Famous people hold the public’s attention more so that most of us in public health. Just look at the average American and ask them where they get their health information from. Chances are that they get it from pharmaceutical company commercials on television, celebrity doctors, or niche blogs on the internet. So do we in public health and medicine need to reach out and team up with celebrities — even those who promote quackery very openly and very vociferously — in order to reach a wider audience? And if we do need to do it, should we do it? Here’s some thoughts I had on the subject after an interesting exchange on Twitter with Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner at the Baltimore City Department of Health.
My wife and I went to talk at the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association a couple of weeks ago. Our talk was about the things that work in autism treatment, and the
quackery things that don’t. Mrs. N took care of talking about autism in general and the medications that are prescribed at times to treat some of the manifestations of autism. Then I stepped up and talked about the lack of association between vaccines and autism, and all the crazy, scary “treatments” that people peddle as “cures” for autism.
The talk is about 50 minutes long, with a lot of questions during the talks and at the end. We got a lot of really good feedback from the 30 or so people who were there.
I’d like to thank the awesome women from The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and others with whom I consulted on the presentation.
If you’re interested in the slides, you can download them by clicking here (PDF).
You can download the MP3 version of the talk by clicking here.
What do you do when someone who should know better says or writes something outrageous? And how do you tell them that they’re wrong? I would use snark.