THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
DECODING PROFESSIONAL LINGO

Better than relying on drug companies

July 11, 2011

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FOR ALEX Beam’s enlightenment, “evidence-based medicine’’ assesses the efficacy of treatments for specific conditions and populations. The goal is to replace costly hunches with scientifically informed decisions. For example, cardiac stents are helpful for some patients. Other patients, with lesser blockages, may face risk from the surgery which does not justify the measured benefit. This is not a movement that stands in opposition to flipping coins, as Beam suggests. The alternative is medicine dominated by the economic interests of surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, and the makers of imaging equipment - not to mention erroneous “common knowledge’’ among practitioners. Beam may not care for the linguistic coinage, but the term has meaning.

In the political realm, it should be made clear that when author Ron Suskind “introduced the term ‘reality-based community,’ ’’ as Beam writes, he was quoting a member of the Bush administration rather than inventing the term. The unnamed aide went on to say, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.’’ How could the left not embrace such an outrageous and hubristic sneer as a badge of honor?

Joesph A. Martin
Somerville