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Health & Medicine Conference Encourages Revolt

The revolution in health and medicine launched this week in Washington is just one of many such uprisings already in full swing.

 

Revolutions seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days.

But the uprising launched this week at the TEDMED medical conference in Washington, D.C. just might be the most far-reaching of them all, impacting in some way, shape, or form the vast majority of those living on planet Earth.

This wasn’t your typical coup d'état but a decidedly nonviolent revolt, instigated by a couple of unassuming poets. That’s right - poets.

From a program that included powerhouse speakers like Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Francis Collins from the National Institutes of Health – not to mention sports greats Gabby Reece, Laird Hamilton, and Billie Jean King – it’s likely that the lesser-known performance poets Sekou Andrews and Steve Connell will be the ones most responsible for setting this insurgency in motion.

Andrews and Connell began their TEDMED presentation by asking the audience, “Where do revolutionaries come from?” Drawing on examples as diverse as Jonas Salk, Martin Luther King Jr., and César Chavez, they emphasized the fact that revolutionaries aren’t some specially trained group of people, but simply those who are willing to stand their ground.

In other words, people just like you and me.

The hope is that at least a few of the 1,300-plus attendees – a “curated audience” representing 300 medical and nonmedical disciplines – will take this message to heart and feel empowered to release the revolutionary within.

While it’s hard to tell exactly which arenas of medicine are most ripe for revolt, we do know where significant uprisings are already in full swing.

Stanford University’s Dr. John Ioannidis began stirring things up when he started to question the credibility of many widely accepted medical studies. What he found is that as much as 90 percent of the published information relied on by doctors is flawed. Although there is some concern in the medical field about broadcasting these findings to a public prone to overreaction, Dr. Ioannidis is adamant.

“If we don’t tell the public about these problems, then we’re no better than nonscientists who falsely claim they can heal,” he said.

There’s also quite a bustle going on at Harvard University, where researchers from a broad range of backgrounds are examining the biological basis of the placebo response – the idea that the patient’s thought, more than any particular pill or procedure, affects the healing process.

But perhaps the most interesting – and promising – rebellion of all is the slow but certain shift away from looking at the body as a purely matter-based construct to a more enlightened view that takes into consideration the individual’s spirituality as well. Continue reading…

 

Eric Nelson is a Los Altos resident. This article shared with permission by Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com.


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