Letter from the Editor
The Dangers of Misinformation
A recent article in the Journal of the American Heart Association pointed out the diffi-
culties—in this age of the information avalanche—of maintaining and improving trust in
the healthcare professions. Here’s how it began:
“Mrs. Jones, based on your risk factors for having a heart attack, I recommend that we
start you on a statin.”
“No, thank you, doctor, I’ve read too many scary things about those drugs on the inter-
net. Plus, I worry that some in your profession make these recommendations for reasons
of personal financial gain. I also found that online.”
How did we get here? The article cites numerous influences. First, of course, is the inability of the layman to sort
out true from false claims, science professionals from rumor-mongers and hype artists. Also, people tend to
believe “authorities” merely because of their visibility—actors, activists, politicians.
There’s also the contrast between those who defiantly and unconscionably stand behind their claims, and scientists, who often are more measured in their statements because that’s the nature of science. We are always learning something new, and it’s rare that we have a 100% degree of certainty about any medication or device. Also,
one must be honest about the range of studies, side effects and doubts—a consideration that does not restrain
the activists who claim that vaccines cause autism.
The article is particularly concerned about cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of both men and women
around the world. We have made immense progress with medicines, devices, and an understanding of lifestyle
effects on heart disease. Yet trust in healthcare professionals has declined. Some of this comes from the few bad
actors in our profession who appear in the headlines. The public doesn’t know about the vast majority who act
Where the authors come out is recommending that the media, particularly monitors of our social media platforms, take more responsibility for not making false equivalencies between proven scientific data and wild
claims. In this age, fake “information” travels around the world before the truth can push “Send.” They say “It is
no longer acceptable to hide behind the cloak of ‘platform.’Lives are at stake.”
Agreed. But I think the responsibility also lies with us. We must make a more concerted effort to regain trust,
and to show how important it is that people understand the integrity inherent in our industry.
We try to keep up with all this, and bring you the people who have a grasp on change. We hope that it will be
informative, and assist you in furthering the work you do every day. Let us know what topics will be most useful to you!
Neil Greenberg, Editor
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