Sunday, August 1, 2021

Viral BS and The Misconceptions of Medical Myths

Now that society lives in a world with conspiracy theories and propaganda, many people are now wary of science and scientists who say they should be trusted. How can people stay sane while unraveling the belief that what they thought was fact turns out to be fiction and now are informed about what they should really be concerned about and what they can laugh off. In her book, Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them, Dr. Seema Yasmin dissects the biggest medical myths and pseudoscience and explains how misinformation can spread throughout generations and familial traditions. Dr. Yasmin sought to explore the misconceptions and nonsensical beliefs and theories that some people believe purely based on superstitions and curiosity. From basic theories that can raise general research like does playing football give players brain damage, to myths that have no scientific foundation whatsoever, like if your cat’s poops can make you better at business, Dr. Yasmin asks the importance as to why bad science is sometimes more believable and contagious than actual facts.

My favorite part of the book was Dr. Yasmin’s approach to how misinformation can easily spread. Although it's easy to blame these beliefs on people’s ignorance, Dr. Yasmin states that the misinformation can be traced to injustices that have occurred in the history of the medical community and how some people in the medical field do not actively fight against some of these theories and myths because of their own lack of knowledge or communication. This book reflects the topic of mass delusions and hysterias lecture slides handout how easily misinformation can spread. For example, the Salem Witch Trials had no evidence at all that any citizen was practicing witchcraft and invoking demons onto others, however, the sheer panic and believed myths lead to the imprisonment and deaths of hundreds. Even now false medical myths are still spreading at an alarming rate. For example, in the wake of Covid people are claiming that the vaccine can somehow make you magnetic and test this theory by making spoons (which are not even magnetic) stick to themselves. But the question still remains as to how we can combat this spread of misinformation, and Dr Yasmin has taken the first step when addressing these claims and that is to educate others and spread correct knowledge and facts that have been scientifically tested and proven instead of just buzzwords people see on the internet.


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