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“I’m smarter than you….trust me!”……..The ‘illusion’ of infinite wisdom

July 26, 2011

please excuse my rant…..but….

If there is one thing I despise (note:  there are more than just one…but anyway) it is when people post random ‘things to look for’ for particular conditions (most often on Facebook nowadays)…..but then provide no basis, nor attempted explanation for any causal relationship.  For example, I have read such gem’s as “have a patient with low back pain?…..check their cuboid!”, or “patients with chronic headaches?…examine the soleus!”  I believe the intent of such claims is simply to convince the reader that the author holds some sort of ‘superior knowledge’ and is able to assess the musculoskeletal system at a higher level…..of course most of these ‘authors’ also just so happen to be instructors of a seminar or are selling a particular product, and hence, generating the impression of “infinite wisdom” in the mind of the readers is to there direct advantage.

Even more irritating is the response to questions requesting scientific merit to justify such claims which is inevitably something along the lines of “my experience shows me that this is so….therefore I don’t need evidence to ‘prove’ it”…which can be roughly translated as “just assume that I am smarter than you so that I can continue to conger up similar random thoughts in an attempt to display my superior powers and benefit from you believing that this is so.”  Along these lines, what I were to say something like “patient with stubborn foot pain?…check the articularis genu of the next patient in your waiting room!”…..with no justification provided, this claim carries an equal amount of merit in my opinion.

Although ‘evidence’ is a concept that can have various meanings and/or levels, I believe it necessary for people to at least attempt to justify their ‘opinions’….especially if they consider their opinion important enough to post it on an blog or other social media forum.  I’m not even asking for direct evidence, simply solid scientific facts that can be utilized in order to create an argument that is at least somewhat plausible.  I have no problem with people who have something worth while to say, or teach (which I humbly assume of myself and my seminars), but I believe the onus is on these individuals to at least put forth the effort, and time necessary to justify what they are saying.

I personally refuse to simply ‘assume’ or ‘believe’ that someone is smarter than me just because they want me to!  However I find great benefit in learning from those take the time, and put fourth the effort needed to PROVE me wrong.

…that is all  🙂


3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 3:51 pm

    Dr. Spina,

    THANK YOU!! Thanks for articulating that. I found the same thing while going through my chiro training and taking certain external courses… I’d think to myself, “how the hell did they come up with that, or come to that conclusion?!”… and then I’d have to convince myself that because they were practicing as a team chiro for team XYZ, that they knew what they were talking about. I specifically remember one incident when during a techniques course (part of core corriculum!) when the invited lecture went off on the importance of conducting radiographic testing of every patient’s cervical spine and describing “listings”… which I still know nothing about, and frankly don’t want that to change. So, I decided to question his reasoning given the overwhelming evidence against doing this. He responded with, “Do you want to learn something?! If you do, sit down and shut up! And if not, get out!” … so I fired back with a little more evidence and then subsequently left. Needless to say, the administration got an ear full from me as to why I was paying to hear garbage like that.

    I agree with you whole heartedly in regards to the ability of one to justify what they say and explain their reasoning. There were a handful of clinicians/teachers who did that and did it well and I tried my best to expose myself to their approach because what they were describing made physiological and rational sense.

    Anyways, just a note and a thanks for being one of those people… despite it feeling like it was an eternity ago…

  2. July 30, 2011 12:11 am

    Dr. Spina, I most certainly enjoyed your little “rant”…it is most enlightening and very, very true. I have the same thoughts myself…and it is refreshing to hear it from someone else for a change. In addition, I must say I am more than impressed with this blog and the direction you are taking it. I started my own blog in mid-June and I only hope that it develops in a similar professional and intelligent manner to which yours seems to be. I stumbled upon it while looking for some additional Van der Wal articles. I am having difficulty in locating a “follow” option on your blog…I would like to actively read and explore it. Indeed you are a busy individual, however if you find yourself with a free moment I invite you to go to my blog and give me your thoughts on my post “Fundamentals of Professional Development”. It is very short, but I think it is in line with your thoughts in terms of being humble in what you know and never assume to “know it all”. I will be a regular visitor to your blog…and by what I have read in this very short time, I will be refering others to it as well. You are more than welcome to visit my blog at Thanks again for your informative blog! Cheers. Gavin Broomes

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