Dr Lowe Q&A – Politics of Medicine
May 20, 2006
Question: I was at a local medical meeting last night where “alternative thyroid hormone therapy” was a topic of discussion. One physician was quite offensive in his comments about your reports that fibromyalgia patients need thyroid hormone treatment. As best I could determine, he has never read any of your books or your website. Neither had a couple of other physicians who seemed to agree that you’re some sort of dirt ball for spreading false information. Incidentally, Ive read your books, your website, and your research articles. I respect your work and defended you at the meeting. Having an interest in your work and you as a character, Im curious about how you take being unjustly bashed by others?
Dr. Lowe: You may know that Im a devout critical rationalist, and as such, I welcome and appreciate constructive criticism. “Being unjustly bashed,” however, is another matter.
I only rarely hear that someone has unfairly castigated me for my unconventional views. Whenever I do, I take solace in a statement by J. Paul Getty, whose unconventional views in business during the depression helped make him once the richest man in the world. Based on his personal experience, he wrote: “In business, as in politics, it is never easy to go against the beliefs and attitudes held by the majority. The businessman who moves counter to the tide of prevailing opinion must expect to be obstructed, derided, and damned.”
The same is true in medicine and research. The consistent pressure is to conform to conventional beliefs. When one declines to do so, the reactions of some physicians and researchers are far less than cordial. Some of us, however, are stubbornly committed to unearthing and spreading the truth. This make it impossible for us to conform when doing so will violate what we believe to be the truth. Fortunately, over time, Ive become inured to derision; today, its more amusing to me than punitive.
October 3, 2005
Question: In the Introduction to The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia, you quote Dr. Peter Duesberg’s anecdote from Inventing the AIDS Virus. I am interested in whether you agree with Dr. Duesberg’s assessment that the HIV virus is not the virus that causes AIDS?
Dr. Lowe: Before studying the relevant evidence, I accepted without question the belief that HIV causes AIDS. Then, like Dr. Kary Mullis (Nobel Prize, 1993), I learned that researchers have never published a study credibly showing that HIV is the cause. Indeed, researchers have failed to show that HIV is the cause by Koch’s classic postulates, or by Prof. Duesberg’s alternate postulates for proving that a virus induces a disease.
Having long studied the evidence as a logician and critical analyst, I’m compelled to conclude that the belief is false. The bases of this false belief, in my view, are nothing more than science incompetence and fraud compounded by financial greed. This performance of “medical science” is a mishandling and exploitation of human illness that is tragic on a grand scale.
If you are a student of the issue, I would be interested in hearing your point of view and any criticisms you have of mine. Very best wishes.
1. Duesberg, P.H.: Inventing the AIDS Virus. Washington, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1996.
2. Mullis, K.: Dancing in the Mind Field. New York, Pantheon Books, 1998.
September 12, 2005
Question: I have a question that Im a little embarrassed to ask. Actually, Im embarrassed for my MD because of his attitude. Heres what happened. I read your book named The Metabolic Treatment Fibromyalgia. I was blown away by how sensible and scientific your ideas are. I was so enthusiastic that I urged my MD to read them.
Hes always been cooperative and helpful to me and my family, so I was shocked and disappointed with what happened. He borrowed the books and read parts of each of them. Then when I was back in his office to get some lab test results, he gave them back to me. He said you make a lot of sense and certainly back up what you say with plenty of evidence. But he said that after reading much of the books, he realized that
youre a chiropractor. He told me he threw them aside and didnt touch them again until I came back so he could return them to me. He said he resented that youd tricked him into thinking you must be an MD. He said if I can find an MD who says the same things you do, then hell think of putting me through the treatment you suggest, but otherwise, he cant cooperate with what I want. He asked me to ask you if you know an MD who shares your ideas. Somehow this just seems stupid to me. I was left speechless and really didnt know what to say to him, except that I was very disappointed in his prejudiced attitude. What do you think I should say to him?
Dr. Lowe: First, let me say that very few MDs I encounter have your doctors attitude. I believe most of the MDs I talk with realize that beliefs, such as those we expressed in the two books you had him read, have in and of themselves, “truth value” – that is, the beliefs are either true or false, based on the evidence from which we deduced the beliefs. These MDs, which I believe are in the majority, think straight.
On the other hand, I sometimes encounter MDs who, like yours, are simply irrational, at least in this particular regard. They base too many of their decisions on the classical logical fallacy called ad hominem. This simply means that whether they accept a belief as true or false depends strictly on who states the belief, without consideration of the evidence for or against the belief.
Several years ago, I had an experience that perfectly illustrates ad hominem thinking – or, more correctly, misthinking. An editor for WebMD wrote an email to me. He was clear that hed written because he was enthusiastic about some of my published beliefs about hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. He wanted to publish some of the beliefs on WebMD. But he also made it clear that he could publish my beliefs only if I could refer him to an MD who would parrot my beliefs. He was flagrantly practicing ad hominem, suggesting that the readers of WebMD would consider my beliefs credible only if they came from the pen or keyboard of an MD. The beliefs wouldnt be credible, however, if uttered by a DC. I could have but didn’t given him the names of several brilliant and highly rational MDs who share the beliefs that had so impressed the editor. To have cooperated with his request would’ve been to condone, facilitate, and perpetuate his crooked thinking.
I wrote above that MDs such as yours are irrational, and I specified “in this particular regard.” By that, I meant that I have no idea whether they are irrational in other respects. But clearly, they shamelessly practice ad hominem and fail to see how classically illogical it is. I must add, though, that when I encounter such MDs, I usually question them in depth, and I often find that theyre also highly illogical in other respects.
Their irrationalities are common among people who dont bother or havent learned to think straight. Their irrationalities are so common that thousands of years ago, logicians gave the thinking errors labelssuch as ad hominemto help people recognize and protect themselves from the errors.
Unfortunately, what I also generally find among these particular MDs is a mixture of both irrationality and arrogance. By arrogance I mean an attitude that they cant possibly be wrong about anything they believe, simply because it is they themselves who hold the belief. They believe it, so ipso factor, it must be true. Irrationality and arrogance are a tough mixture to deal with. The reason is that the doctors arrogance protects him or her from open-mindedly evaluating the evidence that shows his or her belief to be wrong. So he or she wont consider for a second any evidence that contradicts the belief.
A classic example of such conduct is that of Dr. Richard Guttler, a self-proclaimed “real thyroid expert.” In a critique, I effectively demolished with scientific evidence his beliefs about hypothyroidism. Without addressing the evidence I’d presented, he simply slithered away from the debate. He couldnt defend his beliefs because the evidence I provided clearly showed them to be false. And I believe that his arrogance made it impossible for him to publicly admit that hed been whupped. I believe Guttlers example perfectly illustrates the futility of trying to get those who are both irrational and arrogant to see how utterly wrongheaded they often are.
As for your particular MD, hopefully hes generally rational. If you share this email with him, he may realize that a doctorin fact, any personof sound mind accepts and acts on scientifically correct information no matter who expresses itan MD, a chiropractor, a dishwasher, or a garbage man. If on the other hand, hes blinded by arrogance, maybe you and your family will fare best by questioning whether the doctor can think straight enough to make decisions truly favorable to your health and well-being. Thats a question I sincerely hope you dont have to ask yourselves.
August 1, 2004
Question: My husband is a physician who doesnt know much about hypothyroidism. Im hypothyroid, so Ive been doing research on the Internet and found your site. I see from reading your site that you do know a lot about hypothyroidism and that you offer long-distance consulting with patients. I would consider consulting with you, but my concern, and my husbands, is that youre a chiropractic doctor. Youve obviously done research and learned a lot in your career. But since you went to chiropractic school rather than medical school, how can you possibly have the background education that MDs do? It seems like not having all the education you wouldve gotten in medical school would be a factor in your qualifications to consult with patients. Im not criticizing. Im just confused.
Dr. Lowe: Your confusion is entirely understandable. During the twentieth century, the political wing of the AMA effectively propagandized the public and most medical doctors into believing that chiropractors have at most a couple of years of college. That propaganda was as effective as Nazi propaganda in Germany before and during WW II. In fact, those within the AMA who engineered the anti-chiropractic propaganda used some of the same terminology and concepts as the Nazi propagandists. The AMA propaganda was so effective that many people, such as you, are still misguided by it.Youll most likely be surprised at the requirements for getting into and through chiropractic school. In 1997, I documented the requirements for both chiropractic and medical school. Since then, theyve been posted at drlowe.com. I trust that reading them will end your understandable confusion.
June 12, 2002
Question: After seeing two dozen M.D.s for fibromyalgia and still being sick, it depresses me to come across your website. You as a chiropractor are trying to lure patients to you to take advantage of. Most people like me [sic] know to keep looking for real doctors, M.D.s, who can help them, no matter how long it takes, and not come to somebody like you. You worry me Dr. Lowe because with all you say, you have some type of insanity, dont you see?
Dr. Lowe: Actually I dont. On the other hand, my psychotherapist colleagues tell me its insane for someone to keep trying the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Perhaps you’ll fair better if you stop worrying about me and give some serious thought to the type of insanity these psychotherapists refer to.
February 18, 2001
Question: This past week, I attended a fibromyalgia support group meeting. The guest speaker was a rheumatologist in our town who treats fibromyalgia patients. He said very discouraging things about Dr. Dennis Wilson’s treatment. What he harped on mostly was that Dr. Wilson published his book, Wilsons Syndrome, himself. The rheumatologist called this “vanity publishing,” and he said that no publisher would
publish the book because it has no scientific value. Have you read Dr. Wilsons book, and if you have, what do you think of it?
Dr. Lowe: Over the past year, Ive received several e-mails from people reporting that doctors have tried to discredit Dr. Dennis Wilsons views on the basis of his book being self published. I have read the book. In fact, Ive closely studied the ideas Dr. Wilson expressed in the book and critiqued them in my book The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia. I disagree with some of Wilsons ideas, but my reason for doing so has nothing to do with how his book got into print.
To rationally judge Dr. Wilsons ideas, or anyone elses’, we must deal with what’s relevant. What’s relevant are the ideas themselves. How Dr. Wilsons book containing those ideas got published has nothing whatever to do with the merit or demerit of the ideas.
Those who denounce Wilsons views on the basis of how his book got into print are essentially arguing this: “If a book contains worthy ideas, one of the major corporate publishers would have published it. Hence, if a book is self published, the ideas it contains are obviously worthless.”
The major corporate publishers fostered this argument during the 20th century. By getting most people to believe it, they succeeded for a while in making it tough for authors to get their books published unless they allowed the publishers to take virtually all the profits from sales. The fact is, the only books the corporations publish are those they believe will yield a sizable financial profit. With rare exception, scientific or artistic merit has nothing whatever to do with the corporate choice of books to publish.
The history of publishing shows that its false that only books published by big corporate publishers have merit. Some of the worlds most important scientific and medical books were self-published. Consider one of many possible examples. The book Principia Mathematica was published in 1910. This book is one of the most important documents published in the history of human thought. The authors were logicians and philosophers Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. In the book, they showed that all mathematics is reducible to a small number of logical axioms. After working on the book for 10 years, Russell and Whitehead paid out of their pockets to have it published by the Cambridge University Press. This is an example of the “vanity publishing” the rheumatologist spoke of with disdain. But who would question the merit of Principia Mathematica? No one in his right mind. Of course, Im not equating the importance of Wilsons Syndrome with that of Principia Mathematica. I’m simply making an important point through the example of Principia Mathematica: The fact that a book is self published isnt proof that its contents have no merit.
Many people also register another argument against self-publishing of books: “No self-published book can be successful; only books published by big corporate publishers have a chance for success.” The success of Dr. Wilsons book shows this argument to be false. In addition, a partial list of other authors whose self-published books were enormously successful is impressive: Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Zane Grey, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, T.S. Elliot, Upton Sinclair, and Ernest Hemingway. Obviously, like the argument that self-published books cant have merit, the argument that they cant be successful is both fallacious and farcical.
May 28, 2000
Question: You say that hypothyroidism or thyroid hormone resistance are the most common causes of fibromyalgia. If this is true, why dont M.D.s agree with you Dr. Lowe?
Dr Lowe: Many M.D.s do agree with us. This is especially true of alternative M.D.s, such as those with a nutritional or holistic orientation.
You may be surprised to hear that some conventional M.D.s also tell me they agree with us. They admit this, though, only in private. Fear dominates conventional medicine, and this keeps conventional physicians who agree with us quite about it. They have good reason for fear. Consider the endocrinologist who, agreeing with us, publicly disagrees with a myth of his specialty, that the TSH test accurately identifies anyone who might benefit from the use of thyroid hormone. For this act of sedition, his peers may reprimand or ostracize him, or even worse. To avoid this, he keeps quite and strategically (or in some cases, pusillanimously) goes along with the party line – even though he knows his colleagues are wrong about the TSH test.
When I speak with a conventional physician who agrees with us, I ask him to speak out about his agreement. The answer is always some variation of, “Other physicians just arent ready to hear that most patients fibromyalgia is related to a thyroid problem.” I reply, “But what about expeditiously relieving human suffering?” I never get a straight answer. My question, of course, is senseless in view of a tragic fact: In industrialized countries, fear-laden medical politics, not medical ethics or humanitarian concerns, dictate the conduct of conventional physicians.
Those of us outside the ranks of conventional medicine have the privilege of obeying our consciences rather than the mandates of medical politics. Were moved not by fear, but by the desire to relieve the suffering of fibromyalgia patients. Hence, we promote the truth about fibromyalgia rather than recoil from it. Its inevitable that conventional medicine will come to share our belief about fibromyalgia. Then, oddly enough, if the social and political dynamics of todays conventional medicine still prevail, conventional M.D.s will then be afraid to disagree with our point of view. I dont believe fear is a good motive for physicians holding a true belief. But if fear is going to enforce any belief, Id prefer it to be one that benefits fibromyalgia patients.
March 9, 2000
Question: In your 1983 book Spasm, you were contemptuous of M.D.s. Now you obviously favour them over your chiropractic colleagues. Don t you think your attitude in that book alienated some M.D.s whose support you’d like to have today?
Dr. Lowe: You re confusing me with a pugnacious young imposter. We haven’t heard much from him since then. Hopefully that means his pugnacity gave way to a more charitable attitude – one appropriate to the improved attitude of the M.D.s he censured in the book.