As the temperatures begin to decline out of triple digits here in the desert, we start to see our many
friends slowly trickle in from their summer homes. We see the traffic increase, we see the streets busy
and we see the calendar of events start to become filled with places to go and people to hear imparting
wisdom on many and varied topics at venues throughout the valley. We are a nation overwhelmed with
access to information: the internet, television, advertising, newspapers, lecturers and more. Those of us
who suffer from chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable since we search for answers from as many
sources as we can looking for that one thing that will make us better.
How do we sort among all the information coming at us to determine that which is of value and that
which should be ignored? There is not an easy answer to this question but there are a few things that we
can keep in mind to help use develop a self-screen to help keep out the noise but allow us to be up to
date and informed.
One of the major screens we use here at the center is the question: is this person selling anything? We
have many people ask us if they may make presentations to our clients touting their service or their
products as the best thing to make life better. A couple of things to keep in mind when evaluating the
veracity of a speaker, service or product are:
Products that aid treatments are vigorously tested and go through many levels of approval
before being released to the public. Even then, most truly effective products are regulated in
their delivery through licensed professionals such as doctors or pharmacists. Products that are
sold directly to the public have to be benign enough not to do harm which means, in most cases,
they are not effective either.
Standards and methods of care also go through rigorous testing before they are accepted as
standards of practice. There are a lot of good ideas and ways to treat diseases that are proposed
by well meaning people but few of them have gone through the long term study needed to
Things that occur simultaneously do not necessarily have a causative factor. Be very skeptical of
articles that use the words “may” or ‘could”. For example, while most people who have
Alzheimer’s have grey hair, no one would propose that grey hair causes Alzheimer’s.
On the other hand, we can learn a great deal from hospitals and from Universities. While we understand
that most Doctor presentations are designed to entice you to his/her practice for an appointment, we
can still learn a lot from the subject matter and can ask questions. Presentations form professors and
scientist researchers can be a great source of knowledge also giving us the opportunity to learn about
cutting edge research even though in most cases work done in university labs is many years away from
One last thing we have noticed over the years is what is called the halo effect. There are many things
that can make us feel better if we like the person or just feel good about what we are doing. Some of
that is as simple and as complex as our attitude. That is something we can all agree is a great healer.
Always good to remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.