The Skeptical EP

The Blog Page of Robert Clare MD

Credit: Non-Sequitur by Wiley Miller

“Questioning medical dogma to improve the lives of patients.”

Skepticism, from the Greek word skepticos (to inquire), is not simply a noun but a process. Skeptics demand evidence before accepting claims of truth; they enjoy the process of inquiry and analysis. Unlike cynics who take a negative view of both the claims of others and the people making them, skeptics are perfectly happy to change their minds when better evidence comes along. For physicians, a questioning attitude is an essential component to decision-making. When faced with increasing pressure from administrators and pharmaceutical companies to “Show me the money!” the best counter from the physician is “Show me the evidence!” The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness through an inquiry of the best available medical knowledge, to foster discussion, and to challenge prevailing truths in order to improve the lives of patients everywhere.

Disclaimer: The opinions put forth in this blog are just that: opinions. They should not be used as a substitute for your own good sense or that of your doctor. Readers of this column do so at their own risk—this blog is not intended to treat or diagnose disease. Information contained here should be considered a “dietary supplement.” None of it is FDA approved. Mistakes in data interpretation are mine alone (I don’t claim to be a statistician), and you should assume that mistakes will occasionally be made. All personal patient information has been altered.

I’m skeptical about … cannabis (part 2)

Most people harbor guilty pleasures. Mine have nothing to do with marijuana, but I do admit to a weakness for good spy thrillers, and it’s my interest in the latter that led me to write this post about the former. Alex Berenson, an ex-New York Times reporter, is the author of my favorite spy series about a CIA operative named John Wells. You can learn a lot about covert operations from reading this series, so when Berenson turned his attention to a non-fiction book warning about the dangers of cannabis called, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, it got my attention. Continue reading

I’m skeptical about … cannabis (part 1).

“Marijuana, the Devil’s flower; if you use it, you’ll be enslaved.

Marijuana, it brings you sorrow; and may send you to your grave.”

                                                                                                  —Mr. Sunshine and his Guitar Pickers, 1951.

Attitudes have changed a lot in the decades since those lyrics first echoed across the AM radio dial. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, 62% of Americans support marijuana legalization; among Millennials that number jumps to 74%. Continue reading

I’m skeptical about … the new hypertension guideline.

Blood pressure is not one pressure but two: the first, termed systolic, represents the arterial pressure during the heart’s active contraction phase when blood is being pumped from the heart to the tissues; the second, termed diastolic, represents the arterial pressure during the heart’s relaxation phase when the heart’s chambers are filling with blood returning from those same tissues. Continue reading