• Posted: Nov 13, 2011 15:07:00
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A friend writes to me today she's decided to seek treatment for depression. It's a condition that has plagued her for many years, but she's resisted treatment because she fears addiction. Decades ago she admitted to being an alcoholic. Having hit bottom, she found help within a 12-step program. Since then she's feared all drugs. But lately, other health problems have begun creeping up on her, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a heart scare. Chronic depression can exacerbate all of those problems. So, under a doctors care, she's decided to give treatment a try.
Interestingly, my friend's aversion to therapeutic drugs and counseling is not unusual. The myth persists that taking treatment is a sign of weakness, especially among returning veterans, though the Defense Department insists they are trying to change that attitude. Amongst civilian populations, that same weakness myth is complicated by suspicions of conspiracy to addict by big government and drug companies. Both myths find currency within informal conversations between friends and family members. Social networks could be encouraging people to take advantage of current developments in health science, developments largely paid for by tax monies and pursued by extremely bright and concerned fellow citizens. But instead, informal social networks insist on reinforcing fear, ignorance, and conspiracy. People seem to place more faith in prayer and vague wishful magic than in proven scientific truth. Why? What makes us so fearful and so ready to believe what hasn't been or can't be proven?
An easy place to point a finger at would be advertising, where poor logic, distortion of fact, and hyper-emotionalism is the overwhelming norm. Talk radio and cable news make use of the exact same tools to help persuade us up is really down and left is really right. There are no citizen forums that operate with any pervasiveness wherein people actually sort through and discuss with rigor the avalanche of falsehood and distortion currently crushing us. Instead, folks swarm like bugs in porch-light toward any fresh myth-reinforcing speculation offered on the Internet. So few of us, it seems, have the intellectual skills to distinguish between useful valuable nuggets of gold and fool's fodder. The truly scary thing is that all those fool's trading in fool's fodder have the power to vote. Democracy can be wise, resourceful, and immeasurably strong, but only if the majority of its citizens regularly feed on the very best reliably proven facts and analysis. Quality information is as necessary to our health as any bunch of spinach or bag of beans. Just as over-processed food lacks nutrients, over-processed information lacks reliable and useful substance. We do ourselves a favor by staying far away from things over-processed altogether.
The natural world is excitingly rich and complex, with endlessly fascinating dynamics and interrelationships. We need only seek to lift the veil of ignorance and fear we live behind to more fully experience and profit from what has been so generously given us.
May yours and my friend's efforts in that direction find substantive riches far beyond anything we can currently imagine.
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
18.3 mm 87 mm