May 16th, 2005
Humans, collectively, are an intelligent lot. Having said that, we are not all created equal nor do we all share a common interest.
Strong suits insofar as intellect, physical health, physical design, mental health, personality, stamina, as well as life's obstacles, and economics all drive one's direction in life and create one's path. The map on which you may find your path is filled with missed options, untraveled roads, wrong turns, and choices subconsciously or consciously overlooked.
You may have embarked on a career in plumbing but had life's path been layed out differently you would now be a marine biologist, doctor, or physicist. Your aptitude and intellect may have allowed you to travel in a different direction but for whatever reason you are on the road you are on.
Because you as a plumber had the intellect and aptitude to have become a doctor/researcher, your contribution to mankind was not necessarily being used in the best possible way in terms of contribution to the global databank of knowledge.
What is now taking place is a remarkable combining of human intellect...a form of mind merging allowing the strength's of each person to work collectively with others toward problem solving like never before. Person's who for whatever reasons were unable to contribute to the global knowledge process now have the vehicle with which to do so.
The medium for this new mind melding is the Internet. While on the Internet we are privy to information garnered from many professions. That we may not hail from a particular profession does not mean we are incapable of comprehending the information within that professional database if given the opportunity.
Most people can successfully negate misinformation and disinformation quite quickly. Online however, it is a collective process aided by discussion groups, research sites, etc. where the moderate thinking majority rein in and frequently expose those who are corrupt. Extreme unfounded claims and statements are made, and proclaimed as truth, but the majority of moderate thinkers aid in toning this down.
This form of mass critiquing and screening gives the global population the opportunity to have well reviewed data at their fingertips as never before. The laborer, who could have been a physicist can now contribute to the review process of the global databank of knowledge.
A Fear of Embracing Change
This newly formed collective intellect and learning is frightening to some of those who previously held domain of knowledge over us.
A medical doctor was once the only one privy to the details of disease, the intricacies of research, and modes of treatment. The good doctors understood their limited understanding of the complexities of illness so they listened and learned from their patient. Other doctors took offense at patient input. Until now the patient had to have blind faith.
These days patients arrive armed with information and, more importantly, relevant questions pertaining to their situation at hand.
Most of us know this does not sit well with some doctors. Some doctors deride all information the patient has garnered from the Internet, forgetting that websites like PubMed and others can arm the patient with more current research data than they have available.
Complex diseases such as Lyme disease are rife with vague and multi-system symptoms that are hard to explain. Many patients cannot communicate their specific and sometimes varied symptoms until they hear how it was explained by others experiencing the same symptoms. This online communication is critical in aiding the patient to put their thoughts in perspective enough to effectively relate them to the doctor.
Wise doctors embrace this and look at it as a furthering of their profession toward a better diagnostic picture. They realize that patients are using data from the Internet to explain something they could not previously relate.