Something has got my hackles lately….anonymous medbloggers.
I just don’t get it. If a physician is going to take the time to create a blog to spread his or her opinions and expertise, why wouldn’t they do it under their own name? In a way it really bothers me. There is so much information on the web, and a great deal of it is poorly sourced and unreliable. I would like to think that physicians will publish medical information that is accurate, at least as well as we know, and that the MD or PhD credential will lend credibility to their writings. But to me it just destroys that credibility when the doc chooses to blog under a psuedonym.
I love Seth Godin’s writing. He writes a great deal about how to market things on the internet, and what separates online success from online obscurity. He writes a great article here on the phenomenae of the internet-based expert, something I’ve thought of for a while as well, but have never put into such eloquent words. Though he doesn’t speak directly to medicine here, the relevance is clear.
Somehow the world has gotten the idea that just because there is a lot of information available on the internet they now can become experts overnight. The problem is that all the information in the world does not give someone the clinical judgement of a physician or other experienced practitioner, just as reading a manual on carpentry does not make you an experienced contractor. Reading Harrison‘s does not make you an internist. Reading Gabbe does not make you an obstetrician. It takes years of experience.
The reading is necessary but not sufficient. It takes years of experience and training to get the clinical judgement necessary to use all the facts learned in those books effectively. That is why we supervise residents for 3-8 years before we let them out on the world. Presumably they have already read the books before they start, but clearly they need those years before they really have the skills they need.
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