scientist is intimately aware of the common mistakes made when collecting and interpreting data. The scientist is constantly vigilant, always trying to find fallacies in his or her own thinking and in the thinking of others. The structure of this series will involve describing erroneous thought patterns and explaining how those patterns lead to poor medical decisions. Once we have learned how to evaluate medical claims, we will apply that knowledge to actual medical claims. Hang on to your hats. We have a wild ride ahead!